Friday, December 25, 2009
yule tide...
Paul and I hosted our first Christmas together in "our" place this year. Family and friends from in and out of town squeezed in for a feast. Roast pork and beef, two gravies, roasted root veggies, green beans, crusty bread, cheese, apple betty, and spotted dick. And a few other traditions.

And everybody went home with a little sweater ornament made to suit their personal style. I had way too much fun with them...

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Saturday, October 31, 2009
mummy dearest...

I don't think I've ever just made gingerbread men. hmmmm.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
splitting peas...
We woke up this morning to the drizzly kind of rain that promises to stick around all day. Ah, fall in North Carolina. I remember coming to NC for college and being amazed at the number of days in a row it would rain, nonstop. As a Florida native, I was used to a 20 minute shower in the afternoon and an occasional thunderstorm or tornado. But the drizzle was entirely new. I learned to love the coziness of being inside while the dreariness ran on outside. Part of that is a cup of tea and toast, and another is a warm bowl of soup.

And so tonight, we're having split pea soup. Yum!


Saturday, July 04, 2009
happy 4th...

Thanks to the neighbors who put on quite a fireworks show that rivaled Downtown's (and those acetylene balloons...y'all are crazy.) They were the piece de resistance of a great night. Good drinks, good people, good food. We were decidedly international with our food (as well as the guest list). Italian sausages, Canadian and German beer, Aussie wine, Asian slaw, (homemade) French bread, English gin. least the watermelon was local.

So the slaw was an experiment that turned out really nice...should be just as good tomorrow.


Friday, July 03, 2009
i get it from my mother...
...this insane compulsion to run with a theme. I blame her entirely for sending me the star-shaped ice trays last year. While they are fun enough as just regular ice, they do beg for some oomph...

We're having a cookout here for the 4th, and while I have grand visions of hostessness, most of them will not come true. But the ice can and will! Imagine a cool glass of seltzer, or a refreshing G&T. Yes, both quite nice. And yes, they both need something a bit colorful and citrusy...

I mixed about a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice with 1/2 cup of water and two drops of food coloring (red for lemon, blue for lime) and froze the mixture in the star ice trays (but this would be almost as cool with cubes). My hands got a bit Lady MacBeth when I handled them, so I think tongs are in order for guests. But a few of them in a glass adds just a bit of color and a hint of lemon/lime. Beautiful!

OK, off to make some more...


Thursday, July 02, 2009
the benefits of email...
I got this recipe in my email inbox the other day from As if it were meant to be, it called for handfuls of sugar snap peas...the very thing that's ripe in my garden right now!

And so dinner tonight was this Quick Veggie Rice Bowl. We cooked a bit of chicken in a skillet before heating the sauce with it, and it was a nice addition. Next time I think I'll add just a touch of honey to the sauce, but regardless it was a delicious meal!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
dinner tonight...
Veggie Feta Pasta


Tuesday, June 09, 2009
I love toast...

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Sunday, June 07, 2009
variations on a theme...
...of cookies.

I made my favorite cookies the other day (the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe from the Quaker Oats box, except I use dried cranberries and chocolate chips instead of raisins), and got to thinking about spice variations. With the cinnamon in there already, making a few changes to incorporate chai spices seemed almost natural. I love the way the clove and black pepper kind of show up halfway through the cookie. Yum! (I also love that Paul is cooking up a beautiful Spag Bolognaise while I've got my feet up...)

Oatmeal Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350F.
2. Cream sugar and butter together in large bowl. Then add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices, then add to wet ingredients; beat well.
4. Stir in oat and chocolate chips until thoroughly mixed.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet
6. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Cool on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack...or just eat them all right away.

Makes about 4 dozen


Thursday, May 28, 2009
I've been making tea with my lemon verbena plant (and mint...yum!) lately, and ran across this recipe from The Herbfarm Cookbook for Lemon Verbena sorbet. Just the smell of it makes my mouth water, and it's in the freezer for tonight. My plant's not very big yet, so it was only really enough of a harvest for a fraction of the recipe. So here the divided by three version I just made...

Lemon Verbena Sorbet

1/3 cup lemon verbena leaves, packed
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup cold water

Put the leaves and sugar into a food processor and grind away until the sugar is green.

Then add lemon juice and water and zizz it a bit until it looks fully mixed.

Strain out the leaves, leaving the greenish liquid behind.

Put liquid into a metal bowl or baking dish and place in freezer. After 3 or so hours, mash with fork to break up chunks and serve.

This really came out less like a sorbet (because I don't have an ice cream freezer) and more like a granita. But delicious and refreshing. Kind of an herbally lemony taste. Next time I may try a bit of mint in with it for added refreshment.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
...dinner tonight! Easy and delicious, this is my new comfort food.

Adobo chicken

1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (3 pounds with bone)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours. Chicken will be very tender and sauce will reduce to about half. Put chicken in serving dish and pour sauce on top. Serve with jasmine rice. Serves 4.


Thursday, May 21, 2009
vitamin c...
Yesterday UPS brought me a bushel of these:

Yum! It's like home coming to me!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009
the only thing better...
...than a Nilla wafer is a chocolate Nilla wafer.


Saturday, May 16, 2009
bearing fruit...
Although the plant itself is still rather small, today revealed the official first tomato of the year! He's diminutive too, but filled with promise...

and the snap pea plants that were seeds less than 2 weeks ago are reaching their little tendrils up for the trellis. Just a few more inches, fellas!

Meanwhile, the lettuce and arugula are going gangbusters (yes, this is an official gardening term), just need some thinning.

And of course the herbs are all doing well! The basil crop will be especially hearty this year...we'll be in the pesto business soon!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
i am officially addicted... guacamole.

Avocados have been on sale around here lately, and I haven't been able to resist. Especially after the discovery that the best guacamole recipe was basically avocado mixed with my homemade salsa. And so I ask you, is it such a bad thing to eat a whole batch in one day? According to

A one-ounce serving (approximately one-fifth of an Avocado) is just 50 calories, yet serves up nutrients, 3 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1 gram of dietary fiber. All with zero cholesterol and just 0.5 grams of saturated fat (the "bad" type of fat).*

So really, it's not too bad, other than the fact that I'm plowing through tortilla chips.

As for my other addictions...

Totally cute, right?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
T-minus three lemons. And completely delicious.

Lemon curd is way easier than I thought. I used the recipe here (though my lemons are rather large and I only needed two) and it really took about 15 minutes all up. Makes me dream about living in a cottage in a tiny English village and making fresh lemon curd to serve with muffins when the vicar comes to tea.

Hmm...need to find a vicar...


Tuesday, December 09, 2008
when life gives you lemons...
...make limoncello!

Dad and sister came up from Florida bearing a bag of home-grown Meyer lemons last week, and last night was the night for them to meet their fate. First up were the Moroccan preserved lemons. Five days in a jar sliced up with salt and juice should make some tasty additions to recipes and possibly a really yummy dessert (but that's another project Paul's got in the works...very top secret).

Next up was the famous limoncello. Zester in hand, twelve of the orangey-yellow fellows were stripped of their dignity and are now infusing away in the cupboard. When we get back from Australia, the batch should be all set to sweeten, just in time for spring afternoons on the patio.

I have plans for the rest, which will include buttermilk cookies and lemon curd...and maybe I can sweet talk myself into another batch in the spring.



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