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Farmers Market Fail, A Boyfriend Post

Note: Another post by David, who is keeping this little blog going while I’m busy with other things. I’ll post again soon, truly. Not sure yet whether it’ll be a narrative, or a recipe, but I’m getting back on the blogging wagon, I promise.

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By now everyone who reads this blog knows how obsessed we’ve become with the farmers market this summer and with food in general since the move to Minnesota. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we made an early morning trek to the St. Paul Farmers Market a couple of weekends ago. The only problem–this trip didn’t go so well.

First, we broke our only rule. We went after 8am. That is a no no. I’m no good with crowds, especially meandering, slow crowds. If we get to the market early enough, there aren’t too many people. We can simply make our way around the market (which is a great market by the way) and then loop through again to hit all of the stands we want for the things we’ve decided to purchase. If we get there too late, we run into the f***ing crowds. They are slow. They get in my way. They are slow, and they get in my way. It’s no good going to a farmers market after 8am. And this week, we went after eight.

Second, in my mind, it wasn’t me for once. Obviously it is mostly me that hates crowds. Riley can calmly manage them and still enjoy a leisurely walk around the market and shop. This guy can’t do that. But I put my game face on this week and, while a little cranky at the horrible driving surrounding the market, I believed myself calm, cool and collected throughout. In anticipation of my usual crowd anger, however, it was Riley that was a little off kilter. [David is being very generous here. I was a total shrew.] As we made our way around looking for various goodies I could tell something wasn’t quite right. She was stressed out because of the anticipation of my anger. So, we rushed through and got what we needed.

Third, I’ve been on a potato craze. It’s spring/early summer and that means new potatoes! And, apparently, that means I get to try as many new potato salad recipes as possible. Again, obviously, Riley has been getting a little tired of all the potato salads. I make massive amounts of each recipe whether or not they are good. Then I expect that we eat it all for lunch over the ensuing week. Big mistake; she usually has a couple of helpings while I polish off the other two pounds. [I mean, it’s good and all, but how much potato salad can one person possibly eat?!] Inevitably I bought about four pounds this past weekend.

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Fourth, the potatoes were rotten. It turns out Riley was finally in the mood for potatoes–she was going to try a new recipe for crispy baked potatoes. She woke up Sunday excited to make a brunch of eggs, bacon and crispy potatoes! As I read the paper she went to prep everything, but then soon enough came back into the room…

“We’ve got a problem. The potatoes are wet.”

“What?”

“The potatoes are wet and they smell funny. And some of them are squishy.”

“Well, pick the bad ones out!”

We walked over together, to take a look. I started picking potatoes out. Some were still solid, but did smell funny. Others literally exploded when you squeezed. After some typically stubborn picking through on my part, in an effort to salvage the lot, I started to gag. They smelled that bad. [They really, really did.] Riley intelligently and calmly called the whole thing off. No potatoes for brunch. No potato salad for the week.

Farmers Market Fail.

[Thankfully, such a wretched experience is a rare occurance. Most of our Farmers Market trips are wonderful and end in some seriously delicious dishes!]

Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Food

"You Can’t Come, Kate" Coconut Cupcakes

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So, LOST ended.

And I might as well tell you right now that if you haven’t watched the finale yet you can just scroll right to the bottom of the post for the cupcake goodness, cause there will probably be spoilers in this post.

I watched a stray episode or two of the first season when it originally aired, but I had a lot of other stuff on my plate in 2004 and didn’t latch on to the show the way I later would.

In 2006 I hit a low point. Basically, I was in New York, dirt poor, had no real career to speak of, and had just gotten out of the most destructive relationship I’d ever been in. I pretty much dealt with the astounding depression by never, ever, ever leaving my bed, and steadily gaining approximately 20 pounds. Awesome, right?

