30 May 2011

Iced Tea, Scones and a Good Read

I have just finished reading Molly Wizenberg's memoir called A Homemade Life. Molly's blog, Orangette was one of the first blogs that I fell in love with when I first began learning about food blogs. I love her space because of the quality of her writing ... I think she actually studied writing as an undergrad. Her talent has shown through on the blog and now in her first book. To say that her book is about her blog would be a big fat falsehood ... her book is about her approach toward food as guided by her family and in particular, her Dad. She brings the reader up through her childhood to present day by centering her chapters on particular foods that have been central in her life. I can't recommend the book highly enough ... it's got its hilarious moments, great recipes, tips on handling certain foods, and poignant times. It's a love story on so many levels ...

27 May 2011

Cold Barley Salad

Hurray! It's grilling and picnic season. Here in the States, summertime's official kick-off is the Memorial Day weekend. This is the time for the first of the family backyard barbeques, packed coolers headed for the lake or seaside, cold salads and grilled meats making a big splash at parties. Yup ... winter is conquered for another year!

I made salad for dinner this evening - a cold barley salad that has a light mustard vinaigrette and a tossing of fresh peppers, corn, onion, and herbs. It's easy, it's higher in fiber than a regular pasta salad, and it's a light side to a plate of kebabs or grilled chicken or steaks. Very versatile little dish ... a perfect healthy side for your backyard party! Enjoy!

25 May 2011

Bocconcini Stuffed Meatballs in Pesto Tomato Sauce

Just look at those little devils! They were so tasty! I am pretty in love with this recipe. It's that Rachael Ray recipe I told you about in yesterday's post ... and this time I got pictures ... and plenty of sprinkled basil and parsley!  First of all, bocconcini are, apparently, little bocci balls of mozzarella cheese swimming in a salty brine ... I didn't have them hanging in my fridge, but I did have a block of mozzarella. I cut up a slab into six little cubes and used them. How did I use them, you ask?

24 May 2011

A New Cook Book - Decisions, Decisions!

Luck of the draw brought me a new cook book from Brenda. I love her blog,  Brenda's Canadian Kitchen . It is a direct reflection of her love of cooking, her busy lifestyle, and her warm way of including her followers in her blogshares, recipe challenges, and commentary on different cook books ... oh, and did I say her love of cupcakes and sandwiches? She comes across as a real person with no fluff and stuff ... and I like that! I've often wished that Toronto and Fitzwilliam were just across the highway from each other, but no.

22 May 2011

Another Yummy Muffin, Please!

Our friends John and Nancy visited us this weekend ... we had such a great time catching up and laughing over old times during 'the college years' ! Sitting with muffins and coffee was a perfect way to start Saturday morning. Thankfully, I'd planned ahead for breakfasts and had a platter of muffins ready for warming up. Nancy liked them immensely!

19 May 2011

Random Recipe # 4 - Triple Truffle Cake

This month's Random Recipe challenge brought me to Debbi Fields' Great American Desserts. On page 194, you will find a recipe for a truly guilty pleasure - and I am guilty, because I loved using two entire pounds of semi-sweet chocolate in this dessert. My kitchen smells like a candy factory and I have licked every spoon and spatula from the batter, to the chocolate frosting, to the coffee Kahlua syrup. To say that there is a lot of sugar and fat in this recipe would be an understatement. Blame it on Dom. It was his idea to choose a random cookbook, open it to a random page and then ... stir, swirl, pour, and bake.

18 May 2011

Rainy Day Lunch #3 - Saag Palak and Caraway Rice

Last evening, I got such an itch to make Indian - chicken tikka masala and saag palak with a big bowl of rice to help sooth the hot spiciness of the spices and peppers. It was sooo good - and it felt good to get off my duff and put energy into cooking a good meal after sloughing the afternoon away on the couch with my book The Burning Times .

Consequently, today there is leftover saag palak and chicken. Silent Bob loved the chicken and was 'meh' on the spinach, but I love both - and since I also love Silent Bob, I'll leave him the chicken for his lunch and I will have a big bowl of warm rice with the Indian spinach (saag) on the side. The spinach color has faded over night and the colors of the turmeric and cumin have taken over, which means the spice flavors will be even more amazing ... but it still looks gloppy.

17 May 2011

Cream of Broccoli Soup - Rainy Day Lunch #2

Another rainy day, just as Silent Bob predicted. Today, I perked up a bowl of soup with posies from my garden ... so cheerful, don't you think? The light was really nice for colors today ... cloudy but bright light at the kitchen window. Soup today uses up broccoli and a bit of cheese along with some carrots and onion. An easy soup ... with crackers and cheese, it makes for a nice lunch.

I have a good book going  ... it's doubtful that much more will get done today. Enjoy your day! I'm headed for the couch, a blanket, and my book. With a belly full of warm soup, I'll probably take a nap too. Yawn ... that's what rainy days are all about in the grey cottage on the hill. What can I say?

Pickity Place ... Lunch and Herbs

Last week, I met my friends for lunch at Pickity Place. It's a springtime junket that we repeat every year at planting time. You see, Pickity Place is a special hidden garden and restaurant that sits up a long dirt road and in the woods of Mason, New Hampshire. It's a special place on so many levels. It's a lovely herb garden, it's an antique New England farmhouse with all the nooks and crannies and ells and outbuildings that typify old farm life, it's an inventive luncheon restaurant that specializes in light herb-based recipes, it's the inspiration for illustrations of a classic publication of the children's story, Little Red Riding Hood, it's a little bit of heaven far away from the urban sprawl that slowly encroaches on New England.

