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Homeowners!

August 31, 2011

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Have you noticed that beets are everywhere?

If you are going to a Farmer’s Market, expect to see some beets on the posters, or the roof, or the letterpressed cards, or the screen-printed clothing, or on the salad! I love beets. Do you?

Depot Market Square, Bellingham

Queen Anne Farmer's Market, Seattle

Beet Print, Etsy

Poster, Etsy

Letterpress Birthday Card, Etsy

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When we visited Ellen and Roger, my great aunt and uncle, a few weekends ago, we were blessed with a cooler full of apricots from their trees out back. Most were RIPE and ready to be used immediately. Apricot mustard sounded great to me – but whenever I mentioned to friends that I was going to make it – they were skeptical. “Really, what will you put it on?”

Well, I was right. It turned out great. The best thing? The apricots did not need to be peeled!

Apricot Mustard

Apricot Mustard

from Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington

Before you start, read up on your water-bath canning techniques. Also, this is a 2-part recipe, so don’t start your boiling water bath until Step 3.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lemon, outer peel grated, halved, and juiced (seeds reserved in a muslin bag) **I used 1/4 cup lemon juice**
  • ¼ cup brown mustard seeds
  • ¼ cups yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground yellow mustard
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
Method
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the apricots, sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon halves, seed bag, and grated peel. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer. Skim away any foam from the surface as it cooks. Cook until the fruit is soft and the sugar is dissolved, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and, leaving the mixture in the saucepan, cover and hold in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. While the apricots are cooking, smash the brown and yellow mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle, working in small batches. Or use a spice grinder, grind to a coarse meal. Put the smashed seeds and ground mustard in a small glass bowl, pour in the apple cider vinegar, and set aside, covered, on the counter top, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Prepare jars for canning. You will need to sterilize the empty jars.
  4. Put a small plate in the freezer to check the set later on. Return the saucepan of fruit to medium heat on the stove top and cook down until thickened and amber in color, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vinegar-mustard seed mixture. Scoop out about a cup of the apricot mustard and puree in a blender, on high speed, until creamy and smooth. **I used my immersion blender and just blended the mustard in the saucepan until it looked how I wanted it.** Add the pureed fruit back to the pot and cook until thick and the mustard has set, about another 15 to 30 minutes. Skim foam as necessary. Remove the lemon halves and seeds from the stockpot, pressing out any mustard or remaining juice and pulp, and compost.
  5. To test the set, remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount of mustard on it. Push the mustard with your fingertip. It should wrinkle, indicating it has set. If the mustard is loose, return the mixture to the heat and cook for another 10 minutes, checking the set until the desired consistency is reached.
  6. Add the mustard to the prepared jars and gently tap the bottom of the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a clean damp cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and put the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 5 minutes (whether using half-pint or pint jars).
  7. Remove the jars with tongs and let cool on the counter. When the mustard is cool, remove the metal rings, check for proper seals, and label with date and contents.
Store
  • Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to one year.
  • Once opened, store in the fridge for many months
Uses
  • as a pretzel dip
  • with pork or cured meats
  • on brats (with Luce’s zucchini relish!)
  • as a glaze on roasted meats

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Summer came to Bellingham this weekend! We have waited a long time.

Climbing into bed on Saturday night I was  reminded of how great it is to feel tired from the sun and tired from walking around town all day. It was perfect. It felt right.

Sightings of Summer-

Three children playing with a little red wagon, each with a pixie hair cut and dresses, like an image from 1957.

Lawnmowers.

Sprinklers. (seriously? it is going to rain tomorrow, you know)

Playing Frisbee on our extended front yard.

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Finds: a big bunch of spinach and a beautiful bunch of beets from Rabbit Fields Farm.

Beets mean summer to me. They are beautiful and earthy and oh so tasty. I roasted the beets for a salad, but then I just ended up eating them plain because they were so good.

{Beets, ready to roast}

{Beets, roasted and steaming}

Roasted Beets (from Good to the Grain, Quinoa and Beet Pancakes, recipe below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the beets in a glass or metal baking dish with about 1/2 an inch of water in the bottom.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until very tender, about 1 hour.
From this point you can eat them warm, chopped over a salad, marinate them, or puree and freeze so that you can make Quinoa Beet Pancakes later. Also, just enjoy the beauty of the beet juice left in your dish for a bit after eating them!

{Quinoa and Beet Pancakes}

Quinoa and Beet Pancakes (from Good to the Grain)

Ingredients

  • Butter for the pan
  • Roasted Beets, 3 medium-small red beets
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 egg
Method
  1. Roast the beets (see above). Cool, peel, and puree the beets in a food processor or blender until smooth. You will need 1/2 cup of beet puree (freeze the rest for later).
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, melted butter, egg, and 1/2 cup of beet puree until smooth. Using a spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine. The batter should be the consistency of lightly whipped cream and crimson in color.
  4. Heat a griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Rub the pan generously with butter. Dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter on to the pan. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip it over and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before the next batch. Rub the pan with butter and continue with the rest of the batter.
  5. Enjoy with maple syrup and plain yogurt on top.
Variations
  • I am sure that I used 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour and omitted the all-purpose flour. When you are eating beets I don’t think that you are probably too worried about the flavor of the whole wheat flour shining through.
  • Use honey or another sweetener, or omit altogether as beets have a lovely amount of sugar present.
Storage
  • These freeze well for later – just pop them into the toaster straight from the freezer.

