Monday, October 18, 2010

We Had A Weiner Roast

We've been having a lot of bonfires in the backyard since the boys built a make shift pit. When our fancy new patio project is complete we'll have a fancy new fireplace. For now this one next to the hen house is perfect. Saturday, Henry asked if we could roast hot dogs over the fire. What a fine idea.

I remember summers in Tolono when Grandma announced we'd roast weiners for dinner. It never failed to illicit giggles and snickers from behind the dirty hands of four stair step grandchildren. Being a responsible adult I don't snicker anymore - I just sing "Let's have a weiner roast. No need to build a fire....".

Okay, maybe I made a few wise cracks once the weiners were in the fire. Doug is the responsible parent. I am the one that winds 'em and stirs the pot. Besides, hot dog jokes are funny.

Doug being a responsible weiner roaster. (that made me laugh when I typed it)

Cake and Beanie roast a weinie. (that made me laugh, too)

Alright, maybe sometimes the Ramones hair looks cool.

Oh look, here's mommy. Or actually mommy's beer. Long after I am gone, they may not know what I looked like but they'll lift a pint of IPA in homage. (photo by me)

Of course there were s'mores and sticky faces.

Then tired eyes and bed.

What a great night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Story Problem

What do you get when....

You take 7 Cross Country Runners

and add....

2# of tortilla chips
1 1/2# grilled chicken
1# cheddar cheese
1 quart homemade chili
A bowl of guacamole
A pint of sour cream
2 cups of homemade salsa
2 cans of refried black beans
1 can whole black beans...

Absolutely nothing....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

School Lunch

Lay of the School Lunch

My lunch at school is always good,
I get the very finest food
That any little girl or boy
Requires, to give him health and joy.
I always have a sandwich brown
Of wholewheat bread, the very crown
Of foods composed of grains;
Between the slices, toothsome, sweet,
I find chopped eggs or cheese or meat.
A daintly salad crisp and green,
With dressing in a bottle clean,
Delights my eyes, likewise my tongue,
It's awful good for old and young.
A cooky brown, then juicy fruit;
I tell you what, my lunches suit.

From The Chilren's Book of Food Verses
by Winifred Stuart Gibbs

My how things change....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boo! It's a Pepper

For those of you not familiar with Doug's hot sauce - I am sorry, you really must catch up! It's bar none, the best and most flavorful heat you'll ever experience. The original of a collection of three, is called Ghost. It's name, ironically enough, is inspired by the Ghost pepper, hailing from India. Home of infernal heat-loving palates.

You can imagine how thrilled I was this spring when Doug expressed interest in growing his OWN ghost peppers for his sauce. Now, admittedly, I think I responded to his interest with a sarcastic smile. Because I am being sarcastic/cynical/nasty? No, because I wanted to do a happy dance. How cool is it that he wants to grown his own peppers? In our backyard. From seed.

Also, maybe there was a bit of a desire for an "I-told-you-so" dance. Haven't crazy looks be sent my way over any of a myriad of ridiculous projects?

He researched online and found the seeds - organic, from Hawaii, $1 a piece. Who am I to question quality ingredients? Never. We have a friend with great greenhouse access. Aren't we lucky?

Eventually, Doug's "babies" as he now refers to them, are ready to go into the ground. There is much talk. Organic potions. Watering between appropriate dry spells. Remember how excited I was? Now.....well, I've been trying to grow food for years but......well, you know.

FINALLY, the peppers were harvested in anticipation of a frost. The first order of business was to dissect some peppers for drying. Laid out on an elevated screen then stashed in a cool, dry spot.

The rest of the peppers went into the dehydrator, a long ago acquisition. It worked beautifully.

Overnight they were done and ready for what I think should be a special edition.

If you'd like to get your hands on some, let me know. I can hook you up - I have an in with the farmer/added value product guy...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Try This...

Do you ever think of cardamom? I must admit that I don't or didn't, very often. Living in a largely Swedish community as a child and now, I recall talks of the infamously ethereal cardamom bread but that's sort of where it stopped. I have seeds in the pastry cabinet and have been known to substitute them when pods are called for but for the most part, I didn't seek it out. I hadn't fully realized I wasn't adoring it as I should. Wasn't giving it the starring role it calls for - or more appropriately deserves.

