Kitchen & Soda

Our kitchen is complete—to be fair, it has been for months, I’m just slow in posting (with lots of pictures)! We’ve already had many pizza nights with friends, family, or just the two of us. And, I’ve made many loaves of bread. It’s such a great space; it turned out beautifully. The light throughout the day is one of my favorite things, all the windows and openness of the kitchen makes me so very happy. We’ve still got pictures and art to put on the wall, a rather large window to upgrade, and rooms to finish in other parts of the house, but the kitchen is perfect. Continue reading

Remodelin’

When I was a graduate student in Rhode Island, it was pretty normal (to me at least!) to be watching t.v. while wearing multiple layers, at least two pairs of socks, sometimes a hat and scarf, covered in blankets with a snuggly calico cat snoozing away in my lap. Graduate students don’t get paid much and, turns out, New England gets pretty damn cold in the winter. Heating an apartment with lots of windows, high ceilings, and an inefficient heating system was pretty expensive. So, I did what I needed to—layer, layer, and more layers, and blankets, and kept the heat ridiculously low. Continue reading

2017–a whole new year!

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the sofa in our near-empty living room–the sunlight reflected off the wood floors and every little noise seemed amplified. It was quiet and early morning, one of the last mornings in a place that had been our home for over 5 years. Over Christmas and well into January, we’d lived amongst a maze of paint cans, tools, packing materials, and boxes. The craziness of the holidays and travel made this time all the more chaotic. We spent afternoons moving boxes to storage, packing up more boxes, and taking clothes that have merely been taking up space in my closet to Goodwill and a local charity, Mary’s Place. Then, we lived out of suitcases and moved Milo and Roux (and ourselves) into Angela’s place for a few weeks. All to get here: our lovely 1960 split-level ranch house sold after less than 7 days on the market, well over our asking price. Just a couple of weeks ago, I walked out of the door that I’ve walked in just about everyday of the last five and a half years knowing it was the last time, and this was now someone else’s home. I cried then, and I’m still a little sad, honestly; also, it’s super weird to be renting again…so very weird. Continue reading

Cookbook Sunday Dinner: Heritage, week 3

Happy almost the end of October, y’all!

For this week’s Cookbook Sunday dinner, I made a modified version of Sean Brock’s recipe for crispy fried farm eggs with fresh cheese, pickled mushrooms, watercress, and red-eye vinaigrette. Like the previous recipes, it’s a long one, with many steps and a delicious ending. Thankfully, many of the steps can be completed ahead of time, making the actual execution a little quicker than you might think on first glance. It looks like a doozy of recipe but the pickled mushrooms are done at least a week early; the farmer’s cheese can be done the day before; the eggs can be soft-boiled and peeled the day before, and stored in the refrigerator; and the dressing can be made the day before. Continue reading

Spicy, tomato goodness plus eggs!

The days are, sadly, getting shorter as autumn firmly settles in and winter isn’t far behind.  The evenings and mornings are chillier and the Seattle mist is becoming more frequent and more like rain. Life around here has been a little hectic, and it’s not likely to calm down anytime soon, especially with the holidays just around the corner. But, for now, it’s Saturday, the sun is shining, the Fall colors are beautiful, and tonight we get to have dinner with a friend we haven’t seen in a year–we don’t see him or his wife often enough because we’re on opposite sides of the country. So, tonight will be a treat.

Continue reading

Cookbook Sunday Dinner: Sweet Onion Gratin

If you’ve paid attention to the weather, you probably know that Seattle was bracing for the worst windstorm in history. The remnants of a typhoon were expected to bring hurricane-force winds and rain–we were hunkering down for a crazy storm, with expectations of power outages and downed trees. Then, well, the storm was a non-event; it moved a little more north and a little faster than expected. So, so much for the worst windstorm in history, at least this time. Growing up in Louisiana, I’ve been through enough storms that turned out to be exactly the opposite what was predicted, for better and worse, that I’ve learned to be cautious, take predictions for what they are, and don’t let one (or many) bad predictions give you a false sense of security. Continue reading

Cookbook Sunday Dinner

I’d like to think that I’m not the only one…but, I love cookbooks. I love getting them as gifts, buying them as a treat, and reading them while lying in bed to unwind from the day before falling asleep. A well-written cookbook tells a story of a cuisine or the author, or both, sometimes blatantly but other times the story telling is so subtle, it’s easy to miss. Most cookbooks are charming and inspirational for me. I love them. Truly. But, admittedly, I don’t often cook from the cookbooks. I read them, frequently many times; but I rarely follow the recipes they contain. The internet or the many magazines we receive provide the recipes we try in our kitchen. And, honestly, I have no idea why that’s the case. So, in an effort to correct my lack of cookbook usage, I’m starting a ‘cookbook Sunday dinner.’ Each month, I’ll pick a cookbook and plan Sunday dinners with the recipes in that specific book. This way, I’ll try out a few recipes in each book–and blog about them. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired, too.

