Thursday, July 31, 2008

A new kitchen toy

I have been coveting an electric ice cream maker for months, especially since the weather turned so hot (heat index of 105 today!!). Last weekend Doug went for a haircut at Sport Clips, which is in a strip mall near our the Target closest to our house. While he was getting his haircut I wandered into the Williams-Sonoma outlet down the strip. There I found some little dishes which I thought would be perfect for making smaller portions of my TWD selections and I also found a $39.99 Krups electric ice cream maker, with a 20% off sign. Doug needs to learn not to take me with him when he goes for a haircut because I always end up in the outlet buying things we don’t really need. In my defense I had really been jonesing for an ice cream maker and he had even agreed it would be fun to have. So this bad boy got to come home with me.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across David Lebovitz's recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream. I may or may not have gotten this urge to buy said ice cream maker solely for the purpose of making this particular ice cream. It looks divine. It also has quite a few steps, which is why since purchasing the ice cream maker a week ago I have not attempted this recipe yet. Maybe in a few weeks when we have company. In the meanwhile, I decided to make this recipe for Nutella Ice Cream from Chocolate & Zucchini, ingenious and simple and delicious. After he took a bite Doug realized the goodness that is homemade ice cream.

I've also had the thought to try another David Lebovitz recipe, this one for Candied Bacon Ice Cream. Doug loves anything with bacon so I might get the 'wife of the year' trophy if I made that.

This past weekend I used the recipe book that came with the maker to make vanilla ice cream and then added some frozen blueberries. I really wasn't very happy with this attempt. Doug liked it but I didn't like the texture of the blueberries and it tasted to icy to me, not creamy enough. Next time if I were to attempt this recipe I'd use fresh blueberries. Maybe it will be better next time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Summer Fruit Galette

This week's selection was chosen by Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs.

I think that this week I lost my baking mojo. Some days when you get in the kitchen things just don't go the way you hoped. I was happy to make the galette, it sounded delicious. I let my husband pick the fruit since it was his birthday, he chose peaches. I love peaches too, no problem. I got home, made the crust, but before I put it in the refrigerator to chill I thought about how difficult it had been to roll out the blueberry pie crust. So I though "oh I'll roll it out before I put it in the refrigerator" this was probably when the problems began. The crust really needed to rest and cool and instead I tried to roll it out between parchment paper. It stuck to the parchment paper. Once I realized this was not going well I managed to scrape it off of the paper, roll it back into a ball and refrigerate it.

Then I decided to prepare the peaches, Dorie gives instructions for blanching them so I followed the directions. However, only one peach successfully had all of its skin come off. I thought maybe the others needed to boil a few more seconds. Wrong. I boiled them a little too long and ended up with cooked peaches instead of blanched ones. At this point I said a variety of unprintable words and just went with it and sliced up the peaches and called it a day.

The custard part came together with no problem (thankfully). I used raspberry jam and plain breadcrumbs instead of the graham cracker crumbs. I did have a few problems folding the edges around the filling because the dough was still sticking to the parchment paper even after cooling.
After it baked about 20 minutes I added about 1/4 c. of the custard and baked it for another 15 minutes. I had a little custard leftover so I poured that into a little ramekin and baked it along with the galette.

In the end it came out okay, it was not the most attractive thing I've ever baked but it still tasted good. The custard in the ramekin was really good and probably terrible health-wise since it was really just butter, egg and sugar. My husband and I ate it afterwards and it reminded me a lot of Chess Pie, the kind my great-grandmother used to make.

All in all the galette was a nice recipe, I was just not having a great baking day. I'll try it again later, maybe this time with apricots or nectarines.

Next week will be the Black and White Banana Loaf chosen by Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another episode of "I grew it & ate it"

I finally got a ripe tomato yesterday from my tomato plants. I believe this one was from the Old German heirloom plant, but I am not 100% sure. Whatever variety it was it was delicious. This was the first tomato I found on any of my plants, back in June. This is what it looked like when I first found it. I have tons of little green tomatoes on my plants but nothing has turned red yet, except that one. Hopefully some of my cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes will start to turn soon.

