Archive | bread RSS feed for this section

Love and Food Through Email

6 Nov

IMG_0718

For those of you who are married out there, or love the thrill of dating, remember that feeling you got when you’d get an email, text message, or a missed call from that special person with whom you were in smit?  It’s a fun feeling – butterflies, excitement, and an urgency to return the message, but of course not too urgent for fear of looking too eager? (Man, dating was exhausting).  Well, I hate to say it, that feeling does kind of dwindle when you get married.  That is, unless, your husband deploys with the military.

Silver lining, might you assume?  Absolutely.  I completely could drone on and on about how much I miss my husband, and how I got into a slump and didn’t feel like cooking, thus didn’t have much to blog about, and how he wasn’t here to help me assemble the desk, and then help me take the desk back when the drill-holes didn’t line up correctly.  Even when my wonderful dad was visiting for a few weeks, and we had a great time traveling to Atlanta, and he lovingly cut my grass for me (because I won’t touch that machine lest I care to lose a toe), there was still a pinge of longing for my out-at-sea husband.  Yes, I could complain, and maybe even you would understand.  Having a husband in the middle of who-knows-where trying to find who-knows-what can leave a lot to the imagination.  But, it can also bring about a spark.

Every little “bing” of my phone indicating a new email has started to bring about that dating feeling again.  Silly, right?  We’ve even been flirting – imagine!  Over government email, no less.  Hey, I figure, if we can make some government looky-loo smile from our deployment banter, then by all means, read away!  So, as a tip to all you military wives out there, imagine you and your deployed husband are dating again – it will make the time, the emails, and all the longing just go by a bit more smoothly.

There is one thing that came up in our emails this week, reminding me of why we put so much importance on our little home traditions.  Rob and I always have Sunday Night Dinner, and I made a point last Sunday (during a particularly slump-feeling weekend), to make something that I knew Rob would love.  I did, and for the first time in a long time, the cooking felt good, natural, and like there wasn’t something missing.  This is probably because at the exact same time, Rob was trying to recreate Sunday Night Dinner on his boat with his crew.  I read about it Monday morning in his email, and it just made me smile.  For that moment last Sunday night, we were sharing the same thought, feeling, and energy, thus making Sunday Night Dinner feel so less empty with only one at the table (well, two if you count Sig sniffing his way around the dining room).

The meal was simple yet unbelievably good. Making a creamy tomato soup with absolutely NO cream was divine, and made me feel less guilty about indulging. The simply s&p-baked halibut was a cold seawater treat. Atop the delightful combo sprinkled thinly sliced, quick-pickled celery providing a crunch and tang, balancing the subtle creaminess perfectly. Honestly, even as a left-over lunch, the meal was still delicious.

So unbeknownst to us, Rob and I had our Sunday Night Dinner together while being so far away. It clearly would have been better in person, but if anything, it shows us our strength in tradition, love, and the things (and food) we love.

Make this for someone you love – even if it’s just you! Enjoy!

IMG_0715

Creamy Tomato Puree
(makes about 1 quart)

  • 2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, squeeze-seeded, and diced
  • 3 1-inch thick slices of left-over country bread (or French bread), crusts removed
  • 1 c non-fat milk
  • 2 c water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • s&p

With the bread cubes in a mixing bowl, pour over the non-fat milk and add the rosemary sprig. Using your hands, massage, press, and work the bread pieces until saturated with the milk. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Once fragrant, add the tomatoes and the red pepper flakes, then season with s&p and sauté occasionally until soft.

Squeeze the milk mostly out of the bread, add the bread to the tomatoes, and stir well to combine.  Discard the milk. Add the water, and bring to a boil.

When boiling, turn off the heat. Then using an immersion blender (or spooning into a stand-up blender), puree the mixture until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Keep over low heat until ready to serve.

IMG_0717

Roasted Halibut
(serves 4)

  • 2 lb halibut filet
  • 2 pinches of salt per side
  • 1 pinch of cracked black pepper per side
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a baking dish, prepare the halibut by sprinkling over the salt, pepper, and olive oil. Make sure both sides are coated, and then lay the sprig of fresh rosemary on the top of the filet. The herb will roast and become crispy – a great garnish for the end of the meal.

Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish just starts to flake when probed with a fork.

IMG_0716

Cardamom Pickled Celery
(makes about ¼ pt)

  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned , and finely sliced into ½ moons
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch of s&p

Mix everything together, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

To assemble:
In a shallow bowl, spoon out the thick, creamy tomato puree. Then gently place a piece of halibut on top.  Sprinkle over some pickled celery, and a few pieces of the crispy rosemary. Enjoy!

Advertisements

An I Love Lucy Moment

16 Aug

Right here:

Yep, the bottom gave out on one of the 10-pound flat of blueberries we picked last week, leaving what could have been Sig’s dream come true.  After the spillage, in one quick motion, Rob scooped up the blueberry-loving pup in one arm (who was more then well-aware of what just happened, and quickly thought he could possibly “help”), grabbed the kitchen camera with the other, all the while giggling like a little school girl waking up Christmas morning.  Luckily, I was wearing black shorts.

There were berries under the couch, under the TV stand, not to mention on us.  Our hands and nails were stained a dark purple half-way through the clean-up, until Rob got the, dare I say brilliant, idea to use pancake spatulas to scoop up the massive amount of rogue fruit.  It worked, although, I’m sure it was quite a sight: two grown adults on hands and knees, butts in the air, scooping up everywhere-blueberries with black spatulas, doggie outside whining at having been demoted to a spectator behind the screen door.  We were able to clean up the blueberries without squishing too many (although the Lucy and Ethel grape-stomping scene was vividly on repeat in my head).  And those that did not survive the fall, or the feet, Sig happily partook.

