Friday, March 7, 2014
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I spend a crazy amount of time thinking about food; what I should cook for my family, what I want to cook for my family, what ingredients do I need to try to get into more of our meals, what have we been eating lately... it goes on and on but you get the idea. So to have something linger in my mind is nothing new, but TO KEEP ME UP ALL NIGHT?!?! Well, that was new for me. So let me back up a bit here, it all started with a sweet potato. I had one left over from this curried sweet potato salad I made last week, and I bought another to make these yummy looking sweet potato/pretzel balls. But time and life got away from me, I never got around to making the sweet potato/pretzel balls and now had two sweet potatoes sitting on the counter staring at me. I was thinking about the curried salad but it's been so cold around here lately I couldn't stomach the thought of a cold meal, I needed something warm and soothing and then it hit me - a steamy bowl of creamy curried sweet potato soup just sounded so good. I couldn't get the thought out of my head, I laid awake thinking how the flavors of curry, sweet potato and coconut milk just sounded like they were made for each other. I dreamt about creating this soup, crazy right? So 1 am, 3 am, 4 am the clock is ticking by all I can do is think about the amazing flavor of caramelized onions pureed with the sweet potato and finished off with coconut milk. So first thing that morning I got up and hit the WWW for a little guidance, really validation. I mean, to me it sounded like a little slice of heaven but would the flavors come together as gracefully as I had hoped? First off I found a recipe that suggested roasting the potatoes first, great idea. But nothing that I found in my quick search mentioned caramelizing onions, and most recipes called for all sorts of other additions like celery or apples. None that I found really hit the spot of what I was looking for, other than simply validating that I was on the right track with the curry and potatoes. So, I winged it. Roasted the potatoes in the morning, then chopped a big onion and caramelized it. Once that was done I threw in some garam marsala and curry powder to let the flavors really sink into those onions and toast themselves a bit. Next I added three roasted sweet potatoes and about a quart of homemade chicken stock. Once this came to a boil I pureed it all with my immersion blender and added a can of coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste. At the table we topped our bowls with some toasted pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. Home run I tell you. The smell told me I was on the right track, but when I finally had a chance to sit down to dinner and eat, it was exactly what I had hoped for. I was especially grateful for the suggestion to roast the potatoes and for the addition of the garam marsala. On a cold night, this was so warming from the inside out. It will definitely make a regular appearance on on our fall and winter table from here on out.
Monday, March 3, 2014
I feel it in the air, don't you? The way that bone crushing chill has lost it's bite, the way the sun is sticking around just a bit longer each day nudging the chickens to start laying eggs again, and especially they way all these green beauties are popping up all over the place. All of the above very welcome by me right now, I mean layering the long johns just to take my children to and from school was getting a bit old as was feeding and caring our flock of hens just to go and purchase eggs elsewhere. I am starting to dream and plan for some spring planting of peas, greens, tomatoes and carrots. Now I'm off to start reading seed catalogs and sketching this spring's garden plans...
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Actually, in all honesty, I read this book a while back but it is a book that often comes back to me. I love the idea of gathering together with a random group of folks for weekly cooking lessons in a homey restaurant. Learning all the back stories of who came, why they were there or who lead them to an interest in the art of cooking is completely fascinating to me. This book has me daydreaming of how much I would love this type of cozy, low key cooking with folks while learning the amazing histories to each of their lives. There are not many books, out side of the cookbook sort, that I read and can just tell I will be rereading it again and again. The School Of Essential Ingredients is just that kind of book for me. In fact as soon as I finished it I immediately looked up other books by the author, another first for me, and read through them with the same eager hunger and curiosity that I read the initial book with. This is just a little sample of the rotating favorite cookbooks that I am always flipping through. I can't get enough of the Nourishing Meals, Food In Jars and Super Natural Everyday books. If I had to pick just a handful of books to keep these would be at the top of my list. I've even been known to keep a cookbook or two on my bedside table for night reading and reference. Anyone else do this too?
