Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hope that's a word. Crazy busy but wanted to post this photo from a recent cake baking session (no, not Bostini cakes). Recipe will be in a post, soon, promise. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!

Oh, the reason there are no 'licks' from all that's unsweetened. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Darling Daring Mini-Cakes

Yes, the daring Bakers are at it again...guess what we are making!

So what do you call this cute cake and custard and chocolate sauce combo? Why a Bostini Cream Pie or course. It’s another fabulous Daring Bakers recipe, chosen for October by the lovely Mary of Alpineberry.

Now that you’ve got the picture, so to speak, you can go to her blog for the whole recipe here or go to the bottom of this post. Be sure to check out the delightful, diligent, and sometimes dangerous Daring Bakers at their various blogs all over the world…just go to the Daring Baker blogroll and have fun!

Thanks to Mary for a wonderful recipe. It goes together easily (once you have all those eggs) and is a delight to eat. I used Meyer lemon for my citrus and found that with that intense chocolate sauce that any citrus will be fine since it becomes a backnote with the chocolate the most prominent flavor and the wonderful combination of texture being the star.

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Daring Bakers Challenge #12: October 2007
Host: Mary (Alpineberry)
Post Date: Monday, October 29
Serving Size: 8 Generous Sevings

3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED:vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter

To prepare the custard:
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:
Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's Apple Time in the Wine Country

Before the hills and valleys of Sonoma County were covered with wine grape vines, there were acres and acres of apples. The little town of Sebastopol is where the canned (in a tin) applesauce was invented. Hops and prunes were important crops, too. After all, beer needs hops and prunes are just dried plums, but very good for snacking and keeping the plumbing going, too.

So now that it is fall, the Gravensteins have come and gone, but there are still lots of apples being harvested. Above is a truck that was picking up wooden boxes filled with fresh apples one morning this week. I passed it on the way to work.

Some apples are processed into apple juice, apple sauce, and used for apple cider vinegar. Others go into pies and fresh apples from local farms are sold at local grocery stores and farm stands for eating out of hand and for baking. When was the last time that you made something with fresh apples? Apple pie is a classic, but a baked apple, stuffed with some nuts, raisins, and brown sugar is really easy and tasty. If you bake it in the microwave, you can have it ready to eat in minutes.

If you are going to make a pie or chop up apples for a Waldorf salad or other apple dishes, you need to removed the core.

How to easily core an apple

There are lots of different ways to peel an apple, including using one of those appliances you can find at a good hardware store. I often leave the skin on when I cook and bake with apples because I like the skin and more of the nutrients are retained that way. Before you core the apple, you should peel the apple, (if you are going to remove the peel).

There are also lots of ways to remove the core and stem and blossom end from an apple. The one that I like, because it is quick and easy, is to cut the apple in half through the stem and blossom ends. Take a melon baler tool – it has a handle and on each end are metal half balls, usually in two sizes – and choose the end that seems the right size for your apple. Use the half ball to scoop the core out. Then use a paring knife to cut a small triangle piece out at the stem and blossom end.

Done! Ready for slicing or cutting for whatever recipe you are using.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Leave a Comment - Help Celebrate 1 Year !

Hard to believe, but my first post on this blog was a year ago. To celebrate I'm asking that you leave a comment, even an anonymous comment. It can be as simple as "HB" or you can comment on any of the posts over the year, or, really, almost anything else...but keep it clean, OK? You can comment by clicking on COMMENTS at the end of this post, just below 'Hugs and Kisses, Elle'.

I was a lurker (someone who views blogs but doesn't comment) for over a month before I decided to jump in and join the blogosphere. It really is international...just look at the blogroll of the Daring Bakers!

Once I started blogging last October I never looked back, just continued to learn, to make new friends, including Anna and Peabody whom I've actually met, to try new foods, practice new techniques, find new ways to take photos and stage food to photograph it, find new blogs to visit, to polish up my writing a little bit (although there is plenty of room for improvement), and I've now had an excuse to collect new cooking implements and serving pieces :)

At times I've been just a little obsessed with blogging, but mostly it is a delightful hobby and way to explore my enthusiasms and make new virtual friends.

I really appreciate those of you who check out the blog and comment. I try to comment to your comments within a day or so...I thing the interactivity of blogs is part of the fun.

