Summer Veggies

Posted June 20th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

When I opened my CSA box today it felt like summer, even though summer is a few hours away still.

The is a HUGE bunch of basil. Seriously big with the roots still attached. It’s in a vase on the counter at the moment making my kitchen smell delicious and summery. Pondering other uses besides a giant batch of pesto.

Zucchini! Love this stuff. Debating using it as a savory vegetable or in my sisters delicious zucchini bread.

More of the most amazing strawberries ever. Really. They are that sweet and delicious. These strawberries have ruined me for all others.

Little potatoes ready for steaming with some fresh herbs.

Mr. Conehead cabbage. In all the boxes we’ve received over the years we’ve never seen a cabbage shaped like this. Debating between trying to make sauerkraut or just eat it all up fresh.

Golden beets which I like better than the purple ones. No idea why. Maybe because they don’t stain my cutting board.

Tokyo turnips. Any bright ideas? I haven’t hit upon any recipes yet that cause us to love these; we remain firmly neutral about turnips. Remember, raw with salt is not a recipe :-)

Mercifully only one head of lettuce. It’s really lovely but man have we been eating the salads lately. It will be nice to have a manageable amount this week!

As always, the pretty eggs. Love the happy colors they come in. I’ll be picking up some bread tomorrow from our favorite bakery so I’m thinking egg salad sandwiches might be in order for a weekend lunch.

If you find yourself with some salad in need of dressing, here’s the basic vinaigrette that we usually have on hand in the fridge. Because of my sisters most prolific lemon tree there is always a good supply of lemon juice in our freezer to use in this dressing. Usually I use sherry vinegar but it’s also great made with balsamic or red wine vinegar – use your favorite and see what you think.

Basic Vinaigrette
Serves: 1½ cups
 

Ingredients
  • 1 C olive oil
  • ¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ C vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1½ t salt
  • ¼ t pepper
  • 2 t dijon mustard
  • 1½ t honey

Instructions
  1. Pour everything into a jar and secure the lid. Then give it a good shake, shake, shake until it’s well mixed together.
  2. Taste the dressing on a piece of lettuce and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

- – marcella

A Little Quilting

Posted June 19th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

I’ve still been spending most of my sewing time on mending and boy scout neckerchiefs – not so exciting to look at. In between I have snuck in a bit of quilting too.

This week is the annual Shop Hop where we drive all over the place to visit 12 quilt shops and also sneak in a few fun extra stops (like the chocolate factory!) A few years ago I had made everyone a huge tote bag to store their purchases in in the car. Not long ago, I found this cute free zip bag pattern and decided to make one up for everyone. At each shop we collect 5″ charm square so I thought the bag would be perfect for keeping those squares in while we shop.

Me, being me, made a few changes to the bag. I made them from a single piece of fabric rather than patchwork. Also, I made them bigger cutting the pieces 10 1/2″ x 11 1/2″. I kept the corners at 1 1/2″ in from the edge and it made a nice square side.

Yes, me being me also got carried away and made 11 of them which is far more than the number of people who fit in my car. This way everyone gets to pick the one they like and no one is stuck with the “last one” in the bag. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Also, I have been keeping up with my summer embroidery club hexagon project.

Last week was a sunshine:

And this week was a teeny tiny bikini:

And no, I didn’t miss a couple hexagons. That’s so this partial flower can fit up against last weeks flower. Like this:

And I’m linking up today with the quilters over at FreshlyPieced. See what they’re all quilting and then go outside and enjoy some summer!

- – marcella

Lots of Baking

Posted June 18th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

Saturday was a big baking day over here.  I had volunteered to bake cinnamon rolls for all the men at church for Father’s Day.

We had decided that 100 rolls would do and somehow along the way I got confused and made four batches of dough instead of the three I actually needed.  That is a lot of dough!

I figured it was ok since there would undoubtably be small children begging for a sweet roll too, so extra would be good.

Then it was time to roll out the dough. Sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and roll it up into a log.

Every recipe I’ve encountered calls for slicing the rolls “with a very sharp knife” but I have to say that no matter how sharp the knife I find that it squishes the roll and sticks a bit. Years ago my dad showed me a trick which I still happily use. I take a piece of dental floss and slide it under the roll. Pull the ends up and cross the floss over the top and pull. It slices off a roll easy as can be and doesn’t squash it out of shape. Before I knew it I had one of these all done.

