Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cornmeal & Fruit Loaf

The TWD book is so close to being done and I am somewhat ashamed I haven't been participating as much, but I'm hoping to redeem myself. This week's selection was Cornmeal & Fruit Loaf, chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker

I got up early Sunday morning to get this in oven in time for our ritual of coffee and CBS Sunday Morning. I used a fresh pear and dried apple slices. I really like how this wasn't super sweet and the cornmeal added a nice texture to the bread. I am especially interested on trying it with diced bacon as Dorie suggests on the sidebar.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Simple Plum Tart

Last week, squirreled away in the produce department of the grocery store,  I spied a basket of small Italian Prune Plums. I didn't buy them at first because I wasn't sure what to do with them, but I knew I'd find some recipes if I looked. There was a recipe using them in my Dorie Greenspan Baking book that was tempting. Then I found this recipe from Ina Garten for tart that seemed super simple with minimal ingredients.

The crust/topping is butter, flour, walnuts, brown sugar and an egg yolk pressed into a tart pan and then some reserved for the topping. The plums are halved and placed in the tart shell, then covered with the topping. Bake and you're done. It's such a good desert and the plums were wonderful with the walnut crust. I had an idea that maybe for the fall I'd like to sub pecans for the walnuts and sweet potato slices for the plums.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Middle-of-the-week chocolate cake

Some times Wednesdays just call for chocolate cake. I was itching to bake something last night, but nothing too involved since it was a weeknight. When I was home at lunch I thumbed through my growing collection of cookbooks and found this recipe for a simple chocolate loaf cake from At Home with Magnolia. I like this cookbook but most of the desserts in it require hours of letting it 'set' before eating. Luckily, this loaf cake did not, it was more of a throw together, bake, let cool for half-an-hour and then devour. I used natural cocoa powder and made the adjustment suggested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. The loaf cake turned out perfectly and didn't 'rise and fall'.

Doug and I had our still-slightly-warm slices with vanilla Haagen-Dazs, very good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Space for hope

Doug and I have been going to church (shocking!). It's a fairly progressive United Methodist church with things like a soup kitchen, food pantry, community garden, etc. and it's 100 times better than the church I grew up in. Anyway, for the last month they've been doing a Southern literature series on Sundays, tying in some piece of Southern writing to the sermon. This past Sunday they did a selection from Wendell Berry and the sermon was called 'Space for Hope'.
Considering the infertility issues we've been dealing with for so.long I'm always looking for hope. The sermon was nice and when I went home I thought about the literal space for hope I've been creating the last few months. In my craft room there's this:
The little red rocking chair that belonged to Doug's father, two 'blankies' from my childhood, some of my favorite Little Golden Books, a few really cute onesies and baby tees from Threadless and all the little knitted items I've been making for our someday-baby. This is quite literally my space for hope. I hope that these things will be used by our baby one day. There has to be an end (a happy one) to this rocky road eventually. 

I finished two more baby sweaters for my stash this weekend, the knitting had been done for a while but the button-sewing-on and the sleeve seaming wasn't finished. 
This the Cascade baby sweater knit in Madelinetosh Vintage in 'Baltic'. The buttons are naturally shed reindeer antler. I bought them in Denver last year at the alpaca show. 
This is the Maile sweater knit in The Yarn Gallery in 'Aztec' (also bought last year at the alpaca show). The yarn bled a lot when I was blocking it but it's super soft, it's a wool/bamboo superwash. The buttons are from Jo Ann's. This is the same sweater I made for our friends twins in February but I left off the flower pattern on the bottom to make it a little more gender neutral.
Since those things are finished, I started this baby blanket made with sock yarn leftovers. The pattern is Zig and Zag sock yarn pram blanket. I love this so much already, it'll probably be ongoing for awhile since I need more leftovers to knit with but it's a super easy pattern.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hug the ones you love

(I meant to post this Friday but got sidetracked)

Life is all too brief. Earlier this week I was reading Gluten Free Girl and saw this post about a dear friend of hers who very unexpectedly lost her husband (the story is can also be found on CNN's Eatocracy too). It resonated with me because Doug lost his father from an sudden heart attack when his father was just 42, Doug was 12.

She asked those to help her heal by making her late husband's favorite pie and share it with those you love and hug them, because as she says and as we all know too well, tomorrow is not guaranteed.

So here's my Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, eaten with the one I love.  

