Tag Archives: cranberries

Yeah, I’m Crafty

19 Sep

“Oh my gosh, I’m so not crafty!”  Sitting at the kitchen table, glue gun webs of melted plastic draped from my fingers, I exclaimed my pretty obvious observation.  My good friend, Caroline, and I took the night to make crafts out of bags of saved wine corks, something we have both wanted to do for a while.  It seemed like a productive and rewarding way to use the evidence of years of wine drinking – I mean “tasting” (no, I really mean drinking).

Caroline was fashioning cork trivets out of antique picture frames, and I, to much avail was trying to make a wine cork wreath, uber fitting for the upcoming entertaining holidays.  The glue guns were smoking, the four-letter words were flying, and the martinis were flowing.  Needless to say, we weren’t near the perfectly imperfect Martha Stewart excellence.  However, in the end, I think Ms. Martha would have been proud.

There’s something so unique about a girl’s night; they can be simple or extravagant, gossipy or humble, over-emotional or relatively quiet.  Whatever the circumstance, day of the week, or excuse it takes for girls to get together, something memorable usually occurs.  While I know I’m not speaking to a large, albeit less numbered, half of our population, I think it’s important for every man out there to know that girls nights are 1) needed so we don’t yell at you about not wringing out the sponge, 2) not about pillow fights in negligée (sorry to burst some lingering pubescent floating bubbles of desire), and 3) a great excuse for you to watch that Pawn Stars episode with that man trying to sell the Days-of-Yore-this-is-worth-at-least-10,000-dollars-ok-maybe-$75.50 musket.

(Side note: as I literally finished writing that, Rob came upstairs and said, “Hey babe, I’m watching this really cool show about guns!”  No joke.)

After three hours of chatting, glue-gun burns, ignoring Sig (he learned to give up early), and, “Are you sure this looks ok?” reassurances, we had finished our little projects with sore hands and a sense of accomplishment.  By golly, we actually were crafty.  Caroline had created her trivets, and I had made my wreath.  Aside from feeling like we had actually done something worthwhile with our Saturday night, the process of cutting each cork perfectly to fit its puzzle-piece spot left us sighingly remembering each bottle of wine we loved, and just liked, and enjoyed with friends and family over laughs and good food.  Needless to say, the projects resulted in more than just our finished products.

To celebrate (and to secretly make Martha proud), dinner was in order, and a good one at that.  Our CSA basket is still giving us beautiful, bounteous baskets full of harvest summer fruit and veg, including lots of sweet corn.   I stuffed Poblano peppers with a colorful corn sauté, and eating this rustic Pacific Northwest meal gave us a different sense of accomplishment – like we had done something good for our community (and our stomachs).

The next morning, the leftovers were calling my name.  With a mixture of sautéed corn, cabbage, bacon, cranberries, and Manchego cheese, a breakfast burrito with a fried egg built itself in my mind putting my hands and sauté pan to work.  The foggy-morning dance of frying an egg until it is just cooked through has become second nature to me.  Using the benchwarmer microwave to cheatingly heat up my tortilla, I layered a little hot sauce, my harvest summer sauté, and the fried egg; breakfast was served.  And on the becoming increasingly rare occasion, breakfast was slow and savored.

With fall just around the corner, I can’t think of a humble breakfast that says goodbye to summer, and hello to autumn, better than this one.  Maybe it’s just because the memory of discovering my inner craftiness pairs as well as a mimosa would, or maybe it’s because it really is that good.  You be the judge.

Happy almost fall!

Harvest Summer Breakfast Burrito
(this recipe will give you enough filling for about 4 burritos, or extra to stuff roasted Poblano peppers!)

  • 1 ear sweet corn, kernels cut off cob (raw)
  • ½ head green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 3 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced 
  • 1 large carrot, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
  • ¼ c dried cranberries
  • ½ c + ¼ c beer (light ale)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • ½ c Manchego cheese, grated
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • a dash of olive oil
  • basil for garnish
  • s&p
  • hot sauce optional

Brown the bacon in a large sauté pan over med-high heat until crispy.  Remove bacon and set aside on a paper towel to drain off the excess grease. 

Pour out all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat, and add the diced onion.  Season with s&p and sauté until softened and translucent.  Add the jalapeño and deglaze with the ½ c of beer.  Let simmer until the beer is almost completely reduced, and add the cabbage and corn.  Season with a pinch of s&p again.  Add the extra ¼ c beer and cook down, until no extra liquid is in the pan and the cabbage has wilted. 

Turn off the heat and mix in the carrot shreds, cranberries, and crispy bacon.  Sprinkle over lime juice, and taste for seasoning. 

