Thursday, December 22, 2011

Break of Day IPA

     I pulled my nice set of prismacolor pencils out of their hiding place, stuck a few pieces of paper in a book and put it all into my purse waiting for an opportunity to sit alone and finish Adam's batch of home brew.
     Every beer needs a label.
     I was hoping for the magical double nap that would allow me to finish the sketch I had started a few days ago.  I loaded the kids into the stroller and set off.  The double nap remained illusive.  After walking for a hour and detouring to the Children's Museum for a few more hours, I finally called Adam to come get the two of them and give me the chance to, well, do what I needed to do.
     I almost forgot that I like to draw.  
     After much deliberation and a few starts I decided to call the beer Break of Day IPA.  The morning star is still bright in the sky, but the dark of night is fading away and a track of hoof prints disappears between snow covered trees.

     Why? Because, while I spent a late night enveloped in the steamy aromas of grains and hops, Adam was sleeping in a mountain cabin, waking at the break of day to spend the weekend hunting, wading knee deep in the snow with a new rifle in hand.  
Here is the recipe I developed for this batch.  (I have, as of now, not sampled the beer. I managed to smash the mug I had set aside for myself while bottling into a million little pieces while I was cleaning up.) (((and, I don't really like IPAs, but hey, the beer isn't for me)))

Break of Day IPA

14 oz 20*L American Crystal Malt 
        steep in 1 gallon of water for 30 min @ 150*F
        drain and rinse with 1/2 gallon (so now you have 1.5 gallons total of malt "tea")
        add water to make 3.5 gallons and add 
6 lbs minus 1 1/4 cup Muntons extra-light DME (save the 1 1/4 cup for bottling the beer)
4 lbs Alexander's pale malt extract syrup
1 oz Magnum hops (alpha 15.0)
1 oz Amarillo hops (alpha 8.7)
        simmer 45 minutes and add
1 oz Magnum hops 
1 oz Amarillo hops
        simmer 15 minutes
        turn off heat and cool for 15 minutes
        transfer into primary carboy and add water to obtain the final volume of 5 gallons
        cool to less than 70*F and add 
WYEAST 1056 American Ale Yeast
        put on the fermentation lock and let it sit in a dark place for a week or until it seems the fermentation has slowed

        transfer to secondary carboy, dry hop with
2 oz Magnum Hops (alpha 20.0)
        let sit for secondary fermentation about a week

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of Muntuns extra-light DME 
       bring water with Muntuns extra-light DME mixed in to a boil, add to the beer, and bottle it.
       let the bottles carbonate for about 3 weeks.

My three weeks of letting the beer carbonate is almost over - two more days. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Mush

     Before we had children, we managed to fit both of our families into our Christmas routine: Christmas eve with his folks, Christmas morning with mine. The first Christmas we had Ivory, I refused to drive anywhere, and everyone came to us. The second Christmas we lived thousands of miles away from any family and for the very fist time we were on our own Christmas morning. We are about to celebrate our third Christmas away from our families and there are a few traditions that we have brought with us and some that we are cultivating on our own.
     Adam plays a Christmas eve morning game of phone tag with parents, siblings, aunts and cousins that I simply roll my eyes at, and I bake a giant wreath of cardamon bread that was a staple during my childhood holidays.

Every Christmas since Ivory was born, we have woken to the smell of cinnamon and apples and then have opened presents with steaming cup of coffee and a bowls of Christmas mush at our side.

The night before Christmas, usually around midnight, I pull out my Super Baby Food book, leaf through the pages until I find the Whole Grain Crockpot Breakfast Recipe.

Christmas Mush

1 cup barley
1 cup brown rice
½ cup raisins
2 peeled and chopped apples
6 cups water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 jar of peaches

Put all ingredients except for the peaches in the crock pot. Cook them overnight on the low setting.
In the morning add a jar of peaches to the pot or spoon them over the individual bowls and top with cream (whipping is optional). I usually don't add sugar to mine, but Adam (who is a sugar addict) spoons on brown sugar and/or maple syrup.

