Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas


Well it’s the big day, Christmas! Merry Christmas to all. Since this was posted at 6 am, I hope that I am still a sleep. Although there is still a chance that the kid in me still will wake up while it is still dark and want to rip to the presents under the tree.
As the mature grown up that I am, and if my neighbor’s party was great as usual, I’m not going to wake up for several more hours.
So, from my family to yours Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (we will probably be going over to our neighbors for NYE too)!


Kids and their Santa


Christmas In Maryland

Christmas morning

Christmas in Burtonsville, MD

Christmas in Boston

Christmas in DC 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Seasons of the market







Farmer's Markets are everywhere. On my way home on Thursdays I stop by one and I  have become loyal to a few of the vendors. Then after a what seems like an eternity the farmer's market returned to my neighborhood. Like a long lost friend the Historic Brookland Farmer's Market returned. So, every Saturday I would get up and get there early, for the best produce of course, not because I like getting up early on my days off. From the strawberries as the first fruit to buy to the last of the apples and squash in the fall. The last two markets featured Christmas trees along side of the last of the apples, cider and squash. 
Following the seasons I made pastries, jams and even pickles. My neighbors made out like bandits with all the stuff that was coming out of my kitchen. Sometimes taking a pause from creating I would simply just eat the fruit in its natural state. Nothing says summer than fresh, ripe, juicy peaches. As summer settled in just sitting on our front porch eating a bowl of peaches in cream reminds me of summers when my brother and I were little and we would  sit on our front step and eat bowls of fresh picked peaches with the warm summer sun shinning on our freckled faces. Using apples from my favorite vendor I was able to win the Best Apple Pie at the DC State Fair. Colder mornings didn't stop me from stockpiling squashes and potatoes. Just in time for the long winter, not sure how long the potatoes will last with Christmas dinner coming up. 
Now that we have just celebrated the longest night of the year, it wont be long until it's time to enjoy the fruits of another season. 




A strawberry pastry 

Blueberry galette 

Dill pickles in the making
Awarding winning apple pie!

First place ribbon for my apple pie

Nothing says summer than peaches and cream

Cherry jam, lots and lots of jam.

Fruits from the market

Gourds and squashes 

















Monday, October 27, 2014

If you roast it we will come and drink


If you roast/cook/build it we will come…
Years ago when we bit the bullet and moved into the city, we moved into a very sleepy part of town. There was not much in the way of restaurants and especially coffee shops. When one opened we were there every Sunday, except for vacations, until it closed. 
Now a new shop has moved in and we go. Zekes Small Roastery and shop is now the coffee shop to go to in our NE neck of the city. Most of their business comes from roasting and selling at farmer’s markets, local stores and in some restaurants and in other venues in the city. I must say their coffee is good the staff is very friendly and they know their beans. When we first started going to Zekes and didn't know the staff we called them all Zeke and Zekettes. We were lucky that they sell their coffee at our local farmer's market on Saturday and then on Sunday we would visit the shop.
The roasting machine is quite the contraption with parts that can be found at the local hardware store. 
They offer tasting flights and now they sell pastry. With the prospect of outdoor seating in the spring this just maybe our Sunday hangout.
John Kepner and Brain Bovard are the proprieters of Zekes. The shop is a franchise from Baltimore. We are gald that they settled on this space. The sidewalk is super wide and we cant wait until they have tables outside. We hope to continue the tradition of sitting and reading the Sunday paper drinking good coffee.  

