Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barefoot Blogging Bonus...Coeur a la Creme

Becke at Columbus Foodie sent so many people to the BB site that she got to choose a bonus recipe for July and she chose Ina's Couer a la Creme.

For some unknown reason, I am always amazed at how easy Ina's recipes are. Perhaps I am intimidated by the lovely photography? Anyway, that was once again the case here.

Cœur à la Crème

12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
2½ cups cold heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry Sauce
½ pint fresh raspberries

Mix cream cheese with confectioners sugar on high speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Scrape mixture off beater and sides of bowl and change to whisk attachment. With mixer running on low, slowly pour in the cream. Add vanilla, lemon zest, vanilla seeds and mix on high until mixture gets very thick.

Line a cœur à la crème mold with cheesecloth leaving extra to drape over the sides. (I live in a small space and do not have room for single use kitchen items, so I used a colander. Not as pretty, but it works.) Pour the crème mixture into the mold and set the mold over a dish to drain. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, pour off the liquid and unmold the crème onto a serving dish. Pour sauce around the base of the crème and serve with fresh raspberries.

Ina served hers with a raspberry sauce but my supermarket was out of fresh raspberries and I had a brain fart and didn't think to check the frozen! I did have some strawberries in the fridge, so I mascerated them with a little honey and Grand Marinier and I had a fine sauce.

Now, having dished this up I can say I was disappointed. I know that we feast with our eyes as well as with our mouths. I think the true impact of this dish is the heart shaped Coeur a la Creme mold and without the mold it is visually lacking. I didn't take a picture of full mold because it was such a let down.


My mouth, on the other hand, had a party! I may actually buy the mold so that I can serve this to my friends some day. The question remains...where to put it?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where Did My Week-end Go?

It seems like I just left the office a couple of hours ago! Okay, so it's been a little busy. After the fiasco with the farmer's market yesterday, I heard rumor of a farm stand on the highway to a small town south east of here, so off I went. I drove thru some beautiful, rural scenery and saw many, many corn fields but no farm stand. And I was in the big town of Lewisburg at 8:20 yesterday morning, so I stopped at WalMart.

I am a self-proclaimed WalMart-phobe, but that early in a small town, what the heck. I ran in to pick up a few things and came out an hour and $98 later. Then I drove home, stopping at the supermarket for ingredients for Ina's Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. And few other things.

I came home and peeled and chopped the veggies and put them on to roast. While waiting on them to cook, I read. Then I decided to make a cake and dug around for a recipe that would not require another trip to the supermarket. I had applesauce, I had black walnuts, and I had everything else to make a Black Walnut and Applesauce cake with a cream cheese frosting. While the cake was baking, I cooked my orzo and cleaned the kitchen.

I assembled the veggies and orzo and completed the dish with the cheese and vinaigrette. I iced the cake. I cleaned the kitchen. I got ready and headed out to my friend L's for movie night, also bringing more if Ina's Smoked Salmon Spread and accoutrements. I got home around 3:15 this morning. For the record, we watched two Billy Wilder flicks...The Apartment from 1960 with Jack Lemon and Shirley McLain and Kiss Me Stupid from 1964 with Kim Novack and Dean Martin.

Next, I was up at 6:30. Yep. I've been dragging all day and I've had a couple of naps, but I managed to do some laundry, read a book, and cook my dinner. I just finished cleaning the kitchen and making my lunch for tomorrow. And I'm exhausted!

A brief rundown of the tribute to gluttony that was movie nite...we had my orzo, a caprese salad, a relish tray, chicken wings and Captain Crunch Chicken, and buchwheat crepes filled with either chicken and spinach or bacon and caramelized onions. Plus the smoked salmon spread and popcorn. Then there were the crepes filled with cream cheese and apricots, the zucchini cake, the banana bread, the danish, my cake, and the makings for root beer floats. Wine, beer, and sodas. (There were six of us in attendance.) I couldn't eat a thing until dinner tonite (salmon patties with green beans and new potatoes).

