Category Archives: foodies!

Strawberry season

Friday’s full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, and it’s definitely strawberry season here. I went to the farmers market last week and picked up local Seascape strawberries. I made 8 half pints of jam, strawberry shortcake, and 1/2 pint of strawberry balsamic jam with the leftovers. That strawberry balsamic jam was so good; it left me wanting more.

Hood strawberries

I went back to the market this week, and was early enough in the day to pick up Hood strawberries, the crown jewel of local berries. They’re so delicate they don’t travel out of the area. This half flat turned into five 4 oz jars of strawberry balsamic jam (recipe from Food in Jars here), more shortcake (half for us and half delivered to the grown kids), and a bit left for eating fresh. I think next time I’ll add an extra tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for a slightly deeper punch.

Apparently I used to be more opinionated about strawberry jam, so here’s my 2015 rendition of the recipe. Now I just want to get it into jars before the berries turn.

PIng!

strawberry shortcake

I think this is my favorite presentation, but it’s also nice to have jam to remember this fleeting moment. Strawberry season comes and goes in a blink!

Bagels, no yeast, no wait

Yogurt bagels

I wanted to bake bagels again this past weekend, but I’m short on yeast. An Instagram post by @minibagelmom mentioned something called yogurt bagels. And right down the rabbit hole I went!

Apparently there are 2 ingredient bagel recipes, which use just self-rising flour and greek yogurt. Self rising flour is just flour with baking powder and salt added, so that’s a 4 ingredient bagel at our house. Why buy and store self-rising flour separately? I have a tiny kitchen.

I looked through a lot of yogurt bagel recipes online; most made 4 bagels. That’s not enough bagels to turn on the oven. Doubling it would require 2 cups of greek yogurt, which I didn’t have. But! The recipe on the Fage Yogurt page only needed 1.5 cups of yogurt, and claimed to make 8 bagels.

And it did. There’s no rise time for these bagels, just mix, knead a tiny bit, and shape. No boiling, just bake. They’re not a perfect bagel, but a darn good substitute if you are short on yeast and time. DH liked them, and I’d make them again. Recipe here.

Note: Definitely shape them as directed; my usual way of making a ball and poking my thumb through made a very unattractive sticky ring. Rolling into a rope and making a circle looked much better, so I reshaped my originals.

We’re eating at home a *lot* with an occasional take-out meal to support a favorite restaurant. Other delicious things we’ve had recently:

Quinoa bowl with brussels sprouts and eggplant
Quinoa bowl with roasted brussels sprouts, eggplant, and tahini, recipe from NYTimes/Melissa Clark.

lentil and spinach soup
Instant Pot lentil and spinach soup from Kitchen Treaty.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve cooked recently? Are you being more adventurous in the kitchen?

Baking for fun and comfort

I spent some extra time in the kitchen this weekend. I had a hankering for bagels, and we didn’t have any.

homemade bagels

I’ve used this bagel recipe before, adapted to use some whole grain flour, with good results. Here’s my version of the recipe, in a previous blog post. I was a bit worried, because my yeast had a “best by” date of February 2019, but it worked just fine. You know at the beginning of the process, so no problem.

The bagels are delicious! Fabulous straight from the oven, but I actually like the slightly chewier texture the next day.

I’ve seen on the interwebz that lots of people are stress baking during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Apparently there’s been a run on flour and yeast at the grocery stores. I don’t think I’m stress baking; I just like to bake! I’m not ready to use more of my dwindling flour supply yet, but that didn’t stop me from making dessert.

Peanut butter cookies

I baked some flourless peanut butter cookies, using a mashup of The Nashville Food Project’s 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies from Judy’s Chickens and Smitten Kitchen’s 5 ingredient version. The 2 extra ingredients? A splash of vanilla, and some coarse sea salt sprinkles. Those two extras make my day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 18 2” cookies)

7/8 cup peanut butter (just a little less than a full cup)
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar, or a mixture of light brown and white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (no mess to clean up!)

Whisk sugar(s) and egg together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in vanilla, then peanut butter, until smooth. Use a mini ice cream scoop to form balls, and place on cookie sheet. Criss cross slightly flat with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 12-15 mins, or until lightly browned at edges. Let them cool slightly, then move to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately!

