The Last Piece

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With family & friends either out of town or moved away, Brian & I found ourselves spending Thanksgiving and the long weekend by ourselves this year, which we were looking forward to. As lovely as it is to gather with those we love, it also nice to have time to ourselves…quiet moments of gratitude.

And it turned out to be a good thing for practical reasons as well. Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving I suddenly fell ill. Turned out to be the worst cold of my life. As I write this, I am still congested and coughing, at day 13! Unfortunately Brian caught my cold and is in the worst part of it right now. If we had invited people over for the holiday, we would have had to cancel so as fate would have it, all things work out the way they are supposed to after all.

We did make a Thanksgiving dinner for ourselves…going through it at our own pace. There was a small turkey, dressing, brussels sprouts and gravy. For dessert, instead of the usual pumpkin pie, I made us a Chocolate-Rum Chiffon Pie. Unfortunately it took a couple of days before we were up to actually eating some of it.

Going through the weekend we also went through some emotional ups and downs. Our son is going through another bad spell. Depression is difficult for everyone in the family to deal with. He will be 39 years old in a couple of weeks. I pray he will find a way to move through his pain.

And so over the course of the weekend Brian & I shared our pie with each other in the same way we always handle the joys and challenges in our life…one bite at a time.

This is a lovely pie. It would be a welcome addition to any holiday table so I’ve included the recipe here.

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was a joyous one and that you are enjoying the moments in this winter season. Cheers!

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Chocolate-Rum* Chiffon Pie

Chocolate Crumb Crust

  • 2 cups crumbs from chocolate wafers
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Combine the crumbs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together. Add the butter and stir vigorously until blended.

With your fingers press and pat the mixture over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan, taking care not to make the sides too thick.

Bake the crust in a preheated 325 degree fahrenheit oven for 8 minutes, then cool completely before filling.

Filling

  • 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons rum* (*or you could substitute coconut extract for an exotic flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy (double) cream
  • extra chocolate for grating or shredded coconut to top (optional)

Sprinkle gelatin over the coffee and let stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the milk and chocolate. Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat, add 1/4 cup of the sugar, the salt, and egg yolks and whisk until blended. Return to  moderate heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and barely reaches a simmer, about 5 minutes; do  not allow it to boil.

Add the softened gelatin and stir over the heat about 1 minute longer. Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until it mounds when dropped from a spoon and is the consistency of unbeaten egg whites, about 1 hour. Stir in the rum (or coconut extract) and vanilla.

Whip cream until stiff. In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream and egg whites into the chocolate mixture and pile into the pie shell. Chill several hours before serving.

For a lovely presentation, grate some chocolate over the surface of the pie. If you used coconut extract instead of rum, you could sprinkle shredded coconut on top.

Enjoy!

 

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, holiday, photography | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Fall-ing

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Hello! How are you?

If you have been following me on social media then you probably noticed I haven’t been there in a little while. I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed and decided I needed a little quiet and solitude. Being a part of Instagram or Facebook can sometimes feel like being at a big party. Lots of people there, some you know, lots you don’t. And though the music playing is something you enjoy, its so loud that everyone has to laugh and talk louder to be heard over the cacophony. But, then you step outside into the night air, it is quiet and you are with yourself once more.

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So what have I been doing with myself? Well, taking pictures of course. These images were taken a few weeks back when Fall first made its appearance.

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I’ve been collecting and pressing leaves. I want to remember the fall colors.

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Until this year, I’ve usually complained that our Fall is too short a season here in the Pacific Northwest. Just when the leaves are turning, we are hit with fierce winds and then pouring rain.

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Once the weather has calmed down, the trees are stripped bare and there’s a mess to clean up.

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But I see things differently this year. I now see this process as a metaphor for our own lives. As we grow more into ourselves, there’s a lot of shedding we do too. Just like the trees shedding their leaves, we begin to shed things and behaviors, that no longer serve us.

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The process is rather a messy one, but essential if we are to live an authentic life. At least that’s how I see it. Anyway, these are some of the things I’ve been thinking about during my time of solitude.

