I have felt my creative cooking energy returning with the influx of fresh produce with the start of summer. I thought I’d share with you what’s been happening in our kitchen recently.
My love affair with rhubarb continues. I’m so intrigued by it. It’s used mostly in desserts but it’s sour. I love that! I’ve been playing around with having it as the centerpiece of a dessert rather than always pairing it with something else. Recently I made this galette which turned out great, so I made it again. Caution: use less sugar than what is listed, if you want the nice sour flavor to come through. I used maybe 1/3 a cup the first time I made it and it was great. The second time I followed the recipe more closely (I probably added 1/2 cup, maybe more?) and it was a bit too sweet.
I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. It’s such a pretty light pink color and it adds a unique flavor to drinks. We made this cocktail with the simple syrup and enjoyed it (note: use less sugar for the syrup–you definitely don’t need a full cup!). You’ll notice that the cocktail and the galette both pair rhubarb with ginger–it’s a great combination.
I’ve had the satisfaction of finally getting to some “adult” goals in my life this past year. Owning a home, having my own piano, and finally…planting a garden! It’s true, if I really had wanted to, I could have started a garden at some of the rental homes we’ve lived in, but the motivation just wasn’t there. Finally, in our own home with a nice backyard, and with the help of Mom and Dad and Janna, we managed to start a garden this spring.
Mom and Dad brought us some local larch from Eddy’s lumber yard to build the beds. Dad and Krestia built them together on a very hot day a few weeks ago. Seriously, I think it was 90 that day! We decided to try one shallow bed (6 inches) and one deeper bed (12 inches). Our backyard tends to be wet so I’m thinking the deeper one will be better for drainage. We shall see. So much of the garden this year is experimental. Next year we can make improvements!
After building the beds, Krestia worked on the fence and the gate. We also ordered some soil to be delivered to fill the beds. The kids loved this part! It reminds me, again, that simple joys are the best. In this case, a big pile of dirt. It had to be loaded into the wheelbarrow and taken to the beds in the backyard and the kids were so happy to help.
So, the beds are filling up with soil, and the fence and gate are taking shape. Now it’s time for planting! I managed to plant three rows with the kids “helping” before I got too frustrated. Eve kept pulling up the row markers and running away with them, and when she wasn’t doing that she was digging up all the seeds I had just planted. So, last Sunday I took the kids to a birthday party and Krestia stayed home to plant. Ahhh. It was a much better plan.
And here we are. A gate and a fence to keep away animals. Two filled beds. Seeds in the ground. A few starts (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts). Our own garden, at last!
Now we wait for things to sprout, and water the beds occasionally. Mom found a little watering can for Eve which is pretty much the cutest thing ever.
I’m so thankful to Mom and Dad and Janna for their help in getting us started on this project! I’m excited to be able to harvest veggies in our own backyard. Here’s to summer and fresh green salads and happy, dirty kids. I have so many good memories of gardening with Mom and Dad. My fondest one is of picking sugar snap peas right off the vine and eating them while standing barefoot in the garden. Yes. I’m hoping to do that in my own backyard soon. Come visit! I’ll save some peas for you.
P.S. Anyone recognize the song reference in the title? I remember Mom conducting the AU Chorus when they sang this song. It’s a good one.
Here’s a quickly-snapped still life from internship today.
I’m in the break room, working on paperwork, since the wireless network sometimes decides that the trip to my office space is way too far. We work it hard. I understand. There’s a comfy love seat in the break room where I can tuck my feet under me and work on termination summaries.
I feel like I’ve finally hit that comfort zone with cooking where I can “create” and execute a recipe all by myself, without relying too much on a recipe from the internet. I think I’ve read SO MANY COOKING BLOGS that I’ve absorbed some of the trends and flavor profiles that appeal to me and am now confident enough to go forth and create good meals.
I’m the best at coming up with good tacos. It’s hard to go wrong with tacos. Recently I’ve loved sweet potatoes in tacos, which was inspired by those amazing sweet potato tostadas that Rachel and Krestia made for us a long time ago on our family vacation in Maine.
