Winter Gives Way & I Make Marmalade

Snow.  Winter.  Blizzard.  Ice.  Sub-zero temperatures.  These words have become anathema to so many people due to this season’s exceptionally cold and harsh weather.  For the first half of the winter, I was its outspoken advocate.  Summer’s heat and humidity really drag on my ability to enjoy the outdoors and the dangerously high pollen levels of the last couple springs & falls wreaked havoc for me and my fellow allergy sufferers.  Therefore, I welcomed the cleansing, restful effect of winter.  Even through January’s polar vortices (or vortexes if you prefer) I appreciated the change winter brings.

Then, more harsh weather came in February, but with the frigid temperatures also came the sun.  Sunshine, glorious sunshine!  It’s something we don’t see much of in the latter part of winter in Ohio.  Typically, February seems to be filled with grey, cold, wetness that soaks its dreary way into the soul, causing lots of humans to develop symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.  This year, the lack of cloud cover that let all of the heat escape from the planet’s surface let in the blessed rays of that giant flaming orb at the center of our solar system.  For me, it’s been a game changer. (more…)

Leftovers: Ribeye, White Cheddar & Jalapeño Flatbread

Leftovers.  In some cases, like soup, they’re even better than the day they were made.  Other things just become dry, congealed messes of unappetizing stuff.  Not many recipes are made for one–or even two.  This leads to lots of leftovers in this world.  I don’t want to talk about the sad leftovers.  Let’s talk about things that are awesome!

For example, a steak.  This weekend we held a holiday/appreciation dinner for the staff of our dental practice.  As it was a special occasion I ordered a ribeye.  It came out just as I had ordered it–medium rare.  (Great job, Latitude 41!)  I’m not used to eating a lot of meat, plus we had ordered several appetizers to share and enjoyed a couple libations so I ended up taking half of my steak home.

ribeye pizza

Leftovers for breakfast are a lot less boring when those leftovers involve a perfectly cooked ribeye

Because my mind is constantly in idea-generation mode, I was thinking late in the evening of the possibilities of what to do with the steak.  I settled on the idea of a sweet potato hash with charred onions and chunks of homegrown sweet potato from a friend’s mom.  Then, morning came and while sipping my decaf I decided to poke around in the fridge for other ingredients to add.  After seeing the white cheddar and the jalapeños I knew I’d changed my mind.  Here’s how it went down… (more…)

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

Several blocks from our place, there’s a funky restaurant that serves Brussels sprouts pizza.  Yep, sprouts on a pizza.  Lots of you are probably thinking how much you hate Brussels sprouts.  If that’s you, keep reading.

If not, maybe you’re one who just flat out enjoys their taste.  Or, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones out there who’s experienced the joy of eating Brussels sprouts roasted to the point of caramelization.  That is still my all-time favorite way to serve (and eat) Brussels sprouts.  This pizza comes in at a close second.

One of the best ways to eat your veggies

One of the best ways to eat your veggies

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

Ingredients: (more…)

Late Summer Harvest Soup

In Ohio, the fall is clearly here as evidenced by the slight yellowing/reddening of tree leaves, cooler temperatures, decreased humidity and dwindling supplies of fresh tomatoes.  Our home harvest has slowed significantly and my tomatillo just gave up its last few fruits.  I knew long ago I wanted to make some sort of green chili or soup with them, but hadn’t planned exactly what that would be.  This past weekend at the farmers market I filled my cloth library bag with several poblanos, onions and quite a few tomatoes among other things.  I simply had to enjoy the last bit of the harvest before we only get the green or barely reddened ones.

So, this morning I set out to make soup.  I simply grabbed produce from the refrigerator, the counter and what I could from the garden (celery and tomatillos) plus some staples from the pantry (black beans) and the freezer (homemade veggie stock).  Then, I just let loose with the cutting board and my new chef’s knife.  This soup was the end result and I absolutely cannot wait to serve it tonight.

Roasted poblanos, tomatoes, corn, black beans and tomatillos all vying for the spotlight

Roasted poblanos, tomatoes, corn, black beans and tomatillos all vying for the spotlight

Ingredients: (more…)

Back to Basics: Scrambled Eggs

Activity-filled weekends mixed with the desire to sleep in don’t often leave much time for cooking in the morning.  On those mornings, I keep things simple.  Breakfast might be a little peanut or almond butter on toast, or maybe a cup of Greek yogurt topped with oats/nuts and a tsp of honey or homemade jam.  Sometimes, like this weekend, it’s just scrambled eggs.

Simple weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs topped with quick-sautéed cherry tomatoes with a slice of homemade whole-grain seeded soda bread

Simple weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs topped with quick-sautéed cherry tomatoes with a slice of homemade whole-grain seeded soda bread

Scrambled eggs are one of those things that are so amazingly wonderful when done the right way, but if you don’t know two little secrets they’re really easy to screw up.  You know what I’m talking about–the mealy, dry, crumbly yellow blobs that are the bane of every breakfast buffet.

You don’t have to experience that–and it doesn’t take a master chef to create perfectly moist, well-cooked scrambled eggs.  Just keep these two things in mind: (more…)

Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps

In the heat of the summer, one of the last things I want to do is eat a heavy meal–especially in the evenings.  That usually leads to lots of meatless meals, which leave my meatasaurus husband typically unsatisfied.  So, in an attempt to bridge the gap between our preferences and an attempt to use up some of the meat in the freezer, I settled on beef lettuce wraps.

