A place to store and share the things I make.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Kitchen

We just had an amazing dinner.  I take pictures of most of the meals that are prepared in this house, at least the ones that are somewhat aesthetic in nature.  But this one, it was so good it could not even be caught on camera.  Amazing.

It all started with the simple question: What are we having for dinner?  Pasta.  Shoot, the sauce is frozen.  We still have fresh tomatoes, really they need to be used soon.  It grew from there.

We roasted the tomatoes with a few cloves of garlic and onions.  A random radish and sweet pepper.  Tossed it with some olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and oregano, and roasted it at 350˚ for about an hour, then pureed it in the food processor (I left out about a cup of chunks to give it some character.)  Brown rice pasta, again?  How about polenta instead?  Even better, baked polenta.  And then Gourmet piped in and suggested Baked Polenta with Parmesan.  That not so difficult recipe is below.  It was amazing, and now our house smells like baked cheese.  We started it off with a tomato/cucumber salad with vinaigrette, and finished with the leftovers of my friend Kim's gluten free apple crisp.  She swears it's vegan, I swear it's covered in butter (coconut oil, it turns out).  I'm full.  I'm satisfied.  I want more but will leave it for tomorrow.

Most of all, I'm happy to be able to create such delicacies on a simple budget, in a small kitchen, with my husband along side.  There are many things in our marriage that I wish we could do without, ways I wish he was different, or did things my way, etcetera etcetera (I'm sure this is true for all marriages, and anyone who disagrees is lying, right?).  But the kitchen; I'm grateful for the kitchen.  It's one place we share that we both enjoy.  We can switch roles, be the head chef or the sous chef, give input and share expertise.  Yeah, sometimes we don't agree on things, and the kitchen is by no means immune to being a warzone on a given day.  But we always come out with something to show for it.  Usually something good to show for it.  Enjoy.

Baked Polenta with Parmesan (adapted from Gourmet)

1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 stick unsalted butter
6 tablespoons Parmesan-Reggiano (I supplemented a little asiago too)

Bring 4 cups water and 1 tsp salt to boil in a 2-3 quart heavy sauce pan.  Add polenta in a thin stream (if you can!), stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium-low (or it will spit like lava), stirring constantly till the polenta is thick, about 15 minutes.

Remove polenta from the heat, add the butter and some ground pepper.  Spoon polenta into a shallow 8-inch baking or casserole, not glass and smooth top; sprinkle with cheese, then cool (they say 1 hour in the fridge, we did 10 min in the freezer).

Bake at 400˚ or until heated through, then broil till the cheese is lightly browned.  Serve immediately with the roasted tomato sauce and enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Learning Curves

I feel like with that title, I should have something witty about things I've been learning lately.  But in reality, I just want to show off my curves!  Shannon inspired me earlier this year to try curves (they're really not that hard! she said), so I finally took the opportunity on some squares for the next family heirloom quilt.  Two of my cousins became papas to their second daughters this week, on the same day!  These are squares I put together for Emma (who by virtue of her birthdate 8(?!) years ago missed out on the new tradition begun only last year), and her new little sister Addy.  (Magdalena Rosalie is going to have to wait a bit for her quilt.)  I can't wait to see the whole quilt when it is finished, but it's always fun to share a snippet of what I contributed.  I used this little know-how page below to help guide, and it was super easy to follow...which is so key for a person like me who has to follow directions to a T.  So there you have it, a nice learning curve.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Catching up

I am finally catching up.  Finishing projects that I started this spring, or summer, or last winter.  My rotary cutter went kaput in May, and I just purchased a new one today.  I am typically a fabric snob, and really like my cute local quilting stores that have amazing fabric, but they do typically have higher prices.  So since I was looking for tools more than fabric, I went to JoAnn Fabric today, and it just happens to be "Coupon Commotion"!  (Exclamation point was required, though I do usually save them for more special occasions than this).  I got a great deal on a new rotary cutter and a couple yards of flannel to back the baby quilts that I'm finally back to working on.  Here are some of my/our accomplishments over the past few months, in addition to some other bits of our summer.

*2 days later, I return to finish the post.  This seriously does not work for me this leaving things unfinished, but I'm acquainting myself to the computer and figuring stuff out again, so here it is.  Most of this is of our roadtrip back to Colstrip for my 10 year reunion in June, via Idaho and Yellowstone. 

A laptop case with a bird on it (by special request)

Josh is very excited to finally get his case
Our first harvest
Skunk Lake near Cascade, ID
Our campsite in Yellowstone, in June
Mandi on Beartooth Pass: "Graham, when Christmas is here,
and I'm homesick,  remind me I got this in June." 
It hasn't been said enough--this is in JUNE!
Rainstorm at Red Lodge Brewing
Dad's first official race!  Graham beat us both.
Terri taught me how to make hexagons...
...which kept me busy the long haul back to Oregon.

More to come, now that I think I've got the picture thing figured out.  Happy about 2 new arrivals into our family yesterday too, which means more baby stuff!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back to Fall

It seems funny to me that I'm feeling so strong of a transition to fall this year.  I remember being surprised the last couple falls, the first 2 falls since I was 5 that I wasn't going "back to school."  But now this year, I feel like I'm going back to...fall?  Our travel is done (for now), but my work schedule is not changing.  There are a few things I'm going back to, things that I've squeezed out of my routine with the busyness of summer.  I'm going back to sewing, back to blogging, back to seeing our friends weekly at home community, back to seeing friends on a regular basis.  Back to routine, it seems.

I have realized something very important this summer, I think.  That this is life, this thing we are living right now.  There is no "someday," and really, life does not slow down at some point down the road.  If anything (I'll leave this to you mamas and papas out there to confirm), it speeds up and gets more and more full.  My theme this summer, and I repeated this over and over, was "Next month, when things slow down."  Then we'll get together.  Then I'll sew.  Then we'll have coffee.  Then we'll...  But you say that for four months and then you realize you still haven't called the friend you had meant to when June rolled around...  So I'm trying to live in the now.  Trying to prioritize, trying to say no to things I really want to do for other things that I equally really want to do.  Train for a marathon or stay with my book club?  Join the Pain team at work or join the Cancer team?  Make one date with a big group of friends or a few dates with a friend or two?  Quality or quantity--isn't that always the question?  I'm choosing quality, and I'm practicing saying No.  I guess this is what I'm going back to this Fall.

By the way, my excuse for not updating my blog is that we got a new computer and have yet to get a new attachment to upload pics.  I have many from this summer to share!  We had weddings, and my dear friend Sara came down from Canada, and Megan had twins and we are going next week to meet Juniper, another new arrival into the world.  We went home to Montana for my 10-year class reunion and through Yellowstone, up to Washington, into Central Oregon to the cabin.  We have hardly been home, and have the photo proof for it.  More to come.  For now, I decided to the webcam to show off some delicious cookies I made last night from Megan's Redemption Cookie recipe. All I adapted was the flours to make it gluten free, and added some xantham gum.  They actually rose!

Redemption Cookies
(Adapted from the Neiman Marcus recipe)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour (I did 1 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup sorghum, 1/4 cup tapioca, 1/4 cup chickpea flours)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Xantham gum (for gluten-free version)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or substitute 
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, shaved and chopped
  • Directions
    I just mixed the wet ingredients, then sifted together the dry ingredients, then added them all together and dropped them with my dropper on 2 sheet pans, baked at 300ยบ for 20 minutes.

    I'll be back soon...