Sunday, September 30, 2012

On cutting corners, and other things

So I admit it, I have issues.  One of these is with what I view (only when it comes to myself, mind you) as "cheating" or cutting corners.  That is, using canned pears when the recipe and experienced recipe veterans all say explicitly that it makes no difference in taste, look, or quality than poaching your own pears... OK but my brain says:

"NO! That is Cheating. Lazy. Short cut.  Do. It. The. Long. Way.  The RIGHT way."

Crazy? Yes. But that's me. Other examples - using store bought pie crust or biscuit dough or cookie dough or pizza dough.  These things (well, some of them) are OK on a busy weekday night (never pie dough I'm afraid).  But not on the weekend and never when guests are coming.  Recently I made some ginger cakes for  a wedding and spent close to an hour grating fresh ginger by hand to get 6 Tbs of the stuff.  Brandon said "Don't they sell that?"  I looked at him -- you know the look -- "it is just better this way" I said.  Part of why I love him? He says he "understands" this crazy streak about me.  Mind you, this is just one of such streaks... anyways.

Also in this cutting corners category by the way: literally cutting a corner while running --- but I do this shamelessly! -- oh and counting the cool down time at the gym as "part" of the workout. HA! CRAZY!

Anyways.  It has been a rainy weekend here.  We are planning for a party today.  We are having 20 people over and praying for the rain to hold off for a few hours at least so Brandon can grill the many pieces of chicken marinating in our fridge and the sausages and hotdogs and other things that may need flame.  The fall colors are out in full swing up on the hill and it is so beautiful.  A single tree can take my breath away.  We have started using the wood stove again when the chill gets in and it is so cozy -- this is by far my favorite time of year.  I have also started knitting again so stay tuned for progress on that front.

SO back to business.  BAKING.  I baked a LOT yesterday and have more coming this morning.  I will share a sneak peak:

Pear Almond Tart:

(by the way that was one of the most time consuming baked goods I have ever ever made - we'll see if it is worth it!)

Ginger cookies. I doubled this recipe to ensure that we have some left after the party!

Also on the menu: pumkin pie that I am starting now.  And deviled eggs (Brandon's favorite).

Recipes will be posted soon!

I have also had some (minimal) fun with food lately, although I have been busy!  A few things I have made:

A lentil, sweet potato and kale dish:

Delicious, healthy, and vegetarian.  I found it on this wonderful blog, "eat, live, run" which is available 

I also made a wonderful simple salad with arugala, feta and watermelon from our garden, with a simple vinegrette:

OK and to end off, some pics of the animals!

Ha! I love the leaning tower of boxes pictures... obviously the perfect place for a nap!

Marathon one week from today!!! SO excited.

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I made this really good Minestrone on Sunday!  It has a ton of fresh veggies and made enough for several dinners and lunches for the week.   As we head into the colder seasons, I plan to make a "one-pot" dish every weekend that we can enjoy on cold weekday nights without having to slave in a cold kitchen after work!

This recipe takes time.  Leave about 5 hours for the entire process.

Ingredients (serves 10-12):

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 lb. bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3-4 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large potato, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1-1/2 cups green beans, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium green cabbage, shredded
6 cups of chopped kale, thick stems and ribs removed
35 oz. whole peeled Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
5 cups beef stock
5 cups water
2 Tbs. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1-14.5 oz. can of white kidney beans, drained
1/2 lb. pasta

Here is what you do:

Pour 1/3 cup olive oil into a large stock pot or dutch oven

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add bacon, and cook until starting to crisp (about 5 minutes).

Add onion and cook until pale gold in color, about 10 minutes

Add carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally

Add chopped potatoes, zucchini, fennel, and green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occassionally.

Add kale and cabbage.  It will not seem like they can fit in the pot - just stir and let them cook down and it should work out (i ended up leaving out about a cup of each because space was tight!)

When the kale and cabbage are limp and cooked down, add the cut up tomatoes with their juices

Then add the stock and water (I added 5 cups of stock and 3 of water to start, because there wasn't room for it all.  As it cooked down some I added more water)

Add dried basil and oregano and salt and pepper to taste. 

Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.   15 minutes before serving add beans and pasta.  Turn up heat and cook until pasta is cooked.

Serve with warm crusty french bread.


Sunday, September 9, 2012


Is so full! and so fast! A lot has happened since my last post.  Here is a brief rundown..

I ran a half marathon! It went great. I really loved the experience.  Here I am crossing the finish line in 1:52:15! 

And here is the hat Brandon came down wearing at 4:00 am that morning. He is so cute and so supportive! (I am super lucky! :))

 The animals feel neglected! They have not been blogged about in way too long.  Here are the babies.  SO CUTE!

Yesterday I ran 21 miles and I am nursing a sore knee and swollen ankle... it isn't fun but hopefully ice, rest, and advil will make it better in a couple days... one more month until the big day and it would be really not fun to get injured now! pray for me.

Today is football, relaxation, and I am making minestrone.  I will let you know how it comes out!

-- Anya