Summertime & the living is easy…..

Sort of.  How about Potato Salad?  We had our first of the season this week and we are still eating it, three days later.  This always reminds me of my mothers potato salad.  I don’t remember the taste the day, you know, fresh, mayonnaise  but a few days old…..yummy!

ImageI happened to have one of those bags of assorted mini potatoes on hand so I cooked them whole, lots of eggs, a few Bermuda onions and herbs from the garden.

Paul and I had a lovely lobster pasta the other night.  I’ve been into making home made pasta of late…..so easy, pretty fast and just does not compare to store bought stuff.  Even the stuff from the packaging that says fresh doesn’t compare.  I like it just plain with some lemon olive oil on it.  Paul loves the lobster thing so as I was up town and every tourist was at the tourist fish place on Route One so I went to the little guy, Southern Maine Lobster Company, up on One across from the Lobster Barn.  Great young guys, terrific product.  Please shop with them!!!  I got a pound of lobster meat, picked, $29.00 – a pound is a ton, wish I could get 1/2 lb.  He also had steamers, muds and sands.  Truly fab.  I think I got two lbs. – plenty as an app. with a beer! 

But, anyhow, I had a tomato pesto left over from a girls party.  This was something you put on French bread but makes a great sauce also, interesting, nutty.

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This recipe is by Ellie Krieger.  I believe it was in Saveur a year or two ago.

3/4 C. sliced almonds

1-28 oz. can + 1-14 oz. can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained

3/4 C. fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

3/4 C. olive oil

crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 C. Parmesan

1/2 tsp. salt

Toast the almonds in a skillet till toasted.  Cool slightly.

Transfer to Kitchen Aid, add through the vinegar, add the olive oil and cheese last slowly.  That’s it.  Makes quite a bit, yummy cold or hot.

For the pasta dish I cooked the pasta then just stirred in the cold sauce & cold lobster chunks.

Ah, the picture Ruth doesn’t want me to post. (sorry Ruth had to do it)

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A few weeks back I was feeling vitamin deprived and I happened to have a pound of kale and a pound of spinach on hand.  A pound of these two green things is a ton!  I knew Paul would kill me if I sauteed it up every night for dinner so……I made Green Soup from Anna Thomas’s Love Soup Cookbook.  This is my favorite soup book.  Simple, clean, easy food.  I had just a bit of some Florida Beans, kind of like an earthy lima bean that I had gotten from Rancho Gordo in Napa.  So, I pureed it into the soup – about the same amount as you see in the picture.  It was great.  It boosted the soup with protein and it gave more body.  You wouldn’t know you were eating beans; it just made for a thicker soup.  We loved it.

What I did was:

Sauteed up a few large Vidalia onions for at least 5 minutes….the longer the sautee the sweeter the flavor.

I added each of my bag of greens, slowly as the pan wouldn’t take that much at once, it had to wilt down. 

Then I added some salt, a few cloves of garlic chopped, a few cups of water, same of chicken stock or vegetable then some black pepper and a left over sweet potato (cooked) that was hanging around. 

Simmered the soup for an hour or so then added the beans, let it simmer, pureed the whole thing and added 3 Tbs. lemon juice in the end. 

I wish I had more than one sweet potato to add, that was a sweet touch also.

I served it with a dribble of roasted butternut squash oil and some Parmesan.

We voted it the best!

The beans you see in the picture…..those went into a meat loaf.

Standard recipe…..few pounds of buffalo burger, chopped onions, carrots, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/4+ brown sugar, 1/4+ apple cider vinegar, seasonings and leftover beans.  I had some cornbread so I crumbled that in instead of bread crumbs this time and used salsa as a topping while baking instead of pasta sauce.  Usually I put crumbled blue cheese in but this one I was on a Mexican bent so I skipped that. 

Paul was off sailing a customers boat up north for him so I made cold meatloaf sandwiches for him……not bad!  Pretty hearty food for those open seas.

Well, it’s hot here now.  I’ve been working on the algae situation with our little pool.  It must just have been a terrible pollen year as I’ve never had this much trouble getting rid of that green stuff.  Strange.  But, it’s clean now so I’m in.

