Monday, August 12, 2013

Bread & Butter Pickles

This weekend I got to spend my time doing some canning. First I made my tomato chutney on Saturday. Then on Sunday I made some super delicious bread and butter pickles. 

Here are the ingredients. 
2 1/2 lbs kirby cucumbers, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds - I bought mine at our local Farmers Market in Old Town Eureka.

2 cups thinkly sliced red onions
1/3 cup pickling salt
2 cups apples cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons corriander seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 jalapenos pricked with a tooth pick. 

Toss together cucumbers, onions and salt in a large bowl.  Add 3 cups of ice; set aside for 2 hours.  Drain' rinse well and drain again. 

Combine vinegar and the remaning ingredients with 1 cup water in a large pot; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add the cucumbers and onions and return to a boil.

Ladle hot vegetables and pickling liquid into 4 clean, sterilized hot pint jars, dividing equally.  Press the vegetables to completely submerge in the liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headroom.  Wipe the rims, seal and process a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 
The jarred result!  I can't wait to try these in a couple of weeks - and I need to mail off a jar to my niece!  I hope you enjoy them Julie!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I have so neglected my blog!  But not to worry, I have not stopped cooking and messing up my kitchen.  I've just been enjoying having a partner to do it with and life has been on high speed with all of the changes happening for us.  That has left no time to sit and tell you about my kitchen adventures.  Today I decided to make a little time to share.  It's going to be a fun filled cooking sorta' day, so I'm going to do my best to tell you all about it.

First thing today I got up at 5 am.  Yeah!  Me!  Up at 5 am on a Sunday!  My poor hubby had to go to work this morning and be there at 6 am.  So I got up and made him a fried egg sandwich.  I barely had one eye open, but I think I whipped up a pretty good sandwich.  I remember thinking, "wow!  I'm getting pretty good at this cooking thing when I can fry up a perfect egg in my sleep."  I was not awake enough to get a picture, but I did get a bite, and it was pretty delicious.  I fried up a couple slices of bacon, toasted some bread, spread some mayo and mustard on the bread.  Then I thinly sliced an heirloom tomato from the farmers market and pulled some pieces of romaine lettuce, also from the farmers market.  I fried up a fresh egg from one of my co-workers chickens and got it just cooked enough to not run down your face, but the yolk was still moist.  I put this all together and presented it to my love.  He wasn't very awake either, but I think he liked it.  He ate, grabbed his lunch and headed out the door and I promptly plopped my ass back in bed!

Nine am came around and I figured I should get up, even though I could have slept 'till noon.  My little Cece was already up playing some kind of people eating shark game and displaying a growling stomach.  In fact, we had a little duet of growling stomachs so I got off my bum and headed into the kitchen.  I grabbed the blueberries we had bought last week and desperately need to use up.  I'm still wondering why we bought blueberries when we have two blueberry bushes out front.  Hmmm. Well, anyway....

I decided to whip up some blueberry scones for the kids. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for bushing the scones

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  cut the butter to coat the pieces with flour.  They tell you to use forks to do this, but I find it easiest to just use your hands.  The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Gently fold in the blueberries into the batter.  Make a well in the center and pour in the cream.  Fold everything together just to incorporate.  Don't overwork the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 inches by 3 inches by 1 1/4 inches.  Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then each half in half again leaving you with 4 three inch squares.  Cut each square diagonally.  Place on a cookie sheet and brush with cream.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Until brown.  Let the scones cool while you make the lemon glaze.

Lemon glaze:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tbsp butter
the zest of one lemon.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar and blend until the sugar is dissolved.  Place the butter and lemon zest in the bowl and microwave for 30 second and stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds and stir.  Keep going until the butter is melted and incorporated.  Whisk the mixture to get rid of any lumps.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones.  Let them sit a minute before serving.

And this is what we ended up eating this morning:
They were nummy!  Now off to clean up the kitchen so I can mess it up again several more times today.
Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Duck Egg Cabbage Soup

I've been home sick today.  What ever my youngest daughter had last week, caught up with me this week.  I won't go into any details, but it was painful and exhausting.

Finally I felt hungry enough to try to eat something.  I was hungry enough to take the chance, because everything I put on my stomach caused massive discomfort today, but I started craving cabbage soup.  When I crave something, I know it's my body telling me it needs something.  I just happened to have all of the simple ingredients I needed to make exactly what I was craving.  So this is what I made, and it was DELICIOUS!  And very simple.