And not long after that a whole counter full.

I baked them up and wrapped the pans in foil.  The next day at church we warmed them in the oven and frosted them with a basic cream cheese frosting. There were lots of happy men (as well as children and women) enjoying a roll.

Cinnamon Rolls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 36
 

The dough should be very sticky, almost a batter more than a dough. Sticky is good, sticky makes a moist roll rather than a dry, crumbly bread-y roll. Embrace the sticky!
Ingredients
  • ½ C warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • ¾ C granulated sugar
  • 1½ t cinnamon
  • ½ C butter, melted
  • 3 C milk
  • 9 C flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Cinnamon filling:
  • ½ C granulated sugar
  • ½ C brown sugar
  • 2 T ground cinnamon
  • Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • milk or cream

Instructions
  1. Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon and butter and stir to mix.
  2. Heat the milk to lukewarm and stir to combine.
  3. Mix in 4 C of the flour and the eggs. Continue to mix for about 2 minutes until it is a smooth batter. Add the remaining flour and mix 3-4 minutes to make a very soft dough. The dough should be very sticky.
  4. Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise a second time.
  5. One a well floured surface, roll out half the dough into a rectangle about 20 inches by 12 inches.
  6. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture leaving a half inch border along one long edge clear.
  7. Roll up the dough ending with the un-sugared long edge. Pinch to seal the long edge.
  8. Cut the roll into 18 cinnamon rolls and place cut side down on a baking sheet.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  10. Allow rolls to rise.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until golden brown.
  12. To make the frosting beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until light. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until well blended. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar and then beat on high until smooth and creamy. Add milk or cream by the tablespoonful until the frosting is spreadable.
  13. Frost rolls when they are barely warm or cool.

- – marcella

County Fair

Posted June 17th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

For the past few years a friend and I have sponsored a quilting award at the county fair. We found out that anyone can sponsor an award – not just companies – and we thought it would be fun to do. We change the category each year and this year it was Best Basket Quilt.

Our very important job as award sponsors is to announce the award, pay for the prize money and on set-up day choose the winner. It’s really fun to see the quilts hanging with no one else around. We walk the aisles and write down every quilt that is eligible for the award. Then we each list our favorites. Next we go back and look at both of our favorites – this year we each had chosen the same three quilts – and try to pick the best. Some years we go back and forth and back and forth between the favorites, this year we even got one of the fair workers to give her opinion. There were 16 quilts that qualified for the award. It was hard to decide!

In the end, we chose this very happy basket quilt as the winner:

Our prize next year is for two color quilts, so get sewing!

I did have to go back and take a picture of another quilt that caught my eye. It is just so adorable I couldn’t resist:

Apples of all colors and one that’s been eaten. Also, I think she did a really nice job on the border. Not sure there’s an apple quilt in my future, but I guess you never know.

- – marcella

Weekly Veggie Delivery

Posted June 14th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

My fridge is extra full this week.

Thursday morning I went to my quilt group and one of the ladies offered up some rhubarb from her garden. It was an amazing group of plants! They were absolutely huge. We crawled in and pulled off some stalks and I went home with this beautiful bunch:

Washed and sliced and into the freezer. I’ll figure out later what to make…pie, jam, cobbler, something good.

With our CSA we also have the option of ordering extra produce. I had ordered an extra half flat (6 baskets) of their amazing strawberries. Some got made into jam this morning. I still have quite a few left though. Not sure what they’ll turn into yet. The local paper published my strawberry shortcake recipe, so perhaps I should make that for dessert one night.

Then there was the regular box:

Two more boxes of strawberries and the usual eggs (I’m thinking it might be deviled egg weather)

Fennel which I love. One will get roasted with some carrots and the other will go into a grain salad.

A huge bunch of parsley some of which will go in the grain salad, some into green salads and then we’ll see what’s left. I probably need to get better at garnishes.

Broccoli which might just be my favorite vegetable ever. Boring I know, but I do love it.

Dinosaur Kale will get eaten somehow. It usually is just cooked as a side, but maybe someone has a more intriguing idea? I am not making a salad from it, we’re swimming in salad over here!

