Food and Drink

It's an indoors kind of day

Every other weekend, or so, we cook for Miss EB, and today was a perfect day for it with the rain coming down. Lemon poppy seed mini-muffins (Williams-Sonoma recipe), perfectly small hand sized!


A couple of weeks ago we bought some See Canyon apples at Avila Valley Farm. 10 lbs actually.

 Today was as good of a day as any to make them into apple sauce.


4 1/2 quart pot, filled up with peeled apple chunks, 1/2-1 cup of water, half a vanilla bean, scraped. Putter them for about 20 minutes, then whiz up into sauce. 


This is good with pretty much any breakfast food.


Then we made some kale chips. Yes, I know, they  SOUND kind of weird, but you can't stop eating them once you start! Torn into pieces, dried off, sprayed with olive oil, sprinkle salt. 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, until they turn a little brown. Miss EB loves them.


Time for a break. Pita bread and home made hummus. Tell me why I've never made hummus before?! It is so incredibly easy, and so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. Used this recipe, and added a little bit of cumin. It's a 10 minute job. Seriously.


Finally got around to making our "fossil" cookies; inspiration by the MS Halloween issue. They are just so cute! Used CI's "Best Shortbread" recipe, rolled it up into a log instead of the wedges, and cut pieces (made about 20 round cookies.)


Bugs from the Halloween store.


Ella trying out the bugs. 


Lizard fossil.

And a spider.


Next time we're making a double batch. At least.

Sew, Sew, Sew

The weather & hobbies change. Around here we started sewing. On the crappiest sewing machine in the universe. Really, that is not an exaggeration. So can it sew in a zipper? Oh, hell no. See the zipper for the sassy skirt class?

Had to be put on hold indefinitely. The crappy ass sewing machine could barely hold on to a straight line, so back to quilting we went.

Had these fabrics for a LONG time, especially in my mind, for pillows to match the bedroom quilt. First off, the square cutting is really not fun.


But then you get to play with all the colors.


And make a fun pin cushion to replace the old ratty one.

Yes, still on the old sewing machine. Straight lines.

With that nifty technique from Posy Gets Cozy. Even started some square quilted pillows for the Amy Butler quilt. They aren't for me.


 After the straight stitch was exhausted it was time to buy a new sewing machine. Yup. It didn't take long, and yup, it is lovely.


In the sewing groove that ensued, some seriously "old" xmas jammie pants were finished. Check out those button holes!!! How perfect are they? And all I did was push "start"!


Piping was made, and pillow #1 finished. Super Kitty Model Elliott in picture for scale. Or maybe just cuteness.


Zipper was sewn, all modifications completed, and the flounce hemmed. There was a lot of flounce to hem.  No picture of finished skirt because it's in the dirty wash. That's a good reason, right?


We had time for some baked beans too. PW recipe.  To go with the Memorial Day BBQ. 


This summer is going to be all about the BBQ. And sewing.  

And just like the dust I'll rise.

It turned into an evening with Julia. Great, old standbys.

Start every recipe with a glass of wine. Into the cook. (Also coined by a Julia.)


JC's simple white bread. You do need a nice KitchenAid for this one, unless you want to knead the dough for ten minutes (which I have sillily elected to do. Once maybe.) The key to rising well is NO DRAFT. And by that I mean NO WINDOWS OPEN. Doesn't matter that we live in California. Yeast is a fickle thing. A nice non-drafty spot is actually the oven. Or your microwave. I like to kick the process in the rear a bit, so I fill up the sink with fairly warm water and set the bowl in there. It's that patience thing. Read somewhere recently that slow rising results in nicer bread, but who has time these days anyway? 


There are a gazillion Potato & Leek soup recipes out there. Some use fancy chicken stock, some use cream AND butter, but I still like the simplicity of the first recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". How much art is it to combine only three ingredients, where one of them is water, and make a super yummy soup that never gets old?! Brilliance. 


It must be the only Cookbook I own that doesn't have pretty glossy pictures. It is kind of nice to know what a dish is supposed to look like after it's made, but maybe most of all, being able to salivate over all the incredible dishes in the photos. I also have a terrible addiction to cooking magazines.

We don't have a recipe per se, but here's a visual.

Chop equal amounts of leeks & potatoes.

Yes, equal, any less and you don't get the leek flavor. Also when leeks are in season, which is now, they taste more mellow than they do out of season, or at least that is my theory. It doesn't hurt to add extra. And if you don't have enough leeks in your fridge, then you can always add some onion. This is really not about perfection, it's about being sufficient.


Dump leeks & potatoes into pot, fill with water until potatoes are covered.

Be generous. But don't overfill it, you want a soup with a creamy consistency. 

Putter soup on the stove until potatoes are tender.

