Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Still no photos (boo) which is a bummer. But it is the holiday season and what a whirlwind of activity it is lately!
So, even without pictures, life goes on - in the kitchen especially - with little windowsill displays of tiny woodland fauna and glittery miniature pine forests and plenty of sweet, little treats to share with friends and family.
In the cookie tins this year I've nestled:
chocolate crackles
salted toffee
coconut macaroons
rum balls (swapping rum for bourbon)
vanilla malteds
meringue mushrooms
garam masala-chocolate gingerbread

All of which are pretty tasty (I had to try them before sending them off, you know...).

What's in your oven?

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm sure you have some.

And - I know there are tons of recipes and ideas out there.

But, if you don't make stock with that turkey carcass, you're missing out! Big time. I'm not kidding.

It's so simple too - I use this method whenever we have leftovers from a roasted bird.

Get out your crockpot, fill it with all the bones and bits and drippings (our bird was 14 Lbs*), add 2 carrots, chunked (I didn't peel mine this time - sometimes I do), 1 medium yellow onion, quartered (don't bother to peel), 2 stalks of celery, chunked, 1 tsp. of peppercorns, 1 Turkish bay leaf, and a handful of parsley (if you have it). Fill the pot with fresh water to cover the carcass. Then set it on low and let it go overnight (or for about 8 hours, more or less). It will fill your house with the most tempting aroma! In the morning (or when it's finished), turn it off, let it cool just a bit and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl or stockpot. I then use my fat separator to remove the fat and pour the stock into 1-quart freezer containers. You can also chill the stock and scrape the fat from the surface - assuming you want to remove it... (At this point, you may want to season it with salt, if needed). I generally get 2 quarts - sometimes more if the bird was smaller.
*If you have a smaller bird (say, a 3 or 4 Lb chicken), you might double the carrots, celery and onion to boost the flavor a bit.

Now you can do all sorts of delicious things - like make this excellent turkey and rice soup:

(insert photo of steaming bowl of beautiful soup here - still no photos...)

Or, you can freeze the stock for later use - and it does come in handy, especially in these coming cold, winter months...

Monday, November 22, 2010

i admire

I admire those bloggers who take gorgeous photos and post entertaining, witty and spontaneous tales of the past few days' events: several. times. a. week.

They're so inspiring. So industrious. And it looks like they're having so much fun!

Something funny's going on with the communication between my very old (in technology years) computer and my camera's memory card(s)...

So while there's plenty out there to read and day-dream over, I've got only a few links (no photos) to share this week...

Like this tart which sounds divine. Mmmmm anise and pumpkin!

Or this pie - sweet potato and coconut - for something familiar, but with a little twist.

Heidi has a great list of vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes too. Her crusty brussels sprouts are some of my favorites.

And of course, these made a great little breakfast Sunday with a few spoonfuls of a quick-cooked applesauce - two honeycrisps, peeled, cored and chopped and cooked down over medium heat with a spoonful of sugar and just enough cider to keep them from sticking.

Good stuff.

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving is stress-free and delicious this week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from here (Molly's version here)
herbed white bean and sausage soup recipe found here via this post (fantastic blog, no?)

Monday, November 1, 2010

start to finish

Did you save your seeds? They're delicious, you know...
After carving a couple of jack-o-lanterns, we fished out the seeds, rinsed them in a colander and laid them out to dry a bit overnight.
Then I, crazy woman that I must be, stood over the sink, shelling the little seeds. Which isn't strictly necessary, but oddly meditative - much like shelling peas or snapping beans. And, really, those tough hulls are for the birds (literally), I think. All nutritive aspects aside - they are t-o-u-g-h and I prefer my pepitas without.
After drying out they can be stored in a jar in the cabinet for quite a while. Of course one could toast them and top a salad, yogurt, cereal, etc. or even grind them into a sauce (an enchilada sauce would be perfect) or simply pop a few here and there for a nice little nibble...

