Thursday, October 21, 2010

Apple Crumble Pie

This is relatively quick pie and a real crowd-pleaser. Perfect for fall with the abundance of apples!

1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
5 cups apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (I like the dark brown)
4 Tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of nutmeg

1/3 cup white sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pie ingredients in a bowl. Pour into crust.
2. Mix dry topping ingredients together then cut the butter in till crumbly. Spoon the mixture over the apples.
3. create a ring of foil around the edge of your crust. This keeps it from over browning.
4. Bake for 40 minutes or until apples are soft.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In those days it came to pass....

Yesterday I got lots done. I planted shallots, designed and ordered business cards, ran errands, mowed the farm, and cleaned the house. While yesterday was a productive day, it was a sad one.

Some days are just like that. It was slightly gray and although the rain usually refreshes me, yesterday it just sort of added to this soggy feeling that nipped at my heals all day like an annoying little dog. Once I slowed down enough to really figure out why my feet hurt, that little dog climbed in my lap and stared me straight in the face. Yes, there was no denying that I was sad yesterday. I want you to know (for those of you who are concerned) that I took immediate action. As I drove home I picked up chocolate, a romantic/action comedy, and upon arriving at home I cut a bouquet of lovely purple stachus for my desk.

The odd thing is, my life is better than it has ever been. I am in love with a wonderful man, my kids are the greatest, I have all my needs met, and suddenly hopes and dreams I once had and thought were gone are now possible. So what is there to be sad about?

Sadness is a strange thing. It's very ego-centric (as feelings tend to be). You've got to have some time on your hands, or at least some head space to notice you are sad. Like the quote to the right advises, I have aimed for the moon-- or more accurately, Planet X. From up here there is a lot of space and some distance from my life on planet Earth. In fact, there is a good amount of perspective from up here as I hurtle through space traveling at speeds that I am not accustomed to. Now that the initial rush of lift off has passed, I find myself on the long journey towards planet X. OK, I do not wish to carry this metaphor too far and bore all of you, but it's so quiet, alone in this spaceship and a little lonesome.

I don't think I shall ever see Earth again and maybe that is a little sad, even if Planet X is 10x better. Maybe some of you are feeling like this? You are growing and your future is full of potential, but the space between now and someday is lonesome. Maybe you are excited about all this change, but there is part of you that is sad right now? I decided today that sadness was a good thing. I am letting my sadness drift over my day and through my soul. My sadness helps me detect those things I am holding on to. Many of those things should go. Even as good things pass away, I know that there are new good things around the corner. At the very least my sadness allows me to know what happy is.

So this is a sad entry in my blog. Aren't you happy about that? I mean, reading something that is always happy just isn't "real". On a final note I will say this to those of you who are sad, discontented, disillusioned, or the like: A visit from not so happy emotions brings balance and clarity. In the Old Testament of the Bible it says over and over again, "In those days it came to pass..." This is important to note because things come to pass, not to stay.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Enjoying the Harmony of Life

Our squashes at Heron's Nest Farm are looking great. We were a little late in getting them in, but the fruits have "set" and are getting plumper by the day.

Yesterday we put garlic in and I plan to plant shallots this weekend. I can hear the freshly tilled earth calling to me. The farm seems to beckon me all throughout my day. But the farm is not the only thing beckoning; my children need me as they start the school year, my home needs constant attention, my own yard is in disrepair, I am taking 17 units in 2 weeks, and, and...

It's all a bit foreboding. But yesterday it was so quiet in the field with the soft soil beneath my feet and the birds tweeting. There is an incredible feeling of containment that overwhelms me when I look down the symmetrical rows of tilled earth and plant cloves of garlic in a straight line 6 inches on center. It's incredible the joy of the potential just beneath the surface and the visual splendor of crops fruiting full throttle. Everything seems perfect in those moments and really I want for nothing more. It is as though I can hear the sound of all creation singing in harmony and its melody quashes every worry.

Jesus told us not to worry and when I sit in those moments I understand why. That song I hear is the one of many lives and energies adding their piece/peace to the score. It is never cacophonous unless I fall out of its rhythm. Instead of being present in the moment I drift away to my list of things to do, bills, etc. I essentially check out of reality and the noise in my head drowns out the beauty and synchronicity of resting in perfect love and perfect trust.

That's what I want; to rest in this world nestled with those lives and energies, loving and trusting them. I want to grow in the appreciation of those around me knowing that we are interconnected and that the parts are never greater than the sum. I hope we can all enjoy the symphony and appreciate the notes that are being offered by the people and life in all its forms around us everyday, every way, and in every moment. It's a precious song whose rhythm both shapes us and helps us to contribute our distinct offering of "self".


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Arugala Salad with Beets

8 small beets
5 tbs chives
1/tsp salt
4 tbs olive oil
5 tbs balsamic vinegar
baby arugala
Walnuts to taste

Remove the tops of the beets and set greens aside for another dish (Try Fusilli with Beet Greens). Put in a pot and boil till tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

Once beets are cool remove skins with your fingers; they should come off easily, but you may need to use a pairing knife. Cut beets into healthy bite sized pieces and place in small bowl that fits easily into your fridge. Toss with chives. Add olive oil and toss, then add salt and toss. Finally add balsamic and toss. Cover and chill for an hour (you can do this part up to a day in advance).

Serve on a bed of organic baby arugala. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Serves 6

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We had a dinner party last weekend and I felt it was such a success. Success is such a relative word, and what I mean is that we all have different ideas of what constitutes success.

