Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everything Is Better With Bacon!

Now playing: Stevie Ray Vaughan - Honey Bee
via FoxyTunes

Did I mention I'm an anglophile? This past long weekend we did some flea market and antique store shopping. Here are some English goodies I found:

I thought this one was really pretty:

This one is from the Ironbridge area. A place dear to my heart.

Here are some HDR pictures of the original kilns, some of them are museums now.

This one looks very old, but I can't find out exactly how old.

....And now a bit of dessert! This is baked pineapple drizzled with a bacon sweet and sour sauce. The sweet element in the sauce is from honey. On the side of that is a bee pollen tuille.

Tomorrow will feature a German sauerkraut casserole......Stay tuned!

“To look back to antiquity is one thing, to go back to it is another”

Charles Caleb Colton

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hit This Shortbread Up Style!

Now playing: Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii - Hit 'Em Up Style
via FoxyTunes

More goodness from the British baking book. Of course, I have added a little twist. This little twist adds a nutty, bitter background of flavour.

Mahlab is the seed kernal of cherry stones. Ground, it is added to baked items.
It has different spellings, names and is pronounced differently across different regions: Mahalabi, Mahaleb(i), Mahlab, Mahiepi, Marlev, St Lucie's Cherry. It is used quite often to flavour holiday treats such as at Christmas and Easter. It can also be used in custards and rice puddings. Here I thought it would enhance chocolate.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F, or Gas mark 4.

260 g. plain (AP) flour
100 g. caster sugar (fine grain- baker's sugar)
40 g. cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
200 g. unsalted butter- chilled and diced
1 tsp. mahlab
Demerara sugar (Turbinado sugar) for sprinkling - Another little twist I added.

A 20.5 cm round cake tin, generously prepared with butter.

Put sifted flour and cocoa in a food processor with sugar and salt and mahlab. Pulse to just blend. Add the butter and process for 30 seconds, or until a fine sandy texture is created. Tip the dough into the prepared tin. Prick all over with a fork and make scoring marks to divide into 12 sections with a butter knife. Bake 25 minutes, until just firm.

Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with demerara sugar. Cut the scored marks all the way through with a sharp knife. Let cool before removing from pan.

Happy Towel Day!

- Douglas Adams- 'A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love The Food You're With....

Now playing: Stephen Stills - Love the One You're With
via FoxyTunes

I attended the Be Local potluck last night. It seems like a close community, but as I stayed longer, friendly people began to include me. I was with a nice group of people in the section of the table we chose. There was good music from 'Left Foot Stomp' and a inspirational speaker Gary Nabhan. I found out about this event through my membership of Slow Food. I am interested in finding out more about the local foods available to me. My face will be among others at some farm tours coming up this summer.

A few thoughts from the Be Local Northern Colorado website:

"Top Ten Reasons To Support Local"

Local businesses are owned by people who live here, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in our community’s future."

Locally-owned businesses can make more local purchases, which require less transportation. They are closer to city and neighborhood centers, lessening transportation costs and easing our carbon footprint."

Locally-owned businesses can make more local purchases, which require less transportation. They are closer to city and neighborhood centers, lessening transportation costs and easing our carbon footprint."

Local businesses are the largest employer nationally and provide the most jobs to residents."

One-of-a-kind businesses are integral to the distinctive character of our town and yours… residents and visitors alike enjoy what’s rare and unusual."

Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from locally-owned business."

Local businesses are closer and more accountable to their customers."

Significantly more money re-circulates when purchases are made from our very own businesses, service providers, and farms. Local-to-local purchases strengthen community."

A multitude of local businesses, each selecting products based on the needs of their customers, guarantees a broader range of product choices."

Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services."

What is more local than my backyard? There are a few things I have available right now:

Lemon Balm


Garlic Chives

Since I was delegated to salads due to my last name beginning with "B," I decided to base a vinaigrette on my lemon balm and oregano. I missed the farmer's market so my lettuce could have been more local than California, ah well. Will do better next time. I did find some local radishes to include and added those with my garlic chives to the greens, also some of my garden scallions. Pretty darn local!

The table was set.

Here are some of the dishes that I managed to get a picture of. Some dishes turned up later.

A few highlights for me besides my own dish were the Guinea fowl and Hazeldell mushrooms from Chimney Park, an arugula salad, a roasted asparagus and orach salad and an orzo salad from Chef Happy. A very satisfying meal all together!

Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people. ~Elizabeth Berry

Monday, May 16, 2011

In The Meantime....

Now playing: Sinéad O'Connor - Success has Made a Failure of
via FoxyTunes

I am breaking my small window of blog silence with a garden and project update, between recipes. I laughed, I cried and watched it again, success and fails abound, trying again and sometimes trying yet again. This will be a heavy dose of metaphors and quotes and themes. That is the mood I am in! That comes from making loads of themed playlists for my Ipod. I verified that the song 'Cat's in the Cradle' makes me cry my eyes out every single time, no matter who sings it, or how many times I hear it in a row. I should stay away from the "That One Makes Me Cry Mix" for awhile.....

Today's blog will also be rich with seed packets and some brownish soil with hopefully greenery to compliment it.

I am also trying to get the upper hand on needle/thread with the machine fighting me at times. Well, you will see.