I was only making enough for myself and only had a little less than a quarter of a head of cabbage for this.

1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 quart water
1 tbsp veggie bullion
1/4 head cabbage
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1 duck egg.

I heated the olive oil, and sauted the onion, garlic and celery until soft.  I added the water and bullion and bought the mixture to a boil.  Once it was boiling I added the chopped cabbage and tomatoes and boiled for 10 minutes.  I poured the still boiling soup into my bowl and cracked the duck egg into the bowl.  I spooned a few more spoonfuls of the boiling broth on top of the egg to poach it.

Voila!  A yummy healing dinner for my tummy - which turned out to be the best thing for my tummy all day! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Food Food and More Food - and a Naan Pizza Recipe

Last week was a bit long and hectic, and it all caught up with me in the form of a nice little flu bug.  The one everyone else has been exposing me to has finally caught up to me when I let myself get run down trying to get our new home in order along side my wonderful man.  The one good thing about being forced to stay home and chill is I can get caught up on posting the food pictures I've been taking all week.  Because as busy as we have been, we still managed to cook up some tasty meals during the week - and I'm such a foodie I can still rave about food even when my stomach in in disarray.  So where to start?

Food porn number one:
Short Ribs
Mmmm! I'm not much of a rib girl, but my man can cook 'em up so yummy that I really enjoy these.  I didn't get a full meal picture this night.  We just had too much going on.  I can say he precooked these in the house and finished them up in his smoker.  He also slathered them in some yummy Sticky Lips BBQ Sauce then served them up with baked potatoes topped with butter, sour cream and chives and a fresh green salad topped with Catalina dressing.  Mmmm, my grumbly tummy is almost feeling hungry again. 

On a previous night I had whipped up some bread dough and baked a loaf of bread to go along with one of our meals while the girls were here.  As usual I used the base recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  We still had some bread leftover from that so I decided to make some clam chowder to go along with it.  It was a good soup day and I wanted to show The Man of My Dreams that I could make a really good chowder.  Oh, and by the way, I just discovered the author's of this cookbook have a blog now.  Somehow I've missed it in the past, you can check it out here: Artisan Bread in 5.

I looked at several different recipes and ended up pulling out my old recipe for Seafood Chowder that I've been making since high school.  Here's the recipe written down in my "Cooks Notebook" that my mom gave me back in 1983.
You can always tell which recipes I cook the most by the stains on the pages.  I tweaked this recipe a bit and made up something new and different.  For one thing, I only had clams, no white fish or scallops. This was strictly a "clam chowder".  So lets see if I can remember my creation....

I chopped and fried 4 slices of bacon, removed the bacon to drain and fried one chopped white onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 stalks of chopped celery and about a teaspoon of fresh chopped thyme in the bacon fat.  Bacon fat rocks! 
I then used the chicken stock I had made with the smoked chicken carcass from our dinner the other night - about 1 and a half cups of that and a bottle of clam juice went into the pot as well.  I  added two chopped carrots, 2 peeled and diced yukon gold potatoes and a bay leaf to the broth.  That simmered for about 15  minutes until the vegetables were tender.  I then added 3 cans of clams along with their juice and continued to simmer that for about 5 minutes. Then I added the cooked bacon, 2 cups of cream, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 4 tablespoons of dry sherry.  I didn't need to add salt, the bacon and my chicken broth had enough salt in them so that wasn't necessary.  I ground some fresh pepper on top, stirred and heated it through for another 5 minutes and served this up with Tobasco Sauce and Worchestershire Sauce with my homemade bread and oyster crackers along side. 

This is what was left over for me to take to lunch, and haven't had a chance to yet.......

But I do plan to enjoy it soon! 

