Time spent in the garden and kitchen is not time wasted; the essence of quality is attained through toil, not technology.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Financiers, Finley & spring.....

We have Brangus cows on our little ranch in Mckinney, Texas, and spring is always exciting with the new calves.   Finley was quite unusual, because he was born red with black markings and the Brangus are usually born black.   I had decided to bake my financiers early this week and actually get ahead of my game (which would be a departure for me).  But my mind had been uneasy for several days with the observation that Finley simply was not thriving, despite his Mom's best efforts.  Now, one of the admired characteristics of the Brangus breed is that the heifers (females of breeding age) are fierce and formidable "baby mamas".
So I commence with this relatively simple recipe, between running out to the pasture to check on the baby.  By late afternoon, as the financiers are chilling themselves in the fridge, I confirm that this little red calf is in serious trouble.   Of course, my husband had gone into town for his weekly card game with the guys, and, Gary (our cow expert & caretaker) was nowhere to be found!
I am very tenderhearted about our livestock, despite my best efforts to be a tough cowgirl!
And, damn it all, the weather was turning cold and nasty- one of our Texas spring squalls for sure.

Let me insert here that, yes, I did get the financiers baked- as a matter of fact, they were a great diversion for me that evening and satisfied my hunger when dinner was put on the back burner.

My husband and I ended up bringing Finley into the laundry room & blanketing him to try to warm him back up and get some milk in his little belly.   And, in a most heartwarming fashion- Bentley, one of my male Dachshunds,  took over guardianship of this sick baby and stayed by him all night & the next day!
I wish I had a happy ending, but we lost Finley yesterday- he just simply could not gain his strength.....

Of course,  this is the hard part of raising livestock, and we are reminded, that even on beautiful spring days when new life buds out & births itself,  shadows and cold will sometimes steal into the pasture and bring sadness.
 Oh, yes, butter!
 My brown butter is speckled??

 A bitty apple chunk & a dab of cinnamon on top
Little and tasty treats.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

FFWD- Long Slow Apples

"Lord, please remind me not to start a Dorie recipe on a morning when I am pressed for time and have an appointment, thank you."
And to relate this story, I have to tell you about the bread, also.   Today was my sourdough bread baking day, and I prepared the starter last night.   I will just get that kneaded first and then do the apples.  Hop out of bed, get the coffee started, feed the dogs and run around doing little chores.
Big oops, I neglected to put the coffee filter in, and, of course, it oozes all over the floor.   My cat loves it when I do that, she just primly sits there and watches it drip everywhere- it totally fascinates her while it drives me bananas!   My sweet husband helps me clean that disaster up- now I am in a bit of a tizzy.

On with the bread- with the slight humidity of today- the dough is sticky and clings to me, the mixer and everything else.  Put in a little extra cleaning time there, ditto.   But it's done and in to rise.

Peel, core, cut- get out food processor to cut them thin- butter little cups; yikes, I better cut out that parchment paper (damn it that stuff never stays flat!).    Don't forget the sugar mixture & let's chop up some sugared orange peel to go on there.   Oh, gee, I am running late!
New Breville food processor- why the heck won't it fit properly; what am I doing wrong??  Crack, out flies a chip from under the bowl!   Ok, just took the new off that one, huh?    Luckily, it still works and we forge ahead and manage to get some lovely thin apple slices.
 This recipe took a long time...
 Prepped for the baking
 Love it when that coffee goes everywhere!!
 Was it worth it?
Take your time and place them in nice layers in the bowls- now butter, sprinkle & do it all again.  Oh, dear- look at the time.....throw them in the ramekins, toss on the sugar, cover them up in a flash and into that preheated oven.   Minutes to spare; I am out the door.
Later in the afternoon,  I have the finished beautifully scented apples, and you know what, they are, as Dorie promised, quite simply divine.
Please head over to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1415 and view all of the bakers' posts.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Herb speckled spaetzle

Howdy, Doristas- I have missed you girls & guys, but I am ready to jump back into some Dorie cooking action!  Hope everyone survived & enjoyed their holidays and has a grand start on 2013.

Just a few short notes on this first recipe for January (why oh why did it have to be my re-entry choice?)   Let me say I am a huge believer in multi-tasking implements in the kitchen;  BUT buy the damn spaetzle maker....holy moley, what a mess trying to urge this dough through an ordinary grater!  Am I just a klutz or did anyone else have difficulty?  I really thought I was going to have to throw that grater away, when I attempted to clean it....when I have to resort to toothpick cleaning of the dishes after dinner; well, let's just say No.  I am not even mentioning the cleaning of the stove or various other pieces of equipment.
Mom; what is that stuff?

1st ever attempt at spaetzle-scary, huh?
How I adore my fresh farm eggs!

