It's been a good year and it has been a rough year. We got through it together. Celebrating our 45th anniversary in August is testament that we can get through it all.
Family is always the most important. We visited my brother and sister-in-law in North Carolina in May, The Trout's brother and sister-in-law in Iowa, and were able to see all the nieces and nephews who live nearby. We spent time with both daughters and families in Ohio and Wisconsin and time with the grand kids who are growing so quickly.
Three weeks were spent in France and Paris. We have a great love for the food, wine, people and the magnificent history and sights of France. We met the most wonderful people in the gités we rented. Our greatest thrill was meeting Barbara and her husband, Robert, a fellow blogger I have corresponded with for some time. It is true..when you meet a blogger you have been reading for a while, you are not meeting a stranger. It is more like connecting with a friend you have known forever.
Then the next adventure....we bought a 26 foot travel trailer so that we could be a little freer in our travels out West. Unfortunately, my knee was bothering me a lot by this time, so we could not do all we wanted to. There is always next year.
We had beautiful weather in Montana this year. A high school friend and his wife stopped by to reconnected after almost 50 years. The Trout's best fishing buddy and his wife spent time with us at the cabin also. And then I had the pleasure of meeting another blogger friend; Diana and her husband Pete. Once again, it was as if we had known each other for years. What a thrill to finally meet.
After that, things started going a little sour. The Trout had to have surgery for a small intestine blockage. We were fortunate to find an excellent surgeon and though he lost a lot of time fishing the trout streams, he was able to recover so that we could start our long trip back to Florida.
My knee has a long history. It started back in March when we decided to get healthy and work with a trainer at a gym. I hurt my knee and after several doctor visits, nothing was resolved. So, I limped all the way through France and when it got worse, saw a doctor in Wisconsin. No resolve there. Saw an orthopedic surgeon in Montana who gave me a cortisone shot that was short-lived. So when we got back home, I finally had a much needed MRI. Both medial and lateral meniscus in the knee were torn...since March...so I had arthroscopic surgery on December 16. Hoping this would correct the problem was short-lived again. It seems the surgery simply aggravated arthritis which I did not know I had, so the pain is still there, but different. They hope to baby my knee with cortisone injections for a year or two until it will need to be totally replaced.
So, that means we have to be careful with what trips we plan until we have a better idea how I can handle the walking. Believe me, I can be patient. I have also let my blog slide by not writing much in the last year. I hope to improve that in 2012. That is a definite goal.
Our two daughters and their families came to Florida for Christmas week. It was the first time in 6 years that we have all been together. I told the Trout that our quiver was definitely full....all because we fell in love 50 years ago. The path of life is amazing. We have been blessed.
Happy New Year to all of you. May 2012 be healthy and happy, and as we say in German, "Einen Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!!"
A long, long time ago, a recipe came from Germany with a group of people looking for religious freedom. They traveled across the ocean and, according to a diary that I found many years ago in my parent's attic, they suffered from a lot of sea sickness. But they had faith in their Creator, and they arrived on the shores of America. The time frame was the 1850's. So what did the women bring with them? I can only guess, but recipes were an important factor..keeping them in touch with their homeland.
One such recipe I baked today. A Christmas cookie that I have always known as "Wiesbader Brot.". This translates to "the bread of Wiesbaden, Germany." As a child, I loved to watch my grandmother bake these great smelling cookies. If this cookie has ever seen itself in Wiesbaden, Germany, is a mystery. Perhaps, it was only remorse of leaving the homeland that named this cookie. Nevertheless, with a little imagination, it does look like a slice of bread topped with butter.
It has been a few years since I have baked Wiesbader Brot, but I do think today, they tasted better than they ever have. I have to give credit to the cinnamon that I added. For quite a few years, I have been buying my cinnamon from Penzey's in Wisconsin. This Vietnamese cinnamon is absolutely the best tasting. I hope you will discover Penzey's and try their cinnamon and other spices. They rank top quality on my list. I also buy all my peppercorns for grinding from them including a lot of other spices.
The cookie is supposed to look like a slice of bread topped with butter. When you read the recipe, you can see how this happens. The recipe is printed in "Seasons of Plenty", a cookbook from the Amana Colonies in Iowa, that I gave away earlier this year on my blog anniversary. The tool that should be used to cut the cookies is a ruffled roller cutter that I do not own. My grandmother's disappeared in the family home auction years ago, but I do remember it and use my pizza cutter instead. The ruffled edge on the cookies does make it extra special.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Reserving 2 egg yolks, beat 2 whole eggs and 2 white until very frothy and combine with creamed sugar and butter. Gradually add flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix well. Cover and chill dough overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On a large lightly floured board, roll out small portions of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a fluted pastry wheel, or pizza cutter and cut into diamond shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush with beaten egg yolks. Bake about 15 minutes until light brown. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.
I hope you have a chance to try my favorite German cookie. They are now resting until the grandchildren arrive Christmas week. By the way, my favorite way to eat them is dunked in hot chocolate. YUM
I am always looking for the perfect addition to an ice cold martini or other beverage for "Happy Hour." By the way, we have found that this special hour, when the neighbors come out their doors with drinks in hand is getting earlier and earlier. Perhaps because the dark sets in so much earlier. Perhaps because we are all retired and don't care about putting up appearances any more.
