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Saturday, January 31, 2009

 

food for thought :: talking with my mouth full

Talking With My Mouth Full - Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonnie Wolf is the second book that the Food For Thought book club has read. it was an easy, simple read. (although i admit to not being finished with it yet.)

the book is a collection of . . . essays, i guess. i have trouble describing the book because i can't get past how different it was from what i expected. the phrase "other kitchen stories" invoked more of an autobiography to me. i don't know why. and aside from book reading, i found this an interesting study in expectations. my expectation colored my experience of this book.

i thought i was getting stories from the author's life in the kitchen--in depth, character-filled ones. ones that would make me wish i had an aunt so-and-so who taught me to cook the perfect lasagne or whatever--more like the stories in Ruth Reichl's books. but that is not what this book is.

this book is a collection of very lightly penned essays on different foods and meals. wolf mentions her history with the foods. she then also mentions her pal megan or joe have said about the foods and how they have been affected by eating or how they eat it or what flavor, etc. it's all very nice. but not at all in depth. not real substantive. and again, not what i expected. this book is like a light butter cream frosting, but no really yummy, filling chocolate cake underneath.

that being said, i did enjoy the book. it was fun to chat with wolf about popovers, ice cream and state fair foods. i enjoyed her tone and her casual way. she doesn't take food or cooking too seriously. she's down-to-earth, i'd say. she has a really comfortable, come-in-for-a-cup-of-tea style. for me, i guess i just needed a little more to grab me. it was too easy to put the book down and not come back to it.

the one recipe that i could not stop thinking about was her mom's German Pancake. YUM! so i had to make it. and it was really good. really good. my son and i downed about half of it in one sitting.

given that i don't have permission to reprint the recpice so i shouldn't give it to you, but picture a giant popover wrapped around apples and cinnamon. it's really simple. the "cake" is eggy and moist. the book is loaded with recipes. that alone is a great reason to pick up a copy or borrow it from your library.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

 

chocolate dippin'

when a meal really comes together and is as lovely as i had hoped, i can't help but chronicle it all. it never matters to me if it was something really complex and challenging or if it was the simplest of kitchen creations.

i've posted about the soup and the *awesome* bread. now the dessert. i chose it because we love our chocolate around here. and i wanted something my son could make with me that he would think was REALLY fun. not just scooping and mixing flour and sugar. so, we decided to melt some good-quality chocolate and dip all kind of yummy things into it.


o, the strawberries, bananas, grahams and marshmallows! it was all good. no one could pick a favorite.


this is really fun one to do with kids. just melt some good chocolate in a double-boiler or bowl over a pan and dip! i added a bit of butter, too.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

 

wordless wednesday :: snow storm!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

 

parmesan rolls to beat the band.


as mentioned yesterday, we feasted this past weekend on soup and bread. food for the coldest of winter days. it was a no-brainer that soup be on the menu. but it wasn't until i got the new issue of Gourmet that i realized i had to bake some bread. the cover displays an awesome sampling of delicious breads. i was immediately struck by the image and hunger pangs were felt.

homemade bread is just one of the world's wonders in my book. i am definitely a newbie at the bread
baking, but i love it. i love that it takes a long time. i love that i have to work with my hands. i love that it feels so real. and so tasty. so warm.

i highly recommend this recipe from Gourmet. though there are a few steps, it was relatively easy. and it yielded such delicousness that i would have easily spent twice the time on then.


PARMESAN PULL-APARTS
Gourmet :: February 2009

Makes 1 dozen rolls
  • Active time:35 min
  • Start to finish:4 3/4 hr (includes rising)
These rolls have a lot in common with brioche—both are rich and tender, and they bake up with a gorgeous browned crust. However, these are much easier to make than that time-intensive bread, and they have the added advantage of aromatic Parmigiano-Reggiano. We guarantee they’ll fly out of the bread basket.