Who knows what the next year will have in store? Come by as often as you can and see. I usually blog a couple of times a week, sometimes more. With fall here and the holidays coming up, there will be some fun cooking going on at Feeding My Enthusiasms.

Hugs and Kisses, Elle oxoxoxox

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall At Its Finest - Blog Friends Lunch in Sonoma

Yesterday was the first nice day we have had in about a week. The sun came out, the trees were wearing the myriad shades of red and gold of autumn, and I met for lunch with Anna of Anna's Cool Finds. Anna writes the best restaurant reviews of lots of places in Marin County, so it is always a little daunting to write a review of a place where we have lunched together. She is also looking really good...due in part, no doubt, to her adherence to the South Beach Diet. Way to go Anna! No photos yet since she is getting better and better looking each time I see her, so the best is surely yet to come. She is also a super nice person and good conversationalist. I'll admit that we talked about a lot of things besides the food.

We met just off the square in the quaint town of Sonoma, the site of the Bear Flag Revolt that led to California becoming a state. It is in the county of Sonoma, so it's Sonoma, Sonoma, CA. To get there we both had nice drives through the vineyards that blanket the area. The vines have mostly been relieved of their grapes and the leaves have changed to fall colors so there is row after row of vines in shades of gold or burgundy.

The restaurant for October is The Red Grape, which is known far and wide as the place with the New Haven Style Pizza. My nephew was with us last night and as soon as I told him the name of the restaurant, he said that he had been told that it had the only decent pizza in the Bay area...of course he is from New Haven, Connecticut, so there might be a bias.

Despite the lure of the pizza, I was drawn to the soup and salad combo. I had the Tomato Basil Soup, a perfect choice since tomatoes are in season and quite delicious right now, plus their Gorgonzola Salad. (Note to Peabody: Yes, this was the Soup of Death, but still pretty looking.)

Anna had the same soup and salad combo, but she chose a savory herbed clam chowder to go with her salad. They had other salads to choose from but, as you can see from the photo, this one was really a great choice. The dressing was light, the cheese pungent, the grapes very seasonal, and those nuts were just a little spicy and nicely crunchy.

As I had suspected, the tomato soup had a full, deep tomato flavor, plus a nice complexity from basil and garlic. The texture was velvety and light, but not watery. On top there was a chiffonade of basil which added a good basil punch, and a few herbed croutons that added a nice crunch.

Although they had a nice array of dessert offerings, we both found that the salad and soup were enough for lunch. The service was good and the restaurant itself was airy and bright, if a bit noisy from the nearby large group which were giving sports team awards to some delightful kids.

If you find yourself in Sonoma, CA, the town, do try the Red Grape Restaurant, just off the square. Next time I'm going to try the pizza...I'll let you know how it is.

The Red Grape Restaurant
529 First Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476

Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30 am

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Many Moods of Turkey

For some of us eating a few slices of turkey at Thanksgiving is enough turkey for the whole year, thank you very much. For others turkey is a treasured treat as often as possible. I fall into the latter category. This has been a good week because I had turkey apple sausages on Wednesday

and an open-faced hot turkey sandwich with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy (call in the carb police!) last night.

If I had roasted a turkey myself for that meal I might be eating a grilled turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow, turkey a' la king with rice for dinner, and some turkey rice soup by Monday. To change the flavors a bit, I could make spaghetti sauce with true Italian flavors with ground turkey, or make teriyaki meatballs for an Asian dinner, also with ground turkey. There is also the joy of a turkey pastrami sandwich on rye....I could go on and on.

One of the reasons that I can have turkey so often is that a local family, the Benedettis, grow turkeys commercially locally and have a Willie Bird's retail store about a 10 minute drive away. There they sell fresh turkey products from a refrigerated case, to order, but there are also packs of frozen turkey products, usually at a lower price than a similar item can be found in the grocery stores. They also make great sandwiches to go.

Those turkey apple sausages came from the freezer case. We are trying to empty the freezer and fridge in preparation for tenting the house for termites (termites just LOVE Sonoma County), so these sausages joined some frozen green beans, some apples off the tree, and some red potatoes from the pantry for a warm and cozy dinner on a wet and gray evening.

