ha!

so I say I'm taking a break and I can't stay away.  just REAL fast- yesterday I made my annual batch (this is 1 of 2) of fig jam with rosemary and lemon.  I bought tiny quarter pint jars for gifting.  I needed to have one to take to my excellent teacher, and to be honest, I was afraid that they'd spoil before I could use them if I didn't do something NOW.  It's super yummy, not too sweet.

Oh, you'd like the recipe?  If you don't know how to can, you could freeze it.  But you CAN can.  Just make sure your jars are super clean (put them in a large stockpot with a towel underneath and bring to a boil as you're making the jam.  Take 'em out with tongs.  Throw the lids in a small saucepan and simmer) and you have a big stockpot.

Fig Rosemary Lemon Jam
mashed figs to make 4 c
1.25 c sugar
1 box low-sugar pectin (I use Pomona's Pectin, it's low sugar, but I have to get it online)
1/2 c lemon juice (or more.  I use more)
grated zest of one lemon (again I use more)
3 sprigs rosemary, destemmed, but not chopped

boil it all up.  Ladle it into your jars, leaving 1/4 " headspace.  Wipe the rims of your jars clean, screw on lids and rings, put back into your boiling stockpot (if you don't have a canning jar rack use a kitchen towel in the bottom) and process for 10 minutes (start timing when it begins to boil again). 
Take the jars out and let cool on a towel-covered cutting board.  The lids should ping.  If they don't ping or suck in,  keep in the fridge.  This made 7 quarter pints and 3 half pints.  I have some more figs in the fridge that I may use to make a fig/thyme/onion jam with after my class.

ok.  have fun.  be well. 

sunday kids cooking


sunday
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Sundays are always hard for me. I try to be out the door by 9:30 so that I can prepare my atrium for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Mary's. This means a simple snack for toddlers, flowers, fresh polishing supplies (wood and mirrors) set out for practical life work, and sometimes grown-up snacks for hospitality hour afterwards. Plus getting us all dressed. All this equals stressed.

If I get up early enough, I try to make a "festive" breakfast for us to eat together. This usually counteracts my stress level. This week I made some pumpkin and spice waffles. I was inspired by Molly's pancake recipe and worked from there. I keep a large bin filled with the whole grain version of the Sept '06 Everyday Food pancake mix. I reduced the liquid by 1/3 and omitted the oil, replacing them with 1/2 c pumpkin puree. I also added about 1.5 teaspoons each maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice plus sprinkle of turbinado sugar to help with browning.

These were so good. I'm going to make more and freeze them for DIY school day breakfasts. I love waffles. Don't you?

cooking for kids- "man food"

When we were at the Urchin's house a few weeks ago, Jennifer told me about hash. I remember reading about hash on her blog, and how it seemed to be a good way to sneak in veggies (and a variety of veggies, at that) for a very carnivorous family. She was 100% right. My son and husband liked this supper better than any fancy-bordering-on-gourmet meal I've ever made.

So. Hash

Root vegetables: sweet potato, turnips, regular potatoes. Cubed (about 1/2-3/4 dice), tossed in a few teaspoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast at 400 until they're nicely browned. Maybe 20-30 minutes.
Bell peppers, choppped
Red/Yellow onion, about 1/2 cup, chopped
bulk sausage (I used 1/3 lb from the lb I'd bought at the farmers market and froze in sections)
garlic
one egg per person
a pat of butter

While the root vegetables are roasting in the oven, melt a pat of butter (or don't if your sausage is fatty, but mine renders very little fat so I needed it to prevent sticking) and saute the onion and garlic. Add the sausage and cook. When the sausage is about half cooked, throw in some chopped bell pepper. This doesn't require much tending, which is nice.
Once the root vegetables are roasty and cooked through, add them to the pan. Throw in a little (very) water to deglaze the pan and mix the entire thing up. Crack eggs on top of the hash, reduce heat somewhat, cover, and let the eggs steam. I don't like my egg yolks to be completely cooked ever, and this was nice with some runny yolk mixed in.

I served this with a spinach salad topped with the last (maybe) of my csa tomatoes, halved and roasted in the toaster oven, and topped with goat cheese. (honestly, this part was a concession to mama's taste buds. Little boy didn't like the roasted tomatoes so I ate his)

This meal was entirely local except for the purple onion and spinach. The boys didn't even notice the turnips, just the roasty/toasty/meaty goodness. I imagine it would be good with leftover roast beef or pork loin, chicken or turkey. Leftover savior? Though I was skeptical, it used very little meat and made a nice hearty meal. Even though it doesn't LOOK pretty, it is filling, thrifty, and they just plain loved it. We'll be having this again.

cooking for kids- the pantry

Or: what to eat when you've been out of town for 5 days and haven't been to the store yet. Happily, we had some trader joe's cod fillets in the freezer, along with some chicken stock, goat cheese, and half a bag of spinach salad I knew would go bad if I didn't stash it on ice. Carrots, a few celery stalks, lemons, and half a purple onion in the fridge. Rice in the pantry. Sounds like supper to me.

Vegetable "risotto" (because it isn't quite, nor is it really pilaf) with crispy cod

1 small purple onion (or half a large onion), chopped
1 large lump of butter
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c chopped carrot tops (because they taste like parsley and I had them in the freezer for a tuscan carrot risotto, which this is not)
2 c brown basmati rice
4 c frozen chicken/vegetable stock, brought to a boil
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese
large handful/small salad bowl fresh spinach
lemons
dried thyme

1.5 lb cod fillets
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a cast iron grill pan or skillet, put it in the oven to heat up.
Heat butter in a large skillet. Cook onions, carrots, and celery in the skillet. Add rice after a few minutes. Salt and pepper (just a little). Ladle in 1/2-1 c hot stock, stirring until evaporated.
salt and pepper. Keep doing this until you've used most of the stock and the rice is fairly plumped up. I turn the heat down and cover the skillet and don't worry about stirring constantly. When the rice is nearly cooked, I added thyme, the juice of a lemon, more salt and pepper, the spinach (because I'd just noticed it in the freezer), the carrot tops, and the rest of the stock.

Now rub the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You only need to cook the fish for about 8 minutes. While it is cooking, add the goat cheese to the rice and give it a stir. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice if you like. Dish up the rice, put a piece of flaky crispy cod next to it, and serve with bread and a lemon wedge.

Yum yum. And the boys liked it.

thinking spring

It's full-swing spring here in Memphis. The garden is starting to pop- most of the daffodils are already gone from my flowerbeds but the herbs and other perennials are really leafing out. My Kentucky Colonel mint (the best for juleps) is starting to put out some nice, large leaves. I passed its bed (because, as I'm sure you know, mint likes to take over) and remembered that I had only 2 cups left in my pottery stash, so on Friday I spent some time in the studio making a set of Julep Cups.

These were Gary's first great pottery idea. I was hesitant, but after my first dozen sold, they became a fixture. To me, these cups embody the ease and enthusiasm of spring (and of our old annual Derby-Day julep parties), and they are one of my favorite wedding gifts for folks who like to entertain. Juleps can make a body a little wild- they're something to be sipped, not gulped. The basic recipe is a cup of chipped ice, a tablespoon (or more) of simple syrup or slightly less superfine sugar, a couple of mint leaves, muddled, and a glass full of bourbon. I'm a lightweight, so I fill half the glass with club soda before adding the bourbon. While these drinks are traditionally made in sterling or pewter cups, I think mine are a fun option. Cheers!

umm, what I MEANT to show you was

not this empty styro container, which held my take-home portion of tomato aspic on leaf lettuce with homemade mayonnaise and decorative paprika sprinkle. I MEANT to show you the pretty pretty yummy aspic. But I ate it. All of it. Lettuce too, and got a piece of bread to mop up the mayonnaise and paprika.

Yesterday Gary and I had a lunch date at Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis. Every weekday during Lent they have noonday preaching and a waffle shop open for lunch. Gary had waffles with chicken hash. I have been dreaming of aspic for weeks- so I had the "salad plate," which consists of tomato aspic, shrimp mousse, chicken salad, and half a canned pear with cottage cheese, all atop lettuce, each served with a rosette of wonderful homemade mayonnaise and the aforementioned sprinkle of paprika. I also ordered and extra aspic to eat later in the week. I didn't think that meant Tuesday, but to be truthful, it was half-eaten by Monday night.