I’ve also been working on a ravioli recipe that I’m excited to share

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This all began when I found myself with a bumper crop of parsley and a butternut squash

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The filling is simply squash that has been baked and then mixed with ricotta, parsley and thyme

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Rather than making the pasta from scratch, I decided to use Gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers

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So good! Now, I didn’t use all of the filling for ravioli. I also mixed some with a couple of eggs, and a touch of cream and made squash french toast! Unbelievably great! You could also freeze any leftover filling to make ravioli again in the future. Here’s the ravioli recipe:

Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Butter Sauce

  • 1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for topping
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 32 gyoza wrappers

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

For the ravioli: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place squash, cut side up, in a baking pan. Score the surface slightly. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with syrup; dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Pour 1/2 cup water into bottom of pan. Bake until squash is tender, about an hour. Cool completely.

Scoop out squash into bowl. Mash. Transfer about 3/4 cup squash to a medium bowl (reserve remaining squash for another use.) Mix in ricotta, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Place wrappers on work surface. Place 1 level tablespoon filling in center of each. Brush edged with water, fold each in half, pressing edges to seal. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead.) Arrange in single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover and refrigerate.

When ready, cook ravioli, in batches,  in a pot of salted water until just tender – about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to move ravioli to a clean baking sheet lined with parchment.

For the sauce: Melt butter in a large saute pan and continue cooking until a golden color. Add sage leaves and remove from heat. add lemon juice and set aside.

Arrange ravioli on individual plates, drizzle with sage butter sauce and top with some grated parmesan. 

Bet you can’t eat just one! Bon Appetite!

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends. Hope you are enjoying whatever season you find yourself in.

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, Lifestyle, photography | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Santa Catalina Island, part 2

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Continuing my story from yesterday, Brian & I spent our last day inland. A thirty-minute stroll from Avalon City center is the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens. The memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum giant. At the base of the memorial is a lovely botanical garden

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The garden was first established in 1935 and was the brain child of Mrs. Wrigley’s wife, Ada. It was intended to be a desert plant collection to showcase species from every corner of the earth.

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In 1969 the garden was expanded and revitalized with new plants and with a new attitude…the garden now places a special emphasis on California island endemic plants.

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Many of these plants are extremely rare, and some are on the Endangered Species list.

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The memorial itself is amazing. Completed in 1934, it was designed by the Chicago architecture firm Bennett, Parsons and Frost. The goal in building the structure was to use as much Catalina materials as possible.

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Quarried Catalina stones can be seen in the reinforced concrete construction.

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Stairs and doors and “window” openings beckon

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The tile used throughout came from the Catalina Pottery plant, which was in operation from 1927 to 1937.

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Though William Wrigley Jr. was interred here for a short time, he is now buried in Pasadena. The original dedication plaque remains.

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But I have to say that with all this lovely architecture, the one element that intrigued me the most were these bronze doors. They seem to be a metaphor for the way I’ve been feeling over the past several months. I feel like I’m at a doorway in my life

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Not sure if “my” doorway will lead up or out

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I just know that eventually I will need to pass through.

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This feeling and these thoughts caused me to retreat into a self-imposed isolation of sorts. I backed away from my usual Social Media participation, stuck to the house, and have been doing quite a lot of journaling. It has been awhile since I’ve been alone with myself and it has felt good. I need to do this more regularly.

Well, that’s it for me. If you’ve ever thought you might like to visit Santa Catalina Island, I would highly recommend it.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo

Posted in Educational, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Santa Catalina Island, part 1

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A couple of weeks ago we were on this lovely island, attending the annual Jazz Festival that took place in the iconic Casino building you see here. This is only the second time we’ve attended this annual event, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Both Brian & I are huge jazz fans and it was a thrill to see some of our favorite performers such as Mindi Abair, Peter White, and Marc Antoine…just to name a few. We attended 6 concerts in all, which I have to say was a bit exhausting! It has taken me this long to get back to center.

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But rather than bore you with pictures of musicians, I wanted to share a bit of the beauty that is everywhere on this island. The mermaid on the left is a lovely tile artwork that is above the entrance to the Casino building.

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Construction of this building was finished in 1929. It was designed by Sumner Spaulding and Walter Weber in Art Deco & Mediterranean Revival Style and those art deco touches are everywhere.

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The building height is equal to that of a 12-story building and was built to serve as a theatre on the main floor and a ballroom and promenade on the upper level. Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, and Samuel Goldwyn frequently came by yacht to the Casino to preview their newest cinema productions. We didn’t see the movie currently playing there during our visit so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures in there. We have been in there before though and I must say it is gorgeous. Here is a picture I found online of the stage

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We spent our 5 days in this yellow house – the top two floors. The ground level is office space to an accounting firm that were quiet as church mouses. The beach is just 85 footsteps from this house.