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
  • 1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1 1/4 cups grated (with a rasp) Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/3 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp pieces and softened
  • 1 tablespoon water
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.) Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)
  • Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
  • Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.) Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.
Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they're made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

 

a winter's weekend :: soup and bread


well, it's that time of year. we're at it with the soup again. soup and bread is so definitely comfort food, isn't it? curling up with a hot bowl, crusty bread and a good movie. ah. that's a fine way to spend a cold afternoon.


for me, the solitude is hard to come by, but not the soup and bread. it's a family affair preparing a meal these days. and i have to say, i love that.
this weekend my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were here visiting. and so bb and i whipped up a Winter Vegetable Soup from Gourmet's december issue and from this month's issue, some fabulous rolls to go with it. and no one was disappointed. there was much slurping and mmmm-ing in the land.

tune in tomorrow for bread and dessert!

i hope your weekend was as delicious as mine was.

WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

Gourmet :: December 2008

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1/2 inch)
  • 1/2 lb Yukon Gold or boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 inch)
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (i omitted because i knew the family wouldn't have 'em!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Cook onion with bay leaf and 1/2 tsp salt in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.


  • Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add sweet potato, Yukon Golds, broth, water, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Purée 1 cup soup in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pot. Bring to a simmer, then stir in peas and dill and cook until peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

 

where does the time go?

i'm sad to say i have been so so poor at managing my time lately. where are all the foodie posts you might wonder. recipes? kitchen creations?

time. it escapes me. and i lie awake at night thinking of all the things i could not do that day.

i have dozens of recipes to try. but right now, my 16 month-old is queen. i won't get this time back and so, i must take advantage of it. and i've been too busy felting and sewing to get into the kitchen.

how to balance it all? isn't that the perennial question for the parent?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

 

wordless wednesday :: winter

Monday, January 19, 2009

 

soup to nuts :: lots of indoor play

as mentioned before, we've taken a major interest around here in feeding the birds. and now it has begun to extend to the squirrels. because, really, how can it not, when then insert themselves into the feeding frenzy stealing all the bird seed?

so, bb and i were at the market the other day and we saw the big bin of mixed nuts and decided it was a good idea to get some for "mr. fluffy tail." and mr. fluffy tail of course, went crazy for these treats.

then i remembered that when bb was a toddler, i used to buy nuts for him to play with. he made soups of all kind with them, sorted them, tried to count them, put them into many, many different kinds of containers. so, today, he taught the young one how to do it. and i'm happy to say, it kept them happily busy for a long time!





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Saturday, January 17, 2009

 

looking through his lens

today i gave bb the camera and showed him how to take pictures with it. his been curious about it for a long time and i finally loosened up and let him have at it! i'm glad i did because he turned out some really cool pictures with it. i'm sorta proud of him!





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Friday, January 16, 2009

 

sewing and soup


well, i finished my first sewing project on the new machine i got for Christmas (lucky mama). as soon as i got it, i thought, "placemats for bb!" so, i've completed a set of 4. they're far from perfect if you really inspect them. they aren't quite the same size and the stitching isn't always straight, but i made 'em! and he loves 'em.


i got this really fun fabric from the groovy shop over at Purl Bee. seriously, they had so many fun ones it took me several days to narrow it down! if i had any cash to spare, i could have spent it. lots of it on the yummy fabric offerings.

and to get back to the food. . . chicken noodle soup! because when it's 8 (yes, EIGHT) degrees out, what else can warm you up?

i don't have a recipe, but here's how i put it together. i think soup should be done without measuring cups and spoons, just some of this and some of that until it tastes really great. and with help in the kitchen from my munchkins, it tastes even better.

first, i sauté garlic and onions. i had no onions on hand, so it's all garlic, baby. nearly a head. (this will kick a cold out right quick, too. side benefit).

while this was going on, bb (who is 4) chopped *all* the carrots and celery. this is a first, because usually he gets bored halfway thru the job. not this time he stuck with it.


