In life, all things must come to an end and when it comes to writing a book, there’s no place like “done.” The process of writing my first cookbook has been both rewarding and exhausting. Computer glitches, lost files, lost changes, starting over, conversions going poorly, lots (and lots) of colorful language and more grey hairs later, I am about to come to the precipice and peer into the Valley of Thank God it’s Over!
It has been said that writing a book is like giving birth. That is very unfair... giving birth is easier! By a lot! There is also an end point with birth and babies come out perfect; but, there is always something to tweak, change or improve with a book. How does a writer know when to be satisfied with the project? How does a writer know when to stop? I will just have to settle for clicking my heels while I chant, “There’s no place like done. There’s no place like done.” Until I believe it. If the heel clicking and chanting don’t work, there’s always madness and tequila! I will (probably) have to be content with somewhere in between.
Cloudy with a chance of cloudy is the forecast for today’s weather. What to do? What to do? Make Creme fraiche of course. Nothing cheers a day like cream in my creme I find.
Here is how to make this delectable and delicate fermented sauce that will not curdle when cooked and tastes like a creamy, slightly tart cloud.
Pour into a glass bowl and then mix the following:
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Allow to sit at room temperature and impatiently wait for the magic to happen. Use and/or serve.
*The “magic” takes 8-24 hours so do this before you journey to the Land of Nod.
Insomnia is great for productivity. Recipes get written, studying gets done and houses get tidied. This morning I woke with an odd craving for crumpets, the little yeast breads have a soft cake-like texture but are closer to an English Muffin than an actual cake. I haven’t made crumpets in years and thought I would write a new recipe for my next cookbook. I started researching and experimenting and found a lot of useful information but I wanted my own recipe. The Daring Gourmet website has a straightforward recipe and great photos and tips but below is what I created.
In a medium bowl combine:
1 1/2 Cups milk, warmed
1/2 Cup buttermilk, warmed
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Allow to become foamy, about 10 minutes. While the yeast proofs, combine the following in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment attached:
3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Add the proofed yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix on medium speed 3-5 minutes until the batter becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours then add:
1 Cup water, warmed
1 teaspoon baking soda
Combine the water and baking soda then add it to the yeast batter. Stir until smooth. Cover again and allow to rise 1 hour. Heat a griddle the last 15 minutes of rising over medium heat. Gather English muffin rings and grease them. Place the rings on the heated griddle and fill 2/3 full with the risen batter. Cook 8 minutes this side, flip and cook 5 minutes more, removing the rings. Cool on a rack and either eat now with butter and jam or cool completely and store in the freezer up to 1 month. (Repeat with the remaining batter.) *Additional warm water may be required to thin the batter.
This recipe should yield 14 crumpets.
“Free” Is by far a beautiful word. “Free” is in fact my most favorite “F” word. Free food is exactly what Sprimg can offer the home chef. Free food is everywhere in the Spring, you simply have to look. Take these white violets and Viola’s for example, they grow wild in our garden. To some, they are weeds to be yanked and pulled from the earth and discarded but to me, they are free food. I can use these flowers in a myriad of ways. Today I will offer you just a few things to do with wild, edible flowers. (Please be sure the flowers you forage are not sprayed with any poisons. Dah right?)
1. Toss them into a salad or over pasta to add lovely color, whimsy and elegance.
2. Gently rinse them and then spread them onto a paper towel to dry a bit. Next, spread them out onto a fresh paper towel to dry completely. The Viola‘s will hold their color quite well and can be stored in an airtight container to use whenever you feel like a pop of color.
3. Candy them by painting them with egg white and then dipping them in sugar before placing them on a rack to dry completely, usually overnight but an hour will be fine if using them right away. If you will be storing them for later use, place them in an airtight container (once they are completely set) with bubble wrap in between the layers. Use these adorable little treats to top iced cookies, frosted cupcakes or ice cream or crepes.
4. Make your own violet liquor by going onto the Internet and searching for a recipe that sounds good to you. An additional tip if you decide to make a liquor is to change the flowers as soon as they have lost their color and replace them with fresh.
Another great “free“ food you will find all around are herbs. Fresh chives and oregano and a variety of other herbs are popping up out of the ground everywhere. Go out and cut them and use them in your cooking to add a fresh and vibrant flavor to most anything. Here again, make sure wherever you’re foraging is not sprayed with poisons. (Chives grow in little clumps and have a completely different shade of green then grass plus they are hollow inside and smell of onions.)
What is growing right now in your area and how are you using it? Please share your favorite tips for free food in the comment section.
I love to eat salad for breakfast, do you,, Dear Readers? A salad can be most anything. You can take chili and combine it with leftover green beans or salad greens or coleslaw, for example. You could top some lettuces with pasta and sauce or fresh, crispy spinach with a fried egg and feta cheese. How about making a baked potato and serving it topped with an egg, cheese, and kale? Sound yummy? Yep. Sound healthy? Double yep. Sound doable? Triple yep. Why are you not doing it?