And we put down a lot of footsteps during our stay!

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If I had all the money in the world and wanted to live here, I would buy that lovely home with the red conical roof on the hillside, overlooking the bay!

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Just South of the casino is Descanso Beach. The first concert we attended featuring Larry White and Marc Antoine was right on the beach where we sat in lounge chairs under the stars and a blanket being serenaded by these amazing musicians. During the day there are lots of lounge chairs and cabanas to hang out in.

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On our last night there, we decided to try our hand at a little night photography so with cameras & tripods in hand we headed out.

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Even though we are on an island, it is clear this city never sleeps!

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There is a long, paved walkway wrapping around a good portion of the bay where you can follow it to the Casino or to Descanso Bay beyond.

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We were on the island for 5 days and on one of the days we grabbed a quick bite at this fish & chips place on the pier

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Brian & I ordered their seafood “tray”. Simple sautéed white fish (swordfish in this case) served over rice with chopped dill stirred into it. Gotta say, it was one of the best meals we had on the island. I loved the simplicity of it, which allowed the flavor of the fish to shine through.

So, upon returning home I was inspired to put together this simple seafood dinner

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Pan-Sauteed Rockfish with Capers, served on a bed of dill-herbed rice and roasted asparagus with parmesan shavings on the side.

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Here’s the recipe for the fish:

Pan-Sauteed Rockfish with Capers, inspired by the Fish & Chips place on Catalina Island

  • 2 small rockfish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil (you could also use vegetable or canola oil. You want to use an oil with a high smoke point)
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth (you could also use white wine)
  • Grated lemon rind from one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs (like herbes de Provence)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  3. Season the fish on both sides with the salt & pepper.
  4. Add the fish to the pan, and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until the fish flakes easily.
  5. Remove the fish to a warm plate.
  6. Add vermouth, lemon rind, lemon juice, capers and hers to the pan.
  7. Cook for 30 seconds.
  8. Add butter to the pan, whisking to incorporate into the sauce.
  9. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with parsley. As mentioned above, I served this fish over a bed of herbed rice.

On our last day on the island, we traveled inland to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden. I’ve been there before, but the place truly inspired me on this visit. I will share those photographs tomorrow.

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Until then, thanks so much for stopping by. Hope life in your corner of the world is treating you kindly.

xo

Posted in food photography, Inspirational, photography, Travel | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Gettin’ Figgy With It

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Our fig tree is 10 years old now. It took 4 years before it started bearing fruit. Since then we have had a decent harvest every year…except this year.

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We actually have lots of figs on the tree…unripe ones that is. For some reason this year the tree didn’t start setting fruit until late in the season and now there aren’t enough warm, sunny days left to ripen the fruit.

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I wanted to make a cake I saw in a magazine so I decided to buy some Kadota figs. They are the yellowish green ones laid out on the table above.

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And since my own figs won’t ripen I decided to cut a few branches and have a little photo play with them.

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I actually feel a bit of a kinship with this fig tree. This year I too am feeling like I’m a bit late to the party. My photo skills have developed to what I would consider professional level, finally. But, what to do with these new skills beyond amusing myself? Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I’m just in a feeling old funk. Maybe it’s my current state of health. I’ve had a relapse of the ear ringing, dizziness, and nausea I thought I had left behind several weeks ago.

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I need to take my cue from the fig tree that hasn’t given up yet. I found these three ripe figs on the tree yesterday and it looks like I might get 3 or 4 more before the first frost.

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Not enough for the cake that I did wind up making with the Kadota figs, but will be a nice snack!

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Here’s the recipe for the cake

Cornbread Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs & Walnut Streusel

adapted from the recipe printed in Saveur Magazine, Summer 2016 issue and by Vivian Howard

For walnut streusel:

  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces

For cornbread cake:

  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter + 2 teaspoons room-temperature butter
  • 3 cups figs, stems removed, divided
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  1. Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, toss together all the ingredients but the butter, taking care to distribute them all evenly. Add the butter and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a web crumb.
  2. Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 teaspoons butter. Cut 1 cup figs into eighths. Cut the remaining 2 cups in half lengthwise and set aside.
  3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together 8 Tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the second. From this point forward, make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically with a spatula. Add the cornmeal, roughly 1/2 cup at a time, until it’s just incorporated. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another smaller bowl, whisk the buttermilk and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the sifted flour and buttermilk alternately in three batches, ending with the flour. Using your spatula, fold in the sour cream and the cup of figs cut into eighths.
  4. Spoon half the corn-cake mixture into the bottom of the skillet and spread it out with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top and finish with the remaining batter. Press the halved figs into the top, pink-flesh side up, taking care not to cluster them together at the center. Bake uncovered, in the middle of your oven, for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely and serve with whipped cream, if using.

