zucchini medallions with chard and sweet corn

I. LOVE. SUMMER. COOKING.

This whole meal (save the lemon) is so fresh and so local, I could eat it a million times. But there are too many other amazing things to eat!

And there is just so much joy to be found in preparing a seasonal, local meal. So I’ll tell you a little about what I did, and you can play from there with your own creations!

1. Bring a deep pot of water to a boil with 2-3 ears of corn.

2. While the water heats up, slice onions, and fry until translucent. Add two sliced zucchinis, and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Begin a browned butter sauce (about 4 tbsp) in another pan. Add fresh minced garlic, green onions, and parsley, coarsely chopped.

3. Chop rainbow or swiss chard into ribbons. Briefly (30-60 seconds!) saute chard in the brown butter sauce and remove from heat. Remove cooked corn from water, slice the corn from the cob and add to chard mixture.

4. Spoon zucchini medallions and onions on to a plate. Top with chard mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Prep time: 30 minutes. Serves two hungry adults.

Advertisements

sparkle summer sun

It’s that wonderful time of year again when the heat is so unbearable, the air so heavy with dew, that the best thing to do is spend as much time as possible at the lake. This year, I had the pleasure of hosting a ladies’ weekend at my parentscabin in Bone Lake, Wisconsin.

There is a special joy to going up to the lake cabin in summertime. Something about it makes us kid-like again, encouraging cannonballs, overeating of junk food, and irresponsible sun protective behaviors. The heat, the humidity, the thunderstorms, the sparkle of sun on the lake, the loon calls… they come together to create a world that feels like nothing in this world has changed or ever will. And now, as I’m closing in on my 29th birthday, I more than ever appreciate fresh reminders of childhood, making it feel like I only left it behind the last corner I turned.

On the lake, the water is big, the sky is big, the weather is big, and our laughter is big. The world feels so expansive, even contained only to the horizon around us.

Cabin food has always been delicious, but grown-up tastebuds mean we get to enjoy grilled pizza, chocolate cake made richer with coffee, and of course, the occasional adult beverage.

Do you have a special lake in your life?


cheesemaking and cute kitties

One day, many moons ago, I went over to my friend Barb’s house to make cheese. (Who else can tell that I’m catching up on my blogging? ;)) (And yes, that is the same Barb as from the beautiful wedding in Colorado!)We had a grand old time, making a soft, smooth ricotta and an herby, squeaky mozz. Mind if I share some photos with you, then?

Me, stirring away...

Pouring...

And straining...

The ricotta, just hangin out

Some herby mozzarella, pre-stretching

All that time that we were stirring and stretching the yet-to-be-cheese, my heart was being stolen bit by bit by the handsome Mr. Ivan, Barb’s cat. Isn’t he a looker?!

Ivan the handsome

And ultimately, Barb, Ivan and I sat down to a lovely cheese plate at the end of the evening. Yum!


wisconsin goodies

our friend leslie came to visit last weekend, and she brought us some delicious goodies from her home in viroqua, wisconsin: homemade ramp pesto and new glarus beer. since lately all i seem to be good for is taking pictures of food, it seemed appropriate to honor her gift with an homage to the culinary delicacies of wisconsin.

a few days ago i had made some ricotta cheese with another friend (blog post to come, don’t worry!) and added it to the pasta we made with leslie’s pesto. it. was. delicious.

and perhaps brian’s favorite part of the meal, leslie also gave us new glarus honey bock, which apparently you can’t buy in minnesota (and only buy in wisconsin?). delicacies indeed! thank you, leslie!!


powerless muffins

as i write this post, i have some muffins in the oven: muffins i’m sure are going to turn out too hard, too dense, not sweet enough, not nutritious enough… i’m on a health kick lately, so they’re whole wheat-oat bran-blueberry-walnut-coconut muffins. there’s not actual sugar in them (except what you find in applesauce). there’s no butter or oil in them (except what you find in peanut butter).

you see, it seems that when i can’t solve the problems i face in my job — curing injustice, or righting inequity, or (duh) discovering the answer to world peace — i turn to cooking, to gardening, to things that make me happy in a very immediate sense. thus, my ridiculously healthy, hopefully delicious, but probably imperfect muffins.

