Saturday, October 31, 2015

Silent Supper - you're invited

Invitation to a
Silent Supper

Celebrate Samhain by partaking in a Silent Supper Sunday, November 1 at 5:00 pm at the First Unitarian Church, 801 East Washington, South Bend.

Guests are welcome. Bring a dish to share.

We partake in this supper with a special invitation to our loved ones who have left us for the other side. A potluck begins at 5:00 pm, and silence is held while we eat. There is a place set at each table for those who might join us. It is appropriate to put a bit of food on the plate for any who will come, maybe something special that a loved one liked.

After eating in silence, it is broken by the heartbeat drum; then we will take some time to share any experiences with one another, or just to share a special story about someone we care about who is no longer with us in this realm.

All who will respect the silence are welcome to join us.

This event is sponsored by SPIRAL, Supporting Pagans In Ritual And Life

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Today is the dinner party . . .

I have already done all of the pre-work in the kitchen that I can do.  This morning it's cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  And I'm still at it.  One of the guests is allergic to cats and has asked that I put the cat outside.  I will have to take off her magic color, which allows her to come in through the Solo door in the basement whenever she chooses.  Knowing cats, she will want to find this guy and plop down on his lap and stay there!

As for dinner, at noon I will take baguettes out of the freezer and then make the apple pie.  While the pie is in the oven, I'll get the dining room set up.  Just enough mismatched chairs to go around my mom and dad's first dining room table.  I feel so blessed to be the kid who got it!  It's a gate-leg table, and fits against the wall taking up very little space.  But it will easily seat the seven people who will be here.  In fact, last Thanksgiving it seated eleven.  Practical and beautiful, just like my parents.

So once the table is set up and the bar is laid out, I will commence with making the main course dishes.  My favorite line in the braised sauerkraut recipe is "saute the chopped bacon in butter."  Oh, yes!  Then there are sliced carrots added to the saute pan, and finally white wine.  Then herbs, fresh ground pepper and two to three cups chicken or vegetable broth.  (I made vegetable broth Thursday, throwing all of the vegetable and herb trimmings into the soup pot while I made the veal stock.)  Then add the sauerkraut and turn into a Dutch oven.  Into the oven it goes for a slow braise.  Potatoes are added about half way through.

About an hour before dinner, the rabbit gets put into the oven with a gazillion shallots.  During the last 20 minutes, it is basted with the veal stock.  Eventually it becomes a glaze on the rabbit.  The sauerkraut, some sauteed zucchini and leek toast round out the main course.

Well, back to the vacuum cleaner.  Gotta get that cat hair cleaned up!

Stock to use for today's meal

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I love to cook

Bouquet garni on cookbook

Six of my friends are coming over Sunday, late afternoon, for a Harvest Moon Feast.  I have been toying with several different menu options, but as of now, this is it.  It is getting too late to change my mind again!

Bar opens at 5:00

Dinner at 6:00

French lentil salad in Boston lettuce cups

Rabbit with shallots and pickles, basted with brown stock
Sauerkraut with bacon, potatoes and white wine
Courgettes in olive oil and butter
Leek toast

Apple pie with 7-year old white Cheddar or vanilla ice cream

I am just starting the brown stock, and I went outside with a flashlight and scissors to harvest rosemary, thyme, basil and parsley.  I tied them together with some bay leaves tucked into the bundle.  The scent of the bouquet garni is about to make me faint with hunger!

Are you hungry yet?  I haven't had supper, but who wants to eat plain food when this is on the horizon?  Think I'll just have some homemade chevre on rye crisp to go with my Martini and call it a day.  .

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Apples, apples, apples!

Since I follow a low carbohydrate diet, I limit my apple consumption to a slice or two when I am baking a pie for someone else.  That is not a slice of apple pie, but rather a slice of apple.  Even the tart, crisp baking apples have way too much sugar in them.  If I were to eat a whole apple, it would be akin to handing a beer to an alcoholic.  There is no stopping me once that sugar hits my brain.

Each fall, we have an apple pie contest at the market.  I submitted my favorite apple pie last year.  It looked beautiful, but I was having trouble with my oven, and it didn't taste nearly as good as it looked.  I didn't win a prize, no surprise.

This year I feel like I have to redeem myself.  I have found some workarounds to get the results I want from my oven, and I'm trying again, this time with a new recipe.  I've made this pie once to rave reviews.  But can I repeat it?

Is it a winner?
I baked the first pie with organic Gravenstein apples.  They are very hard to find.  When I got such good reviews, I went back to the store for more Gravensteins.  They were not to be had.  But lo and behold, there was a flat of organic Cox's Orange Pippins.  They are even harder to find, and some believe them to be THE best pie apple in the world.  So I bought enough for two pies, one for the contest at the market and the second one for a dinner party I am having the day following the contest.

