Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Eggnog Muffins

Eggnog Muffins

Melt in Pyrex cup: 1/4 c. butter
1 c. eggnog -good old-fashioned full-fat eggnog
1/4 c. rum
1 egg

Mix separately:
2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
Mix eggnog and flour mixes together. Scoop into 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tests done. Cool on wire rack. Eat several muffins with a large cup of eggnog for breakfast or snacking during the holidays. Read the following 'holiday eating tips' that was a forwarded e-mail sent to me by a dear friend if you need convincing. Happy Holiday!

Holiday Eating Tips:

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare… You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple , Pumpkin , Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day ?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What a Week!

Last Saturday, I celebrated my birthday with my husband, son, and youngest daughter by making Ciopinno and Coconut Cake (click here), after my husband flew back Friday from visiting our oldest daughter in Austin, Texas; Sunday, my husband and I went to Teatro Zinzani (click here) in Seattle for his company's holiday party -despite the fact that he was pulled from the audience to participate which is exactly what he did NOT want to happen we had a good time; Monday, was my birthday and we went out to dinner at The Prohibition Grille in Everett; Tuesday, my husband's work site was closed and he was laid off -we have been expecting this to happen for quite awhile so it wasn't too much of a surprise; Wednesday, we talked and assessed our situation -we have been preparing for this so for now we are fine, both financially and emotionally; Thursday, the twin lambs were born in the pasture; Friday, we all went to dinner at (click here) Perche No (absolutely FABULOUS Italian food) and then to the Seattle Symphony Handel's Messiah (click here) which was lovely; Saturday, was the beginning of our annual HOLIDAY COOKIE BAKING - we will put them in tins and mail them to our family members living in cities near (Seattle) and far (Austin and San Diego) and my husband put up the tree and decorations; And today, I'm finishing the cookie baking and frosting, last minute shopping and going to see the Nutcracker (click here) tonight with my youngest daughter. What a week!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As with favorite books and family photo albums, this time of year it's fun to go back and look at a few of the old ones. Favorite posts this week are:

Baby Bunnies (click here), Little Big Guy (click here), Christmas Memories with Recipes: Sugar Cookies (click here), and Noel Balls, Mexican Wedding Cookies... (click here). And Home Made French Fries (click here).

New twin boy lambs born today. I spotted a lone sheep in the middle of the pasture coming home from work today (luckily it was early and still light) and when I slowed to observe her (a lone sheep is not normal) I spotted a cream colored unmoving thing. I was sure that it was a dead lamb. By the time I parked and trotted out to her to check, there was also a black unmoving thing -two lambs just born! They are now all three in the barn moving about and making the bleating and nickering noises of newborn lambs and their mother bonding. It is one of my favorite things about having sheep.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ciopinno and Coconut Cake

Every year for my birthday, I bake a cake and make the Italian seafood stew, Ciopinno. This year was no different, except that this year it wasn't actually on my birthday day (work schedules and all) that I made this to celebrate with my family. It was the very best stew I have ever made and I had to share.

Adapted from: The Best of Sunset

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 T. dried parsley, minced
28 oz. can tomato sauce
3 -15 oz. cans Italian diced tomatoes
1 glass red wine
2 t. Italian seasoning
Simmer 20 minutes.

1-2 lbs. true cod, halibut or salmon, cut into 1 inch chunks
1-2 cooked Dungeness crabs, add crab legs in the shell and meat from body
1-2 lbs. live Manila clams, scrubbed
1 lb. live mussels, scrubbed
1 lb. shrimp, shelled
1 lb. scallops
1 lb. squid, cut into rings
Cover and simmer medium-low taking great care not to scorch. Clam and mussel shells should open and fish flake easily.

This is better the following day. And the day after that, if one is lucky enough to still have any left in the fridge, which often is the case and one of the reasons for this continuing birthday tradition.

I made this cake found in The Complete Southern Cookbook by Tammy Algood (click here) for my husband's birthday last April but never got around to sharing the recipe. This is the author's grandmother's recipe and her daddy's favorite cake. That I took as a serious endorsement. I made it again last weekend for my birthday (notice the trend here?) and simply had to share it. The first time I made it I wasn't sure how it would turn out. It it put together rather oddly compared to the usual way cakes are made but it's fabulous! The original recipe is a Four-Layer Coconut Cake and when I made it in April I baked the full recipe in three pans (because that's what I have). Last weekend when I made it, I halved the recipe for this Two-Layer Coconut Cake -a more modest approach that means I'm eating cake for breakfast only once rather than all week!

Two-Layer Coconut Cake
Adapted from: The Complete Southern Cookbook by Tammy Algood
Yields 6 southern-style servings (or 8 moderate servings)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour two non-stick 9 inch cake pans.
Combine with mixer, mixing well:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. cream tartar
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. solid vegetable shortening
1/4 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. coconut milk
1 t. coconut extract
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Add 3 eggs, one at a time and mixing well after each addition.
Stir in 1 c. shredded coconut.
Divide batter between two pans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn onto racks and cool completely. Frost with Coconut Milk Frosting then sprinkle with shredded coconut. Candles are optional.

Coconut Milk Frosting

Beat with mixer until fluffy:
1/2 c. butter, softened
two pinches salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. coconut extract

Add alternately:
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/3 c. coconut milk

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dirt And The Dirty Life

"I had never in my life been so dirty. The work was always dirty, beyond what I'd previously defined as dirty, and it took too much energy to keep oneself out of it. I had daily intimacy not just with dirt dirt but with blood, manure, milk, pus, my own sweat and the sweat of other creatures, with the grease of engines and the grease of animals, with innards, with all the stages of decomposition. Slowly, the boundary of what I found disgusting pushed outward." -The Dirty Life On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

How could I not want to read a book with this title? And it is better written and even more interesting than I was expecting it to be -I highly recommend it for a perspective on what it takes to grow food. I grew up living in this dirty dirt. It takes A LOT of yuck to alarm me and I forget that the rest of the world doesn't think that way -that animal butchering is not an favorite or acceptable topic of conversation with most people. Too often I am babbling along on the topic of barn to table eating before I notice the incredulous look on the face of the person I'm babbling to. I've recently returned to working full-time and living more and more of my life OUTSIDE of the dirty life with people who are far removed from the source of their daily sustenance. The other day I came home from work and my daughter actually expressed approval for how I was dressed, rather than her more usual dismay at my farmer-fashion-style and "You're not actually going out in public like that are you?" question. Aside from acknowledging my ability to dress myself in a way that is socially acceptable, she says she isn't used to seeing me so clean and it's taking some getting used to!

Today, is a red letter day for us: it's pig butchering day! This morning, I cleaned rabbit trays, then dug out the entrance to the pigpen and separated two lambs from the flock -both in anticipation of the butcher's visit. I've been missing my dirty life lately, but I smell like rabbit pee, pig poo, and sheep grease now -which makes me feel much better. And the day has just begun. I'll probably be involved with some pig blood and innards! It is the smell of life and where our sustenance comes from.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I read 'Growing a Farmer' by Kurt Timmermeister (click here) last week which had this quote in it I really liked:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert Heinlein

I have not (yet) learned to conn (it means to steer or pilot -I had to look it up) a ship, and I'm not sure how gallantly I will die, but I agree with this thought. I would add to the list: knit or sew a garment, grow a garden, bake bread, and fix a car's engine -or at least live with someone who can.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grandmother's Summer

"She just don't got the time that she used to." -Justin Townes Earle

A woman I work with told me that in the Ukraine where she is from early fall -about September 20th to mid-November- is called Grandmother's Summer because it is so lovely and warm, the spiders go from place to place (like a grandmother visiting), and the bounty of mushrooms and fall produce is available then (as generous as a grandmother). Yes, I pretty much melted at this poetic description. This Sunday in celebration and anticipation of the Grandmother's Summer weather predicted for this week, I made a pot of Borscht -lamb and beet soup- to have for dinner tomorrow night. Beets from our garden and lamb stew meat reserved from the two lambs I spent the weekend packaging and putting into the freezer. There was an article in the paper today (click here) that reminded me of the long term value of my job -and the peril of programs like the one I work for being closed due to budget shortages. I'll hope for the best and plan for the worst -and make soup.

Russian Borscht
Adapted from Jeff Smith's On Our Immigrant Ancestors
2 T. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lamb stew meat
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 c. chopped cabbage
1/2-1 c. mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/2 c. carrots, diced (optional)
1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes
3 large beets, peeled and diced WITH greens and stems added if possible
2 qts. stock
2-3 T. red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 t. lemon juice
1/2 - 3/4 t. salt
1/4-1/2 t. black pepper
Brown meat in oil. Add garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and cook 2 hours. Can refrigerate and reheat the next day. Serve with sour cream and snipped fresh dill weed (if available).

