Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Clutches

Hello there, icy roads and bone chilling wind, back already? Fumph. You'll just find me huddled around my teacup muttering "I believe in Spring," yes you will.

Anyway.



We have been eating especially well over here lately. B has had some new-found time in his world and fatigue with some of our winter soups and stews has driven us back to some forgotten favorites and new experiments. B made Hoppin John this week and despite my mixed feelings about black eyed peas, it was durn tasty. Plus you get to say "Hoppin John" a lot around the house, bonus.

That up there is a Green Potato. This is the adult version of a favorite meal from my childhood, "Green Potatoes for Six" from Laurel's Kitchen. Introduced as "a simple recipe, most enthusiastically received by the children," it definitely lives up to this promise. Can I just interject here that like another vegetable loving gal expecting a child soon, I am spending a perhaps excessive amount of time wondering if our guy is going to be a picky eater? Right. Anyway, all to say that I loved this dish as a kid and still do. I am pretty sure that my go-to version these days has some extra ingredients, but I think you should include them.

Green Potatoes

Russet Potatoes
Bunch of broccoli
Bunch of kale
1-2 leeks
Butter
Sour Cream or Cottage Cheese
Salt
Pepper
Cheese (cheddar will do)

Bake potatoes until tender. Allow to cool slightly, slice in half longways, scoop out insides and place in a bowl.

In the meantime, sauté chopped leeks in butter for 10+ minutes. Be sure to salt and pepper them generously, you'll be adding them to a whole lot of potatoes. Add chopped kale, cook until bright green, remove from heat.

Steam whole hunks of broccoli until reaching the raw side of tender. Allow to cool slightly, then chop into pretty small bits.

Mash or rice potatoes, add a few hunks of butter, and a few generous glops of sour cream (if I use cottage cheese, which I only do if it's mouldering in my fridge from making Macaroni & Cheese, I blend it up in the food processor first - chunks of cottage cheese are not my favorite in this dish). Add leeks and kale and broccoli. Mix thoroughly, adding salt and tons of pepper as you go.

Grate cheese. Into each scooped out potato half, scatter some salt, pepper, and a small layer of cheese. Don't skip this, it's sort of the layer that flavors your thick potato skin. Then stuff with mashed potato/vegetable mix, top with a little more grated cheese. Bake at 350 while covered with foil for about 30 minutes, then remove foil to brown the cheese.

Yum.

P.S. Any Charleston folks here or folks who know Charleston? We are planning a final kiddo-free romantic getaway and would love your recommendations about food and things best not missed. Plus we always want to know where to get a good croissant.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Onion Needles & Hand Pies


Sweet Mary, we finally had some spring weather around here. Released from the clutches of blustery 18 degree weather, B rode the Blue Ridge Parkway on bikes and I threw a baseball (with a mitt and everything!) with a friend and everyone got sunburns and I know that if I clap hard enough and repeat "I believe in Spring" it really will happen. I was starting to wonder. I'm not sure we always earn our Spring splendor down here, but this year there is no question.


Speaking of such things, would you look at those onion starts? I am eternally charmed by the arrival of all things seed, but onions, well, all alliums I have ever planted by seed, they have a special place in my heart due to their insistence upon rising up out of the dirt like the eye of a sewing needle. I need someone to tell me why they grow like this. These photos are several days old, now they are well over an inch and a half and only a few have finally broken out into crazy ninety degree angles. They are stretching, heads to toes. My yogic onions. We are going to try a planting method with half of these called Dutch bunching or some such name, where you plant 3-5 seeds per plastic cell, and then rather than thin or separate, you just plonk the whole little plug into the ground with a correspondingly generous amount of room around it, and supposedly they just all push away from each other and grow fine. We'll see. I am a bit "really?" about it, so we're not doing them all that way.


In other exciting weekend news, B and I made blueberry handpies. We are doing some baking together, which is new, as thus far I am pretty much the baker in the house. Well, that's not totally true, B makes the bread and has been getting better and better at that (me: "I do not make things with yeast"). Anyway, it was ridiculously fun because we experimented like mad in an effort to make the perfect handpie, and durn it, I think we have a version that we are pretty happy with. This town needs more handpies, there are far too many heavily iced cupcakes for my taste.


Also, I used to like Kundera and now I am old and I had an allergic reaction to this book. I almost want to torture myself a little more and reread some of his stuff that I truly remember liking waaaaaay back in my early twenties (I hadn't read this one before), but I am not sure if I can suffer so. Also, we watched this film and it was so stinkin' good. I mean really.