At this point, heat up the tortillas, and either mix in the grated Manchego cheese, or layer it within the burrito (I like to layer it in rather than mix together – it keeps different textures alive within the burrito). 

To fry the egg, pour a dash of olive oil into a non-stick pan, and crack in the egg.  Season with s&p, and leave be to cook over high heat, and then flip when the edges start to brown.  Cook to preferred doneness (runny yolk, medium, or hard cooked), and put on top of sauté in the burrito. 

Pour over some hot sauce, if you like it spicy in the morning, garnish with basil, and fold like, well, a burrito.


What a Birthday

5 Jul

There’s a school of thought that the infamous “they” proclaim which says the way you are on New Years Day is what shapes the way you’ll be the entire year.   That, among other reasons is why I like to wake up rested, sans hangover, on New Years Day.  I’m hoping the same mindset goes for the 4th of July – the way the 4th is spent will shape the rest of the summer.  If it’s true (and being that I like to occasionally make up my own silly superstitions and pass them on so others will become similarly superstitious), then Rob and I are in for a summertime treat.

Our 4th of July started out with sunshine and ended with sparklers.  We had a perfect day – simple, humble, and just enough of our own festivities to make the day special.  The sun woke us up later than usual (thank you, Sig, for not barking at 5:something in the morning!), and proceeded to draw us up the Oregon Coast towards Cape Perpetua.  The almost 3-mile hike is straight uphill with switchbacks completely up and down.  It helps that the mountain faces the south, thus blocking the Arctic Ocean winds, but doesn’t make the climb any less strenuous.  Climbing only a couple feet behind Rob, my face was level with the small of his back and I could clearly see the sweat soaking through his quickly-turning-darker-shades-of-green shirt.  At one point the sweat turned to stink.

“Oh, well I don’t have any deodorant on,” said like that was totally normal.

“Why wouldn’t you put on deodorant this morning when you knew we were going hiking?”

“Because I’m clean.”

Ok then.

Notwithstanding the climb, it brought us to a view that can only be described with a noise.  A gasping “wow” under the breath might suffice.  Or maybe a low whistle would do.  But if I had to use words, I would only need one: freakingamazing.

We stayed at the top for a while, sitting on stone look-out fence, quietly chatting but mostly not, hoping to see a whale and soaking in the sun with un-SPF-protected skin.  The sea was not nearly calm, but from way up high it looked like dark, etched glass.  The lava-rock cliff beneath us showed millions of years of growth with succulents and wildflowers singing with bees and birds doing their biological jobs, despite the national holiday.  The tropical view made a contrasting picture with the mountain pines standing like tall, skinny guards bordering the horizon.  It made us long for a tropical drink and a bowl of chili at the same time.  A zucchini salad at the bottom of the mountain would have to do.  With our pasty Oregon skin starting to burn, and stomachs starting to growl, we made the trek down the mountain, and a beeline towards the nearest picnic table.

Eating with bamboo forks right out of the bowl, we devoured the salad.  And not just because we were hungry.  The combination of grilled zucchini, sweet cranberries, tangy goat cheese, and pop-in-your-mouth pine nuts made for the perfect outdoor travel lunch.  One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is grill zucchini with olive oil, s&p, and a sprinkling of dried oregano; it’s a great side dish, or even a snack.  But this way may be my new favorite.

Like I tend to do in cars, I fell asleep on the ride home.  We had hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, and lit our sparkler centerpiece after dusk, waving the wands around like little kids.  At that moment, Sig was probably the most mature out of the bunch.  It was a 4th for the books.

Grilled Zucchini Salad (serves 2 hungry hikers)

  • 2 med-large zucchini, sliced lengthwise 
  • ¼ c dried cranberries
  • ¼ c toasted pine nuts (I toast mine in a dry pan over high heat)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • few leaves of basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • s&p

On a large grill-pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Prepare the zucchini by drizzling the other tbps of olive oil, oregano, and s&p over the slices.  When the grill is hot (the oil will shimmer like the sun reflecting off the ocean), place the zucchini on the grill cut-side down.  Leave to grill – and do not bother – until brown grill-marks appear, about 5 minutes.  Flip zucchini and grill until the veg is just tender, but still has bite.  Set zucchini aside to cool.

When cool, slice the zucchini lengthwise again (now, there should be 8 slices).  Slice those into bite-sized pieces, like little triangles.  Pour into a bowl, and add the cranberries, nuts, and goat cheese.  Mix well, taste for seasoning, and top with basil.