As time passes, we are adding a few more traditions: handmade wrapping paper, 

Wrapping Paper 2010
Wrapping Paper 2011
our annual expedition into the forest to find and cut the perfect tree, 

and new this year – my grandmothers's Swedish Fruit Soup. 
    I have taken the liberty of including the recipe here as well, along with her notes. (Thank you Grandma, for sending it to me).

Fruit Soup, Mixed

The Best of Swedish Cooking & Baking,  1966, Marianne Gronwall van der Tuuk
Many Americans like this typical Swedish Fruit Soup, which in Sweden is served chilled, for dessert.  In America I have been served the same soup as salad with roasted pork which was also a nice combination.
Makes 4-5 servings.
                                                                                      XX                              XXX
2/3 cup dried apricots                                       1 1/3                            2
2/3 cup dried prunes                                         1 1/3                            2
6 cups water*
1 stick cinnamon                                               2                                  3
2 lemon slices                                                   4                                  6
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca                4                                  6
1/4 cup sugar                                                    1/2                               3/4
2 tablespoons raisins                                         4                                  6
1 apple, peeled and sliced                                 2                                  3
Wash dried fruits and soak in cold water half an hour.
Add cinnamon stick, lemon slices, tapioca and sugar; simmer covered until almost tender (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in raisins and apple slices and cook a few minutes longer.
Taste soup, if you wish a stronger flavor add more sugar or lemon juice, or add 2 tablespoons of fruit syrup or grape juice.
*I have always doubled, mainly tripled, the recipe. 
When I double, I add 4 cups of water to the dried fruit.  After the fruit cooks, I usually add about 1 cup of cold water.  After the addition of the raisins and apple slices, I cook perhaps 10 minutes and then add about 1 cup of cold water.  I continue to cook the soup, with lid on but stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 to 20 minutes longer.  Length of time probably depends on the firmness of the apples and one’s personal preference.  I cool the soup in the pot, no lid.  Stir it from time to time.
When tripling, extrapolate from above.
Use heavy-bottom pot.  I use stainless steel Dutch oven with heavy bottom. 

As the Christmases go by, I hope that our family traditions will reflect who we are and where we came from and even if our families are not close by they can be found in the smells and tastes that fill our home during the holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

P.S.  I would love to hear some of your holiday traditions, old and new!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pie Breakfast

Last year, we woke to a winter wonderland on Thanksgiving morning, bundled up and followed converging sled tracks to the site of what will hopefully become a longstanding neighborhood tradition: pie breakfast.  Slices of sweet and savory pies, mimosas and fresh espressos disappeared as quickly as the time and we all had to rush home to cook for dinner.

This year, we woke with equal excitement and trotted across the still bare ground to the second pie breakfast and our second thanksgiving far from home. Cradled in my arms was a pie baked on the inspiration of a faint child hood memory.

Shortly after we moved to the United States, my grandmother took me to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I sat across from her scanning the menu for a compilation of words that I recognized, trying desperately not to let her know that most of what was written was almost illegible to me. There, I spotted something I knew:  Brie. And that was the dish I ordered.  What was set in front of me a short time later was a wedge of melted brie cheese covered in caramelized apple slices and .... french bread or crackers maybe?  The taste was new and exciting to me and just a bit, forbidden, as if I had discovered something that had previously been only allowed to be sampled by adults.
So the night before the pie breakfast, I pulled my usual crust and apple pie recipe from the shelf in the form of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (Bridal Edition), which I received a few years ago, as a wedding gift of course.

I rolled the dough and carefully arranged the slices of apples that had been tossed in spices, flour, and sugar to cover the entire bottom surface.  On the layer of apples, I made a circle of caramelized walnuts, placed the brie and covered it with a few more walnuts.

The rest of the apple slices were carefully arranged to hide all traces of the cheese.

I covered the pie, baked it, and pulled it out of the oven an hour later only to have to wait and wonder until morning.  Until then I had to be content sipping the hard cider we pressed and bottled a few weeks earlier.