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Not that LOST saved me or anything. I owe that to my unrelentingly fantastic friends and my own weird determination to keep on keepin’ on regardless of what I’m up against. But sometime before I decided to get out of my bed I figured–since I’m just laying around ANYWAY–I might as well give this crazy TV show everyone is always talking about a shot. And then I watched the first three seasons in a week and a half. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Since moving to Minnesota, David and I have been watching this final season of LOST with some of his cousins and their significant others. We alternate hosting and providing dinner, drinks, and dessert. It’s a pretty sweet set up, because you only have to be responsible for one thing per week, which takes the pressure off.

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I volunteered to bring dessert for the finale; mainly because I have been wanting to try these pineapple flowers FOREVER and needed an excuse. I figured I’d go all tropical with my dessert to pay homage to the Island in my own humble way (and because, you know, pineapples are tropical) and came up with Coconut Cupcakes filled with Key Lime Curd topped with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pineapple Flowers.

Originally, I wanted to use mango curd and planned to make my own using the ever-incredible Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. But that would have taken a lot of time and effort, and I had already committed myself to 6 hours of making dried pineapple flowers. And, really? There’s only so much time in the day. So I punked out and used store-bought Key Lime Curd instead. Sorry.

I have to admit, I was disappointed in the finale. But, ok, I didn’t HATE it like I first swore I did. Maybe. I haven’t gathered my thoughts quite yet. I used to dash off abrasive and rather hilariously pointed recaps of LOST for my friend Russ via email when he was unable to watch episodes. The tradition has since died, but he requested that I recap the finale for him, and I’ve promised to do so. Most of my legitimate thoughts on the show have gone into that thus far, and I’m left with only very incredulous caps-lock-y shrieks of outrage (CRAPPY AFTER-LIFE? FREAKING GOLDEN LIGHT OF HUMANITY? SAYID AND SHANNON, SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY?!)

But mostly, and above all else: I hate Kate. I have always hated Kate. Kate ruins everything. She is an everything ruiner. Everyone is constantly telling her that SHE CAN’T COME on whatever little island adventure they’re having that day. They tell her this because if she comes, she will RUIN EVERYTHING. But does she listen? Hell no. BECAUSE SHE SUCKS.

She for sure cannot have any of these cupcakes.

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“YOU CAN’T COME, KATE” Coconut Cupcakes

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each additions. Add vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture a little bit at a time. Mix well after each addition. Gently fold in coconut. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 package of cream cheese (Philly admittedly works best), softened 
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1-2 cups of powdered sugar

Directions
Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar slowly, mixing after each addition, until frosting reaches desired consistency.

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Dried Pineapple Flowers

Adapted from Axis of Ævil

Directions
Heat oven to lowest setting and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel pineapple and slice thinly crosswise (not too thin, or it will burn). Bake for 3-4 hours, turning over with tongs about every hour, or whenever tops begin to look dry. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool for a few hours. When flowers are dry but still pliable use a flower cookie cutter, or hand shape the petals using a good pair of kitchen shears (I opted for the latter because I don’t own any cookie cutters, but I really liked the control the shears gave me). Grip each flower by the center and gently pull petals upward to create a more realistic look. Return to the rack to finish drying. 

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Kate hate forever!

Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Food

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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My dad and I share a sweet tooth. When he started bemoaning the fact that he had to read all my facebook status updates about the delicious things I was baking without getting to taste them, I promised that I’d ship him some baked goods for his birthday.

I’ve never shipped food before, so I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to send. Cookies seem like the obvious choice. Simple. Not messy. Easy to transport.

But I wasn’t really feeling it. It didn’t seem special enough. Cookies aren’t birthday-ish.

When I was a kid, we always had those snack cakes around the house. Little Debbie’s, Drake’s, Hostess. So I figured, why not mimic one of those? So I decided to make Ring Dings from scratch for my Dad’s birthday.

It was a little complicated. Ok, a lot complicated. But I was up for the challenge.  Want to see?

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Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you!

Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Food

mise en place

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Mise en place (pronounced [miz ɑ̃ plas], literally “putting in place”) is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place.”

I’ve been cooking for about eight years now, and have been cooking seriously for the last five.

There are three professions I seriously considered having in elementary school (where all career ambitions first bloom). I was determined to be either a teacher, an actress, or a pastry chef.

As it happened I stumbled upon publishing (a career I never considered in elementary school because it didn’t occur to me that such a job existed. Books, I believed, sprung fully-formed onto library shelves, where they waited their whole papery lives to be checked out and devoured by yours truly). Yet, teaching, acting, and cooking never left my life. They remain my dear, abandoned loves, and whenever my guilt allows me to face them, I indulge.

I have many, many food memories. A few bad, but most overwhelmingly good, and several rather charming in their simplicity. I remember going grocery shopping with my family as a child, and how after leaving the deli counter my father would unwrap the cheese and give me a slice to eat while we walked up and down the rest of the aisles. I remember stopping at Anthony’s Bakery sometimes after running errands with my mother, and having to decide between a cheese danish or a Half Moon cookie. I remember my first taste of ginger bread, on a dark Christmas Eve, given to me by my Nana from the bakery she worked at in Boston. But my first memory of actually cooking is when my Grammie taught me to flip pancakes. I remember the nightgown I was wearing. I remember the feel of tile on my bare feet. I remember the agonizing patience required, to wait until the entire surface of the puddled batter erupted with bubbles before flipping the pancake over. Because otherwise, I’d get a runny, goopy mess. And I get a lot of those, because I am not very patient.

And it just so happens that mise en place requires just as much–if not more–patience as perfect pancakes.

Organization does not come naturally to me. I am too restless, too lazy, too impulsive and simultaneously hesitant to be seduced by the idea that setting out everything you’ll need for the task ahead of you in a clean, coherent manner would make cooking (or life) significantly easier.

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At best, I would gather all my ingredients and plop them down on the table. Not measured or divided. Not arranged in the order I’d be using them. It was enough of an accomplishment for me to know that I wouldn’t have to go digging around my pantry at the last minute only to discover that I was out of yeast. And there is something to be said for that. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how many times I overlooked the yeast altogether, not seeing it among the scattered ingredients on my table and forgetting it completely. That sucked.

So this year I decided to put my prejudices aside, and give mise en place a whirl. Do I even need to tell you how much more harmonious my kitchen adventures have become since? Mise en place has revolutionized cooking for me. Amazing how all those professional chefs and organized home cooks have been right all this time. Never again will I lose track of how many cups of flour I’ve already dumped into my mixing bowl.

And while mise en place has revolutionized my life in the kitchen, I’m finding more and more ways to implement it in the non-culinary aspects of my life. I will be the first to admit that I’m disorganized and scatterbrained, and yet suddenly I’m consumed with the need to have “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

According to my father, I didn’t really become an adult until around 2006-2007. He’s probably right on the money with that one, too. By that time I’d been living in New York for a year or two, I had begun my career, was more or less financially stable, and started cleaning my room/apartment on a regular basis. The fact that I make my bed every morning now probably shocks my immediate family, or anyone who roomed with me in college. It shocks ME, even.

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But now that kind of neatness and order and ritual lends a kind of serenity and calm to my life.

So I’ve made room for mise en place in other corners of my life. Whenever I’m applying to jobs I make sure I have my updated resume, references, and cover letter template ready to go before I even begin the application. Last month I reorganized our bathroom closet and put everything into clear containers which I labeled with things like “cleaning supplies” and “medicine/first aid.” Thanks to David (who is naturally an organized person) all of our books are separated by genre and alphabetized by author. And, well, my clothes are all color-coded in my closet. But that’s something I’ve just always done.