Four! heads of lettuce. I am having a hard time keeping up with all the salad. We’re still finishing up last weeks lettuce delivery. I might have to make a big taco salad or something for dinner one night to help us catch up.

Carrots, another favorite around here. I actually came home with two bunches of carrots. There was a bag of arugula in the box and that is not a favorite, plus it’s more salad-y stuff which we did not need. I spotted carrots in the trade box so in went the arugula and those carrots came home with me.

We actually did pretty well eating up last weeks box. With just two of us it’s really a push to eat it all up before the next delivery. It’s really sized better for families. Plus I have this farmer’s market problem which means I also shop there and sometimes get carried away. I think we just have some salad greens and two turnips left from the last delivery.

Happy eating!

- – marcella

Weekly Veggies

Posted June 7th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food

Two weeks in a row I remember to record our vegetable box. I amaze myself sometimes. Or maybe it was that my husband asked me as I walked into the kitchen if I was going to take a picture of it. I actually had remembered, but the reminder is always good because it’s amazing what I can forget in the blink of an eye.

Three baskets of strawberries this week – that might be enough to share some with my husband instead of eating them all myself.

Delicious eggs in assorted shades of tan. Definitely eggs for breakfast this weekend and there’s a cookie recipe I’m wanting to try too.

Spring onions which will end up in a beet salad.

A big bag of baby spinach – some will get scrambled into eggs, some will wind up in salads. It all gets tucked in here and there in various recipes.

Four! heads of baby romaine lettuce. Even after all the salad eating of last week, we still have salad left. Eating all this romaine in addition will be tricky. Some will become a wedge salad with blue cheese as it’s a favorite around here. I can’t imagine having it four times this week though! I’ll need to hunt up some ideas for sure.

Long and skinny beets. Until we started getting a veggie box I had no idea how many shapes and varieties beets came in. Some will be roasted and I’ll grate the rest for a salad we love.

Turnips. I’m always trying to find new recipes to try that cause us to be more than neutral about this vegetable. We don’t dislike them, but we don’t find anything exciting about them either. What do you do with them – and raw with salt is not a recipe (nor very interesting) in spite of being told this by every CSA we’ve belonged to. I might use them in the beet salad for part of the beets and see what we think.

The escarole we got is HUGE! Usually I make this soup which we adore, or I add it to a bean soup. A heat wave is expected here though so soup might not be very appealing. I did see a recipe where it was braised with tomatoes. We’ve been getting some really good tomatoes at the farmer’s market so that might be what happens.

Beet Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Substitute half the beets with carrots for a nice variation.
Ingredients
  • 6 beets peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped
  • ½ C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T water
  • ½ C olive oil
  • pinch of sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ t pepper

Instructions
  1. Mix everything together in a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Hope your week is delicious too!

- – marcella

Wednesday Progress

Posted June 5th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

It’s been quite a while since I’ve linked up with Freshly Pieced to share what I’m working on. I’ve actually been quite busy in my sewing room lately. I’ve been making little bags which I promise to share very soon and also finished up a quilt.

The exciting new project for me this week is the summer stitching club project. It began on Monday with our first little embroidery pattern. I was able to get it stitched up and attached to some print hexagons. I decided to vary the suggested pattern a bit and add more print hexagons. I’m still playing with the pattern, but it will be something like this when it’s finished:

We’ll see. One thing I’ve learned is my projects rarely end up looking quite the way I think they will in the beginning. I’m sure things will be shuffled quite a bit in the next 12 weeks.

What have you been working on?