I think I have found it. I stumbled across "In the Kitchen with Kath" and found this very simple, very easy and very tasty cracker recipe. These cheesy crackers, (which, by the way) smell outstandingly delicious as they bake, are flaky and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days..but, I really doubt they will last that long.
They do require a food processor and then this cracker can be started and to the enjoying with a drink part in less than one hour. If you want to eat them warm, even less than that. I would suggest that you use a food processor though. I would think it would get a little discouraging trying to make this dough without one.
from In the Kitchen with Kath
Depending on the size you cut them, you can get 75 to 100 crackers
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) grated, extra sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put everything except the milk in a food processor. Pulse the processor 5 seconds at a time, for about 5-6 times, until the dough is in coarse crumbs.
Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together in a ball.
Roll the dough out on a floured board with a rolling pin that has been floured, until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick.
Cut the dough into 1 inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. You can put a bit of flour on the blade of the knife to keep it from sticking. Use the flat end of a wooden skewer, I used the rounded tip of a chopstick, to poke a hole in the center of each cracker.
Place the crackers at least 1/4 inch apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.
Put the baking sheet on a rack and let the crackers cool completely. Eat or store in a covered container to eat within a day or two. ENJOY!!
Every once in a while, I do a post. I have not been doing too much or feeling inspired enough to write, but am finally scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on my knee on the 16th. Seems like I have a torn meniscus and my knee can't handle too much walking or standing. The fact that this has been going on since March does not help. So slowly, I am seeing the end of the tunnel and it is encouraging. We have been eating, but nothing worth writing about. Other than a quick trip to the grocery store, not much else has been going on.
But yesterday, we did go out for lunch. The Trout saw Guy Fieri from "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" visit The Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City, a suburb of Tampa. He knew we had to try it. This is a very nice pub/restaurant and I know we will be back. They usually have 10 beers that they brew on premises. Having trouble deciding, we were both offered two samples to choose from. The menu offers a little of everything. Nice choices. We opted to share Pan Crisped Pierogi with caramelized onions and mushrooms, served with sour cream. Six large pierogis arrived, stuffed with a creamy, cheesy mashed potato mixture. They were delicious.
I order the Tandoori Chicken Pita with romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion and house made tzatiki sauce with a side of black beans and yellow rice that was fantastic. Nice choice.
The Trout had a very large Cobb Salad. For some reason, he has a great love for this salad and it was right on. Oh and the beer....on the right is my "One Night Stand Pale Ale" and the Trout had "Red Eye Ale". The beers were very nice. Overall, this was a delightful place for lunch or dinner and I know we will be back.
In case you are interested, the dish Guy Fieri ordered and raved about was "Brewhouse Barleywine Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Demi." Darn, they were out of it. Next time.
For some time now, I am reading all I can on grilling pizza. The technique is what makes grilling pizza successful. I realize that most of you are now creeping into cold, rainy, snowy weather, but down here in Florida, we will be grilling all winter. That's a good thing!!
So if you can't try this right now, file it away in your memory bank and I hope you will give it a try. This is actually not a recipe at all, just explaining the technique on how this can be done successfully.
Roll or pat out your pizza dough onto an oiled sheet of parchment paper. Let rest. Start your gas/charcoal grill. It does not need to be too hot. Use a cooler spot on the grill. Take the parchment paper and flip the dough onto the grill. Quickly peel off the parchment paper and dispose. Put the lid on the grill and let the dough bake for about 3 minutes. It will be making large bubbles on the top of the dough as it cooks. Peek underneath to see if you have good grill marks and before the crust starts to get too dark.
Now flip the dough off the grill with the grilled side up. Arrange your toppings...sauce, herbs, browned sausage, pepperoni, etc., top with cheese and slide back on the grill with the uncooked side of the dough down. It will take 3 to 5 minutes to finish the bottom crust. I think you can see the grill marks on the crust above. It was getting too dark outside to take a better photo.
A quick way to make pizza and it was tasty. The crust turned out to be quite crispy. Obviously because of the short cooking time, the ingredients you put on top need to be precooked.
It was just about a year ago when my friend Barbara, at Moveable Feasts posted this recipe for ice cream. I immediately copied it and knew I would make it shortly. I will admit, the more and more I thought about orange ice cream, the less desirable it sounded. The Trout kept asking when we were making "that ice cream". I just could not commit. Then, after we had decided on duck for Thanksgiving, the orange sounded so good. First of all, DO NOT let the orange flavor turn you off. It is very subtle and both of us decided that this ice cream is so very, very good. Absolutely delightful!!! It just seemed like such a better idea than pies though I did miss my pecan pie.
So, thank you, Barbara, for posting this a year ago and WOW, did we enjoy it. Why did I wait so long?
Orange Ice Cream with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans
from Moveable Feasts
2 medium navel oranges
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
large pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 of a vanilla bean split lengthwise (brought this baby home from France)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
3/4 cup toasted pecans, broken
Toast pecans and set aside.
Soak the cherries in the orange juice and Cointreau for a few hours until soft
Pare off the peel of the oranges and set aside.
Fill a saucepan half way with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and combine milk, cream, sugars, salt, egg yolks, vanilla bean and orange zest in a glass bowl and set over the simmering water.