This tasted super good and I must confess Brian & I over-indulged a bit on this! If you give it a try please let me know what you think.

Well that’s pretty much it for me. My last blog post was on 9/28/16 and I’ve been away from social media for almost two weeks as well so I kind of feel like this was a big accomplishment for me!

Hope you are all doing well. Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, Gardening, Lifestyle | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Garden Glimpses and Ice Cream Too!

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We are coming to the end of the season here in Seattle. The hops growing up the trellis is still pretty green, but I’m seeing bits of brown on the tips of the leaves. Won’t be long now before it starts dying back.

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As I clean up the beds and pull vegetable plants that are spent, I take note of the things that are still going strong and what I may want to do with what I have left, like this lemon verbena, which smells heavenly. A Lemon Verbena Sorbet perhaps? Maybe a pesto. I will need to make a decision soon before the first frost.

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We have been enjoying the last of the blooms.

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Fortunately more of the tomatoes have ripened, but I fear there are others that won’t.

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The chard is still going strong and actually has been enjoying the cooler temperatures. Our table will feature this leafy green often; sautéed, stuffed and baked in a sauce, or simply raw in a salad. It’s all good!

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With the cooler temperatures we have also had more rain. At least I won’t have to water for the rest of the year! This gives me more time for other things, like reading. I just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and am looking forward to the movie that will star Emily Blunt…supposed to be coming out in October sometime. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, I would highly recommend this book.

I’ve also had time to explore more recipes

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Brian & I did a little shopping at Sur La Table about a week ago and found the perfect quart-sized Ice Cream Tubs. I love making ice cream and have been on the lookout for the right-sized containers to store it in.

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Not only are the tubs the perfect container, it came with a recipe for Salted Caramel Ice Cream!

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Brian & I are both just crazy about this ice cream. It is super rich and the caramel adds a chewy quality to it, and the bit of salt helps round out the flavor.

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We ate the last of it last night. I will definitely be making more of this before the end of the year! Here’s the recipe:

Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Sur La Table

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups whipping cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Place 1 1/2 cups sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase head and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling the pan, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in cream since mixture will bubble vigorously. Stir over low heat until smooth. Set aside.

Place egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl, whisking to combine. Add vanilla bean paste to the yolk mixture. Very slowly pour the warm caramel mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the caramel yolk mixture back into the medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain caramel custard through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof medium mixing bowl. Place that bowl into a larger bowl containing ice water and stir custard to cool as quickly as possible.

Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the caramel custard and refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator, stir in the 2 teaspoons salt and process in an ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-proof container and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Now, try not to eat it all in one sitting!

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In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye out for little miracles and feeling grateful that both Brian & I are feeling better these days.

Hope all is well with you. Thanks so much for stopping by

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Gardening, Inspirational, photography | Tagged | 9 Comments

Back to the Core through Traditions – Tomatoes

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Hello everyone! It has been a super long time since I’ve posted anything to the blog…not since May in fact. It was a sad time. My friend had just experienced a couple of losses in her family and I felt her sadness keenly. But just when I was coming to the end of that tunnel, we had a scare. Brian had a stroke. Three days in the hospital, followed by prescriptions and physical therapy. It was the first of June. I shall tell the rest of my story while sprinkling in photos of our tomato canning experience over the Labor Day weekend.

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We always take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend to can tomatoes and we always get them from Dagdagan Farms in Yakima, WA. We bought a total of 150 pounds of roma tomatoes.

He is doing quite well now. He is actually in better shape than he was before the stroke. We both took the episode as a warning sign and as a result he is making an effort to walk twice a day and ride his bicycle daily. However, about three weeks after his incident, I wound up with shingles.

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I taught Brian how to can during our first year of marriage in 1980 and he has been obsessed with it ever since. I’ve created a monster! We do whole canned tomatoes and roasted tomato sauce. There’s usually a few tomatoes left over to make some salsa.

