Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, the spices in these cookies kind of hit you in waves, none overpowering the others, with a distinct, almost smoky hit of molasses, and then it finishes off with the slightest heat from the chunks of crystallized ginger. And the way the house smells when they are baking. . .sigh. . .I am telling you, they will make you sass yo mama!

[Long ago in a land far far away, a dear (and beautiful) friend of mine and I used to make tea and socialize every week. All these many years later, how I long to return to that simpler time, there with her, sipping tea on the couch. I took this picture today as my "Tea for Tuesday" cyber shout out tribute to her. Cheers!]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday, Sunday. . .So good to me

After sleeping in, and waking up without an alarm, Bentley and I spent the morning in our pjs leisurely reading the Sunday paper, and luxuriating over a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes. After a short but decadent nap (to sleep off our pancake induced coma), we spent the afternoon at Bed Bath and Beyond buying new Calphalon non-stick skillets (10, 12, and 14 inch), which I have been wanting/needing to do for quite some time (as all non-stick pans really should be replaced semi annually with heavy use, for a number of good reasons).

We picked (which is to say stole) rainier cherries from an industrial complex, and took a languid stroll down by the train tracks collecting bouquets of wild daisies, California poppies, and the ubiquitous sweet pea, and checking on some wild Italian prune plums, which are not quite ripe yet. It was perfectly charming, very little house on the prairie (you know, if they were to have had an urban agricultural crime special).

We topped off our day, with a delicious dinner of spicy panang and massaman Thai curry, and by watching Revolutionary Road. Toward the end of the movie we started smelling smoke, and looked out our back windows to see huge plumes of smoke, and realized with equal parts horror and fascination that a house just around the corner was on fire. We gathered with the rest of our neighborhood onlookers, and commiserated over the tragedy of the situation. Fire is scary. Period. It was good to know, however, that there was swift response from both our little community and the emergency personnel. It is nice to see that even in this disconnected world that we live in, that neighbors, whom you may not even know, are still looking out for one another. And in that strange kind of boy are we thankful for all that we have sort of way it was the perfect end to an essentially perfect Sunday.

Banana Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Sliced Bananas

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the eggs with the buttermilk, milk and melted butter.

Just before you are ready to make the pancakes, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just long enough to blend (the batter should be slightly lumpy).

Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of the batter onto a hot buttered griddle (over medium heat, or heated to 375 degrees if using an electric griddle), and sprinkle with sliced bananas.

When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, they just begin to burst, and the undersides are lightly browned, turn and cook for about 2 minutes longer, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Serve immediately with extra sliced bananas, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and pure maple syrup (grade A dark or medium amber).


Friday, June 26, 2009

Jacob's Simple Citrus Sangria

2 bottles red wine (two buck chuck is perfectly acceptable)
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
approximately 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
the juice of one lemon
the juice of two oranges
one lemon sliced
one lime sliced
one orange sliced
approximately 4 cups of Squirt, chilled

Combine the wine, sugar, and citrus juices in a pitcher, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced fruit, and chill. Add the Squirt right before serving, to add a little bit of fizz.

(You can kick up the party even further by adding a healthy splash of brandy, Cointreau, or lemon flavored vodka)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Biding my thyme. . .

About a month ago, we decided to plant a little herb garden in planters on our back deck (small enough to be taken indoors for winter, but large enough to yield a nice crop). We planted basil, chives, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, and thyme. We started them all from seeds, which was probably our first mistake (I knew it even at the time, I am not going to lie), and they have been taking their precious time in growing, and I have never been one for patience. Granted, it is mostly my own fault. I have never had what might be described as a green thumb. I usually either accidentally neglect plants entirely until they inevitably just commit suicide and whither in the sun, or, on the flip side, I end up loving them too much, investing all of my hopes and dreams into them, which translates into over watering, as I drown whatever life is left inside of them with my affection. It's a difficult balance, especially here in Oregon, where it will inevitably rain just after I have watered. This last week, I think precisely because we have cut back on our Chinese water torture (er...watering), the plants are finally beginning to show some small will to live. So I am biting my lip, and going against all of my loving instincts, in the hope that they will slowly begin to thrive despite me. And with any luck, we will soon be hacking them to bits and eating them. (So, I guess, as it turns out, the moral is, at my house, as far as herbs go, all roads lead to death.)