If you used a full cup of sugar, and a whole cup of peanut butter, it would still be fine. I used all brown sugar this time, but I’ve used half brown and half white before. This is not the time to stress over your baking!

How are you managing? Are you staying at home? Baking? Knitting? Cleaning house? OK, that last one isn’t high on my to-do list!

Wishing you sweetness and knitting in 2020!

Wishing you a happy 2020; I hope it brings you much joy.

We had a delicious family Christmas with my side of the family. Hosting Sis not pictured; she’s behind the camera.

We celebrated Hanukkah on the 10th night. Yes, I know Hanukkah has 8 days, but I believe in celebrating when you can. It’s better than not celebrating!

Mom-in-law was here for this Hanukkah/New Year’s Eve celebration, and we made this Chocolate Cloud Cake. It was fun to make, and it looked and tasted divine. The picture isn’t particularly artful, because everyone wanted to eat the cake instead of wait for me to style it. I can’t blame them. This is going into my repeat file, for sure. Link here. Oh, it’s flourless and gluten free, too!

I hope your 2020 is full of sweetness, and knitting, too.

Cranberry Brie Wreath

I made this appetizer the other day, and it was delightful.

It’s made with puff pastry and filled with cranberry sauce and toasted almonds. The centerpiece is a round of baked brie for dipping. The whole thing is garnished with fresh rosemary. Sound good? It was, twice! The second one was prettier than this one, as I figured out what I was doing.

I saw a video on Facebook for a Camenbert version, and had to play with it. Link here.

Now I’m thinking it could be filled with lemon curd, with a blueberry compote in a dish in the center after baking.

Or cinnamon sugar and butter, and icing in a dish in the center after baking.

Or chocolate chips, and…what goes in the center? Nutella?

The possibilities are endless. But start here:

Cranberry Brie Wreath

Ingredients:
1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm, frozen. Defrost for an hour)
1/2 – 1 cup cranberry sauce (mine had whole berries in it, so it took about 1 cup to spread enough)
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (I bought them already toasted, supposedly a salad garnish)
1 small round brie
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh rosemary for garnish
1 egg and a bit of milk or half and half for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place one sheet of puff pastry on a sheet of parchment paper, roll it out lightly to reduce creases.

Spread cranberry sauce in a circle on puff pastry, avoiding center where cheese will go, and corners which will be removed to make a circle.

Sprinkle toasted almonds over cranberry sauce.

Roll out the other sheet of puff pastry, and put it on top of the first.

Round off corners of puff pastry, and cut out circle in center (use your Brie as a guide for size). Set Brie in center, score top.

Cut 4 slits in puff pastry, from outer edge to about 1/2 inch from center circle, North, South, East, West. Cut 3 additional slits between each of these first 4 lines (you’re making 12 equal pieces).

Working with paired pieces of puff pastry, twist each piece outward 2 times. Then give the ends another half twist to press the ends of each pair together.

Brush with an egg wash.

Score the top of Brie with a knife, and drizzle it with olive oil. Garnish the whole wreath with snips of fresh rosemary.

Transfer parchment to cookie sheet and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until puff pastry is golden brown. Transfer to serving dish. Serve hot.

Have fun with the possibilities!

beet and orange quinoa salad

This is so pretty, and if you’ve got oranges hanging around from holiday gift baskets, this is a great way to use them!

Winter Beet and Orange Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

2 roasted beets, or if you’re lazy like me, one 8.8 oz package pre-cooked Love Beets, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar or honey
1 cup drained rinsed chick peas
4 oz baby spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 fresh oranges, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces

Rinse quinoa in a strainer under running water, then combine with 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat, fluff with fork and let cool.

Make dressing: Combine olive oil, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and agave in a measuring cup and whisk to blend.

Combine cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with chick peas and baby spinach. Add salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the cut up beets and orange pieces. Toss gently and serve. (Serves 4 as a main dish, or more as a side dish.)

No picture; we ate it!

Happy Lunar New Year!

