Cooking


I lost my job a couple of weeks ago thanks to some highly paid consultants who decided to “re-org” the marketing department, get rid of a bunch of us and bring in their own cronies. It goes with the territory in higher education.

I’m trying to put my time to good use.  So between job hunting and cleaning up my weaving studio, I’ve put together some nice meals for my family.  One afternoon, my husband and I were on our own. One of the dishes I thought about for dinner suddenly became a perfect summer lunch.

Mozzarella, Strawberry and Tomato salad is one of the recipes from the French Fridays with Dorie website I’ve been following as I cook out of Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” cookbook. I threw caution to the wind and even included wine. It transported me away from my unemployment blues and off to dreams of France.  C’est bon!

 

 

How many times have you heard the story that the face of Jesus appeared on someone’s grilled cheese sandwich?  Absurd, I know.  Twist it a little this way and a little that way and sure enough–with a lot of room for interpretation–there he is.

My story isn’t nearly so dramatic, but when I made a Chestnut Pear Soup from the Dorie Greenspan book last night, I poured in a little heavy cream for a lovely garnish.  Then my husband made a few sweeps with his spoon and had a delighted look on his face.

He turned it around to show the rest of the family and voila- there was the most amazing image of a mushroom (which is not part of the ingredients I might add).  He quickly whipped out his camera, took a shot for the record and then joined us for dinner.

Back in the fall, I joined an online group called French Fridays with Dorie where we cook through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Around My French Table.  I’ve been faithfully cooking the dishes designated for each month and enjoying it immensely.  Dorie is one of those cookbook authors who makes you feel like you have a friend in the kitchen.  She’s extremely generous with her readers both in her comments, suggestions, and detailed directions.

My co-worker, who loves food, bought Dorie’s book for her mother for Christmas and received one for herself after my effusive comments about my adventures.

Here’s the latest effort- Chicken B’Stilla (I think pronounced ba-stee-yah) which is a savory pie encased in phyllo dough. Now it’s not the prettiest version because I’m a complete newbie in working with phyllo dough, but it tasted pretty wonderful.

My husband and kids were suitably impressed and especially enjoyed the crunchy exterior.

I’ve never cooked through an entire cookbook before, but this online group is helping me get the most from this extraordinary treasure.

I woke up to the first real frost of the season this morning.  While the lawns all had that beautiful sparkly crust, I had to sigh at the thought of things to come.  It was time to bring out the cozy scarves and gloves.

One thing I like about this season is a return to the  kitchen and some great fall cooking.  I joined an online group called “French Fridays with Dorie” which is cooking through the entire new cookbook of Dorie Greenspan.  Dorie is a classically trained chef and James Beard award winner who has just published “Around My French Table.”  It’s a masterwork and everything I’ve cooked has turned out beautifully.  She really embraces the art of writing with clear directions and plenty of personal insight.  It’s “old school” in an age of sloppy cooking on the Food Network. Dorie is the real thing.

Here are a couple of pictures of dishes I made using her great directions.

In addition to the Mustard Tart and Shepherd’s Pie (Hachis Parmentier), I’ve managed to put together a roast chicken to die for, apple cake, and gougeres (cheese puff appetizers).

I found that joining this club is a great way to sample all Dorie’s work.  The recipes are chosen according to season and availability of ingredients.  What fun I’ve had, and my family is pretty happy too.  Viva la Dorie!

As summer comes to an end, I find that I am often pulled away from my spinning and weaving to tend to the ebb and flow of the garden.  After all, this is what we’ve been waiting for; the harvest after all this work is upon us. Tomatoes must get picked, eggplant cut from the vine. 

It’s been a very productive year for my tomatoes, eggplant and beans. 

When the harvest comes into full swing from the middle of August until halfway through September, I spend more time with my cookbooks to see all the ways I can use this wonderful bounty.

But all is not lost on the fiber front.  Many of these wonderful vegetables deserve a slow cook.  Once they are in the pot simmering away, I can usually grab a few minutes at the spinning wheel trying to make some headway on a pile of roving.

Life requires balance.  We need time for our food, rest and fiber…oh and work too:)

I spend a lot of time thinking about and figuring out new weaving projects.  I never just throw something on the loom, although I wish I had that skill.  No, I need to figure it out very carefully, so consequently I spend days and days with my thoughts and pencil and paper.  Lately, I’ve been busy spinning up some yarn to use as weft in a project which I will post about later.

But thinking does burn calories no matter what anyone tells you.  And it makes me hungry.  This week, my husband decided we should put some pizza on the grill.  He made his dough and I took care of the toppings.  The result was a little rough around the edges visually, but taste is what matters, right?  It was great.

We still have to perfect the action of placing the dough on the grill and stretching it out without getting third degree burns.  One solution would be to make smaller pizzas; the other making the fire a little lower. I’ll keep you posted on further efforts.

Our weather at the turn of the seasons tends to go from fairly cold to steaming hot. So when the weekend turned into the 80s, I had to scramble to put together a grilled meal.  A whole chicken did the trick as I grilled my inaugural beer can chicken.

I’ve got a handy little chicken holder I got from Weber just for this purpose. 

Then I saw a posting on New York Times food writer Mark Bittman’s site about grilled vegetables and I cut them up, tossed them with oil, put them on the heat and voila; dinner was served.  That’s baby bok choy on the plate; I had never tried grilling that before.

This is a great season for cooking.  Grilling keeps the heat out of the house on those warm summer-like nights.  I look forward to more as we head into June.

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