I had bought some fresh mozzarella earlier in the week, hoping to use it with this particular tomato. So when I picked it last night I made myself a plate of fresh tomato slices topped with pink Himalayan salt, mozzarella slices, sweet basil from my garden and a little drizzle of olive oil. Plus I had some honey wheat bread with sunflower seeds (leftover from my Farmer's Market haul last Saturday). It was a really simple and delicious supper.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Here’s a little something to waste some time, as seen on Happy Zombie’s blog.

The Game:

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.

2. Using only the first page, pick an image.

3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker
The Questions & My Answers:
1. What is your first name? April

2. What is your favorite food? Eclectic

3. What high school did you go to? Covington

4. What is your favorite color? Green

5. Who is your celebrity crush? Vincent D’Onofrio

6. Favorite drink? Bellini

7. Dream vacation? Japan

8. Favorite dessert? Bread Pudding

9. What you want to be when you grow up? Actress

10. What do you love most in life? My cats (my husband’s a given, the cats are #2)

11. One Word to describe you. Sweet

12. Your flickr name: roseam21 (I kind of cheated on this only because there were no results when I searched so I just used a picture of myself)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A few finished objects

I never blogged about it but I finished my Green Gable sweater back in June, it really was a quick knit once I got the hang of that top lace portion. The bottom stockinette got a little boring after awhile but it went quickly. I like this sweater a lot but if I ever make it again I might do a long tail cast on to make the neckline higher and tighter and I would probably do some bust darts and a little more waist shaping. I still like it a lot, the Cotton Fleece is really nice to work with (it can be splitty but if you watch where you put your needle you’ll be fine). I especially like that I can put the Cotton Fleece in the dryer (on low of course).

I also completed the Le Slouch I’d be trying to make for months. I bought the Rowan Summer Tweed I used for it months ago, at Yarniverse’s Leap Day Sale. I thought the tweed would have a great texture and be cool (it’s silk and cotton) for a summer hat. The tweed does look nice but it’s a pain to work with. I also made it a little too slouchy, I didn’t pay close enough attention when I was knitting the stockinette part so it’s really too long. But oh well, it still looks cute.
Sunday I cast on for another one, this one done in seed stitch with the leftover blush colored Cotton Fleece I used for my Juliet sweater. I’m hoping to make it less slouchy and more beret like. I also hope to finish it in a week (hah!).

I’m thinking about casting on the Rusted Root sweater in the next week or so. But I want something big to take to the beach with me so I may wait until then to cast on. Or I might *finally* take the plunge and knit some socks. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

This week’s delicious selection comes from Amanda of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake.

I love Dorie, I really do. However, my hips, thighs and belly love Dorie a little too much. Which is why this week instead of making the entire cobbler I made 3 mini-cobblers in these little cake pans I found at Target. I did not properly half the recipe; I just eyeballed the entire thing. Luck was on my side because they came out great.

I have never cooked/baked anything with rhubarb in it. The only real exposure to rhubarb I’ve had comes from listening to Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and hearing their ‘commercials’ for Be-Bop-A-Re-Bop Rhubarb Pie. I don’t think rhubarb is a big thing in the South; maybe it’s too hot here for rhubarb? At any rate I could not find any fresh at this point in the summer so I opted for frozen. I did use fresh cherries though. The recipe was easily put together, really the only time consuming part was pitting the cherries. I didn’t use the food processor either; just my hands and I sprinkled the tops with raw sugar before I put them in the oven. I baked them for about 30 minutes at 350, until the filling started bubbling up and running down the sides of the pans.

I let them cool for a couple of hours, just because dinner wasn’t ready for awhile. But I kept them sitting on top of the oven so they were still slightly warm when we ate them. They were very good, I’m glad I didn’t make the whole thing because we surely would have devoured it. The rhubarb was a nice taste just a little tangy with a hint of sweetness. I have some leftover and I might have to make these hand-pies I saw on Angry Chicken’s blog. They look delicious!

Next week's selection is the Summer Fruit Galette chosen by Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs. I'm debating on what summer fruit to use, I'm thinking apricots, nectarines or plums. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memphis is really hot and I have cucumbers!

Oh my gosh I hate the heat. Summer in Memphis has reached the point of extreme, sweltering, oven heat. It’s hard to take a deep breath outside. Early morning was tolerable up until last week and now it’s just as bad. The high today is going to be 100F but with the heat index it’s going to feel like its 108F. Sob. I’ve lived here my entire life and I have never enjoyed the summer. We also are going on almost a week with no rain, although I did see some thunderstorms forecasted for tomorrow and Wednesday. On days like this I waste time looking up different cities high temp on, for instance today in Seattle it’s going to be a balmy 75F with a low of 55F!!! I won’t see 57F again until October. Sigh.