Tuesday I’m off to hotter still…..I’m going down to Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach in Florida to check on our boat for three days.  Paul was asking me what I’ll be doing and after looking at the weather report for down there I suspect I’ll be looking for air conditioned places…..Vero Library is always fun for me.  My mother used to work there.  It’s huge with such a wealth of information….all these cool little rooms with old facts.  I love old facts.  Vero also has a great Arts Center, a great book store and now a great Cafe called Patisserie Vero which it turns out is owned and run by a good friend of mine’s best friends.  Small world.  Oh, and there is a terrific fabric store way outside of town.  It’s a home goods type of place but fun because they have all those Florida type fabrics we don’t have up here.  I don’t buy much but it’s fun to look and see the turquoise with green embossed dolphins, etc. Coral is a big color down there.  I did buy a sale piece that is blue & beige that I made into a dress.  The owner was intrigued that I was going to make a dress from it and asked me to wear it in when I come back……I’m back!  Wonder if she’ll recognize it?

But, the dilemma…it’s really hot down there, 90 during the day and 75 at night.  Our boat is tiny, a one person cabin type of deal with no air conditioning and very small portholes.  I may be sleeping in the tv room at the marina or perhaps the laundry room.  Shades of Bag Lady.  I’ll let you know next week.  ciao

 

Gluten Free Mini Scones

But first, the new Portsmouth Bridge…not in place yet but kinda interesting looking with those huge chains.

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Actually it looks like a bunch of jewelry necklaces  I was looking at in Target. 

As I have this wedding gig coming up I’ve been making mini scones – the other day I made Almond ones.  Yesterday I devoted to making Gluten Free (by request) mini’s for the event.

The first picture are the ones I made, cutting free hand, not chilling first.  I just wanted to taste them as they were made with Buckwheat.  I was surprised – delicious, really.  The Rhubarb/Ginger Jam was particularly nice on these.  The free hand bit was o.k. but not the visual I wanted.  Note to self: always freeze them raw then bake.

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I like the color.  They trick you into thinking they’re gingerbread.

Well, I ran out of Buckwheat after a bit so I ended up making the rest with Oat flour instead….hence the beige ones.  These are going in the freezer raw.  After they freeze solid I will bag them in zip locks and then bake frozen the morning of the party.

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The Recipe….from Gluten Free Girl Cookbook and my own changes however minor

Makes 18 – 2″ Rounds

230 grams Buckwheat, Oat or other whole grain GF Flour

280 grams All Purpose GF*

1/2 C. Dark Brown Sugar

4 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

2-1/4 tsp. Salt

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, cut in chunks

1 C. Buttermilk

2 Eggs

2 tsp. Vanilla

Weight everything out, up to the butter and put in Food Processor as you go.  When done with the dry give it a few pulses to mix.

Add the chopped butter and blend to pea size stuff.  Place in a large bowl, make a well in the center.

Mix buttermilk, eggs & vanilla together with a whisk in a separate small bowl.  Gently pour most of it into the well and blend without too many strokes with a large spoon.

Carefully pull out onto flour dusted board and using extra flour form into a round gently patting down.

Cut out rounds, place on parchment lined sheet, baste with remaining milk mixture and dust with more sugar.

Cover with plastic & freeze.  Bag when completely frozen.

Bake however many you want (from frozen state) on parchment lined sheet at preheated 375 for perhaps 1/2 hour or longer.

*My all purpose mix is from the GF book.

400 Grams of Millet (could be Sorgum)

300 Grams White Rice (could be tapioca flour)

300 Grams Potato Starch

 

That’s it.

While the industrial dishwasher was on for all these things I made some more of that Blueberry/Rhubarb Jam yesterday.  Paul and I are winding through it.  I suspect I may need to make yet another batch this summer.  Honestly, I have never tasted fresher.  Just delicious.