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Gorgonzola Apple Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Jessica and I had a fun-filled Saturday morning: After walking in the Human Race at Zuanich Park to benefit the Arc, we stopped by the Food Blogger’s Bake Sale in Fairhaven. Jessica decided to try the Bacon and Date Scone, while I went for the more tame Chocolate Chip Cookie with Fleur de Sel. Both tasty.

Then to the Bellingham Farmer’s Market for some more nutritious food. We gawked at the beautiful flowers, chatted with friends, and made our way to the Rabbit Fields Farm booth. Roslyn has such beautiful produce and lovely presentation. We both ended up making frittatas with our veges:

  • Jessica made a Spinach Potato Pepper Frittata {spinach from Rabbit Fields}
  • I made a 4 Cheese Broccolini Potato Frittata {eggs from Tom Kat Farms, broccolini from Rabbit Fields}

4 Cheese Broccolini Potato Frittata

and I made a salad:

  • Gorgonzola Apple Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette {lettuce from Rabbit Fields, raspberry vinegar from Aunt Ellen}

His and Hers Salad (Gorgonzola for Her, Feta for Him)

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Every other week, we get together with our friends for couple’s dinner. This started more than 3 years ago when J&A invited us over for curry after they got back from their honeymoon in Thailand.  We have continued ever since, each trading off hosting for the week. I love it.

What I especially love is planning the meal when it is our turn to host. Since returning from our trip around the world, I have tried to create menus inspired by the places we visited. I pull out the little trinkets and memories, scroll through the photos, and generally wish I was back in that far-off country.

The only thing I wish was different about couple’s dinner is the size of my table. It fits four comfortably. Six is tight. And, it would be fun to invite VIPs to join us.

Last week we hosted a Siwa Oasis themed meal for our friends.

Siwa Oasis is in Egypt. We visited in December 2009, with our dear friends Kathy-Ann and Max. To get to Siwa, we took an overnight bus from Cairo, travelling through the Egyptian Desert. Very flat. Very dry.

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Bathroom in the Desert, Egypt

Then, you are in the oasis. Surrounded by date palms and water.

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Tommy near Fatnas Spring, Siwa Oasis

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Rotisserie Chicken, Siwa Oasis

Both nights, Tommy ordered shish tawook for dinner. I ordered shakshuka the first night, and then shish tawook. It was so yummy. Probably because the chicken was fresh and well cared for.

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Shish Tawook, Siwa Oasis

The Menu, Siwa Oasis Couple’s Dinner

  • Shish Tawook (grilled chicken kebabs, from here)
  • Shakshuka (poached eggs in tomato-pepper goodness, from here)
  • Couscous Salad (not very authentic to Siwa, but it seemed to fit)
  • Pita Bread
  • Pistachio Cardamom Cake (two versions, from The Moosewood Cookbook and here)

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

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During the week, we don’t often eat dinner at home.

Sunday nights we have dinner at church, some Mondays I have meetings that include dinner, every other Tuesday is couple’s dinner, Wednesday is small group and Thursday is Survivor night at the Lingbloom’s.

It’s great because we get to eat a variety of food and share a meal  in community. But, all those lovely dinners made by others mean that we don’t have leftovers to take for lunch. I can get by with a salad, apple and cheese for lunch, but Tommy needs a meal. So I try to cook large meals over the weekend that will be good for lunch. Luckily, Tommy can also eat the same thing every day if I set it out on the counter for him in the morning. (Ask him about my social experiments).

This weekend I combined the meal prep with cleaning out the pantry and didn’t have to buy anything special to prepare these freezer friendly items:

  • Buttermilk Waffles  – I used up the buttermilk I made a couple of weeks ago that I had stored in the freezer. I didn’t have quite enough buttermilk, so I “made” some by including whole milk with a little lemon juice.
Buttermilk Waffles

Buttermilk Waffles

  • Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach – I was cleaning out my tuber box and remembered that I bought a sweet potato a few weeks ago. It was definitely time to use that up, as well as a bag of lentils that has been in my pantry for ages. I have so many lentils and beans in my pantry that I am not allowing myself to buy any pasta products until they are all gone. We all know that pasta is way easier and yummier sometimes. The soup also took care of the celery and carrots that have been in the produce drawer for way too long as well as some home-canned tomatoes from last summer.
Tower of Lentil Soup

Tower of Lentil Soup

  • Zucchini Bread with Applesauce and ChocoChips – Tommy would eat the whole loaf if I let him! I used up 3 containers of frozen, shredded zucchini and only 1/2 cup of applesauce. We have a lot of applesauce.
We also got to play outside this weekend. Thank you, sunshine!

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