05 December 2010


A few things I've been up to, in no particular order (okay, yes, in chronological order. You can take the girl out of the archives, etc.):

The Enchanted Forest. Oh so fun! And I was so glad to discover that some of the pieces from this sadly abandoned park have been salvaged and can be viewed in all their restored glory at a petting farm in Maryland. Sounds like a trip!

Thanksgiving in wonderful Orange Beach, Alabama. The wretched road trip was totally worth it because I got to reconnect with some high school friends, see the fam (MollyMac pictured above), and enjoy the lovely gulf beach. Not a bit of oil in sight, though I've never seen jellyfish like this!

09 November 2010

Goings on

I can't say that I'm crazy about the approach of winter, but I do love fall food and the prospect of baking more! Some of my adventures lately have included:

Sourdough starter. I suppose it's meant to keep me humble, as this has had me just perplexed. I started some back in September, gave up in disgust and tossed it in the fridge, then took it out a couple Mondays ago and it's been doing sort-of well. I'd really love to get it to the point where it just needs all purpose flour (it requires 25% rye currently, and that does add up!), but I hope to make some proper sourdough bread soon!

Random pizza shot. Made the dough one Sunday and was too tired to bake that night, so John froze it for me. I thawed it out the next Sunday and we had a lovely pepperoni pizza (while watching, I think, "The Wire.")

And my latest bona fide triumph: Salted Pumpkin Caramels, from the ever-reliable Food52. I made these to take in for a Saturday work treat. (As it happened, there was no power whatsoever at the Library that Saturday, so I ended up taking them to a church membership class and a Halloween party, but whatever.)


25 October 2010

New Trick!

Oooh, check out the arty effects I got from my new app, Hipstamatic!

16 October 2010

Food for this Week

Last week I mentioned the Fresh 20, a meal planning service I've been trying out. I find I adapt a lot to suit schedule, tastes, opinions about how to cook, etc. But the fact that I adapt doesn't mean I don't like their ideas! Last week was a good example, both in terms of switching up their suggestions, and also trying things I wouldn't normally cook.

So, the instructions were to braise some flank steak for dinner one night and use the leftovers for risotto another night. I pan-fried the steak . . . see below. A proper dinner with a vegetable side (green beans with lemon and almonds) and a starch! So exciting.

And the next night we had tacos -- I took the leftover steak, sliced it, sprinkled with fajita seasoning, and tossed it around with peppers and onions. We enjoyed the meat with tortillas, cheese, and delicious smoky paprika cream.

For the risotto component of the week I roasted the butternut squash that came in our Dominion Box and stirred it into a basic risotto. No pictures because risotto looks like risotto. I put the leftover squash on a salad, which was pretty good. I do not come from a winter squash eating people, but butternut squash is nice.

Extracurricular activities this week included whole wheat bread from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, a birthday present from Mom and Dad. It used a pate fermentee, which was a first for me. It's meant to enhance the texture (I think it did) and help it keep longer (we'll see). I didn't take as much time as I should have to shape the loaves properly, but that doesn't affect the taste!

Really, Blogger?

Seriously, you make it just impossible to either predict the order in which photos will post or rearrange them once they have posted in their nonsensical order. THEN you refuse to post my photos at all today. Maybe a server error is your fault, maybe it isn't, but I'm blaming you.

11 October 2010

What I've been up to

Not a whole lot, actually . . . it's been busy at work, cooling off outside, and we've been settling into a fall routine. I'm trying a meal planning service for the next few months. The Fresh 20 sends out a weekly menu for five meals (designed to serve four people with moderate appetites), featuring seasonal produce, whole grains, lean protein, etc. I've enjoyed it so far! I usually end up omitting the meal that includes seafood -- because I don't like seafood -- and often rearrange the suggested order to suit the house schedule (leftovers before Bible Study on Tuesdays, something that holds well on Wednesday so John can eat while I'm at yoga, etc.) and it turns out a pretty good amount of food without being wasteful. It's certainly encouraged me to try different recipes and to cook with meat more than I usually would.