A thing I have noticed….I don’t seem to be creating as many new things as I used to.  I thought my creative juices had run out.  But, I noticed all the blogs I have been following – all two,  are running out of ideas also.  In fact, the weaving blog I follow is now posting flowers from her garden and her grandson.  Food & Wine and Bon Appetit both just posted on the Editors Page, one….the importance of buttering toast and how to toast properly.  REALLY? and the other put his wife’s shallot vinaigrette recipe on his page.  Gee.  Must not be just me.  The toast one killed me.  Heidi Swanson is now selling stuff to cook with most of the time, not very many recipes.  I’m thinking we may be fazing out into boredom and therefor time to move on to a new food trend.  Well, what is it?  It’s gotten so wacky; a huge stray from nutrition perhaps we’ll just swing back that way or maybe it’s time for these younger kids to develop themselves and come up with cool food.  But aren’t they the ones described as “Daddys Children” (I read this in the paper) children who are given too much, have everything daddy always wanted by 16 and therefor have become lethargic and not challenged to work, go to school, etc. never mind be creative.  I don’t know but I am curious.  While in California I had an eagle eye out for the new trend but all I saw that was edible and impressive to me was the homemade cake!  Shows you where I’m at.

Sunday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day here in Maine.  A rarity this past week.  We had a High School Graduation party to go a few towns away and after driving all over the place, because we were too early, we discovered….wrong day!  We happened to bump into the host of the party coming out of a convenience store with a bag of lunch and soda.  WHAT? It was one of those delayed brain things – like what are you doing here? He said to us, what are you doing in my neck of the woods.  Of course I thought he was joking…no joke, wrong day, wrong week.  Cripes.  It was 2:00 in the afternoon, I was getting psyched for barbecue, hot dogs, anything I didn’t have to make, starving.  Well, after a bit we fessed up to our mistake and he told us where to get lunch locally.  A place called Poppers in NewMarket, NH.  My friend Lenore lives there and has been telling me we should eat there but it sounded like fried tiny shrimp type of stuff…not for me.  Wrong.

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Really delicious food.  The food is all locally sourced, which seems to be the thing now, and the meats and cheeses are made by the owners of the restaurant.  They have a pig farm.  Duck pastrami, cured this and that and delicious oddities like duck fat fried almonds; pickled summer squash.  Very delicious.  My salad which is in the front had Magtag Blue Cheese which is my favorite blue, from Wisconsin, seems to be trendy these days as I’m seeing it more and more.  The beets were lovely and fresh, crunchy yet slightly cooked.  Stuffed, we were so stuffed.  Paul tried to lay down on the banquette he was sitting on (he had had a beer) I had to be the manners police.  We took half of the food home.

The next day, which was yesterday, he had a salad for lunch, we have masses of lettuce in our garden now, with the leftovers and some red quinoa that I fried up as a garnish.  I saw this recipe in Food and Wine I believe.  Tiresome.  You cook the quinoa first, dry it and then fry it.  A bit greasy for me even though I blotted it many times.  You get a nice little crunch from it but easier to throw nuts or something else on top.  Millet perhaps.

Last night I made some comfort food.  Pouring rain again…..freezing, give me some warmth.

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So fast and easy. 400 degrees. Buttered casserole dish, four yellow potatoes thinly sliced in the kitchen aid, one vadalia on top of that, one sweet potato and another yellow potato.  splash of 1/ & 1/2, salt & pepper and a dusting of cheddar.  Bake 45 min. to an hour.  What a great smell from the onion – so sweet.

When this was done I pan sauteed up some chicken thighs.

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Olive oil in a hot cast iron skillet, lightly dust the thighs with bread crumbs, hot sautee till lightly browned, add capers, lemons and a bit of chicken stock, cook for a minute or so then pop in that hot oven for perhaps 10 minutes or until done.  The whole thing creates an amazing sauce while baking. 

That and of course a salad, fini.  Nice meal to watch a cowboy movie with.  We’re currently into Westerns these days.  So goofy.  When Jesse was here a few week-ends ago we watch Jango unchained together – pretty violent but also comical from the unreality of it all – same with what we watched last night, Quigley Down Under.