happy little chives

mmm... lookin' dill-icious

just give it some thyme

sad little sage

Jacob's CakeCups

I threw together some cupcakes for the lovely Darbie, who is hosting a wedding shower for a friend of hers. I tried to stay in the color theme (which is to say, the brides chosen colors...see below), and think that, while I am clearly not a Benjamin Moore paint matching, color expert, I think it still reads as her palette. They are not super fancy, but I think they look kind of sweet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life is just a bowl of. . .Cherry Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti

2 tbsp softened butter
1 ¼ cups half and half
2/3 cup all-purpose white flour
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups cherries, pitted
confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease six shallow ramekins, or one 9-inch baking dish with about half of the butter and set aside. Pit your cherries.

Put the half and half, flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, and salt into the blender. Blend on high, stopping once or twice, if necessary, to scrape any flour clinging to the sides.

Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of batter into the prepared pan. Bake the thin layer of batter for approximately 3 to 5 minutes until the batter just begins to set. Remove from the oven and arrange the pitted cherries on the semi-cooked batter. Cover the cherries with the rest of the batter and dot with the remaining butter. Return the clafoutis to the oven for 35-40 minutes. Until puffed and lightly golden brown. Serve warm.

Clafoutis are the perfect, simple, rustic summer time dessert, but are also great for breakfast. They can be made with a variety of fruits (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, etc., or even a mixture of fruits...though you may want to vary the amount of sugar you use based on how sweet your fruit is). I, for example, had some left over plums from yesterday's tart and some extra batter so I went ahead and whipped up a plum clafouti as well.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's for dinner?

Lemon-Herb Roasted Pork Loin

Garlic-Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes and Pearl Onions

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Plum Tart

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going Native

There has been some sort of paradigm shift in our house lately. I am not entirely sure if it is just that we are catching up with the times and finally doing the socially responsible thing for our planet and community, or if we have finally transitioned from lazy ego-centric Californians to eco-centric, earth muffin Oregonians. In either case, after getting our composter two months ago there has been a drastic change around here. Taking the time to collect all of our kitchen waste motivated us to also become hyper vigilant about our recycling. Whereas I was once too lazy to even rinse out my tin cans or plastic bottles and instead simply opted to throw them in the garbage, I now find myself digging in the trash after people, and picking out all of the recyclables, washing them all out by hand, and sorting them accordingly. It is somehow extremely gratifying to me, this new shift in thinking about what we consume. We now almost exclusively use reusable grocery bags (and recycle the few paper and plastic bags that we do end up using) and have been cutting back in every way that we can to prevent food waste (thank you Debbie Meyer Green Bags!), and the over producing of trash. Two months ago we were taking an overflowing garbage can (the largest of three sizes offered by our county) to the curb once a week, which we often had to stomp on the top of to force all of it to fit. We have now downsized our garbage output by three fourths, and are rolling a nearly empty can to the curb for pick up every Sunday. In fact, we are now considering downgrading to the smallest garbage can offered by our county, saving money, while we are doing our own small part to preserve the planet. It is amazing to me that a few extra seconds here and there can make this large of an impact on just our one little household. Imagine if we all were able to cut back this much. For the first time I guess the difference seems tangible, that recycling really can drastically cut back on the amount of our waste, that we as individuals really can make a difference. I challenge you all to join us, to use less, recycle more, and invest the few minutes it takes here and there to responsibly manage your own household waste. It really does feel great, you'll see!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday's Makings

Garden Salad

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Fruit Salad

Sandwiches for the finicky kidlets

Garlic/Cheddar/Chive Biscuits