Eclectic Mix of food & fiber

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I thought I’d get right to the good stuff.  The time of day or me here might have something to do with this up first.  Noon and I’m hungry although I did have a cool smoothie this morning that I shared with Paul Jr. Fresh Papaya, Pineapple, Banana, Flax meal and homemade almond milk.  Smooth and interesting flavor.

The pie and bread came about as I was supposed to go visit with my friend Patti’s mom, aunt and hospice people (she’s 93 now) and I usually take food.  I, being alone as Paul left for work in Florida made up this apple pie.  It’s about the most delicious one I have ever made…..I used 5# of Cortland apples, 1/4 C. Verbena Sugar (remember last year I cut the last of my verbena and mixed it with organic sugar in my chopper) and one whole lemon, grated peel first and juice of the lemon next.  I then topped it off with 4 pats of butter.  That’s it.  What a fresh pie, not at all sweet just fresh!

The bread was the result of while in the basement getting pie things I spotted that big old white box on the shelf, my bread machine.  So, I decided to drag it out and make plain old white bread.  Geech that stuff is good and easy and also it makes just about the best toast in the world.  You know, I’m always making something brown, grainy, healthy, etc. but sometimes just WHITE and easy does it. 

Back to the story, by the time the bread was done, the pie was done it was exactly 11:50 a.m. and I was due to leave at noon.  Bingo, a blizzard started with the most giant flakes I have ever seen.  No way was I going to drive the 1.5 hrs. into boonie land where Patti’s mom lives which would take 3 hrs.  I hated to call her, especially after I said I was coming with all this fresh food and then not go.  I am glad I canned it, we did get allot of snow and I heard the driving was horrendous.  Immediately once the decision was made of course….I cut myself a slice of pie, then I cut some bread for toast, then I wrapped it all up and froze it – I could see just where that was headed.  Me alone in the house, blizzard, warm fresh food….wow, a close one.  That business of chopping herbs in with the sugar is nice.  It adds such a unique flavor to things.  Mint, basil, anise……can’t wait to plant for this years garden.

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Some girlfriends came over for snacks last night (with wine).  My plan was to make cheese fondue, which I did, with all sorts of cool things…..roasted potato chunks, grilled sausage chunks, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, apples, etc.  Well after all that health food type stuff a chocolate dessert was the ticket. 

This recipe came out of bon appetit, February 14.  I’ve altered it a bit just by making it easier, that’s all.

Crust:

2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/5 C. flour

1 stick unsalted butter, chopped

1 egg yolk & cold water (about 1/2 C.) or just cold water & vinegar (I prefer not to use egg as I feel it hardens the dough)

Make the crust your usual way.  Roll it out and fit it into a tart pan.  Use the rolling pin to go over the top edge of the pan to get a nice even edge across the top.  Fork all over, wrap in plastic and freeze for a bit.  This part can be done days ahead or just hours.

Take it out of the freezer and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 40 minutes.  It’s hard to tell when it’s done because of the color so just pull it at 40 minutes.  This can be done anytime ahead, same day, day before, just keep it wrapped if it’s the day before.

Filling:

1.5 C. heavy cream

1/2 stick chopped unsalted butter

3 Tbs. honey or agave

1/2 tsp. salt

12 oz. good chocolate, should be 70% at least.

I use a glass bread pan……put the heavy cream, butter, honey & salt in it, microwave for 2 minutes.  Add the chocolate, stir, melt for another 1 minute.  Stir and let it sit, stir to blend in if it’s all melted.  It will come up thick and glossy.  If there are still lumps, give it a tiny zap.  Once thick and fabulous looking pour it into the baked shell and refridgerate it for a few hours.  Sometimes I’ll need it pronto so then I just pop it in the freezer.

The almonds on top?  This recipe didn’t work for me.  They were supposed to be dry and sandy looking.  I think the syrup which was made up of brown sugar & maple syrup was too dark to tell when I was getting at coating heat level.  So, do whatever you do or serve with fresh raspberries, much easier.

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Two days ago I got the idea to make some almond milk and remembered I saw an easy recipe somewhere.  Not an easy feat for me to find a random recipe as I have tons of them all over the place.  Books, binder, magazines, this place is full of food ideas but I did find it, fairly easy too.  I keep a clipboard of the recipes I first extract from anywhere that I think I may want to toy with.  There it was!

January 2014, again Bon Appetit.

Basic Nut Milk:

1 C. raw nuts (I used almonds but am now going to try pistachio)

4 tsp. agave

pinch of salt

Place the nuts in a bowl, cover with water to 2″ above the nuts.  I let it sit over night then drained the dirty water out (amazing amount), rinsed the nuts and refilled in a clean bowl to cover with water.  Let it sit another day. 

When your ready, drain the nuts and puree with agave, salt and 4 C. very, very hot tap water (not boiling).  Let it blend for at least a few minutes.  I couldn’t fit the last two cups of water in my mixer (see photo, filled to the brim) but it was o.k. because I just poured it in a bowl with the blend and whisked to mix.

Strain through either mesh or a fine sieve.  I sieved it twice then poured it into a clean wine bottle.  One cup nuts, 4 C. water is perfect wine bottle size. 

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I am so SOLD on this.  It’s delicious, it’s easy to do, really takes very little time.  It’s one of those things that you can start one day, decide the next your not ready, change the water, let it sit again.  The article says the longer it sits the smoother the milk.  But the flavor is fabulous and doesn’t even come close to buying that cardboard box at the grocery store.  I buy my almonds online from Masa Organics in California.  They have the freshest I’ve ever had.  There is a hefty shipping charge so you may as well get their brown rice (which is all we eat) and their almond butter is to die for also.  I’m lucky because they sell at a Farmer’s Market in Berkeley where my grand daughters live and as we always go there (while I’m there) I stock up.  I have had to order online before and just bite that bullet.