I redeemed my self though….I’m reading Mrs. Dalloway before bed and in the a.m. when I am oh so much sharper.  Great book, lovely sentences, very well thought out.  How refreshing as I just read and read and don’t even realize that I’ve gone down a path of not reading anything really well written I’m just reading.  This is nice…a bit of a correction.

Today…pouring rain.  I’d like to wind a warp I’ve been futzing with.  I need to just tackle it.  The colors are to me yucky but it’s a gift so i just need to do it.  I may make some more of that amazing blueberry jam that I showed a few weeks ago.  It is so fabulous we’ve been eating it all and I’ve given some away.  I need it for that scone party I’m catering on July 6th. 3-400 people…..yiiikes.  Yesterday I made 120 of those baby scones, all Almond, for the freezer.  Gotta go, youngest son is at the door.

 

Sunday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day here

Book, Movie and a 5 year old

I just finished Isabel Allende’s newest book….Maya’s Notebook.  Geech this was great.  I hated to put it down.  She is just so darn clever and as it says on the back cover “witty” – so well done.  It’s close to my heart as it starts in crazy Berkeley with a young woman who “could have been me”, a scary thought, and ends in Chile which is my newest country on my radar to go to – last week it was Iceland which is still kind of there but the old man is dragging on this one.  It may be one of those Patti & Carla deals although she’s not too into remote.  We’ll see.

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We saw a great movie the other night on Netflix.  Actually one of the only ones (other than boat stories) that Paul sat through the whole thing.  It’s called The Hours and is about Virginia Wolfe writing Mrs. Dalloway with another scene enacted as the same in say the early 60’s and then another current.  Really interesting.  At first it’s hard to follow but once you get the gist it’s facinating!  Virginia is played by Nicole Kidman (you would never in a million years know it’s her) and the current character is Merle Steep, typical Streep, kind of tiresome with her sighing but she’s only one of three main people.  I forget the mid 60’s womans name but….great!

And then, I had downloaded all these pictures of California and I believe they were lost in la la land as my phone (after being downloaded by the FBI, no doubt) just came through with the photos today.  Isn’t that weird?  I transferred them to g-mail at least two weeks ago, evaporated and then this morning they popped up.  Hummmmm……I hate my new phone.  It’s Verizon, Gallaxy III. 

Anyhow – here’s my 5 year old Colbie sitting on my lap after a very long day at school.  She was telling me just how tired she is.  My heart was breaking for her; being so pooped at 5 is not fair.

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I had taken her up to the top of the mountain, the fault above Berkeley.  It’s the most beautiful place overlooking San Fransisco but besides that it’s just amazingly fresh, pretty, green grasses, flowers, huge pine trees and no people or sounds other than birds.  I love it.  I took Paco the dog and Zoe the three year old with me every day for hours.  We loved it.  The fields are full of tiny, tiny wildflowers which totally mezmerized little Zoe and of course Paco, being a gigantic dog something like a great dane that is the color of a chocolate lab; he loves that place.  Running, running and more running.  Big, slimy pine cones to chase after.  Actually, huge pine cones.  He would bring them to me, slimed and want me to throw them.  Finally I caught on to going up this real steep hill and kicking them down for him to chase.  Nimble big boy, slipping and sliding down the hill retrieving the cone.  Probably bad for his hips.  Lovely place, a bit of heaven.  But, Colbie was too tired to enjoy so we left and within seconds she fell asleep in the car seat so I drove all over the place exploring so she could nap.  That works, I found some really cool countryside on the back side of that ridge.  It’s amazing how different the terrain is out there…..crammed with homes and gardens and then beautiful open scenery with animals, fields of tall grass and just largeness and warm!  No fog on that side of the mountain.  Cool place.

Postscript Error….

For some reason my computer goes into these fuzzes as it just did with that short post you may have just read.  I was not finished with it but that little spinning colorful ball was tying me up so I gave up.  Back again……

Last Friday, while it was 100 degrees (of course), I catered a 40 person picnic dinner cruise on the Gundalow – that boat Paul was in charge of building for Portsmouth.  What a job – many, many different salads with lots of “special needs”.  Six people with all different stuff going on.  My friend Anne came over and helped me pack and sort it all out and then deliver, thank god for Anne!

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There is one salad in there which is showing down here in the corner that I have not had before – it’s a shaved fennel/zucchini and arugula salad with tamari almonds.  Looks good….I might have to try that!

It was very funny; after we dropped it off Anne went home to do a birthday party and I decided to stay in town and wait for the boat with my stuff to come back as it was only another 1-1/2 hour so the plan was to meet Paul at this restaurant right there on the water.  I looked around for him, didn’t see the truck so sat down at the bar and ordered an ice water and a glass of wine.  Just in passing I mentioned we had a reservation and that I would be waiting for him….the hostess heard this while she was chatting with someone else and came over to tell me Paul was doing the same upstairs.  We are such dopes; we both could have sat there for the entire time waiting for each other, separately.  And, he never carries his cell phone so the probability was high we’d not connect.  I tell you, it was so hot, I was content at the bar.  He was upstairs sitting (lounging actually) in front of the air conditioner.  We had a blast – so comfortable and done with work.  Great time out, spent my entire profit on the job….ah well.

A few days ago I dropped Paul off to move MICKEY FINN, our sailboat we believe we have sold, down the coast a few towns for a haul out.  Yet another sand and paint project.  Poor guy, he’s done three of those in a row….tis the season!

ImageThe Finn is out behind the tuna tower boat but I just thought the waterfront was so pretty at 5 a.m.  He encountered heavy, cold rain on this 2 hour trip.  Yet another “I am so glad I said no thanks, I’m busy this morning” trip.

My nice clean pool has become an extension of the darn boatyard again.

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Luna and I encountered the seasonal move the other morning.  We walk between two bodies of water and these guys go back and forth laying their eggs every year.  Gnarly looking, no?

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Yesterday the idea of CAKE crept up on me.  Actually it didn’t creep it hit me full in the eyes that it was time for cake…..Paul decided a Mocha Rum was the answer.  I was leaning more towards a nice, soft chocolate cake with a gooey ganache but since he’s the one who will eat the majority of it (I hope) I gave him the choice. 

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Good Call.  We had sudden dinner company last night – this fit the bill!

You want this recipe – it’s easy and tasty as hell.

Mocha Rum Cake

Preheat the oven to 300, butter a bundt pan and dust heavily with cocoa powder

3 C. flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 pound chocolate (2 cups) – I have pistoles you need a good covature choc. 65% or higher

3 sticks melted unsalted butter

1/3 C. dark rum

2 C. strong coffee – really strong

2 C. sugar

3 eggs

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the butter in a glass bowl, add the chocolate and melt that, it usually takes one minute in the microwave, stir it, then another minute, stir and cool a bit.

In a separate small bowl sift the flour, baking soda & salt together.

Get out your mixer – put the blended chocolate and butter in, add rum, coffee and sugar.  Beat well, add the flour mixture slowly till blended well, add the eggs and vanilla last.  Pour in the pan, smoothing it out and bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes.  It’s a slow bake at 300 but perfect.  I write the end time on my white board in the kitchen then go about my other business.

For the coffee part – I take two cups of fairly strong coffee and add more dry coffee to it or use a condensed coffee thing I make in the summer.  Really strong is the key.  A few espresso’s in regular coffee will do it.

Let the cake cool at least an hour before you invert it on a plate then flip it again.  Dribble with melted chocolate, maybe.

That’s our excitement so far this week!  And, am I happy I had cake!

Just Where to Begin?

There has been just way too much going on in my life.  It’s crazy.  The top most in my brain the last few days is my almost four year old grand daughter, Zoe.

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This little pumpkin pie got bit in the face last Sunday by a dog in a restaurant!  17 stitches, 3 slashes, and a cut near her eye and lip.  I’m waiting patiently (not) to skype with them tomorrow so I can stop the horrors of what I assume it looks like.  She’s fine, the parents are not.  She’s such a trooper.

The books I recommended a few weeks ago:

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