The wonderful turkey dinner with all those carbs can be found, year 'round, at Willie Bird's Restaurant in Santa Rosa. It is almost a throwback to the 50's or 60's restaurant with booths, those little wrapped butter pats brought with the bread basket, and they even have liver on the menu for dinner...and it's very nicely cooked liver, the way you wish Mom used to make it.

Since it is that time of year, you can also pre-order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, although the lines to pick up the bird can be a dozen or so people sometimes. Still, a fresh turkey is superior to my taste to a frozen turkey, and it supports local agriculture.

Turkey Apple Sausages with Potatoes and Apples
This is a classic flavor combination

1 pound sausage in casings - turkey apple is a favorite - Willie Bird's if you can get it
1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium apples, halved, cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil until hot and saute' the sausages, turning to brown all sides. Remove sausages to a microwave safe plate and keep covered.

Meanwhile put the potatoe slices in a medium saucepan and add water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced. Drain the potatoes, then add them to the cast iron skillet once the sausages are removed. Add the additional oil and saute' the potatoes, turning over a few times with a spatula to allow more sides to brown. When browned to desired amount, season with salt and pepper to taste, keep warm, covered.

While potatoes are boiling and sausages are cooking, place the butter in a small cast iron skillet, put the skillet over low heat until the butter melts. Add the apple slices and turn and stir them until the slices have been slicked with the butter. Add the water and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, then stir the apple slices again the distribute the spice over all the slices. Raise the heat to medium-high and saute' the apples for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and a bit carmelized. Add a little more water if needed to keep them from burning.

Take the microwave plate of sausages and cover, leaving a vent for steam to escape. Microwave on 1/2 power, a minute at a time, until cooked through but still tender. If you poke the sausage, it will be resistant when it is done.

Place the sausages, potatoes and apples on a serving platter and serve warm, at once. This meal is good with steamed green beans or a green salad with a light dressing.

Willie Bird's Restaurant
1150 Santa Rosa Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 542-0861

If you phone the Restaurant, they can give you information for the retail store.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Far From Perfect

It's so easy, sometimes, to imagine that another person's situation is better than ours. When I was in my early twenties and barely making the rent, I had dinner at the home of a couple who were in their 40's. They recently had decided to become active in a religion where you gave a good portion of your income to the church. At first I thought that they were very generous, but then I realized that it was only future income that was going to be donated...still generous, but they had accumulated quite a lot of nice material goods and property before this time and keeping those things meant that they would still have a far more luxurious life than I would at the time. So it seemed to me that their situation was better than mine. In retrospect I might not think so because the religion was quite restrictive about what they could think and I value the ability to learn, discover, argue, contemplate and make up my own mind.

Another time I was quite envious of a friend who was changing a fence and not sure what different material to use, plus they were concerned about the cost. All I could think of was how lucky they were to have a home where they could change things to make them the way they wanted them to be...I was still renting a smallish place. Still, as a renter, I was determined to grow things, even if I had no land. One year I planted corn and tomatoes in a tiny chunk of land between the sidewalk and the street in front of the building. The space was also shared by a telephone pole, so the actual land was maybe 3 feet by 3 feet.

The corn grew tall and the tomato plant blossomed and set fruit. The unexpected thing (remember I was pretty young and innocent) was that someone picked the corn, even before it was ripe, and took some of the tomatoes, too. Undefeated, the following year I filled plastic crates with plastic bags and dirt, then with carrot seeds and more tomato plants, then placed them on steps that went up to the apartment building's roof. Hardly anyone went there and the sun was good, so that year I had a harvest.

So for all of you who wish you had the bounty that I've had this summer, I wish that for you, too, but you can often find a way to plant seeds or seedlings for yourself to have your own harvest next year. There is something very satisfying about putting seeds in soil, tending and nurturing them, and harvesting something that you had a hand in growing. I know that apple trees and quince bushes take more room than a bucket or crate, but veggies (like the yellow pear tomatoes below) can be crammed in small places and so can herbs. All it takes is a container & some soil (available as potting soil in bags many places), sun, water, and seeds, plus a little attention from you. There are also community gardens in many cities.

The harvest continues, although we have been getting rain, so the tomatoes are far from perfect (you knew I'd fit that in somewhere, right?), with split skins and even a few spots chewed by the snails. Snails just love this misty weather! This is my view at work lately.

So one of the things that I've done with those less than beautiful tomatoes is to make fresh tomato sauce for pasta.

