Brings big changes and the urge to bake all the things!
Starting with the weather… last Monday ushered in a glorious week. We had temps in the 70’s several times! I had to break out the summer attire to stave off a need for Steve to turn on the AC during the week (I lost… he did turn on the AC, sigh.)
Today, the furnace has been running steadily and it was just barely 30°F when I took Sherman for our morning walk. My ears got cold, I could have used a hat! I saw a few flakes drifting gently down on Saturday, but no accumulation. But the inner child in me did a mini-dance of joy at this week’s forecast with better snow chances on Thursday!
This colder weather turns my attention to baking. Today I am going to whip up David Lebovitz French Apple Cake. His take on Dorie Greenspan’s version is my absolute favorite! I think there will also be some more pumpkin bread as well!
The big dough bucket will be empty this week so it will be time to fill it back up! That wheat dough… well the taste is wonderful and it stayed soft and moist for the 4-days it lasted! We finished it off Saturday night with a “breakfast for dinner” of eggs and toast! In my second attempt, I baked it in a loaf shape as the recipe suggested. I used the baking steel that we use for pizza and my results were so good!
Finally, I am going to make a big batch of Baked Pumpkin Steel Cut Oats because there is nothing better than some hot oats to help warm you up after an early morning excursion with Sherman!
And there you have my very full list for the week! I will see you all back here on Wednesday with some other sorts of making!
is for emptying out my brain…
Occasionally I have so much clutter just rattling around my head, I just need to dump it all out. Clean the slate, as it were. This is one of those Mondays!
I am wondering how there can be so many mosquitoes outside right now. It has been 90-gagillion degrees out for a long-ass-time, we have had scant to no rain (and the only standing water in my yard is in the bird bath and the bee bath… both of which get clean water every day.) And still… I have what feels like 12 billion mosquito bites on my ankles, arms, legs, feet… yep, every place that is not covered… is covered with bites. My itch factor is off the charts right now…
Toe Up Socks are great….until you get to that dreaded point of binding it off at the cuff. I have several stretchy bind offs in my repertoire but none of them have been perfect for this bind off. They all are flaring out at the top… ruffling a bit too much for my liking. I have ripped out three bind offs thus far and put the sock in Time Out for a bit. While said sock has been in Time Out, I have done some research on more stretchy bind offs (there are so many!) and I might have found one that might work! I have to rip this last bind off out… but then I am going to try the suspended bind off and see if that works in the round… it worked flat…but that does not always translate to binding off in the round. Send me some good binding off thoughts, please! I need to move beyond the bind off and finish Sock One!
Painting Class Three is in the books and my home work has been turned in. Gentle Readers, let me tell you, the struggle with this lesson was real. My result was not my plan…by a long shot. And so I spent the weekend practicing some of the techniques that I wanted to be different that my execution of them. Can I just say that I have yet to find my brush “sweet spot” I have a variety of brushes and have spent some $$ on them… and I am just really struggling with all.of.them. I know that this is mostly operator error… and I am trying to be gentle with myself, but by Sunday I was just so darned frustrated.
To escape all the painting frustration, I queued up the latest bits from The Summer Pause… and realized that knitting is my fishing. And so I left the painting and eased into my knitting and lost myself in the Stream of Knitting Timelessness and got the fronts completed on my Marled Sweater and, per the pattern instructions, got said sweater got washed and blocked. Shoulder seaming is on my agenda today so I can depart for Sleeve Island! Thanks to Kay for sharing this smart shoulder bind off (I will be doing a bit of practice on a swatch before I do the shoulders!)
And lest you think it was all painting and knitting… nope! I also had huge success with Peter Reinhart’s Focaccia – this is close to the recipe I used… if you are interested in trying, let me know and I will send you the percentages, times, etc. I started the dough Thursday and baked on Friday afternoon. It is a bit fiddly on the Day of Baking… but that fiddly-ness resulted in a gorgeous focaccia. Crisp crust and such tender, open, airy crumb. It was a huge success and I will be making more focaccia in the future!
And with all that… my brain has been nicely decluttered. I am savoring the quiet of the morning… and I have my usual Monday Routine beckoning me. I hope your Monday brings you a clean slate and a week full of promise!
See you all back here on Wednesday!
…is for sharing!