Stir mixture constantly until it reaches a temperature between 165 and 180 degrees. Mixture will thicken somewhat. Add vanilla and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to freeze, pour through a sieve to remove the peel and vanilla bean. Add half the cherries and ALL of the excess soaking liquid.
Freeze according to directions of your ice cream freezer. When the mixture is semisolid, add the remaining
cherries and pecans. Continue freezing with it holds stiff peaks. I poured into my plastic covered container and it went into the freezer for a day.
It had been quite a few years since we had roasted duck for dinner. We love duck. I think we ate duck for two weeks straight while we were in the Dordogne of France a few years ago. So, since it was just The Trout and me for Thanksgiving, we enjoyed our smaller meal.
Beautifully roasted and with a crispy skin, the duck was delicious. I made a Cumberland Sauce to go with it with port and orange juice. We also had roasted Brussels sprouts and apples, but the recipe I want to give you is for the wild rice side.
I still have wild rice that we bought in 2010 when we were in northern Minnesota for a wedding. I knew I wanted to use it with the duck, but wanted a different recipe. Of all places, I found it on the large bag of Craisins (dried cranberries). It was a perfect blend of flavors. This rice dish would also be perfect with chicken or pork or turkey.
Wild Rice with Cranberries and Caramelized Onions
from Ocean Spray Cranberries
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
3 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, sliced in thin wedges
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup Craisins dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Combine chicken broth and both rices in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and brown sugar. Cook 6 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and onions are soft and translucent. Reduce heat to low. Slowly cook onions, stirring often for 25 minutes or until they are caramel in color. Stir in dried cranberries. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until cranberries swell. Gently fold cranberry mixture and orange zest into cooked rice. Serves 4 to 6
Along with this special meal, we had a bottle of wine which turned out to be a real "find". A Jordan 1980 Cabernet. This wine was 31 years old and so delicious. A good meal, a good wine and being together. It is the best of the best. But wait until I tell you what we had for dessert........
A repeat posting from 2008. This photo was taken in the Memorial Chapel in the American cemetery, Normandy, France.
I can't let this day go by without remembering our veterans. I think being a veteran or being closely related to one is the most significant way to be a proud American. During my time, the conscientous objector, the draft dodger were not looked upon favorably. I even grew up in a community built on religion where men were given conscientous objector status, yet so many of these men went to war to defend their country. That is a real veteran. Not being together on our first anniversary because my husband was drafted into the Army right after college graduation; that is a sacrifice we do as Americans.
To be alive during the Vietnam war, getting news that my brother was shot down over Vietnam, rescued, and that his co-pilot was taken prisoner; that is what makes an American proud. God Bless you, Col. Day, for surviving the Vietnam prison and tortures. That is a real veteran. Be proud to live in America and always be proud of our country. Let our leaders guide us proudly and not falter or undermine just who we are. We are proud Americans!
For Mother's Day, my daughter gifted me with me a yarn and a pattern for knitting socks. She reasoned that it does get cold in the winter in Florida and thought I could use them. I started them in Montana, but then dropped a stitch or two and with complete frustration, put that knitting away.
This last week I have been at it again. I finished the first sock and this morning started the second. There is a way to knit both socks on two circular needles at the same time, but I have not taken the time to learn the manipulation needed to do this. I am totally content knitting socks on two circular needles, one sock at a time.
This fun pattern is called "Laughing Matters" and the yarn is "Aussi Sock", made in Australia from 90% Aussie Merino and 10% nylon. Color is called "faded valentine." Thank you Knit Purl Hunterfor this pattern.
We don't have a grapefruit tree in our yard, but many of our neighbors do. These trees grow huge, and always seem to be loaded with their bounty. Our neighbor brought over a large bag of grapefruit and tangerines, so it looks like it will be "Salty Chihuahua's" for cocktail hour.
My bookkeeping is so bad....I know I found this recipe on a friend's blog, and now I simply can't find it. We had a fair share of Salty Chihuahua's with the neighbors before we left last spring. Just some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a jigger of Tequila, perhaps a splash of Triple Sec, salt on the rim of the glass....you get the picture. Come over about 4 p.m.
For the last week, I have been searching for a butternut squash soup recipe. I wanted something tasty, simple and simple. I saw all kinds that were very intriguing. Adding curry, different spices, etc. Then this morning I woke up and told the Trout that I wanted butternut squash soup for dinner.
So, we were off to the farmer's market and there sat a very large butternut squash for $1.50. What is not to love. In fact, we only used about 1/2 of it for this soup. Now I need to find something to do with the rest.
The recipe I used from Whole Foods Market was excellent. Simple, as I wanted, but extremely tasty. What you do not see in the picture is me dipping my warm, crusty bread into the soup and getting every last drop out of the bottom of the bowl.
Actually, as we were preparing it in the kitchen....the Trout is definitely the chopper and dicer, I started thinking that maybe this will be too bland. Nah....not at all. If you want a simple but great tasting soup that will be on the table with only 30 minutes of cooking.....look no further. Enjoy.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup
from Whole Foods Market
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2/3 cups diced onion
4 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
seat salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook until the vegetables have begun to soften and the onion turns translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the butternut squash and thyme. Stir to combine with vegetables. Stir in chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree soup. Alternatively, carefully puree soup in batches in a traditional blender. (CAUTION: do not put the lid on tight without leaving an opening for steam to escape) Don't ask for reasons...just believe.