Korean beef lettuce wraps using homegrown carrots & beef from a friend's cow. Sweet, savory, salty, spicy and lots of crunch!

Korean beef lettuce wraps using homegrown carrots & beef from a friend’s cow. Sweet, savory, salty, spicy and lots of crunch!

They’re wrapped in and packed with tons of crisp veggies to give a lighter and healthier feel to the meal, but have some rice and a good scoop of flavor-packed beef for lasting power.  Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef (venison, pork, chicken or turkey would work, too)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 small package fresh mushrooms, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2″ piece of ginger, finely minced or grated (I never peel the skin, but you can if you want)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/3 c lite soy sauce (I prefer Bragg’s Liquid Aminos–and no, they’re not paying me to say that)
  • 1-2 Tbsp sriracha sauce (or 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on your tolerance for spice)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced into thin rings (all but the root tip)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I used basmati)
  • Julienned veggies (red peppers, jalapeños, carrots, celery, radishes–anything crunchy)
  • 16-20 large lettuce leaves (bibb, romaine, iceberg, whatever you like best)

Directions

  1. Cut all your veggies, aromatics and mushrooms and set aside on plates/bowls.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and toss in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. When oil is heated (shimmery, but not yet smoking) add beef and brown, breaking up large pieces with wooden spoon until meat is almost entirely cooked and no longer pink (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add onions and a tsp or two of salt, then cook until onions are translucent (about 3-5 minutes), then add in mushrooms, ginger and garlic. Sautee another 3 minutes to allow mushrooms to cook.
  4. Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, sriracha and sesame oil in a small bowl until combined.  Add this to the beef mixture and stir, making sure to scrape all brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture.  Turn off heat, then add green onions, stir and allow the residual heat to cook them.
  5. Serve beef in a bowl, separately from rice and put all julienned veggies on another plate in piles. Lettuce goes on yet another plate.
  6. Now, each person dining can assemble her/his own wraps to fit her/his preference.

Tell Me What You Want

Admit it, the song popped in your head, too! (image source: Univ. of Illinois admissions blog--seriously)

Admit it, the song popped in your head, too!
(image source: Univ. of Illinois admissions blog–seriously)

So in the spirit of sharing I’ve decided to try something new.  I want this little space on the giant interweb to be more than just for me.  I want YOU to feel like it’s your space, too.

What does that mean?

It means, you get to have more of an impact on what you see here.  Here’s how you can do that:

  • Write to me.  Ask questions about cooking, canning, preserving or gardening.  Or, maybe you want to know more about Columbus, being newly married, travel, Iceland, making a space your home, nursing, kids or living in a 150 year-old house.  Tell me what you wanna know.
  • Write for the blog.  By no means do I intend to keep the writing all to myself.  If you’re interested in writing a guest post, sharing a recipe, a recent trip or whatever inspires you to write or photograph, just say so.
  • Make requests. Tell me what your garden (or neighbor’s garden) is growing in overabundant amounts that you need recipes for.  Or, what’s something you’ve always wanted to make, but didn’t know how, were intimidated by or just want advice of someone who’s made it before?
  • Tell me what you like and what you don’t.  Some people love, step-by-step, detailed directions and photos showing the entire cooking process.  Other people get super annoyed by that.  More photography or less?  Leave comments in these posts, use the contact form, tweet me or put up a post or a message on the Facebook page, just let me know your thoughts.

Okay, enough from me.  It’s your turn.

What do you want?

Cherry Pie-lette

Think of it as a less full pie with folded edges. Perfect for those hot summer days & nights you don't want a thick piece of pie

Think of it as a less full pie with folded edges. Perfect for those hot summer days & nights you don’t want a thick piece of pie

I’ve made pies before and I’ve made galettes. While making tart cherry jar pies recently, I was left with more pie filling and crust than I had clean, sterilized jars.  I had the choice of either sterilizing more jars, letting them cool then making more jar pies or I could try to figure out another use for the leftovers.  I didn’t have enough filling for an entire pie and I didn’t have a smaller pie tin so I drew on previous experiences and made a galette/pie fusion.

I’m calling it a pie-lette. (more…)

Life’s A Bowl of Cherries

…or more appropriately in this case, it’s two 10-lb buckets of them.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while for a myriad of reasons, but mostly our new business venture and the wonderful distraction of travel.  More on travel in a future post (or several).

We’ve officially purchased the dental practice where my husband has worked for the last 6+ years.  It’s been a challenging, stressful, educational and emotional experience.  There’ve been meetings with lawyers, accountants, consultants and bankers. It’s amazing how many people are–and how much money is involved in the sale of a single business.  It still gives me a little twinge in my stomach when I think about the money part.  Hopefully, with continued hard work and dedication we can maintain the growth of the practice, keep the awesome staff that we love and continue to make it the only place patients want to be.  My husband is good at what he does and he really, really cares about his patients and employees so I think it’ll be fairly smooth sailing from here.  It’s actually been kind of fun for me to pull out knowledge and experience from my previous HR career to help with the people-related aspects of the transition.  Just like most acquisitions, everything seemed to happen at the 11th hour so by the time it was over we were ready for a break. (more…)

Apple Butter Wedding Favor

Apple Butter Wedding Favor

Favors from our wedding: chunky apple butter made from apples we picked at Lynd’s Fruit Farm near Columbus, OH

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