The next food thing?  Well, Kelly and I have been going non stop and we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Shamus T-Bones.  I have only eaten here once before.  My co-worker was very sweet and took me to lunch there.  I had had the Pulled Pork Sandwich, hushpuppies and a half grilled artichoke that day and raved about how good it was.  So when I suggested to Kelly that we go eat there, I think his comment was something like, "Threaten me with happiness will you?" So this is what we had:

Kelly had the Cowboy Burger - a burger served on a ciabatta roll, with bacon, onion rings, Shamus T-Bone's own signature BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and spread.  He added cheddar cheese as well. His sides were onion rings (awesome onion rings!) and a half grilled artichoke.  I had the brisket sandwich.  Meat that was smoked for 14 hours and served on a sesame bun.  My sides were cole slaw (very good, and a hard thing to get past me - most restaurants don't make good cole slaw in my book) and what was supposed to be pork and beans, but I think they gave me the beef chile, which was just fine with me.  It was delicious!  Needless to say, we really didn't need to eat for the rest of the day.
Oh, and a cool extra at lunch..... the Tesla Coil

 Somewhere in between all of this was Chinese New Year - the Year of the Snake (it is also the Tibetan New year - Losar.  I'm going to have to check this out for next year: Insider's Guide to Losar Eating) - and yes, I made a meal in honor of the New Year but failed to take a picture.  I chopped up the pork from the pork roast my man cooked up a few nights before and stir fried that up with some frozen veggies we had and soy sauce and oyster sauce.  I served it on spaghetti noodles (long noodles for longevity) and blood oranges on the side (for good luck).  And by the way - today is Fat Tuesday!  I wish I was feeling better and had the ingredients to throw together some Jambalaya!  Where's Justin Wilson when I need him?

And now - for the piece de resistance of the week - Naan Pizza! 

Bollywood meets Spaghetti Western. 

Naan is a traditional East Indian Flat Bread.  I use the base from my Artisan Bread in 5 minutes cook book.  I pull off a grapefruit size piece of dough, stretch it, form it into a ball and roll it out.  I fry it in my cast iron skillet in about a teaspoon of Ghee (clarified butter - olive oil works just fine) 3 minutes on one side and 3 to 6 minutes on the other.  My oldest daughter has fondly referred to this bread as East Indian Taco's.  But this night, they weren't served up in their traditional form. 

I threw them in the oven to keep them warm - pulled out some spaghetti sauce we had from a previous meal and heated it.  I also opened a can of re-fried beans and mixed it with some Oaxaca Mama Medium Salsa and pulled out some leftover taco meat (hamburger and taco seasoning) and heated that up.  We had tortilla chips, beans, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, hard salami, grilled fresh pineapple (Thank you Kelly!), artichoke hearts, Mozzerella, Queso Fresco, and Cheddar cheeses.  There was also some sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado.  Am I forgetting anything?  Oh yeah, BACON!
And the final product - these were so freaking good!
So good that Kelly took one for lunch the next day and ate it cold.  My stomach is actually starting to grumble for food for the first time today.  Mmmm.  Maybe some leftover Naan Pizza?

And now, in honor of the Bollywood/Spaghetti Western food....
So cheesy!  Or should I say Paneer? Or Parmesean?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Humboldt County Meal

One of the things that make winter on the North Coast of California worthwhile is crab season!  There's nothing like fresh Dungie's!

The Man of My Dreams did something very sweet Thursday night and came home with these little critters from the Jenna Lee.
He got a pot of water boiling on the BBQ and in no time we had these ready to be backed, cracked and eaten.
Mmmm Claw meat is the best!
He served these sweet buttery crustaceans up with melted butter and garlic, a refreshing mixed green salad, and some delicious Focaccia bread from Brio Bread Works.
Along with a cold beer and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc this was one rich satisfying and romantic dinner.

The next night the girls were home with us and we needed something a little more kid friendly.  So Kelly made his "Beer Butt Chicken".  Minus the beer, because he soaked up some applewood chips and cooked this bird in his smoker.  I'm not sure what his secret spice rub was, but I can tell you it involved paprika.
And this is what this very moist and heavenly good fowl came out looking like after about an hour and 15 minutes or until the breast was at 160 degrees.
Mmmm! Perfection.  I have never had chicken breast that was so moist!  Ever!  This had to be the most perfectly cooked chicken I've ever had. Next time I think we should kick it up a notch and brine it first.

Since we're still unpacking and living partially out of boxes, we dug through the numerous boxes labeled "pantry" and pulled out a box of Cheesy Potato Casserole, and steamed up some mixed veggies and enjoyed ourselves a late Friday night comfort meal.
Now, back to unpacking, and making some chicken stock.  I have a friend who is in need of some healing chicken soup, so I better get on it.
Bon Appetit!

More tomato soup taste tests....this one at Huffington Post.

The Best Canned Tomato Soup: Our Taste Test Results

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kim's Moroccon Lamb Stew

So, for the mystery dinner that was awaiting my love.......