A butternut squash is difficult to prepare. Use a carrot peeler to get the skin off the squash and go deep enough to remove all the light yellow colors. They will be stringy otherwise. It will not be too difficult then to cut in half, remove the seeds and then cube in uniform sizes.
By the way, the immersion blender is on my wish list!!!
I have been baking just about all my life it seems. My grandmother always let me into her kitchen and she was a very fine baker. Her cakes were outstanding!! So, I know that you almost have to be a chemist to put all the ingredients together to make it work. Unlike regular cooking, baking must be exact. I know this.
So here is my problem. I have known forever that I have this problem and I have a very difficult time correcting it. When I see baking soda and/or baking powder in a recipe, invariably, I always interchange them. Not very smart. I take the time to get out the baking powder and the baking soda, look at each product, figure out which one I need and then pick up the wrong one. I know that baking soda is usually used when one of the ingredients is sour cream, sour milk or buttermilk. It is necessary to help the batter rise. Baking powder is used to help everything else rise. So, it happened again today. I always put my flour, salt and baking powder or soda in a separate bowl before adding to the batter. There, all is not lost if I make a mistake. So, once again, today, I ended up throwing out the flour, salt and baking powder....because it was not soda.
I honestly believe my baking days will soon be over. I could contribute this flaw in my skill to old age, but believe me, I have been doing it forever. Also, I have never gone ahead to bak with the wrong ingredient...maybe it would actually work.
Anyway, this is what came out of my oven today....with the first batch of flour thrown out. As Pam says on her blog, Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner, this lemon pound cake is WONDERFUL!! I am just thrilled she shared it. Please check out her blog for the recipe.
The Trout and I love Thai foods. At one time we lived near a Thai restaurant and we loved it! So since that time, we have been trying to find recipes that we love a lot.
One challenge has been a peanut sauce. There are cooked sauces and uncooked. We decided we really don't like the taste of the warm peanut sauces, so we experimented until we found a sauce we liked. Then, some years back we found a cabbage slaw with a peanut sauce, so we finally put all this together into a great dinner. This meal is perfect for the two of us with a little leftover salad and leftover peanut sauce for another salad. Enjoy!!
Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cabbage Slaw
We spent a lot of time this last week at Mickey's House. In fact, we received our 5 year pin for volunteering at the Children's Miracle Network Golf Classic. The best part is that we have worked with the same "crew" for all 5 years. So, it really is a reunion each year to see each other again.
The Trout and I drive a wagon/cart which we fill with cases of bottled water and bags of ice. We divide the golf course into sections and deliver the water and ice to the tee boxes in our section throughout the day. The ice and water is only for the golfers and caddies, so we do get up close to watch some golf. That is the very best part!!
Readers have been asking me how the Trout is doing. He is doing quite well, seven weeks out from surgery. In fact, he was lifting the ice and water without problems so he is definitely on the mend. The difficult part is that he will probably have to wait another seven weeks or so until he can swing a golf club, but we are thankful he is feeling so well.
We are glad to be back in Florida, because the weather is gorgeous. I love this time of year when you can turn off the A/C, open the windows and let the cool air flow through. After living over 50 years in the Midwest, it is so refreshing to enjoy warmer falls and winter. Yes, we do cheat and get out of Florida in the heat of the summer, but that is what retirement is all about.
Back in December of 2008, when my blog was just starting and there were very, very few readers, I posted a favorite salad recipe. I just put it together again and feel it needs repeating. This is very good and very healthy.
After a trip to Italy where we found "farro" on the menu a lot, I did some searching to find out more about this grain. It is very similar to "spelt" and often, in the US, you can find it by the name spelt.. I usually get a large bag of it when I am at Whole Foods. It looks sort of like barley, cooks the same way, and to me, smells like oatmeal while it is cooking.
Starting tomorrow, we will again be volunteering at Disney for the Children's Miracle Network Golf Classic which means we leave home before 6 a.m. and get home after 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. That means a quick, hearty, simple dinner will be necessary in the evening. I made a large batch of this salad as it "cures" nicely. I also used what was available in my refrigerator this morning, so most anything goes.
In salted water, boil farro for 40-45 minutes. Drain and let cool. In the meantime, dice into small pieces, tomatoes, zucchini, radishes, spring onions, red bell pepper, and finely chop parsley. Mix with the cooled farro.
Make a vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, touch of honey and salt and pepper. Blend and mix into the salad. Enjoy.
Susan Hermann Loomis, in her book, French Farmhouse Cookbook, says that "perhaps no dish is so classically Provencal as ratatouille." I absolutely love it and try to eat it as often as possible while in France. We have made "medleys" of these same vegetables at our house before, but never before cooked each vegetable individually before melding them all together in the end. Until today....
In Loomis' cookbook, she has a recipe that she got from Monique Tourette, therefore it bears her name. Yes, it does take some cleaning up, and the chopping can be time consuming, but the recipe makes a fair amount and much can be done with it.
It can be a main course along with bread and a salad. How about a sandwich filling, by itself or with cheese or ham? You can even spread it on fresh bread dough and bake it as a pizza. It also gets better with age and supposedly reaches peak flavor on the third day. I doubt it will last that long around here.
