Monday, November 26, 2012

A Thanksgiving Poem (of a sort)

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, the workers were scattered and not quiet at all!

The painters worked diligently and quiet as mice, amidst all the sawing, banging, and voice.

The counter guys carefully put the counters in place, before sawing the holes for the stove top and outlets.

The plumber hooked up one sink, as the second hadn't arrived.

     The cabinet guys raised the upper cabinets and trimmed the raised counter edge.

            Only the electrician was no where to be found.

As they exited the house, one by one, the house was left with a layer of stone dust and calm.

Joe jumped on the job of cleaning the kitchen,

       And, the cabinets were cleaned and refilled in a smidgen,

To sleep they both went, with visions of pie dancing in their head.

Christine arose on Thanksgiving day, with no prep done for the beautiful meal on the way.

But with the knowledge of water and plenty of counter space, on which to,

     Roll out Pie dough ...

          Chop vegetables for stuffing ...

               Make a few appetizers for a mid-day lunch ...

and finally pull together the perfect size Thanksgiving meal for two, complete with, Maple Cider Glazed Turkey,
Green Beans,
Pear, Pecan, Blue Cheese and Cranberry chopped salad,
Pecan Pie, and
Pumpkin Souffle.

There was even time for a walk on Thanksgiving afternoon.  I couldn't be more thankful for all of these people coming together to make our kitchen so perfect. 

Soon the final touches will be in place and the kitchen will be finished - watch for the final pictures to come!
Please note - this author claims absolutely no poem writing experience or training!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Easy Pasta

So often we find ourselves with busier days than we'd expected, or maybe hoped to have.  In these situations, it's good to have a warm comforting meal at the end of those day when you look in the fridge and wish something would magically appear.

Ta Da!

Well with just a few vegetables and some pasta, maybe a stray slice of bread and some grated parmesan cheese you can create something very comforting.  The other night my husband said, something to the effect that I could make this more often as he dug into his bowl.

This is one of those without a set recipe.  I had an idea and went to the fridge to see what veggies I had.  Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale will do.

Then I thought, hmmm, I'm going to want some crispy, meat cheese flavor.   Just a little.  So I chopped up some Pancetta. Would you like a little meat flavor but dont' have any pancetta?  Just one slice of chopped bacon, some ham, or prosciutto would do the trick!

And made some yummy breadcrumbs.  Whenever I want some crispy breadcrumbs to cover some pasta or something.  I put a slice of bread in the food processor and mix that with salt, pepper, grated parmesan to please, and chopped parsley, if i have it.  This time I also added some flax seeds. NOTE - the picture below is finished, do not add the cheese until after you've browned the breadcrumbs. 

With parts collected, it's time to cook and assemble.  There are two pans here.

Pot One:
I started by putting the water on to boil for the pasta and vegetables.  For the pasta I actually used a Gluten Free pasta by DeBoles.  It was good, the Multi Grain Penne with rice, quinoa and amaranth.  I just figured out how long the pasta needed and about 4-5 minutes before it would be done, I put the broccoli, cauliflower, and kale into the same pot to lightly cook.

Pan Two:
While the water is heating and the pasta and vegetables are cooking, I set some olive oil to heat in a pan.  When it was warm I added the chopped stems of the kale and pancetta to crisp a bit and then I added the breadcrumbs  (chopped bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and flax seeds) and some chopped garlic to that pan to brown up.  If you are feeling decadent, add some butter to this mixture.  Mmmmm.

When the breadcrumbs are toasty, take off the heat and mix in the parsley and parmesan.  The beauty of no recipe is you can mix in as little or as much as your heart desires!  Drain the vegetables and pasta add the breadcrumb mixture and toss.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pear Pie

We've talked about pie before.  But it seems people are still intimidated by pie.  What throws people? Is it the crust?  Maybe the time it takes to peel fruit?  I am here to say "No More"!  Pie gives too much joy, it should not be put off for the fear that it won't come out perfect. 

I make a lot of pies and maybe one in three crusts is great and half the time I don't get it done in time for it to rest and it doesn't come out in pretty set shapes, but is a little runny.  They are still eaten quickly and they still make the people I made them for feel loved.

I recently made a pear pie.  Did I mention the Asian Pear tree we have?  These pears are not as soft as some, even after cooking.  I probably could have used more sugar, I'm always cutting the sugar.  And, I probably could have improved the crust by using white flour, even some white flour.  But you know what, it's still tasty!

Here's the general direction I take on pie, but if fruit pies are too much work, do something easy like a pumpkin or a pecan pie.  You could always {gasp} by the crust at the store, too.

Basic Pie Crust - This is the basic flaky pie crust I've been using.  I like 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening and this is the Basic Flaky Crust out of "Pie" by Ken Haedrich, except I never use white flour.  It makes one crust.

Crust tip: Everything should be cold including flour and bowl.

1 1/2 cups flour (this last time I used all spelt)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold shortening
1/4 cup ice water
  1. Put dry ingredients in the food processor and mix until just blended.
  2. Put in the butter and shortening and mix in short bursts until small pieces. 
  3. Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time and mix until crust just barely pulls together.
  4. Pull into a ball wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  5. Roll out on a floured surface, or between two sheets of wax paper.  Put in pie pan, crimp edges and put back in fridge for 20 minutes.

About 6 cups of sliced fruit.
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
  1. As you are peeling (if desired) and cutting the fruit, mix in the lemon juice, so the fruit doesn't brown.
  2. Mix together sugar through salt and then gently stir the dry ingredients into the pears and let sit a 5-10 minutes.
  3. Put in the pie crust and put the pie into a preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes,
    1. Turn the oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Take the pie out and put the crumble on top of it. 
    3. Bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the top is brown and the pears are bubbling.  If needed, cover the edges with aluminum foil so they don't get too brown.

1/4 cup flour ( I use wheat)
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter

Mix together in a food processor or with your fingers, until butter is crumbled throughout.  Store in the refrigerator until the pie has baked 30 minutes.

Pie.  Just the word can make people happy - and I'm pretty sure it's not just my husband!