Saturday, February 10, 2018

Back in the kitchen with my friend Ina

The barefoot contessa is still cooking. I missed Ina when I decided to go TV-free 2.5 years ago. The food channel used to be running all day long, while I typed away on my computer. It looks like I also lost my inspiration to try out new recipes when I stopped watching the food channel.

With the Winter Olympics and figure skating and long winter nights looming, I tried out the Hulu Live TV option (the first week is free), and the first channel I turned on was the Barefoot Contessa. It felt like running into an old friend, years later, and wondering how she has been. It seems like nothing has changed. Jeffrey still likes her cooking, and they still have this blissed out, peaceful life in the Hamptons.

February is dragging on; winter keeps us busy with snow and snow removal. Up here in Maine, there is no hope that there might be an early end to winter in February. But February is also a short month, fortunately.

Things that I’ve liked lately:
  • I think this X Files episode (Season 11, Episode4)  from the current season is one of the best and funniest ever. Can I only say the aliens come to Earth and tell Mulder and Scully that the aliens built a wall around the earth’s solar system because they don’t want all this destructive negativity?
  • No one got around Elon Musk this week. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch was amazing. I mostly liked how the booster rockets safely landed again, standing upright. Engineering bliss.
  • I really like this Lululemon top, and the porcelain pink color is fabulous! It has such beautiful detail around the sleeves and the back.
  • Yesterday, when I browsed through Best Buy I came across the Canon G7x Mark II and fell in love! It is like a DLSR in a tiny point and shot. It’s in the mail. I will report back.
  • I also like Local Milk’s lightroom filter presets. I am still on the fence of investing so much money into some presets, but I am seriously tempted. (this demo might push me over the edge!)
That’s all for now. Time to plow some snow and then plow through some snow on skis before I’ll watch Olympians plowing through snow on the other side of the globe. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Snow Globe

Winter started early this year. First, there was this massive snow storm on Christmas Day, then the temperatures dropped to arctic levels and not just here in Maine. I went skiing every day, a favorite thing to do to get outside and stay warm, even in below 0F temperatures. Yesterday, a blizzard brought another foot or 2 of snow. It is hard to tell because of the blown snow banks which are much higher and seem to have relocated my driveway. The neighbors’ snowblowers have been roaring for hours, and my adventure is still ahead. Digging out. Digging out the heating gas inlet, too, and a path to it, and the deck because I hardly can see outside my patio doors. We did not loose power, that was good. The temperatures will go back to arctic cold for the weekend but after that it will be less relentless. It’s only Jan 5 and the whole winter is still ahead. There will be a lot of skiing, I suppose.

I’ve been following Heidi Swanson adventures with the instant pot, and she has a few really good recipes, like the Indian simmer sauce, a spicy based for other dishes. The cauliflower chickpea korma is also epic. I made my own channa massala, but with canned chickpeas, and it takes only 15min on the stove top. It would be a great candidate for the instant pot.

Besides snow adventures, I spend a lot of time on my couch these days, on the computer or knitting, or reading (Bruce Springsteen's biography), cats curled up next to me. The Maine version of hygge, or cabin magic. Winter. It can only be another 2-3 months!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

It’s looking a lot like Christmas

It is looking a lot like Christmas these days. Most of the work week has wound down. We have plenty of snow and it is so cold that it stays and is crunchy under my winter boots when I take a stroll. The Christmas tree has been up since Thanksgiving, and I have still no idea of what to cook this year. It feels like the cooking extravaganza of Thanksgiving  has just passed.

All I want for Christmas this year is a little downtime, and pampering.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Creamy Chickpea Soup with Coconut

These days I am back to cooking soups, such a good dish for fall, lots of vegetables, but warm. Currently, I prefer simple soups, like parsnip soup or chickpea soup. Nothing fancy with many, many ingredients, but a soup with one star: the main ingredient. Chickpea soup needs a bit more finesse than parsnip soup, which already has the distinct flavor and aroma of parsnips, but chickpeas can be more bland. The basic ingredients of this soup support the chickpeas and the turmeric and coconut milk give it a wonderful kick without overpowering the chickpeas. An elegant, everyday soup.

Creamy Chickpea Coconut Soup

(serves 3-4 as an appetizer)

  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled, cubed
  • a thin slice of celeriac, peeled and diced
  • about 2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed or 3 cups of cooked chickpeas (+ extra for texture)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • half can of coconut milk
  • 750ml of chicken bouillon
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB nutritional yeast
  • dried thyme

Saute the onion, garlic, potato, celeriac until the onion is translucent (ca. 2-3min)

Add the chickpeas, bay  leaf, turmeric and the broth. Stir, close with a lid, and simmer for 30min.

Puree with an immersion blender.

Add ground pepper, nutritional yeast, thyme and the coconut milk. Stir again, and heat through.

Ass more cooked chickpeas for texture.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Parsnip Celeriac Soup

Where did October go? It gave us a first taste of cold temperatures and winter coats here in Maine, but mostly it was usually warm and overall sunny. The only sign that the seasons are changing are the red leaves on the trees and the pumpkins and Halloween decorations in front of many houses. Indian summer stretches all the way into October this year.

At the farmers market I bought parsnips, which are large and inexpensive this time of the year. I love them roasted, but this year I felt more like soup. I also picked up a large celeriac for those fall and winter soups to come. Celeriac looks like a large potato, dense and hard, and it’s taste is intense,  so less is more to flavor soups, but it saves me buying celery stalks. A few parsnips, a slice of celeriac, and a potato, and a perfect parsnips soup is easily ready.

Parsnip Celeriac Soup
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 slices of celeriac, peeled, and cut into small cubes (ca. 3-4oz)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart of vegetable or chicken broth
  1.  Heat the butter in a medium sized pot, and melt it. Add the chopped onion, and saute under stirring until translucent. 
  2. Add the parsnip, potato, and celeriac, and saute under stirring for another 3 min.
  3. Add the broth, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, turn the heat low,  and simmer for 30min.
  4. Remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, parmesan cheese or some cream or sour cream.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The backroads of life

Summer was short this year, just July and August, but those months were perfect: hot sunny endless summer days. September decided to be much like fall already and I have to check the calendar to reassure myself “It is still summer for 10 days.” But what can you do with the weather? I bet this is also what most people in Florida say this weekend.

With fall comes one of my favorite times of the year: apple picking. I got there on the first day when self picking opened and a batch of Paulareds is waiting for apple cake, apple cider and and just apple eating. I debated if I should continue on to Belfast or New Balance, since New Balance had a 40% off sale. Left turn or right turn? not that I need anymore shoes.. I decided to the take the backroads of Maine, following my trusty, yet slightly outdated car navigation system to guide me to Skowhegan.

I find it fun to travel the backroads of Maine, far off the beaten path from tourist through roads, which are wider and with better pavement. The backroads are crooked, curvy and winding and remind me of streets in Europe. Beautiful farmhouses are hidden there along the backroads, wide grounds around the houses, manicured with tractor lawn mowers, definitely not push lawn mowers, people not wanting to be found and not caring to be public. I followed along the private roads, and ending up on a main road again, right into Skowhegan. I got some fantastically fitting running shoes, and called it good. I was hungry at this point, and for the first time, just stopped there, in Skowhegan, stepping in this peculiar bar that hangs right over the big towering dam like structure that seems to dominate Skowhegan. There must have been must industry once that needed so much power, but these days the only interesting thing seemed to be the New Balance Factory and outlet that brought me back.

I sat there, hanging precariously about 60 ft above the waters, with a crowd of other bar goers on a Saturday evening, and it was not half bad. The backroads can take you to interesting places, not just in Maine, in life, too.