The doctor figured it was brought on by the stress of dealing with Brian’s medical emergency. Perhaps…all I know is that it was a debilitating experience. After that, another issue cropped up. After a little weekend getaway trip to Northern California, I came back home with a serious ringing in my ears. A couple weeks later I began to develop dizzy spells…like the whole room spinning. It got so bad one day that I actually threw up! That’s when I decided it was time to see a doctor.

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Tomatoes getting a bath

She couldn’t find anything wrong in my ear but prescribed a steroid in case there was some swelling in the inner ear and sent me home. The medications did not help and it would take a few more weeks before our insurance would finally approve my seeing a specialist.

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Tomatoes briefly dunked in hot simmering water

My last dizzy spell was last Tuesday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t return. I had a hearing test on Friday, which confirmed my right ear has a slightly diminished capacity for hearing when compared to the left ear.

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Tomatoes in the ice bath

I have the long-awaited appointment with the specialist today. We will go over the hearing test results, go over all my symptoms again, receive an exam and God knows what else to determine whether or not I have an inner ear infection.

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Ah, now the skins peel right off. Easy peasy!

Given the length of time and that the dizziness seems to have subsided, I suspect that I probably did have an infection and that by now is healing up on its own. I was inclined to cancel the appointment but Brian said no!

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And so what does all of this have to do with canning tomatoes?

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Whole Roma tomatoes canned with a few basil leaves.

Well, nothing really…Except, after such a long time passed without my posting to my blog, I had come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m done with blogging. After all, I had been arguing with myself over this blog thing for some time. But then

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Bath canning the quarts of tomatoes for 20 minutes.

Brian wanted to to the canning that we always do over the Labor Day weekend every year.

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Lunch break!

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Ta-da! We would up with 32 quarts of whole tomatoes.

I had never photographed our canning tradition and decided this was the year.

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We also made our Roasted Tomato Sauce. Yielded 26 quarts of this.

After the weekend was over and I was looking over my images, I had an overwhelming desire to share them. And so, this tomato canning tradition has brought us both back to the core of who we are, what we do, and what we’re passionate about. Perhaps that is the real purpose behind traditions…bringing us back to our core, helping us to remember who we are, however humble. Perhaps that is worthy of a blog post after all.

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Here’s our recipe for the Roasted Tomato Sauce, which makes about 5 quarts:

15 cloves of garlic

8 lbs of ripe tomatoes, any variety

10 medium onions, quartered

1 cup fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, Italian flat parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and/or chives will all work)

¼ C olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper

3-4 T sugar, optional

 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop 5 cloves of garlic. Leave the remaining cloves whole. In a large roasting pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, whole and chopped garlic, onions, herbs, oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Roast for 25 min. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes. Stir again. Roast another 45 min. or until tomatoes are softened and broken down in a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.
  3. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning. If slightly bitter, add sugar and stir. Puree in a blender. Pour sauce into clean, sterile jars or freezer bags and refrigerate, can, or freeze.

PS – Since I’ve decided to keep blogging I will be doing a bit of a makeover. I’ve started by putting up a new header. What do you think? Not sure when the ‘new’ site will be finished, but in the meantime, I shall endeavor to show up and be counted here a little more often!

Cheers everyone!

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Fragile Things

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Journal entry: May 27,2016

I sit in the little cafe…my first time here. It is filled with people I don’t know. Many are laughing and smiling in a group. A few others are like me, wanting to be alone in a crowd right now.

I woke up at five thirty this morning to the sound of rushing water from the front pond, sounding louder than usual.

Reaching for the phone I see the text “my mom just died”. Eyes close…a few deep breaths…eyes open. The message is the same “my mom just died.”

I wanted to call but didn’t want to intrude. She is most certainly making arrangements to travel. So, I send a text “so so sorry. sending all my love. what can I do for you?” This feels empty. I need to call..need to hear her voice. I won’t keep her long.

We talk for awhile. I can hear the shock in her voice. Not because she hasn’t suffered a personal loss before because she has. However in those cases she had the chance to say goodbye. But not this time…not this time.

Out of respect for her privacy, I will not mention my friend’s name. I will share some of what she spoke of this morning. Though her mother was elderly and frail, she was not suffering a terminal illness so naturally her death comes as a shock. As a result of this sudden death, my friend was unable to be with her mom when she passed.