Monday, October 25, 2010


Some fantastic mornings around here lately.
October's putting on quite the show.
Those gorgeous trees - leaves raining down in yellows, reds and rusty browns, watercolor morning skies, and that bewitching hunter's moon last week. It really gets one motivated.
Finally, scraping, sanding and painting this old wrap-around porch - yep, seriously motivational weather 'round here...

Monday, October 18, 2010

settling in

Can it really have been an entire month since the last post here? I suppose it must have been, as I'm sitting here, back from our short, little honeymoon, looking over photos of an autumn already in full swing:
A drive into the mountains with a view for days; all the leaves turning gold and scarlet, blue mountains stretching on and on...
One fiery tree stood out against that perfect blue sky,
over-top a rushing waterfall.
A stop in at the local brewpub - each offering had to be sampled (the miner's daughter oatmeal stout was the first to go),
while gazing out the window as the sun set behind those beloved mountains.
And then off again to a nearby patch for pumpkin picking - it's definitely October, no doubts now.
And finally, home, to find ourselves and our daily lives again - to settle in and feel the chill of autumn also settling in. And - of course - to make soup and settle into a bowl as warm and comforting as a home and your honey.
(A spinach and chickpea soup with soba noodles - adapted just a tad, from an older edition of An Honest Kitchen, and looking good for lunch all this week)
It's so nice to be back!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

okra, jam and brussels sprouts

So... Here's a picture of those crazy okra pods I mentioned last time...Aren't they wild? With a quick visual measure, I'd say the longest are about 8 inches! They look positively tribal in the garden, still attached to their stalks.

However, what I really wanted to share is a glimpse into all the jam-making that's been happening 'round here this summer.

Nearly 200 jars (!!!) are currently stacked, awaiting our wonderful guests in a few weeks.

It's been a busy summer!

p.s. Love, love, love the brussels sprouts in this book! Do you have it? It's incredible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

time and tofu

Time is flying.
August was a dream.
September's underway, every one's musing about fall. It will be here in a blink, you know. I know. I crunched a few acorns underfoot today, dropped and scattered on the old brick sidewalks near the office. And despite all the hub-bub around here, I managed to tear away at some of the weeds choking what little remains in the garden this past weekend. I even planted 3 small rows: wild rocket, turnips, and rapini - we'll see what happens. The insects have not been kind this year (and neither has the weather - dry as a bone for weeks now). I snapped a few sneaky okra pods that grew so large, they split their seams and dried into the most unusual rattles. Of course, no pictures...
The only thing I did manage to photograph, and really it's not the most photogenic (although delicious) of subjects, was this tofu I somehow found the time to assemble.
Perched atop a paddle-ful of leftover brown rice it made for a nice lunch in between frenzied weed-pulling and the myriad of other tasks that go with planning a wedding...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

sweet things

Oh, my.

It's been a while...
The truth is that, well, there really hasn't been much going on in the kitchen lately.

Slicing a peach is about as far as it goes these days. And I'm afraid it's going to be like this for a little while.

Because, after ten years (yikes!) -
we're getting married in just a few weeks!

Friday, August 6, 2010

baby eggplant (or aubergine, if you prefer)

Aubergine sounds so much nicer, don't you think?
At any rate, I've been picking these tiny things by the basketful as two of my plants seem to be wilting away (odd watering, I suspect). Nevertheless they are quite tasty and great for a pan of curry.
By the way, having all the veggies for this dish, hand-picked from a short walk out the door, is, in a word, amazing.
Baby Eggplant and Potato Curry

Heat 3 Tb. ghee in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 medium onion, chopped, and 1/2 Tb. brown mustard seeds and cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add to this 3 large tomatoes, chopped, a pinch of turmeric, and a bit of salt, and continue to cook another 3 minutes or so, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the onions get even softer. Then toss in roughly 2 1/2 C. of sliced baby eggplant and 2 1/2 C. of peeled, chopped potatoes. Stir in 1 tsp. of red chili powder, 1/2 tsp. garam masala, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. ground coriander, and 2 C. water. Bring the curry to a simmer, then lower the heat and put the lid on. Cook, gently simmering, with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the eggplant and potatoes are cooked through. If too much liquid remains, remove the lid and increase the heat, simmering - almost boiling, to reduce the liquid.

