Step by step

From reports on Rome to winter dance performances, January was truly a jumble of fullness. I’ve been working on vegan recipes to add to our menu so there has been a bit of a scramble in the kitchen too. So far I feel confident in a new chocolate mousse made with coconut milk and deep, dark chocolate. I think the vegan crowd will consider it acceptable. I am now onto more savory options. As much as I eat meat, when I go out to dinner I notice I rarely will choose a meat option unless I trust where the meat is coming from and feel comfortable with how clean the kitchen is that it will be prepared in.  We will only be serving the most amazing meats, and our kitchen will be kept very clean, but I really do feel we need more vegan and vegetarian options. My husband keeps mentioning it as well. So right now that is on my mind, along with OLCC licensing paperwork, the bar top order (more on that next post) and all the little things that fall in-between.

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vegan mousse

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Even though we are still a good month out, spring has been peeking its bright head around the corner, and as you can see I have a stack of books that would make a bookworm proud. Though my ability to read through it may make them cringe, but hey there is no deadline . . .

 

Hope everyone is well! Happy February!

 

Cheers~

Marica

New Year’s Eve and a cheese ball recipe…

I was first introduced to cheese balls by my dear, dear friend Lauren. Her mother always made them during the holidays, and one year she brought one over to our house. It was a magical affair that left me deeply in love with cheese balls.

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This year I decided to attempt to make my own. I knew it was supposed to be simple, but when I looked up “cheese ball” on the internet, I couldn’t believe just how simple.

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I chose smoked cheddar, parmesan and neufchâtel cheese, because I really like bold flavors and wanted the cheese ball to have a kick.

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I rolled it in slivers of almonds. My husband recommended I toast them first, and I’m so glad as it gave them more flavor as well as a fresher texture. 

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I’m excited because this is just the first door to cheese balls. . . I have so many more ideas percolating in my head; tarragon, lemon zest, and goat cheese. . . habanero, cumin and tequila… It’s going to be fun!

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NEW YEAR CHEESE BALL RECIPE:

Mix well:

8 oz Neufchâtel cheese or cream cheese at room temperature. 

1 cup smoked cheddar or gouda grated

1/2 cup parmesan  grated

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon summer savory

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a warm pan lightly toast:

1/2 cup almond slivers

Roll the cheese ball in the almond slivers and then refrigerate until use.

 

Hope you all had a happy new year!

 

                                       Cheers ~

                                                                     Marica

A kitchen that is almost done…

As per my usual way of doing things, I decided to fix our kitchen midst every other golly gosh thing going on—more on that soon. So here are some pictures of the before and almost after. I say almost because there are a few more steps in place before it becomes a finished ordeal. We are at a reasonable stopping place, but not a done spot.

I had this incredible helper who dug in with both hands. It was such a pleasure to work with him!

He got this picture of me proving my ever-lasting strength!
But true credit goes to the crowbar. Without a crowbar it would have been impossible…

This here is our new baby stove. Just in time to cook Christmas dinner too!

Happy Holidays!
                Marica

Birthday Dinner

Refrigerator Pickles… a recipe

 I absolutely LOVE when it is pickle making time of year. I am not—yet—the best preserver when it comes to “putting by for winter” though ever since I was a child it has been a dreamy idea to me. I always pep myself that this will be the year. THE YEAR where I start a pantry of all I grew and canned and dried and all the rest of the fanciful notions that seem attainable when the short days and cold weather make it just story book enough to feel possible. As a child I would often play house and would spend uncountable hours foraging for mazanita berries and wild cherries; storing up good food for when the blizzards hit. We lived in Southern California.
Anyway, what follows is the pickle recipe that does get used in my kitchen. Maybe when my hair is white and I finally get to wear the muumuus I so intend to eventually wear, I will have more tried and true recipes for preserving summer’s harvest.

 

 

Refrigerator Pickles 
In a very clean 1 gallon jar place a washed strand of fresh dill weed.
If you don’t have fresh use a tablespoon of dried.
Add roughly 4 lb. pickling cucumbers washed (they are all over at the farmers market right now)
4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup salt
1 + 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole allspice
a few cloves
6-8 cups water or until jar is full.
optional: pepper flakes or a couple fresh hot peppers,
fresh strand tarragon. 
Cover with wax paper and fasten with string or a rubber band.

Let sit out for two days, out of direct sunlight, then refrigerate for up to two months.

Recipe is re posted from this post. 

Cheers ~
Marica

Making Raspeberry Freezer Jam

After being given several flats worth of almost over-the-hill raspberries, I made it my afternoons work to make a stock pile of freezer jam. (Freezer jam is real jam, it is just skipping the step of processing it in heat and instead using a freezer to preserve the jam and keep it safe to eat.)
freezer, raspberries, jam, homemade jam
 The nice part of making freezer jam rather than canning, is that it is fast and less messy. If you are worried you won’t have the time to can a bunch of jam this can be a fabulous substitute.
freezer, preserving food, raspberries, recipes for freezer jam
 I usually follow the rule of thumb to use equal parts fruit and sugar. I don’t typically add pectin, which means the jam will be a bit sloppy, but I like it that way. Simmer down the fruit and sugar for at least 20 minutes; though you can go a little longer and the jam will become thicker. I sometimes add a dash of spice or orange zest. My favorite spices to use are cardamom, nutmeg or allspice though cinnamon is a good one too. Depending on the fruit and how juicy it is, you may need to add a splash of water to avoid burning the bottom of the pot. Note, too much will make soupy jam that doesn’t hold at all. 
Pour the jam into clean mason jars leaving half an inch of head-room. Twist on the cover and let cool. Place the unopened jars in your freezer and keep opened jam jars for use in the fridge.
The jam will last quite a while. I looked up specifics and this link said up to a year in a freezer and once thawed about 3-4 weeks.
Hope summer is wrapping up well for everyone!
                                                        Cheers ~
                                                                   Marica