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tuesdays with Dorie: Carrot Spice Muffins

Sorry for the extended baking hiatus! There was travel, illness and general baking malaise to deal with. But I have my baking mojo back and was very happy to make this week's selection, Carrot Spice Muffins, chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs. (I'm really jealous she got to meet Jeni of Jeni's Ice Cream!) I love making muffins because they're so easy and usually involve just tossing the ingredients together in a big bowl. The muffins were perfect for breakfast and snacking, I used pecans and golden raisins but I'm sure they'd be just as delicious with any of the other mix-ins Dorie suggested.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Chickens & cold pie

I have been badgering Doug for backyard chickens for EVER. This is a man who almost never tells me no but he used his veto power over chickens. I wanted backyard chickens for a number of reasons, one being that I'm a country girl at heart, having spent good portions of my childhood at my grandparents and great-grandparents homes in the county. After much begging and pleading and thanks in large part to my uncle, I wore Doug down and he finally agreed to two Buff Orphingtons. My uncle got the chicks while we were driving out west back in June and they've been living at his house ever since. We went to visit them back in July and they were in that awkward not a chick anymore but not yet a full fledged hen stage. Anyway, before the chickens can come live in our backyard we have to get their 'house' situated. Doug had considered building a coop from scratch but with the heat and the lack of A/C in his wood shop he decided to buy one that was pre-made online. It came in pieces on Friday in two very large boxes and Saturday in our living room he put it together. It looks pretty darn good I think and Doug says its very well made. We still have to build the chicken run that the chickens will hang out in during the day while we're at work but Doug's drawn up plans and hopefully the run will be completed in the next few weeks so the chickens can come to our house before the end of the month.

While Doug was slaving away in the living room, I was two rooms away making Key Lime Pie in the kitchen. Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake is such a bad influence, she tweets about the delicious things she's made, which promptly makes me want to make whatever it is she's made. Which is how I ended up making Key Lime Pie Saturday afternoon. The main appeal of making the pie was that I knew it would be a cold pie and that sounded delicious since Memphis in August is something akin to Hades. Rebecca's recipe is on her blog here. It was quick and simple and very good. I skipped the whipped cream though because I wanted a pie that was more tart than sweet.

Stay tuned for future chicken updates.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Two more things to keep you cool

Last week Doug and I were hit by an awful stomach virus, courtesy of our germy sweet nephew. It was so bad, we haven't been sick like that the whole time we've been together. There was a lot of lying in bed, moaning, sweating, lying in the bathroom floor, drinking Gatorade and eating Saltines. We missed two days of work, which is a rarity for both of us. In six years at my current job I've only ever called in sick once before. Anyway, we got better thankfully, but neither one of us felt like eating much. My desire to bake/cook was greatly diminished this past weekend too. However, I did crave light, cold treats and they didn't require much effort either. 

First, there's Watermelon-Lemonade Sorbet from the Jeni's Ice Cream cookbook. Seriously easy, watermelon puree + lemon simple syrup + a whirl in the ice cream make + a trip to the freezer = done. This sorbet tastes like summer. 

The second thing is vanilla yogurt popsicles with raspberry puree. I have four sets of popsicle molds (I was a little indulgent last summer shopping on Amazon.com) and I never used these particular ones but dug them out to use for this recipe. The 'recipe' is just one container of raspberries tossed in the food chopper with a dash of lemon juice and a little less than 1/2 cup of sugar, pureed. Then I alternated filling the molds with the puree and vanilla yogurt. I wanted to use Greek yogurt but I only had a little bit and because it's so thick it was hard to get in the molds than the regular yogurt. I really liked the way these turned out and the molds release much easier than I thought they would. Plus they're relatively healthy, they could be made healthier by using fat free yogurt and stevia or agave for the sweetener.

Considering we still have at least 6 more weeks of 90+ degree temperatures I am sure I'll be using the popsicle molds some more.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Garden 2011 - Week 12 or maybe 13

I have to admit my poor little garden has been greatly neglected recently. It's the same old story, heat and mosquitoes. 

This is what's happening currently:

Okra and Morning Glory is taller than me (I'm 5'2) Tiny okra pods are appearing, the Morning Glory is blooming, I just need to go out there in the AM to take a picture. 
Carrots and Bachelor's Buttons are growing, probably another few weeks before the carrots are ready to harvest. 
Cucumbers and beans are being attacked by something vicious. I have a lot of misshapen pickling cucumbers and one lovely and unusual looking True Lemon cucumber. The beans are dying so that's kind of a shame but I haven't been doing much to prevent.
Tomatoes and zinnias are doing exceedingly well. I love the zinnias so much, they remind me of my childhood. I have a ton of Roma tomatoes on the vine and lots of larger green ones of varieties I can't recall. I also have these teensy little guys, this was one of the plants my mom gave me that she started from seed - Matt's Wild Cherry.

Doug's grape vines are finally producing real, edible grapes. These are Concord, they have seeds and a very strong flavor.