Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Garden Fresh

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Last weekend, i was on retreat with my lady friends in La Grange, TX. We gather there at a lovely place to explore fibery goodness. Mostly, we spin, but there is some knitting and weaving going on as well. It’s an open forum for us to explore and learn from each other. This was the 4th year and I think the largest group to date, 20 of us.

Each year, I have volunteered to make breakfast on Saturday morning. Lunch and dinners are provided for us, and one of the women brings eggs for us from her chickens. I make scrambled eggs with some cream and brie and a side dollop of pesto which I make with whatever I have on hand, using whatever herbs are bountiful from the garden. This year, I used mostly basil with a good handful of sage and parsley. To that, I added olive oil, parmesan, garlic and pecans. It was a big enough batch that I left half of it home.

With the pesto, I made a pasta salad. I had De Cecco Acini Di Pepe Pasta No 78 on hand. It’s small pearly pasta which I add a lot to soups. Martha had given me pecans from her yard which she toasted. A good handful or three of those were rough chopped and added. I finely inced some onion, and rough chopped some snow peas. There were some small peppers and tomatoes from the garden and I also added some chives.

A couple weeks ago, we picked up a plant at the nursery that said “use as spinach”…I am still trying to get the name of it. It is a little green on its own, but chopped up in a pasta salad? Yes, please.

I have made it twice this week and it is tres yumm. I just had the last of it for lunch with 2 hard boiled eggs chopped into it. We have a bit of an egg surplus at the moment so I hard boiled a dozen plus earlier in the week and peeled them so they are ready and waiting in the fridge…brilliant. I made up a bowl of egg salad using a healthy handful of dill from the garden and it might be time for some more of that, too.

My goal is to migrate toward more fresh ingredient eating this summer using this as a loose guideline to see how an anti-inflammatory plan might help resolve my woes…

Summer reading and then some…

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Last month, we went to Austin to see Joan Osborne. The show was nothing short of fabulous, and of course, we can’t go to Austin without a visit to Book Woman. It just isn’t going to happen. I don’t usually have any books in mind before going, but I always manage to find a few that pique my interest. This trip was no exception and I picked up the following:

Secrets was an excellent read and a lesson in the courage to own your history. The blatant telling of delicate secrets in this short book kept me reading until it was finished, cover to cover. Definitely worth the time and energy, and totally making me want this woman as a friend.

I am currently reading She Matters and have not yet read enough to have an idea of what I think about it. It is a bit challenging for me to get into, but I am not yet close to giving up. The other three are still to come and I am looking forward to each of them.

Snooze002 loresSketchbook Skool was a wonderful experience. I haven’t been sketching daily since, but I have been sketching. This is my most recent effort from our trip to Denver last week. I highly recommend the course to anyone even remotely interested. The materials are top notch and there are a lot of friends to be made. In fact, I am meeting up with a woman from class tonight for a sketch date at one of our favorite cafes.

Denver was also a most excellent trip. We went to visit with Irene and also to go to the Estes Park Wool Market. I don’t have any pictures yet, but I got a CVM fleece (2 pounds), and a Bond fleece (3 pounds). These are the first fleeces I was able to choose for myself in person and I am anticipating some awesome fibery goodness in the results. While in Denver, we ate breakfast at Snooze two mornings. Irene took us there on our first visit and now it has become a regular must go on each return. I brought home a bag of their Guatemalan coffee. Very delicious.

In knitting news, I am still working on many projects (quelle surprise), but no pics to share. The knitting continues to be rather challenge free out of necessity, but I like it that way, too. I haven’t been spinning all that much since I went on a weekend spinning retreat (great fun but what happens in LaGrange, stays in LaGrange) last month. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I haven’t been spinning on the wheel that much, but i am making efforts to find some level of competency with a Russian spindle, and I am also working on finishing the never ending pin-drafted Surino (alpaca/merino 70/30) I got in Kentucky last year.

Somehow, I feel as if I am forgetting something big in this update, which if the case, I will just have to post again.

Trying again…

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

There was something about the last template that I didn’t quite care for and since I would prefer things simpler,and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bugging me, I am opting for a new one. Woohoo! I get to change my mind!!

I went out to the garden this morning to cut some herbs for a coworker and guess what I found at the parsley buffet?Digital StillCamera Not one, or two, as seen in this pic, but about half a dozen what I think are black swallowtails in the making. I wasn’t upset about this because this was parsley I salvaged from last fall’s plantings that I just tore apart and stuck in the edge of the bed. It came back nicely and there is more in another location.These caterpillars are huge and I rather like the butterflies when they morph, so as long as they confine their dining to the parsley, we won’t have any issues.

Also in the garden, the sweet banana pepper is on a tear. Digital StillCameraI have already harvested from this plant twice, and there are about a dozen or so more ready to pick by the weekend. I am trying to think of these peppers as snack food and I do like them, but it remains to be seen that if they are eaten in quantity if they equally like me. The jalapeno plant has been pretty prolific as well, and the bell pepper has been less so, but more so than last year.

We continue to move more toward a vegetarian diet. I think we will always be confirmed flexitarians, but meat is less and less a part of it for us. The past year has been strong with these sorts of transitions.

last week we watched the Engine 2 video on Netflix. I have been planning to do the month of July as total veg, so the 28 day challenge from Engine 2 seems appropriate. We would start sooner, but have company here for a week and don’t want to force our choices, and rather than throw everything out that isn’t challenged approved, we will take the next 2 weeks to use up some stuff.

The hardest part of this for me, is not using olive oil when cooking veg. This plans advocates using veg stock or water to saute and I did a trial run a couple of days ago and it just isn’t comparable. I appreciate that it is something I need to get used to and that 28 days of it will shift my palate so I am committing to this wholeheartedly, but I also appreciate that being miserable with what I am eating will not contribute to my success, so I allow for the addition of sparingly used EVOO.

In particular, I am going to try this meatloaf, and this recipe for migas, quite likely one of them tonight for dinner. Tofu and I are not friends, but I am ready to extend the effort and give it a try in this fashion. In general, I don’t care for faux versions of stuff I like, and in the past I have opted to do without. I am hoping that if I can tolerate, or even better, enjoy these dishes that something might ckick to make this change sustainable.

 

No April fools here…

Monday, April 1st, 2013

For the month of April (and beyond, perhaps), Elizabeth and I have declared a moratorium on Starbucks. We love us some Starbucks, we really do. But we need a new fence. And if we were to go a year without Starbucks, our fence would basically be free. I know in some circles, talking about money is considered taboo, but I am not talking salary or mortgage here. Just delineating our Starbucks addiction here because the first step in recovery, is admitting there might be a problem.

Last week, we declared that April will be Starbucks free. We can do it. We’ve done it before (though perhaps not for a month). This has all happened before, it will all happen again. I don’t recall making such an assertion last year, but looking at the month of April for 2012, I would guess we declared a limit of two times a week, or some such limitation. This morning, I was inspired to do a little research via our searchable check/debit card online ledger.

Our record low month in 2012 was February with a grand total* of $76.60. If that was our monthly average, I would be totally fine with that. But for a brief reprieve in April of 2012, it was pretty much downhill from there, with peak Starbucks usage in November of 2012 at $367.29.

The ultimate grand total, all of 2012, came in at $2366.83 for a monthly average of $197.23. This isn’t quite the cost of the fence we are replacing, but it is pretty close.

I decided to go further with my calculations and do the previous 12 months. this came in at $2793.02, or a monthly average of $232.75. Do you see the unappealing trend? Just the previous six months comes in at $1707.44, or a monthly average of $284.57. And if we extrapolate forward, we will be surpassing $300.00 a month is just a few months’ time.

That isn’t going to happen. I am saying it here and now. The Starbucks detox has begun today!!

 

* These figures only account for when we actually used our debit card. I would guess that to be 95% of the time, but there is the occasional use of cash or other credit card.

All spinning all the time…

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Not really, but it sure seems like it. I have been working on my Color Affection and will evaluate it tonight. It might be nearly done. From reading the pattern, I thought that the short row section went all the way to the second side, but having seen a few finished (and correctly) versions in person, I now know it doesn’t. I need to check and see if mine looks like I have gone far enough with the short rows. My problem came from using the lesser number of rows in the first section and then again in the second section, knowing this didn’t correspond to the same version which would result in my stitch count being off. I didn’t think it would matter because the pattern seemed to indicate that the short rows go all the way across the third section. They don’t.

This is a shot of the shawl in progress from the point I was when we left for Rhinebeck. It was the only road trip knitting I took, and I really thought I would finish it along the way. Didn’t happen. I made good progress, though, and I am going to be on a push now to get it finished, perhaps making it my constant companion.

I recently tossed my stash and found about 8 WIPs that need finishing so once Color Affection is done, I am going to try to plow right through the rest of them.

On another note, Clare was none too happy about modeling my first spin to knit finished object. The pattern is the Very Braidy Cowl. the fiber is from Three Waters Farm and I got it in a Ravelry destash. I spun it on a spindle and then chain plied it on my wheel. The entire time I worked with this fiber, I was thinking of my friend Lisa, so off in the mail it went to her and she likes it. Very squooshy and soft and definitely good colors for her.

there is plenty of other spinning going on, have no fear…

Houston has recently gotten its first Trader Joe’s store and frankly, I was unimpressed. I can’t really say what my expectations were, but I was somewhat disappointed. that said, we will in all likelihood be going back on a regular basis. First off, it was love at first bite of Mango Mochi. There are other flavors of Mochi, but I might be hopelessly devoted to mango. Then there are the little mini cracker things of both the plain and soy/multigrain varieties. Love them. The cranberry orange scones were also a delight. And finally (this go round), their mild Italian sausage is pretty near perfect.

Last night I made the sausage with some onions, and escarole and peppers from our farm box. I have never cooked escarole before but at least now I know what to do with it. I have been using my enameled cast iron dutch oven a lot lately and it has become my favorite one pot pan. I sauteed the onions and peppers with some garlic in a little olive oil for about 5 mins until soft and then I added the sausage links and browned on two sides. I added a can of peeled and diced tomatoes with all there juices and a can full of water. Once that came up to a boil, I reduced the heat to a simmer and then added the escarole without stirring it in and covered the pot for about thirty minutes. Then of course, I went to spin and forget about it. After 30 mins or so, I gave it a stir and proclaimed it done. The sausage was very tender and the greens and other veg all nicely combined. Leftovers for lunch will be awesome.

Make. This. Soup.

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I just had a bowl of the Chicken and Dumpling soup I made over the weekend. and oh my. The dumplings are so perfect, I hope I get it right every time I make this in the future.

This recipe was originally from Cook’s Country Feb 2009 issue and I used it as is one time and then started playing. I have made it 4 times now and this weekend the recipe was lost so I had to wing it. Here’s what I did and honestly, this is the best the dumplings have come out. I went to the Cook’s Country website and this recipe (as I think all recipe’s) was listed as premium content. They have a 2 week free trial, but to do the free trial you have to give them your credit card info and then opt out if you aren’t interested. What planet are they on? I would have done the free trial and maybe stay on as a paid subscriber if they prompted me for cc info at the end of my 2 week free trial, but no…

The recipe did not use durum semolina, just straight up flour, but I found those dumplings lacking something. My favorite chicken and dumpling soup was from Eatzi’s, a gourmet market that had food for the taking which sadly, is no longer open in Houston. There’s was a thick hearty creamy version and the dumplings were like big thick chunks of pasta. So I added the semolina flour and the first time I made them with 2 parts semolina to one part regular. The dumplings were tasty, but a bit heavy and too chewy. This time I used one part semolina to two parts regular. spot on.

The original recipe also didn’t use any herbs, but I have a slew growing in the garden so I chopped up a handfull and added half to the dumplings and half at the end to finish the soup. Perfection.


dumplings
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup durum semolina flour
generous pinch salt and pepper
1 egg
1 cup water (more or less as needed)
handfull chopped fresh herbs (optional)

The consistency of the dumpling batter is pretty loose. You mix all this together and let it rest in the bowl on the counter while you make the rest of the soup.

soup
1 rotisserie chicken
4 carrots sliced
4 celery stalks sliced
1 onion diced
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 serrano chile (optional)
8 cups chicken stock
s + p to taste

I use a 6 quart Dutch oven but any large pot will do. Add some olive oil to the pot and saute all the veg together about 5 minutes until they start to soften. add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. I use an unsalted that comes in a 4 cup box. reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. While this is cooking, remove all the meat from the chicken and shred it, then add to the pot and cook another 10 minutes or so. Then drop teaspoons-full of the dumpling batter into the soup and cover and cook 2-3 minutes more. Stir in remaining herbs if using.

A note about the chile…I am new to experimenting with adding heat to my cooking because in that regard, I am still a yankee at heart, but I do like a little heat, I am just wussy (according to EF) about it. I recently made a white bean pumpkin soup that had a serrano sliced up into it and that was just the right amount of heat. The heat was more of an afterthought. I used a chile that was bought at the same time in the soup this weekend and actually only used half of it and the soup was much hotter than I thought it would be. After having the first bowl of this, I was unsure if I would be able to eat it again thinking the heat would intensify as it sat. Not the case. The heat is still present, but has mellowed nicely.