I know most of you have gardens that have come to an end, but I would really suggest you try this, and enjoy!!
La Ratatouille de Monique
from Susan Hermann Loomis and French Farmhouse Cookbook
1 large eggplant, cut into medium cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, peeled and cut into small cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
1 large zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1. Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt, toss and let sit for 1 hour. After 1 hour, rinse the eggplant quickly and pat dry. Place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss so the eggplant is coated with the oil and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven, 425 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft and golden, about 40 minutes.
2. During the time the eggplant is salted or baking, prepare the rest of the dish. In a large, heavy skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with the onions. Stir, cover and cook over medium heat until the onions begin to turn golden and are very soft...20 minutes. When done, season with salt and pepper. Transfer onions to a bowl and set them aside.
3. In the same skillet, combine 1 tablespoon oil and the green peppers. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are olive green and tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the peppers to the bowl with the onions.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the zucchini, toss to coat in oil, cover and cook until tender throughout, about 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes which have been peeled and cubed, garlic, bay leaf and thyme in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and are tender but still have some shape, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. To finish the ratatouille, combine the eggplant and all the other ingredients in the skillet with the zucchini.
Stir to combine and season to taste. Let cook just long enough so that the ingredients are hot through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
Minced parsley leaves can be used to garnish along with lemon wedges. Vinegar is also comely used as a garnish for ratatouille.
We found a beauty of a wine yesterday. We took a drive to a favorite wine shop in Orlando. Picked up a bunch of every day wines and this Sean Minor was one of them. It is a Cabernet, 2008 from the Napa Valley. I don't think this can be found all over, but certainly should be available in California.
We had a grilled Porterhouse, sauteed mushrooms, loose leaf salad with vinaigrette and goat cheese and Craisins. This cab was the perfect finish.
As quoted "warm, full and fruity in the mouth with soft tannins and gentle acid core that make this very accessible and pleasant. The finish is gentle with cedar tones and cherry." I love the way these wines are described. We paid $13.99 and felt the price was very fitting.
You have to know that since the Trout had his surgery on September 2, he has not been able to drink wine. He was on several antibiotics for 10 days and lost all taste for wine. It was like his taste buds took a vacation and could not tolerate the taste of wine. So finally, this bottle tasted just right!!
So what is the difference between a cook and a chef? Let me show you. When we were in Provence in June, I had just read Barbara's blog, Cuisine de Provence. I had told Barbara I had just seen her recipe for lentils and asked about it. I remember her words so well; "It was absolutely delicious!"
So, I knew I had the French lentils in my pantry in Florida, and I knew I would not be in Florida until October. In my head, I obsessed about this lentil recipe all those months. We got home yesterday, and tonight the lentils are on my table.
And Barbara, I have to say, "They are absolutely delicious!" The only difference in her photo and mine....she is the chef....cutting everything to perfection. I am the cook...simply putting it all together. See how large my chunks of zucchini are? (sigh) I would guess the flavor is not that different.
One item we do not find in Florida and I have never found before is a tri-tip roast. My California and West Coast bloggers mention it often. I have longed for it for years. A trip to our Missoula, Montana, Costco, brought us face-to-face with tri-tip roasts. Of course, I remembered Debbie at A Feast for the Eyes. We had it twice this summer and enjoyed it tremendously. I am now wondering what kind of response I will get from my Florida butchers when I ask for a tri-tip roast. We loved it!!!
I followed Debby's recipe quite closely, and we absolutely loved it!! Check out Debby here.
Pat dry the roast and poke 20 times on each side with a fork. Combine garlic, oil and salt. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 1-24 hours.
Soak wood chips (we used alder and cherry). Heat your charcoal briquet's on one side of the grill.
Wipe the garlic off the roast and rub with pepper and garlic salt.
Grill over the coals for 5 minutes on each side. Scatter wet wood chips over the coals. On the cooler side of the grill...the one without wood chips, place the roast. Cover the grill and cook for 20 minutes. DELICIOUS!!!
Of course, to go with a fantastic main dish like this, you need a great wine.
This Genesis 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent. It was rich and complex with bright berry and cherry flavors and hints of clove, cinnamon and cocoa. It was a well-enjoyed meal with a baked red sweet potato and a salad. It was also a well-enjoyed meal after the Trout's surgery and his temporary loss of taste. I think we are back on track.
Well, it is time to get back on schedule. Even though my balloon went Pftzt...things are getting back to normal. The Trout is doing well, though full strength is still a few weeks off. With his staples removed this week and post-op check with the surgeon, he has rules to follow, but we both are doing well. In fact, I went with him yesterday as he leisurely walked a trout stream for about 1/2 hour. It's a good thing!!
My week started off with such fun. I drove to small town Drummond to have lunch with a blogger friend from Oregon who was passing through Montana. If you were in grade school like me in the 50's, I am sure you also had a "pen-pal." I had several from Japan, Pakistan and Cuba. There were long times between letters, but such excitement to read what others, my age, were doing in different countries.
Meeting Diana and Pete was like that pen-pal experience, only I would call it "blogger-pal." Diana and I have been corresponding back and forth for a couple of years now. When you read a blog on a regular basis, you really get to know the writer. We started talking like we had just seen each other a week or so ago.