I loved the texture and flavor of those grated sweet potatoes. They were amazing on deep fried tortillas with salsas and cheese. At the time it was a new and amazing way to have tacos! Nowadays I grate sweet potatoes and toss them in some olive oil in a pan, add a sprinkling of cumin, chili powder, oregano and a dash of cinnamon, let them cook for awhile and add salt, pepper and lime juice at the end. When I’m feeling lazy I just dice the sweet potatoes and toss them in olive oil and the spices and in the oven they go!
The other part of my favorite tacos is a rice/quinoa pilaf with beans, peppers and onions (corn too if you feel like it). Sometimes I add tomatoes, sometimes lots of lime juice, zest and garlic. It depends on my mood.
The toppings make the taco: homemade guacamole (this time I added corn), queso fresco and spinach. You don’t need much when the fillings are so good! These were so delicious.
Thanks for the recipe inspiration all the way back in 2011 Rach :-). I like that we share our meals virtually every once in awhile. Recently we also had this oven roasted chicken shawarma that Rachel mentioned and it was OH SO GOOD in pitas with cucumbers, spinach, feta and hummus. YUM. Martha recently mentioned a mango curry that I’m dying to try. Sisters and friends, tell me your favorite dinners recently so I can get more inspiration!
Life continues at its hectic pace around here. So much happens at home with my little family and I miss taking the time to sit down and write to you all about it. So, I thought I’d try and summarize a bit.
Somehow I’ve perfected making chocolate chip cookies. That is, if you want crispy on the bottom, chewy in the center chocolate chip cookies. This is one of the recipes I have memorized, maybe because I’ve been making it at least once a month for the last 3 years. I always feel a bit sad if I don’t have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us! We know that Advent has already started and the Christmas season is upon us, but we thought it would be fun to have a little remembrance of Thanksgiving 2015.
Jewel: Our Thanksgiving was a Friendsgiving this year! We celebrated with wonderful friends from La Crosse. When we went around before eating to say what we were each thankful for almost everyone mentioned having found such great friends. Kevin and I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to have met this past year. It makes being so far from family a bit easier. Thanksgiving was so fun with our cute little baby.
Every once in awhile I feel like I do well with meal planning and end up making meals that I’m actually excited to eat. I thought I’d share my plan from this past week for those of you who are feeling stumped in the kitchen. I’m only going to share the big meal of the day because breakfast and lunch are usually super boring for me. Continue reading “My week in food”→
The leaves are just starting to change here. We have had some lovely warm days the last week, but the nights are getting crisper and the air smells of the change in seasons. Here’s the view from my front porch yesterday afternoon, in between clouds and rain.
As you can see, the garden has gotten a bit overgrown since the semester started, but intentional plants grow amongst the weeds. I love having found a lemongrass that grows here, the popcorn seems to aging as it should, and I am still getting lots of cherry tomatoes and some large ones as well. I think that beauty is one of the big reasons that I garden. I can grow jewels in the field next to the house. Continue reading “My late summer in western NY”→
Since I came home from Ireland, I’ve been working on not taking my phone to bed with me. It was a big step, which my Mennonite upbringing is embarrassed to admit, and one I might not have taken without the eccentricities of outlet placements in a very old Irish farmhouse. Since I’ve had a smart phone, (well, probably since I’ve had a cell phone) I’ve slept with it on my bedside stand and my smart phone was the last thing I looked at before I went to sleep and the first thing I’d reach for when I woke up, either in the morning or in those middle-of-the-night awake spells I sometimes have. While I was in Ireland, there wasn’t an outlet near enough to my bed to keep my phone near me while being plugged in. My phone needed to charge at night since it was my main camera and its battery was on its way out. That was the first time in at least a couple of years that I went to sleep without reading or internet-ing with my phone some beforehand and I was surprised (and not proud–see Mennonite note above) at how much I felt the lack of it initially.
Since I got used to falling asleep without phone-ing, and since more and more sleep hygiene studies say that screens at bedtime are bad for sleep, I’ve decided to try no screens in bed for now. Most days I’m just fine with it. I’m not sure how long it will last once the semester is running full force and I rely on my phone more to keep my life organized. One day at a time.