Cooking + Baking

You are currently browsing the archive for the Cooking + Baking category.

Hello friends! Happy day after Thanksgiving to you! It was a non-traditional feast for us this holiday, celebrating with our cousin Zach. We enjoyed each other’s very fine company, along with margaritas, guacamole, green & red chile, pork & three kinds of wee sweet tamales. All made by yours truly, which was quite the endeavor! I started on Tuesday, so I wouldn’t be a manic maniac Thursday.

Grandpa would be super proud, especially noting the pork to masa ratio, as he nearly always lamented a lack of meat. It was my first time making tamales on my own. The last time was in high school, helping my mom. Much thanks to Tamales 101 for all the history (did you know they were among the first MREs?) and helpful advice! Greg and I decided that they’re the best we’ve ever had, which is wonderful, when Moreno’s and La Choza set such a high bar.

It was also the first time we’d ever had sweet tamales, more out of necessity than forethought truth be told, because there was SO much masa. Seriously. I didn’t have enough ingredients to fill them savory style, even when improvising with green chiles and cheese. I flavored the masa with vanilla and sugar in one batch, cinnamon and sugar in another, and sugar and chocolate chips in the third. You’d think our resident chocoholic would have been most excited about those, but he was dubious. They turned out to be our favorite, which was rather sad, as I made the fewest of them. Next time! The chocolate laden one is our final incarnation, made with leftovers and a sauce on the fly this afternoon. Delicious.

Finally to Zach’s creme brulee! It was egg nog flavored and muy muy delicioso. He and Greg did a fine job on the brulee portion. FIRE!

Oh, and here is my “recipe” for margaritas – my favorite in the land. Make a single glass or enough for a party. The sparkling water makes it slightly unconventional, but it is muy potente without it. Besides, bubbles are fun! If you are lucky enough to have some prickly pear syrup on hand, add it to your liking and be glad. The flavor and color are fabulous.

  • 3 parts sparkling lemon, lime, or lemon-lime sparkling water
  • Two parts tequila
  • 1.5 parts lime juice, fresh squeezed or bottled
  • One part orange liqueur (I like Gran Gala)
  • 1/2 part agave nectar
  • salt

Stir everything but the sparkling water together in a glass or pitcher, and taste to see how you feel about it. Add whatever it needs before adding the water. Sometimes the lime isn’t as flavorful, and I end up having it in equal proportion to the tequila. Maybe you like it sweeter. It’s your margarita. Do what you like! Another way I let go of convention is by adding salt directly to the glass. Salting the rim is a major pain. Sprinkle some nice sea salt in, stir, and taste. Add more, if you want. Enjoy!

Hello! What a perfect light jacket with full sun kind of day. We sipped our Sunday coffee outside, while Juniper bounded around the yard, chasing balls, eating snow, and generally amusing herself in the warm sunshine.

I had apples that had gone a little wrinkly and decided to make the most of them with Martha Stewart’s apple rosemary tea bread, probably the first and best recipe of hers I ever tried, gotten from a Christmas book ages and ages ago. It is moist and delicious, toasts beautifully, and as the name indicates, is rather nice with tea. We (more accurately Greg) pretty much devoured it.

Chicken with orange zest and green olive gremolata – a stellar combination that was quite pretty, too.

Me and my girl! She is such an adorable love bug. Greg and I were cuddling in bed, talking about life this morning, how you never know what the future holds. We laughed aloud when we imagined our twenty-years-ago selves pondering life with a dog and a brick ranch in Colorado Springs. We have absolutely no complaints about the path that led us here.

I bought a rather smart coat in two of my favorite colors (army green and rust!). It has a liner that is also a perfect down jacket. The one caveat? It came with this wild maroon faux fur hood attachment. I might have considered it, as it does seem quite warm, but it completely obscured my vision. Juniper didn’t think much of it either, but how cute she is in her wondering, “What have you done to me?!”

In typical Colorado fashion, Wednesday was a gloriously warm 79 degrees. By bedtime, the wind was wicked with bluster, hurling leaves and branches about, disturbing my sleep the whole of the night. It was a ridiculously frigid twenty-something degrees when I darted from bed Thursday, and our girl had to wear her fleece under this huddle of blanket to keep from shivering.

But the snow came in lovely light-hearted flakes, the early best kind that squeak underfoot.

So we got out in it, of course, the delightful first of the season, enjoying snow capped blossoms, fruits, and leaves.

To warm up, and the fact the zucchini would rot soon if I didn’t, I baked bread, not-too-sweet and heady with ginger and cinnamon. Oh, happy fall!