The Trout was not up to having lunch with us yet, so he missed seeing this friendship grow. We hope to change that next year and meet up again with these delightful friends. Diana and Pete are quite the gardeners and live in a beautiful part of our country. If you do not know her, I hope you will check her blog, "Voice in the Garden" and see the magic they have performed on their property.
Diana and Pete, thank you so much for the friendship.
They say it's a place like home. Well, almost. I did spend 3 nights here this last week. Alone. Sometimes plans are interrupted and you need to adjust quickly and calmly.
The Trout had been having some abdominal discomfort for a couple of weeks and it finally reached a point where it was out of our hands. Being ill away from home is not a comfortable situation. But, we handled it.
We are still in Montana and headed to a small town hospital for help. What comforted us most was the kind, caring attention showed to both of us. Dale spent the night and the surgeon did all he could to make The Trout comfortable. X-rays showed a blockage in the small intestine but it could not be determined as to cause or extent. The next morning, Trout felt better and went home. That night things went bad so the surgeon suggested we head to Missoula which had a larger hospital, 1 hour and 45 minutes from the cabin. Amazingly, he gave me his cell phone number and asked me to call with any questions or concerns.
Missoula admitted him to the hospital and took more x-rays. The surgeon decided to do a watch and wait because the small intestine was a strange place to have diverticulitis, which is what this looked like. By Friday morning, surgery was definitely needed. There was inflammation and the start of perforation.
A 10" scar and 3 inches of intestine removed later, the Trout is doing pretty good. Getting slowly back to allowing food intake has been frustrating since the fly fishing right now is getting quite good. He will try to recover at the cabin for a couple of weeks and hopefully we will both be in good health to drive the long drive back to Florida.
Our friends, Bob and Annette, spent two nights with us in the cabin. Bob is an inventive cook and he came prepared to cook an amazing meal for us.
He took two racks of lamb for the four us and and cut them into chops and frenched the legs. They were grilled over gas and glazed with a fantastic tasting sauce. Strangely enough, I have never thought of making chops out of a rack of lamb.
Just a short time on each side on the hot grill and then brushed with the glaze and again just a short time on each side. This was absolutely delicious and we will make this again and again.
Glaze for the Lollipop Lamb
For one rack of lamb, this is an estimate of the glaze
1/8 cup honey (if using agave, use a bit less since it is sweeter)
A good French wish for you this morning! I fell in love with this sign immediately and I did not find it in France. Found it in a delightful little gift shop in Philipsburg, Montana, where my friend Chris works. Go check out her blog. The sign is stenciled on old tin that was so prevalent on the ceilings out West.
First of all, we did not go to the Bahamas for our anniversary. That was my mistake for not taking care with my writing. I had placed that phrase under our wedding picture. We went to the Bahamas on our honeymoon so long ago. Not this year.
After spending a month in a travel trailer, which I truly loved, we are now in the cabin we have been renting for the last 5 years. It is definitely roomier, but we are a little higher in altitude and it still gets cold here in the night. One morning this week we woke up 37 degrees. We do have a furnace, space heater and fireplace, so it is easier to keep warm than in the trailer.
The Trout goes fishing every day and I am catching up on my reading and we do have satellite TV. Actually, the first TV we have watched since we left Florida in mid-May. I kind of stick to HGTV and the Food Channel. Everything else does not seem worth my time. We are now on Broadband Internet connection, so I have to watch my time on the computer. It goes by quickly when there are so many blogs to read.
Doing a little knitting, a little baking and cooking, but mostly the Trout grills so there is not too much to write home about. I am not saying he does not grill as an expert; just saying it is simple but good grilled food. This will be home until early October when we start heading east and then south. We really do enjoy getting out of the Florida heat in the summer. I only wish we did not have to drive so far. In the planning stages of trying to make the trip a little easier for us.
After saying for much too long a time that I did not need a Kindle, I got a Kindle. I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I do. But, what I was not willing to do, was spend a large amount of money for a cover. I soon discovered that there might be a danger with carrying it around in my purse or a bag with scratching of the screen. So I did a search for a knit, felted cover. I found the perfect one.
It was quick and easy, felted nicely and I really like it. I found it on a blog calledMusings of a Yarn Mom. If I was a little more ambitious, this would be fun to make and sell at craft shows.
I guess it is most surprising to us...that today we are married 45 years. The number seems to suggest a long, long time ago. But, in fact, it does not seem that far in the past.
To our beautiful daughters and their husbands, to our four beautiful grandchildren, thanks for the wonderful years of memories. And to our friends, we look forward to being together with you all for many years to come.
The continuing story of the Washington state apricots. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Washington, to the town of Leavenworth, and I had to buy the "green" apricots they were selling. I knew it would be at least 10 days before we would be in the cabin in Montana before I could make apricot jam. I remembered seeing Tom's apricot recipe, and since the Trout devoured several jars of apricot jam while we were in France, I knew I had to make this jam.
The lady I bought from told me I could hold off ripening of the apricots for 10 days. HA!! Within 5 days, these babies were ready for jam. PROBLEM: I was still in the travel trailer and the equipment I needed to make this happen was in the cabin we were renting after August 1. Luckily, Tom's recipe was flexible. I got into the cabin early and cooked up the apricots (first step) and froze them until the following week.
Improvise, improvise. If there would be a banner out there expounding on this subject, today I would be wearing it!! I am not at home and this is not my kitchen. Think, Schnitzel, think!! I had enough apricots for two batches, and dear, patient, Tom, told me to make one batch at a time. Okay, I did that and froze two batches.
I bought my jelly jars, and all I needed to accomplish this. Oh yes, at this point the Trout is figuring out the cost of this jam. (I did not remind him the cost of the Alaskan salmon he brought home several years ago) wink wink
Yesterday morning the stove was blazing. I got it all completed with a quick trip into (town) to buy more jars because I under-estimated the amount. Can you imagine my heartbeat at this moment in time? I am in small town Montana and canning jars are often not to be found.
Alas, all is well this evening. I have 16 jars of perfectly canned "Alsatian Apricot Jam." I am waiting for breakfast to sample, but our neighbor, Louie, got a jar and already has eaten it spread on hotcakes and toast for dinner and he is jumping up and down!!
Please, let me give Tom credit for posting this recipe here. I think it is the ultimate, easiest recipe. If you can get fresh apricots, this must be tried.
ALSATIAN APRICOT JAM
Adapted from Mes Confitures: The James and Jellies of Christine Ferber and Tom from Tall Clover Farm
3 pounds fresh apricots
12 ounces dried apricots
4 cups sugar
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
2 vanilla beans
10 ounces of Gewurtraminer wine
Chop dried apricots, placed in bowl, add Gewurtztraminer, soak overnight.
Quarter fresh apricots, remove seeds. In non-reactive pan, add fresh apricots, sugar, orange zest/juice, lime juice and vanilla. Simmer for 10 minutes, mixing all ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate overnight. (It is at this point that I froze the apricots.)
Next day, add dried apricot mixture to fresh apricot mixture. Stirring, simmer until thickens and remove vanilla beans. Put the jam in jars and seal in water bath.
My vanilla beans, which I bought in France, are waiting for my return in Ohio at my daughter's house. Therefore, I was not going to buy more vanilla beans. I used a couple of drops of good vanilla instead.
This recipe will be a must in the future. Next summer, I will be bringing a lot of canning equipment to Montana. Did you hear that Trout?
Sometimes the obvious to me is not to someone else. I have had at least three requests asking how I make creamed peas. You see, I thought everybody did this. Now I am almost embarrassed to tell you what I do, because I think I invented this myself.
I really was not allowed in my mother's kitchen much, unless it was in the preparing of the food or the clean-up. Being a strong German, she simply did not want me to mess up her kitchen. Speaking to my friends that I grew up with, they share some of the same reflections.
But, I digress. Here is how I cream peas. Actually there are two ways. Barely cover the peas with enough water and simmer them gently until they are softened. Not too long. I then prepare in a cup some cream, half and half or milk and add enough cornstarch or flour to make a thickened slurry. When the peas are almost done, stir this slurry mixture into the peas and continue cooking until the peas are thickened nicely with a beautiful cream sauce. Of course, salt and pepper to taste. Cornstarch works best this way so that you don't have the raw flour taste.
The other way I do it is, again, simmer the peas in just enough water. In a separate pan, I make a roux of butter and flour and brown slightly. When the peas are done, I pour the water the peas have been cooking in, into the roux and stir the sauce. If it is too thick, since I am just going by guess and by golly, add some milk or cream which is a nice topper for the butter flavored roux.
There you go. Oh yes, I almost forgot. When my daughters were young, I often made a roux and added it to the liquid of a can of peas and then added the peas back in. This helps make the canned peas taste just a little better.
Now, this morning I have all my little soldiers in a row, so I am going to finish my apricot jam. I hope to tell you about it tomorrow.
I had some pleasant memories this morning. We stopped in a local town to buy vegetables from the Hutterites who drive in from up north to sell their wares. Peas in the shell just sounded delicious to me.
As I sat there this morning, shelling the peas with a tray and bowl in my lap, I was reminded how, as a child, it was always my job to shell the peas for my mother and grandmother. My left thumb would get a little green, but I so enjoyed getting these little nuggets out of their pods. Yes, my thumb is sort of green today also.
So, no doubt about it, tonight the Trout and I are having creamed peas. There are just enough for the two of us.
On our short trip to Washington State, we found quite a few fruit stands selling the seasonally ripe apricots. One place we stopped had at least 4 varieties. I did not write down the names (sigh) but the lady I talked to told me one would be excellent for a tart and the other would be wonderful for jam.
So, almost 10 pounds of apricots later, we headed back to Montana. I had to make an Apricot Tart. Just had to.
With much improvising since I am not at home in my kitchen, I came up with this recipe. I looked on the Internet at several and then kind of tweaked and twaddled my way to this ending. Therefore, I really can't give credit to anyone, since I am not sure where all I looked. I knew that these apricots were very fresh and a beautiful color and I wanted the tart to be very simple.
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
I combined the crust by hand and added enough water until it felt right. I then refrigerated it while I worked on the apricots.
1 1/2 pounds apricots (possibly 8 large or 12 small)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
Half the apricots and cut each side into 2 or 3 wedges. Put in a bowl and add the salt, sugar and vanilla. Toss gently and let set while you prepare the crust.
