Whooeeee! It is cold here in Minnesota. I took this vase that was full of pine branches in from the enclosed porch today because the water in it had frozen solid! Granted the porch isn't heated, but it is usually much, much warmer than outside. Although, I guess when it is below zero outside, freezing is still warmer than outside. All of this to say, isn't that ice effect on the vase pretty and aren't I lucky to have had a holiday today where I could stay home the whole day? Yes and yes.
With a whole day at home, I most definitely spent a significant part of it in the kitchen. I started out by opening the first jar of plums in vanilla syrup. We added them to steel cut oats, which is one of my favorite winter breakfasts. I've had a few interesting bowls of oatmeal at restaurants lately that have made me want to experiment with my home versions. Some options I am eager to try include adding wild rice, polenta or quinoa to the oats and/or replacing some of the cooking liquid with apple juice. I am also a recent convert to pouring milk or cream over the top. In fact, last week, I had peaches and cream oatmeal using the jar of peach jam from Beth.
I also started a fresh batch of salt preserved lemons. I don't ever want to be without a batch of those hanging out in the fridge. Especially since I recently came upon Marisa's suggestion for pureeing them and turning them into a salad dressing. And with that, I add yet another idea to my long list of ways to spiff up dishes with the addition of preserved lemons. I like making a simple version with just salt and lemons so that they are as versatile as possible. Although, I may eventually be tempted by versions that include spices.
I also made a batch of yogurt, which has become a weekly practice. I think I have worked out a pretty good system and am getting consistent results. The yogurt-maker has earned its keep! It makes me feel prepared to take on the week when I have my jars all lined up and ready to go! I very much like that I no longer recycle tons of empty yogurt containers as a result of my yogurt consumption. My current method involves using my own yogurt as starter, Cedar Summit Farms whole milk and a 5 hour incubation period. The results are firm with a tiny cream top and a nice level of tartness.
In addition to a refresh on some staples, I also cooked up some recipes from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook for lunches this week. I checked the book out from the library last week (after a long time on the waiting list) and have already made 3 recipes. It has passed the test, so this copy is going back to the library and my very own copy is shipping as I type this post.
I also received Super Natural Cooking, Food in Jars and Smitten Kitchen books for Christmas presents. My cookbook library is overflowing with inspiring, gorgeous books! I have started to delve into recipes from those books as well. This weekend I also made the Warm Wheat Berry Salad from Super Natural Cooking. Between books, blogs and friends, I will never run short on food inspiration!
I'd call myself a maker. More specifically: a knitter, an urban gardener, a food preserver, a cook, a baker, a reader, a photo taker, a budding sewist and an all-around dabbler.
I enjoy using this space to record the things I see, make, eat, and do. My aim is to capture and share with you much of what floats my boat. Chances are you are here because it floats your boat, too!
My husband and co-conspirator on the much linked to Mega Man hat. He is the house expert when it comes to all things with electrical cords/chargers and/or anything that requires configuring. When I first met Paul he was a smoker and a vegetarian. Now he is a non-smoker who enjoys making smoked meat in his BBQ. Paul recently dove headfirst into brewing beer and is quickly acquiring mad brewing skills. If you are really lucky, he will invite you to one of his Meat Meet Supper Club dinners or Beer Release parties.
Cast of Characters: Tchazo
Tchazo, our Weimaraner, was born 3 days before Paul and I had our first date. During our second date, Paul and I egged each other on about getting dogs. Eight weeks later, Tchazo became a part of our lives! At first I thought he was kind of a jerk because he kept punching me in the face (Tchazo, not Paul!) when I tried to be alpha dog. It turns he is a wonderful dog and puppies in general are cute jerks. Tchazo loves life, especially the parts that include eating, smelling, sunbathing, playing and cuddling on the bed. Also, he is smart and, if you come over, he will likely trick you into scratching his butt.
Cast of Characters: Fanny
Fanny is the most recent addition to our family, joining us in 2008. When we met Fanny at a shelter in Boston, we thought she was a small, adult cat. We were wrong. She must have been less than a year old, because when we brought her home and fed her, she kept getting bigger and bigger and fluffier and fluffier. The shelter named her Faneuil after Faneuil Hall, but we changed her name to Fanny. We think it makes for a lot of entertaining variations. I imagine some searchers who end up at my blog are not getting what they hoped for, given what “fanny” is slang for in a few countries. Our Fanny is a polydactyl cat with a fused or “super” claw. She has taught me that it is possible for cats to cackle, which you would be likely to hear if she spots a squirrel while you are here!
Cast of Characters: Jack
I adopted Jack at about the same time Paul bought Tchazo (see previous note about egging each other on), but since Tchazo was young and needed to stay with his mom for a few more weeks, Jack came into our house first. For a while, he HATED Tchazo but they eventually became 24-7 buddies. After nearly 11 years together, we had to put Jack down in March of 2013. Jack was a little crazy in the head, but we learned how to live with it. His favorite things included licking the floor, lying under the couch and gazing at me longingly. Jack was physically incapable of wagging his tail whilst being petted. I like to think it is because he was soaking up the love so intensely that it required his full concentration.