I think I need to go to work tomorrow for rest and a regular schedule. So, how was your week-end?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I woke up at my usual time this morning and then laid back down listening to the radio. I fell asleep to the sound of my local state representative talking about road condiitons in my county. Why would that put me to sleep? I woke up again at 6:30 and jumped in the shower, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and headed out the door to hit the farmer's market.

Not an official farmer's market, a lovely truck market set up around the county courthouse. I could hardly wait. I wanted some Menonite jellies and jams, fresh corn, and a watermelon. And a handful of fresh tomatoes. And what did I find? Road blocks! Portable toilets! No farmers!

If only I had checked the local paper yesterday (no Saturday edition), I would have realized that today is the big Bicentennial clebration of our small city. It's an all day affair. And, while I really wanted tomatoes and watermelon and fresh corn, I can forgive the city THIS ONE TIME!!!!


Happy Birthday Columbia! You can check out the festivities here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barefoot Blogging...Smoked Salmon Spread

This week's selection for our Barefoot Blogging was chosen by Ashley at The Spicy Skillet and is Smoked Salmon Spread from the Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook.

Okay. I have to admit something here. I've never had smoked salmon before so I was leery of this recipe, but since it includes three things I love, sour cream, cream cheese and dill, I decided to give it a try. Call me epicurious!

Since all of Ina Garten's recipes make enough food to feed a small army or at least a very large dinner party, I decided to half the recipe. And I'm not a fan of horseradish so I reduced the amount even further.

Smoked Salmon Spread

8 ounces cream cheese -- at room temperature (4 oz)
1/2 cup sour cream (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 tsp)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (I love dill! Did not adjust.)
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish -- drained (1/4 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1/8 tsp)
1/4 pound smoked salmon -- (4 ounces) minced (2 oz)


Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers. Makes 1 1/2 pints.

First...the amazing smell of smoked salmon. Oh my! My mouth began to water!
I hesitantly tasted just a small sample from the beater. And another. And another. My eyes opened wide and I immediately began thinking of ways to use this. In my mind I could see cherry tomatoes stuffed with this with a little fresh dill for a garnish. Or small new potatoes!

And then I remembered reading on Prudence Pennywise about cucumber towers. You know, I'm still awash in cukes, so it seemed like an ideal combination. And it was! It made a fabulous, light summer meal served with sliced cantaloupe and a roll. And VOILA!


Will I do this again? You betcha! Will I make any changes? Maybe a little less salt and a little more horseradish (Yes I said it, what are you going to do about it?) Movie night is coming up and I may have to throw this into the basket.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bedtime Snack

I really do try to eat least "my" version of healthy. I love to cook and I love to eat. If only I loved to clean the kitchen.

Anyway, it's been a rough couple of days at the office and I've just gone for easy dinners. Last night was a peanut butter and banana sandwich and tonight was a big green salad. The problem with a big green, mostly vegetarian salad is that it doesn't last very long. So I've been examining the possibilities for a bedtime snack. These are my choices:

chilled, diced cantaloup
a banana at the perfect point of ripe with a little green on the seams
blackberry pomegranite fiber rich yogurt
grape tomatoes
cucmber slices
a spoonful of peanut butter


a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie

What to do? What to do?

Oh, heck! I'll be good and go for the melon.

What would you have chosen?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Say it three times real fast...I dare ya!

I made myself a rather lovely shrimp and smoked salmon salad today. I had boiled, deveined shrimp left over from supper last evening and I thought about chowing down with saltines and cocktail sauce...but I had neither saltines or cocktail sauce. What to do? What to do?

I also had a little smoked salmon, so I created a salad. No recipe, just play along. I chopped the shrimp and the salmon and threw them in the bowl. Next, I added some chopped fresh dill and some chopped scallions (mostly green part). Squeezed a little lemon juice and then stirred in a little mayo. Now seeing as how I don't like to keep things like crackers, bread, chips, etc. around the house, I was trying to determine the best way to serve this when my eyes fell upon two tomatoes fresh from the farm stand!