Moroccan Lamb Stew ala Kim.

I looked at 4 or 5 different Moroccan lamb stew recipes and threw together my own inspired by them. I mixed cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, cloves, paprika, some red pepper flakes and nutmeg. One 1/4 to 1 tsp  of each and around 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
I coated the lamb stew (2 lbs) in the spice mixture and seared the meat in about a tablespoon of olive oil and threw that in the crock pot.  I then took a walla walla onion and coarsely chopped it and seared it in the same pan in about 2 tablespoons of butter until soft.  That went into the crock pot next.  Here is what went in next:
3 carrots peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped dried black mission figs
1/4 cup dried chopped apricots
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon chopped garlic or more
juice squeezed from half a lemon
4 tablespoons of orange infused honey
2 cups of my homemade lamb stock and 2 cups of canned chicken stock.  I would have used all lamb stock, but I was down to my last 2 cups and I don't have fresh lamb bones to readily make more, so we went with chicken stock.  Beef or veggie would have worked just as well.

This all sat in a crock pot for over 9 hours.  Man did the house smell good when I walked in!

When my Superman got home I cooked up some Near East cous cous, he heated up some Pita bread with some cheddar cheese melted inside, and we topped our stew with some plain Greek yogurt and Sirachi.  And dinner was served..... ( I meant to serve this with cilantro - but forgot.  Oops!)
And damn! It rocked!
What will be next? Hmmm............

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Beginnings...

Life has been supremely busy.  My wonderful man, Kelly has found a good job here in my neck of the woods and we have been in the process of moving our two households into one.  He, unfortunately, is having to do it from 230 miles away, while I am only 8 miles away, but it's coming together perfectly.
This is our new home in Sunny Fortuna
For me, this has been the easiest move ever.  Not stress free by any means, but easy, in that I have a true partner, team player, Superman, by my side making it all happen.  We're working hard together and on the same page.  Communication has been open and honest and has made this whole process so much smoother then my past 12 moves.  It's been perfect.

Even Gracie would agree.....
This is our new kitchen by the way.  Not my first choice in decor, but it is a rental, and, believe me, Kelly and I will make this kitchen rock and roll!  I'm just thrilled to have a good gas stove/oven, a dishwasher (other then myself) and a garbage disposal.  And get this!  This house has 3 toilets!  That thrills me beyond all imagination!

Let me move on from the potty humor and share the first some what home cooked meal I made in our new home.
Fried rice.  We have been living on restaurant food, take out, and frozen stuff.  We're getting sick of it.  We had some leftover Chinese take out in the fridge.  I took the steamed rice, and the fried rice and made Kim's Fried Rice out of it.  I scrambled and cooked two eggs - flat not fluffy - and sliced thin strips out of them.  I fried up some leftover steak, and the chicken Teriyaki from one of the take out dishes in olive oil and sesame oil and some oyster sauce.  I fried up the steamed and fried rice in olive oil and sesame oil with some oyster sauce and soy sauce.  I added in some leftover broccoli from dinner the night before.  I had fried up some celery, onion, chopped carrots, and garlic earlier which I added into the mixture.  I put a dash of powdered garlic  in it.  I added in the meat and the egg and voila!  Kim's Fried Rice!  My first somewhat home cooked meal in our new home.
And the leftovers were awesome for lunch!

Now, tonight my love is off picking up his last load and won't be home until tomorrow.  I, also had to work late tonight, so when I got home I, once again, got a frozen food crappy dish and slammed that down.  Then I spent my time digging through boxes to hunt down Kelly's Crockpot.  I found it!  After about an hour and a half, but I found it!  So I spent my evening getting tomorrow night's dinner ready so when my Love gets back with his next load of stuff, he'll have a warm meal waiting for him when he gets home.  This will be my second home cooked meal in our home together, and this one will be home made and not built and put together from take outs and so on.  This one will be a truly yummy home cooked, slow cooked healthy dinner.  I can't wait to feed my man this meal.  I really hope he likes it.

For now - what that meal is going to be shall remain a mystery until he gets home and gets to try it.  But here is a preview.....
I'm loving my new home, in spite of all of the boxes...