It’s definitely a challenge to keep it up. We made fresh pasta last week on Kelly Riley Day 20101 and since the ingredient list was SO minimal I didn’t properly set up my mise en place. And of course, I wound up forgetting 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I added it in time, and the pasta turned out beautifully, but David and I were both laughing and shouting about the importance of mise en place! My 2010 resolution! That has been my lone lapse, though. It does help that we have such darling little prep bowls. They’re so pretty that I’ll find any excuse to use them!

The coolest thing, though, is looking at your pretty little bowls, and well-prepped ingredients and knowing what they’ll turn into. For example, the ingredients in the first picture in this post combined with a little bit of water baked up beautifully into this:

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  1. you are dying to know what Kelly Riley Day 2010 is, aren’t you? Soon, I promise! It’s a complicated post!
Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Food

a jar full of sunshine

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When I was in college one of my best friends, Dan, came up to visit me several times a year. One of those years, on one of those visits, we embarked on what is to this day the greatest grocery shopping trip I have ever been on in my life.

I can’t really explain why, only that it’s one of those seemingly unremarkable days, those everyday-days in which nothing really happens, and yet you’ll always, always cherish it. A little slice of memory that perfectly sums up your friendship.

We spent hours (yeah) in the store, wandering up and down the aisles, throwing completely random things into our cart on a whim because we liked the packaging (a tiny jug of apple juice!) or similarly superfluous reasons. But the BEST thing about that trip is that Dan and I discovered lime curd.

Me and Dan, loosely around the time the infamous grocery trip took place

Me and Dan, loosely around the time the infamous grocery trip took place

Lime curd, in a little jar on the shelf at a grocery store in Ithaca, was somehow the most bizarre and hilarious thing Dan and I had ever witnessed. We shrieked and laughed in that aisle until we couldn’t breathe. Because, really, what the hell was curd, anyway? We had no idea, but it sounded horrifying and hysterical. It instantaneously became an inside joke we’ve tossed back and forth ever since.

But last year, I finally found out exactly what curd is: DELICIOUS.

Now, I’ve never made (or tasted) lime curd. I just can’t bring myself to do that without Dan. It would be blasphemous. But I have become rather well acquainted with lemon curd, and I’ve got to tell you that stuff is stunningly tasty.

You can eat it right out of the jar. Off a spoon, your finger, whatever. Put it on toast. Put it on cake. Put it on anything and everything. Just please enjoy that tangy-sweet, sunshiney bit of heaven.

Or, you could really go all out and make a strawberry galette. A galette is a “rustic” tart. In other words: you don’t have to bother with making the crust look all beautiful and professional because we’re just going to lazily throw the whole thing together and say it’s homemade and charming. Fantastic!

Strawberry Galette with Thyme Crust and Meyer Lemon Curd

(Meyer Lemon curd and Strawberry Galette adapted from Dishing Up Delights)

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Ingredients

  • 1 pint of strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • several tablespoons of lemon curd (although you can buy it in a store, it’s super easy to make your own, which I did here. I can post the recipe if anyone’s interested)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 stick butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2-4 tablespoons ice water

Directions
Mix the flour, salt, and thyme. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or do the whole thing in a food processor. It’s a tart, not a pie, so I won’t be picky). Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough is just combined. Gather into a ball, cover in saran wrap, and chill in the fridge for at LEAST an hour (the longer the better).

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the strawberries, cornstarch, honey, and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.

After properly chilled, roll out the dough in a circle a 1/4 inch thick. Top with a few tables spoons of lemon curd, spreading the curd into an even layer over the dough, but leaving a one inch border around the edge. Top with the strawberry mixture, and fold the edges of the dough over the top.

Brush with the egg wash mixture, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving. If feeling truly decadent, top with homemade whipped cream. Swoon.

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Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Food

"monday, tuesday, thursday, wednesday, friday, sunday, saturday!"

Hello! Both Kelly and David (aka “The Boyfriend”) here to share with you drool-worthy pictures of our latest culinary adventures from Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (hence the title. Familiar quote, anyone?).

SUNDAY

The Meal: chicken in a sherry mushroom sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and pan-fried asparagus.
The Chef: David

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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MONDAY

After the hay ride Aunt Katie let us take a few of the leftover pumpkins to dispose of as we chose. Naturally we chose to roast the seeds (David) and make pumpkin puree (Kelly)! (Hey, Kelly promised to try her Pumpkin Apple Spice muffins with homemade puree sometimes, didn’t she?)

The Ingredients:

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The Result:

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But there was still dinner to consider…

[car ride home after running errands]

David: (oh-so casually) So…do you want to be in charge of dinner tonight?
Kelly: (immediately) No.
David: …
Kelly: (reluctantly) I mean, I guess I can… If I have to…
David: (immediately) Good. Cause I don’t want to.
Kelly: But… whadda we got? (A rare reversal of roles!!!)

The Meal: Asparagus mushroom quiche with cheddar and green onions, in a potato crust.
The Chef: Kelly

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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TUESDAY

The Meal: Slow-cooked porkchops, carrots, sauerkraut, and apples with homemade applesauce (and a side of leftover cheesy garlic mashed potatoes. Because they are that delicious).
The Chef: David
The Sous-Chef: Kelly (she made the applesauce)

Pre-plated:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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(Kelly’s plate is in the upper left. Unfortunately she discovered that sauerkraut wasn’t her “thing.” Otherwise, another hit!)

In keeping with the jumbled quote serving as the title for tonight’s post, here’s a photo from last Friday. We attended a dinner party at a relative’s house, and Kelly befriended an otherwise stranger-hating cat, Quimby, while battling the last of her week-long cold.

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Note: Recipes are of course available on request.

Posted by on October 28, 2009 in Food

Post apple picking dinner…whadda we got?

Apple picking was fun, fun, fun. It was a fine fall day and a nice drive down to the orchard. Riley and I were feeling good–we had both exceeded our job applications for the morning. See? Look, apple picking enjoyment!

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For dinner later we were sort of planning on Eggplant Parmesan and Mushroom Risotto. We had leftover eggplants from a party we had for my Mom’s birthday the day after we got here, but unfortunately the gifted plants had gone bad. But, we were hoping to find some replacement eggplant from the small farmers market in the town we’re staying in, St. Croix Falls, WI. Instead we walked away from the market with habaneros and green onions. So, when we got home, we began one of our favorite games…what’s for dinner? Well, whadda we got in the fridge and pantry honey!?

[a little explanation here. when we get to this point in the evening and we are wondering what we have for dinner it usually falls on me, the boyfriend, to come up with ideas. i’m not complaining, i love doing this, but i just want to make sure you all understand this. “whadda we got in the fridge” means, “what are you making for dinner, honey, cause you haven’t said anything about it yet and i’m starving.” oh, and sometimes i even get vetoed.]

THE PROCESS, of whadda we got, in dialogue:

“Well, we were going to make Mushroom Risotto and Eggplant Parmesan. The Eggplant Parmesan had Marinara sauce in it right, so we still have those ingredients, right?”

Tentatively, “Yes.”

“Let’s see, what else do we have? Hmmm…” Brats, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, Zucchini, mushrooms (for the risotto, of course), cherry tomatoes, onion, potato, beer, hummus, wine, rice, pasta, soup, cake, oatmeal, eggs, habanero, cheese, feta cheese, romano cheese, yogurt, flat bread, lots and lots and lots of apples, and… “…what do you think of this? Mushroom Risotto, fried brats, mushroom and green onion on top with a little Marinara over that!” [my college roommates would have been cheering at this point.]

*a very quizzical, apprehensive, scared, yet still starving look*

“Hey, risotto’s good. Brats are good. Marinara is good…………risotto with brats and marinara…..not so good?”

*meek, still starving and apprehensive look* “yeah…not so good?” **VETOED**

“Well–”

“–we have pasta don’t we? What about that and marinara? And we have chicken in the freezer don’t we?”

“But I want to use up what we have. And what about the brats and mushrooms?”

“Okay.” [not really an answer, but in this situation it’ll do.]

THE DINNER: Spaghetti Marinara, with veggies and brats.

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Of course the land locked (and, obviously, in love) gorgeous gal loved it. She shredded some fresh Romano (a staple in our household) right beforehand and was ready and waiting when it was all served up. [i had to suggest taking the picture before she dug in and thus the discussion about this blog that led me to finally write my first contribution.] The whole thing was readily consumed before we could even really think about how good it actually was. There were some leftovers, and–naturally–we have some purposely spared mushrooms for my [i like to think] famous mushroom risotto…

David’s Marinara

  • one whole chopped onion
  • a slightly less than equal amount of chopped carrot
  • about two cloves of minced garlic
  • approximately 1/4 cup red wine
  • one can tomato paste
  • four fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • a very healthy amount of dried basil, and then some
  • some oregano
  • two teaspoons of sugar
  • two teaspoons of salt
  • ground black pepper to taste

Saute onion, carrot and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add wine, saute for a few more minutes. Add everything else, plus about a quarter cup of water and simmer on low-med for about 20 min. Cool, then puree. Once you have the texture you desire put it back on the low-med heat (here you should taste it and add whatever you think it might need. tonight it was a little more salt and basil.) for about 10 min (just enough time to boil the pasta, if you started the water boiling when you set the sauce to cool.)

Veggies and Brat

  • two brats, cooked and chopped
  • two green onion, sliced
  • one zucchini, chopped
  • four mushrooms, chopped
  • sugar, salt, ground black pepper

Toss everything together first and let sit for a few minutes. [whenever you fry/saute/whatever fresh veggies, always, ALWAYS, toss them with salt and sugar a few minutes ahead of time to “cut them” and open up the flavor.] Heat a frying pan (not non-stick) with a little olive oil to high heat. Add everything and stir continuously until the mushrooms are done and the brats are lightly browned. Done.

Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Food

One Should Always Eat Muffins Quite Calmly. It Is The Only Way To Eat Them. *

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There’s a few things about the fall that really make it my favorite season. I love the crisp, sunny weather. I love all the colors of the foliage. And I really love apple picking.

Apple picking rocks. And last week, David and I went out to Aamodt’s Apple Farm. It was everything an apple orchard should be, which both delighted and surprised me.

I know it’s a bit narrow-minded of me, but apples come from New England. That’s just always how I’ve thought about it. Apples are a New England thing. And going apple picking is something I remember doing as a kid, and then again sporadically in my adolescence.

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A truly great apple picking experience requires two things: hot apple cider, and apple cider donuts. Aamodt’s, clearly a worthy apple orchard, had both. In addition to the two bags of apples that we picked ourselves, we bought an additional bag at the store in the barn. We also bought some local honey (which I have been enjoying immensely in my morning tea) and I bought one tiny old fashioned caramel (which was out of this world).

But before the shopping, naturally, I insisted that we get to the heart of the whole apple picking experience: the cider and the donuts.

I like apples as much as the next gal, but the whole point of apple picking is going inside the barn, with your cheeks red from the crisp cool air, and sitting down on a wooden bench with a cup of hot apple cider and an apple cider donut to dunk in it. Mmmmm… I’m ready to go apple picking all over again!

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…Not that we need to. We certainly picked our fill. We got a bit overzealous, actually, and wound up with way more apples than we could possible need. So I have been doing a LOT of baking. Apple butter, applesauce, German applecake.  Apple pies, apple crisp, and apple dumplings are forthcoming. And yet still we have apples upon apples upon apples in our kitchen.

One of my favorite recipes ever (and this is saying something) is my recipe for Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins. You must, I mean, you really, really must make these muffins. Soon. They are a perfect bite of autumn. So aromatic, so flavorful, so GOOD. You can make them for a big brunch like I did two weeks ago, or you can make a batch for you and your family, like I’m about to do. These freeze extremely well, so you don’t have to worry about devouring them all in one sitting, which is a very real danger because these muffins are THAT DELICIOUS.

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Best Ever Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour (up to half can be whole wheat)
  • 2 cups of sugar (brown or white. I prefer brown, personally)
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce (I’m using homemade applesauce this time around, but store bought works just as well).
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree; not pumpkin pie filling. (You can also use 1 cup of homemade pumpkin puree which I swear to try out myself sometime soon. In the meantime I’m a fan of Libby’s).
  • Several apples, peeled, cored, and chopped. (Depending on size the number will vary. I used about 6 smallish-medium apples today. I like a lot of apple in my muffins!)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp of ginger
  • scant 1/2 tsp of nutmeg

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Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, pumpkin puree, and applesauce in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gently fold in the apples. Grease a muffin tin well (I recently discovered Baker’s Joy and I’m in LOVE! I also like using cupcake liners). For nicely domed bakery-esque muffins, fill tin to the top with batter. This method will produce roughly 18 regular sized muffins. If you fill each tin 3/4 of the way full,  you can get 24 regular sized muffins. Personally, I prefer the pretty domes. Plus, more muffin! You can sprinkle some sugar over the tops for some crunch and sparkle if you like! Place muffin tin on the center rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and enjoy!

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Keep your eyes peeled for the next Land Locked (and in Love!) post, which will be written by a very special guest!

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*Lots of love, and perhaps a prize, if you can identify the source of the quote in the title!

Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Food

i’m really happy for you, and i’mma let you finish, but…

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Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the Beer Garden on Saturday Night for our Goodbye Party! It meant so much to us to have you there. I wish I had taken more pictures (I always wish that in retrospect. Must make more of an effort next time). There were lots of laughs, a few tears, and at least one Kanye West impression. I really couldn’t have asked for more.

We’re still interviewing for my replacement at work. Pamela swears she will make a decision today and I plan to hold her to it. We really want to get someone in to train with me, moreso than usual because I’m going to be leaving several major projects uncompleted and it will be a rough transition for whomever fills in. I am trying to get my ducks in a row, here, but it’s getting really hard to focus.

roadtrip

David and I finally sat down and planned out our driving route. We’re driving a u-haul all the way out to Minnesota; did I mentioned that? From New York to Massachusetts to Ohio to Minnesota. About 27ish hours of driving total!

I’m tempted–so tempted!–to buy some kind of ipod car converter device so we’ll have some audio control along the way. But it’s sort of a foolish waste of money at this point. Not to mention that it’s been years, literally, since I’ve actually spent any time listening to the radio. It will be good for me.

We’re really down to the wire now: 6 days until we leave.  The apartment is disheveled and strewn with boxes–some packed, some half-packed, some empty. Our refrigerator is void of everything but condiments and some yogurt. Oh, and some limes.

Speaking of limes (this is actually an unplanned segue, so forgive me. We’re venturing off the beaten track here), didn’t I promise you the recipe for my favorite summer cocktail a while ago? I definitely did. Might as well do that now, huh?

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The Long Vodka

Ingredients

  • bitters
  • vodka
  • tonic
  • lime
  • ice

Directions

Shake a few dashes of bitters over ice in a tall glass. Add two shots of vodka, the juice of half a lime, and top off with tonic. Add a slice of lime for garnish if you want to be fancy. Stir, enjoy!

In fact, I’d be tempted to make one myself if I were going directly home this evening. As it is, though, I’m putting on my best Mad Men pearls and hitting the town with Donna Bagdasarian. If we hit up Employees Only for one last farewell–as we are wont to do–I fear there’s far more sinister drinks in my future!

Posted by on September 21, 2009 in Food