At the pie breakfast, surrounded by chatting adults and boisterous children, I gingerly sampled my first bite. There it was: the sensation of having stumbled onto something almost secretive and even though I have gotten taller and by all definitions am considered to be an adult I still felt like child sneaking a bite of something undoubtedly grown-up and delicious. 

If next year we wake Thanksgiving morning and find ourselves far from family, I hope we can once again embark on our pilgrimage, pies in hand, to find neighbors and friends in a warm kitchen and my pie might just have a story inside. 

Up date on: 12.18.2010
I had a request for the apple filling mixture recipe, and I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to sit down and type it up.  I have finally escaped from the house for a few hours, leaving Adam in charge of the house and kids, to sip coffee with the Sunday crowd at City Brew with the goal of tying up a few loose ends.  So, here is the apple pie filling recipe:

(this taken from Betty Crocker's Cookbook Bridal Edition)

Apple Pie Filling

8 cups of thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 8 medium sized apples)
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of salt (I leave this out if I am using salted butter)

I usually use Braeburn apples, locally grown if possible, or firm apples that I pick from the abundant trees in our neighborhood.  Cut up the apples and put in a large bowl.  Measure the other ingredients into the bowl and toss.  I just use my hands...  why not get a little messy?  Layer into the pie pastry as mentioned above.

Simply Recipes has great simple instructions on how to caramelize walnuts.  They are so good on salads, to snack on and combined with apples and brie, of course. I usually just use a clean dry stainless steel frying pan to roast nuts rather than my oven, but either way works.  Just be careful not to burn the nuts either while roasting or the caramelizing.  The whole process can go from perfect to burnt in the blink of en eye.  

If any of you actually try out this pie, I would love to hear feedback!

update on 01.05.2012
so, we made this pie for New Years Day breakfast... and instead of leaving the brie whole, we cut it into chunks and mixed it in:  THAT IS THE WAY TO GO!!!  The pie was AMAZING.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

DIY: Paper Christmas Tree Ornament

Five years ago I purchased two giant boxes, one silver the other red, of those glass globe tree decorations during an after Christmas sale. They are ridiculously bulky boxes that I have lunged around move after move all the way across the country. This obvious reminder of my pre-baby days, combined with an array of ribbons, fronds of beads (for a lack of a better description) and bouquets of paper poinsettia flowers adorned a tree the next Christmas that Martha Stewart herself would have been proud of. Even though it was the first time I used those decorations I was already aware of the folly of my choice as my baby bump was steadily growing underneath my clothing. “Next year”, I thought, “ I will have a six month old.”
This year I will have a three year old and ten month old at Christmas time. A ten month old that is much more into everything than his older sister was. This year, I am leaving those silly red and silver globes in their bulky boxes and making my own out of paper.
I tried this project out on Ivory, but I think it was a little advanced for her. I think I will try it out on my husband one of these evenings instead.

Paper Christmas Tree Ornament

Colorful Thick Paper
Glue (I just used Elmer's)
something round to trace/ round paper punch
clothes pins (optional)

  1. make 20 circles (my circles are 1.5” across)

  2. fold the circles into equilateral triangles
  3. glue 5 folded circles together (do this 2 times)
  4. glue 10 folded circles together into a long string

  5. let the glue set up a little
  6. take the long string and glue the ends together forming a ring
  7. Now glue the sets of 5 folded circles onto the top and bottom of the ring

Yeah! You have a paper ball!

Enjoy the Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grains and Yeast

Yesterday afternoon Ivory and I rolled up our sleeves to scoop whole wheat flour and yeast. It seems like forever since the two of us have tackled a project together. She is now going to school in the mornings and on her days off, I have been sending her and Adam out to play together so that I can spend a few hours behind the sewing machine without distraction. The ground is covered with snow, Adam has taken the car to go hunting for the weekend and Sylvan was asleep, so rather than Ivory's usual lunch and nap routine, I decided that she and I needed to bake ourselves a treat: Pretzels.
She has been begging for pretzels, and while I know she means the small crunchy kind that comes out of a puffed up bag, I thought that this might just do the trick. I dug through my cook books, surprised that my giant bread book lacked the word pretzel in the index and finally stumbled on a super simple recipe tucked in the pages of the information packed book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.