 

Ginger Love (and a recipe for how to make sweet pickled ginger at home)

I am a ginger devotee. It is probably one of my most favorite ingredients to eat or cook with. At Japanese restaurants there is never enough pickled ginger on my plate and I am willing to endure the hollow, sour feeling in my stomach that comes free eating far too much pickled food in one seating. Oddly, I have never attempted to make my own pickled ginger. Today, however is a new day, and guess what, I made what will now most likely become a staple in my kitchen—pickled ginger! 
What brought it all to the forefront was a batch of fast pickled radishes I put together at the food truck yesterday. I was needing a little salad pizazz and had a small bin full of fresh pink radishes (I’ll actually give you all that recipe another time, once I figure out the precise proportions to use.) Either way, yesterday evening I was too tired to bother with ginger but my mind was already running with ginger thoughts and laughing at the idea I had never before even tried to make my own fast pickled ginger. Well today it was my priority. Between biscuits and omelets, pies and ice tea, I shuffled aside some time for ginger experimentation. 
The result is utterly satisfying. After eight hours of soaking, the pickles are fantastic; bright, extremely potent, sweet and with a true bite. I will bet tomorrow and even the day after, they will have come to terms with their fate and settled down to a somewhat milder delivery of their pickled ginger charm.  <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} –>

ginger

ginger, pickling, sweet pickled ginger, Japanese style pickled ginger
Pickled Ginger Recipe
First wash and peel your ginger then slice very thinly until you have about one cup. I used a peeler, but a cheese slicer could work as well. Be sure to follow the grain or the ginger will be rougher in texture. Also note, the ginger gets more stringy as it gets closer to the center so optimally just use the outer portion for this recipe. Place the ginger in a bowl and mix with the following ingredients and then let sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours: 
1+1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
Please enjoy and let me know how they come out!
                                                        ~Marica

December December, tea time and soon a break…

Blink, is it gone yet? No, but that’s how December is feeling. School is out, I’ve closed the pie truck for a week and now I’m ready for a calm. But wait, first a tea party. Last year my daughter and I held an afternoon tea for her friends and their mamas just before Christmas. I’m sure I have stated elsewhere in this blog—probably too many times—how much I love tea and baking. Somehow when you add those two together it’s hard to get anything but tea party.

                                  Hope everyone is going to get a bit of rest!
                                                          Cheers ~
                                                              Marica

Vegan Banana Muffins Recipe

I have a real soft spot for banana muffins. These particular muffins are yummy and yet still a tiny bit healthy. I often make a batch at the pie truck and then bring them home at the end of the day for my kiddos—They love when I bring treats. These days it’s hard to keep my fifteen-year-old from eating us out of house and home. Seriously! As an added piece—so you can get in the mind of a crazy pie-maker/mother/obsesser-of-story-books—I have an old love affair with the Betsy Tacy and Tib books. I read each and every one multiple times as a child, and to be truthful, I even read some of her later books not so very long ago. Either way, in the stories the house keeper/cook always makes the family muffins on their first day back to school. I found this tradition so romantic. Every time I make my children muffins I think of Betsy and her family and the simple tradition that somehow has made a lasting impression on me. Silly as it sounds, I feel like these are the things that matter. These bits and pieces are what keeps us inspired, warm and decent people in a very complicated world.
vegan, baking, recipes, muffins, banana, healthy

VEGAN BANANA MUFFINS
In a large bowl mix:
3 ripe bananas 
1 cup orange juice 
1/2 cup grape seed oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
In a separate bowl sift together:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix both sets of ingredients together. Pour into an oiled muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and then rotate the the pan and bake for another 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

                                                                    Cheers ~
                                                                                Marica

And a million pies later…

This was a good week. A long week, but good in so many ways. Firstly, I felt in tune with the pie truckand that is a must to feeling good. Sometimes the inside me doesn’t align properly with the tasks the world is requiring which certainly causes a lousy battle.  I find that when I feel as if I am playing, I am most at ease. It is a constant wonder in my mind if I am completely loopy, partially loopy, or if most people “play” when they are doing their best work. I hope some of you understand what I mean, because alas, it would be unfortunate to find I am the only one…

Secondly, this week I completed a project so huge and satisfying that my soul doesn’t know how to withstand the comfort in having it done. I keep wanting to go back, tweak this, adjust that, yet there is nothing necessary to tweak or adjust. The project is done, at least for this stretch of the road. I am not going to be so thoughtful as to include you all in what the project is, I am not being coy or sassy, it is just that it needs to be kept unrevealed at this time. (Is unrevealed a word? My computer doesn’t seem to think so). I will however say it is a book project, so no one will start believing that I built a house from ice blocks or sculpted a goddess in a giant boulder. 
Lastly, I managed to have my children clean the housejust enough<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} –>that my “weekend” was not fiddling with dishes, washing floors and scrubbing toilets. I’ll admit, I did do all of those things; wash dishes, clean floors and scrub toilets, but they were all minimal versions of what would usually be defined as major cleaning. I am so thankful.

Oh, and on a simple, minor note of satisfaction, I bought a small wood-desk at Goodwill. I thought it was for my daughter’s room, but my husband reminded my what a stack of things would gather on it in oh so short a timeand he is rightit will be of so much more use downstairs as a wee work spot for me. Now here I sit, so professional, writing this and feeling quite complete with my forearms resting appropriately as I type. What a lucky trick for me, guiltlessly buying something for someone else, and then reaping the benefit of its luxury.
Well, that just about does it.
All my best to Everyone!
                                                           Cheers ~
                                                                 Marica