In other news I got my first edible item from my garden last Thursday, a cucumber. It was pretty big too, I was a little worried I had left it on the vine too long but I cut it up and ate it in a salad Saturday and it was fine, not too seedy. I know it was just a cucumber but it was very fulfilling to eat something I had grown myself. The cucumbers are really plentiful it seems, I picked another large one Saturday morning and one again this morning. I love them in salad, but I’m looking for some more ideas on how to eat them, especially since it looks like I’m going to have a lot of them…

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Pudding

Great selection from Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen. It was a nice, cool treat since it's so stinking hot outside and no one really wants to turn on the oven. The pudding came together easily, my only problem was that once again my food processor was too small. I made a little bit of a mess. But it cleaned up and the pudding was worth it. It was not the super sweet kind of pudding that comes in a box but had a very rich flavor. I used 2% milk instead of whole and it turned out fine. I topped the pudding with homemade whipped cream and some chocolate shavings. Another hit! Next week's recipe with be Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler, a selection chosen by Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake. Off to find rhubarb...

(Sorry for the not great pictures, my camera makes it hard to photograph food!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

A wedding, the roller derby and other odds and ends

Such an odd weekend, a lot of fun though. I often come across instances in my life where I can’t believe where I was/what I was doing hours before compared to what I’m doing at that instance. On Friday morning I was typing the drasha (something similar to a sermon) for my boss, an Orthodox Rabbi. Friday night I was drinking too much and trying to keep my composure while I drank too much at a bar in the ‘burbs. Saturday afternoon we were guests at extremely traditional Baptist wedding and Saturday night we were yelling, drinking beer and watching girls in roller skates knock each other down.

We are so much of an old married couple that we are rarely out past 10:00PM any night, even the weekend. However, this past Friday night a co-worker and friend of Doug’s invited us out (past 10:00PM!) and we went. While there we ran into some of friends of mine so they sat with our group. I drank 2.5 glasses of Woodchuck Cider and it was a little too much. I have almost no tolerance for alcohol so I was buzz-y. I did drink enough that in the morning I felt kind of crappy and realized why I don’t drink that often. Blah.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Olive Branch, Mississippi to attend the wedding of the daughter of my former boss - it was a very Southern Baptist wedding. The bride was lovely and it was a very sweet ceremony. It was however one of those “come to Jesus” type services where at the end, after the vows and the ring exchange the minister tells you to take this opportunity to dedicate your life to Jesus. I’m not sure if they do these elsewhere but they’re pretty prominent in the South. What was more interesting was where we went afterwards.

After the wedding we had just enough time to drive home, change clothes and hit the ATM before driving over to the Mid South Fairgrounds to go to a Memphis Roller Derby bout. It was flipping awesome, excellent people watching and PRONTO PUPS. We got there late so we ended up standing most of the night but that was no big deal. These girls are kick-ass, they all have names like “Gwen Reaper” and “Robin & Stealin” and they are fast. The Memphis team is called the Hustlin’ Rollers and they played Birmingham’s Tragic City Rollers Saturday. Memphis won by a large margin. Being there I realized how small of a town Memphis really is. Doug saw and spoke to his former co-worker/director Craig Brewer (Doug worked with him a long time ago at a bookstore I think) and another friend of his that he hadn’t seen in a very long time. I saw an elementary school classmate of mine that I was going to speak to but I lost him in the crowd and I also saw someone who I had not seen since 2001 and knew only briefly. I didn’t speak because I thought he probably wouldn't recognize me and even if he did it would have been an awkward conversation. In the end, the derby was a great way to spend our Saturday night and I can’t wait to go to the next one.
We spent most of Sunday vegging out. Doug worked on one of his models and I knit. We finally watched one of the Netflix movies we’ve had for at least a month. It was “Paris Je T’aime” and it was a film made up of several short films all about Paris, with directors like Wes Craven, the Cohen brothers, Alexander Payne and others. It was a nice movie with gorgeous shots of Paris. For dinner I made Lemon-Tarragon Chicken from the At Home with Magnolia cookbook. It’s such a good recipe, I’ve made it many times and it’s great every time. I served it with plain couscous to soak up the sauce. We had this week’s TWD selection for dessert (so good and so bad for you).
I was really proud of us because we went out and we were social and some weekends that doesn’t happen. This coming weekend I’m volunteering (for the first time) at the WEVL’s Blues on the Bluff concert. So we’ll do something else we’ve never done before this Saturday too.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Things from the past

