Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Everything is growing, no confirmed casualties (yet). I'm still fighting the battle of the whiteflies. Slug problem has been taken of, new problem with horned tomato worms! I picked three off of my tomato plants in the past two days. Grrr. If it's not one thing its another. Despite the tomato worms I found my first teeny, tiny green tomato yesterday. It's from one of the heirloom tomato plants, either Cherokee Purple or German something, I can't quite remember. The cucumber is also getting pretty tall, I have commissioned Doug to build some trellis frames for the cucumber and squash vines to grow on/up. I should have those by the end of the weekend. The butternut squash is growing wildly, it hasn't bloomed yet but I can see the buds on the vines. I need to give everything a good spray of insecticidal soap to treat those horrible whiteflies and anything else that might be crawling around on the leaves. The carrots are also pretty big too. The tops really look like carrots now. It's amazing to me that just a few months ago I planted most of these things (cucumber, squash, melons, carrots) from seeds and now they're huge. Here's to hoping they continue to grow and aren't overrun with an investation of anything awful.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
my Flickr favorites
I’m really excited about next week’s selection, Apple Cheddar Scones, chosen by Karina of The Floured Apron, because I *love* scones!
Monday, June 23, 2008
After pancakes and the news, we spent the rest of our Sunday doing odds and ends and making an ill-fated journey to the grocery store. OMG I hate people in the stores on Sunday. Everyone walks around like they have all the time in the world. I almost drop-kicked two middle-aged women shopping together because every time I turned my cart they were in the aisles blocking my passage, so irritating. I didn’t want to spend my entire Sunday stuck behind the ‘mosey-ers’ at Schnucks. I spent a good portion of the rest of my Sunday in my craft room knitting and listening to This American Life podcasts. I’m working on the Le Slouch beret for my friend Tzili and this martini dishcloth I started forever ago that I’m just tired of looking at. Late afternoon is my favorite time to be in my craft room, the room gets the afternoon sun and its always full of light from about until or so.
Earlier in the day I had the idea to make pizza on the grill for dinner. I made pizza dough in the morning so it would have time to rise. I used this recipe from Epicurious for the dough and used suggestions from this article on how to proceed with the grilling. We used mild Italian Chicken Sausage, fresh garlic sautéed in olive oil and shredded mozzarella for the topping. I left off the tomato sauce because the acidity of tomatoes bothers Doug’s scarred esophagus. I made two smaller pizzas instead of one bigger one because I decided it would be easier to manage them. The lesson I learned was that you must watch the dough like a hawk once you put it on the grill because there is a great chance you might get distracted and wander around the yard for 10 minutes while your pizza turns to ash on the grill. The first one on the grill turned out burned on the bottom but the top was okay. When I put the second one on I watched it very closely and it turned out fine. I’ll make them again because I would really like to try a margherita version and a version with pesto. After the burned pizza crust I needed a glass of wine, luckily the friends we had over for dinner Saturday had brought us a bottle of red so I tore into it. I felt much better after a glass.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
When it was time to open the puffs I used a small serrated knife, however most of the puffs opened with just a gentle pull. The chocolate topping was a little thicker than I liked so I added more heavy cream and another ounce of chocolate to make it easier to pour over the puffs. I topped them off with sliced toasted almonds and a sprig of my mint.
The cream puffs were good, not earth-shattering, but still delicious. In the future I’ll probably use the vanilla bean cream and maybe try making the chocolate pastry cream too. Probably the biggest thing to come out of this week’s dish was that I’m not scared of making cream puffs/éclairs now. I *know* I can do it and I’m not intimated anymore.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Several weeks ago I bought some Portobello mushrooms with the intention of grilling them. Well time passed it was several days later and I still not grilled them and that night it was raining. So I went to Epicurious.com and searched for Portobello mushroom recipes. I found this one, you make a stuffing of shrimp, breadcrumbs, parm, mayo, basil, onion, garlic and a few other spices, mound that inside the mushroom and bake it until the top and golden brown. OMG this is good, Doug *loved* it and rarely does he *love* food but he really loved this one. The recipe is perfect but I also added Old Bay Seasoning and used shallots instead of onion (just because I had shallots on hand that day). I’ve made it several times since and it really is a great recipe, it’s fairly easy too as long as you get shrimp that is already peeled and deveined.