A few weeks back I made an Apple Cake that called for cardamom and the opportunity was such that I was able to go the full nine yards. Green pods, cleaned for seeds and ground on an as needed basis.

O - M - G - !

While I have done it before, it was every bit as tedious and, by the standards of some as tremendously superfluous and unnecessary as ever before. However, having the privilege of the final product, worth every single moment.

While some may not have the need for a spice grinder, if you do, I recommend this one. Large capacity, consistent grind. Makes quick work of what used to take a lot of muscle to handle with my mortar and pestle. Compulsive? Maybe....aaahhhh, but just wait.

Okay, so a new application for cardamom in this super easy cake from the September issue of Everday Food. Here we go.

Ready to go 8:00am.......

Into the oven - 8:10am.....

Out of the oven and cooled 9:25am....

9:35am. Enough said.

Cardamom Crumb Cake
loosely adapted from Everday Food, September 2010

3 cups all-purposed flour
2 cups sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. coarse salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sour cream
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 t. ground cardamom
1 t. finely grated lemon zest

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" square baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With fork or your fingers, cut in butter until crumbs form. Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture.

Whisk milk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, cardamom, and lemon zest into remaining crumb mixture until combined. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Apple Project #4 - Apple Pear Turnovers

Until about a year ago, I hated puff pastry. I never got it's mystic. It was gummy and coated the inside of my mouth with oil. Uckk.

Then I discovered the puff pastry from Trader Joe's. The ingredients on the back of the box say, "Wheat Flour, Butter (milk), Salt, Sugar, Water". Yes, seriously. This short list is the reason behind my new found passion. It bakes up light and airy. Slightly sweet and shattering at that first tender bite. My mouth does not feel yucky.

Turnovers are now one of my favorite treats. For breakfast, snacking or dessert they are to die for - even a day old. Inspired by a recipe I taught at work, I made a batch for dessert one night. Each 12" sheet of pastry will make 4 turnovers and the filling is left only to the imagination.

Roll the pastry out just a bit before cutting the sheet into 4 equal squares. My bench knife is ideal for this. Separate the pieces so you have room to work.

On to the filling. Will you be upset if there is no specific recipe? Chop up about a pound of apples and pears. Toss in a bowl with a big of sugar, white or brown, a squeeze of lemon juice, a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of flour. Add a bit of spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves? Maybe your fav baking blend? Raisins, dried berries or nuts would be nice, too.

Place a slightly drained spoon of filling, on the corner of each square. Be careful not to over fill as I am trying really hard to stop doing. I love the filling. Moisten the edges with a damp finger to help them stick together. Press. Use a fork to add a decorative edge and make sure the filling stays put.

I brush them with a bit of butter and sprinkle with raw sugar before baking.

A silpat is nice for those inevitable leaks that can be a bear to scrub off.

400 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn and back another 15 or so. Keep an eye on them.

Can a baked good be tender, flaky and juice all at once? Thinking of it makes my mouth water.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Sometimes moms get to do cool things. Like drinking Prosecco on a Thursday night.

Sometimes the prosecco is served at a hip little place with an exposed brick wall and cool art. A place called Preservation Bread and Wine.

Sometimes sophisticated food like Pumpkin Ginger Soup is enjoyed. It is made by someone else and is delicious and lovely on a cool fall night. The talk is of grown up things like books and travel. Okay, kids, too.

Sometimes there is a perfect cheese platter of European varieties. It's served with cinnamon-y watermelon pickle and earthy beet chutney.

Sometimes the Dutch Balarina Goat Cheese is infused with crunchy salt crystals and so butterscotch-y, it's hard to remember it's not dessert.

Sometimes there is dessert, perhaps a bread pudding, and a glass of Riesling (ok, maybe a 1/2 glass) to complement it.

Sometimes moms get to have the perfect night out.

Sometime soon, it'll happen again.

We deserve it.