Arrange the wedges on the rolled out pastry which is about 13" in diameter. Scrape remaining sugar in the bowl over the top of the apricots. Fold up the edges of pastry, extending over the top a short distance.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees for an additional 40 minutes or until the crust is browning and the apricots are bubbling nicely.
I have never been so fond of apricots as I was this day, cutting into this tart!!
You are wondering about the jam. Well, that is a whole 'nuther story. Stayed tuned because I am not done with it yet.
I have been overwhelmed with the response and words of kindness on my blog anniversary. You will never know how I wish I could give each and every one of you this cookbook. It is a beautiful book of the many lives that were driven out of Europe because of religious persecution, only to finally find "home" in Iowa. I know all of you would enjoy reading it as well as trying some of the outstanding recipes.
So many of you are bloggers from when I started and found you and you found me. Several of us even email each other when there are blogging problems, so I feel I have gotten to know so many of you.
Then there are the newer bloggers that have found me. Every blog is different because every personality shines through so beautifully. Of course, there are some old friends, a former high school teacher, a friend of my daughter who has spent time in our home, bloggers from England, France and yes, a new friend from Sweden. I am so pleased she commented.
That being said, I chose a winner by putting all your names into a hat, the old-fashioned way, and I had the Trout "fish" one out. I thought that was quite appropriate.
I am so pleased to announce that the recipient of Seasons of Plenty is KATHLEEN from
Cuisine Kathleen. Kathleen send me your physical address and I will put this in the mail today.
Some of you have asked if this book is available elsewhere. Check Amazon here to pick up your own copy.
For several years now, the Chamber of Commerce of Leavenworth, Washington, has been sending us brochures of what is happening in this community. It has always been a wish to travel to Leavenworth to enjoy this town for ourselves. There is virtually some sort of fest going on each month of the year.
Leavenworth was incorporated in 1906. A timber community, the Great North Railroad was located there since the 1900's. The railroad relocated in the 1920's and this greatly affected the economy of the town.
Leavenworth struggled until 1962 when a committee was formed to transfer the city into a so-called Bavarian village. The population of this town in 2009 was 2347 people.
The homes and businesses are painted and decorated almost exactly like what you would find in Germany, in Bavaria. The whole town atmosphere is very German. We were a little disappointed in the wines. There are quite a few wineries in this area, and tasting rooms which let you sample before buying. For us, the wines did not meet expectation. We are disappointed though did buy a bottle of dessert wine which went well with the apricot tart I baked.
Oh yes, we came back with close to 10 pounds of beautiful apricots. Some went into the tart and the others into a "gourmet" jam that is still in production. You will have to come back later to find out about this jam. A work in progress.
Leavenworth is located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. The scenery is gorgeous, not unlike Germany. The "committee" that wanted to bring life back to Leavenworth was quite astute in thinking of a German theme for this town. First of all the background was made for it. The people are very friendly though I did not find one who spoke German. The bakery was closed, but I was told the couple who own it are originally from Germany. No one else speaks the language.
Leavenworth is not on the main drag running through the state of Washington. It is a little drive to reach this village. But on the way, you are entertained by the farmers.
How often have you driven through the "bread basket" of America, only to wonder what is planted in those fields next to the highway? It is always a guess. Well, the farmers of Washington have placed signs along the road by their fields telling you what is planted. How great is that!!! I saw field corn, seed corn, sweet corn, wheat, peas, potatoes, wine grapes, Concord grapes, gala apples, bosc pears, cherries. The list goes on and on. Did I forget apricots?
If you have the chance to be in central Washington, want to shop the stores that carry everything German including a constant Christmas season, nutcracker museum, doll shops, and food. I did not mention the food.
Several very nice German restaurants where you can order anything from bratwurst and schnitzels to sauerbraten and of course....
This must have been close to 5 pounds! Roasted and lying on a bed of sauerkraut, rot kraut and spaetzle. Along with a beer, it was a good German meal.
I will draw the winner of my anniversary giveaway tonight and share with all in the morning.
When I remember back to my childhood, growing up in the Amana Colonies in Iowa, many pleasant thoughts come to mind. It was beautiful place, where children could grow in safety and with a faith that would last a lifetime. Everything was centered around family and church. Usually three generations, sometimes four, lived under one roof, and those roofs were covering very large homes.
The photo below, to me, is how I remember home. The bricks houses, the grape trellis covered with leaves and grapes in abundance. The windows; quite often 9 panes of glass above and 9 panes below.
My family home, built in 1872, with the same family owning it until we needed to sell it in 2001, after my mother passed away.
Our home had 9 panes of glass above and 6 below. I am not remembering the significance right now why some had 9 below and some had 6 panes of glass. You could sometimes see the little bubbles left in the glass during it's making.
Some of the homes were wooden and some were made of sandstone. No matter, these were homes where our parents and their parents grew up and then where we children were also raised.
And in the end, we are all put to rest in the same way. There are no family plots. You are buried in the order in which you died. The tombstones are simple; made of concrete with your name, date of death and the length of your days on earth. In years past, the tombstones only recorded the year of birth and the year of death.
I have taken you on a very short tour of my Amana. No matter where I have lived or what I have experienced, it all comes back to my childhood, growing up in Amana.