Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes

A very short and sweet post about this week's selection. It was chosen by Wendy at Pink Stripes who has a great blog and the recipe for these cakes.I halved the recipe and used a light rum rather than a dark one. Fabulous, moist, flavorful cake, loved it and served it with a side of blackberries, yum!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The year of the shawlette?

It seems my grand plans for knitting a sweater a month are long defunct and instead this might be the year of the sock yarn shawlette. So far this year I have knit three and have a fourth and fifth on the needles. Why? Well they're easy to carry around, usually require only one skein of sock yarn, they knit up fairly quickly and they're pretty stylish. Not to mention it seems everyone in the knitting world has similar ideas but there are dozens and dozens of different patterns out there. My Ravelry que is filled with shawl patterns. Another draw of the shawlette right now is it's so flipping hot (we've been under a heat advisory since last week) and working on another bigger than a mini-shawl seems daunting.

I cast-off and blocked the Multnomah shawl this past weekend. It was pretty mindless knitting and I finally used up the Sunshine yarn I'd had for a couple of years. The colorway is 'Forks' (yes that Forks) and it's a little more camo-ish that I'd hope for. I'll still wear it though.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomatoes & blueberries

Despite the time drain algebra is having on me, I did manage to cook a little, because a girl has to eat. I found this recipe for a simple tomato sauce via a tweet from Yarn Harlot. I was a little skeptical that the sauce would be all that great since it has so few ingredients but I pleasantly surprised. The recipe is a can of whole, peeled tomatoes, butter and an onion, that's it. All you do is toss those items together, simmer for 45 minutes and serve over pasta. It's not health fare (hello 5 tablespoons of butter) but easy, quick and very good. I used the San Marzano tomatoes as mentioned in the recipe and I think one of the best things about the butter addition is that is cuts some of the acidity of the tomatoes. Usually Doug has trouble with plain tomato sauce because the tomatoes are too acidic but he really liked this sauce. It's worth keeping a can of tomatoes around for those moments when you don't have the time (or maybe energy) for a more elaborate meal.The blueberry cornmeal cobbler recipe from this book was also thrown together recently. The cornmeal added a nice texture and the whole thing wasn't too sweet. The leftovers do well for breakfast.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The great time suck

Lately I haven't been able to blog as much or have the time to do things to blog about. The reason? Algebra. This summer I'm taking an algebra class online, through the University of Memphis, so I can hopefully finish up my BS degree over the next two years. Algebra has been the bane of my existence forever, really the entire study of math. I started going to 'special' math when I was in the second grade. The trouble has persisted throughout my educational career. I have taken this particular class at the UofM at least twice before, without passing. Really. Thus, almost all my free time (the time when I'm not at my 8-5 job) is spent on my laptop trying to navigate the distributive property and rational expressions and linear graphing. Algebra is currently my great time suck. It's hard, especially since it's online and it's the summer semester, which is more condensed than the spring or fall. But the end will come shortly and (fingers crossed) hopefully I can eke out a passing grade.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

I was very excited that Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes chose this recipe. This was the recipe I almost chose when it was my turn to pick the selection. I really love the combination of cherry + chocolate, which is why it appealed to me so much and I was not disappointed. The cake was rich and super chocolate-y but the jam helped cut down on being overwhelmed by the intensity of the chocolate. The frosting might have been my favorite part, it was so good. My only change was that I used a springform pan instead of loaf pan so I only had one layer of jam. A delicious cake that almost had to be served with a cold glass of milk!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden Update 2010: Week 14

Still hot here, like heat index of 105 hot. Some things in the garden seem to be enjoying this, others not so much.Some pest is reeking havoc on my beans, the beans themselves seem to be okay but the leaves have definitely been nibbled on a lot lately. My best guess is that it's Mexican bean beetles, I have some insecticidal soap to spray on them later, hopefully that will help. Even with the beetle attack, the beans are still blooming and producing.The yellow zucchini plants are enormous but they aren't making any zucchini yet. I'm not sure if they're getting properly pollinated, I may have to intervene.Okra plants are taller and the okra seeds I planted in March that I thought never germinated, will some of them finally came up, weird.My tomatoes are growing but not really doing so hot other than just getting taller. One tomato got eaten by something, birds I'm guessing. I still have some little green ones, I might have to put something around them to deter any other birds seeking a snack.I pulled out the peas and planted Christmas lima beans, which is why the far left bed looks empty.Cucumbers are doing well, lots of blooms and teensy cukes. One cucumber probably only needs a few more days on the vine before it's ready to eat.Peppers growing bigger (even though they're mini-bell peppers)Carrots and volunteer tomatoes are happy.Swiss chard is almost ready to go, which works out since the cantaloupe vines are looking to move in our their territory.I also stuck a cantaloupe plant in my compost pile and it's getting grabby. I was inspired by my mom, who has a tomato in her compost pile and I swear the stalk is 5 inches thick.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Raisin Swirl Bread

This week's selection was home-y and carb-y and Susan of food.baby made the choice. I used whole wheat flour instead of white flour and I didn't notice a huge difference. The crumb did seem to be less dense than other breads I've made with white flour but it still tasted great. I do wish I had added the orange zest and cocoa, I think they would have take it up a notch taste-wise. I did refrigerate the dough overnight before rolling it out and baking it. As warm as it's been here the dough rose with no problems.I'd love to make this again, maybe in the fall or winter when it isn't such a PIA to turn on the oven. Thanks again Susan!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Oh my gosh, it isn't even officially summer yet and we're already melting. We've been under a heat advisory since Saturday and it doesn't seem to be cooling off very much at night either. As I type this it's 91 degrees but feels like 103, ugh and tonight's low is going to be 78, double ugh.