Sunday, September 11, 2011


"There is hardly anything in the world more exciting than something which is on the verge of becoming.

When this something is a human being,

a human personality on the verge of declaring itself,

the excitement doubles." -Louise Bates Ames

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Light in September,

...a new batch of Zucchini Relish (click here),

...our lambs in September (I'm thinking about lamb sausage a lot lately),

...individual bread puddings (click here),

...a jar of chili oil my mom gave me yesterday,

...a September lunch salad of garden green beans, freshly dug potatoes, home canned tuna (thanks mom!), and cherry tomatoes,

...and a plate of deviled quail eggs (click here). Except for the barn swallows leaving, I love everything about this time of year. The light has been absolutely magical this week. Even though this has been a rather dismal year for gardening, I love putting together the hodgepodgey (it's my blog and I can make up words if I want to!) sort of meals that are dictated by what's coming from the garden (and the river) right now. Last night was a weird but tasty stir-fry of fried potatoes seasoned with chili oil, broccoli, zucchini, patty pan and yellow summer squash over rice. Tonight, smoked salmon and cream cheese on crackers, and leftover green beans with bacon and garlic (served the night before last with salmon grilled over the fire, bread, pasta and freshly made pesto). And we'll have individual bread puddings for breakfast in the morning. If I were a cat I'd be purring.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Get Behind the Mule

"Pin your ear to the wisdom post
Pin your eye to the line
Never let the weeds get higher
than the garden
Always keep a sapphire in your mind
Always keep a diamond in your mind

You got to get behind the mule
in the morning and plow" -Tom Waits

And make pickles, dig potatoes, smoke salmon, clean barn, and make plow one row at a time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pinks and Zucchini Relish

Life is messy, but my hiatus seems to have been a month with more messes than usual: an allergy season that seemed it would never end...weeds on steroids taking over everything...How much physical therapy does one ankle need for crying out loud?...Does this look like a bedbug bite?...Who forgot and left the dog locked in the basement all night?...bad hair day every day...from flock to freezer: The Silence of the Ducks...a mountain of discarded wool from shearing day...a wallet and passport lost the night before a planned flight...and yesterday's 'is that OUR CAR smashed into the mailboxes??' Luckily yesterday's flares and flashing lights mess involved someone else's teens, who missed the telephone pole by a foot, but directly hit (and took out) the rock-solid frame for our mailboxes. My husband and our neighbor put it all back together again last night after dinner. For dinner we had one of these:

The pinks are running in the river and my husband has gone fishing before work the last few morning. I'm excited about the fish, because fresh fish is so wonderful. Last night I wrapped the one we had for dinner in foil before baking it (YUM), and today I'm smoking one. This is the basic recipe I use for smoking smelt and salmon.

Smoked Salmon Brine
3 quarts water
1/2 c. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. ground black pepper
2-3 bay leaves
Soak salmon chunks in refrigerator 10-12 hours in brine. Place on dry rack and air dry at least one hour. Use four pans of chips and smoke 8-12 hours or until done. To can, pack into half-pint or pint jars without adding liquid. Seal. Process in pressure cooker for 100 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.

It is the time of year for making Zucchini Relish. Last year I didn't make any and we have only 4 pints left. I ground the zucchini and onions today and put them in a bowl in the fridge to sit overnight. Hopefully, there will not be any major messes to deal with tomorrow and I can cook and can my relish. I can always hope for a mess-free day, even if I'm not counting on one!

Zucchini Relish
Grind and put in Ziploc quart bag in the fridge to add the next day (Saves a second cleaning of the grinder):
1/2 lb. green bell pepper
1 lb. red bell pepper

10 c. coarse ground seeded zucchini
4 c. coarse ground onion
1/3 c. pickling salt
Combine vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Let stand overnight. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Add:

2 1/2 c. vinegar
4 1/2 c. sugar
ground bell peppers in Ziploc bag
1 T. celery salt (or 1 t. celery seed and 2 t. salt)
1 T. nutmeg
1 T. turmeric
1/4 c. cornstarch

Cook slowly for 30 minutes or until clear. Put in pint jars and seal. Water bath for 15 minutes. Serve on hamburgers and other sandwiches and also great added to deviled eggs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Darling Blackberry Pie

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." -Emily Dickinson

But I just have to share this pie recipe! I usually make this pie using raspberries -fresh berries to celebrate the first raspberries of the season, or frozen (2-10 ounce containers defrosted and drained well) for out of season celebrations like Valentine's Day. I acquired the recipe from one of my husband's coworkers years ago. She gave me a xeroxed copy from a cookbook by Renny Darling and that's why I call this Darling Pie rather than Cream Cheese Pie with Raspberries and Chocolate. It was my son's idea to use blackberries here -and what a great idea!