When my mom gave over last Friday, she had been cleaning out her cedar chest and brought me a few things she thought I might want. My mom’s cedar chest has stored tons of keepsakes from my childhood, I’m very glad she kept those things in a safe place for us. She brought me several photographs of myself as a baby, some baby clothes (some that she even made herself) the footprints that they took in the hospital when I was born, the little “It’s A Girl” card from my bassinet in the hospital nursery, my Girl Scout sash (it still fits!), a New Testament gifted to me when I was born and other similar odds and ends. They all smell faintly like the inside of the cedar chest.
One of the other treasures she brought me was a little apron that belonged to my great-great grandmother Jennie. I never knew her because she died years before I was born, but I know she was very special to my own grandmother. She also must have been a very tiny woman because her little apron barely wraps around my hips. The pocket on the front needs a little repair because it has come loose from the apron itself but it should only take a few stitches to fix. I’m very happy to have it, I really appreciate things like that that have a story and it’s even better that it belonged to someone in my family.

I have been attempting to make my own apron for awhile now, I was using the pattern from Bend the Rules Sewing. I even got so far as to cut all the fabric pieces out but I haven't sewn anything yet. I really need to just bite the bullet and try to do it. It can't be that hard right? I wanted to participate in the Tie One On apron challenge for August, which is to make an apron with gingham fabric. I bought some brown and pink gingham the other week so I have the fabric I just need to take the plunge and actually make the apron. I'm not very good at cutting straight lines or sewing them either. All my seams are crooked. My mom is supposed to come over one Saturday soon when neither one of us is busy to help me make a skirt. Last summer I bought ? and it has some really adorable patterns in it that I am dying to make. I just don't want to spend a lot of money of nice fabric and then ruin it!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In the Garden - Week 13

SQUASH! I have squash people – in MY garden, real, live yellow summer squash. I am hopelessly excited about that development. We went outside and started poking around Sunday and I had not really been paying attention to the squash plants lately because they bloomed but didn’t seem to be doing much else so I was concerned there would be no squash. But Sunday I started moving the leaves around and lo and behold there was a tiny little yellow squash in the midst of the leaves. I found two others on another plant too. So hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll have big squash to eat.

The cucumber is still growing, I see little bitty cucumbers but they seem to be the same size that they were two weeks ago. Maybe they’ll have a growth spurt soon. The cantaloupe vines have started blooming too and the watermelon vines are growing a lot but no blooms yet. My cayenne peppers are producing lots of peppers, I intend to dry them but I need to look up the best method to do that.I have not (knock on wood) seen any horned tomato worms on my tomato plants in several days. I guess it would be too much to hope that they have disappeared for good. In addition to the first tomato I found a few weeks ago, which is get bigger and bigger, I found four more little green tomatoes. The plants also have tons of blooms which I am hoping will equal tons of tomatoes.

And in addition to the summer squash, I found two tiny baby butternut squashes on the vines. I love, love, love butternut squash. Its good roasted, pureed into soup, baked, stuffed, anything really. I was ecstatic to see those little butternuts. Let’s hope they keep growing and the pests/fungus/etc leave them alone.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

This week’s selection came from Amy of South in Your Mouth and it was perfect for our 4th of July cookout. This was the first time I had made my own ‘true’ pie crust. I have a small food processor but even when I halved the dough recipe it was still too much to fit into processor so I ended up using my hands (again). I really, really need to buy a pastry blender. The dough turned out fine, just like the book says. I made my dough on Thursday afternoon and refrigerated it until I was ready to make the pie on Friday morning. It was really difficult for me to roll out the dough because it was very hard and cold. But my strong-armed husband helped me roll it out and it was just right.