Recently I had three colors of tomatoes: green zebra, yellow pear, and red costolluto. I cut them into chunks, made a fresh sauce, and then stirred in tri-colored tortellini that had been cooked al dente. With some fresh Parmesan cheese grated over, it made a wonderful side dish for the local salmon that Sweetie had grilled. Some lightly steamed green beans filled out the plate.

Tri-Color Tortellini with Tri-Color Fresh Tomato Sauce

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1-2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive or safflower oil
3-4 cups tomato chunks from red, green and yellow tomatoes. Cut cherry or pear tomatoes in half, cut the others into chunks about 1 inch in size
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary
(fresh herbs, chopped, can be used...about a tablespoon of the oregano and basil and 1/2 tablespoon of the rosemary, or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound tri-color tortellini
Boiling water

Saute the onions and garlic in hot oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes to release the juices and soften the tomatoes. Remove cover and stir, then add the herbs, pepper and salt, and stir to combine.

NOTE:This sauce includes the skin and seeds. If you prefer your sauce without those, skin and seed the tomatoes before adding to the onion mixture.

While the tomatoes are simmering, cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling water. When the tortellini are al dente, drain well, then add to the tomato sauce. Stir well to coat the tortellini with the sauce. Serve, grating Parmesan cheese over each serving. Serve hot.

Serves 5 (or two hungry adolescents)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Days Are Just Packed

Sweet Autumn! So much to do but lots of it fun stuff. Harvested a huge basket of English walnuts before the rains came. Still picking the last of the summer tomatoes, plus I put in a dozen green bean plants. Not sure if I'll get any beans, especially if this cool, rainy weather keeps up, but who knows? Fun to try. We also installed another window in the farmhouse to keep grandma warmer this winter, did some pruning and pulled some depleted squash plants. Imagine my surprise when, after pulling a spent squash plant out of some tall grass, I found a zucchini the size of a baseball bat at the end. I had thought that the plant was dead weeks ago, but it had this hidden asset growing larger and larger. Now that fall has come, I'm very busy with the scholarship group, P.E.O., raising money for scholarships for women. We just awarded over $5,000 to women students who will be in college this fall. It takes a lot of time, but is very rewarding. The title of this post is from Calvin and Hobbes, the old comic strip. Calvin said that very thing so enthusiastically, that it makes me smile, even when I'm feeling a bit exhausted from what is being packed in the days.

The sky was a deep blue and the sun was bright and the air was clean and sweet on Sunday as we drove through the autumn colors of dun colored hills and bright orange, gold, yellow, and red foliage on the trees. We visited three artist's studios as part of Art Trails, an annual event in our area. There are so many participating artists that we can only get a taste of the talents. We purchased a mouth blown glass pitcher which the artist said is perfect for maple syrup; it can even be microwaved. We also purchased a salt glazed bowl just perfect for fall side dishes like mashed potatoes or polenta. It has warm, earthy colors...very fall like.

In keeping with the fall theme, I have a recipe for Apple Crunch, made with apples from our tree, walnuts from a different tree in the yard, and lots of good, healthy rolled oats. Since it is a sweet baked good and pretty healthy, it makes a good addition to the event by Joanna called Heart of the Matter. This time the heart healthy recipes should be baking recipes. This one uses fresh, unpeeled apples for lots of vitamins and fiber, plus a crisp topping that uses a tiny amount of butter, but that butter could be replaced with a heart healthy kind of spread or margarine. The nuts and oats add more fiber and good vitamins and minerals. Serve it with hot apple cider that has been seasoned with a little sprinkle of cinnamon and you have a fall treat that is good for you.

Elle's Apple Crunch

tart apples, unpeeled, washed, quartered, and cored, then each quarter cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick to make 4 cups
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter or heart healthy spread or margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats, quick cooking if possible
1/8 teaspoon each baking powder, salt, & soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
1/4 cup coarsely broken walnuts
Stir together apples, lemon juice and the 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Place in a shallow baking dish that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake, covered, for 25 minutes. The apples will be soft and some juices will form.

While apples are cooking, melt the butter or spread or margarine in a small pan. Combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg or allspice in a medium bowl, mixing well. Pour the melted fat over the dry ingredients and stir well to mix completely. Add the walnuts and stir them in.
Remove the hot apples from the oven, uncover, and spread the crumby mixture over them, spreading evenly and covering the apples.