Serve with fragrant basmati rice and cooling cucumber raita.

Quick Cucumber Raita

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 C. Greek yogurt, 1 small minced garlic clove, 1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced, a pinch of salt, a pinch of ground cumin, and 1 tsp. of chopped fresh cilantro.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

july's tomatoes

Principe Borghese, yellow pear, sungold, and orange-fleshed purple smudge.

How do you like to eat them?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

jam for a challenge

Blueberry Lime Jam
(adapted from the recipe for Blueberry Quick Jam in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

*For the Blueberry Challenge over at Grown In Frederick*

In a large jam pot, combine 4 1/2 Cups of crushed blueberries, the juice of 1 1/2 limes (4 Tb.), the zest of 1 lime, and 7 Cups of sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly and stir in 2 pouches of liquid pectin. Boil hard for 1 minute, skimming off the foam. Ladle the hot jam into clean, hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head space, wipe the rims clean, center on the lids and screw bands down until finger-tight. Process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes; remove the canner lid, turn off the heat and let rest for another 5 minutes before removing the jars to cool on a towel on the counter. Any that do not seal can be kept in the refrigerator for a few months.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


A few photos - as promised - from the steamy, summer kitchen...
(garlic dills with hot peppers)

Monday, July 12, 2010


Such a slacker I've been.

Here, I mean, of course. At home I've been whirring through batches of jams and jellies, picking beans and trying to keep up with zucchini - and those darn deer that seem to STILL make their way into the garden.

Keeping up is what I should have titled this post, because that's really what's going on. It's mid-summer, and dreadfully hot in the garden and, some days, even hotter in the kitchen. It can be a bit - un-inspiring, you know? So much time is spent pickling this or preserving that, freezing, packing and picking some more, that meals lately have been a second thought - cobbled together, often enough, from a handful of pasta and whatever vegetable is abundant that day. Sad to say, when there is so much to be had right now, but this is the downside (if you could really call it that) of growing your own. Lucky for us that this summer's bounty doesn't need much to be made into dinner - perfectly ripe, perfectly fresh - there is no better way to eat, and that's what it's all about.

Back soon with photos, I hope...

Happy summer!

Monday, June 28, 2010

off the cobb

This summer, in all it's heavy heat and maddening humidity, arrived last week, officially. It's been a blur of busy work schedules, pet-sitting, and valiant efforts to cool off lately, and I keep meaning to write out the recipe for this tasty soup, but find myself, well, getting side-tracked repeatedly. But, when you have a minute, and say, 6 ears, of leftover sweet corn because you figured on a dozen ears for 6 guests, and for the first time ever, folks only ate 1 ear apiece, consider turning those leftovers into this smoky-sweet soup.
Roasted Corn Chowder
(adapted from the recipe for Roasted Corn Soup in, Fresh from the Farmers' Market)

Begin by striping the corn from the 6 ears of leftover boiled corn-on-the-cob. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the kernels in a baking dish in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes, or until they begin to color and smell amazing. While the corn is roasting, cut 4 of the cobs in half and put them in a stockpot with 1 quart of cool water and 1 medium red potato (peeled and chunked). Bring this to a boil and simmer it until the corn has finished roasting or until the potato has cooked through. Dry roast 2 cloves of garlic, by placing them, whole, skin and all, into a hot, dry skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to char. When the corn has finished roasting and the garlic is soft, and charred on the outside, Place the corn and peeled garlic into a food processor and puree until smooth with the cooked potato (removed from the broth), adding the corn broth a bit at a time (remove and discard the cobs first), until you have used it all. Return the soup to a clean pot and add 1/2 cup of whole milk (or cream, if you like), and gently re-heat. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve it topped with a good sprinkle of smoked paprika and a few chopped chives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

washing up

At the sink,in sudsy, basil-scented water,
or in the bright, early sun,
lately it's been quite nice washing up.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the beans