Happy Monday out there. May you have a pie in hand soon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nest

Another weekend of winter weather: snow, slush, rain. We took a magical walk Friday evening in my most favorite time of snow, when it's been coming down for a while and is still coming down, just when it's started to dampen the sound and keep cars off the road so that you can walk arm in arm right down the middle of the street.


It was that kind of weekend. I sewed curtains and B fixed small annoying things in the house. We planted onion seeds. B made a beautiful Sunday dinner, and I made an enormous pot of barley chicken soup for the week. I had lunch out with a friend, the chickens kicked down muddy eggs. We watched some films and I read my book. Calm.


I even managed to sew these curtains with an all-time minimum of swearing. Crawling around on the floor with a tape measure is maybe not my favorite thing anymore though, so I'm glad I didn't put these off any longer. I love this fabric. It's bright and invites the eye to wander. There are some unidentifiable animals, always a good thing.


The unearthly glow in the background is the light of our seed starting setup. We are nurturing little kale, broccoli, broccoli rabe, chard, lettuces, cabbages, cauliflower, bok choy, spinach, parsley, and now onions. Seems right to have dozens of sprouts growing away in our boy's room to be.

Happy Monday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Slow It Down Down


Chicken tracks in the snow. Happy making.

Oh people. What can I say? This may be the sweetest time of my life, and as much as we are dying to meet the little guy floating in my belly, I wouldn't mind if these days passed a little less quickly. We are busy. We are digging in here in Asheville in new ways, getting out more, reaching out more, doing more laughing with new faces. I am loving my job, and I think my job loves me. Loving our house in new ways, as B sands and patches and insulates and paints rooms into completely new spaces. Loving each other in new ways, for real. You shoulda seen B's face the first time this guy kicked hard enough for him to feel it. Electrified, somewhere between disbelief and joy. B's in utero nickname was Thumper, and I believe we have identified our first paternally inherited trait - this little man is busy in there.


We started our early seeds indoors this weekend (brassicas, lettuces, etc.), which we usually direct sow in early to mid March. With most of our winter garden kaput, we're eager for home greens and this will give us quite a jump. Plus if the wet keeps up, we're in for some prime seed rotting conditions. This set of seedlings will head outside for hardening just in time to make way for all the real summer starts, eggplant and hot peppers and whatnot. Lots of growing around here, including the houseplants and their annual show. Here's the orchid:



The house has been full of chocolate. B's dad and B's Gale sent us a killer box of goodies, and then when we were finally removing our Christmas tree this weekend (sniff), we discovered another box of chocolate wedged into the front door, from B's Grandpa. It had been there for almost two months! Perfectly frozen the whole time though, which is to say: still freakin' yummy. I am not an exceptionally disciplined pregnant lady. No coffee, no booze, no raw fish, whatever, but I have still eaten my chocolate when the occasion presents itself. Even so: the quantities on hand were jamming my circuits, so I made something non chocolate, which is to say, some shortbread. With some raspberry sauce. I used this recipe, and I love the oaty goodness. I think it could be a little less sweet though, and I will give this another shot soon because my mum loves shortbread and needs to weigh in on this.


What, you think my raspberry sauce dollop looks like a sperm? Yah. Me too. A baker's dream of fertilization: sperm and something pie shaped.

Ok, I better get done with this now. Be well out there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow, Again

After the 17 inches of snow in December, I once caught myself thinking "I won't be sad if it doesn't do that again," yet on Saturday morning I greeted the 8 inches of fresh snow with complete glee.


We picked these raspberries this summer with my Uncle Patrick. We did not think of snow the entire time.


This weekend we took some of them out of the freezer.


And made this. It manages to taste as good as it looks, if not better.


We also took this cabbage, and a few of its friends.


And make our first sauerkraut. We had some at a friend's house, and the pregnant lady had to force herself to be polite and not eat the whole gallon of it. Homemade does not taste like the stuff from the store, promise. It's just cabbage and salt and time, yet it tastes like so much more. We have this book (awesome wedding present alert) and you should too.

We also made carnitas that were truly, truly amazing, but I can't prove it to you now because we ate them all.


We also played a lot of fiddles. There is always a lot of tuning because one of our fiddles doesn't like to tune up so everything goes down a key but then we play with other people and one of them goes back up and...you get the idea. It's good practice but it makes me use swears. B taught me a bunch of nifty variations for tunes I already know and then some new stuff in D and I am extremely happy about it all. Can you see my little belly? I have one. This little guy is discovering his limbs, and he pokes me to prove it. The other day in bed B whispered to me something like "the boys are going to outnumber you." And I whispered back and said, "not if you count the hens."

Keep warm out there.