Several times during the course of our conversation this morning, she said how grateful she was for the fact that she had just spoken to her mother the day before and they had a chance to say “I love you” to one another.

It is times like these when we are keenly reminded that though we can certainly make plans for tomorrow, all we really have is today…right now…this moment. Now is always the best time to give those close to us a super big hug…to tell them we love them with all our hearts. We can do this now. I can do this now.

Posted in Inspirational | 15 Comments

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

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I get excited when garlic scapes make their appearance at the farmers market. They have such an exotic look and are a milder, sweeter, version of garlic cloves.

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Brian & I love all varieties of pesto and when I read Beth Kirby’s post about the dinner party she had to celebrate the birthday of her two adorable cats, in which a garlic scape pesto was featured in a pizza (for her human guests!) I was inspired to whip up one of my own. If you haven’t read her post, you should HERE. It is adorable and the photography is, of course, amazing!

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So I gathered up some garlic scapes, basil, pistachios, some Romano cheese, a bit of salt, and of course olive oil and went to town

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Of course a little taste testing is necessary.

 

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto adapted from Beth Kirby’s recipe posted to her blog

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (Beth calls for a tomme style or alpine cheese)

1/3 cup pistachios

2 cups basil, tightly packed

1/2 cup garlic scapes, coarsely chopped

Lemon juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop the ingredients. Add olive oil and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Pour into a bowl and stir in lemon juice. Cover until ready to serve. If  not using the same day, you may cover and refrigerate. You can also freeze into ice cube trays and use as an ingredient in soups or pasta.

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The first thing we did with the pesto is make up a couple of quick flatbread pizzas for lunch, using pre-packaged flatbread.

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Place garlic scapes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

While the scapes are roasting, spread a generous amount of the pesto on the flatbreads. Sprinkle some feta cheese crumbles around. Take the scapes from the oven and arrange on the flatbread. Add some sliced cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a bit more feta, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.

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Pull pizzas from the oven and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese. If you like a bit of spice, also sprinkle some red pepper flakes.

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I will tell you that we ate this up like we had been starving to death! So good.

If you have garlic scapes available and have been wondering what to do with them, well here ya go! I’m thinking that the roasted scapes would also be fabulous in a quiche or tart. I can tell you that not all the scapes I roasted would fit on the flatbreads so we simply ate them on their own. Wow! Would make a create addition to a charcuterie plate.

Many thanks to Brian for popping into the kitchen while I was working and taking some fun photos of the process. The best life journey partner a gal could have!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you are having a lovely week.

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Rhubarb Love

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Hello there! Hope you have all been enjoying whatever season you are in. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are enjoying a lovely Spring with warmer than usual temperatures. With that, the plants responded by exploding with growth and required me to abandon my blog for a bit to take care of things in the garden.

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I was given a rhubarb plant from my sister-in-law many years ago and I’ve lost count as to how many times I have divided it to place more plants here and there in the garden, and to give some away too.

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As a result I have 3 major clumps of rhubarb and they all exploded with incredible growth. So naturally I began experimenting with various rhubarb recipes.

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Two items I’ve made so far are a lovely soup (yes soup w/ rhubarb!) and a sorbet.

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Lemongrass Soup with Rhubarb and Radishes

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This soup was posted on Edible Seattle Magazine’s website. It was super easy to make and oh so light and delicious. Really tasted like Spring. You can get the recipe HERE

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Rhubarb Sorbet with Lemon Polenta Biscuits

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I made this sorbet as a dessert for a luncheon that wound up being cancelled. All Brian had to say to that was “Oh goody, more for us”!

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The Lemon Polenta biscuits that I made to go with the sorbet I found on the internet from a Chef (who’s name I’ve forgotten) from the UK. So beware, the recipe is in grams not ounces. Get your scales out! You can find the recipe HERE

Here’s my recipe for Rhubarb Sorbet

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Add rhubarb. Simmer until rhubarb is tender, about 10 min. Transfer mixture to processor and puree until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup. Refrigerate mixture until very cold. I like to let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Transfer rhubarb mixture to ice cream maker and process according to it’s instructions. Freeze.

That’s all I have for today. Just a brief post. I do have more to share with what we’ve been up to so will get on that next week.

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by. Have a lovely day my friends.

xo

Posted in food photography, food styling, Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments