Snow returned to Golden this week; we woke up yesterday morning to inches stacked on the patio furniture, and two prissy dogs who did not want to have to go outside. Chilly weather and heavy foods pair so well. I am trying to use what we have in the pantry so it doesn’t have to be moved. The meals have been a bit of a mishmash, but last night’s was a hit: sausage, mushroom risotto, asparagus and strawberries with cream for dessert.
I did have to hit the market for the veggies. My shelf of canned goods from last summer’s garden is sadly down to one jar of peach jam and three of apple chutney. There is only so much chutney one girl can eat.
I am hoping wherever I land, it isn’t too late to get another garden started. At a minimum, basil, tomatoes and cucumbers should be planted. With any luck, the next home will have fruit trees and space in the kitchen for canning.
I’m my Grandmother Max’s protege: she who lived in a dozen homes over her years always had a garden going, and always had a good meal on the stove. Creating a home was a attitude, not a permanency of address. (My mama is the same way. She just had the luck to live in fewer places, and as a result — had bigger gardens. There is a deeper roots joke here somewhere.)
Here is to hoping warm Spring arrives soon!
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- Colorado, Kitchen Talk
I didn’t really get any good photographs of any of the fancy meals we ate. I was too busy, well, eating. And oh, New York, you are so good with the food. Even the gyro street carts with saffron rice and suspicious meat sources smelled delicious at times.
Ess-a Bagels is by far the best bagel I’ve ever had. So good, we ate there twice. (I’d eaten there the first time I was in NYC too, after getting a demanding recommendation from my friend — and former NYC librarian — Stacey.) The lox on an everything bagel is so good, I couldn’t finish it. The peanut butter and bacon on sesame? Well. I left little behind. I would eat here far too often if I lived in the city, and justify doing so with the endless miles you spend walking.
Plus, the guys behind the counter provide an authentic NYC experience. You get the feeling that if you don’t move through the line with enough speed, order with enough precision (there is no time to linger once you get to the counter), and do so in voce alto, they will holler back: NO BAGEL FOR YOU!
I’d never seen these in person — only in cooking magazines. Dean and DeLuca is quite possibly the most amazing foodie store I’ve ever had a chance to wander.
I want to buy the giant pig serving tray. Cute and useful! Also! I need to own absolutely nothing else at the moment. (Score the rare point for shopping restraint.)
And then there was the Easter brunch at the Waldorf:
We did not eat here, but walked through the lobby for these shots. What I couldn’t get a good photo of was the giant bowl of lobster. Unbelievable.
And then there was Eataly. Oh. MY. GOD! Eataly. All 75 floors of food and ingredient heaven.
Plus beautiful bakery window displays for the Easter weekend:
And great coffee shops:
And champagne by the iced bucket:
My favorite meal was Le Cirque lobster risotto. Or that peanut butter bacon bagel. Tough call.
A decadent escape!
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- Kitchen Talk, Travel
I can’t be the only person enamored with the simplicity of food photography. Shiny noodles. Charred steak. The fibonacci sequence found in a sliced artichoke.
I also can’t be the only one who almost always forgets to take photos of the finished product before it gets to the table. Right? Guests walk in the door, dogs go crazy, music turned up, bottles opened and I’m left with 400 photos of the ingredients and nothing of the final product.
At least the potatoes look good, right?
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- Kitchen Talk
For every negative, there is a positive. Isn’t that some fancy law of physics?
(Let me tell you what I remember from high school physics: My teacher Mr. Barrett telling me, “You really aren’t the smartest, but you work the hardest.” Gee. Thanks. In turn, I “borrowed” his favorite classroom item, held it hostage for a couple months, providing a series of photos and ransom notes, and eventually got him to agree in the return of Mr. Penguin that I was not just smart, I was clever. Crafty, even. Hey Mr. Barrett, if you are reading this, good news: I’m doing just fine, and for the most part,* I’ve stopped holding things ransom.)
So, for every bad there is a good. Like my friends swooping in to cheer me up lately. It’s been pretty fantastic. Our dinner table has been full most nights with friends who just want a meal and conversation; they know nothing makes me happier. Having grown up in a family where nightly dinners without TV or telephone were mandatory — having people around my table gives such a sense of comfort.
I’ve had gobs of time to read cookbooks lately, and am up to date on my cooking magazines. Lots of exciting new recipes have crossed my path, and these hungry friends are happy test subjects.
Earlier this week: chile rellenos and black bean and honey cornbread casserole. Guacamole, chips, rotisserie chicken (such an easy cheat) and lots of time to catch up while wearing an apron. Bliss.
Later this week, I’ve got a handful of friends visiting. We’re doing a cookout, and I anticipate even more slightly blurry bokeh photos.
I know. I know. You can’t wait. Especially you, Mr. Barrett.
*I might have borrowed a lawn gnome before leaving Arizona who occasionally sends his updates to the owner from his adventures around the United States. He will eventually make his way home.
- Posted in
- Colorado, Community, Kitchen Talk
A friend’s husband showed up unexpectedly at my doorstep yesterday afternoon. He’d been up canyon on his bike when it had begun to snow. By the time he reached my house, going some 40 miles an hour down Clear Creek, he was blue. His hands were frozen and the inner linings of his eyes were swollen to an alarming shade of red.
Could he sit down for a second and warm up?
I shooed him in the door, got the dogs off the couch and plugged in the electric blanket. Soon, the kettle was singing and his hands warmed around a mug of tea. Dinner was already on the stove — Spanish chorizo and lentils from this month’s Cooks Illustrated. I had pans of salted caramel upside down pineapple cakes on the oven waiting to go in next.