The other day I mentioned our greens. And how we've been gobbling them up at every turn (and we're still not sick of them, thank you very much).
But what I didn't mention were the beans that I've made twice now in two weeks.
These wonderful beans.
I ask you, is there anything more homey, more satiating than a big pot of slowly simmered, perfectly seasoned (and I'm not talking just salt here), soft-to-the-tooth beans? The kind that sit on the back burner, gently bubbling and filling the house with a soft, spicy aroma for two - maybe three - hours on a Sunday afternoon?
I miss his restaurant that has been closed for several years now, but some time ago I picked up a copy of Mark Miller's Red Sage cookbook and was thumbing it through the other day when I spied his base recipe for black beans (or, as in this instance, the mottled beauties shown above). As I've been true to the recipe, aside from substituting those pretty heirloom beans and maybe adding a pinch more of salt, I won't be copying it here (so pick up a copy of the book).
I will, however, describe the idea and tell you that it starts with these:
Sticky-sweet and smokey from a nice charring under the broiler, these tomatoes are made into a puree and added to a pot of beans covered in cool spring water. After several hours, simmering with roasted garlic, fresh thyme, white onion, chipotles and jalapenos, the beans are finished off with fresh cilantro and salt.

It's so simple, really, but...

Something wonderful happens next:

You get to eat them!
(even if it's breakfast time...)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

greens for breakfast

We've been eating our greens.
By the basketful.
For a few weeks now.
Even for breakfast.
I love it.
After a leisurely cup of coffee (tea, if you like), stroll through the dewy grass out to the garden - basket, bucket, or apron folds in tow. Stand in the doorway to breathe in the last of the cool air before the humidity sets in. Stroll over to the spinach rows and pinch a few handfuls of the shiny leaves. Cross the center (tomato alley) to the back corner to steal a bit of baby sorrel, then head for the door, pausing to snag the smallest of the borage leaves, tucked deep in the center of each plant (they grow so quickly!).
Spin, spin, spin the leaves almost completely dry after a good rinsing and set them down while you fetch three garlic scapes (spring onions are good too) from the fridge. Heat a large wok, or deep pan over medium heat and drizzle in a bit of olive oil to warm while you chop the scapes. Toss them in and stir them about while you reach for the greens with your other hand. Begin to add the leaves in fistfuls, stirring in between to wilt them and make room for the next bunch. Sprinkle a pinch of salt into the mix, and when the greens have all just wilted take the pan off the heat.
Pull the one remaining clean dish from the cupboard and spoon a good helping of last night's beans (re-heated) next to a pile of the garlicky greens. Finish the greens with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a dash (or three) of hot sauce, if you dare.
Sit, contented, and ponder how to spend the remainder of the day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

catching up

It's been a little quiet around here this month.
Behind the scenes, however, things have been happening.
No thumb-twiddling here.
In fact, lists are disappearing and little things are growing into much bigger things.
The garden has its door (and fence, thank goodness!).
And the stone has been laid underneath the hose spigot.
I've even just spied a little glimpse of promises to come.
Best of all, soon I'll be among old friends in one of my favorite spots.
Maybe I'll even find some time to cook a dish or two...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

gather ye oregano while ye may... bright, glowing orange buckets,
for stringing along and drying in the filtered sunlight of a kitchen window.

(I've barely made a dent in the patch)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

pho ga

May has brought with it the sun and a weekend of unusually warm (dare I say hot?) temperatures. So in the midst of this heat wave I'm making soup.
Well, because I believe in chicken soup. And if I have to be plagued by a nasty little head cold on the nicest weekend we've had in weeks, I'm going to need it. In quarts.
Begin this soup early in the day (or even the day before). Make the broth and set aside the chicken. Then just before you are ready to re-heat the broth, gather whatever condiments strike your fancy and have them at the ready for a speedy assembly. This allows for plenty of time in between to stare listlessly outside in the fog of sinus-relief pills - or - to accomplish something much more productive...