Bake another 25 to 30 minutes until the crunch topping is golden brown and crunchy.
Serve warm or cool and serve at room temperature or cold. (I think it tastes best warm)
Serves 6-8

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More Virginny - Spicy Fun

Once the project was done and the party over, there was more fun to be had. First Sweetie and I drove through the rolling Virginia countryside, with leaves in nearby forests just starting to turn, south west to Charlottesville where we had an enjoyable visit with his sister and her good friend John. We left Mom's early on Sunday and decided to wait to eat breakfast until we reached the small town of Culpepper. Well, it used to be small, and the downtown is still small and charming. We made sure to get off the freeway and travel into the Historic Downtown because we always prefer to eat at local restaurants, not at the fast food chains you find right off the freeways. We were rewarded for our efforts with a delicious and inexpensive breakfast at DeeDee's Cafe, right across from the Catholic church. Out side there was a metal pig...not sure why, but since pigs have sort of become the mascot of the trip somehow, I took a photo. Poor pig has seen better days!

In Charlottesville we ate at an Himalayan restaurant and had the buffet. Since we were talking up a storm with Sweetie's sis and John, I completely forgot to take any photos, but the food was good and lots of it very spicy. Does anyone have a recipe for a soupy rice pudding flavored with coconut, probably an Indian recipe? I would love to have it if you do...Sweetie really enjoyed that dessert.

On the last day before we flew home, we wanted to find a little something to take home to the dear friends who were taking care of our animals. A Penzey's spice store had just opened up 3 weeks before our handy is that? we bought a variety of small containers of cinnamon at Penzey's. They have sample to sniff or taste. The sniff I took of the double vanilla extract was enough to convince me that I need to mail order some, plus some vanilla bean. Didn't want to take them home on the plane, but Penzey's has a great catalog.

The last fun was a trip on Monday to Green Springs Farm Park in Arlington. The cute tea cups in the first photo are in a bed there near the old colonial brick house, but they have an amazing collection of plants and scenic beauty. I just love the lush green of a Virginia forest and the way the first fall leaves are scattered in the water in the photo below. What a perfect ending to a wonderful trip home.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Jaunt to Virginny - Story Continues - Pulled Pork Pigout


Still at Mom's house, but now the project is done and it's time for fun. Friday evening we took Mom and sister #3, (daughter #4 - she flew in from Michigan just because I was coming from CA) and a friend of sister #3 to The Stray Cat Cafe in Westover in Arlington.

Sweetie and I had eaten lunch there the previous day since it was across the street from the hardware store that had a tile drill bit. We had enjoyed it so much that we suggested it for dinner.

A secret food craving of mine is pulled pork...the kind that has been cooked over hickory wood and is moist and tender and somewhat stringy since it has been cooked long enough that it can be pulled right off the bone and then pulled apart into chunks. Imagine my delight when I discovered pulled pork on the menu of this bright and inviting cafe'. The best usually comes from North Carolina, but The Stray Cat Cafe served a mighty fine pulled pork sandwich which I had at lunch. That was pulled pork #1.

For dinner I had the platter (photo above) which had an enormous pile of the delicious pork, plus a mini-loaf of moist cornbread, a good cole slaw with crisp cabbage and slivers of carrots in a dressing that wasn't too thick or too sweet, plus a pile of crispy twisty fries. Two sauces came with the pork, so I used a small amount of the milder one. Really, the pork was so good it didn't need sauce. That was pulled pork #2.

On Saturday it was celebration time! We celebrated brother #2's birthday and had a belated party at the same time for Mom's birthday. We were joined by brother #2's delightful wife and sons, plus sister #1's son and fiancee', so it was a full table plus. Sister (and daughter) #1 drove up from North Carolina with a couple of huge packages of pulled pork. We added hamburger buns, spicy baked beans that had simmered all day in a slow cooker, cole slaw made without mayonnaise in the dressing, fresh corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes from the country, and a selection of beer, plus water and juice. The pile of buns at the back of the photo t the top of this post is only a part of the pulled pork...we had leftovers! It was moist and juicy and very smoky and really, really good! That was pulled pork #3.

There were enough leftovers that I was able to have a pulled pork sandwich for lunch on Monday, too. That was pulled pork #4.

Any trip that includes so many pulled pork experiences is a winner...a true pulled pork pigout!

In addition to all this meaty goodness, on Saturday after that dinner, we had the birthday cake and birthday pie. I had made a peach shortcake, shown here with candles and peach slices on top, while sister #2 (daughter #3) came up from Maryland and she made a blast from the past...a Chocolate Rum Marble Pie from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. Since the cake was mostly a box of yellow cake mix, fresh sliced peaches, and whipped cream, the recipe will be for that wonderful, rich, creamy pie.

The photo does not do justice to sister #2's creation. It was super yummy! Can you guess which # daughter I am?

Marbled Chocolate Rum Pie

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1/4 cup rum
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
Standard pastry for one-crust 9-inch pie, baked

In top part of double boiler mix gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt. Beat in egg yolks, milk, and rum. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until thoroughly blended. Chill until thickened but not set.

Beat egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until very stiff. Fold into the chocolate mixture.

Whip cream with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla until stiff.

Alternate the two mixtures in cold pie shell. Swirl with spoon. Chill until firm.

Makes 6-8 servings.
Note from sister #2: When I saw that it made "only" 6-8 servings, I thought, "Oh, well,
we'll just have really small pieces, or maybe some people won't want
some." But at Mom's when I cut it in 12 pieces, I thought they were
pretty reasonably sized pieces, for as rich as this pie is.
I'm glad you're home safe and sound. That was a fun party, wasn't it?

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Jaunt to Virginny


Mom used a boxed mix to make the lemon bars we gave to the plumbing supply guy (see below), but here is a recipe from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook for Zesty Lemon Bars that are very similar, but probably better since there is fresh lemon juice and zest in this recipe:

Zesty Lemon Bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
11/4 cup powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Adjust the rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Crust: Briefly blend the flour and sugar in a medium bowl to combine. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Using your fingertips, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale gold.

Filling: Briefly blend the flour, sugar and baking powder to combine. Blend the eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined.

Pour the filling over partially baked crust and bake 25 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar over top and cut into bars.

Yields 18 bars

The poor blog has been neglected of late. The reason is that Sweetie and I flew back to ‘Old Virginny’ for a combination of work and play vacation.

When you return to places from your childhood it is not uncommon for rooms and yards and playgrounds that once seemed huge to now seem very small and you wonder at your memories.

I returned last week to the house in Northern Virginia where I grew up. The back yard did seem smaller, perhaps because the maple trees are now huge, but the bathroom really is small and looked about the same.

Since it is so small, it was a challenge to find a new sink to replace the old wall hung one that had become cracked over time. The bracket it was hanging on was also rusted and had broken apart at the end closest to the bathtub. Fortunately, my Mom chose a beautiful pedestal sink with nice clean lines at a home store way out Route 66.

Unfortunately, Sweetie and I discovered that installing such a sink was more difficult for us than installing a sink with cabinet combo. For one thing, you are working in a very tight space and trying to tighten up pipes with that dang pedestal surrounding them on three sides. For another thing, we didn’t have all of our usual tools, so we spent a lot of time rounding up tools in the basement and purchasing more.

Then we turned off the water to remove the old sink

and to put in new quarter turn angle stop valves for the water supply lines for the sink,

but the return of water pressure afterwards seemed to loosen up some grit and gravel from the water lines, so the flush mechanism of the toilet was damaged, so that had to be replaced, too.

Good thing that there was another bathroom downstairs. For the first 15 years I lived there we all shared one bathroom…and eventually “we” was 10 people. Now you know why I’m so good at sharing and time management!

By the third day the folks at Brown’s Hardware

knew us very well since we were in and out of there too many times to count. And just think, the entire project was done during an Indian summer bout of heat and humidity…reminding me yet again why I don’t live there year round.

We also established a relationship with a local plumbing supply store where this guy was very helpful with tools. A gift of some of Mom’s homemade lemon bars when we finished seemed a fitting thank you for such trust and generosity to strangers. He also supplied us, finally, with the proper gasket to stop the leaking that should not have been happening with all new pipes.

Mom was truly grateful and I knew that if we had not done the work that she would probably have waited until the old sink fell off the wall before she replaced it, so it felt good to get the job done.