Here are easy and healthy ways to make a bunch of salads for work or alternative breakfasts:
1. Wash and boil a whole bunch of sweet potatoes and then drain them. Place each sweet potato in a microwave-safe container, split them in half top each with olive oil and then with feta cheese. Once the food has cooled, cover them and store in the refrigerator or freeze for later.
2. Wash an assortment of greens such as kale, spinach or lettuces. Divide the greens between containers and that way you could just grab one before you go to work. Top each container of greens with whatever you like be that leftover roasted root vegetables, carrots, cheeses, potatoes or hard boiled eggs. Keep your favorite olive oil and/or vinegar or even lemons at work and that way you always have a healthy dressing available.
3. Use up that leftover pasta by reheating it with some greens. *Please be careful about microwaving greens because they can become carcinogenic, so keep that in mind.
Share your favorite salads in the comments section.
Our daughter’s choir is getting ready for a concert and concerts mean fundraisers and fundraisers mean bakesales and bakesales mean fundraiser concoctions. Parents signed up for brownies and cookies and other things that could be placed in resealable bags and eaten to lovely music in an auditorium. My contribution will be biscotti. Why not? Biscotti are twice-baked and fun to munch. Perfect for a musical evening. Please share what fundraiser concoctions you like to contribute in the comments section.
Sleep is by definition; “
a condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.” Sleep is something I dream about yet rarely get. Sleep comes in shifts for me, a sort of sometimes on but mostly off, frustrating and exhausting sort of shift. These days I am in what I call “the insomnia zone.” What to do? What to do?
I’ve read the best thing to do is not try to sleep. I try visualizing myself asleep, like I’m hypnotizing myself and this sometimes works. Afterwhile I just give up and binge watch Netflix. I’m honestly rarely productive at two, three or 4 AM in the morning. Why? The answer is simple, I want to be asleep! I don’t want to be productive at two, three or four in the morning!
Here are a few things I do to try to prepare myself for insomnia (I mean sleep):
2. Take 200 milligrams of magnesium about 30 minutes before bed
3. Dim lights
4. Avoid my phone at least 30 minutes before bed
5. If all else fails, there is always tequila or a a little port or sherry... (No judging remember?)
Please share your remedies for insomnia (I mean sleep) in the comment section.
I have just finished my morning cup of coffee and in between my crummy night of no sleep and waking I have been inordinately productive. I have made a pot of vegetarian chili I plan to put in my next book, weeded (I mean gardened), groomed our dog, Lollipop, packed boxes to be shipped and am preparing to begin the mammoth task of writing the index for my new cookbook. Personally, I think I deserve something crisp with a side of creamy!
Here is what I have in mind, either a crisp (as shown below) or something far simpler like fresh berries with ice cream and crumbled cookies on top. Crisps are great because they can be made with fresh or frozen fruit but I think the later is the ticket. If I get really sassy, I could toast the cookie crumbs in the oven at 350 degrees until they brown slightly and become crisp. Toasting cookie crumbs is a great trick because it allows me to elevate leftover cookies to something special and makes for a scrumptious, last minute anytime dessert. YUM!
If you try making toasted cookie crumbs, please share your results in the comments section.
Today was a glorious day! It was a sunshine-filled Sunday! Today was perfect be be outside , take a walk, bird watch and eat spring food like coleslaw, berries and burgers. Sunshine means cool drinks like Shirley Temples, beer and/or Mai Tais. Sunshine-filled Sunday’s mean barbecue and airing the house. Perhaps a little bit of all these activities? Yep. I think so too!
It’s a well-known fact that at one point in everyone’s life, they are a total genius, unless they are your husband and then this rule NEVER applies! That stated, I thought I would share my “genius moment” with you, Dear Readers.
Yesterday I blocked about spray painting hinges to save both money and time so today I thought I would share with you the total hack I figured out accidentally and it’s all thanks to a stray piece of plastic wrap and the newspaper...
Here is what to do:
Gather the following; newspaper, plastic wrap, spray paint, gloves, cabinets with hinges still attached, an open mind and adventurous spirit. (Paint in a well-ventilated space, I did this in our sunroom.)
Remove the cabinets and screws.
Insert the screws into a folded up piece of newspaper so they stand up right, as shown in the picture. Spray paint them and allow to dry.
Tear off a large enough piece of plastic wrap to cover the area you will be painting. Fit the plastic wrap behind the hinge and covering as much of the cabinet as you feel is necessary to protect it from overspray. Spray paint and allow to dry. (I used the type of spray paint that is a primer
and paint and can be used on metal. Spray paint can actually has a handle you push in not a button you press and I think it’s easier to work with because you have a little more control. After you’ve painted the hinge and are ready to paint another hinge, fold the plastic wrap over onto itself so you don’t get paint on the cabinet and repeat the process. I also found that using something to brace the cabinet up so it doesn’t lay on itself will prevent the backside of the cabinet from getting paint on it. Spray paint tends to pool and to prevent that raising the cabinet is helpful. (I painted over the top of newspaper and made very little mess or trash.) I did my whole kitchen with one can of paint and there’s plenty left over. The entire project cost me nothing more than elbow grease and about six dollars.
Re-install the cabinets, admire your work be grateful you read this blog because this is a heck of a money AND time-saving tip!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor