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!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Salad Dressings

This photo, showing the romaine lettuces, was our garden a month ago.

This is our garden today. It's amazing how fast everything grows! My husband watered the garden Tuesday evening...

...and I watered the blueberries yesterday morning. With the temperatures predicted to hit the 80's (WhooHoo!), it was a day to make sure everything had plenty of water: water the chicks, water the chickens, fill the pig's water bucket, fill the flock's water buckets, fill a bucket for the dog to find, fill all the rabbit water bottles, empty and fill 3 duck pools (yuck!), and I searched in vain for the sprinkler (lost in the tall orchard grass) to water the strawberry bed with. Tromped way out to the back pasture to check and see if the baaing of a lamb was one stuck up to its chest in the stream with waterlogged wool (this happened a couple days ago) or with its head stuck in a fence (this happened a few days ago also), or if it was just one complaining about being weaned or some other great lambie unhappiness. All was well by the time I got to them, and they all followed me back to the barn to drink from their water buckets and lie around in the shade for the afternoon.

Our blueberries aren't ripe yet. I am patiently waiting and dreaming of blueberries. The blueberries are next to the clothesline and as I hung out three loads of laundry (I simply LOVE line dried clothes) I thought of blueberry foods: eating blueberries fresh from the bush, Blueberry Sauce, Blueberry Pie, frozen blueberries straight from the bag, Blueberry Jam, Blueberry Wine...

Iced coffee...

...and salad for my lunch before leaving for work -with a choice of two salad dressings. The truth is that I seldom measure for this Balsamic Dressing but approximate (and rather flexibly) for these amounts. Make it to suit yourself, tasting and adding as you like. The Yogurt Curry Salad Dressing is a bit unusual, and quite good. I also used it as a marinade for some rabbit pieces we grilled over the fire pit. Delicious.

Balsamic Dressing
Mix together in mini food processor:
1 T. honey
2 T. Dijon mustard
3 T. Balsamic vinegar or half and half with red wine vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 -1 t. Italian Seasoning
1/2 t. salt
few grinds of black pepper to taste

Yogurt Curry Salad Dressing
Whisk together in a small bowl:
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 T. cider vinegar
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
1/4 t. curry powder
1/2 t. turmeric
1 T. honey
1/4 c. mayonnaise

I have found if you beat the daylights out of this dressing, as when making it in a mini food processor, it will thin overnight. It doesn't change the taste, it just becomes a rather thin dressing, and I prefer the thicker version on my salad.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Socks and Salads

"She wondered how she could possibly accommodate what had happened to her life. She had no choice but to live around it." -Jim Harrison, The Farmer's Daughter




and maybe four? I'll just have to wait and see if I have enough yarn to finish a fourth Socks with Lacepattern (click here).

We are in the middle of the season for salads made with lettuce fresh from the garden. I absolutely love wandering into the garden every evening and picking lettuces for our dinner salad. We seldom buy salad dressings, since they are really quite easy to make. Eating salad every day never gets old when the lettuce is perfect and the dressings are varied. I'm always looking for new ones to add to my repertoire and I'm guessing many of you are too. The Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (click here) I fell in love with last year is still appreciated on just about any kind of greens, but I must say I think Caesar Salad is my absolute favorite. The Caesar Salad we made last weekend with Flashy Trout Back Romaine (click here) lettuce from the garden was fantastic, but I admit I will greedily gobble up any Caesar. This is the Caesar Salad Dressing recipe I use year-round on both summer's spectacular and winter's mundane romaine lettuces.

Caesar Salad
Blend together in a mini-food processor, pint jar with a tight fitting lid, or with a wand blender:
4 anchovy fillets, minced or 1 1/2 t. anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 drops Tabasco Sauce
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 c. olive oil

Toss with 2-4 quarts washed and chopped romaine lettuce, 1-2 c. (3-5 oz.) croutons, and 1/4 - 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese. This is best served right away, but I admit I am usually quite happy to eat even limp day-old (or more) Caesar Salad leftovers -it really is one of my all time favorites.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Food for An Angel

"Make me an angel that flies from Montgom'ry
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing that I can hold onto
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go." -John Prine

I've recently made flan (twice) (click here) and red velvet cupcakes (click here), which left me with a quantity of egg whites in the fridge. Baking an angel food cake to serve with fresh berries is my favorite way to use them up. I actually had two cups of egg whites from all this and I simply proportioned this recipe up a bit to make a slightly bigger cake. Eggs whites freeze well and I often freeze in 1 1/2 c. quantities for baking these cakes.