16 May 2011

Rainy Day Lunch ... Farfalle and Sausage

What is it about rainy days and my need to curl up with a warm dish of pasta? Whatever the reason, I planned for this kind of strong urge last night when I made dinner. Silent Bob warned me yesterday that rain was in the forecast for the next few days, so I made a big bowl of warm farfalle and sausage to accompany some venison chops that we had to eat up. The story is not with the chops, though.

The story is with a simple bowl of pasta tossed with just a hint of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, fresh Italian parsley, plenty of sliced scallions, chopped tomatoes, and browned Italian sweet sausage and garlic. That's it ... so simple, but perfect with a grilled meat ... or by itself with a cold glass of wine. Sometimes, putting some food in your belly is not all about a million ingredients and steps. Sometimes, the most comforting and delicious things come from a very simple toss together.

15 May 2011

Tropical Blondies ...

Mix some macadamia nuts and some spiced Captain Morgan into your next batch of blondies and take them to a picnic. Perfect dessert for knoshing in between a softball inning, a game of croquet, or a game of Frisbee on the lawn. Crispy on the tops and gooey in the middles ... yummy!

Served with some vanilla/coffee swirl ice cream and a strong cup of expresso ... you can take them way over the top to an 'adult' dessert. Just sayin'.

14 May 2011

Steak and Stuffies!

Nothing like a Friday night steak, hot and juicy from the grill...

Linear Patterns

Give me some stuffed mushrooms, a honker green salad, and a bottle of red wine. I. Am. A. Happy. Girl !

If you're liking the look of that photo above, there is one thing you must know about grilling a good steak ... my brother Jim's marinade. These steaks sat for three hours in his marinade and then were grilled for 5 -6 minutes per side (inch thick rib eyes) on a pre-heated grill that got downed to 'low' the minute the steaks hit the hot metal. They came off done to a perfect medium rare pink - OMG, how good can it be - doneness. Surrounded by hot-from-the-oven stuffies,they made for a nice fast photo before SB and I fell on them like lions. The poor dogs didn't have a chance of a scrap. Okay, maybe one scrap.

So... here are the marinade and stuffies' recipes. I leave them in your capable hands. Go get that grill out and fire that baby up!

13 May 2011

Filling Up the Bread Box With Oatmeal Bread

Oh, bread! I have had such a wonderful time this past winter finding my way around numerous bread recipes, figuring out the best temperatures for yeast solutions, working with some different flour combinations, getting a feel for a properly kneaded dough, and playing with different ways to manipulate the crusts of various breads. Yesterday, I made Silent Bob a three loaf batch of sunflower oatmeal bread.

Which leads me to a note on baking vessels. One of the best things that I have discovered about baking round and oval loaves is the beauty of using a baking bowl or casserole for the loaf. The vessel  'contains' the loaf as it completes its second rise, which makes for a perfectly formed loaf. Baking vessels also allow the risen loaf to maintain height and not flatten out like free-form loaves risen and baked on greased cookie sheets. I have used small and large pottery and ceramic bowls and casseroles for loaves with great results.

11 May 2011

Pork Scallops Smothered in Onion Mustard Sauce

I have been on strike as far as cooking goes for the past several days ... sorry, SB! Sorry, all! Consequently, my kitchen fridge is nearly depleted, there is no bread to be had, and we're down to a few vegetables and condiments. Of course, I left all the beautiful herbs and fresh produce that I picked up at Union Square at Kate's apartment in Brooklyn. We came home to Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard!

09 May 2011

Two Words ...


08 May 2011

Mother's Day ...

This was my weekend ... a strawberry rhubarb compote that tasted wonderful, but sat atop a poor show of an egg custard. No crying over curdled milk (and eggs), though. We salvaged the compote to drizzle on toast on Sunday morning. Yum - a sweet accompaniment to our scrambled eggs with herbs and cheese, Kate's Mother's Day breakfast treat. Visiting my girl in Brooklyn was such a fun junket! We packed quite a bit into the three day visit!

Before our 'farewell brunch', though, there was Saturday!

04 May 2011

Pushing the Season on Strawberries ...

Silent Bob is disgusted with me, but I just could not help it! We had his aunt and cousin dropping in for a lunch date at the grey cottage and I was looking for a nice salad to go with a quiche that I'd made ... I saw strawberries in the market from way far away ... they were so red and shiny and I wanted them so badly! I closed my eyes and popped them into the basket! Home again, home again - jiggity jig and soon there was a pretty spinach and strawberry salad sitting on the table waiting for the quiche to come out of the oven.

02 May 2011

Little Brownie Bonbons ...

Let's just start out this post by getting it clear ... yes, those are highly processed maraschino cherries and yes, I went one step further and used their highly processed FDC#2 red dye-infused syrup to flavour the drippy glaze that is atop these brownie sugar bombs. No, I'm not apologetic, because I don't remember the last time I had maraschino cherries, so I don't feel that they will kill me or throw the levels of FDC#2 red dye into lethal levels in my bloodstream. Phew ... I feel better already!

Today's the Day! Bid On The Best!

MAY 2, 2011


Hey folks! Happy Monday! Here's your chance to support Becky in her fundraising effort for cancer research and support for cancer victims and the doctors who treat them! Check out the incredibly delicious list of items listed for auction bid on her link! Yours trully has some killer cookies up for auction, so go for it! Just don't outbid me on that English toffee - ;-) wink, wink!