Thursday, February 28, 2008

Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello

Have I mentioned I am ready for Spring? That I am SO ready for spring?
Well, I am.
Just for the record.

In the mean time, I've been making it a point to take advantage of what is hopefully the last of the weather nasties to cook all the kinds of things that I love but that I wouldn't give a second thought during the warmer months, including the undocumented spinach lasagne and Potato Soup with Kale and Chorizo, both of which were fabulous.

Now, despite the fact that the growing season is still a couple of months away, one of the by-products of my anticipation of the warmer weather is that I've managed to get myself organized and all signed and paid up for this years' CSA farmshare. And I was all hunkered down and ready to spend a few months pining away for that first box-o-locally-grown-love, when, to my excitement, I went (bundled up) out to the mail box one day and found a fat, weighty little bundle of something from our farmer waiting there.
I HEART surprises!

Inside this most excellent package I discovered beans...specifically Swedish brown beans, or so said the pudgy ziplock bag, along with a lovely handwritten note with prep and cooking tips. How completely, utterly awesome.
I left everything out on the counter as inspiration, and, after a few not-special-enough ideas were born and cast off, inspiration struck in the form of one of my back-in-the-day favorites. Back in the day, meaning the days I spent growing up in rural Vermont as a speck on the map of nowhere, where the only fast food for miles around was soup from a can....when Campbell's Bean and Bacon was my favorite.

I consulted a couple of recipes to gain a general direction and then basically just winged it (as I have been known to do :) ) The results were fantastic. A little like the canned stuff I remember from childhood, only much, much better in the way that home cooking and homemade soup always is. And the healthy dose of my porky passion, Lorenz meats bacon, both in the soup and as garnish made sure of it!

see the lovely beans there in the back?

I know I've said it before, but do, DO get yourselves your own farmer by signing up for CSA! A CSA directory is here, and for you locals specifically, there are upcoming CSA meet and greets at Seward co-op or any of the Lakewinds locations, or check out a directory of MN co-ops here.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quilted Pillow, Finished!

A while back I showed you my first attempt at making something quilted, and I finally found some time to work that little block up into a pillow cover:

To exercise a little mixed-media muscle, I used some of the felted turquoise coating that 's been showing up here and there in my projects lately along with some green velveteen that I've had in my stash for ages as border for the pieced block, and then bound the whole thing with more of the Kaffe Fasset print.
I think I was happier with the block on it's own, or perhaps it would have had a bit more pop If I had used lighter border fabrics...but hey, all in the name of practice, right?

I think it looks right at home there on the sofa!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Last Nights Dinner

Chicken Breast stuffed with Fontina, Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato

This is a really easy and yummy chicken dish that, if I hadn't been so dang hungry, would have looked lovely on the plate as well. A great recipe for entertaining for sure, and it totally made up for the hideously awful stuffed chicken I was forced to endure on a recent dinner theater trip... which I was also forced to endure...
Being deficient an open bottle of white wine, I stirred up a quick pan sauce for the chicken by deglazing with a little chicken stock and some lemon juice and then swirling in a couple of tablespoons of butter off heat. A while back I mentioned I've been a helpless slave to spinach-eating and that theme continues...the side dish was a variation on the Spinach and Rice with Lemon recipe I've told you about before, using some wild rice that I par-cooked in advance and then added in along with the white rice. Take that Uncle Bens.

Friday, February 15, 2008

For the Love of Boy Dinner 2008

Sauteed Swordfish with Nicoise Vinagrette:

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. (Swordfish is Boy's favorite.) I think this "vinagrette" relish would go great on pretty much anything, including as a salad topping or on toasted baguette slices for bruschetta.

And molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert*

Still as ugly and still as tasty as all the other times I've told you about it. It's just the bomb, and one of Boy's absolute favorite desserts.
Recipe here, including the chocolate sauce which is better if you omit the mint extract.

*this was only first dessert.
Me: "for dessert we have either molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream or homemade KitKat or Nestle Crunch blizzards (because these are Boy's favorite flavors and DQ doesn't have either of them anymore).
Boy: OK, yes. I'll have the molten chocolate cake first and the blizzard second.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Project Planning

I've been threatening to make a quilt for our bedroom for a couple of years now, and since I've finally started getting a handle on the painting and decorating in that room, I figured I had better get going on actually learning to quilt...
because my thirty some years of sewing experience includes pretty much everything BUT quilting.

Fortunately, the MOOPocket business provides me with an enormous number of scraps that are always sitting there on my work table working their inspiring magic. And the other day, or should I say the other VERY FREAKIN' COLD day, (because we've had way too many of those lately), I found the motivation to turn a few of those fun, bright little tidbits into the practice medium for my first attempt at making something quilted.

I started but had to give up on the actual quilting part until I get a walking foot for my machine so it's because of that equipment deficiency that I don't have a FO to show you. I pieced this block completely on the fly, at random and according to absolutely no plan, and I'm sure it violates rules all over the place, but when have you know me to create or play by the rules?
I didn't have my heart set on ending up with anything fabulous what with this being my first attempt an all, but now that it's together I rather like the result and I'm thinking I'll turn it into the top for a throw pillow.
I have no idea if this is the direction I'd go for a complete bed-sized's quite a bit different and busier than the vision I have growing for that, but if it just so happens that it coordinates for my someday whole bed-sized thing, all the better.

And speaking of scraps of MOOPockets, I've finally managed to post a peek of all my new fabrics in my Etsy shop, so go check out my listings or my Flickr page for a look!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Reeportin to Da Hound Dog Younyun

We're really not that into our dog around here....really.

I'm all about a good snooze, but evidently Boy's definition of what constitutes a satisfying nap is quite a bit different than mine.
I would have at least turned the lights off :)

Can't you just hear the dog in that picture?
"Um...heelllo people? Do yous seereously espect mees to live wit dis kind of treetment? I meen he steels my blankie AND heez snoring? Mark my woofs, mees shall be makin a full reeport to da hound dog younyun about dis. "

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On Tonights' Menu:

Penne with Radicchio, Spinach and Bacon

ohhhhhhh! Another quick, simple and delicious pasta recipe!

I think this is only like the second time I have purposefully purchased or consumed radicchio as an ingredient in something other than bagged salad mix. So I guess that means I am not a radicchio connoisseur and thus have no idea how what I ended up with (i.e. whatever kind was avaliable in the store the day I was there), affected the finished dish. The recipe specifies the variety to choose, and as it turns out, after the fact and via a quick consult of Wikipedia , I probably had the Chioggia variety which is one of three types named in the recipe. How accidentally smart am I?
Here's to broadening our food horizons, right?

So radicchio is bitter. (Perhaps one of the other varieties is less bitter?) And I am not typically a bitter foods kind of person, but this dish really works, I think because the bitter is so deliciously offset by the sweet of the sauteed onion, the richness of the bacon and the mineral tang of the sauteed spinach. YUM! It even made the mediocre bottle of wine I opened better, which is saying a lot since the bitter/oxalic acid flavors (stuff like spinach and asparagus) are a notoriously difficult companion for wine.
And a little aside...Boy said he didn't really notice the bitter which makes me think maybe I am hypersensitive to it (and therefore a hater) in the same way that makes some people cilantro haters.

So bitterness love/hate aside, really do try this one because it's easy and tasty and different and just a lovely combination of colors and textures in the dish. Add more red pepper flakes if you like spicy, because that part really makes it sing and I wished for more heat. And take the reviewers' advice and give the radicchio a minute in the pan before adding the spinach so it has more of a chance to wilt.
I have nothing to critique other than's a great recipe that I followed exactly with the exception of adding the leftover couple of ounces of pancetta I had in the fridge from last night.
Because pancetta is Italian bacon, people!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


This one was TOTALLY Boy, and in all honesty it was the closest I've come to outright veto on something he's chosen. But in the name of being a good sport and playing along, I made it anyway.
As predicted, it sort of sucked. Go figure.
Pizza Pot Pie

To be fair, the recipe is clearly kid-centric and a kid food lovers we are not. And my lack of suitably sized ramekins and the resulting single giant pot pie instead of individually portioned ones probably didn't help, but even without those obvious conflicts it still just didn't work. The sauce isn't worth the effort or the $5 I had to spend on 4 measly ounces of pancetta. The filling is probably boring made with chicken. (I used Italian sausage). The parmesan on top ruined and made weird-tasting an otherwise yummy homemade crust.
Overall, Eh.
The same mixture of ingredients as pizza or calzone, or over pasta, yes. Pizza Pot Pie, no.
Sorry Giada.

On sunnier fronts, here's a keeper from the other day:
Corn and Crab chowder:

Just look at that color! This is a can't-miss starter course, really...gorgeous and delicate and tasty and special...we loved it.
The recipe calls for frozen corn and I used organic which it turns out is like eighty bajillion percent better tasting than the regular old frozen corn kernels (white or yellow) that I've bought in the past. So that was a worthwhile discovery all on it's own. But the soup is really fabulous and super quick and easy to make. Definitely one to remember and, I think, a great way to show off the fabulousness of fresh corn in season.

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