Usually, I am a whole-foods eater- pure flavors, unadulterated by extra flavors, gelatins, chemicals. This is 1950s food, but in a purer form. Nothing but getatin in here that's objectionable to me. I SO enjoyed my 50s food. My birthday is coming up in a month, and I think that I'm going to have a Calvary Salad plate to celebrate. When the Waffle Shop check-out ladies asked if we enjoyed our meal, and "how was the aspic?" I had to profess my love for it and admit that when I made the same recipe for Easter two years ago, I ate an entire 9X13 pan of the stuff over Easter week.

Intrigued? Want to call me crazy (even my mother thinks my love for aspic is odd)? Here's the recipe, adapted from the Waffle Shop Cookbook:

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 can tomato juice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
celery tops
parsley
1T sugar
1T plus 2tsp Worcestershire
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp salt
2T each cider vinegar and lemon juice.

Dissolve gelatin in tomato juice, add all ingredients but acids. Bring to a boil, turn off heat. Add acids, cool, strain, pour into pans and refrigerate. Serve with homemade mayonnaise* on a lettuce leaf

I'd give out the shrimp mousse recipe, but it makes 3 10x 18 pans!

*Duke's mayonnaise, made in South Carolina, without any sugar, is an acceptable substitute for homemade.

baking

Most people who know me know that I’m not big on sweets. Oh, I like my chocolate- extra dark, at least 65%, more bitter than sweet- but I’d rather have cheese or some other creamy fatty salty concoction than a cake or pie. My boys like sweets, so today, while G was called into the office to handle some pre-business-trip arrangements, I baked a warm and comforting sweet. This trip has been the cause of dinnertime phone calls and emergency blackberry emails about speech changes for his boss’s boss, and has caused a great deal of stress for a normally easy-going guy. That and the fact that we left the warm house to go out into the cold for an early-morning car repair trip (we still have to go back out to get the car) means that the bigger boy deserves a treat.
My infrequently made but most loved sweet treat is a four-fruit cobbler, easily thrown together with whatever is on hand. This time we used apples, dried cranberries, a handful each of frozen blackberries and blueberries from this summer, plus a handful of chopped pecans. I mixed the fruit with some Chinese five spice powder, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. The crust for the cobbler is my mother in law’s specialty (she is a sweets baker supreme).

Cookie crust cobbler:
1 stick melted butter
1 c each sugar, flour
1 beaten egg.

These four ingredients are mixed and dropped by the teaspoon on the top of the fruit mixture, then baked at 350 until it smells good and the cookie crust is slightly browned. This recipe usually makes enough for 2 small cobblers, so I spoon the rest into a sheet of waxed paper, roll it up, and freeze it for the next time the boys need a treat.

I love how this looks in a blue pottery bowl. It also works in ramekins for a slightly more fancy presentation-and more crust per person. Though sweet, it is a great way to get fruit into your meal, and if you decrease the sugar in the crust, this cobbler works for breakfast, as well.

more bamboo



Here are two of my old bamboo pieces that see frequent use in my house. I keep some bright blooming or foliage plant in this small bamboo-rim flower pot. This week primroses were both on sale and bright and perky at my local grocery store- in the cart they go. A few years ago I made about a dozen of these little flower pots. This is the only one that I kept. It fell during glazing, so I glue-glazed it back together and kept it for myself. My mother has a larger, shallow pot like this in my favorite cobalt blue.


This small bamboo-rimmed bowl filled with clementines is one of two dip-sized bowls in my serving collection. I think that I kept about five of this style, some in white, some in blue, and one in the antique iron, which I also used on the flower pot. Last week I filled the brown one with bright green steamed edamame for a party- it looked as good as it tasted! My boys love clementines- they go through a 4 pound bag each week while they're readily available, so you may be seeing them used as props again.

Speaking of clemies, did you see last week's Minimalist recipe in the New York Times? We made the Clementine Clafoutis Saturday night. It was delicious (and easy)!