Whole Grain Soft Pretzels

In a large bowl mix:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon yeast.

Stir for 3 minutes.


1 cup whole wheat flour
plus a little more flour

Kneed for 10-15 minutes adding flour until the dough has a nice elastic feel. Cut the dough into 16 same sized pieces. Roll into snakes and tie into a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels onto greased cookie sheets.
Let the pretzel rise for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 450*.

1 egg

Beat an egg and brush over the tops of the pretzels, sprinkle with course salt, and bake for 14 minutes.
Watch out: the pretzels can go from done to over done very quickly. Cool and enjoy.

I have never attempted to actually use my dough hook that came with my kitchen aid mixer, but I dusted it off and decided to give it a go. I love kneading the bread, but Ivory loves to sample the dough in excessive amounts, so I opted to let the machine do the work for once. I cut the dough, rolled out long stretchy snakes and twisted the first pretzel into being. “I can do that”, Ivory pipes up. She takes the second snake of dough and forms a perfect pretzel, and another and another. She and I have been baking bread together since she could manage to stand on a chair and I am amazed by this little person who is suddenly so capable.

Later, with a small bag of slightly warm pretzels, we bundled up and walked downtown to visit our local brew shop to purchase grains and yeast. Over a warm cup of coffee and chocolate milk Ivory, Sylvan and I devoured our treats and then walked home.

Even later still, the kids tucked into bed, I start the process of brewing my first batch of beer. Last year, for Christmas, I bought Adam ingredients to brew beer, but they sat for months before he actually got around to making it, so this year I am going to make him a batch. With how busy he has been lately, I am sure he will not even notice that one of our carboys is missing. I roll up my sleeves, this is just like baking bread I tell myself, grains and yeast, “I can do that”.

So much later, that my eyes are hurting, I snuggle satisfied into bed with Ivory. Grains and yeast.  Pretzels and beer.   Yum. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIY - Apron: From the Boardroom to the Kitchen

     The ground was covered with a ever so thin layer of snow a few mornings ago.  The snow in the yard melted away, but the snow on the mountains stayed.  The dog water and the chicken water regularly freeze at night, and the leaves of kale and Swiss chard hang dark green and limp from the stalks.  The chill in the air contains a hint of magic.
     It is the time of the year where something comes from nothing.
    There are many childhood Christmases that I remember. I remember cardamon bread baked in a wood stove, pajamas, Christmas dresses, candles clipped to the branches of our tree, hotel rooms and having strep throat on Christmas - again. A few Christmases I remember for the presents and one in particular. I must have been about five, my brother almost three and my mom very pregnant with my sister. I got a doll and a pram. My brother a hammering bench. Those might have been the only gifts we got that year, but they were the best gifts.
     My mom sewed the doll. She had meticulously attached her hair that hung in two brown braids from the side of her head, painted her face and sewed her an outfit complete with bloomers and shoes. The pram was built from wood and had a detachable woven basket that I could lug around with me and matched the real life pram in which my mother pushed us around in. The hammering bench was also sawed, hammered, sanded and painted late at night, in secret, by my parents in the other room of our two room apartment while we slept. And it was magic.

     Just as my parents did, I am pulling out my sewing machine, to trying to make something from, well, very little.  Here is my first attempt to post DIY project instructions:

Apron: From the Boardroom to the Kitchen
Time - this project can be completed from start to finish during nap time...  2 hours maybe 
Pattern - make your own.  Instructions below. 
Sewing Machine
Scissors or Rotary Cutter
Thread ($2.99)
Men's XL or L Dress Shirt ($1.75)
triglide closure ($.30 at the army navy store)

  1. Make a pattern.
    I used a red Pita Pit Apron that we inherited from a friend a few years ago. The one thing that drives me crazy about this apron is that the neck strap does not adjust, so I made mine adjustable. To make the pattern, I folded the apron in half lengthwise and traced the shape onto newspress. I then added 1” seam allowance to all edges except for the top of the bib. At the top edge of the bib I added 1.5” seam allowance.
  2. Cut apart the shirt.