the muffins are still in the oven, and i just checked on them, sticking a fork in the middle of one. they weren’t  fully baked, and some moist not-quite-cooked muffin came out on the fork… so i tasted it. BE WARNED: these are not muffins for those who like their muffins sweet. this are some hard-ass, super bran-y muffins.

i began by combining the dry ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat flour, half cup oats, half cut wheat bran, half cup coconut flakes, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp nutmeg (or cinnamon), 1/2 tsp salt.

then, i combined in a separate bowl the wet ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 and a half tbsp greek yogurt, 1 cup applesauce, half cup peanut butter. (by the way, by now i know i also know i should have added about another half cup of milk or so, probably some more sweetener, and about a tsp of baking soda).

adding a half cup each of (frozen) blueberries and walnuts, i mixed together the wet and dry ingredients.

i spooned the batter into twelve greased muffin tins (i used canola oil spray), and baked them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit.

actually, these didn’t turn out nearly as poorly as i thought. if you warm one up, and smother a little butter on it, you have a hearty meal for the morning, even if it’s not as sweet as i wish it were. (probably that’s for the best!)

i suppose that there’s something satisfying to creating for myself an (even imperfect) muffin, when i feel so powerless in the face of so many things i feel i can’t change. minnesota right now is going up against some pretty ugly legislation(s?), from eliminating general assistance for the poorest, disabled single adults in our state, to enshrining hateful, bigoted discrimination in our constitution (though what other kind of discrimination is there?). i know many of my friends and colleagues would encourage me to not lose heart… and i won’t… but.

but there are times that what i need is to resort to activities where the result is predictable, and even when i fail, i’m not letting down anyone else when i do so. i love to cook and to bake, because i get to be creative. but when my creativity sucks, at least the only person who suffers the consequences are myself (or perhaps B, and he doesn’t mind).

feel free to try your own version of these muffins. and if you get a better version, leave it in the comments below!

finally: DON’T FORGET to let your elected officials know how you feel, about the issues i mentioned above, and about anything else that’s important to you. for the sake of my sanity, please, use your intelligent and  thoughtful voices for good.


and the gift goes kablooie

B and I thought we were being really cute a few weeks ago when we gave our friend this great birthday present. Our friend Val was turning 30, you see, which is about time a person needs to start bringing home the bacon.

so B had like, this fabulous idea. “let’s infuse BOURBON with BACON!” he said. a perfect gift for a friend we love to party with, and also a friend who will shortly, no doubt, begin bringing home bacon like it’s nobody’s business. (she being a future doctor and everything.)

so we got down to business. all one needs to do to infuse bacon into said bourbon is fry bacon, pour bacon fat into a bowl, let it cool, pour said fat into a (poreless) container with the bourbon, let it sit for a while (say 4-6 hours?), stick in the freezer until the fat hardens, remove fat, strain bourbon. that was easy enough. plus, we combined our mad bourbon-infusing skills with my endless lust for crafting and projects, and you get pretty things like what you’re witnessing now.

BUT.

but, there was a problem.

we gave the bourbon to val. all was lovely, and well-received. and then later that night, after she and her hubby brought the bottle home, it exploded.

that’s right, it exploded. as in: KABLOOIE!

what a sad gift.

but at least we got something out of it:

bacon-walnut broccoli rabe. yum.

sorry, val. happy birthday.


autumn apple bread

I had a hankering to make some bread this evening, and an overabundance of apples. The result? This amazing bread! I haven’t baked bread in SO long, but it came out so soft and moist. I’m very happy with the results.

Every time I bake, it reminds me of my Grandma Kelly, who taught me to knead and punch down the dough. So I took the pictures of this loaf in front of the kitchen canisters I inherited from her.

Whenever life gets a little stressful, it seems, I always return to baking. The recent elections kind of threw me for a loop, but I’ve rebounded. Still, no amount of mental acrobatics or logistical justification can match the satisfaction of a long-awaited, slow-to-rise, well-kneaded, warm, fragrant loaf of homemade bread. Did someone say comfort food?