This soup usually feeds us for 3 or 4 meals. Hope you like it as well as we do!

Yes, it’s Thursday and I am at work…

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

The company is closed today and tomorrow, and half day yesterday, but that doesn’t actually change publication dates, so eb and I are at work. Thanksgiving just isn’t a big deal for us. In years past we have done the full production and really, I like all the preparations and cooking.

I think the way in which we celebrate holidays has had a sort of natural progression that closely follows our path toward a more authentic and simple lifestyle. I do like all the gathering of family and friends hoopla, but I am just not the one to be planning this anymore. I learned with Elizabeth’s surprise 50th party. It isn’t that her party was anything extraordinary in terms of what we normally do for a party. It’s more like the whole ordeal just wiped me out. After the event, which was a smashing success, I was drained. I can’t say I was physically exhausted, but it did lave me feeling somewhat emotionally exhausted. It was enough of a challenge on me afterward that eb and I discussed it and decided the remainder of the year would be low key. No extravagant plans. We even extended this to deciding there would be no White Trash Xmas Buffet. This year would have been WTXB 7.

If you were planning to come to WTXB7 , of course you are still invited to email or call and arrange an alternate playdate. I think part of this path of authenticity is quality over quantity and we want to see you! And if you are planning to travel here from out of town that weekend, yes, there is room at the inn and we want to see you!

Work today has also been play time. I am once again keeping a food journal and tracking what I am eating and when and also how I might be feeling in relation to food. IT is an experiment of sorts. I had a small pocket journal from one of the trade shows attended by one of our editors. It had an ugly oil and gas related company’s logo and message on the cover, so I opened up the glue stick and went to town using things that accumulate on my desk. The cover is now collaged with tea tags, fruit stickers and a fortune or two.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

a nice juicy steak…

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I have been thinking about it all morning. The steak we had at Rancho Loma. It was stunning. It was sublime. It might just be the most perfect steak ever. And I want some more. Short of a return visit to Rancho Loma, I might just have to find me a meat market here in Houston.

It isn’t like I haven’t looked before. I have. I just haven’t found an old school butcher like I am looking for. Ideally I want a neighborhood place that is actually in my neighborhood, but I am not oddosed to driving across town if I find the right place. It isn’t like we eat beef often, but I want to know what I am getting and where it is coming from. I want local well cared for beef.

I know the farmers’ market has a few local ranchers hawking their wares. As far as I know, a quantity of beef needs to be purchased. I will look into it further when we go tomorrow morning.

Also on the shopping list is some fresh local tomatoes. The ones at the store are hit and miss. While they aren’t dreadful, what we had at Rancho Loma was superb. There is a standard that has been set. The salad course of our meal was heirloom tomatoes from their garden with fresh mozzarella and basil with a flavored olive oil and white balsamic granita. I am not about to be making any granita any time soon, it is more laborious than I care to be, especially when I have made a close enough approximation with the aged balsamic vinegar I already have on hand. I just think we need better tomatoes and I think it won’t be a challenge to find them at the market.

The other fresh meal we have been having is guacamole salad. I hesitate to call in guac because I don’t use the traditional spices. Again it is a close approximation. Last time I made it I added the corn cut from three ears, pre-cooked. Heavenly. and Gone.

I think we will have the guac tonight and the tomato salad and steak tomorrow night.

Life is good.

Greek Gods honey yogurt and cake…

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

It’s what’s for lunch.

I worked on a second Remains of the Day journal. This one is 99% recycled materials. The cover is made from a piece of junk mail and an old blouse, embellished with stuff from the stuff stash. The pages are made from security envelopes salvaged from the mail trash and scraps of paper from various other projects. It isn’t what I want as an end product, but much closer.

Time to eat my cake.

Thinking about Twinkies

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I am soon on my way to the grocery store to stock up for a weekend of eating crap. I haven’t had a total crap binge in quite a while, and the last time, I noticed I would have a few bites of something and then move on, so even though I am thinking binge and saying binge, it really won’t be a binge. Yay for me…

The list so far? Cheddarwurst, Velveeta mac and cheese, Pepsi, chips, sushi, ice cream(maybe), and I am thinking of maybe having a nice juicy burger for dinner unless something else catches my eye. I think I might actually walk the aisles and see what else sparks my nostalgic indulgence radar.

Adios muchacha…