And who wouldn't love to say, "I have a bed filled with Burning Hearts outside my bedroom window." Oh my, how delightful. Mwahahahaha. If anyone sees these at a nursery near them, could you pick me up two?
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Irish Lamb Stew
2 lbs. lamb shoulder
½ cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bottle of Guinness Draught
2 cups of red wine
10 cups of beef stock
4 Tbsp. dried thyme
5 bay leaves
4 Tbsp. ketchup
6-7 medium sized red potatoes
6 large carrots, peeled
2 yellow onions, peeled
4 Tbsp. butter
2 large handfuls of chopped parsley
Chop lamb into bit sized pieces, removing any tough bits. In a bowl mix the flour, 1 Tbsp. of thyme and salt and pepper until well combined. Add the lamb to the flour mixture and stir to coat it. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large stock pot then add the meat. Cook the meat for several minutes on each side until all sides are nice and brown.
Once your meat is well browned, add the Guinness, red wine, beef stock, remaining thyme, bay leaves and ketchup to your pot. Stir well, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pot. Let simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While your pot is simmering, chop your potatoes and carrots into bite sized pieces, and finely chop the onion. In a separate pot from the meat, melt the butter on medium-high heat and add the potatoes, carrots and onion. Cook the veggies for about twenty minutes, stirring every few minutes. Try to time it so your veggies are done at the same time that your stew is done simmering (but remember its stew not rocket science, going a little over on the simmering time won’t hurt anything).
Once the veggies are done, add them to the stew pot. Simmer the ingredients together for another 20 minutes to combine the flavors. Ladle the stew into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
This dish is really better eaten the next day, so make this up the night before and just reheat before serving. If this is more stew than you think your family can eat, the recipe is easily cut in half, or freeze the extra portion to have as a quick dinner for another day. The original recipe I based this one on came from a beef Irish stew recipe from dianasaura dishes.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It was my great pleasure to attend the completely delicious St Patty's day party held by my dear friends Jeff and Robin last Saturday. Given that it's a party, especially one given in honor of a dude who drove snakes out of Ireland a la Samuel L. Jackson, how can one not bring food?I decided from the get-go that I wanted to make something different. Something homey and delicious, but devoid of potatoes since I knew they'd be prevalent (this comment should not in any way be construed as "oh look at me, I don't eat potatoes" because that simply isn't true. In fact, I'm eating a potato right now. Raw). But I still wanted to maintain the ethnicity in some way, which meant that my typical dates-stuffed-with-goat-cheese appetizer (ooooh that's a post all its own!) was out. Eventually after googling Irish side dishes I stumbled upon a recipe for a Sweet Potato Bake. I know I'm not alone in saying "I LOVE sweet potatoes!!!"
You may be asking yourself "how are sweet potatoes Irish?" Well, dear reader .... they're not and I was just as baffled as you are as to what about them would make them Irish. Sweet potatoes themselves have their origins in South America, so my guess is that it's more about the preparation and less about the main ingredient; this recipe calls for butter, flour, heavy cream, milk, all ingredients that one may find in scalloped potatoes, which *may* have an origin in Ireland. That's my most educated guess.
Another neat little tidbit is that sweet potatoes are high in complex carbs, fiber, and loads of other goodies the translation of which is that they are extremely good for you. How good for you they are after drowning them in whipping cream and butter isn't important right now. The point is that the decision on what to bring was made, and delicious consequences ensued.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Monday, March 22, 2010
While I made up how to make these, the idea was not originally mine. An old friend of mine used to make a similar dish for potlucks and guarded the recipe with his life because he didn’t want anyone else to start bringing them. I had always respected his secrecy, until we stopped hanging out regularly and having said potlucks. One day I decided that I could probably guess the basic ingredients and gave it a go. Honestly, with these ingredients, it would be hard to make something that wasn’t to die for. Enjoy!
One 8 oz. package of cream cheese
¼ cup of powdered sugar
a few shakes of vanilla extract
2 small packages of strawberries
½ cup of chocolate chips, or dipping chocolate
1) Wash strawberries and remove their tops and the white insides. Make sure strawberries are completely dry before moving forward.
2) Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add the milk a splash at a time until the mixture is completely smooth and just thin enough to squeeze easily through a piping bag. It should be similar to a thick frosting.
3) Use a piping bag or make your own out of a Ziploc bag to fill each strawberry with the stuffing.
4) Melt the chocolate either by following the instructions on the bag (if it’s melting chocolate) or using a double boiler.
5) Either dip stuffed strawberries in chocolate and place on wax paper to dry or use the piping bag method again to do some swirls of chocolate on one side of each strawberry. The second method is quicker and less messy, but it’s really a matter of personal preference and time.
6) Refrigerate the strawberries for half an hour to make sure the chocolate sets.
-If you don't have a double boiler, fill a small pot a couple of inches with water and place a glass measuring cup with your chocolate in the pot. Presto! A homemade double boiler. Just be very careful not to get any water in with your chocolate.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I went ahead and made this recipe for Jeff and I and ended up with enough for two meals. I reheated it in the oven adding a dash of oil, vinegar and soy sauce to keep it moist and it was even better the second day.
Have a great weekend and happy cooking!
Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots
Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook (Workman) by Susan Herrmann Loomis
I use a whole chicken cut into eight pieces; two legs, two thighs, and I cut each breast piece in half, crosswise, keeping the wings attached. You could also just use eight of your favorite chicken pieces.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 large shallots, peeled and minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
One whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
generous handful of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
2. In a large baking dish, one which will hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, mix the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, shallots, and some salt and pepper.
3. Toss the chicken in the mixture, so they're completely coated with the shallots. Turn the chicken pieces so they are all skin side up.
4. Roast the chicken for about twenty minutes, until it starts to brown on top. Turn the pieces of chicken over. Scrape any juices and shallots over the chicken that may be clinging to the pan, and bake for another twenty minutes, or until the pieces of chicken are cooked through and the shallots are well-caramelized.
5. Remove from oven and toss in the chopped parsley, then serve.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
This photo doesn't really do it justice, but just take my word that it was bad. Very bad. I had to reset several of the boards that hold the dirt in and the rock out, and i discovered several potato plants and green onions that had weathered the winter and were starting to grow again. I think the happiest part was getting rid of the giant mint patch that Jeffry had, until now, refused to let me get pull out. I will be planting a pot full of lovely not overgrown mint to make it up to him, and the chickens thought it was Christmas when I gave them all the weeds and creepy crawlies I had harvested.
As soon as we recover from the plague this patch will be planted with some onion sets, peas and (when the weather warms up a bit more) soy beans.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Another fear of mine was that having big rectangular boxes in our front yard would look harsh. I think having them only be 1 foot instead of 2 feet tall combats this somewhat. In addition, I have decided to scatter some wild flower seeds on the ground sort of willy nilly next to the raised beds. I am also thinking of getting either mint or thyme ground cover to plant next to them. I think adding a little wild unplanned feel to them will help soften their impact on the yard. The flowers will also help attract beneficial insects to the garden. I'm not sure how well all of this will work in actual application but hey, wild flower seeds are cheap and the experiences that experimentation brings are priceless.
After spreading a bit of time in the front yard with some wooden dowels and some bright orange surveying tape (that yes went right back into the emergency kit) I decided that we could fit three raised beds on the left side of our yard. They're measurements will be 8' x 4', 7' x 4' and 6' x 4' with the longest one being up by the house and the smallest by the street. I decided to make them progressively smaller to fit in with the meandering path we have doing down the middle of our yard.
It only took us two weeks or so to get around to it (first Jeffry had to sand one side of all the boards to get rid of some unexplained stains), but we finally have the first one built. It still needs to sit for a week or so before we seal the outside of it because we happened to get some of the freshest wood in the world and it needs to dry out a bit first. I did give us an excuse to clean out the garage though because we have to store this big sucker in there while we continue to make two more! I'll post more updates as our little construction project progresses. Thanks Jeffry for working so hard to indulging all my crazy projects!
*UPDATE: Since I wrote this post earlier today another raised bed has been constructed! Jeffry and I were apparently full of energy this evening and decided to bust out another raised bed after dinner. We had two drills this time so things went alot faster since we didn't have to keep changing from a drill bit to a screw driver head. The above picture is of the 7' x 4' bed we just finished building.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
One project I am glad to finally have in the ground and establishing roots is my strawberry patch. A while back I read about a garden designer who likes to line walk ways with strawberries. I thought this would be a great idea for the meandering path that leads from the sidewalk to our front door. My gaze quickly turned however, to the two large built-in planters we have at the end of our front yard. Our yard is raised several feet higher than the sidewalk so it's flat instead of having a gentle slope from the sidewalk to the house. This is great for our plans to have a front yard garden, and resulted in two large planters being created by the retaining wall. This unused weed infested sun drenched location seemed to me to be the perfect place for an even bigger strawberry patch then we had originally envisioned along the walk way!
A few weeks ago we bought a very healthy flat (about 32 plants) of Quinault strawberries from our local nursery for a very reasonable $2.75 per six pack. I had toyed with the idea of buying bare root strawberries since they are even cheaper, but the only local place to find them was at Wal-Mart, and I don't have a lot of faith that their nursery department has properly cared for them. Bare root strawberries are also said to have a higher fail rate than regular strawberry packs, so I figured the initial money savings would probably even out in the end.
I chose to go with Quinualt out of the millions of available strawberry varieties for several reasons. One, they are said to be one of the most disease resistant strawberry varieties available. Two, they have very large fruit and flavor. And third, they are an everbearing variety. I had originally thought of planting two varieties, one june-bearing (determinate) and one everybearing (in-determinant), but ultimately decided given my uses for strawberries that I would be better suited by one that bears fruit all summer. If you like to make a lot of strawberry jam, then a june-bearing variety would be a better choice for you. (A little secret: I don't really eat jam, I just love to make it so I end up with tons of cans that I have to find creative uses for!)
Now all I have left to do is pick a mulch for the area and I will be on my way to a summer filled with sweet homegrown strawberries!! Oh and um, maybe I should weed the front "yard" while I'm at it...
If you plan on growing a strawberry patch of your own, do not plant it where you grew tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or okra the year before. These plants all can carry Verticillium Rot which can infect your strawberries.