Friday, November 11, 2016

Lessons From The Bee Hive...

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to addend a local beekeepers association meeting and it totally got me re-energized on beekeeping.  I have dabbled in backyard beekeeping for a few years now with mixed success, but a couple years ago at the urging of my most awesome badass beekeeper mentor friend I cleanup up a long abandoned hive and added a captured swarm to it.  I have tentatively and inconsistently tended the hive since then.  I was a bit lazy, very unsure of myself, and confident the bees knew what they were doing and didn't really need much from me.  Fast forward to this meeting last month, and my confidence, energy and enthusiasm is bubbling over.  My badass mentor came over the other day to go over hive inspection with me and we found a thriving, happy and very full hive and I was encouraged to grab just a couple frames out to taste MY VERY OWN HONEY!

Can I just tell you, that it was sweet, flowery, fruity and absolutely delicious... my first honey harvest.  I have found myself more than once this past week, wandering out to the back yard to just watch these incredible creatures hard at work.  Watching them fly in, legs loaded fat and heavy with pollen in preparation for a long and dark winter.  Watching them band together to protect each other and keep the hive free of predators.   Watching the dances they do to share vital information with one another.

Feeling the hum in my chest of their hard working wings.  Smelling that lovely bees wax once you get within just a few feet of their domicile.  I can also tell you that my mind floated to all sorts of metaphors, how we really do need to look out and take care of each other, that we cannot go it alone in this world no mater how skilled or prepared we think we are there is always going to be a day we need our hive to feed us, to protect us, to nurture our littles, to share ideas and information with, and really to love us.  My children have a teacher that teaches all the children in her 8th grade class the following call and response... "What's my job?  To love us.  What's Mr _______ job?  To love us.  What's Mrs. ______ job?  To love us.  What's your parents job?  To love us.  What's your job?  To love each other."  I deeply admire folks who work with children who can impart in their unique way this notion of loving and looking out for one another.  So now, I'm going to keep a closer eye on my hive (human and bee), look out for and love on others at every opportunity, start going to beekeeper meetings, because in so many ways (literally and figuratively) the bees are our future and I want to learn and prepare as much as I can so that a sweet future it will be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I Can't Stop Canning...

So let me start my saying this is totally unpaid and unsolicited praises for the book that got me hooked on food preservation.  Upon discovering this website and book I have become a total food preservation addict, I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to pickle, can and preserve what's in season at any given time.  Here are a few of the things I have been busy making of late...

All this lovely winter citrus has me loving things like honey and lemon curd as well as marmalade made with Cara Cara oranges and ginger.  Though I have made enough curd over that last few years to feel pretty confident on that front, marmalade is a new one for me so there has been a bit of a learning curve.  My first batch was so very tasty but I fear I cooked it too long and it was rather stiff, I almost recalled the few jars I had given away out of sheer mortification but was quickly assured that the taste was much more memorable than the difficult spreading.  So I tried again, decreasing my cooking time and it is just on the side of too soft.  So, here's to hoping the third time is the charm!  I used a recipe from the Food In Jars (my most loved and used cookbook), it pretty much mirrors this online version with the addition of 1 cup of ginger juice and substitution of Cara Cara oranges for the citrus.  Though it took a bit of work to make the ginger juice, the addition of it in this preserve is totally worth every bit of effort!  Make the time to peal, chop and strain all that ginger for this recipe.
I have also been dabbling in pickling, ANYTHING I CAN GET MY HANDS ON...  My most recent experiment has been pickling red onions, and oh gosh I am hooked.  So far I have loved them straight from the jar, topping hearty green salads, and over eggs, but I imagine slathering these over a fancy grilled cheese sammie for a little punch of something extra would be quite fabulous.

On a side note, my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the explosion in North Seattle early this morning.  That this happened in the middle of the night is something many are thankful for, this is a very busy area and I don't even want to think about what the scene would have been just a few hours earlier or later in the day.  These businesses are neighborhood staples and will be dearly missed, I am sure I am not alone in the hope that rebuilding is swift and we will be popping back in for coffee and gyros very very soon!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Breakfast For Dinner Taken To A Whole New Level

It all started when I spotted this post on the Smitten Kitchen Blog for a dreamy looking yam dish with chickpeas and a limey yogurt drizzle.  We love yams in this family but i've never really fancied them up, its always straight baked yams either on their own or added to another dish like black bean and yam tacos.  Last night I was feeling so uninspired for dinner, throughout the day the thought would flash "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?", and I came up blank every time.  Then I remembered a Smitten Kitchen post recently for what promised to be a tasty twist to our standard baked yam.  And, to boot I had all ingredients on hand, it was meant to be!  Though I think we would all have been happy to just totally gorge on the yams alone, the mom in me knew I needed to round it out a bit so I scrambled up some fresh eggs with the ricotta I had just made with the weekend's goat milk and tossed together a big green salad.  This was declared by all "A KEEPER".  In fact my oldest shared that this is the meal she wants to come home to from college.  So if you are looking for inspiration, give this one a go, it is fairly quick to throw together, requires pretty basic fridge and pantry ingredients, and well worth every bit of effort.  This is a breakfast-for-dinner game changer in my mind.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Really Am Still Here...

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe it has been since June that I have written a proper post!  I could get into all the "life" reasons for this but the god's honest truth of it is, like so much else, out of sight out of mind.  So, this is me, setting my sights back on this space.  I have missed it, I have often had the thought "I need to write about this..." but one thing or another got in the way and it just didn't happen.

The quick round up of what's been going on in the kitchen of late...

