Things have been quite a whirlwind 'round these parts as of late. Keeping up with the house, teaching my online course, and working on some other projects (will be telling you about these, soon!) have left me with very little extra time on my hands. With the kitchen remodel moving very slowly, I was having a hard time not being able to cook for an extended period of time, especially since cooking is one of my preferred methods of stress relief. So, this past Friday I said 'to hell with it' and made a cake in my half torn down kitchen. The oven was in working order and there was countertop space enough for the mixer, and that was good enough for me. I'd had all these berries left over from berry picking and needed to put them to good use, and I'd be damned if they were going to get all moldy before I put them into a sweet of some kind.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Staying out of the kitchen has been hard, especially since I went berry picking this past weekend with one of my best childhood friends and we ended up with quite the assortment of fresh fruits that appeared (at least to me, anyway) to be begging to be put into a pie or cake of some kind. So I maybe might have baked a cake this morning in my half torn down kitchen. Whoops! It felt good though, the house actually smelled like a home (and by that I mean cake), and I got to have a little zen time away from the dozens of thoughts that are normally buzzing around my brain. Plus I got to eat something sweet at the end of it all, which y'all know how much I enjoy.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Things are moving slowly here on the kitchen remodel front. Or maybe it just feels slow because I keep seeing beautiful summer recipes posted everywhere, and then I look into my kitchen and just see a bunch of lath and plaster that's half torn down and give a deep long sigh. I got an old house because I wanted personality, I just didn't expect it to be so...spunky (especially during the demolition process.) But to ease my impatient nerves I've been taking out my excess energy in the garden, whacking away at the lawn to carve out more space for my spur-of-the-moment purchase of 8 gooseberry and currant bushes (they were 50% off, what else was I supposed to do?) Turns out, under the grass is a whole lot of rock, so I've been meticulously picking them out and piling them up along the fence to improve the soil quality (also, adding loads of earthworm casings). Afterwards, I come inside, collapse in front of my computer, and slowly begin collecting niche pieces for the new kitchen, pulling mostly from Food52's Provisions. My focus is on getting pieces that combine form and function, like this. Or this. And also that (who doesn't need a jug full of whiskey in the kitchen?) Hopefully all this hard work will be rewarded, though, when I have a finished kitchen in autumn and a caseload of berries next summer, so I can make all the pies and hot toddies a girl could ever want.
Monday, July 14, 2014
With the kitchen renovation in full swing and my Online Food Styling & Photography Workshop vamping up, my ability to cook and write for the next couple weeks will be limited. But this is a good thing. You see, it gives me the chance to share recipes from bloggers I've met and befriended over the years through the wonder that is the internet. Today we're being joined by Michelle Lopez from Hummingbird High, a Saveur-nominated baking blog that's based here in Portland, Oregon. Michelle and I finally met face-to-face for the first time last night and she is just as bubbly and funny in person as she is on her blog. And as you can see from this gorgeous and delicious-sounding sorbet, she's one talented lady. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and words, Michelle. I could not be happier to have you here!
Thursday, July 10, 2014
There's something almost magical about the texture of baked meringue. The way it gets so crisp-yet-fragile on the outside, and a simple crack of the outer shell reveals the gooey, soft, and sweet center within. Meringue cookies have always had a soft spot in my heart, and when I discovered pavlova several years ago it brought my adoration to new heights, since pavlova is basically just a giant meringue cookie with a bunch of delicious toppings piled on. So when I was approached about reviewing the Meringue Girls cookbook, I immediately said yes, and then got even more excited when I saw a recipe for a pavlova that was covered in Greek things (pistachios, honey, rose water, and yogurt. Not much more of a greek dessert combo than that.)
Monday, July 7, 2014
Well, it seems summer has finally arrived. Temperatures here in Oregon have been steadily rising, and the stifling heat has helped us to realize there is no air conditioning in the new house. We'll be getting a little AC unit soon, but until then we've been using some chilled sweets (and lots of popsicles) to help us stay cool. There’s nothing quite like the refreshing zest of citrus once the summer heat comes back around, and if you pair that citrus with a bit of toasted meringue and a sweet custard, you have quite the winning combination. I know key lime pie is usually served chilled, but I snuck one of these guys right out of the oven after the meringue finished toasting and it was just as delicious, although it definitely wasn't as refreshing as the cold ones in the middle of a heat wave.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The 4th of July is just around the corner, and while most people are firing up their grills, I always enjoy a little slow-cooking on the 4th. Get something going in the morning, let it cook for a few hours, and when people start to congregate around lunch time, boom! It's ready to go. Plus, if you're having guests over, the time it's spent simmering away gives you ample opportunity to tidy up around the place and get the kitchen all cleaned up so it looks as if you haven't just been chopping up a bunch of beef and chocolate. Yes, you read that correctly. Beef. And chocolate. While they may sound like they belong at opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, in truth they unite perfectly, but only in a specific type of dish, and that dish is mole. Mole is an old Mexican sauce that has been traditionally prepared for centuries. There are many, many variations of mole, but it always contains chile peppers and, more often than not, chocolate (although chocolate was a recent addition to the mole family, and by that I mean within the past 300 years or so. Seriously, this sauce goes waaaaaay back.)
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I'm going to keep this post short and sweet since there's still much unpacking to be done and I'm caught up in a seemingly never-ending battle between myself and the beginnings of a blackberry bramble that I'm trying to clear out of the single patch of soil in our front yard. All the blackberry shoots are pretty small, but the roots for the bramble go deep, so I think there used to be a large one that was cut back with the roots left intact, and anybody who has dealt with blackberries (or raspberries for that matter) growing in your garden, knows that once they make a home there it is very, very difficult to get them out. I'm going to rent a rototiller and see if that will chop up the roots enough to keep them from growing back, but if anyone has any blackberry bush removal tips I'd be much obliged!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
We are slowly but sure moving everything into the new place bit by bit, and this Saturday I'm going to venture out into the garden with a rototiller and finally get my tomatoes in the ground. Really hoping it won't be too late to have my heirlooms later this summer, but with the Oregon weather it's always a toss up. There's nothing quite like a thick, ripe slice of tomato on a juicy burger with a melted slice of cheese and a golden brioche bun. Maybe I was just antsy for summer barbecues, but I decided I'd practice ahead of time and try my hand at making one of those shiny and delicious baked goods a couple weeks back. And I was especially excited because I was able to shoot with my grain measure and basket from Europe2You, which I'd been dying to use for weeks but kept having to go out of town for shoots. I can't wait to start using the basket out in the garden this summer once I'm able to start picking all the ripe fruits and veggies, so I'm sure you'll be seeing its cute little basket-face again once those heirloom tomatoes fill in.
Monday, June 23, 2014
You may remember a few weeks back when I thought I had a cold that was actually strep throat, which became apparent during a weekend away on a shoot. I never really said what the shoot was for, but I was going around the state of California shooting Lundberg Family Farm's organic Multigrain Chips for their Picnic with a View Pin-It-To-Win-It Contest. Even with the illness, it was a wonderful journey and I felt very lucky to be able to see and shoot the Redwoods, Mount Shasta, Mendocino, and the Mojave before moving out of California. Plus I got to eat reallllly delicious organic chips the entire time. So pretty much the best road trip ever.