I am so happy and content, I am with the Man of My Dreams. I am the luckiest woman alive right now.  And I get to spend time in the kitchen with someone who has just as much desire to be there and learn and nurture his family as I do. I see big things in our world of food coming up, and coming up soon! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Loleta Meat Market

Yesterday I received tragic news.  My favorite butcher, a person I felt was becoming a friend ( and I think still is) was given a 60 day notice to vacate her place of business.  This person is Pixie.  Pixie is the coolest female butcher on the planet in my honest opinion, and she owns Loleta Meat Market.  When I got the news I was horrified and quite frankly pissed off.  Why?  Because the people who are evicting her are none other then the owners of the Loleta Bakery.  New comers, from Healdsburg, CA. 

I will give you some background on these people, the Van der Zee's.  This is what I know,  they moved here from Healdsburg - Bay Area - bought up a bunch of property (including Pixie's building) that the deceased Fred Deo's estate owned and proceeded to improved and revitalize.  At first I can say I was excited about this, as were many Loletian's.  But then one day the Victorian Bar that they had redone and had up and running shut down ( The Guilded Rose).  Then the rumor was, they were going to open a bakery and they had moved their liquor license to the little market in town.  Ok.  Well.  That didn't sound so bad.  But.... Mrs. Van der Zee got herself voted onto the Loleta School Board.  The first time I met her was at an open house at the school and I had an instant dislike for this woman.  I'm not sure why, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up when she spoke.  Instincts are important to pay attention to. 

Time went on.  Mrs. Van der Zee pulled a few stunts on the school board that set the town parents on fire.  She backed off, but she did not learn her lesson. 

Yesterday I got word about the eviction.  I decided that I would publicize this on my blog and put it out there that, even though Mrs. and Mr. Van der Zee own the building that Pixie runs her building in, what they are doing is so very wrong.  In a time when we are trying to push local business and fight chains and fight out of town businesses.  We're supposed to be supporting LOCAL business, and here we are with two people from HEALDSBURG shutting our LOCAL beloved butcher shop down.  I grew up in a small town.  I have suffered people like this all of my life, and I am done with them!  Let them go home to Healdsburg where they belong.  They have no sense of community and they are greedy selfish, self important people that our little town does not need. 

These people set up a nice business and put out good food.  That's fine.  That's great.  That's dandy. But they do not get the idea of good business practices.  Their business compliments Pixie's Meat Market as it does the Loleta Cheese Factory.  The smartest thing to do, would be to create a cooperative between the three and bring more people into town for business.  But the Van der Zee's don't work with others.  They work for themselves, and they do it in an unwise fashion.  I think today they have felt the payback of their bad choices.  The community has rallied behind Pixie, and the support is only growing.  In the hundreds of posts I've seen (maybe the thousands at this point) on facebook about this, only 2 have been negative against Pixie, and even then those people were waffling. 

I will say, I know Pixie.  Not well, I've only known her as an acquaintance for about 6 or 7 years, then I really started spending time talking to her and trying to get to know her over the past couple of years.  I consider her a friend.  I consider her a hard working, talented and extremely altruistic and giving woman and sweet to a fault.  What really pissed me off is Peter and Jeannie Van der Zee have taken advantage of this woman's sweet and trusting personality.  They have, in a sense, raped her.  They are shallow unforgivable people who need a hard lesson of their own, and I'm seeing it come down the pike as we speak.  The outpouring of support and love that has come Pixie's way has done my heart good.  I will say, I'm not surprised.  The day I first met Pixie, I instantly liked the lady.  She's got some rough edges, but hey!  She's a butcher for God's sake. She is one of the sweetest, most gentle, kindest people I have ever met!  She is a Buddhisthava .  I have never heard her say an unkind word against another.  Even when I tried to goad her into it.  It's against her nature to do so.  She is VERY hard working, she is VERY forgiving, she is no model, but EXTREMELY beautiful.  When she smiles the room lights up.  She is a good soul who takes care of anyone and everyone she can.  To do what the Van der Zee's are doing to her is blasphemous. 

So I am here to support Pixie and Loleta Meat Market.  I am here to say I will never spend another dime with with Loleta Bakery.  As Forest Gump says, Stupid is as Stupid does. I will enjoy watching them shoot themselves in the foot.  I will spend my money on Pixie's delicious sausages and other delicious meat products, and I will do what I can to keep this lovely woman in business. Integrity counts and Pixie has more then enough of it!  Rock on Pixie! Rock on Loleta Meat Market!