Then I got an invitation to a dinner meeting for Purple Porch shareholders, and they are having an apple pie contest.  So I thought, why not?  I went back to the store for more Cox's Orange Pippins. But they, too, were not to be had anymore.

I started reading labels, and what did I find? Be still my heart --  Roxbury Russets!  Too good to be true, but there they were, staring up at me in all of their russeted beauty!  So I bought enough for another two pies.  Mixing the two apples in each of the pies will only make them better!

If you live around Mishawaka / South Bend, it is worth the trip to Martin's.  I'm not sure if they are carrying these antique apples at all of their stores.  Call first, or mosey on out to the Martin's just east of Capital on Lincoln Way East.  But you had better get there fast.  There are people in the "apple know" snapping up these flavorful fruits.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A local artist

On Sunday mornings at church, if I am sitting anywhere near Fern Hamlin, I watch her stitching away on her quilt squares.  She recently brought several of her quilts for display in our foyer and the worship area.  If you love to quilt or appreciate such handiwork, it is worth the trip to First Unitarian Church at 801 East Washington, in South Bend, Indiana to view her work.  Church is open for services from 10:00 am to noon every Sunday.  No need to attend the services to see the quilts, but while you are there, we'd love to have you join us for services as well.

Here are some pictures I took with my phone.  To appreciate her work, you need to see them up close and personal. Some squares are only 3/4" across, and every last one of them is hand stitched.  If you love what you see, they are for sale.  Prices range from $50 to $450, a real bargain!

Oh, one more thing - we are celebrating First Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 on October 2.  It's game night - bring your own or join in with someone else.  Or just wander around and look at these beautiful works of art.  Here is a preview.

My hand is in a few of these just to give perspective on the size of these squares - each one hand stitched!

I bought this one.  Fern is putting a sleeve in the back so that I can run a dowel through it and hang on the wall above my bed.

This is just breathtaking!  

My friend Jim bought this one.

We get to look at this one during services.  It's a good thing Rev. Chip's sermons are interesting, or we might lose focus.

The artist - Fern Hamlin.  Brava!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Paleo snacking at its best!

I just can't leave well enough alone.  I always seem to need something new to keep me interested in my business.  Right now, one of my biggest sellers is soaked and dried organic nuts -- walnuts, almonds and pecans.  They sell 10:1 against the plain organic nuts.  Why soak and dry?  It's a process that removes phytic acid from the nuts and makes them healthier.

So I got to thinking.  What if I mix them with some organic blueberries from our local market?  I can dehydrate them in my Excalibur dehydrator, which I use to dry the nuts after they are soaked in salt water.  Why not keep it busy - and BUY LOCAL?

Why stop there?  I have found an excellent (albeit not cheap) source of quality organic nuts and organic dried fruit.  So here's the lineup, all USDA organic:  Soaked and dried almonds, walnut halves, pecan halves, pepitas and sunflower seeds; local dehydrated blueberries; dehydrated sour cherries (mmmmm, I keep sneaking those from the package!) and sultana raisins; unsweetened coconut flakes; and yummy dark chocolate chips.

Then the ingredients are loaded into boxes, each box individually filled ingredient by ingredient, carefully weighed, so that each contains exactly the same amount of each ingredient.  Then a nice snap-on lid so you can dip in and munch, and then keep it covered (if you can) until the munchies hit you again.  This is paleo snacking at its best!

Stop by Purple Porch Wednesday night market or my booth at the Farmers Market for a taste and to purchase!  Available by mail as well.

Paleo Trail Mix - all organic ingredients

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rivers and pickles

Well, the river is escaping.  My yard is a soggy mess, and if the river rises another six inches, it will be in full flood mode down there.  I saw the river out of its banks a couple of years ago, but I didn't live here than.  We are not, I repeat NOT, in a flood zone where the houses are.  They are really quite a bit higher than the river.  From the street to the back of my house, there is a nine foot drop in elevation.  Then the lawn gently slopes for a length of about 250 feet to the river bank.  The houses are pretty close together at the street, but we are all blessed with these huge, lovely grassy lawns between house and river.  My lot is just shy of a half acre.

My yard
Neighbor's yard
One more good rain, and it will look like a lake, not a river, with our river's edge trees looking like they are on tiny islands in the middle of the lake.

On another note, the pickles are in at the farmers market.  I started some New York sour pickles this morning.  I didn't have any whey, so I threw a teaspoon of kefir into the mix.  And the only oak tree I have on the property is this weird saw tooth oak.  I hope the leaves have tannin in them.  That is what makes the pickles crisp, without using alum.

Yum!  Five days to crisp New York sour pickles with garlic!
 Well, back to the kitchen to clean up, then church, then company this afternoon.  Hope it doesn't rain!!!!!