So here you are. Sunday Summer Shrimp and Smoked Salmon Salad Stuffed Tomato.

tomato stuffed w/shrimp

Do I need to tell you how good this was? I didn't thing so.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday and Adult A.D.D.

I woke up this morning and wandered into the kitchen around 7:30 to make coffee. I remembered that I had not loaded the dishwasher last night and was face to face with a sink full of dirty dishes. I opened the dishwasher to discover the reason that I hadn't loaded it last night was because it was full. I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the sinks. While cleaning the sink, I noticed that the counter was dirty. I took everything off of the counters and scrubbed. Then, replacing the appliances, I noticed that they needed a little sprucing up and began by cleaning the food processor with Clorox Clean-up, tearing it apart to clean the base and the mechanism. (I managed to smear the word ON). Next my lovely white Kitchen Aid mixer. I was wiping it down but became distracted by the stainless steel band around it. I took out the toothpicks and began running them around all of the seams on the mixer. Next I washed the cord. Moving on, I used the toothpicks to clean the stainless ring around the sink.

I moved on to the stove. I pulled out the liners under the eyes and put them in to soak. Cleaned the front and top of the stove, removed the knobs for cleaning, and moved on to the hood. This demanded the oven cleaning next. While the oven cleaner was doing it's thing, I cleaned the microwave and wiped down my cabinets. Cleaned out the fridge. Cleaned the ceiling fan. I put the stove eye liners in the dishwasher and cleaned the oven. And then I swept and mopped.

I decided at this point to take a nap. Afterwards, I decided to bake a loaf of Lemon Blueberry Bread.

Suddenly, I felt faint. I checked the clock. It was 2:30 and I had never eaten or had a cup of coffee. I put the bread in to bake and made myself a sandwich. Darn! I'm so easily distracted, but in this case, in a very good way.

blueberry bread

This recipe was posted on the CK board by Erica and comes from The Joy of Cooking.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 c granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c fresh blueberries

1/3 c granulated white sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or spray with non-stick cooking spray)a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to to beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with milk (begin and end with flour). Mix only until combined. Stir in blueberries.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake on center rack of oven for 55 to 65 minutes or until loaf is golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring well, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove loaf from oven and pierce holes throughout using a skewer. Pour the glaze over the top and allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.

blueberry bread done


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Momentary Rant

A few years ago I went for a regular visit to my doctor of ten or more years. The nurse looked up and said "How long have you had that heart murmur?" to which I responded, "What heart murmur?".

The nurse fairly sprinted out of the room and my doctor came in a moment later, breathless. She sauntered over, put the stethoscope to my chest and asked "How long have you had that heart murmur?"

"You've been my doctor for more than ten years, you tell me!"

She sat down and started flipping through my chart and then started nodding. "Oh! I see that you are over forty. This is fairly common in women over forty."

Now, on to more recent matters, it has been determined that I have a "frozen shoulder", something that I had only heard of one time. Both the doctor and the internet said the same thing...IT'S FAIRLY COMMON IN WOMEN OVER 40.

So, if you are younger than forty, be advised. No one told me of the dangers of "over 40" and I wanted to make you aware. If you are over 40 out there in cyberspace and know of more things "common in women over 40", please let me know.

Is OVER 40 the new excuse for all physical and mental problems?

We will now resume our regular programming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crunchy, Crispy Pickles!

I bet you're tired of the pickles by now, huh? Well I'm not.

We had book group last night at Ls house and discussed the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy (which I felt was overwhelmingly depressing)and had a lovely meal of pepperoni chicken and a salad. And chocolate fondue for dessert. Let me just say that everything was really good, but pineapple and strawberries dipped in chocolate were divine.

But I didn't get home until about 11:30. I couldn't sleep. I tried, but I couldn't. So I read a while and played a game before finally going to sleep around one. Luckily I had thought ahead and prepared my lunch for today before I left to go to Ls house.