****“A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.” - Scott Allen****

Can I get an amen brother?! Start with the success in the garden, this part is all kinds of green:

The first VERY happy success is Shiso, just had to try this after having it at the Asian market:

Can't wait to cook with that!

The outside transplants - pumpkins and courgettes:

An heirloom variety I am trying, new to me this year:

I count this as a success, but not as much as I had hoped. Notice the empty pot in the back. Several didn't germinate and several died, don't know why. There are 4 good ones in total, I can live with that!


****“If your project doesn't work, look for the part that you didn't think was important” -Arthur Bloch****

Good advice! I will keep that in mind when I ponder these epic fails. Just look at the shades of brown here:

Well, I should germinate some hope in all this unsatisfying brown:
One precious lil' plant out of 2 seed packets and 6 pots! Touch wood that it will thrive.

The cucumbers will have to be redone. They aren't doing well after moving outside.

I planted cantaloupe once and got a single plant.

They were replanted 2 more times before, they are starting to finally sprout.


The hope of potential:

A few new-to-me things to try:

I am trying some Japanese Pumpkin too, they are starting to sprout:


****“There's nothing more dangerous than a resourceful idiot.” - Scott Adams****

I resemble that!

This is a pattern bought to use the flannel sheets that got a hole in them. They have a blue rose print, so hated to see them go. It is enough fabric to make this set shown and a nightdress.


This one shall be called "laundering money," or "Money doesn't grow on trees" A near future project for someone's birthday.


A finally finished project for Megan's birthday, which was in March. She has the other pillowcase already, soon she will have the mate to it arriving in the post. I can also finally send the blanket Lucie and I made for the hospital Megan works at.


****“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.” - Napoleon Hill****

Friday, May 6, 2011

Are You Going To A Cornish Fair?

Now playing: Sinéad O'Connor - He Moved Through the Fair
via FoxyTunes

As promised, here are the Cornish Fairings. The next recipe in the British cookbook- The Great British Book Of Baking.

Fairings are a word used in English to describe food from a fair. In further research I found that Cornish Fairings are a more gingery biscuit than this recipe comes out. There is a spicy flavour, but not just strongly flavoured ginger. They are very tasty and chewy.

My Fairings have a bit of a twist however. Local honey and local bee pollen. We are all suffering allergies at the moment. This year seems really bad, in particular for me. I have tried local honey in the past to help the allergies. I have also cooked with bee pollen before. This time it is local bee pollen! Hope it helps the allergies.

Bee pollen is a very nutritious food product. It contains a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid bee pollen. While bee pollen can help with allergies, it can also cause an allergy attack in certain people, approach with caution until you know how you will react.

In culinary school we used bee pollen in a dessert. A pineapple with bacon dessert with a bee pollen tuile. It was delicious!

Cornish Fairings

Preheated oven- 375 deg/ gas mark 5.

100 g. flour
1 tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground mixed spice
40g. castor sugar
50 g. unsalted butter, chilled
1 tbsp. mixed peel
2 tbsp. local honey, gently warmed
1 tbsp. golden syrup, gently warmed

Blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda and mixed spice and sugar together. cut the butter into pieces and then add to the flour mixture. Make a sort of crumble with the ingredients in your hands, or use a pastry cutter. Add the mixed peel, the honey and syrup. blend well until it comes together. Form into 18 marble sized balls and bake on a Silpat, or a greased/lined baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet and then move to a plate.

Here is how they turned out sprinkled with the bee pollen:

****“In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew?”
-Alexander Pope****

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Did She Get That Fabric?

Now playing: Madonna - Material Girl
via FoxyTunes

.....At the fabric store, of course. ;-)

To be more candid, the reference was to the clothespin bags I made. When I found out that I could hang my laundry outside to dry in a subdivision with covenants (laws over-riding HOA rules), I scrambled to get a line. I missed the freshness of that very much. Next was the wooden pegs, but where to put them...Off to the fabric store! I was delighted to find fabric samples the right size with a hanger included. Easy! Just whip the edges together on the machine, cut a hole,turn right side to, hem that hole, put back on the hanger and embellish. Voila! Barely any waste, just the bit of fabric left from cutting the hole. I'm sure those little bits could be used for something, as well. Oh, just thought what I could with that.

Here is what the first bags looked like:


Since then, the newer bags have a liner and a new way to keep them tightly on the hanger. I have many new ideas for embellishing them, coming up.

For the first generation of bags available for purchase at my new Etsy store, just click the pictures to the right.

I have been trying to perfect fabric baskets like the one I bought in France many years ago. I don't really have an official pattern for these, just a book with other types of fabric containers. Searching online one comes up with Hayden Pantierre, who I'm sure is a lovely woman, but I have zero interest in......

The lovely basket I bought in France in 2005:

Here is a newer one I made, almost what I'm looking for product:

This one shows just one of the ways to tie them.

The next basket will be tweeked enough to hopefully be the first one available for sale. Touch wood.....

For fear of sounding like Guy Fiere, this fabric came from the same place as the peg bags, except they are "off the hook." My thinking cap is on for what to do with the extra hangers. I do have a few ideas.

Theses baskets are great, because they can go flat for neat, stacked storage. You can put them to use for wrangling all sorts. They are good on the table for buns, biscuits, etc. etc. Here is an example of that:


****"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done."**** (Anonymous)