He warmed up slowly, and stayed for hours, telling how he realized he was in trouble when he couldn’t keep both hands on the bike. Navigating down the canyon with two hands is terrifying, doing so with one hand tucked under your other arm for warmth is suicide. Thankfully, he made it. I promised him he wouldn’t have to ride any farther today; we’d find a way for he and his bike to get home.
Soon, BJ joined us around the dinner table, swapping stories of our day and sipping soup. The snow began to fall in thick flakes. By the time dessert was served, inches of fluffy powder rested on the roofs of cars, the patio table, the greenhouse light fixtures, and everything in between. The mountains, so near, were out of sight for more than 14 hours as the snow continued to dance downward.
The soup was even better as leftovers today for lunch, enjoyed from the small kitchen table with a view of a golden sun, ringed by the brightest, clearest blue skies.
Time to walk the dogs, plan the next meal and push forward. Visitors are always welcome.
- Posted in
- Colorado, Heirloom Homestead, Kitchen Talk
Stop what you are doing right now and bake these cookies. They are the best cookies I’ve ever made and were inhaled by dinner guests this week.
Not kidding. Best. Cookies. Ever.
So good I just lifted weights for an additional hour so I won’t feel guilty about making another batch. So good I’m drooling just thinking of them.
Getting the picture?
I think the only way to make them better would be to make 2 batches so you can let a few get stale. I love a crunchy gingernsap.
Good work, Country Living peeps. Good work, indeed.
- Posted in
- Domestic Art, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Recipes
I can’t help myself. My name is Kelli and I’m a food photography addict.
A few shots from Thanksgiving break:
Start with some huevos rancheros…
Add a dash of salt… and then decide what’s for dinner.
How about we fry a turkey for Thanksgiving? What sounds better? What? TWO turkeys? So be it:
What is that you say? You didn’t get enough carbs yesterday? Well. How about I whip up some of Juliann’s famous risotto, with some asparagus and shallots? (Originally, I’d hoped to do this with homemade turkey stock. Come to find out fried turkey bones meet their match in peanut oil and aren’t broth-worthy.)
I may not love football, or Black Friday, or many of the other “traditions” around this holiday. But put me in a kitchen with a pantry full of food, with an apron and a glass of chardonnay, and I am my happiest.
Phew. Aren’t we glad I got that out of my system? Yeah. I thought so.
- Posted in
- Celebrate!, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
Risotto, roasted chicken, steamed asparagus, pumpkin peanut butter cookies; heavy food and excellent company for colder weather.
- Posted in
- Colorado, Heirloom Homestead, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
My friend BJ and his dog Chaco are living at the homestead for a bit. In turn, my kitchen has become the grounds for a highly competitive cooking show. One night, BJ cooks. The next, I do. Dog-eared cooking magazines, pages graffiti-ed with greasy thumbprints and splatters of spice, sit in a pile on the counter top. Coupons for staple ingredients are clipped to the side of the fridge. The Dutch oven is either on the stove, bubbling — or full of delicious leftovers.
These are delightful problems to have.
We’ve gone at this back and forth pace for a few weeks, each impressing the other with our culinary prowess. So far, BJ’s greek yogurt dip is the winner. Paired with his curry chicken and spiced couscous, I thought about climbing into the bowl for a swim.
Last night, I threw down saffron almond chicken from the October issue of Bon Appetit. Saffron is stupidly expensive. Apparently I’ve never cooked with it before and I was not forking over $10 for two tiny packets. As such, we actually ate smoked paprika almond chicken. (Note to self: do saffron research. Determine why it is so pricey. Consider hitting spice markets next time you travel internationally.)
This was tasty. The sauce is thickened with chunks of bread added to the almond/spice mixture in the food processor. As such, this is not a fat-free, paleo-loving or any other specific diet happy meal. Unless you just really like good hearty food. Then it is — wait for it — a winner, winner chicken dinner.
I also served roasted pasilla peppers stuffed with cheese as a side dish. If I had unlimited funds, I would have a massive greenhouse where these peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peas would grow all year long. Oh, and saffron.
Your turn, BJ. Game on.
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- Heirloom Homestead, Kitchen Talk
Stop what you are doing right now and figure out how you can make time to create a culinary masterpiece. That’s right. Throw humility out the window, hit the market and buy:
3 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large yellow onion
2 vegetable broth boullion cubes
1 large golden yukon potato for each person being served
As many roasted Hatch or poblano chiles as you can find (I’d go with 4-5)
1 small container of cream cheese
Now, if you’ve got all day to smell a lovely pot of magic bubbling on the stove, take this slow. (If not — it will cook in an hour or so too.) Start with a large Dutch oven. Add a dash of olive oil. Dice up your carrots, celery and onion. Let those cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Then add 64 ounces of water, along with your 2 broth cubes. Bring this mixture to a boil while washing and cutting up your potatoes and chiles. The size doesn’t really matter — you are going to blend this soup to perfection. Add the potatoes and chiles, let simmer with the lid on for 30-45 minutes. Again, let it go all day if you have the time. About 20 minutes before serving, add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin. Then throw in your cream cheese and bust out the immersion blender. Carefully as to not send potato soup all over yourself — ahem — blend that pot of gold glory into the yummiest soup you’ve ever eaten.
And oh, it’s vegetarian. And possibly vegan if you leave out the cream cheese, but why would you do that?
The Best Soup Ever is even better the next day, reheated. Get after it, people. You’ll be thankful you did.
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- June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Recipes