Angel Food Cake
Sift together:
1 c. cake flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. salt

In large bowl beat:
1 1/2 c. egg whites

When foamy add:
1 t. cream of tartar

When soft peaks form add:
1/4 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. sugar, adding 2 tablespoons at a time.

When all the sugar has been added and mixed in and you have glossy, stiff peaks (that aren't too dry), using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mix. Plop into an ungreased angel food cake pan (I bought mine at a yard sale years ago) and run a knife in circles through the batter to release air bubbles.

Bake 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool upside down for 1 1/2 hours before removing pan (I was a bit impatient with mine; it didn't release cleanly and the edges were a bit jagged but it tasted just fine!)

Slice using a serrated knife and serve. We had this cake with the most perfect small, dark red and incredibly fragrant strawberries freshly picked from the bed out back, then sliced and macerated with a small spoon of sugar to release their juices. When I was growing up, we always had scone/biscuit-like cake (click here) with our strawberries, but angel food cake is what my husband's family always ate summer strawberries on. Later in the summer when the raspberries are ripe, I prefer to make this following chocolate variation. All of these cakes served with just picked berries are truly food for an angel!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Sift together:
1 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. European style Hershey's Cocoa
1 T. Medaglia d'Oro instant espresso coffee
Whip until stiff but not dry:
12 egg whites (1 1/2 c.)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cream of tartar
Add and fold in 1/4 c. at a time 1 c. sugar. Do the same with the flour mixture. Put into pan and bake 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly pressed. Invert pan and cool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Friday

"Mama said there'll be days like this. There'll be days like this, my mama said." -The Shirelles

Yesterday, Friday 130 am, I returned from an ER visit. My youngest daughter was chucking cardboard boxes into the dumpster at her work and accidentally got a paper cut on her eyeball (I know, Ewww!).

Sleep, blessed sleep. 7ish am, coffee, breakfast, and more coffee.

Morning Chores and extracting lamb with its head stuck in the fence.

Drove oldest daughter to scheduled doctor's appointment, and youngest daughter to unscheduled doctor's appointment. Luckily, the office of the ER's consulting opthalmologist my youngest daughter was told to have check out her eye is in the same clinic. Unluckily, we had to wait quite awhile and spent the entire morning sitting around in various waiting and examining rooms. And luckily, he OKed driving herself to work -otherwise the rest of my day would have been REALLY complicated!

Drove home for lunch. I had spinach, home canned tuna and Four Bean Salad. Youngest drove herself to work, and I drove her sister to the Transit Center to bus into Seattle with plans for either meeting up with her dad and me afterwards, or bussing home and having her sister pick her up.

Rabbit butchering with Sharon, one of my sisters-in-law (click here). She is interested in learning how to butcher, so I'd invited her to come help me with this necessary task since the process for any bigger animals is essentially the same.

I changed my clothes and Sharon gave me a ride into Seattle, dropping me off at Kristos (click here) where I met my husband and his co-workers for Happy Hour. I had lamb sliders with blue cheese and a couple of their Kronos cocktails -Yum!

Oldest daughter decided not to go to the movie with us and bussed home. We went to see 'Beginners' -a very sweet movie! Bought a bottle of wine on the way home and stashed it in the glove box of our green VW bus (click here). Oldest daughter showed us her brand new tattoo she had done while in Seattle, and we checked in to make sure our youngest daughter's eye was fine -it was. Husband locked up animals for the night, and we drank a glass of wine -I was so tired I couldn't finish mine (what a lightweight!) and trundled off to bed.

Sometime around midnight one of our youngest daughter's friend 'pocket-dialed' the house phone -again.

Sleep, blessed sleep.

Today, I'm making baked beans and red velvet cupcakes, and maybe grilling something over the fire for our dinner. And I'm hoping for a quiet, simple holiday weekend at home, though you just never know what life will bring, do you? No matter how you spend yours, I hope everyone enjoys their holiday weekend! Happy Fourth of July!!