Tags:

Hey there, happy Friday!!

A small bowl of our burgeoning orchard bounty: a perfect strawberry, two plums of a dozen on the tree, and the blackberries, so many blackberries this year! The cobbler was a fine way to snazz them up, though they are pretty magical eaten straight from the cane.

Have you ever had the pleasure of a vlaai? It’s a pie or tart of the Limburg region of the Netherlands and Belgium, though different by virtue of a slightly sweet yeasted crust. I discovered it in the fabulous Home Made series by Yvette Van Boven, of which I own three. She’s a marvelously clever cook and infuses her books with fun humor and drawings.

This was my first vlaai with the cherries I canned from my neighbor Judy’s tree. In future, I will roll the dough thinner, as it puffed much more than expected. The pie was truly delicious, however, sweet and tart, and pretty cute, too, if I do say so, the squirrel and her quarry of acorns. We enjoyed it with our neighbors, Judy, Barb, and Jack, over a splendid afternoon of tea and conversation.

These super dark rosehips (plus two from another) are from a bush my mom gave me in memory of my Grandma Tess. In spring and early summer it is covered in sweet scented white blossoms, which makes it a real year-round stunner! I tried to make a jelly with them and crab apples from down the street, but despite their beautiful pink flesh and and flavor when raw, they were utterly bland and uninspiring when cooked. It’s too bad, because the rose hips made the prettiest purple color. I’ll see what I can do with them next year.

We’ve been hiking with Jeff (geocaching action shot!) every couple of months, enjoying discovering places midway between our houses and enjoying breakfast afterwards. This time it was Pegasus in Castle Rock – get the breakfast quesadilla and be glad.

Rainbow connection…

Greg, Juniper, and I had a super time, along with thousands of others, at the Chile & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo last weekend. It was a picture perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, air redolent of roasting chiles, of course. We enjoyed fair food in the form of a smoked turkey leg, some supposedly award winning, yet awful and outrageously expensive green chile, truly yummy green chile ice cream and a jalapeno brownie (thank you Bite Me Cake Company!). I also bought the fab poster pictured above, and a half bushel of organic Pueblo chiles from the nice people at the Hobbs & Meyer farm stand. It took me the better part of a day to prep and can them, but I have three quarts and a pint now ready to roll.

In making conversation with the kindly man on the right, I realized I’ve been eating chiles my whole life.  As my Great Aunt Mary (Hello in heaven!) would say about bananas, I’ll take them any way I can get them: in chile and tamales, of course, in salad, on top of eggs, filled with cheese in a relleno, in queso, atop a burger with cheese, roasted and straight into my mouth.

It’s funny how I never really thought of it as being a “thing” until my years away from the Southwest. When I talked green chile in Portland and Pittsburgh, most people assumed it was something completely different, Texas style with ground beef and kidney beans or a truly awful concoction with, gasp, carrots and celery. How  wonderful to be among people who know, even though they might still make a total cock-up of the recipe by adding tomato or beer or other nonsense.

p.s. For some cool and muy authentic Mexican recipes, with chiles, of course, visit this sweet lady.

It is prime preserving season under our red roof. Over the past month or so, I have swooned over roiling pots of apple jelly, peach, strawberry-rhubarb, strawberry, gooseberry, and blackberry jam, as well as apple butter. For reasons of quality control (!!), I have made batch after batch of angel biscuits (my new and likely forever favorite – the texture the truly heavenly bit of exterior crisp and interior fluff!) to slather and savor. I have absolutely no complaints.

And the pretty pink concoction above? A bit of leftover strained apple syrup prior to jelly making. I sweetened it ever so slightly to make a tart apple soda. I am thinking it would be pretty spectacular with rosemary and whiskey, that first hint of fall sipped on the porch – birds chirping, bees buzzing.

Our first harvest of our backyard blackberries (one more since and how I made the jam!!) was a swell accompaniment to a cantaloupe, cucumber, and mint salad, with a few chopped pistachios for crunch. I served it with a smoked chicken thigh – compliments of our stovetop smoker, of course. Good golly, what a magical supper that was…

A dutch baby, which we, of course, enjoyed with wee dabs of all the jams and butters and a delicate sprinkle of powdered sugar. And how about that cute pot? We haven’t owned a microwave in probably fifteen years, so it is our go-to for reheating cold coffee and making chai. I bought it in Portland, a $3 thrift store find. We have since procured, via Etsy, an identical twin, which makes me immensely happy.

 

« Older entries