Gentle Readers, do you have a spouse who is an IG Junkie? Steve must send me at least 4 “reels” a day… and most of them are about food… specifically IG Recipes.
Some weeks ago he sent me a recipe for baked feta, and I was so curious as to why he would send it to me… a main ingredient was fresh cherry tomatoes (which he hates!) Now I don’t know about the flavor of cherry tomatoes in February in your area, but in my neck of the woods… they are flavorless things. But I thought the idea of the recipe had some merit, if I could somehow figure out a tomato work around.
Enter a group I am in on Facebook… I know… but while FB by itself has no redeeming qualities, that is not necessarily true of some of the FB Groups! LOL… Anyways, in the Milk Street Community Group someone shared that Mutti Ciliegini Tomatoes were crazy delicious straight from the can. And so I began my search… no grocers near me stock these babies, but Amazon does but they seemed pricey to me. So began The Great Mutti Tomato Price Watch… and when the price fell to what I felt was reasonable, I nabbed a case of them!
And… Oh.My.Gosh. Really, it is summer perfectly preserved in a can. Cherry tomato flavor bombs picked at the peak of ripeness and snuggled in a silky, rich sauce. Now I had everything I needed to make the Baked Feta… and so I did. It is super easy… and I am so happy to share my tweaks that pushed this utterly simple dish to perfection.
I present my take on…
Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Chickpeas:
- 1 can of Mutti Ciliegini Tomatoes
- 1 can of TJ’s Greek Chickpeas, drained but not rinsed (you can do this with a can of regular chickpeas, but you absolute need to drain and rinse the chickpeas and then get those skins off… I rub them between a couple of layers of paper towels, but golly is this tremendously fiddly and time consuming. Thankfully, Steve found the Chickpeas at TJs! They are so good and no zero fiddly-ness)
- 8 ounces of Sheep’s milk feta in brine (the best I have found to date is Trader Joe’s Israeli Feta… it is the least salty and bakes beautifully)
- One (or two?) baguette, sliced and toasted… or Pita Chips… whatever your preference!
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
While the oven is pre-heating, drain and gently pat dry your feta. (If you are using the block of Feta from TJ’s, I recommend cutting it in half.) Place the feta in a baking dish and pour around it the canned tomatoes, including every bit of the sauce, and the drained chickpeas. If you are using regular chickpeas, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the entire dish. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper over the feta and bake in the oven for 25 minutes (or until the tomatoes are beginning to pop open and the sauce is bubbling)
Then turn the broiler on high and broil for 5-8 minutes until the cheese begins to brown a bit and the tomatoes start to blister.
Remove from the oven and serve with a crusty bread or pita chips. I baked this Olive Bread this weekend and served it with that… delish!
This is my new favorite for Friday Happy Hour… it is so good! Don’t like chickpeas? I have tried it with olives (Kalamata and Sicilian Olives are both excellent choices) and it is amazing. I even think canned artichoke hearts would be a great addition!
Oh…and if you should happen to have any leftovers… never fear! It reheats beautifully… or even better, toss everything in the food processor and puree it. Yes, any leftover feta, chickpeas, and tomatoes/sauce… oh my gosh. So Good! We had this last night with the rest of that Olive Bread but it would be great with fresh veggies… carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
And there you have my take on a truly delicious Baked Feta!
Happy Monday everyone!
Sweet May hath come to love us, flowers, trees, their blossoms don; And through the blue heavens above us, the very clouds move on. — Heinrich Heine
While March was eons long, April has just sprinted on by – hasn’t it? I guess when each day is the same as the last, at first they seem to drag and then they pick up speed!
May, I hope you do come to love us with more sunny days, mild weather, and some patio happy hours!
I spent more time this week outside with the big camera, practicing more! Better? Maybe not so much, but I enjoyed every moment and was inspired to keep trying! And May ushers in Macro May!! Look for more photos during the month! We had a very rainy April (only 12 days without any precipitation) but grey days are perfect for taking photos! And getting outdoors after the rain and capturing it dripping off the lilacs made the volumes of rain *almost* worth it! Ha!!
I don’t know how many of you use Nextdoor (I use the app on my phone), but over the last week or so there has been an uptick in
people women in my neighborhood trying to find a hairdresser who would break the rules to cut and/or color their hair. I was happy to see that these posts have been met with no success (or at least no one openly offers in the post to provide these services). And then Julia Farwell-Clay posted this on IG! I just want to ROAR with her with my own Badger-striped hair!