Zekes Small Roastery and Coffee shop 2300 Rhode Island Ave., NE Washington, DC
Hours Tues through Friday 7:30-4pm
            Saturday and Sunday 8:00-3
             Closed Monday    

Zekes will celebrate their 1 year anniversary November 1st with a celebration! They do offer coffee tastings check out their website Zekescoffee.com 

The roasting machine

Beans roasting


The roasted beans

Beans waiting for purchase

The Calkboard

John Kepner and Brain Bovard aka The Zekes

A new delivery of beans


     

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blogher Food 14 Miami


All ready to go

This year marks my fourth year attending a food blogging conference. This year I'm going to BlogHer Food 14 in Miami. Sundresses and sandals are packed are ready to go and so am I.
Food conferences are no different than other conferences. There are  panel discussions , excursions and of course there will be food. And the SWAG, oh the swag!
One other reason to go this year is the opportunity to meet some big food bloggers that I follow. I hope that once again I can get up enough nerve and not get tongue tied and have something interesting to say and maybe get my book signed!
Unfortunately I won't have a lot of free time to explore Miami but I hope to find a good cup of authentic Cuban coffee. I may not have a lot of free time but I know I will learn a lot and come back energized.
Bon Voyage and see ya when I get back.

I'm Going to BlogHer Food '14 in Miami!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

National Apple Pie Day



 I did't want today to go by without acknowledging that it is National Apple Pie Day.  And it’s a good thing, with all the apples I had in my fruit drawer that needed attention and soon. Nobody wants to open a drawer in the refrigerator and find the shriveled apple faces or the remains of fruit way past its prime and the juice that is left behind. Ick  
 I decided to make Kelly Senyei's Caramel Apple Hand Pies  http://www.justataste.com/2012/09/salted-caramel-apple-hand-pies-recipe/. I saved the recipe some time ago. It just so happened that along with the apples I also I had a block of caramel in the cupboard ready to be used before the heat of the summer got to it (of course cubes of caramel needed to be taste tested during the process. One for the pie and one for me)!  I did not make Kelly's pie dough, I had some in the freezer. It seems like cosmic alignment of baking ingredients.
 It did't take long for the apple pie assembly line to begin. I ended up with more hand pies than we could eat. The hubster trekked to the neighbors pies in hand, no pun intended, to give them away. Now, I suspect that my neighbors are also happy to celebrate Apple Pie day.  If they weren't ready to celebrate before they are now.


Apples and caramel

Let the assembly begin

That's a lot of pies

One o the many trays of pies

YUM

These did not make it to the neighbors!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's a Charmed Life

The original bracelet

Gimmicky tourist souvenirs stuffed into suitcases filled to the brim with tee shirts and coffee mugs. I'm guilty of lugging some of that stuff home too. Who doesn’t have  a metal Eiffel Tower on a shelf at home?  I usually bring home a tee shirt, liquor, lot of pictures. If I'm lucky enough to find one, a small silver charm tucked away in a small pouch will find it's way home with me.
When I was a young girl 8 or 10 I don’t really remember exactly, I was given a silver charm bracelet by my Aunt Sara. It had one charm on it already, a disk with a dogwood flower; it’sthe state flower of Georgia.
Soon after, the bracelet filled up with all sorts of wonderful travel souvenirs. My parents brought back a charm from all the cities from their European trip in 1972. A beer stein with a lid that opens, Turkish dancing shoes, and some Greek statues just some of many charms that filled my bracelet. During my dad’s business trips he rarely came back without a charm, Chicago, Texas and many other states.
I continued  that tradition of collecting charms when I lived in Europe.. Three years and many cities later, I now have 4 bracelets of my own plus the two my mother gave me. It's too much jingling to wear a bracelets, so now  I turned them into a necklace that I wear on special occasions when I get it out the box. 
I love that each charm can tell you a story. The wine cup from the Rhine River cruise I took with friends I had just met in Germany. The tri-trip hat I got in Williamsburg on a trip with my family. The Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco or the mountain cable car from Switzerland I got when my best friend came to visit.
Each little charm is part of my past. It really should be called a life story necklace. For me I will always have a charmed life.


The growing collection

It's now become a necklace

Monday, May 5, 2014

They say it's your birthday

The Irish twins celebrating together.
When my brother and I were growing up at times we celebrated our birthdays togther. It was easier for our parents, since we were a year apart. To some we are Irish twins.
In the late sixties we moved into the house where we grew up. I am not sure of the year 1969 or 1970 my parents threw us a joint birthday party. There must have been 20 or so kids running around the house all jacked up on sugar and ice cream. There were kids climbing on the wrought iron work that we had in the house. It was the sixties after all. It scared my mom to death, and I'm sure that if there was any one incident to drive parents to drink this was it. This was the last party my brother and I had together.