Posted by Jen at 5:14 PM
Sunday, February 23, 2014
I am so loving the warm nutty flavor of buckwheat right now. I seem to be finding ways of working it into most baked goods as a whole wheat flour replacement lately. At first I was a bit worried about the notorious overpowering nature that buckwheat can be known for, but to the contrary I am finding that when I grind raw buckwheat groats the flavors are much more mellow and delicate. Today, it was just the girls and I home for Sunday Breakfast and I wanted to try something a little different. I used the suggested recipe by Gluten Free Girl and it did not disappoint. I had a little bit of cream cheese that I mixed with 2 parts plain yogurt and added a bit of honey just to sweeten, this was used as a crepe filler along with some of our summer blueberry stash. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that my inspiration for these crepes came from a commercial for a pancake-house chain restaurant that I saw recently and have not been able to get the thought of a fresh fruit crepe out of my head ever since. Well, once again I will take the fact that all the crepes were gobbled up right away as a sign of a job well done.
Friday, February 21, 2014
I saw this Rustic Apple Cake from Eat Good 4 Life recently and knew it would soon become a regular visitor around here. It's been cold and wet the last several days and the thought of a hot steamy apple treat sounded just about right last night. The original recipe called for whole wheat flour so I knew there was going to be some conversion and experimenting needed to make it right for my family. Lately I've been drawn to grinding raw buckwheat groats into a whole grain flour replacement, so I knew right off that I'd be substituting buckwheat flour for the whole wheat flour. I also knew that I wanted to do this in a cast iron skillet rather than a spring form pan, rustic just screams for a skillet in my mind. So groats and apples in hand I got right to work. Luckily our backyard chickens have slowly started laying again so I was able to use our own fresh eggs in this recipe too. Don't you just love it when you have a calling to make something and you actually have everything on hand? This is a pretty quick and low key dessert to pull together, and rustic is the best describer as there is just enough batter to coat the apples and hold the whole cake together. I am still always a bit unsure when faced with converting a traditional recipe into a gluten free one, so I held my breath a bit as I pulled the cake from the oven and waited what I thought was a very patient 10 minutes before cutting into it for the first sample. I loved the nutty flavor of the buckwheat with the apples and absolute simplicity of taste, it really is all about the apple with the buckwheat just giving a small shout-out in the background. There are a few small improvements I plan to make next time around, but for now I am taking the fact that the last couple slices promptly disappeared on breakfast plates this morning as a good sign. This cake is going to become a regular around our house, though next time I might increase the batter by half and cut the apples a bit thiner, mostly to improve appearances and make cutting and serving a little easier. I think teff flour would also be another fantastic substitute for the whole wheat flour, teff has such a great nutty quality to it as well. I could also see making this as part of a morning brunch for guests, with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar I think it would make for a lovely coffee cake replacement. Ok, now all I can think about is my favorite Stumptown coffee along side a wedge of this cake and some eggs, potatoes and a couple really great slices of bacon...
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Over the weekend I had the chance to create this space, a place to house the crazy number of cookbooks that I have collected over the years. It is a true weakness for me, I can't seem to pass up a cookbook without feeling a strong pull to pick it up and leaf through the pages. I am a sucker for cookbooks with lovely pictures and backstories to the recipes. I pile these books up on my bedside table, the coffee table and kitchen counter, all waiting patiently for their turn to be thumbed through and daydreamed over. If you were to stop by my house, you'd likely find at least one, spread open somewhere accompanied by a notebook and cup of something warm and steamy. I have never considered myself a creative person, but am slowly coming to see that I need to make something from the ingredients in my kitchen the way a sculptor needs to mold clay or a composer needs to marry notes together. It is as much a need to make for the sake of making as it is a desire to share and nurture with my people. It is my I Love You. The cookbooks are my inspiration board, they are my go-to for ideas on new or refreshed ways to pull together flavors that I can sense tingling in my mouth. To have a place at hands reach right in my kitchen for my collection makes me so very happy. Over the last few days I find myself catching this view with each pass into and out of the kitchen and smiling big.