Despite the ridiculous temperatures, the two of us, along with some friends, braved the heat and went to the free Cowboy Junkies show at the Levitt Shell Saturday night. It was a packed house (or lawn rather?) and so flipping hot. We did a potluck, Kenan made a really great vinegar based slaw, Lynsey and Ted made yummy brisket and diced chicken thighs served with corn tortillas and several amazing sauces to go along with them. I made a black-eyed pea salad with cilantro, tomatoes, lime juice and jalapeno and blueberry cheesecake bars for dessert.I burned the hell out of my finger tips with the jalapeno. I don't use them a lot so I didn't think anything about chopping them and not wearing gloves, this was a total mistake. We tried putting everything on them that the internet suggested for capsaicin burns, baking soda, milk, canola oil, alcohol but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain. At one point I had Doug tape a plastic baggie of cold water and baking soda to my hand so I could get some relief, hence the photo of me looking like a crazy person. Eventually the burning sensation wore off, about eight hours after my initial jalapeno contact. So lesson learned, wear gloves when working with jalapenos!

The cheesecake bars were good, especially cold. The recipe is from here, the blueberries were great but I bet they'd be just as good with raspberries or blackberries (but probably not strawberries because of the moisture content).I'm off to bask in wonder that is air conditioning.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The healthy & the not-so-healthy

First the healthy! A Very Berry Salad (eye-roll at the cutesy name) made with all manner of berries I could find and a 'dressing' of honey, lemon juice and Triple Sec. Recipe found here. Healthy because strawberries have vitamin C and so do blueberries! Raspberries have niacin (vitamin B3), blackberries have vitamin K and all of them have fiber and antioxidants. Plus they're all in season right now and it's a pretty looking salad.Next, the not-so-healthy, Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies (recipe here). I didn't have actual peanuts on hand so I used just chunky peanut butter. Minimal effort for a soft, yummy cookie!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Tender Shortcakes

A perfect recipe for the spring/summer when all the fruits are coming into season. Shortcakes are like the sweeter sister to biscuits, just a little more sugar is really the only difference (I think). I used whole wheat flour for mine instead of plain white and added a splash of almond extract and peaches instead of berries. They were sweet, rustic and the perfect vessel for in-season fruit. Thanks to Cathy of The Tortefeasor for this week's selection!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Broccoli & Chocolate (but not together)

At the Botanic Gardens farmer's market a few weeks ago I bought two giant heads of broccoli, they were as big as my own head. I did some Google-ing on broccoli recipes and the first thing that came up was The Best Broccoli of Your Life by the Amateur Gourmet. The recipe is just roasting broccoli after it's been lightly tossed in salt, pepper and olive oil and then adding lemon juice, lemon zest, pine nuts and Parmesan. I already enjoy roasting vegetables with olive oil and s&p but the lemon and parm totally made this dish. It was mind-blowing and I can't even remember a time I've ever described a vegetable as 'mind-blowing'. I used all the broccoli I had to make the dish twice in one week, it was that good. I did slightly tinker with it though, I used red pepper flakes, a little less olive oil and I skipped the pine nuts. I can't imagine a better way to eat broccoli.For Memorial Day my mom and a friend of hers joined us for lunch. Since it was hot and humid, I opted for a chilled dessert rather than a heavy, baked item. I used this Elie Krieger recipe from the Food Network website for Double Chocolate Pudding Pie. I did have to bake the crust for just for a few minutes and it was a graham cracker crust so it was still light. The pie is actually relatively 'healthy' although chocolate pudding pie is never really good for you this one is less bad for you. We all really enjoyed it, even without the whipped cream top, which would have probably made it more photogenic, oh well it still tasted good!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Garden Update 2010: Week 12

Well the weather around here has been hot and muggy and somewhat wet. Perfect for mosquitoes, which means I can hardly step foot in the garden without being feasted on. The garden, however, seems to be loving the weather.

I have gathered an abundance of green beans, plenty to share with friends.
The varieties of green bean areFin de Bagnol and Provider Bean. I got the last of the peas, the heat is just too much for them to bear. This weekend I'll be removing the pea vines and replacing them with Christmas Lima Bean seeds, yum! The tomatoes are getting bigger but it'll be awhile before they're ready to eat. This one pineapple tomato is not well but the other tomatoes around it are fine. Everything else is coming along nicely.Yesterday I got my second order from Seed Savers, it included the Christmas Lima Beans, Hutterite Soup Beans, Acorn Squash and Parade cucumbers. Doug is going to finally build me an 8th raised bed so I can plant a few more things.

My Swiss chard is ready for harvesting, I'm looking around for the best way to cook it.The nasturtiums I bought as plants earlier in the spring did well in the planter box on one side of the shop, the ones on the other side got way too much sun and wilted. I replanted them in another container and put them in the shade hoping they'll be happier.Oh and the grapes are growing a lot, Doug made this makeshift support for them until has can build something better.