Darling Pie

Adapted from The Joy of Eating French Food by Renny Darling

In Pyrex pie dish in preheating (to 350 degrees) oven, melt 1/3 -1/2 c. butter
In food processor reduce one packet of graham crackers to crumbs
Add 2-3 T. sugar and 1/2 c. pecans and process a bit more then add to melted butter. Mix and press into bottom and sides of pie dish to form a crust. Bake for 9+ minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Do not be tempted to heap on more chips according to the 'more is always better' rule for chocolate. In this case it will make cutting the pie very difficult -if not down right impossible. Return dish to oven for one minute to melt the chocolate, then remove from oven and spread with the back of a spoon to form a thin layer of chocolate on the baked crust. Chill/Cool completely until chocolate hardens.

Whip 1 c. whipping cream and set aside.

Beat until light and fluffy:
8 oz. package Neufchatel Cheese
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
Beat in whipped cream on lowest setting just until mixed. Pour into chilled crust. I make a bit of a 'pond' shape in the center for the berry layer to fit into.

Fold together:
2-4 c. fresh picked ripe blackberries
1/2 c. melted blackberry jam
Spread over cream cheese mixture and chill for several hours.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Marion Cunningham's Banana Muffins

A cup of coffee with something pastry-like is my idea of the perfect breakfast. I want a bit of sweet -all right, I want quite a bit of sweet- to help get me up and going in the mornings. These muffins are perfect and can be baked the night before so they're ready and waiting when I stumble down to the kitchen first thing in the morning. If you are not already a huge fan of Marion Cunningham, these muffins should immediately make you one. Those bananas I always buy too many of, which then turn brown languishing in the kitchen? These muffins use FIVE brown bananas, AND they are essentially fat-free, AND they are delicious. Other than a second cup of coffe, what more could you ask for?

Marion Cunningham's Banana Muffins
Adapted from Marion Cunningham's recipe

In a small bowl mix:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

In mixer bowl beat for 2-5 minutes:
5 very ripe bananas

1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Fold flour mix in to banana mix. FILL 12 foil or paper-lined muffin cups (or greased and floured) completely full with batter. Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick tests clean. Cool on a wire rack until morning -and hope the young adults living in your house who make nightly food raids don't eat them all up before breakfast.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And Salad

I TRY to make (and cook from) a weekly menu that is usually (but not always) made (and shopped for) on Sunday. I enjoy the process of planning our family dinners for the week, and the time taken then (when I have it to spare) greatly simplifies meal preparation each evening (when I usually don't) -and it saves money shopping with a plan. This is my menu for this week, but of course, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray" and when that happens, I make 'breakfast for dinner.'

Sunday: Puerco con Chili Verde, refried beans with flour tortillas, and salad

Monday: Pressure-cooked duck winglets, baguette (baked Sunday), butter-sauteed turnips, sugar snap peas, and salad

Tuesday: Pasta with pesto and Parmesan, fava beans with olive oil and garlic, baguette (baked Sunday), and salad

Wednesday: Rabbit with Mustard, roasted potatoes, gold beets, and salad

Thursday: Spinach Crepes, beef steak, sweet potatoes, and salad

Friday: Pizza and beer, and salad

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Big Table

I just bought this cookbook and I am so excited! I swear it was written just for me. Molly O'Neill, former food writer for the New York Times started ten years gathering material for what would become this cookbook: One Big Table -600 recipes from the nation's best home cooks, farmers, fishermen, pit-masters, and chefs. It truely is a loving portrait of American cooking today. There are photos on almost every page -photos from the past, and photos of foods and cooks of the present. The following recipe, very similar to the blue cheese dressing posted on Arctic Garden Studio by Nicole (click here) is the first thing I plan to make from this cookbook, but it definitely won't be the last.

Rogue Creamery's Best Blue Cheese Dressing Ever
Whisk together in medium bowl until combined:
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
2 oz. (about 1/2 c.) Oregon blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Three Creamy Salad Dressings

I love the color green -especially the green of this little pitcher- and I love avocados, which unfortunately do not grow here in the Pacific Northwest and are therefore a bit of an exotic food item at our table. I bought an avocado last week to make this Green Goddess Dressing with, but it was added to some weeknight burritos (click here) and I had to wait to make this dressing until I'd bought a second avocado. I really love creamy type salad dressings like Buttermilk Ranch-style Dressing (click here) and these three dressings that I made this weekend.

Green Goddess Dressing
Mix in mini food processor:
1 ripe avocado, cubed
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. each (I seem to only have two of the three available whenever I make this but its still always good) minced fresh tarragon, parsley and chives
2 t. anchovy paste
1 garlic clove
1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. yogurt (optional)
add water until desired consistency

The cilantro in the garden is perfect this week and it was perfect for the following creamy salad dressing. This dressing is a bit unusual and just what I'm craving for a salad dressing these days. It is very good on a salad of fresh garden spinach, and also as a dip for sugar snap peas and other veggie delights.

Tahini-Cilantro Dressing
Mix in mini food processor:
1/2 c. tahini
2 T. soy sauce
1 c. cilantro leaves
1-2 garlic cloves
4 T. hot water
2 T. each lemon juice and olive oil
1 T. honey
This will thickens as it sits. More water can be added as necessary to maintain desired consistency.

Creamy Italian Dressing
Mix in mini food processor:
1 garlic clove
1 - 2 1/2 t. Italian Seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
2 T. mayonnaise
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T. shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Store all dressings in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

I simply can't wait for eggplants from our garden. A strong desire yesterday for my (admittedly incredible) Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Patrica Wells' recipe in Trattoria) overrode the lack of actual mature eggplants and basil in our garden -we have them both growing now, but they are a long way from harvest size. I bought these three at a produce stand on my way home from work last night determined to make Eggplant Parmesan for dinner.

This first bulb of garlic from the garden on the other hand, indicates our garlic harvest (click here) is not far off. I used this garlic and some shallots my husband brought in from the garden to make the most sublime tomato sauce. Of course, in a perfect world I would have used fresh tomatoes from my garden instead of canned ones, but lacking garden fresh tomatoes, basil and eggplants in July shows just how far from perfect my world is.

Tomato Sauce
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 chopped onion OR 3 freshly pulled shallots
2-6 minced garlic cloves (I used almost the entire bulb)
Cook a few minutes. Add:
2-14 oz. cans Italian diced tomatoes
1-14 oz. can tomato sauce
Cook 15 minutes or so and set aside.

Slice: 3 lbs or so -4 baby, 2 large, or 3 medium sized eggplants
1/2 - 1 lb mozzarella (rather thin slices) Again, in a perfect world I would be using mozzarella I'd made myself. I'm no longer (click here) making cheeses like I did a few years ago.
1/2 - 1 c. fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, OR (defrosted) pesto dollops (click here)

Dip or brush eggplant slices in olive oil (1/2 - 1 c. or so). Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheep or broiler pan and broil (or grill) until browned on both sides. I have to do this in several batches in my marginally adequate oven, so hitting the door at 5:30 meant we weren't actually eating dinner until almost 7, but it was worth it!

In a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish, spoon in a thin layer of sauce, 1/3 of browned eggplant slices, 1/3 mozzarella slices, 1/4 basil leaves (or pesto), and 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese. Continue layering as for lasagna, topping with sauce and Parmesan. I forgot the Parmesan on the first layer and ran out of pesto for the last layer, and it was perfectly FINE. Even if it's not perfect and you do whatever, it'll still be great.

Bake 40 minutes in 400 degree oven, or 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven, or however long you can keep the family at bay before they all start chewing on each other in hunger. Serve this hot, warm, room-temperature the next day (which is really when it's at its best), but NOT cold from the fridge.

Eggplant Parmesan, garlic toast, a garden salad with Balsamic Dressing (click here) and a deviled egg on top made dinner last night perfect satisfaction in an imperfect world.

From The Hen House

This is the view from the back door of the hen house where I could see our sheep grazing in the back pasture this morning. It was raining when I took this picture, but I am hoping it will clear up later today. It is that time of year again (click here) and I'm thrilled to have the rain clear the air a bit. Below is the chicken house, our hens, both the happy and the broody, our growing chicks, and the morning's basket of eggs collected -enough for another flan (click here), more deviled eggs, or a lemon meringue pie (click here) perhaps. It is the time of year to appreciate and celebrate that which comes from the hen house: the incredible edible egg!