My new Twitter Daily Chuckle (or two!) is Rate My Skype Room!
I was thrilled to see that Joy Harjo was named Poet Laureate again! And through her I discovered The Poetry of Home! You can listen to Joy read Perhaps the World Ends Here. You should listen to all the installments! They are just wonderful! You will find Robert Pinsky, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Natasha Trethewey. Each installment is just perfect for these “stay at home” days.
And The Poetry of Home is just the inspiration I needed to gather some yarn bits to start Susan B. Anderson’s Little House pattern that Kym highlighted this week. My plan is to make one for each of my children with a little Pandemic Tag on it, but I think I will also include the words of a poem too! (FYI, Little House pattern is currently discounted…so if you are thinking about it, don’t think too much longer!)
Mary is a voracious knitter and I think I found her next sweater to devour! And the Ravelry Hive Mind must all be of the same thought because this sweater from 2017 is in my “Hot Right Now Top 20”!
Want something to stir your sock mojo? These beauties are perfect for spring (AND FREE!!)
And there you have it, dear friends – Happy May to you all! See you back here on Monday!
I tried this cocktail on Thursday (because all cocktails need a test run, right?) and it was just kind of bland and I did not think the tequila was really the best in this application. But I thought the idea had potential. So, I worked on it Friday and found that my “fixes” made a much better beverage!
So, I thought I’d share my recipe with you all, in case you want to try it out… say like tonight, non?
Step One: Make a blackberry-thyme simple syrup
- 1-pint blackberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- lemon zest (I used 4 strips from a very small lemon)
- 6 sprigs of thyme
Combine berries, water, sugar, and lemon zest and bring to boil. Stir to ensure sugar has dissolved and to mash berries a bit. Add thyme and bring heat down and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes to steep. Strain mixture and cool before refrigerating. Will last approximately 10 days.
Step Two: Make Cocktail
- 2-ounces Dry Gin (I used London Dry Gin)
- 1.5-ounce blackberry-thyme syrup
- 1-ounce fresh lemon juice
- Sparkling water
Combine gin, syrup, and lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Serve over ice in tall glass and top with sparkling water and enjoy!
I found this to be an incredibly delicious and refreshing cocktail.
AND, totally unrelated but incredibly awesome!!
Yesterday, the mail carrier brought a lovely little surprise to my doorstep from Washington D.C. Yes, my dear friend Honoré sent me the loveliest little gift! It is a mouse pad that you can take notes on! And, it is so wonderful! As you can see, I am already using it (although – no notes…yet!) Thank you so much, Honoré for this lovely gift! Even the Roald Dahl quote is perfect – and it reminds me of her!
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
One recipe that really grabbed my attention when I read Ruth’s book this past summer, was a recipe for an apple cider braised pork roast.
Ruth calls for a big bone in pork shoulder roast – and a recipe that feeds 6-8 people.
Now, for a household of two this might not be the best choice, however a pork tenderloin would be just about right!
Now to adjust the recipe to work for such a small cut of meat.
Serves: 2 with leftovers!
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1 onion, halved and then sliced in slivers
- 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, sliced into slivers to insert into the pork
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/2 cup Hard Cider (I used Angry Orchard)
- 1-ounce Crown Royal Maple Whisky™
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
This is finished in the oven after browning the meat on the stove top, so I used my Staub™ all purpose pan.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Cut several slits in the pork loin and insert the garlic slivers. Salt and pepper the meat on all sides
Place the pan on the stove over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and the pork loin. Brown the meat on all sides and remove from the pan. Add the onion to the pan and sauté to soften a few minutes. Add the cider and the whisky stirring to loosen the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add back the pork loins, cover and place in the oven.
Cook approximately 35-40 minutes, or until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 145° F.
(Cook’s note, in the last 15 minutes of cooking I added about a cup of halved Brussels Sprouts.)
I served this with a nice big dollop of oven roasted applesauce and it was fantastic! The meal and the applesauce! I had about 8 lbs of apples. I used minimal sugar and butter (1 1/2 tsp and 2 tbsp butter) and it turned out fantastically! I finished it with 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar.
I highly recommend both recipes!