23 May 2016

A Welcome Change



I spoke to a few people this past weekend who could not sleep Saturday evening. I was sleepless, not something that happens often... Was it the blue moon? That seemed to be the popular possibility. After finally catching a few hours in the very early morning, Sunday, we woke up hungry. I scrambled eggs with cheddar and set out coffee and fruit for some tasty fuel. Then, I decided that the whim of making a slab scone, something on mind for awhile, was ripe to occur, so I rolled out scone dough instead of cutting it, and tucked it up like a sleeping bag around a layer of Damson plum preserves. With each fold I hoped I was bringing luck to that night's sleep, and thankfully, it was a good one, especially since we woke up to these today.

03 May 2016

Turn to the pantry



I already think a lot about frugality as it relates to cooking and maxing out whole ingredients, but when I sat down to interview this chef last week for an upcoming piece in next month's  Industry magazine, my horizons were even further expanded. He's on a frontier with a wave of chefs who are reducing waste, pickling, canning and renewing. Part of his mission, besides making ketchup, vinegar and anything else he can, is shifting focus to not always be meat-centric. Not meaning it's not there. But once and awhile, isn't it nice to turn to the pantry?

23 April 2016

Essence


It's funny, the way making something new can feel like an effort not worth taking at first. Gathering materials not already in your pantry with limited real estate and budget, spending a bit more time reading directions, making sure it was a teaspoon and not a tablespoon you needed, double checking this and that. But then, after you've enjoyed it, a small mental space feels opened. You expanded. Sometimes, by force we expand, even if we wiggle through discomfort at first.

12 April 2016

Welcome and encouraged






My love for shortbread requires little explanation. In short, it's just perfect. It's the little black dress of a cookie, one that can withstand a little alternate flour thrown in, it's a dough that can be made ahead and then kept in a tin without problems once baked (or with problems, depending : )) and it is the perfect canvas on which to play with flavors--cardamom, lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary... all are welcome and encouraged. But I think it's the texture that keeps me coming back to these sandy, tender things.

31 March 2016

Olive Oil Cake



I've been on a kick with little olive oil cakes. I think the best thing about them is that if you decide you want to make one, it's only a matter of pouring some of the fruity goodness into a measuring cup and getting a few other things ready, rather than waiting for butter to soften. Life can be so unpredictable, who knows what might happen between the time of taking the butter out and finding it to be soft enough yet. Make an olive oil cake.

15 March 2016

Their Last Appearance




There are dozens of ways to a create a cranberry muffin, but the ones I baked up twice this week happen to feature only a smidgen of oil and a decent pour of orange juice. The batter is hand-mixed and not a carton of yogurt or block of butter are opened for what results in, we think, a lovely breakfast muffin. After adopting these blueberry muffins as my house muffin mix this year, it felt like a step back to not use that base for the cranberry orange muffin I was craving, but I have fallen for the simplicity of these. You have to have options. What if your dairy is running low? Sprinkled with leftover streusel and baked to golden, these muffins, in their minimalism, are excellent.

06 March 2016

Blueberry Barley Coffee Cake


Three and a half years ago, when I bought Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain, the first alternative flour I picked up was barley flour. I really credit this book and the time I purchased it, for deepening my interest in baking. Suddenly, baked goods weren't about how much butter and sugar to feel concerned about. Instead they could be delicious and have depth. There could be rosemary, zest and good European butter and rustic rye tarts. It unlocked a sense of pleasure involved with the process I hadn't realized was there. I made the barley scones in the book and a few other things. Then it was time to try rye, kamut, oat, and spelt, and well, I only have so much flour real estate available. A few months ago, though, I picked up barley flour again, and have been throwing it into everything.

24 February 2016

Bit by bit


I haven't much mentioned our wedding around here, except for the trip we took afterwards, because, I don't know, I think less is more.  But the other day we celebrated six months with the knot tied, and by celebrate I don't mean anything shmancy...that wouldn't have felt right. Being there, in all senses of the phrase, has always been more tantamount to our relationship than artifice or grand gestures.