Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moving Day.

I have made the decision to move over to WordPress. I know this may seem abrupt, but it's a move I've been pondering for a while now. Please follow the link below and tell your friends.

See you there!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Headbands- the herald of spring?

It's not too often that I post a photo of myself up here, but in this instance I do so to enhance the product of my labors today.

It's spring, and I've been feeling the urge to add a splash of color to my self-perceived drab wardrobe. The sun seems to be getting stronger and I think about wearing a skirt quite often. These thought are then shattered as I curse my optimism about the weather and have to walk home in a snow flurry.

There's a cycle that I get into that I know I am not alone in- I see something that I want, but not wanting to shell out hard earned cash, I think to myself, 'I'm crafty, I could make that!' Usually that is the end of the story, I either forget about whatever lovely thing I saw, or I think about it occasionally but don't do anything about it. Well, not this time!

I've seen cute headbands about town, and took the initiative this lazy Sunday afternoon (after I made 2 sets of curtains, sewed in a zipper and made a fabric flower, just for kicks).  I modified a pattern that I found online, but I did not have any elastic, but I had recently purchased a whole package of hair elastics. I sacrificed three of them for a greater purpose. I am quite pleased with the end product of these headbands.

Oh yes, did I mention they're reversible!?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grown-up Spaghetti.

Nothing has quite the positive impact on my disposition than spending an afternoon in the kitchen. Scratch that- Nothing has quite the positive impact on my disposition than finding fresh rhubarb at the grocery store (thanks Pacific NW!) and spending an afternoon in the kitchen with Garth Brooks and a beer.

I baked the rhubarb pie that I love so dearly- and remembered to take a photo this time!

After I was done preparing dessert, I thought it would be a good idea to tackle dinner, and settled on a decidedly adult spaghetti dish. I don’t do much spaghetti these days- I suppose I’m a little burnt out on the marinara sauce. However, I used to eat my noodles exclusively with shredded cheddar cheese and butter with my pasta sauce on the side. I wasn’t much of a picky eater as a kid, but that was definitely my preference- cheesy, butter noodles. I suppose that I’m trying to say that I’ve eaten enough bland spaghetti in my life that I always think there are more interesting things I could be eating.

Saveur magazine did a bit on Roman food this month and I happened to come across a spaghetti recipe that spoke to me- Spaghetti alla carbonara. This dish involves pancetta, a whole lot of crushed black pepper, and raw eggs. I’m a huge fan of raw eggs- their whites in cocktails, their yolks in salad dressing, and now in pasta sauce! There’s a certain silky texture that raw eggs bring to the party that is able to trump any competitor. I strongly encourage the use of fresh farm eggs if you have access to them.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- From Saveur Magazine

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz pancetta cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 ¾ cups finely grated Parmesan
1 egg plus 3 yolks
1 lb spaghetti

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (6-8 minutes). Add pepper (either crushed with a mortar and pestle or ground with pepper mil on its coarsest setting) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Transfer pancetta mixture into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 ½ cups parmesan and egg and yolks. Stir to combine and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente (8-10 minutes for sea level, more like 10-12 for folks at 5,000 feet). Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta. Turn off heat on element and return pot to the stovetop. Add drained pasta and toss with pancetta mixture. Add pasta water a little at a time to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt (if needed) and pepper. Serve with remaining Parmesan.

I’m usually a one-dish dinner kind of gal, but for such a deceptively anemic looking main dish, I highly recommend pairing with a zippy arugula salad with toasted walnuts, sliced pear and chevre cheese.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Best Pizza Ever.

I am a pizza snob. I know that many people claim that, but how many of those people can also claim that they used to work in the pizza industry? Hmmm? I have been privileged with a couple of awesome summer jobs when I was in college- not in the preparing-to-be-a-constructive-member-of-society kind of way (I never had an internship), but in the have-a-really-fun-summer job in which you learn about some great bands from the too-tall hipster that left all of his mixed tapes in the pizza shop and where you learned that if you put the industrial fan just so you blow the onion fumes away so that you are barely affected by them.

Ahh, yes those were good times at Burlingame Pizza, which I learned after a quick internet search yesterday, is no more. In memoriam of some of the best damned pizza, I bring you one of their specialties. I don't even remember what the name of this pizza was on the menu, I do remember that it was genius. The combination of caramelized onions, roasted garlic, capers, mushrooms and pesto make the perfect combination of sweet and savory (and vegetarian friendly!). The real secret of this pie (besides a good crust) is the drizzle of honey over the crust- really, you can trust me, I'm an expert.

The Best Pizza Ever:

I recommend making your own pizza crust, it makes it that much more special, and with a little planning-ahead is both cheaper and tastier.

Pizza dough (adapted from Pioneer Woman)

* 1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
* 1 ½ cup Warm Water
* 4 cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
* ⅓ cups Olive Oil
* Fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.
In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with hook attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix on low until all ingredients are combined. Ratchet the speed up to medium and let the dough hook do its work for about 4 minutes

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two. Coat a baking sheet with flour, shape dough into disks and place on sheet. Cover with plastic and place in the fridge until you need it.

Pizza Toppings:

* Pesto
* 1 onions worth of caramelized onions
* 2-3 handfuls of spinach
* Mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
* 1-2 tbs capers
* 7 cloves of roasted garlic
* Honey

A bit of prep-work is needed for this pizza- namely caramelizing onions and roasting garlic. Caramelizing onions doesn't necessarily need constant attention, but requires periodic tending-to. Slice onions into half-rings. Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Heat oil or butter in pan and add onions. If you like your onions slightly sweeter, add a spoonful of honey. Stir occasionally until onions are dark and caramelize-y (40 minutes to one hour). While the onions are doing their thing, peel the garlic cloves. Pre-heat oven (or toaster oven) to 375. In a small oven-proof dish pour a couple of good glugs of olive oil. Add cloves and toss to coat completely. Roast garlic, stirring frequently, until very fragrant and caramelized.

Now you're ready to make pizza!

Preheat oven to 500.
Roll out pizza dough to fit your largest pan (if you have a pizza stone, lucky you). Slather a generous amount of pesto onto the dough, covering all but an inch border from the edge. Throw down the spinach. Distribute mozzarella evenly. Add mushrooms. Add garlic- break cloves up in your fingers and distribute evenly over pizza. Add capers. Dip a fork into a honey pot and drizzle all over the pizza- paying special attention to the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is a light golden brown.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Few New Old Things.

I scored a vintage portable Royal typewriter at Garage-O-Rama this morning for $10. Garage-O-Rama is an indoor garage sale and individual sellers rent booths to sell their goods. It *might* be the kick-off to the garage sale season (spring? are you there?). Garage-O-Rama opened at 8am, I got there a bit before 9 and it was packed with people looking to score some sweet deals. I'm convinced that I got the best deal. Other great buys that I brought home included some cigar boxes, vintage cards (to type on), a garden bench and Filson hunting cap.

The typewriter needs a new ribbon, but aside from that seems to work fine. This is my second typewriter, the other one being a bulky Sears.

This is my spinning wheel- it seemed like a nice fit to place it in the same post as the typewriter. I seem to have too many hobbies at the moment to take up spinning, but I hear it is quite meditative once you get the hang of it. I think it's downright beautiful, and it makes a nice conversation piece.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pheasent Hunting

Even though I grew up in the country, I did not grow up in a household that hunted. In sixth grade when my classmates signed up for hunter-safety, I flatly refused even though I don’t think I was ever adamantly anti-hunting- that would have immediately rendered me a hypocrite due to my fondness for venison, biscuits and gravy. Killing was a part of my childhood- we raised cattle and sheep for the purpose of filling freezers (and the bank account). I fondly referred to market-day as ‘killing time’. I wasn’t completely desensitized though, I cried so hard when my spring lamb was sent away to meet its fate, I vowed never to do 4-H again due to its cruel, cruel nature (little did I know that you could still do 4-H and nothing had to die- e.g. chickens).

There was one point in college where for a consecutive 3 visits home there was something that had very recently been killed. Thanksgiving coincided with elk hunting season, and I distinctly remember the men-folk rallying to a fresh kill to haul a cow out of the forest to the barn to be hung, skinned and beheaded. I went out to spectate the cleaning process and watched with intrigue as a bonesaw was employed to do its job. Bonesaw easily became one of my favorite words for the next few months and I almost used it as part of my roller derby name.

Even though I grew up with the reality of death-to-animals-that-you-can-eat, I was wary around guns, and had never fired anything bigger than a bb gun until I was in college. I suppose you could say it’s been a downhill slide from there. Last summer I did some target shooting, and last weekend I made my first hunting trip to Wyoming to see if I couldn’t bag me a pheasant. I fully intended to firing my gun at a bird- even though it took me a couple of hours to warm up to the idea. I was mostly giddy about the fact that I was given a loaded gun to carry around.

My hunting party included Nic’s mom, Becky, and Cedar the vizsla. Nic was hunting with Mike and Stone the retriever. Walkie-Talkies were used to communicate position as well as to heckle the other hunting party after they fired and reported 0 birds down. By the afternoon, Nic had the only bird of all of us, and Cedar had only flushed about 3 birds. It was then that I realized that I might not get to shoot at anything and became a little irritated with myself and the dog- mostly on account of my competitive personality- but I quickly got over it.

Here’s something I learned about myself- I quite enjoy hunting. I now understand that hunting is a really good excuse to go for a walk, to hang out with your dog and to do some bushwhacking. Bringing home dinner is merely a bonus.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Round Food Pt. 2- Sourdough Pancakes

I guess it's already been established that I have a bubbly sourdough sponge that demands being fed at least once a week. I've taken to baking two loaves of bread on the weekends, eating one immediately, and freezing the other for later in the week (a routine that I look forward to every weekend). You might be surprised at how quickly a loaf of bread can be devoured when it does not come pre-sliced (or not at all).

While I love the sourdough bread I've been baking, I knew that there was more one could do with sourdough. A co-worker lent me a book of Montana recipes. Included in the pages of this book were recipes for just about every mammal and bird that calls Montana home. It was a book for the climate-hardy residents of the state that is apparently under snow for half of the year.

Much like the residents of Alaska, Montanans also had their sourdough, and they made pancakes as well as loaves of bread. This recipe was taken from this book. I love my weekend mornings, and I especially enjoy having company on weekends, when I can turn on the stove and flip pancakes happily while drinking coffee and engaging in morning banter.

I've made several varieties of pancakes in my day, but they usually have whole wheat flour in them as well as other cereal grains that are good for you. These pancakes are Plain. Delicious. Pancakes. They are started the night before to give the batter a little more umph and turn out a bit chewier than other types of pancakes. They also don't taste all that sour to me- which may be less prominent after you drizzle maple syrup all over them.

Sourdough Pancakes

2 c sourdough starter
1 c flour
2 eggs
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbs oil
1 tbs baking soda

Mix the sourdough starter and flour and enough water to create a medium thick batter. Cover and let sit overnight.

In the morning, add 2 eggs, sugar, salt and oil. Mix. When griddle is hot add baking soda. Cook as any other pancake (with a buttered skillet).

Makes enough for 4. If serving 2 people, I recommend halving the recipe.