The one gift I remember was from my neighbor across the street. I parted with it long ago, but never fear tracked it down through a rare book seller. It was my very first cookbook. The recipes were very simple. In fact the mac & cheese recipe is the one from the blue box. But I remember the oatmeal raisin cookies as the best ever. I made a lot of them, beside Snickerdoodle cookies these were my favorite.

After all these years did my memory fail me? Were these cookies as good as I remember? Yes, to the memory and yes to taste. They were good and chewy. Although they were small in size they were tasty. Maybe to a kid cookies look bigger then they do when you're are all grown up.
 Happy Birthday to my brother!
My very first cookbook

Move in day. That's the famous wrought iron work


All the ingredients ready to go

The mixer hard at work mixing in the oats

One of my favorites growing up.


Raisin Oatmeal Cookies  adapted from the Better Homes and Garden Junior Cookbook for the Hostess & Host of tomorrow. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbs of milk
2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats 
1 egg
1 cup raisins
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1tsp of cinnamon
1/2 cup of shortening*

*I used unsalted butter, I could not bring myself to use the shorting.

1. Set oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cooky (yes, that is how they spelled it in the book) sheets with a little bit of shortening. Or line the cooky sheets with parchment paper. Measure out the flour onto paper. Add the soda, salt, and cinnamon and sift ingredients together.
2. Add shortening or butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and milk: mix well.  Beat mixture by hand: 100 times. Ok, I admit I used the mixer for this part. So soften the butter and sugars for about three minutes on a low speed.
3. Add raisins and oats. Drop the teaspoons of cooky mixture 2 inches apart on to the lined cooky sheets and bake.
4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove cookies from the sheets with a turner Place them on a rack to cool. Store in jar.
Yup that's it but there is one thing missing. What about the dry ingredients when do you add those. Well, it turns out that step is missing so I added it after step 2 and before step 3.  












Thursday, May 1, 2014

This cake is good enough for Valhalla


Suspect alliances, treachery, epic battles, and shield maidens, the newest plot of a spy novel? No, and if  you follow the History Channel's Vikings you know what I mean. Well there's only one episode left to see Ragnar and rest of his raiding Vikings. Who will survive the epic season finale?  After the show sucked me in I was soooooo  relived that there will be at least another season to follow Ragnar.
Since I am half Swedish on my father's side with 3 out 4 of my great-grandparents immigrating from Sweden, leaving their battle axes at home. So, if you dream your ancestors were royalty, good luck with that,  I'm glad mine were seafaring  explorers (that sounds so much better than pillagers) and what ever history writes about the Vikings. Maybe that's why I like show so much.
I wanted to send  the Vikings off in style. No, there's no funeral pyre (couldn't get a permit) but there is cake!  I hope Odin and the rest of the Gods are pleased. The hubster and my neighbors were.



Swedish almond cake (Toscatårta)
adapted from  Rachel Allen Cake

Cake:
3 large eggs
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted

Topping:
1/4 (50g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100g) flaked almonds
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 23cm (9in) springform or loose-bottomed cake pan* - if you’re using a spring-form pan, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and mousse-like. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and pour in the milk and melted butter, then gently fold everything in until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist but not totally clean, as the mixture will still need another 10 minutes of cooking. Increase the heat to 200°C/400°F.
Topping: Just before the 30-35 minutes are up, make the topping. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted, add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to bubble away for 1 minute.
After the cake has been cooking for the first 30-35 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the almond mixture evenly over the top. Place it back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen around the edges and carefully remove the sides of the pan before placing the cake (still on the base of the pan) on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serves 8-10 or two very hungry Vikings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Remembrance Day