So, anyway, it was just OK in flavor- I did it, it was not pretty and will probably not be repeated.
To see the other adventures (or misadventures) of my Dorista friends, please link to:

Friday, September 21, 2012


 Nothing better....
 Chop, chop & then slice!
 Call me when this is done.
 Oh my- nap time for me.

"In the Basque style"- I like the way that sounds.....

Well, the jury is still out on this one- um, it was ok, pretty good; very good? and my DH seemed to heartily enjoy it for supper.   You see, I sometimes use this summary ratio of time spent in preparation compared to the 1-10 scale for the finished dish.   I must have chopped for a solid hour (understand though that I do consider chopping and slicing foods as rather relaxing & always a certifiable practice of knife skills).   And the finished rainbow array of veggies on the cutting board was most rewarding.
I had purchased a nice organic chicken that my husband cut up (no,no; I do not cut up chickens!) for me, and then it soaked in a mild salt/sugar brine for several hours.  This has become a required step to our chicken recipes now, whether we are grilling out or however.
The pepper/onion/spices went together well & smelled wonderful.  After simmering a while, I also just let it sit & absorb amongst itself while the chicken soaked.   Then I proceeded with Dorie’s simple instructions for the rest of the recipe.   I did modify on my wine; all I had available was a sorta disliked bottle of white zin that I had picked up God knows where- too sweet, yecch.   So I added a little balsamic vinegar & chicken glace stock along with a smaller portion of the wine- the sauce was tasty.
The only other small hurdle was my “raised in the South” dispensation to fry that chicken up with a beautiful crunchy brown crust when it went into the frying pan.   But I held off and did as directed.....ho hum.
My sweet husband prepared a perfect pot of rice; another thing I gave up on- it always ended up a sticky, gummy, stuck to the pan kinda thing.
I suppose I give it a 7, maybe a 7+?    Was it worth all the time & prep work?? What do the rest of the Dorista ladies and gentlemen think?
Please link to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1225 and read more delicious renditions of this recipe.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FFWD- Spice Poached apples

 Have to admit when I first read over this recipe; I had visions of that awful fruit mixture that used to get passed around & you would stir & add more fruit....I can’t say, perhaps it was only prepared here in Texas, but, yuk!
Anyway,  decided to give it a whirl- any recipe with vanilla beans & star anise has to be worth it. I went with one apple & some nectarines and pluots that needed a mission.
The sauce was quite tasty and it made a pretty little dessert  for our dinner.   My only question was that the sauce needed much longer to reduce & it did not seem  thick enough.  Guess I could have doctored it up, but the taste was yummy! To see how our other marvelous cooks fared please link to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1201.

 How I love my copper pot!
 Getting started.
 Oh, so pretty....
 Juicy for sure
Too busy hunting squirrels to cook!

Friday, May 18, 2012

FFWD- Double Choc. & Banana Tart

Wow, does that name say it all? Even for me, a pretty hardcore chocolate addict- it was a real contention.
After making several of these recipes with the choc. crust tart & enhanced choc. fillings- decision reached to use one or the other, not both.
And what the heck happened to my ganache?? It sounded simple, but there was a snafu (could it have been because I did not have enough bittersweet choc. & had to sub in the cocoa/oil mixture??)  Yowser, just take a gander at this picture- butter & oil oozing everywhere- a relative gusher.....
Moving on to the banana mixture- did those directions really mean 1/8 inch slices?  My lovely little diagonal banana pieces simply melted in the butter/sugar caramel- tasted fine though.   So, yes, in they went on top of the "bonne idea" nutella coated tart (luv that darn stuff). Check.
Finally- this is a beautiful tart; best enjoyed in demurely sliced pieces & yes- do have that dollop of fresh whipped cream on top!

Please visit the French Fridays with Dorie site to view the other bakers' blogs & experiences with decadent tart baking.   

LYL: double chocolate and banana tart

Wok Wed.- Stir Fried Spinach

It was appreciated that we started out with a simple one- I just love recipes with only 1 or 2 ingredients.
With that being said, I will add that spinach is not my favorite vegetable, but, as I am trying to broaden my palate & eat more healthy- I surged ahead.
My wok was about 6 months old & I could not remember how I had seasoned it, so I started over & used Grace's method from the beginning. It was a fun process & I enjoyed it- the frying of the onions & ginger smelled wonderful; although the 15 min. span did turn them extremely brown.  Since I had to get nervous about something- I then worried if I had scorched the veggies!

Cooking the spinach dish was simple, of course....but led me to the decision to invest in one of the nice Rosle garlic presses that Grace recommends.  I do enough garlic that it will be nice to have- we grow huge stalks of elephant garlic, and I use it liberally.
The spinach stayed bright green in the stir frying & the pinch of salt & sugar was just right. Along with some pork tenderloin, it was a worthy accompaniment for a nice little supper.

Please visit the site http://www.greeneatsblog.com/2012/05/ww-stir-fried-garlic-spinach/ in order to view the other chefs' offerings.