Pho Ga

(Vietnamese Noodle Soup with Chicken)
-adapted from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet

Fetch that large cast-enamel pot from its resting spot above the stove. Rinse a 3 1/2 pound organic chicken and place it in the pot along with its neck and giblets. Add to this 3 quarts of spring water and bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat. While the stock is coming to its boil, heat a dry skillet over high heat. Peel and quarter one large yellow onion and peel a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger. Add these to the hot skillet and allow them to char, turning periodically to blacken bits on all sides. Once the stock is boiling, add the charred onion and ginger and a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Skim off any foam that may be accumulating, reduce the heat to gently simmer the stock, and partially cover the pot with a lid. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes more. Remove the chicken to a platter and allow to cool a bit, then remove the meat from the bones and pull apart to shred with your fingers. Set aside. Strain the broth through a cheese-cloth lined sieve into a large bowl (or another soup pot), then transfer to containers and refrigerate. Once the broth is cooled, skim off and discard (or reserve for another use) the fat that will have separated out on the top.
When ready to assemble the soup, re-heat as much broth as you like in a stock pot over medium-high heat, adding a bit of fish sauce to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon for 2 cups of broth, or 2 tablespoons for all 3 quarts - but this is all subject to taste). Cook an appropriate portion of cellophane noodles in a pot of boiling water until just translucent and softened - about 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Find a wide, deep bowl and fill it with a handful of the cooked noodles and some of the reserved chicken. Ladle over as much hot broth as desired and serve with any combination (or nothing else at all) of the following:

crispy fried shallots (thinly sliced shallots fried in hot oil and drained on a paper-towel lined plate)
dried wood ear mushrooms (reconstituted by soaking in hot water and thinly sliced)
fresh bean sprouts
charred ginger paste (a knob of ginger charred (as above) and bashed into a paste with a pinch of salt)
lime wedges
sprigs of fresh herbs (cilantro, rau ram (Vietnamese cilantro), basil, and/or mint)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

jelly jar bouquets, swiss chard, chickpeas, spring

The daffodils have come and gone, grape hyacinth taking their place along the drive. Lemon thyme and a handful of other hardy herbs (tarragon, lemon balm, mint, and sweet woodruff) are poking up through their bed. Enough were foraged to fill a jelly jar for the table and scent the hands that picked them.
After a busy weekend of house guests and a birthday party and a gorgeous full day of playing gardener in the dirt, I stood at the stove to simmer a tin of chickpeas in some aromatics and chiles, adding handfuls of ribboned chard and braising the greens for a time.
It seemed the thing to do - earthy and warm on a chilly and rainy spring evening; a simple exercise to ease in after birthday cakes and dirty dishes.
I love the bustle of cooking for a crowd, planning the menu, and seeing it all come together on the table, but somehow that sizzle of garlic and steam of greens cooked for just us two seemed equally satisfying.
Like putting your feet up at the end of the day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

in the oven

Currently in the oven:
Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp with Vanilla and Hazelnuts

For the topping:
(adapted from the recipe in Chez Panisse Fruit)

3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. white whole wheat flour
6 Tb. light brown sugar
2 Tb. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2/3 C. ground hazelnuts
12 Tb. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into small pieces

For the fruit:

4 C. rhubarb, washed, ends trimmed, and stalks cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 C. granulated sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make the topping:
In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and ground hazelnuts. Add the cold butter pieces and rub together between your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is distributed throughout in small bits. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the fruit mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and be sure to work the vanilla in evenly.

Place the fruit mixture in a baking dish (mine is roughly 12 x 8 x 2 1/2) and scatter the topping over the filling being sure to cover it entirely.

Bake in the center of the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling to the top.

Cool on a wire rack and serve slightly warm (with a bit of cream if you have it).
The scent is glorious.Happy Easter!