Cooking + Baking

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Our cute little woodsman incense burner, which we bought at a magical holiday market in Pittsburgh, continues to delight!

Not nearly often enough, we empty, scour, and refill the refrigerator. I, in my maniacal delight at soldierly, short to tall rows of jars finds it oddly comforting, opening the doors, even when I need not a thing, just to gaze upon it and marvel.

We had a few meals out in the world before COVID numbers began to creep up, and up, and up, but have since relegated ourselves to 100% home cooking. Ribs with salad and sweet potatoes; Asian glazed drumsticks, fluffy rice, and a mess o’ spinach and roasted pepper; herb drumsticks and roasted broccoli some of the prettiest lately.

A walk or two a day keeps our spirits soaring. So, too, does playlist making, reading – books and magazines alike, Star Trek Discovery gotten from the library, The 2017 iteration of Twin Peaks (so YOU, David Lynch, and I must add how beautiful his silvery locks are!), sipping the hottest of coffee with creamy homemade almond milk come the weekend, bedtime cuddles, and chats with those I love.

Such lovely soup weather we are having. This is lemon chicken & rice.

Hearty beef chili with pinto beans and plenty of New Mexico and pasilla chiles.

Topped with an egg for breakfast the following day. Um, yeah…

I am still making soap, and I daresay these are my prettiest bars! After initially going gonzo with various butters and oils, scents and add-ins, I have whittled down my favorites. The top is a rather luscious goat milk, of which I made two varieties this time: plain and lemon-bay leaf, which smells like summer all year long. The speckled variety in the center photo is orange-rosemary-mint, our dreamy shampoo and body bar. Truly. The white bar is unscented 100% coconut oil and slated to be our new laundry soap. I’ll tell you how it goes. In the mean time, it’s so pretty to look at. They all are, really.

Hi there! Revisiting the recipes from this Super Supper post, nearly twelve years later. Greg is beardless but no less silly. In this go round, I added mushrooms, substituted sliced linguica for the Italian sausage, and though this slice would have you believe otherwise, doubled the raisins and pine nuts (I toasted them, too). Wonderfully delicious! If you’d like to double down on the healthy bits, make a kale chiffonade and toss those ribbons in, too.

And because it is the holiday season, I could not go without making peppermint ice cream! If you recall, I discovered an old-timey recipe last year for a no-churn variety, and boy have I made the best of it! If you missed it, here goes:

16 oz heavy cream, whipped to perfect billowy peaks

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (I’m going to try the coconut next!)

Pour the entire contents of the can of condensed milk over the billowy peaks and blend together. Add whatever dream of ice cream you fancy (well, almost) and put in a freezer safe container. It’s best to make it the day before you plan to eat it, as it takes a long while to solidify.

Speaking to the well, almost, bit. Fresh fruit will freeze solid and be quite difficult to scoop and even more unpleasant to eat (voice of rock-hard cherry experience talking!) – best to add your favorite chunky jams or preserves.

The other flavor I made this go round was coffee (both had mini chocolate chips). I used two tablespoons beans on the finest setting on my grinder, added that to 1/4 cup of boiling water, let it cool, and strained the remaining very strong brew into one half of my ice cream base. With the additional liquid, it’s a bit more solid, but goll-ee, does it taste great!

orange roughy + braised cabbage + beurre blanc

Poutine! Greg dashed to Wendy’s for fries. The cheese curds are from our neighborhood Ranch Foods Direct, and the gravy is home made. The awesomeness scale went to ELEVEN.

Our favorite library. Since we are forbidden entry for the time being, we brought Juniper to our hold pick-up and walked the perimeter instead. Gosh do I miss a good library browse!

And in the people sometimes do stupid things without even realizing category: I was at Costco, fully masked and perusing the frozen section, when my mom called. For about two minutes of our conversation, I continued to browse with my MASK OFF, and only undertstood what was happening when I realized the mask was tangling on something. I got it back on right quick.

I now have the tiniest bit of sympathy for those I see blithely strolling sans masks in just about every store. Brain farts are clearly quite powerful.

Hello! Belated Thanksgiving greetings to my fellow celebrants. The above photo is not our Thanksgiving feast, but very delicious nonetheless: roasted red pepper and tomato soup, velvety grits, and paprika laced Oregon shrimp. It’s an easy ensemble, coming together so very quickly.

With COVID cases skyrocketing with a ruthless efficiency, we’ve been staying home even more and daydreaming about favorite restaurants and times when so many weren’t on the brink of closure. It’s just so horrible. How I wish for a magic wand to make this nightmare end.

But the vaccines are coming! Praying they will be equally ruthless in their efficiency so people can get out of food lines and back to their lives. A-M-E-N!

My favorite cutie pies waiting on me…

Menu for days and our Thanksgiving in a nutshell. We ate early and quite well, finished a puzzle of the good ole USA, and watched Tootsie, which, after seeing it in the theater when it came out (I was ELEVEN), was a bit new and fun and a marvelous nod to feminism. A great way to round out another perfect Colleen and Greg day!

smoked pork chop + corn soup
orange roughy + home grown fennel fronds
southwest pecan brownies
tahini shortbread
fontina + cauliflower focaccia
nice legs…

My good-ness, the color this fall, a veritable cornucopia nearly everywhere the eye sets its gaze on the horizon. The simple pleasures of life, peeps.

Months and months after this blasted virus turned our lives asunder, I am finally feeling a semblance of order and calm while out in the world. I wear my mask (though not on walks – sorry, not sorry) and keep my distance and focus on the positive – people helping, people voting (how long the drop off line at the library!), bluebird skies and puppy dog sighs.

We’ve been remembering to play games (Lords of Waterdeep, canasta, Seasons!) and assemble puzzles (national parks, wonders of the world!), rather than flopping zombie-like on the sofa for television. Not that doesn’t have its perks. I LOVE Grand Designs, Jonathan and Drew, and movies galore! I’ve made a bit of jewelry (photos soon), too.

And, of course, cooking, turning out one bit of yum after another. It’s our life in a nutshell. Small but beautiful.

More walking, less picture taking, okay?

Backyard plums! Our first real harvest, shy of about twenty the raccoons mauled. Sharing is caring?

Eye-talian pepper, not the first nor the largest, but mighty fine!

Playing games…Seasons to be exact.

First fennel! Shaved and on pizza. Mmmm…

As is my wont when visiting my parents (last weekend – and my cousins and aunt, too!), I take pictures of pictures – mostly times long past. These are my Great-Grandparents Tillie and Howard. I love her closed eye smile, a rare moment of pure joy.

Bake early and often, peeps!

I give all credit for my love of music to my dad. He can keep the beer, however.

My cousin Angela and Grandpa Marv. She’s in her late 30s now!

My Grandma Frances, Dad, and Mom in 1972.

With my adorable cousins Stephanie and Allison, probably 1980. I am wearing one of my favorite shirts, ever!! It was so soft and had super tiny red stripes.

And to up the vintage vibe, I’ve got 1970s era Fleetwood Mac blasting on the hi-fi. Warm Ways, indeed.

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