My Paternal Grandparents







Today marks the one year anniversary of my dad's passing. We were on vacation when he died. He had been in ill health for the last few years so it was not a shock for some. It was a small funeral just family. On our way out of the funeral home I picked up several of the memorial pamphlets. I was puzzled by the maiden name of my paternal grandmother. What a weird thing to focus on because I don't really remember her.
 My Midwestern stock comes from Illinois just outside in Chicago as my great-grandfather settled there after immigrating from Sweden in the late 1880's. I have been searching Ancestry to try and find out more about them, I have more questions than answers. 
I didn't really get to know my grandparents. My grandmother was in a nursing home for a long time, that's what my mom tells me. My grandmother passed away in 1979 and my grandfather passed in 1981.
She passed 2 recipes on to my mom. My mom made them during my childhood and she passed them on to me. I still make them today one at the holidays and this recipe I make as my comfort food. It's a pasta casserole made with Velveeta cheese, mushroom soup, shell pasta and mushrooms and a can of corn.
 I don't know the history on this recipe. It probably came off of the soup can or the box of Velveeta. I don't care where it's from I'm just glad that I it's part of my food history. It's my guilty pleasure and I hate to admit it but I can eat the entire pot in one sitting. Shhhh, don't tell anyone but I'm glad my husband doesn't like it, more for me.

Velveeta Shell Pasta Casserole from Corrine Spencer Axelson

1 box of shell pasta
1 16 oz brick of Veveeta cheese, cubed
1 8 oz can of mushroom soup
1 6 oz can of corn, drained
1 6 oz can of sliced mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1 cup of milk, I use the soup can to measure the milk use one can of milk

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta. Put the drained pasta back in the pot. On medium low heat stir the cheese into the pasta. Add the soup, milk, corn and mushrooms. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Serve hot.


The magic ingredients

ooey gooey cheesy 

Ready to get in my belly

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cherry Blossom Breakfast Roll

Cherry Blossoms at the tidal basin


Now that spring has arrived in town that can only mean one thing, tourists. Well they are only part of it to me best part of spring it's Cherry Blossom season. Thongs of wide eyed tourists arrive to view the trees and the other sites along the tidal basin.  The Cherry Blossom Festival lasts about two weeks. Peak bloom only lasting a few days so it can be tricky finding time to see them while dodging tourists and bad weather. During these few weeks there are lots of festivities-fireworks on the water, the tea lighting ceremony, 10 mile run, the parade but of course the star of the show of course are the trees themselves. I like to go down to watch the sunrise. As the sun comes up the tidal basin is washed in a soft pink glow. The trees are saturated with all hues of pink. The best part only the die hard tourists are there that early. 
I wanted to create a treat to honor the blossoms so I created a Cherry Almond breakfast roll. I wanted to save time so I chose to use the Pillsbury pastry sheet but you could use any breakfast roll dough for this.  It doesn't need to be cherry blossom season to make this big roll but it doesn't hurt.

Almond Schmear:
1 cup of blanched almonds
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter. softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg white

Directions:
Put almonds, sugar, and butter into food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground, scrap the bowl if necessary. Add the almond extract and egg white. Process until mixed. Store in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before using. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a about a week.



Breakfast roll Glaze:
1 cup powered sugar
2 tablespoons of water (you may use less) you want to able to drizzle it over the roll
red food coloring (optional) don't use too much you want it to be pink.
Mix the powered sugar and water to get a consistency that makes it easy to drizzle. Add the red food coloring to get a light pink color.



To assemble the Cherry Blossom Roll:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pastry sheet or what ever breakfast roll dough you want to a  approximately 8 x12. it may be larger if you use homemade dough. Spread the almond schmear on the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of dried cherries over the schmear, pressing them into the almond mixture. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the dough into even sized strips. Take your first strip and roll it up and place in the middle of a greased pie pan. At the end of the first strip place the second strip and coil the strip around the roll. Continue with the rest of the strips around and around until you one big breakfast roll.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool about 15 minutes before glazing.
Mix the glaze and drizzle over the roll. Serve warm.
Roll out the dough and spread the almond schmear

Add the dried cherries

Coil  the strips around and around

ready for the oven

Drizzled with pretty pink icing