Gung hay fat choy! It’s the year of the Boar (or Pig, but I think boar sounds nicer somehow).

Red envelopes with lucky money for the kids. Traditional foods…some friends asked me for this recipe, so I’m stashing it here. It’s pretty much a stew of different fungi! Feel free to mix and match according to your tastes and what you can find.

Jai
(Usually vegetarian but my Mom likes oysters and chicken broth in it)

1 oz dried lily flowers
1 oz shredded fungus (the ones we use looked like sliced black/gray leather strips)
4 bean curd sticks (dried)
10 black/shiitake mushrooms
8 red dates (dried. I don’t like them, but Mom does)
1/4 c fat choy (dried. Looks like black steel wool)

Soak the above ingredients for 2 hours or overnight.

2 T oil
1 Or 2 slices fresh ginger
3 oz fermented red bean curd (nom yee) (comes in jar)
3 oz fermented white bead curd (foo yee) (comes in jar)
3 C water
3 C chicken broth (or you can use all water)
12 oz canned gingko nuts
5 oz sliced water chestnuts (small can)
2 T brown sugar
3 T oyster sauce
3 T white wine
2 C shredded nappa cabbage
2 oz bean thread (dried)

Two 8 oz jars fresh small oysters (optional)

Presoak the first set of dry ingredients, separately, 2 hours or overnight. Rinse well. Cut and discard any hard portions. Cut bean curd sticks into 2” lengths.

Pour boiling water over bean thread to soften. Drain and cut into 3” lengths.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add ginger and bean curds; saute for a minute or so. Add 2 C water and break up bean curd. Add the rest of the water and broth. Add all other ingredients except oysters.

Simmer for one hour. Add drained oysters and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Makes a lot! Serves at least 8. Enjoy!

Back with knitting soon.

Once more, food gifts with spirit(s)

First, if you’re looking for the free Petite Brioche knitting pattern, see this post.

I’m back in the kitchen today, making some quick gifts. Of course they are boozy. These were on my blog last year at this time, but are still just as quick, easy, and delicious.

Irish cream

Last year’s big hit: DIY Irish Cream, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. This comes together in 5 minutes, and makes three of these cute 8 ounce bottles. (You get 30 oz of liquid, but I barely filled three of these 1/4 liter (8 oz) bottles the first time I made this. No worries; just adjust your expectations accordingly.)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 (14-ounce or 415 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey (original recipe calls for a cup, but 9 oz fills the bottles just a little better, and yum)

In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and a spoonful of cream into a paste. Add more cream a splash at a time until the paste is liquid enough that you can whisk in the rest of the cream. Transfer to a pitcher, and whisk in condensed milk, whiskey and vanilla. Bottle for gifts. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Seriously, how long do you think this will last? Give it a good shake before using; the cocoa wants to sink, and the cream wants to rise to the top. Of course!

P1060593

My aunt sent me pears again this year, and in return she’ll get some cranberry pear bourbon jam. I get jam, pear tart, and pears for eating fresh. A good deal for both of us!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon/Ginger Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon and ginger, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

Bourbon caramel sauce

And I’m not currently making this one, because I still have some in my fridge to use on dessert. But you might need to make some, so here’s the recipe: Bourbon Caramel Sauce, recipe from Danielle Centoni. I’ve made this many times, and it always gets raves. We’ll be having some with ice cream on a pear tart tonight. My only warning on this one is don’t get greedy when caramelizing the sugar. It can go from perfect nut-brown to burnt in a blink. Brown enough is brown enough! This makes 2.5 cups; I usually gift it in little 4 ounce jars, because a little goes a long way.

Merry Christmas to you! Did you make food gifts this year?

WWKIP Day, KAL party, non-yarn chicken

It’s shaping up to be a knit-packed weekend here in Portland, Oregon! Knit Picks is having a WWKIP (Worldwide Knit in Public) Day event this Saturday, June 10. I’ll be one of the guest designers there; come say hi if you’re local! It’s from 1 to 3 p.m. at Overlook Park. Refreshments, door prizes, and yarn sampling!

I’ll be knitting with this Knit Picks Stroll Gradient cake in Ice Sculpture; it’s my Go Tell the Bees KAL knitting. (Click for Ravelry link)

And I’m having a a Go Tell the Bees KAL party at Pearl Fiber Arts on Sunday June 11 from 1 to 3. Fierce Fibers dyer StaceyKok will be there with some of her lovely gradient cakes, too. Again, if you’re local, come knit with me! (RSVP to Cindy at the shop; space is limited.)

And here’s a recipe that I’d like to share; we had this on Memorial Day. It’s a family favorite. (Hey, look, chicken that’s not YARN CHICKEN on the blog!)

Vietnamese Chicken Wings or Drums

Ingredients

Marinade
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) I use 3 Crabs brand. Red Boat is also good, and it’s gluten-free if that’s an issue.
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
1 rounded tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 large flat of chicken wings (about 20 wings), cut into 3 sections, discard tips, or 1 flat drumsticks (about 16)
2 tsp cornstarch, combined with 2 tsp cold water
1/2 bunch cilantro

In a quart-size jar with tight-fitting lid, combine marinade ingredients. Seal and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Marinate wings/drums in sauce about 4 hours in refrigerator.

Grill wings/drums on medium-low temp to brown and cook through, turning every 5 minutes. Drumsticks take about 25-30 minutes. I’ve never used wings, so you’re on your own for timing. They’re traditional, though.

While grilling, put about half the remaining marinade into a sauce pan and bring to boil.

Add cornstarch/cold water mix to thicken a bit, I used about 2 teaspoons of corn starch.

Chop up fresh cilantro.

When wings/drums are done, put in large bowl, pour in some thickened glaze and stir. Arrange on platter and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

Bagel bliss, high tea, and yarn!

There is something wonderful about mastering a skill and getting repeatable results. I’ve been on a bagel quest for the last couple of months, turning out batch after batch in search of the perfect multi-grain boiled bagel texture.

I did a lot of reading, experimented with a couple recipes, and ended up with a heavily modified version of this Easy New York-Style Bagel recipe from the Oregonian. Here’s my take.

Bagels

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided into 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup
(you may need up to 1/4 cup more)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole grain flour; I’ve tried spelt, and now kamut
Extra bread flour for kneading
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Optional toppings: coarse salt, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds

Instructions
In an 8 ounce measuring cup, add 1/2 cup warm water. Pour in the sugar and yeast, stir to combine. Let it sit for 5 minutes to get the yeast going.

In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast-sugar mixture. Add an additional 3/4 cup warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed to form a moist, firm dough. You may need to add more water to get this texture.

On a well-floured countertop, knead the dough for 5 minutes, working in additional flour as needed. Your finished dough should be firm and stiff. (Other recipes have you knead for 10 minutes, but this is too much time for whole grain flours.)

Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add dough and turn it so that it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. A perfect warm place is your microwave! Before putting the bowl of dough in, heat a large mug of water for 3 minutes. Move the mug to the back corner, add your covered bowl. When the dough has doubled in size (about an hour), punch the dough down and let it rest, covered with the towel, for another 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Form your bagels by gently rolling each piece into a ball, flatten a bit and poke your thumb through the middle and make a good sized hole. (The hole will shrink.) Place bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet, or an unoiled Silpat. Cover the bagels with the damp towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.

While the bagels are resting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Reduce the heat to a low boil. Working in batches of 4 bagels, use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels into the water. Simmer for 2 minutes, flip, simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove the bagels to a wire rack to drain.

Add toppings while bagels are damp, just out of the pot, if desired.

Return drained bagels to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 8 lovely bagels

It’s been a food heavy weekend. Carole and I put on a tea for a lovely group of graduates.

Besides scones, we had savories

and sweets.

The moms served the scone and savory courses, and then we had them sit so we could serve the sweet course, and serve the moms the whole tea menu plus mimosas.

Here’s to moms, grads, friends.

The knitting continues, too!

Biscuit and I are testing out ideas for this lovely yarn from Bumblebirch. I think I know what it’s going to be. Biscuit is still dreaming.

And I’m narrowing down my blue/yellow choices, too. Hazel Knits Splish Splash with Midas? Or Hoppy Blond?

Knit on!