Turkey Day Trials – Day 1

16 Nov

Thanksgiving is the mecca of food holidays.  It screams cocktails, food comas, and leftover turkey and cranberry sandwiches.  Being that this is my first Thanksgiving cooking the meal (as opposed to my mom cooking), and it is only 9 days away, I need to get started.

Last night I started prepping myself – I watched my DVR’d Food Network Thanksgiving shows, I started to plan out a menu, and I started making the checklist (not a checklist, but the checklist) of things to do before the upcoming event.  As mentioned in my last post about our shopping trip to Trader Joes, I’ve already got the cranberry sauce (yes, my family loves the canned, jellied stuff), olives both green and black, and mandarin oranges.  Last weekend I also picked up bone-in turkey breast (both sides) to practice my flavors.  So tonight is Trial #1 – turkey breast with a risotto dressing.

But before I start cooking, I must celebrate and lament upon the new international news of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement.  Celebrate, sure.  But lament?  There’s a story to explain.

From the time I can remember, my mom told me I was going to marry Prince William.  He and I are the same age, and every time I would see his picture on some magazine cover, or cutely posing with his mother, images of tiaras, royal robes, and other young, naive princess fantasies would float through my head.  I truly believed that I was supposed to – and would – many Prince William.

It wasn’t until I had my first real crush that it donned on me.  My mom and I were standing at the checkout in the grocery store looking at yet another debonaire picture of the royal family when, I realized (out loud) that I will never many Prince William.  My mom looked up from getting her wallet out of her purse and agreed with me in a way and tone that was also asking if I had just come round-trip from the funny farm.

Laughing a little at how stupid I must have sounded, I said, “But you always said I was going to marry him!”

“Oh,” she said with a wave of her hand, “I just wanted to wear a hat at your wedding.”

My mom didn’t get to wear a hat to my wedding – it would have looked ridiculous with her fabulous sparkly silver and black dress.  And the only Prince that crossed my mind that day was the Irish one waiting for me at the altar.  But today’s worldwide engagement news made me reminisce on my mom’s cuteness and my silly fantasies, and also made me realize some similarities.  Prince William: tall, handsome, and slightly balding.  Rob: also tall, handsome, and slightly balding.  Prince William: loves to sail.  Rob: loves to sail.  Prince William: a Lieutenant and search and rescue helicopter pilot for his country.  Rob: a Lieutenant and search and rescue helicopter pilot for his country.  Hmm.  Maybe my fantasies came true after all.

(But now I feel like I need to buy my mom a hat…)

Simple Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1 3-4 lb bone-in turkey breast (both sides)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced in 1/2
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 whole sprig sage
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cracked pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 white wine
  • 1/2 c chicken or turkey stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Have an oven roaster ready with rack in place.  Pour the wine and the broth in the bottom of the roaster.  Pat dry the turkey breast.  Turn it over onto the skin side, and lay the garlic, 1/2 of the lemon, and the herbs on the breastbone, holding the ingredients in place when you turn over the meat onto a roasting rack.  Take the other 1/2 of the lemon and shove it under the fatty side end of the breast bone, using the extra fat/skin to cover the lemon.  Drizzle meat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the densest part of the breast reads 165 degrees.  Let rest for at least 15 minutes, carve and serve!


Cranberry, Leek and Apple Risotto with Sage and Brown Butter (serves 4)

  • 1 c Aborrio rice
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 c chicken stock
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large leek, thoroughly rinsed and sliced into rounds
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1 large whole sprig sage, leaves only, finely chopped
  • s&p
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp grated parmesan regiano cheese

With a pan on med-high heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute leeks (with a pinch of salt) until just starting to soften.  Add the rice, and let toast, stirring often (you will be able to smell the starch once the rice starts toasting).  Add white wine to deglaze pan, and reduce until pan is dry.  Add lemon juice to deglaze pan again (the wine and the lemon juice will add a foundational tartness and tang that balances well with the creaminess of the risotto, and the sweetness of the leeks, and cranberries).  Then add 2-3 ladles-full of chicken stock.  Stir the leeks and rice consistently (and Chef Andrew Sutton taught me to only stir in one direction) until liquid is almost gone.  Continue this process until the chicken stock is used, and the rice has become creamy, but still has a toothsome bite (you will be able to tell if you are stirring enough because the liquid, when being absorbed, will also start to turn a bit cloudy due to the starches in the rice).  Note: if you overcook risotto, it will turn gummy and not very pleasant to eat.  Add the apples and cranberries, stir and turn heat to low.

Meanwhile, in a separate sauce pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, with the sage, melting and browning – you want to get the butter to the stage where there you can see brown bits gathering, and it smells like sage popcorn.  Pour the brown butter over the risotto, stir, immediately.  Top with parm. reg. cheese, if using.


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