First one up: Heritage by the James Beard award winner, Sean Brock. This cookbook is beautiful; it is a lovely celebration of Southern food and was awarded the James Beard Foundation book award for ‘American Cooking.’ Sean Brock highlights the beauty of Southern cooking, demonstrating that Southern food, at its heart, is farm-to-table and seasonal. Heritage is a joy to read, telling the story of ingredients and recipes, and of Sean Brock. It’s a feast for the eyes and I’m excited to cook my first dish: Farrotto with acorn squash and red kale. This seemed quite appropriate for the first Sunday of October, especially with the autumn colors starting to show and the cool touch to the air this weekend!

img_3965A little note to you, dear reader, the recipe calls for a single bunch of kale and notes that it weighs about 3 lbs. (!!) of kale. Now, I’m not sure how big the bunches of kale are in North Carolina, but my bunch of kale did not weigh 3 lbs., merely about 5.5 oz (about 156 g) and this was plenty of kale. I’m guessing this is a typing error or we’re getting shorted on our bunches of kale in Seattle. Also, my small squash didn’t weigh about 2.5 lbs. as the recipe suggested a small acorn squash would–it weighed in at right about 1 lb. and, like the kale, I think this was enough and it was delicious. And, if you have leftovers, you’re in luck! This dish is reheats wonderfully and taste even better the next day.

img_3975img_3972

Farrotto with Acorn Squash & Red Kale
Recipe from 
Heritage by Sean Brock
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side

ACORN SQUASH
1 Small acorn squash
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Scant 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 C vegetable stock*

1 bunch Red Kale or other kale of your liking

FAROTTO
2 Quarts vegetable stock*
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1 1/2 C farro*
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C diced white onion
1 garlic clove, sliced paper-thin
1/2 C dry white wine
1 C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Details:

Acorn Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
  • Cut the squash in half, remove & discard the seeds; rinse the squash under cold water.
  • Place the squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil.
  • Divide the butter between the two halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast the squash for about 35 minutes or until fork-tender.
  • Heat the 1 C Vegetable stock.
  • Remove from oven, add the melted butter and any juice from the squash to the vegetable stock, then let the squash cool.
  • Once the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the pulp, discard the skin, and add the puree the squash with the vegetable broth.
  • Set aside until the faro is cooked.

Kale

  • Remove the stems from the kale. Stack the leaves and roll into cylinders; cut the kale into thin ribbons.
  • Wash the kale with cool water and drain a few times to remove any grit. Dry the kale with paper towels.

Farrotto (this can be started while the squash cooks, or made up to 3 days in advance)

  • Heat 2 quarts of vegetable stock over medium heat; keep the stock warm.
  • Heat the canola oil in a large skilled over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the farro and stir to coat.*
  • Cook without stirring for 4 minutes; stir and cook for another 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn the farro.
  • Transfer the farro to a bowl and wipe the skillet.
  • Return the skillet to medium-high heat; add 2 Tbsp butter once the skillet is hot and reduce heat to medium.
  • Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent—about 4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes.
  • Then, add the wine and increase the heat to high; cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the farro, stir to coat. Then, add 1/2 C warm stock, reduce heat to medium and stir until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  • Continue cooking, adding the liquid 1/2 C at a time, stirring to prevent scorching and letting each addition absorb before adding more liquid, until the farro has expanded and is al dente. This will take about an hour.
  • If made in advance, reheat over low heat before proceeding.
  • Remove the farro from the heat; add the squash and kale. Stir until the kale is lightly wilted.
  • Place back over medium heat and add the remaining 2 Tsp butter and the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste after addition of the cheese.

*Notes:
-I used a parmesan broth in place of the vegetable stock — 4-5 parmesan rinds and 2.5 quarts of water, simmered for a couple of hours before I needed it.
-I used Blue Bird grain’s Split Emmer Farro. Farro is not a single grain but a family of wheat grains, sometimes called ‘ancient grains’: einkorn, emmer, and spelt. I’m most familiar with emmer farro, also known a farro medio. That’s what I used for this recipe.
-Sean Brock’s original recipe has you cook the farro in the oven for the initial 8 minute toast but I kept the skillet cooking on the stove top with success.img_3983

 

For the love of cake

Growing up, for every birthday and every holiday, we had (still do!) something sweet–sometimes many, many sweet things and always cake. Mostly, the sweets were made by my mom, who stayed up all night or many nights in a row mixing, baking, and, when there was cake, decorating. One birthday, I had a Barbie doll cake with white and pink icing–you know, the one where Barbie is dressed in a fancy ballgown made of cake and icing? I’m pretty sure I had that one more than once because I loved Barbie and all of her friends. For my 16th birthday, I had a three-tiered cake decorated with fresh roses; just about every birthday cake was made by mom. Sadly, I don’t have pictures of these lovely handmade creations but, my mom’s love of baking and creating delicious things for the people she loved was firmly passed on to me. Continue reading

Summers, past & present

I grew up in the deep, deep South. Summers–and most of the year–were filled with thick, suffocatingly hot days and the nights were only marginally cooler, sometimes. I was a kid, I didn’t notice. There was a pool to cool off in or a popsicle or ice cream to eat; and, there was fun to be had. Most of my summer breaks included weeks on end at my grandparents house in a tiny town in Louisiana called Mt. Hermon. My mom had grown up there; my grandparents owned a farm–it was my grandfather’s family dairy farm. The summers were, at least in my 41-year old memory, idyllic. Rolling farm land, big sweeping magnolia trees that provided welcome shade to the swing sets sitting beneath their branches, a pool where all the grandkids would spend hours, and the noise of the ice cream churn in the background. It was wonderful and, I know, it was so very hot, but, I didn’t care. Continue reading