I see I don't have any pictures of a Fresh 20 meal, but here are a few things I've made over the last little while:

Overnight Oatmeal, as suggested by Kath of Kath Eats Real Food. The idea is you mix up equal parts of raw, rolled oats, yogurt, and milk, let it sit in the fridge overnight, then top and eat in the morning. Muesli, in other words. I've been eating it since I discovered Sam's no longer stocks Go Lean Crunch. This particular morning I had it with dried apricots, almonds, and a bit of palmetto honey.

Wow, we've been broke out in eggplants this year! I've got two sitting in the fridge right now, and I get a least one in every Dominion box. I'm not absolutely crazy about eggplant, but it can be okay, I guess. Below is eggplant glazed with pomegranate molasses, served with goat cheese toasts.

We went to visit the Tidewater gang in late August and brought an almond-peach cake. I believe the recipe was from Food52. It mixed up easily on a Sunday morning (didn't even use a mixer) with butter, eggs, almond flour, nutmegged sugared peaches, and some other stuff I'm sure. By the time we headed down it had baked and cooled. Delicious! Love almonds.

And then this summer's project: baking without turning on the oven. I made pita using the recipe in How to Cook Everything. Only one of them puffed, but they were all tasty. We had a Sunday mezze spread as pictured below: Tomatoes, cucumbers, Halloumi cheese (John would live on this if I let him) and, I think, leftover eggplant. Below that is my one puffed pita. It's not a great picture, but it needed to be recorded.

09 August 2010

English Muffins (Easy!)

As part of my continuing quest to bake without turning on the oven, I decided to make English Muffins this Sunday . . . I've always wanted to try them, I had a brand-new cast iron skillet, and I thought they would be a nice treat for John, who'd gotten back from Nashville late Sunday night.

I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour. The dough mixed up easily in the KitchenAid . . . I didn't have bread flour (just A.P.), and subbed in a couple ounces of whole wheat flour for part of it, but it came together as a lovely, springy (though somewhat wet) dough. I gave it a first rise, rolled it and cut it (using one of Meme's old aluminum tumblers).

I put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covered with plastic, and left them in the fridge overnight for a slow second rise.

Sunday morning, I took them out and let them come up to room temp (and get a little puffy!) while I had my coffee. I heated up my gigantic skillet over medium heat . . . then plopped the little dough circles on. They cooked about seven minutes on the first side, five on the second. They didn't stick at all -- in fact, I flipped most of them with my fingers. I was really impressed by how much they looked like proper English muffins: Brown on the top and bottom, creamy on the sides. Next time I make these I'll use a bigger cutter, as they were pretty small, but otherwise I can't think of a thing I'd change.

Fresh English muffins with butter and honey . . . just a lovely thing to have on a Sunday morning.

31 July 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Meringues, Part the Second

Our Story Continues . . .

So, I left the cookies in a turned-off oven to dry overnight. When I got up in the morning, they were still a bit chewy around the middle. Pooh. So I turned the oven to 200 for a half hour, then turned it back off and let them sit around while I ate breakfast and went to the gym. When I got back they were just about perfect! Not quite as shatteringly dry as one might get in, say, December, but pretty darn good.

So I went to whip up the ganache. I'd been frustrated in my efforts to find "pure peppermint oil" (it was not at any of the four stores -- including Penzey's and the fancy chocolate shop -- John and I went to), so in the end I used peppermint extract. I used the microwave to melt the chocolate (as I always do) and think I let my impatience get the better of me . . . the chocolate heated too much and got a bit grainy. But as the chocolate layer was so thin, and delicious, I don't think it mattered all that much in the end.

Boy, were these good! When I make them again I'll use a pastry bag and make a point to make them a bit smaller, but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing. The cookies peeled off the foil like a dream, stayed stuck together, and tasted just like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I went the rustic route, so mine wouldn't have won any beauty contests, but with a little more attention they could really be showstoppers. Certainly everyone at the shindig I took them to gobbled them up and raved.