Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

(A spooOOky sighting in Mystic, CT, yesterday!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's It?

I thought I'd present a little game of 'what's it' for you. Do you know what type of musical instrument this is?

I've had it since I was 6 or 7 years old when I got it for xmas. I am going to give it a good dusting and some new strings since two are broken at the moment.

Sorry, no actual prizes, but you will be considered a 'Smarty Pants' if you guess right ;)

Friday, October 15, 2010


My favorite fall meal must be sauerbraten, with sweet and sour purple cabbage and mashed potatoes. It takes a little planning, but is easy and fun to cook. Luckily, it is made in a big batch, so there are leftovers for a few days and they get even more flavorful.

This was dinner, Jeff's plate.

The beef is marinated for 3 days, before you finally simmer it in the marinade for about 3 hours. The marinade becomes the gravy, which I sieve at the end of the cooking time so it's velvety smooth.

I think the cabbage recipe was one my mother clipped from a newspaper when I was in my teens or so. I've always loved it! In addition to the obvious cabbage, it contains bacon, onion, Granny Smith apples and various spices, etc.

The mashed potatoes are just your basic sort (I use Yukon Gold potatoes), but they become special with lots of gravy over them!

I think the German branches of our family trees would approve ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Update

Perhaps it is the cooler weather (or just Silas being pushy) but both dogs have been on one bed a lot lately! I think it's funny how tightly Silas can curl up. Saffy looks like the big dog here! You can see how Silas likes to use his tail as a nose cozy.

I've been feeling a bit derailed since late September. I've had little time for working on my knitting projects lately, or rather, when I have the time I lack the mental focus for it :( But my lining material for March Hare arrived from Japan and is SO pretty. It is even nicer than I expected as there is a gold thread worked into the motifs that did not show up in the only image I'd seen of it online. That gold thread will make it go even better with the Sari ribbon yarn that also has gold worked into it.

Cooking happens whether things are busy or not as one does want to eat! It is nice to be creative with that even when I can't get to other kinds of hobbies.

The barley stew in the previous post was even better the second night. The flavors developed more and it was even more risotto-like! Likewise, the pumpkin cake got better and better as the spices seemed to meld together more.

I made the 3 Cheese Baked Macaroni from the October Everyday Food, but it was not as good as I'd hoped. I actually wasn't that into the bacon, the garlic overpowered (and I like garlic) and I wasn't excited about the Cayenne pepper...I prefer the Tabasco that I usually use.

It was edible, I just felt 'eh' about it.

This is the Shepherd's Pie I cooked up last night--it's really an ultimate comfort food. I made the potatoes on top look like ocean waves.

I used a packet (gasp!). I saw it in the British section of the grocery store and thought it would be fun and make things easier during a busy week. It was really good!

After we ate, Jeff had the great thought that some lingonberry jam would go perfectly with it. We'll try to remember it for the leftovers! I also completely forgot that I had some HP sauce to go with it. That's how my attention has been lately and why knitting is not really happening at the moment. Bad things can happen if I blank out in the middle of my current sorts of projects.

This week, I am marinating some beef top round for a few days to cook into Sauerbraten. I'll make sweet and sour purple cabbage and mashed potatoes to go with that and celebrate my German ancestry and Oktoberfest! After we have that (for a few days!) I plan to cook a white bean and sausage soup. You can tell I am wild about the fall cooking!!

A couple of my new cookbooks have arrived today. The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Cooking one and Nigella's Kitchen. I am so looking forward to reading through the recipes and then picking some to try and making some grocery lists.

I bought issue 36 of BBC Easy Cook, a magazine I'd never noticed before. I think I will try some of the meals presented in that.

In reading, I am currently racing through Even Money by Dick and Felix Francis. I am enjoying it very much though I am still not entirely understanding betting/what bookmaker's do despite the information included in the mystery! Still, it's interesting and I don't think I need to completely get that to enjoy the story. I also got a discount rack copy of Silks by the same authors, so that will likely be my next read. They are just the sort of books I need at the moment.

There is plenty of TV viewing lately with my favorite current show being Wallander. PBS has shown two and there is one more next Sunday! I wish there were more! For the network shows, I am enjoying Modern Family, Community, Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock this season. I mostly watch PBS and another recent show that I loved was Myths and Legends, with the same guide who lead us through the Story of India last season. After Wallander, we have a new Sherlock Holmes series I'm excited to see, I'm wondering if it is going to have a sort of Dr. Who feel to it?

Hopefully in another week or so I can get back to the knitting bags and have some nice knitting posts for you!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sort of a Barley Risotto...

Last night, I made the Roasted Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup from the October Everyday Food magazine, but as I went along I made some additions. The idea of it was good; it just didn't seem seasoned enough to me!

I roasted the mushrooms, shallots and beef.

Then the roasted things went into a pot on top of the stove with the chicken broth, salt and pepper. I decided it needed more. I added carrots, thyme, bay, Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar. I also used a lot more barley. Partly because I didn't have quick cooking and had to prepare it separately and didn't quite know how to measure it and partly because we like it. We really liked that it thickened the broth and made it slightly creamy and became almost risotto-like.

It was very filling with all the grain, so small portions were plenty!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pumpkin Cake

The orange color diet continues! This is an online recipe I found when I searched for "pumpkin brownies" after seeing references to such a thing on various websites. I don't know why it is called brownies as it seems more like a sheet cake to me!

The batter was gorgeous!

It needed a lot longer in the oven than the recipe said, but it eventually baked up nicely like this (50 minutes cooking time).

After it cooled, I topped it with cream cheese frosting.

I could hardly wait to taste it!

It's good: very pumpkin-y, moist, not overly sweet and with a nice tang from the cream cheese frosting. I keep getting confused and thinking it's carrot cake, LOL! It goes well with coffee.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Orangy October Feast

With the first fresh, cool days of Fall, I feel reinvigorated, but I do like to take away the chill by using the oven for cooking.

The October issue of Everyday Food magazine is a particularly good one. This week, I stocked the kitchen with ingredients for three dinners and a dessert from this issue: Emeril's Three Cheese and Bacon Macaroni, Roasted Beef Mushroom and Barley Soup and Honey Roasted Vegetables served with Pork Chops in a Honey Marinade. The dessert is perfect for Halloween season: Shortbread Candy Bars!

Tonight, I made the Honey Roasted Vegetables and Pork Chops. The chopped veggies looked so pretty with the topping of honey, olive oil, walnuts and thyme before they went into the oven. (Btw, I used yams instead of sweet potatoes.)

Here's how everything looked on the platter, before we dug in! It tasted really good!

I'd recommend these two recipes and will let you know about the others when I make them.