A lot has been going on in my life lately and I’ve been completely absent from this little corner of the internet I’ve created. In late January my grandfather died. He was sick and in the end it was what he wanted but it was still hard even though it wasn’t unexpected. He, his wife and his sister (my great aunt who is still kicking and will be forever) were the ones that taught me how to grow things and how to raise chickens. I don’t know if I’ll really come to terms with the loss until spring planting. I always have delayed grief like that.
Happy Spring everyone! Despite our run in with Stella I’ve got gardening on the brain. This time seed mixes have grabbed my attention. What’s not to love? A location or purpose specific selection of seeds available in a single pack? I’ve tried a few over the years (usually those generic ‘wildflower’ mixes that come in giant tubs at landscape stores) and I’ve never been impressed. Until last year when I picked up a few packets from Botanical Interests. My first successful seed mix garden was with their Bring Home the Butterflies Mix. Seed mixes can cover a lot of ground for a little cash so if you’ve got a chunk of land to sacrifice to the bees this is a good way to do it. (This post is not sponsored but does contain affiliate links, I’m talking about Botanical Interests because I like them, I bought all my seeds from them with my own money and everything grew beautifully) [Read more…]
Taste & Technique was the first book I used for the cookbook challenge. I’ve had it a while, I received a free copy from Blogging for Books to review a few months ago (ok a lot of months ago…). It’s really a stunning book, it’s big and the pictures are all gorgeous. The recipes are well planned and cover a lot of ground and many techniques.
As a fan of creative cookery I was drawn to the detailed recipe instructions and sometimes elaborate techniques. This isn’t the book you want if you’re looking for quick and easy dinners on the table with one pot and one knife to wash. It is however perfect if you’re looking to improve your cooking technique and become a better home chef vs someone who just follows recipes. Not that there is anything wrong with cooking that way, I’m just a terrible planner and the better I am at cooking the more likely I am to get a meal on the table with the random odds and ends I find in my kitchen.
During the first week of the cookbook challenge we cooked several dishes from Taste & Technique:
- Cabbage Veloute – we left off the fancy garnish but oh man… When you think sexy soupy goodness I know cabbage isn’t even close to the first thing on your mind. But the steaming process turns the cabbage and onion into a sweet soup base and the lemon and sour cream…. This is definitely on the list of dishes to make again
- Escarole Caesar Salad – I’m not a rookie to the raw egg – homemade Caesar dressing but this was the first time I did it by hand. I think it was a touch to rich for me but it was good and I’m sure we’ll make this again with a little less cheese
- Blistered Cauliflower with Anchovy, Garlic and Chili Flakes – Oh. My. Goodness. Hands down this is the favorite dish. I’ve even made it a second time already. Cauliflower is one of my true loves and when it’s browned under the broiler until it’s soft and sweet I practically swoon. The best part of this is the spicy paste you top the broiled cauliflower. My husband and I finished it off (literally 2 heads of cauliflower) with no leftovers and he doesn’t even like vegetables
- Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs – Recipes like this really show off the true value of this book. The skin down searing followed by the slow braise in flavorful broth is a great way to turn chicken thighs into a fancy meal. As a family that buys chicken quarters by the 40 pound case having a new technique to cook them is a God send.While we won’t be following this recipe verbatim again we’ve already modified it once to cook up some chicken I accidentally bought.
- Olive Oil & Black Pepper Crackers – I have a pasta roller, got it at my bridal shower. I’ve used it… three times? But now I can use it to make crackers. And make craskers I will. There is a bit of a break in the middle (there is yeast) but other than that they whip of quickly and bake into delightly crunchy, spicey morsels that disappear too quickly. Especially sereved with a nice cranberry sharp white cheddar
Happy New Year! January is all about pretending to be better than you are and changing your life in positive ways. So what better time to start a fun challenge? I’m a
hoarder collector of cookbooks. I have many dozens of them, I read cookbooks the way regular people read novels. Part of it is my love for strange foods (it’s not easy to find recipes for fresh currants or pawpaws) and the rest is my burning desire to read everything while not making myself sad (I take it hard when characters I love die, I’m still not over The Green Mile and Mr. Jingles). I’ve always been this way, I was the kid that read the cereal box 3x during breakfast. Anyway, if you’re here it’s probably not because you’re interested in my childhood idiosyncrasies but because you too have too many cookbooks hanging around so let’s get into the challenge.
Happy December everyone! I’ve got my Christmas Countdown on the wall, my tubs of Christmas ornaments at the ready and I’m just waiting for my family to wake up so we can go get our tree. It was a very, very long night so it may be noon before the first emerges (someone never puts the baby down and getting her to sleep on her own has been getting worse and worse and last night I decided to start fixing it). In October I put up a Halloween Crossword puzzle instead of my usual word search and it seemed to go over well so I’m repeating it now for Christmas. This years puzzle has the bonus of fun Christmas characters that you can color in when you get bored! I’m trying to move to printer/copier friendly decorations because I know a lot of teachers are using these.