    I start at the front and cut around the collar, then across the shoulders, cut around the arms and across the back of the shirt right on the seam.

    This opens up all the pleats and you have more fabric!! Then cut down the seam of both sleaves and cut off the cuffs. DO NOT CUT THE FRONT OF THE SHIRT FROM THE BACK OF THE SHIRT!
  3. Cut Apron. Iron the shirt in half matching up the side seams. Place your pattern at the fold (which should be the center of the back of the shirt. Cut. The bottom of the apron keeps the shape and hem of the shirt.

  4. Cut the ties and neck straps. 

    I always cut the ties first. Use the remainder of the fabric from the front of the shirt. (This might require removing the front pocket). Cut 1.5” strips of fabric from the longest length you can. The ties will be about 30” to 32”. For the neck strap cut 2 pieces of fabric that are 1.5” wide and 18.5” long and 2 pieces that are 1.5” wide and 7.5” long.
  5. Sew the neck straps and ties. 

    Put neck straps wrong sides together and sew along the two long edges and one short edge with 1/4” seam allowance, turn, press and top stitch along the edges. Done. 

    Take the ties and press them in half lengthwise, open and then press both long edges to the fold. Fold in half again and sew along the open side. DONE.
  6. Apron body. Roll the straight hems on the side (fold over about 1/2” and then again a 1/2”) and stitch down. Fold over the hem on the bib first 1/2” and then 1” and stitch into place. Roll the slanted hem, pin the ties into the roll at the back corners, stitch into place.

  7. Add the neck straps to the bib. Place 1” from the outside edge ( onto the backside) and attach.
  8. Attach the triglide to the end of the short strap.

  9. Use the remainder of the fabric to fashion whatever pocked you would like, and attach.
  10. How to make a pocket: Cut two rectangles with a 1/2” seam allowance.  If you are using the front of the shirt, sew along the stitching on either side of the buttons to make one piece of fabric.

    Place right sides together. Sew together with a two inch opening. Turn right side out press, pin to apron and sew into place closing the opening through which the apron was turned.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drop it all and run (or drive) for the hills!

I spent the week indoors wedged in the tiny space between my sewing machine, cutting table and ironing board that I have carved out for myself in the living room. I finished apron after apron, day after day, when something just snapped. I found myself flailing, feeling like I was failing at everything.
A body that just could not stretch anymore - give more hugs, more cuddles, to be suckled and needed, needed, always needed. My husband came home (finally) - sick - wanting hugs, cuddles and affirmation leaving me to feel like I was just failing at one more thing.
My usual coffee offered no pick me up, no solace.
Yoga was a momentary reprieve, a quiet space within the droves of self doubt. A space that vanished the moment I walked back into my house.
Chopping vegetables, cooking dinner, which I usually find to be almost therapeutic did not calm me.
Washing the dishes only created order on my counter and left me in the same chaotic state as before.
The walls moved in.
The messy bathroom,
             the laundry,
                       the toys,
                             the unending sewing projects
and then I did what I should have done days before: 
I dropped it all and ran, 
or more accurately, 
drove into the hills.

I dropped my chores.
I dropped my constant need to be busy.
I dropped my expectations.
I dropped my disappointment.
I dropped my clothing.

I dropped it all and sank into the warm waters of a hot spring nested at the edge of an icy cold stream. Through the steam I watched my husband and kids, the golden leaves against the dark green cedars, water splashing as the current tumbled over rocks and my world came back into focus - and it was beautiful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dog Day

The sun is shining. The air has a hint of briskness.
The ash trees are a multitude of colors; purple, yellow, orange, red with a few stragglers still in the green of summer.
It is sandals and sweater weather.

I hear phantom dog tags and padding feet behind me everywhere.

I am pushing the stroller, hoping desperately that the children will be lolled to sleep. It has been one of those days. After two hours of climbing in and out of bed, drinks of water and trips to the bathroom I finally tell Ivory to put on a pair of shoes and climb into the stroller in an attempt to save what little is left of my sanity. Sylvan drifts off first humming to himself, and I realize Ivory is slumbering as well when the hand clutching her pink leopard finally relaxes.