I was so exhausted that I came home this afternoon and took a two hour nap. Now, what to do for dinner. Here is where the pickles come in. I'm making egg salad. I love egg salad. I am not a fan of eggs in general and whole boiled eggs at all (or even sliced boiled eggs) but mince it up and throw in some mustard, mayo, and pickles and I'm in heaven. I don't even need to make a sandwich.

The way to boil perfect eggs? Bring them to a boil, then cover and turn off the eat. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.


I follow the Alton Brown theory that no tool should serve a single purpose. Ergo, I use my potato masher to make egg salad.


Add some mayo, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and diced pickle (guess what kind?) And you have a great summer meal...


Egg salad on whole wheat with cantaloupe and pickle spears.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Overwhelming Sadness

Last night I ate the last of the tomatoes I had brought home from Dad's garden.

Garden Bounty

That's right. I ate them all. In less than seven days. By. My. Self. Tomato sandwiches. Sliced with my meal. A salad with boccocini and basil. I even ate a bag of grape tomatoes not pictured.

I am extrememly sad.

Cucumbers, I've still got. Seriously. Besides the pickles and eating at least one a day, I've still got about a dozen. More pickles! (More jars!)

On a slightly happier note, I experiemented with a mixed berry pie last nite. Not picture worthy, but tasty. A co-worker brought me blackberries she had picked over the weekend, but not enough for a cobbler. I picked up some blueberries with every intention of eating them my favorite way...with brown sugar and sour cream. Instead I rolled out a hot water pastry and filled it with a mixture of berries, a little sugar, and some orange zest. A little TripleSec because I had some. I covered the pie with strips of pastry and let it bake. Quite tasty!

Pie. Who doesn't love pie?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pickling...Day 4 The End

It's after ten, but my pickles are finally done. Oh! I haven't been working on them all night. I took a little nap when I got home and didn't get started until almost seven.

As promised, here is the recipe. It is adapted from a recipe I found in Calling All Cooks by the Alabama Telephone Pioneers. This one is from Emma Arnold.

Strip Pickles

7 lb cucumbers
1 c pickling lime
4 1/2 lb sugar
2 qt distilled vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp pickling spices
1 tsp celery seeds

Make sure you use large cucumbers...I used 10. Peel cukes and remove seed pockets. Cut into strips. Place in a large container (not metal!) Add 1 c pickling lime to 1 gallon of water and poor over cukes. Refrigerate 24 hours.

Rinse the cucumber strips until water runs clean. Cover with water, place covered into refrigerator for 24 hours.

Rinse cukes again until water is clear. In a large pot, mix sugar, salt, and vinegar. You may wrap spices in cheese cloth (I used a tea ball) or drop loose into pot. Bring to a rolling boil. Add cukes and remove from heat. Refrigerate overnite.

Bring pot of syrup and cucumbers to a rolling boil and boil for 40 minutes or until cucumbers become tranparent.

Pickles 4-1

Place in jars.

Pickles 4-2

Cover with syrup. If you dropped the spices into the syrup loose, you will need to strain first. (You can see that some spices escaped my tea ball but I liked the flecks in the syrup and left it.)

Pickles 4-3

Put on lids and rings and place in a water bath for 10 to 12 minutes.

Pickles 4-4
The finished product!

10 cucumbers made 9 pints of pickles for me. They are incredibly crunchy, spicy, sweet and tart.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pickling...Day 3

Okay, at this point in life you would think I could a)COUNT and b) READ A RECIPE. It seems I have one more day of pickling.

After work I met the plumber who was able to correct my unbelievable mess. As soon as he left, I pulled the cucumbers out of the fridge drained and rinsed them.

pickle 3-1

Then I put vinegar, sugar, and spices into a large pot to boil.

pickles 3-4

I then added the cukes and removed the pot from the heat

pickles 3-5

where they will rest until tomorrow.

Until then, Good night sweet cukes, until the morrow!

What Is This World Coming To?

Anyone not believing that we are all going to Hell in a handbasket, read this.

Barefoot Blogging... Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Entry three in the Barefoot Blogging and this week's recipe was chosen by Alexander and Sabrina at Cooking With the Kids. Their mom made the excellent choice of Parmesan Chicken last time, so I moved forward with confidence.

There are certain foods I feel that it is impossible to get to much of and cheddar cheese in one. I was a bit heavy handed with my cheese and I can guaranty it was not a bad thing. This is not the consistency of Southern cornbread. In fact, I can't think of anything to compare it to at all. Too heavy to be cake like, hmmmm...imagine a nope! Can't think of a thing.

BB cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
By Ina Garten in Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 pound unsalted butter melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white an green parts, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar cheese and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Now, my notes. WEAR GLOVES WHEN WORKING WITH JALAPENOS!!!!! Hours later my hands are still burning. I used large eggs, no problem. And...would I do anything differently? I might consider adding some corn to the batter for a little extra umpfff. Would I make it again. On a cold day with a bowl of chili, this would be divine. So yes. I will make it again.

To see what other Barefoot Bloggers say, click here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pickle Making...Day 2

Okay, first a word of warning. Do not put the cucumber peels in the garbage disposal. Just don't. There will be a terrible mess in other parts of the house if you do. Seriously.

Now on to day 2. Easy stuff today. Rinse the lime water off the cucumbers until the water is clear.

Pickles 2-1

Cover the cucumbers with water, replace the lid, and back in the fridge for another 24 hours.

Pickles 2-2

Tomorrow...the plumber comes and the pickling begins!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pickle Making...Day 1

I had so many cucumbers, I decided to make pickles. But what kind of pickles? I begged for recipes. I surfed the web. And I dug around in old cookbooks. I came across a recipe that Mom and I had made many, many, many years ago. I can't remember the exact year, but we made them while watching Charles and Di get married. In the wee hours of the morning, the house reeking of vinegar and spices.

So, of course, that is the recipe I chose. This recipe is a three day process and I decided to post each day with photos. I'll post the recipe on the final day.

First, I assembled the ingredients.

Then I peeled and cut the cukes and removed the seeds.

I mixed pickling lime with cold water and poured it over the cukes.

Covered and tucked away in the fridge for 24 hours.

And then I made myself a tomato sandwich. Next on the agenda? A long bath with a good book.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Garden's Bounty

I just got home from spending the holiday week-end with my folks and did not come home empty handed. Dad is drowning in cucumbers and his tomatoes are just coming in.

Garden Bounty

I'm thinking of trying my hand at making pickles, but I'm looking for a recipe that is fairly easy and requires no special equipment. I'll report back later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Reading Fool

I just tallied it up and so far in 2008 I have read thirty four books (not counting the faves that I reread.) I really don't stray far from certain genres, mostly mysteries. Here is the break-down of my reading habits for the first six months of 2008.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Marriage Game by Fern Michaels

General Fiction
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
The Magician's Assistant by Anne Patchett
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (possibly a romance)

Your Coffin or Mine Kimberly Raye
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Magic Bites by Iona Anderson
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
A Shadow in Summer by Peter Abraham
Odd Hours by Dean Koontz


Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben
Black Angel by John Connolly
The Heat of the Moon by Sandra Parshall
An Incomplete Revenge by Jaqueline Winspear
By Blood Written by Steve Womack
Murder on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black
The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritson
Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass
Ghost of a Chance by Kate Marsh (possible fantasy/horror)
Fatal Burn by Lisa Jackson
Murder on Bank Street by Victioria Thompson
Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
A Dash of Death by Claudia Bishop
Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum
Death By Darjeeling by Laura Childs
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle
Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle
Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle
The Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle
French Pressed by Cleo Coyle

The worst of these? Hmmm. The Marriage Game and A Ghost of a Chance. The best? Hmmm. I love my old friends, characters that come back to me on a regular basis. The Maisie Dobbs series gets better with each installment. Odd Thomas, too. And I can't forget Stephanie Plum. But of the non-series, Garden Spell and A Brief History of the Dead both had great impact in different ways. And I couldn't put The Janissary Tree down.

I'm off now to pick up another old friend, Julie Kenner's demon hunting soccer mom, beginning my second half of 2008 in books.