Thursday, June 27, 2013

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

happy new year

One of my goals this year, an ongoing goal really, is to make some more art. Maybe stitch something like this, that I made in 2006 (I think?). I have lots of ideas floating around.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

all good summer things

I have been criminally lax about updating this blog, especially for the summertime!  In my defense, I've had a full course load this summer, but I have a few weeks between summer classes and fall classes to try and be productive.  I am going to really make an effort to update things this fall, if for no other reason than to feel like I'm doing something.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I posted a recipe.  We made this a few weeks back with one of the first summer tomatoes (from the farmer's market--we killed our tomato plant).  We also happened to have an abundance of blue cheese leftover from another meal.  We always have basil (out back), crusty bread, and our old standby, Sashay Acres bacon, on hand.  A meal was born.

Actually, we ate this as an appetizer, but it would be more than enough as an entree.  I only stacked our salads a few tomato slices high, but next time I'd go even lower--one or two slices only--for easier eating.  Next time I also think I'll splurge on the fancy French gray shallots at the farmer's market for more intense shallot flavor in the dressing.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Basil
very slightly adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious
serves 2 (easily multiplied)

2 slices crusty white bread, like sourdough
4 slices bacon (depending on how porky you like your veggies)
olive oil (if needed)
1/4 c finely chopped shallot
3 tbsp Sherry vinegar
2-3 assorted medium heirloom tomatoes, cut 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick
15 small fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 oz blue cheese, at room temperature, crumbled

Cook bacon in (cast iron, preferably) pan until crisp, and remove to paper towels.  Leave bacon drippings in pan.

In the same pan, toast bread on both sides in bacon drippings over medium heat.  If you don't like your bread bacon-y, pour off drippings into a heatproof bowl and reserve.  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan and toast bread.

Using remaining bacon drippings (pour them back in the pan if you poured them off), plus a couple tablespoons olive oil if the pan is getting dry, cook shallots over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add vinegar and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute.  Season dressing with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Crumble bacon.  Arrange bread on plates and divide tomato slices among them, stacking slices and sprinkling some basil and bacon between slices. Sprinkle cheese and remaining basil and bacon over and around tomatoes. Spoon some of warm bacon dressing over and around tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

summer at home 2

It seems I've taken quite a break from blogging! The summer has just flown by. Now we're entering the beginning of both the school year and the best time of the year food-wise. The farmer's market has finally broken out of its strictly green phase and now features melons, squashes, and sweet red peppers. Our CSA boxes are bigger now so I'm enjoying the slight panic I experience when I see four large patty-pan squashes come out of the box. Yes, enjoying. How else would I find out that chocolate zucchini cake turns out fine with patty-pan? And if I had used up my zucchini on cake, how would I have made a deliciously creamy zucchini basil soup? Ah, conundrums I'm happy to encounter.

I'm going to unload a few of my summer recipes, lazy style, before summer produce is gone like my lazy summer.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

did you just say bacon?

It seems that Matt and I have practically lived off of bacon lately. In October, we bought 5 pounds of bacon from one of our favorite farmer's market meat vendors. After having their surprisingly smoky, thick, and fatty bacon, any other bacon is somewhat unsatisfying.

Here are a couple of recipes we've made lately. I didn't feel like typing them tonight, so you have the links.

pan roasted fingerling potatoes with bacon and crispy sage

This potato dish was very tasty, made with sage leftover from Thanksgiving dinner and the last local fingerling potatoes of the season. On the sandwich, a sweet and tangy caramelized onion thyme jam.

chocolate chip pecan bacon cookies

The cookies were a really nice sweet/salty combination. You might not know that bacon was the salty element--it had a texture somewhat like toffee. Matt used the thin cookie recipe, though I'm sure the thick ones would be great as well. I'd like to try some of the other recipes at the NPR site too.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

holiday entertaining, exhibit b

Smoky Black Bean & Rice Soup with Garlic Toasts
bowl and stemless wine glass, Target

This is a delicious, hearty winter soup that's pretty easy. It can be made vegetarian/vegan if you leave out the bacon or use a bacon substitute and use vegetable stock. (from Rachel Ray's Expresslane Meals)

2 tbsp. olive oil
3 bacon slices, chopped (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 15-oz. cans black beans
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot sauce
coarse salt and coarse black pepper
1 15-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 qt. chicken/vegetable stock
1 cup white rice

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add the bacon (if using) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to render the fat. Add the bay leaf, onions, and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften the veggies. Add the corn and 1 can of black beans and their juice. Drain the other can, then add half the can of beans. Mash the remaining beans in the can with a fork to make a paste out of them, then scrape them into the soup pot--this will make the soup thick. Season with the coriander, chili powder, ground chili, Worcestershire, and the hot sauce. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock, then cover the pot and raise the heat to bring the soup to a boil. Add the rice and cook uncovered over a rolling simmer until the rice is tender but has a little bite left to it, about 15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and serve.