- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.eVyALSMd.dpuf born and raised: September 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We All Scream For Ice Cream

It's SO hot.
Last week when we had some colder days, even a little rain, I started canning. Now of course it feels like winter will never come and what should I do with those cans of caramelized pears?
Dollop them next to ice cream of course.

To make a simple vanilla ice cream pour 1 cup cream in a sauce pan with 1/2 sugar, a pinch of salt, and one vanilla pod sliced open and scraped into the pan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat, add two more cups cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Thoroughly chill before freezing in ice cream maker.
Simple and delicious.

Caramelizing pears was fun, and a bit more complicated. I used this recipe. I'm not sure how to tweak it, as I don't know enough about pH when canning, and these pears are delicious but a bit too sweet for my taste. They taste like candy!

Try to stay cool!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Our chickens have not been phased by the heat, they keep giving us eggs, we seem to be up to four a day! They are so beautiful too, light brown, dark red, and blue. They beg to be eaten and it is hard to resist. They are slyly incorporated into otherwise egg-free meals such as the classic BLT. Now the BLT comes with a poached egg.
During the summer heat (or rather autumn!?) it is hard to muster up the energy to cook dinner. It is hard to want to turn on the oven, or stand in the kitchen, or think about what to prepare. The standby in our house is the sandwich. Simple, satisfying, seasonal what else could you ask for in a meal?

One of our absolute favorites is the BLT. In late spring we start to crave tomatoes like nothing else (if there is one thing I wouldn't not wish anyone to eat out of season in is a tomato, they are disgusting) and our first BLT of the season is something we slow down to savor, and then usually make ourselves seconds. We are well into tomato season (but it's not over!) and still not sick of BLT's.
For dinner I cooked up some Black Pig bacon, which we cannot get enough of, and feel great about eating because they use happy hogs from the first sustainable hog operation in the United States!
I poached some eggs*, sliced some beautiful fresh tomatoes, picked some lettuce, smeared some mayo on our favorite toast, and piled it all up. Voila! Dinner!


For an extra indulgence I made some oven fries. Simply cut potatoes into wedges, coat with olive oil, pop in a 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minuets until golden (check on and flip after 15 minuets).

Our meal was accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine, of course. I cant imagine a more perfect meal, everything on our plate was fresh, in season, came from withing 30 miles of our house, and was incredibly simple to prepare. PERFECTION!

*The key to poaching a perfect egg if you don't have a fancy egg poaching device, is to used just enough water (you don't need a lot just enough for the egg to float to the surface and not touch the bottom, a few inches). Add a few table spoons of vinegar to the water. The vinegar will keep the egg together, also the fresher your egg the easier it is to keep together. When the water boils crack egg into the water (some folks crack the egg into a ramekin and then slide it into the water, but I don't like to do dishes). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let Us Eat Mouth Fulls of Cake

I've long held that I am not much of a baker. Baking is science, where cooking is art. I have thrown together all sorts of powders and goos and liquids and out of the oven came salty cookies, rock hard bread, runny gratin, popovers that didn't pop anywhere... just to name a few. It's the measuring of just the right ingredients that held me up.

I've been persevering though and I've had some successes. The main reasons for my success is I've slowed down and I've had faith in my books. I know if I read the instructions, and take my time following them, something magical happens.
I like sweets. I believe sweets should be beautiful. Receiving them and eating them should be precious, like a little gift. I really romanticize baked goods. Pie fresh from the oven! Scones filling the morning with there salty sweet aroma! Hardly being able to wait until the dish has cooled before you burn your tongue on... whatever it is, it's worth it!

I wanted to make something simple, and suitable for dessert or breakfast. I also didn't want to go to the market (baking usually requires a trip, as we are often fresh out of butter or cocoa or milk). I picked up "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" turned to the index and saw Apple Walnut Cake. Without even flipping to the recipe I had made up my mind, I had apples and I had walnuts, it was settled, my mouth began to water. 
When I turned to the recipe I realized I did not have many of the ingredients needed, and without batting an eye I went to pealing apples. I knew that I could make some very simple substitutions without compromising the integrity of the final product. When did this happen?! When did I learn enough about the ingredients in my pantry to know how to use what, when? And to make a cake! I felt creative, clever, artistic! I have to say I impressed even myself. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did.

My Apple Walnut Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's "How to Be a Domestic Goddess"
1/2 cup raisins
4 T hot water
4 T port
1/2 plus 2 T canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tea cinnamon
1 1/2 tea baking soda
1 tea baking powder
1/2 tea salt
1 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Put raisins in a bowl with port and hot water
Preheat oven to 350
Beat the oil and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beat until mixture looks like mayonnaise. Add the dry ingredients, until combined. Add apples, walnuts, and drained raisins. Put the cake mix (which will be fairly stiff, almost like a cookie dough) into a buttered 8-inch spring-form pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cake stand for 10 minuets, then turn it out and let it cool completely (yeah... good luck).

It turned out delicious! It was nice with a pad of butter fresh from the oven, and the next morning with coffee, or on it's own, by the mouthful as I was passing through the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Drink What We Like

I think it is a shame to sit down to a meal without a glass of wine. Wine is a condiment, the same way a twist of lemon is. The right pairing of wine and food can make once-subtle flavors and nuances sparkle, refresh and balance a spicy or rich meal, or be the perfect accompaniment to a great meal.

There are two rules to pairing wine with food.  The first rule is don’t choose a wine that overpowers your meal, and don’t choose a meal that overpowers your wine.  The second rule is drink what you like.