Bacon is a guilty pleasure of ours. We both know it’s totally unhealthy and most of the time we eat turkey bacon when we have a hankering for bacon. And turkey bacon is good, it’s a little dry but it has that crunch and it’s only 20 calories or so a slice. Every once and awhile I’ll break down and get real bacon, but I almost hate to because when you cook bacon the scent of sizzling bacon lingers all.day.long. and then you have the bacon house. Anyway, we were making a Super Target shopping run a few weeks ago and came across Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon and Apple and Gouda sausage. We decided to buy some and try it out, as a treat. That stuff is amazing, pure pork heaven. I’ve never had such delicious bacon and sausage. Of course now we’re both hooked, the only redeemer is that we have to drive all the way out to Super Target to get it so we’re less likely to eat it very often thank goodness. We really heart Niman Ranch bacon.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Most everything in the garden is growing like crazy. The squash just keeps getting bigger and bigger and some of them are getting ready to bloom. Over the weekend I pulled out the dead peas and replaced them with some watermelon plants I transplanted from one of the other beds as well as marigolds to help with pest control and a few peanut plants we found at Dan West over the weekend.
The bed that holds the butternut squash, the summer squash, cantaloupe and watermelon was getting crowded so I relocated some of the squash to the bed with zucchini, cucumber and carrots. I'm still having slug and whitefly issues. I bought some 'Sluggo' slug treatment over the weekend and spread it around on Sunday, it's safe for all other animals/wildlife, just not slugs. Yesterday morning I went out there and found little slug bodies in my beds so I guess it worked. I used insecticidal soap to treat the whiteflies but it barely made a dent in them. Those little bastards are hard to kill. They are the worst too, I hate them with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I've also notice what appears to be aphids on my tomatoes so that's something else I need to deal with. I'll have to consult my last issue of 'Organic Gardening' to see if I can find a natural solution.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I didn't have any of the suggest liquors for mixing in with the berries but I did have some Triple Sec so I threw in a little bit of that as well as a little sugar. I used some homemade strawberry jam I bought at the herb festival I went to a few weeks ago, it was very good. In the book Dorie suggest using creme fraiche on top of the tart but I already had some heavy cream on hand so I made whipped cream. All in all it was a tasty dessert, my presentation was lacking and my pictures aren't stellar but the tart was another winner.
Next week's selection will be the Peppermint Cream Puff Ring, chosen by Caroline of A Consuming Passion.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I used Ghirardelli 60% Caco Bittersweet Chocolate. I almost always use Ghirardelli for my baking needs because it’s not super spendy and I can chop it easily. It melted so nicely in my metal bowl and when I added the butter the smell of the chocolate and butter made me want to just dig in with a spoon. It was a fairly simple process to make them. Not too many steps and it all came together pretty quickly. I was using my 8” Pyrex square for something else so I used a 9” inch cake round to bake in. I thought that would be okay since in the recipe Dorie explains that the recipe was intended to be a cake at first. I baked them for about 5 minutes shy of the recommended time and they came out perfectly - with a crackled top. And the buttered foil helped them slide out very easily.
Since I had omitted the raisins I wanted to add something special to them on the side so I made homemade whipped cream (just heavy cream and super fine sugar) and raspberry coulis (raspberries, lemon juice, super fine sugar and a pinch of salt). The brownies alone were delicious, they were really light, not heavy the way some brownies can be. With the whipped cream and the coulis they were still great. Another thumbs up from my husband and from our dinner guests. A great recipe!
French Chocolate Brownies
- makes 16 brownies -Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour1/8 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden1 1/2 tablespoons water1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces3 large eggs, at room temperature1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Green Gable - RIGHT (it's the same yarn, the picture above is with a flash, the picture below is sans the flash)