* I am loving these two sweet new cookbooks I scored recently by volunteering at The Book Larder

*  This cranberry chutney is finding its way into many a snack in these parts.  Cheese and crackers, well add some cranberry chutney and your mouth with be oh-so happy

*  I got my first ever "help desk" request last weekend when the following text came through...
Dear kitchen dweller, chutney ready to put into jars but not sure in the sterile procedure! Love Nick... One of 2 microbiologists in the family. Please help.This made my day and was made even better by receiving a jar of said chutney a few days later

*  I successfully packed snacks for a road trip to and from Utah which had my friend and myself eating out exactly ONCE the entire time while on the road. But that one meal out at the Buffalo Chip Cafe for breakfast was so worth it.  I do love a road trip and good snacks along the way

*  Pickled pears... sure and thank you!  When your friend offers you the bounty from her asian pear tree, resistance is futile folks

*  There was one marathon prep session for our annual church bake sale, in which our wee little community raised nearly $1,000

*  The last of my summer tomatillos have been enjoyed as salsa verde

*  Fermentation abounds, kraut and this delish asian-ish fermented salad

* I am totally drooling over vintage cooling racks like this and these

I have truly missed this space and look forward to sharing some more kitchen adventures with you all very soon!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Favorites... (so far)

One week into the official start of summer, (aka everyone is out of school), and here are some observations thus far...

*  I was crazy to think my family could or would give up on all electronics cold turkey.  But there have been some pretty extreme (by typical American standards) limits put into place with very little push back and I am beyond happy and delighted with that!  The two biggies being no electronics in bedrooms (at all, period or yes I will just shut off the wifi...) and no screens until your "list" is complete for the day.  Lists are a combo of chores and boredom buster activities, see below...

*  Cooking early in the morning as to avoid the afternoon heat is totally where it is at.  This has us eating many cold style meals but no one is complaining.  Some of our favorites so far have been; this Quinoa Salad, homemade Tzatziki Dip with pita and veggies, our favorite Bok Choy Slaw, curried chicken salad sided with green salad and sourdough bread, and a basic antipasto style meal with cheese, cold cuts, fresh veggies and corn on the cob.

*  If I add 30 minutes each of reading, physical activity, creative pursuits and sunshine to the daily chore list I will be amazed what my girls come up with (reading both Steven King and Shakespeare, sewing, pompom making, baking, tons of biking, volleyball and basketball, and loads of general happiness).

*  We may well eat our weight in popsicles (for breakfast, why not???), corn on the cob and watermelon by summer's end.  More on our favorite popsicle recipes soon.

*  Visits to the library has renewed interest around these parts, (free books, cd's and movies -- what's not to love).

*  I will happily make exceptions to my "no cooking in a hot kitchen" rule for corn on the cob and canning.

I hope everyone out there is finding their own fun this summer, I'd love to hear what all you have going on as well.  Take care and enjoy this lovely sunshine we are basking in these days.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Favorite Time Of Year...

Yes, it has begun... I bought my first box of fruit this season and I am deep in dreams of Boozy Cherries, Sweet Cherry Butter and Cherry Chutney.  This time of year the Food in Jars Books and website are like my Bible.  The books are dog eared, laying on my coffee table or bed side table when not in use on the kitchen counter.  They are stained and marked with evidence of my past efforts.  If I can figure out a way to can it, freeze it, or other wise preserve it, I will.  It has become a bit of an obsession for me.  I think about one of our favorite book series from when my children were little, George and Martha.  Martha can't stop making split pea soup, and I can't stop canning.  The fruits of summer are such a treat and the thought of finding ways to enjoy them year round is absolute inspiration for me.  A recent Face Book post on Northwest Edible Life was my kick start.  That, and the fact that one of my favorite summer fruit sources started offering cherries.  So yesterday, I found myself watching the clock for that little 1/2 hour window of time where I could pick up my first box of the summer from Valicoff Farms.  Oh why did I only get one box?  I have so many things I'd like to try with these lovely cherries, including this amazing sounding salad.  Well, the saner side of myself forced restraint as to not overwhelm myself or my family.  I will surely be picking up another box or two next week as I am sure by the end of the weekend we will have blown through this first and lonely box.  For now, I'm off in search of gluten free bourbon to make a batch of boozy cherries.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Pantry Meal...

When friends are coming over I always have the best of intensions to cook up a storm for their pleasure.  Well lets face it... the cooking part really is my pleasure as well.  Feeding those around me  is my way of showing care and concern for them as well as some hospitality.  It is also my creative outlet, I love to try new things.  I am that person that will attempt something new and unfamiliar for the first time when guests are coming over, so far I've been pretty lucky with this.  I am also increasingly more flexible and willing to go with the flow as I get older.  So recently we had a group of friends coming for dinner and it was the end of a busy week as well as a particularly grey and rainy day.  I had planned to head to the grocery to shop for a lovely meal to share with our friends, but as the day wore on I lost steam and could not steal myself to head out into the cold.  So I raided the pantry and freezer to come up with a fitting meal.  The following is what I came up with... roasted red pepper and tomato bisque with basil (made the hours of roasting and freezing summer's tomato crop so worth it), open-faced tuna melts (because I had to stretch the bread supply), and a simple salad.  I did whip up a flourless chocolate cake, because now that I wasn't schlepping to the grocery store I had more time to bake.  I loved that I was able to make this all happen with what I had on hand, and more over that it was likely just as pleasing to my friends as my more "formal" planned meal.  Because really, no matter what I cook, the enjoyment of any gathering is really about the company more than what is served.

**over the summer I had cases of tomatoes that I processed in a variety of different ways, the soup came from a batch that I had simply cut in half and roasted with red peppers coated in extra virgin olive oil then pureed and froze.  I simply reheated the puree adding some cashew cream, salt, pepper and fresh basil leaves.