While I do not recommend eating many fruits off the floor, I figure if you boil something long enough, all the germs are bound to die, right?  Luckily, I still had some frozen blueberries that needed a “preserved” home, so I quickly got to canning my blueberry sauce, making room in the freezer for the new batch of living-room-floor-berries.

The blueberry sauce can pair with everything.  Seriously.  It is the seen-on-tv-type sauce when it comes to versatility.  Because it is not sweet, just perfectly blueberry-y, oatmeal, ice cream, chicken, steak, and mixed into a vinaigrette have all been viable (and delicious) options.  But my new favorite was this morning’s meal: Rosemary Chia Banana Bread paired with the Blueberry Sauce.  Simple, summery, light, healthy, and delicious.  Chia seeds are similar to flax seeds, and are a huge staple in the supplemental health department.  The Rosemary combined with the banana gives the bread a very earthy taste.  It’s probably my new favorite breakfast bread.  Adding the rich, tangy, blueberry sauce make this morning a far cry from yesterday’s debacle (much to Sig’s dismay).  Nothing yet has spilled today, but, it’s still early – haven’t even begun preparing dinner!

Rosemary Chia Banana Bread (makes one loaf) 

  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/8 c chia seeds (flax seeds are a good substitute) 
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 8 oz plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 overripe (black) bananas that have been frozen, then thawed, then peeled (keep any liquid) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Lightly butter and flour a loaf pan, and set aside. 

Mix all the dry ingredients (including the rosemary), minus the sugar, in a large bowl, and set aside.  In a stand (or hand) mixer, cream the yogurt, vanilla extract, and sugar together until creamy.  In three separate batches, mix the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until dry ingredients are just incorporated each time.  Add the thawed bananas and all the liquid from thawing the frozen overripe fruit.  This will add a ton of flavor, as well as create moist bread.  

Once the bananas are incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Cool, and enjoy with blueberry sauce! 

Blueberry Sauce (makes 3 pints) 

  • 1 gallon frozen blueberries (equals about 16 cups) 
  • zest of one lemon 
  • juice from two lemons 
  • 3 tbsp confectioners sugar 
  • 3-finger pinch of salt

Pour all ingredients into a large pot, and heat over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble and starts to foam.  Spoon off the foamy top layer, and lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  You will know the sauce is done when the bubbles become gloppy, and the mixture coats a spoon.  There will still be chunks of blueberries in the mixture, which gives the sauce a nice texture.  It should taste like true blueberries – not jammy, or overly sweet.  Just blue.    

Follow an approved canning/preserving method, or keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks.   

Enjoy!  

They’re Baaaaack!

15 Apr

One of the first things I learned in foraging on the Oregon Coast is that Banana Slugs are delicious.  Might I clarify learned, as in, someone told me so.  My pleasantly surprised, “Oh, I have so many of those in my backyard!” statement lead to the thankful explanation that the backyard ones should NOT be eaten.  Those slugs live off poop.

Needless to say, I have not delved into the wonderful world of Gastropods.

Figures, since Sig donates his fair share of excrement to the earth, and waiting for the sun to dry the ground just enough to collect his donations hasn’t happened, since, well, pigs flew around dropping the money that grew on their barnyard trees.  Thus, the slugs are back!  They kill my rosemary plants every year, wrapping their black, slimy, squidgy bodies up and around the very top branch, leaving not one little pine leaf unslithered.  Blech.  And now they have taken a liking to little Siglet, attaching themselves to his furry shorts every chance they get (maybe to get closer to their food source?).  There’s nothing like the comfort of walking around the house barefoot, until you step on a slug.  Squish.

There are many home remedies for slug removal, the most common being beer.  Can’t you just picture it: good ol’ drunk, fat slugs having their own little frat party until they pass out?  (Don’t worry – no hazing involved.  These are civilized slugs.)  And normally, I’d be all for the drunken explosion of herb destroying slimy bugs, but there’s a big problem: Sig. Loves. Beer.  We’d have dead slugs and a slurring Sig.

So in honor of the fact that I can’t kill the slugs, and Sig can’t have the beer, and Rob is underway and is not allowed to have beer, I decided to make a tasty pub concoction: Honey Oat Beer Bread.  Toasted with a slather of Orange Butter and you’ve got a treat that any person, or slug, or Sig for that matter, would enjoy.

A Caution Tested Through Experience: This bread will make your house smell heavenly while baking.  But, like most breads, it’s best after having cooled quite a bit.  So, have a hanky ready (to wipe the ensuing drool) and consume yourself with a good book to avoid scalding your mouth.

Honey Oat Beer Bread with Mandarin Butter (makes 1 loaf) 

  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c 5-grain oats, plus more for sprinkling on top (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand) 
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 + 1/8 c honey
  • 1 bottle good flavorful beer 

Mandarin Butter 

  • 1 stick room temperature butter 
  • 2 mandarin oranges, zest and juice 
  • sprinkle of fine sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the butter, using a small spatula, mix all ingredients together until incorporated.  Taste for seasoning.  When mixed, spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and mold into a log.  Put in the fridge to harden.

For the bread, mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add 7 tbsp of the melted butter, the honey (tip: it pours and mixes better when warmed; just heat for about 15 seconds in the microwave), and slowly pour in the bottle of beer.  With a heavy whisk, mix together until just combined.  The dough should be loose, but thick.

Pour into a prepared greased and flour-dusted loaf pan.  Top with a sprinkling of oats, and then drizzle with the last tbsp of melted butter.

Bake until golden and when a took pick is inserted, it comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Let the bread cool, then spread a dollop of Mandarin Butter on top.

Enjoy!

 

 

%d bloggers like this: