Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my very favorite holidays. What's not to love? You get celebrate all the many things to be thankful for, spend time with loved ones and friends and eat lots of good food.

This year, Sean and I decided to try something new. We started our day with pumpkin waffles drizzled with warm butter and honey and peppered bacon.

Then, we participated in the Seattle Turkey Trot, a 5K fun run/walk benefiting the Ballard Food Bank. We had a lovely time (with the exception of having to climb two extremely steep sets of stairs to get from the parking lot to the registration area. Holy Cow - it was like climbing Everest). We were able to enjoy a leisurely walk through neighborhoods and along the Burke Gilman trail all with a view of Puget Sound blanketed in fog. We were back home by 11 a.m., plenty of time to get Thanksgiving dinner underway.

As we speak, the turkey is roasting and about half a dozen side dishes are poised and ready to go into the oven. How is your holiday going?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Greek-style yogurt

I discovered a new food love at lunch today: Greek-style yogurt. Oh my goodness, this stuff is dreamy. How have I never tried this before? It's very thick compared to traditional yogurt, almost the consistency of a soft cheese or thick sour cream. It was extremely smooth and creamy. The particular variety I tried was flavored with honey, slightly sweet and moderately tangy. I don't think I will ever be able to eat Yoplait again. Sean, be advised.

I must find a recipe for this. Especially considering the Greek-style yogurt is twice as expensive as other kinds. Ugh, that's just like me. At first glance, it seems the only difference is that most of the whey has been drained away. Surely it can't be that hard to make.

Oooh... this would be lovely with fresh fruit. I must remember this when summer produce is available again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cool days, warm soup

The weather has been pretty chilly and rainy in Seattle, providing the perfect opportunity for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I love this particular recipe for tomato soup because it's creamy and hearty thanks to a little cream cheese. It works equally well with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, making it convenient to make with whatever is on hand.

The recipe calls for fresh basil, which isn't in season right now. I substituted dried basil, but, alas, it's just not the same. The soup is still good (and it will certainly make good leftovers tomorrow), but there's just nothing like the flavor of fresh basil.

The grilled cheese sandwiches are on the whole wheat bread I made on Sunday. The trick with making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, in my opinion, is to use defrosted bread with plenty of cheddar cheese that is slowly toasted on a skillet over low or medium-low heat.

As Sean pointed out this evening, this method creates three distinct layers on each slice of bread: a toasty golden outer layer, soft inner bread layer and a layer of melty, cheese-absorbed bread. While I am a grilled cheese purist, preferring only cheddar cheese on my sandwich, Sean's grilled cheese sandwich has a few dashes of Tabasco to give it a bit of a kick. Eh, he seems to like it so that's all that matters to me.

What's your cold weather comfort food?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cranberry sauce

Sean and I are preparing for our trip to see family, and we are so excited. We leave in just a few days! I spent yesterday canning jellied
cranberry sauce for the potluck dinner on Friday.

Thank goodness the cranberries went on sale in time. As you may know, I simply refuse to buy expensive fruit just to can it. I see no need to pay twice what I would for a pre-made version in
the store just for the pleasure of saying I made it at home. No, I would much rather brag about making it home AND saving a bunch of money.

I do love canning, though. The product tastes far superior to anything I can buy in the store, and it is so satisfying to see the jars lined up on my kitchen bar when I am finished. It's even more satisfying to see the pantry well stocked.

I have some leftover cranberries and have been trolling my canning cookbook for a good recipe to use them with. So far, most of the recipes call for dried cranberries, not fresh. That's disappointing. I will either keep looking or break out the food dehydrator when we get back. Does anyone have a canning recipe using fresh cranberries (that isn't cranberry sauce - I am afraid I am sauced out) that they would mind sharing?

Cooking fresh cranberries is so fun. I love hearing them pop and seeing them turn such a brilliant ruby red. Word of warning, though - the popping and the color are a recipe for laundry. I didn't think to change out of my white t-shirt before starting this process. By the end, it looked like I had been to war. Luckily, with a little bleach, my shirt is good as new.

The Washington apples are in season now, too. There is one recipe I especially look forward to trying: a spiced apple jam. Supposedly, it is like having apple pie in a jar. I hope so - that sounds yummy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Adventures in vegetables

We tried a new veggie this weekend: Romanesco cauliflower (also called Romanesco broccoli). I thought it was very tasty, and I found it very exciting to try a vegetable that was completely new to me. The florets are shaped like fractals and are light green; they taste like a mild broccoli.

It turned out to be a perfect compliment to our leftover pot roast. I sliced the florets like broccoli and steamed them for about three minutes until they were crisp tender. Yummy.

I harvested my carrots this week. My yield was about a dozen small carrots, which amounted to about two pounds. They were grown from seeds in a 16-inch square container. The carrots are so sweet and taste much different than the ones I buy in the store. I am very pleased with the results and will definitely plant carrots in the garden again next year.

I also have had success this year with the herbs: sage, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. The cilantro and radishes were unsuccessful. The bell peppers were only moderately successful - I am afraid they just don't get enough heat and sunshine at the right times to make them happy. Maybe I'll have more luck when Sean builds my greenhouse extension off the balcony...

The tomatoes were a bit disappointing, but I think my results had more to do with user error than anything wrong with the tomatoes. I have learned a lot about tomatoes these last two summers. I hope I finally get the hang of it next year.