A twist on an old tradition

Every holiday season, my Grandma makes the same delicious meals. It is tradition after all.  Every year, I drool over the smell of of her version of “Pigs in Blankets”. Don’t let them get confused with the hotdog/pancake imposters, but rather the zesty, hearty cabbage rolls made of magic and covered in Sauerkraut.  Now, there is one giant problem for me. I don’t eat pork. Its like I am missing out on a pot of gold every year.  So instead of stuffing myself with her traditional creamed potatoes and appetizers in regret of my no-pork diet, I took matters into my own hands to make a new version “Birds in Blankets”. Recipe Below of course.

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Here is what I used:

1 lb of Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey

2 cups of Brown Rice

2 tbsp of seasonings (I used generic Italian, Garlic and Onion Powder)

1 Jar Homemade Sauerkraut (equivalent of 3 cans store bought)

1 Package of Italian Chicken Sausage (precooked)

Instructions:

1. Steam your Cabbage until soft and plyable (this may take a couple steams after the first few peels)

2. Peel into large petals and set aside

3. Mix ground turkey, rice, and seasonings together in a big bowl

4 Lay the cabbage out flat, and spoon 1/4 cup of the ground turkey mixture in the middle of the leaf

5. Roll the cabbage from the bottom and sides, and carefully place into a casserole dish

6. When the casserole dish is full (about 14 rolls), slice your sausages in half, line the edge of the dish

7. Cover the entire dish with the Sauerkraut and cover with foil.

8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for 90 minutes.

9. Serve and Enjoy

Tastes of Fall

Figs. Why is it, the fall calls for figs? I searched my local stores for these delicious little delicacies without success, until my brain finally calculated the most likely location to find these little sweets.  The Olympia Co-Op to the rescue! Even as a member of the co-op, I still forget to go there first. While on my search, I stopped by another favorite produce and local food stop- Spud’s Produce Market, and found persimmons.  I can’t say that I have ever cooked with persimmons, but hey, there is a first time for everything and they just stood out in all of their golden orange beauty.  I have my usual produce haul in the fridge, and had some pears that begged to be used.  So enter my first attempt at a baked fruit tart. Beautiful, not so much. Delicious, absolutely.  Recipe at bottom (excuse the blurry photos as the recipe goes on… wine may have been involved…)

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Ingredients:

1 Cup of Flour

1 Stick of Butter

2 Pears

1 Persimmon

4 Figs

A drizzle of Honey

How To:

Start by slicing your chilled butter into the flour, taking time to pinch it in on a cool surface.  This keeps the “dough” cold.  Keep combining using your fingers, until all flour and butter are together.  Roll into a ball, place between wax or parchment paper and roll out.  Place in the fridge to keep cool.

Slice your fruit into thin, long strips.  I chose to use more pears and persimmons to keep a texture that is more firm. Slice figs in half. Set aside.

Take dough from the fridge, press into a tart pan. I chose my porcelain version, but it might be better to get a removable bottom tart pan if you’re feeling fancy.  Once dough is flattened to bottom and partially up the sides, place the fruit on in a pretty pattern.  I used extra figs and honey to create a glaze in a pan on medium heat. Preheat your oven to 425. I drizzled honey mixture on top and placed it into the oven.  Baked for about 40 minutes.  Cool, serve, eat.

From Portland West to Portland East

I needed a vacation. Like get away and discover something new- relax, sleep, and unplug kind of vacation.  I found myself driving to Portland Oregon to hop a plane east to Boston, Massachusetts.

I’ve been to Boston a few times over the last few years. It is the home of the tea party, the Red Sox, Paul Revere, and of course my best friend.  Knowing that she was a worker bee during the week, I opted for adventure and took a train to Portland, Maine.

I am so glad that I did- I found the town to be charming, friendly, and diverse.

Amtrak made it almost too easy to get there via the Downeaster. On my walk into town from the train, I found the Inn at St. James which provided lovely accommodations last minute for a heck of a deal.

I wandered through town, finding little gems around town, and more specifically in Old Port including places like Motifs,  Portland Dry Goods, and Toko Indo.