I had invited 16 people and only 3 came. I had planned 6 dishes and served only 4. I had hoped to buy water goblets for the table, but the week flew by and it never happened. Still we had a great time!

Felice brought a wonderful bottle of red wine, which added to the convivial atmosphere. J showed everyone around the farm while I cooked. There was laughter and romance (I do love romance).

We had set the table outside in the grass. One of the many successes was that we only had a rustic wooden table big enough for 6 people, so I was able to get closer to the Italian dinner I was going for. See, God knew just the right amount of folks to have at our first dinner party! I served Arugula Salad and Beets with a wonderful Fusilli with Beet Greens. I threw together an antipasto with fresh mozzarella and J grilled a lamb roast.

As the evening wore on we sat in the living room with guitars and sang songs together. There were few songs that any of us knew all the way through (with the exception of Felice who should be on one of those shows where you sing the lyrics to songs in various categories). Still, just being together in the living room after breaking bread was wonderful for me. I could feel the abundance of squash and pumpkins cushioning my spirit with their fullness and the warm personalities of the folks attending left me feeling cozy. I could feel the love and that matters so much to me. Yes, I call that success.

How about you? I would love to hear from all of you about a success you recently had, big or small?

Fusilli with Beet Greens and Ricotta

5 tbl Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs butter
4 cloves of garlic
1 small diced shallot or yellow onion
1/3 cup finely sliced sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 red hot pepper seeds removed and minced
2 large bunches of beet greens (stems removed cut into 2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
10 oz fresh ricotta
1 lb fusilli or ghemelli pasta

Put your water on to boil and season water with salt. Prepare all your ingredients while you wait on the water to boil.

Put a large skillet on the stove and get it hot. Add oil and butter. Press you garlic into the pan and saute with onions until translucent. Add hot chile to the pan. I like to add about 1/2 the seeds as well for a mild spice. Add the sun dried tomatoes and saute to release flavors. Turn on very low heat and add your pasta to boiling water to prepare as directed.

Put your ricotta into the bowl you plan to serve your pasta in. This allows it to come to room temp.

Add your beet greens to your skillet and stir until wilted. Take 3 tbl of your boiling pasta water and stir into ricotta. Did you know that this allows the starches in the pasta water to mix with your cheese for instant sauce? Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile add the cream to your skillet and salt and pepper to taste. Add skillet mixture to ricotta and mix. Add pasta, toss, and serve.

Serves 6

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Community is a key to sustainability

We have summer rain!

OK, it's more like a drizzle, but I'll take what I can get.  My window sits open and the sound of drops in a syncopated rhythm is carried in by a cool breeze laden with the smell of summer rain drops on dry soil.  I am waiting for my second wind as tonight I am making chocolate custard pie.

This weekend Jay and I are hosting a dinner party.  I am reading and focusing on Italian cooking this month (recipes forthcoming), so Italian it is.

Europeans really know how to eat.    Food sits in the backseat of American culture for too many of us.  It's such a sad thing!  Good food makes for good times.   Community is built quickly by eating together.  In order to sustain life here on Earth in better ways shouldn't we know one another to sustain one another? Community is a key to sustainability.

We hear about buying local, but I would add, BE local.   Be present with the people around you.  Enlarge your circle of love by reaching out.  I charge you this: make it a point to break bread (or even just coffee) with someone soon.  Remember that hospitality is not a clean house, but the warmth others feel from you upon entering your home.  Don't wait for things to be perfect!

Maybe a dinner party is too overwhelming for you, but there are so many ways to connect in love; we have only to see our world as bigger than ourselves and the list of never-ending tasks before us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Herons Nest Farm Organics: Gathering Heaven

Herons Nest Farm Organics: Gathering Heaven: "The day is coming to a close. I am waiting for my Creme Brulee to finish baking. My journey into farming is just beginning. Jay and I hav..."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Creme Brulee

Don't be intimidated!  This recipe is easy and tastes great.

2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
1/3 cup sugar
5 egg yolks (slightly beaten)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Heat 1/2 and 1/2 gently on low in a saucepan.  Be careful not to burn it. 

While you are heating your 1/2 and 1/2, in a mixing bowl add slightly beaten yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Stir with a whisk until combined.  Once your 1/2 and 1/2 is very hot (almost bubbling) you can begin to add it to the yolk mixture.  Do this in 3 parts, stirring after each addition, until your sugar is dissolved.

Skim off the foam from the mixture using a large spoon. 

Set 6 ramekins in a shallow baking dish.  Pour hot mixture into ramekins.  Make sure to leave about a 1/4 from the top empty.  Next pour VERY HOT water into the baking dish so that the water is about an inch up the sides of the ramekins.  This will help the custard not to burn and cook evenly. (If you spilled a little custard as you were pouring --as I always do-- no worries.)

The above photo is just after removing from the oven.

Bake for 50 minutes at 325.  When a knife is inserted into the custard it should come out almost clean.  Custard will continue to cook after you remove from the oven.  Remove hot ramekins from baking dish.

Chill overnight or at least 4 hours.

For Tops
Sprinkle the tops of your chilled custards (just before serving) with about a teaspoon of sugar.  Using a kitchen torch slowly melt the sugar atop the Creme Brulee.  This may sound intimidating, but once you've tried it you will see how easy it is to do.  The sugar will crystallize and harden from the flame, creating that restaurant finish.