If you are in my house, you drink your wine from a jar (most likely an old Hector's Honey jar), just as my grandfather and John Steinbeck did.  Some may consider it tacky.  They may even say it depreciates the aroma or is an insult to the wine.  It is true that there is a purpose to the elegant body of a proper wine glass, but we eat most of our meals outside, we move around the kitchen while we cook, we are clumsy, and we break glasses so we use multi-use durable jars.  The wine tastes fine in a Ball jar.

I like to have a glass of rosé on a hot day as I start to prepare dinner.  Sweet rosés are usually covering up some undesirable flavors, and are generally why people are afraid to drink pink wine.  I like dry rosé, a lively, bright, refreshing summer drink.

For dinner Saturday night we were lucky enough to have a surprise visit from Chelsea. We really wanted to re-invoke the summer, as we has reluctantly said goodbye to it only the weekend before, so we decided to barbecue. Nick went to the farmers market for pork ribs, but as it is nearing slaughter season there was none to be had from the previous season (yes, meat has a season too). Instead he brought home riblets and leg of lamb. He also picked up some of our favorite bread, Costeaux Multigrain, a few peaches, and some greens and garlic.
Nick made a simple and beautiful rub for the meat, and we grilled 'em up along with thickly sliced peaches and squash from the garden brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper. In the house I quickly rolled three small disks of goat cheese in coarsely chopped walnuts and roasted them for a few minuets in the oven on high heat. I laid the cheese over a bed of fresh, undressed greens, we laid the grilled peaches and squash over that, and when the meat was ready we nuzzled them all together on our plate.

It was amazing, the meat was sweet and tender, the flavors of squash, peach, cheese, nuts, and greens created an unbelievable synergy.

With dinner we drank a nice red wine, a local Syrah.

You cannot see from this picture (we are still using a ancient camera that only works with a glaring flash, or not at all), but the wine was a beautiful dark plum color.  Syrahs tend to be more purple than red as the grapes are dark purple.  They tend to be fuller bodied, so they are a good choice for the bold flavors of grilled meat. This particular wine had a jam flavor, also a earthy leather flavor which was especially lovely with the lamb.

S T R E T C H summer! Don't even bother clearing off the table!
Skal! Sante!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Every Morning is a Gift

Yesterday, when feeding the chickens and filling up their water, I saw it. A perfect little egg, light brown and beautiful. I literally shrieked, "Nick, Nick, the chickens laid an egg! It's a birthday miracle!" Perhaps that was going a little overboard but I was excited.

This is our little egg sitting in the amazing chair Chelsea made.

I blew the innards out of our first one so we could save the shell, and to my delight this morning there was another beautiful brown egg waiting for me, still warm.

So Nick had it for breakfast.
It seems to me only one girl is laying right now, but it is only a matter of time before we are up to our ears in fresh beautiful eggs.

End of Summer

My birthday celebration came to an end on Sunday in the most amazing way.
We threw a brunch at our house and invited a few friends.
Chelsea made this delicious raspberry-blackberry crumble from berries she'd picked the same day.

I went to the farmers market Saturday for eggs and spinach, and I came across the most beautiful peppers.

I sauteed the peppers with onions and squash from the garden.

Then I filled a few buttered casserole dishes with fresh basil, spinach and goat cheese, added the sauteed veggies and eggs (about 18, which I had beat with a little heavy cream). Then I baked the dish for about 30 minuets (until the eggs were set) at 425˚.
When they came out of the oven they were fluffy and beautiful.
I also tossed some potatoes in olive oil and rosemary, salt, and pepper and roasted them until golden.

We made some sausages, some friends brought fresh tomatoes from their garden, pastries, melon, orange juice, champagne, and iced tea. Nick prepared a Bloody Mary bar with all kinds of fixins, and we had a giant thermos of New Orleans style coffee with chicory.
We had no leftovers.

We ate and talked and laughed and I opened a few presents, most notably a chair Chelsea made with deer and moose antlers and leather. It is incredible, a museum piece. Pictures to come. My friend Danica, a poet, wrote a beautiful poem for me that when she read it aloud I was moved to tears.
It seems Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. It feels that way for us. We are slowing down, getting back to work/school/life, and the days are noticeably shorter. We had a wonderful summer with a wonderful end. We are dubbing this summer the "Summer of Love and Adventure". It was magic, and I am looking forward to a magic autumn with plenty of warm bread and hearty soup.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Birthday Week Continues

Three nights a week I must work late, so Nick and I don't get to make dinner together. These are my least favorite nights. I especially look forward to Wednesday night dinner. I like breaking up the week, getting ingredients from the farmers market, having leftovers for lunch the next day, and spending the evening at home.
This last Wednesday we had to forgo our night a home to wine and dine at the amazing Zazu. My dad took Midori, Nick, and me out for a gastronomic birthday celebration. We ordered many little dishes and shared everything(my favorite way to eat), and it all started with their farm raised, house made salumi with fennel pollen. It is the best cured meat I have ever had. Although I didn't eat it for a good twenty years I have tried my darndest to make up for lost time, i.e. I have had a lot of amazing charcuterie as of late and this is the best.
After the salumi we ate amazing cheese, roasted peppers with Spanish almonds, a BLT salad, fried zucchini spears, pizza... as we were licking our plates we overheard the server mention a starter they had just added to the menu and we knew we had to make room for more. The last dish was mission figs stuffed with foie gras, wrapped in bacon, then broiled. It may have been our favorite part of the meal. Dessert was a flight of ice cream; we had a sample of all the menu had to offer (we ordered five and our server took it upon himself to wish me a happy birthday with two extra).
Thanks dad, dinner was incredible!
Wednesday night Chelsea came up for an extended stay in our messy guest room (my mess, I didn't want to birthday clean). It has been so nice to have a full house. This weekend we are all getting ready to finally close my birthday week on Sunday with a backyard brunch. I went to the farmers market this morning to buy eggs and 8 lbs. of potatoes! Yum!