- – marcella

Return of the Box

Posted June 1st, 2013 by marcella and filed in food
For the last 7 years we’ve gotten a weekly box of produce from “somewhere”. We started out with an organic delivery service, but they didn’t always actually deliver. Then we moved to another similar service but their produce was often from South America or other far flung locales and as a result it often took a week or more for the fruits to soften enough to eat. Then we found some local farms that offered a produce box in season and decided we much preferred food grown close to home even if we had to sometimes battle high school traffic or one lane roads crowded with recycle bins to get it. This is our second year with our current farm and I’ve been anxiously waiting for delivery season to begin.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to be good about posting what we receive and what we’ll do with it and every year I forget.  This year it will happen at least once.
This weeks box contained 2 baskets of strawberries, a bunch of chard, a big bag of baby salad greens, onions, kohlrabi, dill, two heads of lettuce, a bag of dried tiger beans, 1/2 dozen eggs and a honey share.  The eggs and honey are add ons.  I’m particularly excited about the honey which is a new option this year.
It looks like the week ahead will involve a lot of salad for us.  Usually a bag of greens like that will keep us in salad at dinner for the week but we also have those two heads and let me tell you that green one is really big!
We were sent a recipe for using the kohlrabi and dill together so we’ll give that a try.
The eggs and chard are likely to end up in a frittata like this one.
The strawberries disappear too quickly to consider actually making them into something.
I even have plans for the beans. They’ll be cooked in the slow cooker and used in a salad recipe I just saw.
As for the honey, I couldn’t resist baking up a pan of cornbread for dinner and drizzling the honey over the top of warm slices.
Cornbread
Cook time: 
Total time: 

 

Ingredients
  • 1½ C cornmeal
  • 1½ C unbleached, all purpose flour
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1¼ C milk or buttermilk
  • ⅓ C vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 eggs

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a greased cast iron skillet into the oven to heat up.
  2. In a mixing bowl stir together the dry ingredients until well combined. Add in the milk, oil and eggs and stir to combine.
  3. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and carefully pour the batter into the pan. Return the pan to the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the center tests done with a toothpick.

- – marcella

In the Sewing Room

Posted May 17th, 2013 by marcella and filed in quilting

Lately I’ve been working on little bits of things.

Mending has been going on – I finally fixed a jacket that has been hanging there seemingly forever, plus a few little things for a friend.

My finish was some more baby receiving blankets from some super cute flannel I found:

I say finish, but I still have a decent amount of flannel to make more. I should count how many of these I made and give away in a year.  It’s tough keeping up with all the new babies!

I’m quilting on a quilt – nothing exciting to show yet.

I signed up for a summer embroidery club over at Wild Olive.  I did the workshop last summer and it was so fun.  This year it’s a small design a week for 12 weeks and they all fit on a hexagon.  Naturally this led to a little shopping.  I bought some paper hexagons and found that now they make acrylic cutting templates, so it’s easy to cut out the fabric perfectly; naturally I had to add that to the order too:

I had a charm pack of 5″ square that have been sitting around waiting for the perfect project. I decided to use them to mix with the embroidered hexagons and got to cutting. It was so fast with that template!

All those perfectly sized hexagons ready to baste. I picked a plain white to embroider on, but that won’t get cut up until after the embroidery is finished.

Go see the other quilt finishes at Crazy Mom Quilts today.

- – marcella

Napa Adventures

Posted May 13th, 2013 by marcella and filed in food, random fun

For a long time my husband and I have been wanting to try Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken.  It’s served at his restaurant Ad Hoc every other Monday night.  However, getting up to Napa for dinner after a long day at the office is not really workable for us.

Sure, we tried his recipe and made our own and it was delicious.

But, there’s something kind of wonderful about eating a dish made by someone else particularly if that means someone else is dealing with all of the fryer grease instead of you.

We decided that the best way to get our hands on some of that fried chicken was to venture up for a box lunch instead.  The garden behind the restaurant has become Addendum and box lunches of either chicken or bbq are served a few days each week.

I also learned that lunches can be ordered in advance so we were able to skip the long ordering line and have this in front of us in very short order.  It was a really lovely day we went.  Very clear and sunny and the car said it was 94 degrees.  A bit hot for eating outside but we did get a couple of mostly shady seats at a picnic table so that helped.

We also each got two little paper bowls – one contained coleslaw and the other potato salad.  Really though, all I cared about was the chicken.

Three pieces of hot and crispy chicken.  I did quite like the little rosemary leaves on top.  The cornbread was honey soaked and ….just no.  Each piece had one bite taken and that was it for us. It was quickly ignored for the chicken.

On the way home we stopped at Bouchon Bakery for a few treats and bread, and by the side of the highway we stopped at a cherry stand.  Then in Tiberon the weather changed with the temperature dropping quickly down to 64.

Not quite the view we’d hoped for over the bridge.

- – marcella