I snacked at the Salt Exchange for a watermelon & feta salad, Bam Bam Bakery, for a latte and the world’s gooiest macaroon,  and indulged in many beers and an authentic Lobster Roll at Boone’s on the 2nd floor deck. Evening indulgence was furthered with a cup of chowder at  Eventide and the most decadent scoop of hazelnut chocolate gelato at the Gelato Fiasco. Needless to say, it was a food lover’s paradise.

I walked every calorie off going up and down THE hill several times back to the inn and walking the Eastern Promenade.

Even with so much time walking, I certainly didn’t take a lot of photos. I think that was the point for me- I wanted some time to just unwind. Here are the few I managed to capture.

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Suburban Homesteading

Although I’ve grown fond of my current home, I don’t quite belong in the suburban area of Olympia. I am naturally drawn to the extremes of a big city or small town.  Lately, it’s definitely been on the smaller side of things. This is best demonstrated when I use my spare time to do a little homesteading. This can be anywhere from using local flora for decor, or making preserves from local bounties.

After a trip to my Gram’s orchard, I found myself with two large crates of our family pears amongst apples and Italian prunes.  In hopes of avoiding waste (and fruit flies), I took to the kitchen with mason jars and some patience. Pears were 1st.

The method is so simple:

Wash & Rinse

Cut pears in half

Remove the core

Peel and chunk

Add a squeeze of local honey and lemon juice in the bottom of each jar

Add the pears with some hot water

And finish in a water bath to seal

No unnatural additives, just pure, sweet home pears.

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At the Coast

There’s this summer song that comes to mind when I get a chance to hear waves while I sit in the sunshine. It’s by The Avett Brothers– appropriately named ” At the Beach.”

I was fortunate enough to enjoy the sand, the wind, and the sunsets of Washington’s Long Beach for a few days last week.  My day-time hours were filled with a lot of day-job work, but the evenings were filled with free time and the chance to explore. I hiked around Cape Disappointment to feast my eyes on Washington’s best lighthouses (that I frankly had no idea existed.)

I splurged on delicious seafood and local brew, thanks to the sunny beach-side view of The Pickled Fish, and walked for miles up and down the sand playing with every dog that passed. I browsed and chatted at the adorable Wooden Horse gift shop and had the best roasted almonds of my life during an evening walk on the beach.  I missed most of the Kite Festivities from getting out after 5:30, but the beach by itself was just the therapy I needed.

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Garden Pesto Pasta

Our garden is overflowing this year, but of only with a few things at a time.  Each week has brought a new bounty from the containers.  I had a lot of basil this week. Basil=Pesto in my mind (that is, when I don’t have fresh mozzarella cheese).

Our tomatoes aren’t quite ready, so I opted for the local baby heirlooms around.

With these ingredients, my stomach was begging for pasta. Recipe is included below:
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Here is what you’ll need:

2 handfuls of basil

About a 1/4 olive oil

4 cloves of garlic

veggies of any kind, I chose tomatoes and zucchini

a little of the “shaky parmesan cheese”

 

Here is the Garden Pesto Pasta Recipe- it is super scientific:

Add basil, garlic, cheese, and olive oil to the food processor, or blender in my case, and blend until only small flecks of basil are floating around in there.

Next, cut your veggies, I used about 12 baby tomatoes and a few large slices of zucchini. Place on a cooking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil and salt, roast in the oven for a few minutes.  In that time, cook about two cups of pasta. I like firm pasta, so I chose bowtie.

First layer pasta, then veggies, then pesto, and a little more cheese.

This is a perfect meal or a great side dish in the summer if you have an incredible amount of basil, tomatoes, and zucchini.

 

 

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

Of course, after a trip to the local blueberry field,  its natural to have the urge to make jam. How else would I use fresh local berries? Smoothies, berry salads, and pancakes will only get a girl so far.

I had a full rhubarb plant in the garden this year, so I thought I would throw it in the mix.

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Blueberries

1 Cup Rhubarb

1 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Honey (you can substitute for package of pectin)

2 Limes (Juice only)

Directions:

Start by adding sugar to rhubarb, let sit for 2 hours.

On medium heat, add honey, rhubarb/sugar mixture and heat until sugar is dissolved.

Squeeze in lime juice.

Bring to low boil, cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, skim any foam and pour into clean jars.

Set with a water bath, allow to rest on a room temperature counter top.

This recipe made about 10, 4 oz jars of jam.

Share and Enjoy.

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