I walk past the tent city that is rising up in front of our court house. The drum circle sneaks a little dance into my step and for the first time today I feel the dark cloud that has been hanging over my head lift a little.
I have been in a lousy mood.
I am angry.
And no, it is not because there are 14 million unemployed people in this country or because 49.9 million people lack health insurance. Sure, there always is an underlying current of frustration and disbelief about many facets of our society, but today in my pitifully selfish little world I am angry because of one dog.

The dog that has me hearing phantom dog tags and the padding of feet everywhere I go.

I picked up Ivory from school with Sylvan tied to my chest with the goal of walking to pick up our car and go and pay the water bill. We made it a few blocks from our house when I hear those clinking dog tags and there she is, Carrot, running after us. Just out of reach. I grudgingly turn around dragging Ivory . Walk to the house, wait for her appearance, put her back in the yard, grab a leash, just in case and try again. We make it a few blocks. I hear the tags again, and there she is. We turn around once again, put her back in the yard and make a third attempt to go and get the car.
This time we get nowhere. Ivory is screaming at me at the top of her lungs, hungry and obviously tired and not wanting to do this routine again. I give up on the car. I give up on paying the water bill.
Instead we begin our two hour nap time struggle. I pile the kids in the stroller in an attempt to outwit the mundane frustrations of motherhood.

And there, I hear them again: clinking dog tags, the patter of feet.

Each time I reach the edge of our neighborhood, she is beside me, and I make my way back to our house. Again and again until I finally reach the tunnel that passes under the train tracks without a canine stalker.

The kids fall asleep, I breath, slip into a coffee shop, order a cup of coffee and finally sit down.

My phone rings immediately. It is my husband, calling from the highway, headed home from work: “Animal control just called. Can you go get her? She is in the Providence Surgery Center parking lot.”
I want to scream. But instead I just whisper into the phone: “No. I will not go get her. I just got the kids to sleep. I am going to drink my cup of coffee.”

The dog has become our latest marital dispute.

I feel small and defeated. I have allowed one dog to ruin my day. I feel even more hopeless and helpless by my complete inability to move forward, which makes me even more unhappy. I feel petty, slightly (only slightly) unreasonable and very negative.

Adam has resolved to raise the fence by 18 inches and I, well, I am trying to not view myself as caged in with two smelly poop machines.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Off the Path

Everything is wet.

The bright yellow, red and green leaves against the black branches have a psychedelic crispness. The grasses and shrubs brush against our legs and drops splash against us as we push our way along narrow paths winding their way along the river.

It has been raining daily, and we piled into the car to check on one of our mushroom spots.
We are looking for Shaggy Parasols.
And we find – nothing. The pine needles lay wet and undisturbed.

We wander on, looking for nothing in particular.

We find a white, branching fungus growing like tiny candelabra out of a fallen cottonwood logs.

We walk past giant shelf mushrooms, glistening a beautiful red.

We see gray fungus reminiscent of coral.

From one log to the next we have wandered farther and farther from the official walking trail.  The ferns are all flattened and suddenly we feel that we have strayed a bit too far.  I turn on one of the many forked paths and realize that I am standing next to a giant tree that not to long ago had been used by something as a scratching post and that I am standing in the middle of the biggest pile of bear poop I have ever seen.  Adam and I say almost simultaneously: "Um, maybe we should head back to the trail."

We stop to admire a soft, pink and almost purple fungus that is pushing out between the bark and wood of yet another downed cottonwood log.

The clouds hang heavy and low, but the sun in shining the way it can only shine in the mountains.

Two bucks scamper out of sight.

My skirt has dark brown patches, Adam's toes are damp, Ivory's knees tell of slips and falls, Sylvans socks are no longer dry and our mushroom collecting bag is empty but we're filled with beauty and adventure and climb back into our car to finish our weekend errands.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple Beet Soup

So, Tuesday night my thought process was a little like this:

Adam is coming home a day early!
Did I make enough dinner?
I am making beet soup for dinner.

I grate, measure and stir and slide a baked zuccinni and egg side dish into the oven, and then am left standing there, staring at the soup simmering on the stove top. “Well, this will just have to do”, I think to myself.

When Adam walks through the door I hug him, and say slightly apologetically: “We are having beet soup for dinner..... I didn't know you would be home early when I started it.... ?!?.” I usually try to have a slab of meat waiting for him and tonight's dinner is vegetarian through and through. AND IT IS BEETS!

Adam – well – reluctantly admitted: “It was good – for a beet dish.” (Which I interpret as success.)
Ivory liked it. How could she not? It was fuchsia colored after all.

Sylvan loved it, clapping his hands excitedly between spoonfulls.

And I, well, I might have discovered a winning apple and beet combination.

Apple Beet Soup

3 tablespoons canola oil
4 leaks
1 large carrot, diced
8 beets* (directions on preparation bellow)
2 sweet apples, pealed, cored and chopped
1 ½ dried thyme
½ teaspoons dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups water/ vegetable broth
1 cup apple juice

Apple Cream Sauce
½ cup apple juice
½ cup plain yogurt

  • *Wash whole beets, leaving stems, and place into a pot of boiling water until they can be poked with a fork. Once they are soft, rinse with cold water until they can be handled. Slip of the skin and cut into smaller pieces.
  • While the beets are simmering away, heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leaks and carrots, saute until softened. Add spices. Add the water/vegetable broth and apple juice. Add the skinned and chopped beets and simmer together for 30 minutes. Cool slightly and blend. (I like to blend only half of it and leave a few chunks.)
  • While the soup is cooking, pour ½ cup of apple juice into a small sauce pan and cook until the volume is reduced by half. Stir the reduced apple juice into plain yogurt. (I make my own from a Greek yogurt culture. It is creamy and mild flavored.)
  • Laddel the soup into bowls and drizzle with the apple cream sauce.

Enjoy the taste and bounty of the fall season.

If you try it let me know what you think!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bordering Insanity

I am in the kitchen canning the last few jars of apple sauce.

As soon as my kitchen counter is wiped off, I am going to unload the trunk of my car.

My trunk full of tomatoes turned into almost 10 quarts of spiced tomato sauce (think spaghetti or pizza) and 2 1/2 quarts of barbecue sauce.

I cleaned my giant pots, stacked my jars and stored all my tools away.  I can't take anymore of this, unless, I find some delicious pears somewhere.  I would love to can a few pints of amaretto pears.  They are a family favorite.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


   I pull out my soft scrub, fill up a bucket of water and scour the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.
The mop just will not do an adequate job removing the craziness that remains of the last week and a half.  Yes, I have lived with this dirty floor for at least ten days.

    I scrape a few stubborn tomato seeds of the floor.
Tomatoes.  Red, orange, striped and juicy. 

Hiding under leaves.

Exploding in our mouths, on shirts and, well, on my floor. 

They are squished into jars, to be opened on a dark winter night and add a bit of warmth an sunshine to our dinner plate. 

    I wipe the sticky streaks that stretch from my counter top to the stove.  
Little missiles of juice that coat everything - my knife, my hands and the tops of my toes - as I cut open plum after plum.  

They became a spicy plum sauce that is perfect with any kind of meat.  I canned twice the amount that I did last year.  I hope that this will last just long enough.

   I dip my rag into the warm water and wring it out.

Beets - bright red in the steaming water - are now lining the bottom of my pantry shelf.  

    I wipe down the front of the stove.
I wiped out the inside of my giant pot with a fresh slice of whole wheat bread and savored the remnants of the Apple Plum Ginger Jam that Kendall, Rachel and I processed in the downstairs kitchen while our children quietly dismantled the upstairs bedrooms. 

    I pour the dingy water out into my flower bed with satisfaction.

    I sip a cup of coffee.

   There is a giant bag of apples sitting on my counter.
Tomorrow, they will bubble on the stove, the smell will creep into every corner of our house and they will be transformed.