A Little Update

Photo by Shannon Lukens

Photo by Shannon Lukens

I wanted to just do a bit of an update since I haven’t been posting many recipes. Life has become very focused on house hunting (and work, and Bixby). Over the last few months I’ve really honed in on what I am looking for, which doesn’t make it much easier in this crazy market, but at least I’m not wasting everyone’s time looking at every house that comes up. I won’t lie, it’s been discouraging, but in the midst of it, I’ve met some incredible people. One of my clients builds houses and today went out of his way to look at a house I was wavering on, to give me his very expert opinion. I have another client who remodels houses and he’s been offering advice on what to look for, and then there are the myriad of friends who have lent their support and taken time out of their schedules to come look at houses along the way. So, I view it as an adventure and a journey…and the house will find its way to me.

 This is one of my favorite Colorado photographers. Lars Leber.

That being said, I am repelled by my kitchen. I spend as little time in there as possible, which is why I’ve had nothing much new to post. But I hope you’ll stick with me until I can unveil the new kitchen, which I am sure will inspire me to cook again.

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All is not lost though, I am actually working on few recipes for Bixby. One my sister-in-law sent me and another is a way to make some training treats for him and I want to try my hand at homemade biscuits. I’ll share those in a week or so.  Although, I’m a bit leery, because trying to cook for the cats never went over well and they are back on commercial cat food. Because fresh fish is obviously not good enough for them. Little furry hellions.

I also have a couple of nice summer vegetable recipes tucked away and if I can find my inspiration, I might try my hand at them before too long. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up, as I’m finding it difficult to do even the most basic cooking to make sure meals don’t dissolve into revolving takeout.

How about you? How do you cope when you’ve lost your desire to cook even the most basic foods?

Stay tuned, I’m sure things will get interesting… Until then – TaMara

row-of-hearts

Tidbits

DSC_0414 (1600x1060)Nachos!  Sometimes I have a little ground beef left over, not enough for burgers, but plenty for something like this.  I make my own seasoning for taco style meat.DSC_0411 (1600x1060)Mrs J thought Boston cream pie would be nice.  It ended up tasting much better than it looked before the hot  ganache covered covered a few errors.  This is as close a look as I dare to show.  Why is it not called Boston cream cake?  Mystery!DSC02390 (1600x1060)Puppies! Momma dog came to the shelter pregnant and dropped this healthy litter of six.DSC02385 (1600x1060)This pup is named Spicy, and is one of several that were removed from a hoarder.  She seems to be OK but some of her sibs are still shy.DSC_0398 (1600x1060)Hard to beat bbq’d chicken and grilled corn on the cob.DSC_0416 (1600x1060)Not as classic a combo as with grilled cheese but the tuna salad sammy went quite well with the tomato soup.

Suddenly, Cicadas!

DSC_5319 (1600x1060)Cicadas!  One of a myriad that appeared overnight.  They are kind of pretty, fresh out of their old skins.  This one is perched upon a coralbell Mrs J planted last fall after nurturing it all last summer in a container.  Not really looking forward to their singing 24/7, talk about the sounds of summer…DSC_5317 (1600x1060)Once we noticed and started looking we found the empties all over.  These things emerge on a cycle, I’m not sure if these are the 13 year or the 17 year models.DSC_5316 (1600x1060)

Sammich Pr0n – Italian Beef

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Bread Pr0n – Soft Hoagie Rolls

DSC_0389 (1600x1060)I have some Italian beef working for lunch and need proper rolls to put together sandwiches.  These are from that King Arthur bun recipe and I have high hopes for them in this role.  The recipe is for eight buns, I divided it into six parts and the rolls are pretty big.  These are fresh from the oven and just brushed with the melted butter and they smell wonderful!

Friday Recipe Exchange: Cast Iron and Baked Beans

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JeffreyW posted his photo of cast iron baked beans a while back and all I could think was, “great idea, why haven’t I tried that?” I debated between posting about cast iron recipes or baked beans. With Memorial Day coming up fast, it seemed like a good time to bring back a bunch of baked bean recipes.

There was no real cooking in my kitchen this week, I’m uninspired while I house hunt. Luckily, I keep a lot of frozen meals, marinated meats and sauces in my freezer. I double batch much of what I cook and freeze for later. Boil up some fresh pasta or rice and I’ve got a quick meal. But I did get to a Bixby update for the pet lovers, he’s relaxin’ and chillin’ for your amusement here.

On to the recipes:

I like linking to JeffreyW’s recipes (rather than embedding them in the post) because he writes a narrative of the process instead of simply listing the recipe and often includes a batch of photos to illustrate. His Cast Iron Baked Beans recipe (click here) is no exception. It would silly to abridge it here.

I had these baked beans at a cookout and absolutely needed the recipe. Turns out it is just a few ingredients that spices up a simple can of baked beans and adds a touch of sweet, too.  Nita’s Baked Beans, recipe here.

If baked beans aren’t your thing, how about Butter Beans and Greens (recipe here), since in many backyard gardens, the collards, mustard greens and spinach should be ready for spring harvest.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Do you have a dish that everyone asks for the recipe when you take it to gatherings? And do you give it out? Have any dishes you had to have the recipe after tasting it at a cookout or potluck?

The featured recipe tonight is savory, sweet. smoky and oven baked. Who knew molasses could be so good?

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Baked Beans Photo by JeffreyW

And if you want a true New England experience, add some Brown Bread, recipe here. Brown bread was a childhood treat that I didn’t realized until later was unique to New England (at least at that time). My mom would fry it up in a skillet, served with lots of butter, maple syrup and baked beans.

Boston Baked Beans

This serves 8, but you can easily double it for large gatherings. The slow cooking, white beans and molasses are what give these baked beans their signature flavor.

  • 1 pound (2 cups) dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (or 2 tbsp tomato paste)
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups water, or more if necessary
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more may be needed, but start here)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

large dutch oven, bean pot or heavy duty oven proof pot

Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. (Here at high altitude, soaking doesn’t do much, so I pressure cook them for 20 minutes instead, then let them soak for an hour)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans in a large, ovenproof pot.. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

Add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: To reheat leftovers, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot.

Missing the full dinner menus and shopping lists? If you click here, it will take you to all the ones I have posted. That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara

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Tidbits

DSC_5285 (1600x1060)More random wildlife!  A snapper makes his/her way across the lawn.  It’s dry so I know it’s been on the road for a while, but there is a pond in sight from where the picture was taken.DSC02312 (1600x1200)We don’t know much about this orange kitteh, it was found in a cardboard box with a sibling.  They are about 8 weeks old and are ready for adoption.DSC02310 (1600x1200)The first one looks a lot like our newest kitty, this one lacks the white patches.  I’m sure there is a name for the different color schemes but I don’t know what they are.  Mrs J says she just calls them orange tabbies.DSC_0378 (1600x1060)Tacos!  These are roast pork with minimal garnish – a smear of beans and a spoonful of salsa with sprinkles of green onion and cheddar.  The general term for the main filling is carnitas, which means “little meats”.DSC_0374 (1600x1060)The coconut curry chicken we had over rice the other day was also good on these garlic mashed potatoes.  I wish I was better at cooking for two, we still have another little bit of this leftover.DSC_5307 (1600x1060)It’s so hard to catch these hummers in mid flight, especially with the long lens I had on my camera.  This was snapped as he approached a feeder and hesitated while he chose a spot to land.DSC_0364 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap up with a classic picnic plate of burger, beans, slaw, and potato salad.

Random Wildlife – Hummingbird

DSC_5295 (1600x1060)This is a Ruby-throated hummer, notwithstanding the dusting of pollen on its throat from sipping nectar out of this Columbine.DSC_5297 (1600x1060)

Bixby Diaries: Chillin’ an Relaxin’

Chillin' and relaxin'

I looked up from desk today to see the Beast chillin’. That’s fine little one, you just relax while I put in a few more hours to pay for your dog food.

Chillin' and relaxin' 2f

Just a quick update. Bixby hurt his leg last week. I’m assuming from jumping off the couch or bed. How a 140 lb dog can get so much air boggles my mind. But he can leap twice his height from a standing position. I’ve cut down on walks until it feels better. He put more weight on it today, so probably by the end of this week we’ll back to our regular routine.

I special ordered him a 32-inch collar because nothing else fits well. Also a new harness and leash. The leash has a padded handle which came highly recommended for big dogs.

Chillin' and relaxin' 3

He turns 11-months old this weekend. I have his “surgery” schedule for the first week of June. I would have waited longer, but he’s not handling the testosterone well – nothing aggressive – but he is an alpha dog already and add those hormones and it does create some issues. For his bones and muscles a little longer would have been better, but for his emotional success, now is the time. I probably don’t have to tell you that after what happened to Missy, I’m more than a little anxious about this. It will be a long day.

Yesterday, he was literally in the dog house (his crate) after dragging me across the yard to see the Great Dane next door. He knows dragging is a no-no. I was working at my desk and every once in a while I’d hear this big SIGH and then he’d blow air out his big jowls – his version of pouting. I love this dog. Can’t believe he’ll be a year old soon.

Paw print

 

Coconut Curry Chicken

DSC_0366 (1600x1060)I opened a can of coconut milk the other day for the shrimp dish but only used a couple of tablespoons out of it so I looked around for a recipe to use the rest.  This one is said to be a Brazilian recipe and I had everything except for the hot chilies.  I added some curry powder I had on hand to the spices in the recipe and backed off the cayenne it called for because I wanted Mrs J to not hate me.  The dish was not at all spicy even though I did use canned tomato bits with the green chilies.  There is one huge sweet onion in there, chopped into not so small pieces.  The chicken was boneless and skinless thighs and breasts with the breasts cut into thigh sized pieces.  The gravy looked thin so I stirred in corn starch in a slurry to thicken it.  Pretty good over the white rice.

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