I used fresh blueberries (on sale this past week, score!) and put about 1 ¼ cup of sugar in the berries, with a little extra lemon zest than the recipe called for. The smell of the baking pie was delicious, the whole house smelled like pie. Everyone at the cookout really liked it too, I had vanilla ice cream on hand for people who wanted their pie “a la mode”. It wasn’t too sweet either; it had just the right amount of sweetness in the crust and the filling. The only ‘complaint’ I had was that the filling produced a lot of soupy-ness, it didn’t affect the crust (probably because of the breadcrumbs which were totally undetectable) but there was a lot of it after I cut the first slice. Other than that it was a really good pie and a really good experience. I’ll definitely use the crust recipe again with a different fruit, I imagine cherry or apple would be fantastic too.
P.S. Blogger is not my friend this morning because my font size and formatting is all wonky, sorry!

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Long Weekend

Weekends seems to speed by with the ease of lighting, even long weekends. I took a vacation day on Thursday, but still had to come in Thursday morning for about an hour to complete the weekly newsletter and email. I spent the rest of the day grocery shopping for Friday’s cookout and cleaning the house with a little knitting in between. I also made the pie dough for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection (Double Crusted Blueberry Pie!).

Friday morning Doug and I finished tidying up the house and I made the potato salad and got the burgers, sausages and corn ready for the grill. The family was due to arrive around one o’clock so I was in a mad dash to get the pie out of the oven and get everything ready. We had a nice time, there were only seven of us but it was fun. I served burgers with a little piece of cheese stuffed in them so it melted while they grilled, sausages, grilled corn, this low-fat potato salad recipe, chips & dip, the blueberry pie and my mom made a Pina Colada cake, which includes a can of coconut milk in it, so good! After the family cleared out Doug and I met our friends at their apartment in Germantown to walk over to the Germantown Municipal Park to watch the fireworks display. It was actually nice weather, overcast without the sun beating down on you. We threw some blankets on the grass and had a really good time eating bad food (Pronto Pups and funnel cakes) and just hanging out. The fireworks were great but they are really hard to photograph so I only got a few semi-decent shots. (I'm the non-blond below)

Saturday morning I always get up early and go walk the 5K trail at Shelby Farms with a friend before it gets unbearably hot. After I got home it started to rain and I got really tired and ended up taking a two and a half hour nap, which I almost never do. I know I probably needed the sleep but I woke up feeling like I had slept the day away. We had been invited to another cookout with more friends Saturday night and I was supposed to bring potato salad so I used this recipe and it turned out to be a hit. It was another nice night, the rain had made it cooler outside so it wasn’t so muggy. We hung around until the fireworks and then headed back home.

Sunday I made banana bread in the morning and we had our normal Sunday morning ritual of coffee and CBS Sunday morning. It was a very lazy day. Doug finished watching the third season of Deadwood that he borrowed from a co-worker and I caught up on some of my podcasts and got pretty far in knitting the hat I’m making for a friend who is leaving in two weeks. I also finished a cotton reusable grocery bag made from this Knitty pattern. We tried to finish the mound of leftovers we have from the weekend (sausages, potato salad and pie) and ended the night watching more Law & Order (we are so predictable).

Mondays after a long weekend are so hard; I just want to go back home and knit. My boss has been out of the country for a month and he is coming back this week so my quiet time in the office will be over. But I do have our Florida vacation (4 ½ weeks away!) to look forward to. I just want to sit on the beach, eat fresh crab and knit. I can’t wait to be lazy!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple Cheddar Scones

This week’s recipe was chosen by Karina of The Floured Apron. I looove scones, the coffee shop I go to used to carry these really delicious cranberry-orange scones and I would indulge in one every week. Sadly they no longer carry them so if I want a scone I have to make it myself. I really enjoy savory breads/quiches/tarts so the Apple Cheddar Scones really excited me. They did not disappoint, they were really good. I followed Dorie’s recipe exactly, using the dried apple and mild cheddar cheese. My cheese was very finely grated though because I used my microplane grater since I could find the cheese grater. Based on other member’s comments I knew the dough was very sticky so I just used my ice cream scoop instead of trying to get them into the perfect scone shape. This little adventure did make me covet a scone pan, maybe next time….

Next week’s selection is Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie, chosen by Amy of South in Your Mouth, which my family will get to enjoy on Friday at our 4th of July BBQ. I’ve actually never really made a true from scratch pie crust (I’ve been too lazy!).