next, i add the expertly chopped carrots and celery. depending on my mood, i sometimes add green beans, zucchini....corn. today, though, just the carrots and celery. and a bit of thyme.

of course the girl helps out, too. she picked all the leaves off of all the celery stalks.


after they have cooked a bit and started to soften, add the chicken. this is what was left of a roast chicken we had a couple days ago.



next the chicken stock, bring to a boil and add the noodles. toss some chopped parsley in there and boil on low until the noodles are soft.


i watch in amazement as my son not only washed the dishes, but ASKED to. i love it. he feels much pride from doing purposeful work around the house. (thank you, Waldorf kindergarten).


season your soup with salt and pepper. if you're feeling frisky, add a little fresh grated parm when you serve it. enjoy!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

 

projects we've finished!

here is the latest in a crafty phase. i finished the gnome! we call her, "pocket gnome." bb likes to change what is in her pocket daily.


also, he finished his necklace for baby sister. only he decided it should not be a necklace at all, but rather a toy to hold and play with. and so it is. he strung it all by himself (felt scraps) with a real needle and all, which is kind of impressive given that he stuck himself more than once. i think he liked getting a real band-aid. : )

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

 

wordless wednesday :: caring for the birds

Saturday, January 10, 2009

 

cookie carnival :: december round-up!

it's cookie time again. time to put my felting needle and wool down and get back to cookie-ing! i'm sad to report that december carnival attendance was slow. i should have expected this. we're all so busy at the holidays. i did consider this of course. but, i figured, EVERYone makes cookies this time of year. so, isn't it a no-brainer, but then i didn't even do this month's challenge, so how could i expect others to do it? we were so busy around here crafting, painting, decorating and wrapping, that i just couldn't make it happen. i'm sorry for that. i think next year we'll skip december instead of january. we're on a break right now, but it seems that folks are ready to get back to it. ah, well. lesson learned. that being said we DID get some WONDERFUL submissions. they were few, but they are awesome! and we have some winners. so, without further ado (photos appear ABOVE the info about the baker). . .



PRETTIEST COOKIE went to YAEL of YAEL's YUMMIES. all 3 judges agreed her bells were crazy-cool and worthy of winning.


CUTEST COOKIE(S) went to LAURA of THIS THAT AND A WHOLE LOT OF FOOD for her cookies decorated to look like her family. so sweet! and check out her awesome wreaths, too!

Congratulations to both of you!

also particpating this month with wonderful cookie love are the following:

afoneleri of CamCupcakes.



lynn of Bites and Pieces.



jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes.



jessica of Mango Missives.



tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy.

christine of Cooking with Chirstine.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!
and happy new year, too!

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simplicity

beth at total mom haircut has a new theme for us to dig into. this time around it's "simplicity."

it's an idea that is on my mind a lot these days. i'm learning to embrace the simplicity of moments with children and how to create these simple, meaningful times for them. really, life is quite simple for a child. we adults can muck it up with our high falutin concepts. and over explanations. i'm trying to remember that less is more. less is more with the young child.

lately my son and i have taken to sewing. he is working on a simple necklace for his sister. he's been taught to sew by me and by his grandmother. we talk about the mommy and the baby wormm (the threads) and how they go in and out of the ground. up and down. i work on embroidery or sometimes my beloved gnomes while does works that worm. the moment we sit down to do this purposeful work, we look at each other and in his eyes i can see how much this kind of thing feeds him. a simple, at the table, purposeful interaction between the 2 of us. working side by side.

today we took to the outdoors. the simplicity of snow. it's a magical playland out there. and there are so many of nature's creatures to think about. here is a photo journal of our simple, joyful playtime.

thanks to beth for a great assignment!

first stop was to feed the birds. we think of them as a snow storm approaches this evening.


and they came by the dozen!


butt sliding. doesn't get more simple. sit, slide, laugh, repeat.




following tracks in the snow. he was sure they were made by the tomten.

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