Depending on how large your potatoes were chopped, it can take up to 45 minutes. Just check every so often, and let it keep puttering. The beauty of this is, the bread is ready to be worked into rolls.

(This so was not by design, but it makes for a nicely put together dinner!) JC's original recipe is loaves, but I like rolls better, so we just cranked the oven a little hotter (by 30 degrees F), and kept them in there for only 14 minutes or so. 


24 rolls were enough to freeze for later. That's sort of the point of baking, not just for the moment, but so you have nice baked goods every day. It's not like I grew up in ancient times, but I remember always having home made bread. If you bought bread from the store you were just plain lazy. Or a bad baker. Or so my Grandma says.


It is also nice to have "cheap" bread towels to put over your rolls as they're rising (for the second time.) Those of you who have been to Smith & Wollensky's know what I'm talking about. Love their napkins. A lot.

Stick the immersion blender into the soup for a nice whirrr when it's done to your liking, but don't make it completely smooth, we like our soup chunky, just like Julia. A dollop of cream and some butter, S&P to taste, & viola. If you are trying to cut corners, you really can skip the extras, they're not needed for consistency. But we really like cream & butter around here.


It was a nice Friday dinner.

P.S. I'll Rise, Ben Harper.

I must be missing the snow

The really, really, really, pristine white kind. Not the brown kind it turns into, nor yellow. Anyway.


In my defense, dinner was mostly from the Cupboard, marshmallows maybe not so much.


Apparently didn't even own a candy thermometer. The recipe was from Martha, but BrowniePoints also has an IDENTICAL (practically) recipe. And whoever said it makes 24 marshmallows must be a GIANT. We counted 80. Ok, really 85, but you HAVE to taste them too. Who wants some marshmallows anyway? Martha's recipe says they keep for 3 days, BrowniePoints, for weeks - I will go with that one. Buoy observed "it's made from sugar and corn syrup, how can they not last forever?!"


And a warning. These marshmallows are sticky. Very sticky. Really, really, really sticky. We cut them into long strips with a very greasy sharp knife, across the short side. It was a total bitch, but then you roll them around in the confectioner's sugar, and it makes them nice and smooth and easy to cut into cubes, something we figured out half way into the cutting process.


This may be a lot of work for some measly marshmallows; but oh BOY are they GOOD. Who knew pure sugar tasted so good?! Next time we'll probably make Rice Crispies Treats with half the batch, and make marshmallows with the rest. Because it makes a lot of marshmallows. A lot.


Suppose we have to drink Hot Chocolate every night now. This is where that cold & snow could come in really handy, it gets awefully warm here.


And don't leave your candy thermometer in the sugar mixture when it is boiling, it gets really wonky, and maybe a tad hot. Like, don't-touch-it-hot.


Endpaper mitts were done, still in need to be washed, blocked, photo-shooted & sent across the ocean. Elvira is a new project, being made with stash (!!) yarn for EB. Some insane 8 ply Swedish cotton yarn my Grandma apparantly forgot she gave to me and had been looking for in her storage room. ( I knew I got something from her.)

Let's Get Ready To Rumble

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines; Let's get this party started; And it begins; all adequate descriptions of a New Year.


This New Year is promising to be a hell of a lot different from the last one, filled with important moments, it warrants starting fresh, new. No holding on to the past, scrap the old blog, the only remnants to save are knitting and crocheting projects, which are still in use, and remembered. And that is what is important, wearing past projects on my feet right now feels pretty self sufficient somehow.


The knitting ideas abound as always, maybe even more now with the Little One to knit for. The mental projects are stacking up quickly, it is a year of WINTER OLYMPICS. Can't wait (and already have a project lined up. Or three.)


I used to think New Year's resolutions were lame. We should just put our minds to it and do things when we want to, not wait until the new year to begin. However, doing this you kind of miss the opportunity to force yourself to take time and assess the past year, good and bad, (finding the good is always more difficult it seems), and ways to improve what you already have. 


Maybe we're a bit behind the curve, but Using What We Have seems fitting this year. That means looking in the overflowing cupboard for things to use before going to the store. Sifting through the ever growing yarn stash and base projects off of what I have. (I know, doesn't that sound so good in theory?!) Starting with FINISHING old knitting & sewing projects. Then on to smaller, more specific projects, cook new things, read more, both fiction & technical, and maybe most of all, be more patient.


From the cupboard: Wine, Potatoes, cream, Sprinkles Cupcake Mix (ok, this one was lame, we really wanted a nice fancy home steak dinner to kick off the year...)


Knitting: Using stash Buoy XMas 2009 sock yarn (EHPF) to finish matching woolies for Ella Bella.

P.S. Working on getting the look of the blog back to normal, useful links & pretty colors and all that stuff. It may take awhile.