Friday, June 26, 2015

Jammed


I was lucky enough to score 8 quarts of strawberries from my farmer neighbor at the market last week, the only problem was that they wouldn't last another day. No problem! My husband stemmed, bagged, and froze them while I was at work that night (love him!) and I went crazy all week making jams. 
So far, I have classic strawberry, strawberry blueberry, vanilla bourbon strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and the last of the berries will become balsamic strawberry. I also made Cabernet Sauvignon jelly and jalapeño jelly. My kitchen is littered with canning jars. Here are some pics from last week's market
Very talented painter, Chris Ferguson
Quilted pie carrier
Pizzelle "taco"
My beautiful pizzelle baker, Julia
Fabulous Fred

Pottery by my pal James
Joel the bike guy
Beautiful produce
My stand



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Market prep


It's time for the Upper State Street Farmer's Market again! For me this means I get to force my love (obsession) of all things vintage linen-dish towels- embroidery on the public, whether they want it or not! Opening day is this Saturday and I'm not nearly ready but here's a sample of my obsession:

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Vodka Soup?


Penne vodka soup sans the penne? Tomato soup with vodka? No, I'll just call it Epiphany Soup!
Last week I made vodka sauce for pasta. I stood there tasting it and thought (guiltily) that I could have a big bowl of it without any pasta...it is just that good. I didn't but it seriously crossed my mind. Fast forward to today, June 2nd, 50 degrees and rainy and the afore mentioned epiphany happened. Isn't tomato soup basically the same thing as vodka sauce minus the vodka? Yes, yes it sort of is! I've never made my own creamy tomato soup, it's actually the only soup we eat from a can. Don't judge me. This soup has just a splash of vodka and is much thinner than it's saucy role model but it certainly reminds you of it.   Here's how it went:
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
Splash of vodka
2 big cans diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper

Fresh basil and parsley chopped
Sauté onion and garlic in butter and oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent. Splash a little vodka in the pot and add tomatoes and stock. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes break down a bit. Remove from heat and emulsify with a hand blender until pretty smooth. 


Return to simmer and add cream, cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and check seasoning. 

I served this with croutons made from my very favorite carrot tarragon bread made at Chestnut Fine Foods in New Haven. 



Monday, March 30, 2015

Mini Chicken Pot Pies


Pie crust is one of my worst subjects, pie crust and frosting cakes. In a blind taste test no one would know but I can't make them look pretty. There are worse things. 
Today while figuring out what to make for dinner while also figuring out how to not go to the grocery store, this came together...
Mini Chicken Pot Pies
Crust:
2 sticks of cold butter cut up
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
Filling:
1 onion diced
3 celery stalks diced
3 carrots diced
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 lb chicken breast chopped
Veg oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup half & half
Tbs butter
Chicken broth 2 cups
Salt, pepper, garlic powder,  herbs de Provence 
In a food processor, pulse flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle most of the cold water and continue to pulse until it starts coming together. Turn out to a floured board and work in remaining water by kneading. Make 2 discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. 
In a large sauté pan cook veggies in some veg oil until they just become slightly tender. Add a tbs of butter and  Make room for chicken, season everything with salt pepper, garlic, and herbs. Sauté until fully cooked. Sprinke 1/4 cup of flour and stir until cooked. Add 1 cup of broth until combined, add 1/2 cup half & half and stir until thickened. Add remaining broth, stirring constantly. While we are on the broth subject, I purchased this by accident 
And decided to try it. I like to flavor things myself but this worked really well for the sauce, it gave it a nice rich taste. Nice job College Inn!
You want the sauce pretty thick but not pasty. 
Let that sit and cool a bit. Preheat your oven to 375 and get your dough out. Roll it out pretty thin and see how many mini pie plates you can get out of the first rolling. I have a variety of sizes here; 3 individual tarts, 1 topless ramekin, and a small pie dish that's bigger than a tart but smaller than a pie because my husband would not be full on a tart size. So, you line the plates that you are using,  you may have to roll out the next disc for the last one but that's ok (says the unskilled pie maker) the tops use less dough to cover. Scoop the filling with a ladle and put a top on it. Crimp the edges (do it nicer than mine). I had extra filling so that's how I ended up with that topless ramekin. Waste not, want not. Brush tops with egg wash, and cut some airholes. 
Bake on an old baking sheet, because they will probably leak, for 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbling. 
 





Monday, March 23, 2015

Death by baking


If spring doesn't arrive soon, my family may die from homemade baked goods! By the looks of it, Spring is taking its time. 
When it's cold out, I cook and I bake and then I bake something else. I typically work 7 days a week for weeks at a time but I had the ENTIRE WEEKEND OFF. It was glorious and dangerous at the same time. Yesterday I baked these unbelievably good oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. 
This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't try to kill my family with these potatoes for dinner. 
They were delicious. I tried to make them less deadly by using smaller potatoes, using less cheese and bacon 
Oh and burning the parsley by forgetting that they were under the broiler. 
Oh, and the day before I made this apple pie that was declared as "the best pie ever" by three family members. 

Crumb topped Apple pie with homemade crust, two types of Apple and a brown sugar and oat crumb topping. 

It really was quite good. 

Here's a double tip for bakers, although maybe everyone does this already, I don't know. 

I store my flour in a lock-tight plastic bin and dedicate an entire set of measuring cups to this bin. I never have to search for or dirty a separate cup for flour. Also, because I have a ridiculously small counter area, I open my silverware drawer and place my flour bin on it while I'm working. I do this with Baking sheets as well when I need a little extra space. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

bunny bag and general craftiness



It's been a good week as far as getting crafty goes, nothing too crazy but I will take any creative time I can get! So I made this cute little bunny bag, what follows isn't really a tutorial because it's a basic lined tote bag that you can find a million tutorials for out there on the web. I will offer you a tip on cutting burlap that is imperative. I am all about shortcuts and getting things done quickly but cutting burlap is where I follow the rules. After you measure where you would like to cut, find a strand that is at your cutting line

and gently ease it out of the fabric by bunching it and holding the strand while you smooth it back

If it breaks (and it probably will), just find the end and unweave it by pulling it out with a pin until you have a long enough thread to pull, bunch and smooth until it is free. Once it is out you will cut on that empty space and it will be a perfect straight cut.


I thought an aqua polka dot oilcloth bunny would be a cute idea. You can trace a shape onto the back or just wing it like I did.


I pinned this on (pins are a no-no for oilcloth but I am not about the rules today) and did a simple zigzag stitch around the edges.  I love the look of shiny oilcloth against the natural burlap! I happened to have a matching twill tape that I used for the straps and a cute floursack print for the lining.
That's it! Ready to give as an Easter gift. 

This week was Spirit week at my Julia's high school so we had to come up with different costumes every day, it's so much fun! Here are three:
Barnacle Boy


101 Dalmations



Tacky Florida Tourist
Not pictured are Green Alien and Star Wars day. 
My creative soul is happy.