We’ve been traveling quite a bit.  Paul has had work in Florida twice in the past month so I’ve been on a plane (serious knitting time opportunity) to go visit him.  I cut this past visit short as Ft. Lauderdale became nightmarish for me; too much crime, filth, homeless, anxiety and basic rudeness.  I can’t tell you the things people said to me or hollered from their car to mine; infractions for just breathing!  It was terrible.  I sat in our apartment and knitted continuously.  It was safer.

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This is a half done dress for Ruth’s little baby who is due in May.  It’s silk & merino wool sock yarn from Sweet Georgia Yarn Co.  I may have mentioned before…..I belong to a club and get a surprise skein each month, hand dyed, beautiful wool.  It’s been fun coming up with a project for just one skein each month.  I’ve made woven dishtowels (a few posts back), a scarf for a friend of mine, fingerless gloves for Ruth, a hair band for winter and now this little dress.  It’s paid to have my children 9 years apart.  Now I have two little girls who are 4 and 6 whom I have showered with baby things and now another little baby coming along and then by the the time Paul, jr. starts we’ll get to do more baby stuff.  This could go on forever!

I’ll leave you with a classic Maine forcast projection about Candlemas Day, which is today that I heard on NPR this morning:

“Candlemas Day….Half your wood and half your hay should remain by Candlemass Day”.  The simplicity of it.  I love living here.

 

 

 

Just a few ideas

The other day the younger Paul was coming over for breakfast so I thought I’d make his favorite, biscuits.  It’s one of those comfort things I tend to go to anytime, so simple and flaky.  I’m trying to use non-hydrogenated rather than butter or crisco.  Butter really works in these types of things but….The problem is this non-hydo stuff is difficult to break up.  It flakes and is kind of like rocks, not sliceable or easy to get to pea size with your fingers like crisco is.  While perusing the shelves for anything that might work I found a potato masher – it works great!

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A Happy Camper moment for me.  As this stuff doesn’t have much or any flavor you might want to add cheese or something but you do get flaky crusts from this.  Cool.

Lemon is one of my favorite things.  Saveur has a cool idea this month, in case you missed it.  A chef with a just fabulous name, Carla, had this idea in there so I did it and it perfectly satisfies my lemon tooth.  You cut up a whole lemon (after scrubbing), ditch the seeds, keep everything else.  Put it in a quisinart or some such and pulverize then add olive oil till it’s this nice emulsion.  I don’t know how much, I just poured it in till I had enough to fill my clean empty salsa jar.  It’s pretty fantastic.  She suggests using it tossed with roasted potatoes, great idea.  I’d toss it with everything.  Last night it was dribbled on our salad w/blue cheese crumbles, some small tomatoes and a strawberry or two.  Wow!

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Back to my forgetting to put up some Bahamas water pictures.  This first one is the approach to that lighthouse in the distance, Hope Town.Image

You just want to be lying in it face down with a snorkel on (great to be able to breathe while your at it in that face down position, no?).

We motored across the water to this popular restaurant on our last day – Snappa’s.  Beer and fish with this view.

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This last one is as we arrived at the Miami Airport, two days before Christmas (a nightmare of travelers).  What Paul is holding is our sign board that goes on the back of the boat underneath the name.  We brought it home to have our friend Artie of Cider Hill Woodworks carve us a new one.

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Paul looks so darn serious when actually I think he was just trying to compose himself.  When we got off the little hopper plane from the island there were just so many people swarming around Miami, wild, crazy, tons of noise with massive visual impact.  We hit a bar pronto for a glass of wine.  When we finished that up we walked out the door and tried walking around but it was too much and, everyone was speaking Spanish and on the way to South America.  We found another bar, glass number 2.  It’s really hard to be “away” with zero stimulus, no phone, tv, people, radio, etc. just two people kinda quiet reading and swimming and then to step into something like Miami.  Yiiikes it was a culture shock.

Today’s agenda?  I’ve been asking myself that for a bit now and think I have settled on making a fleece coat for Luna.  I am desperate to go for a walk but it’s so darn cold (less than 20) which is o.k. but it’s windy as hell.  Yesterday while it was warm and raining as it was 40 something, I brushed Luna down to get rid of all her undercoat and fuzz.  She’s been shedding all over the place so I got rid of tons.  Watching it blow in the wind off the porch where she was being brushed I could see theres going to be tons of bird house construction materials available for those little guys in our bushes.  So now I’m afraid she might be cold without an undercoat.  Then it’s on to the more serious project I’ve so far avoided for six days so far (and counting); preparing numbers and files for closing out our company books for the year.  A massive project.  My vision is wobbly for trying to do it on the computer so I put everything, ever last cent, down on a multi taped together spread sheet and then try and make the numbers add up all ways.  Worst project of the year.

One last thing.  The book I’m reading, Endurance about Shackleton’s 1914/16 voyage to the Antarctic.  What is wrong with me?  It’s a freezing, miserable story and the fact that it’s freezing and miserable outside doesn’t help.  I guess it could be construed as exciting because as I’m reading it I have the sound effects just outside my window and can imagine being there.  But, it’s definantly not a girl thing, women don’t do these crazy things.  I’m curious.  I’d like to find a study about why women don’t do these risky, cold, miserable types of adventures. What’s different about our brains (boy, that’s a big one).  I know that’s possibly a generalization to say that and perhaps I just don’t read or hear about it but I suspect it’s rare.  Any ideas?