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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

Life, work, sleep…they all seem to have some way of getting in the way.  But maybe that is all just an excuse for my blogging hiatus.  Truthfully, besides work and life obligations, I have spent the last two weeks in the kitchen.  I even moved my office into the kitchen so I could watch all of the beautiful breads rising (and maybe snack on a few cookies).  Yes, it has been a few weeks of very, very unhealthy baking.  Not healthy whole grain breads, but sugary and buttery loaves.  Cheesecakes and cream cheese based tortes.  I had some successes, but I also had many a failures.  Specifically, a blueberry torte that turned out looking like cookie monster’s cousin – complete with a white chocolate ganache and blueberries dotting the top, I just needed some black licorice to make the mouth (what was I thinking?!).  It tasted good, but I didn’t even have the confidence to give it to the boyfriend for the work lunchroom, scared off by the glares the poor thing might get… 

Truthfully I am a baker, living in the body of a 2 petite.  Which due to my eternal baking issue may quickly jump two sizes (need to stop hitting the snooze button for the 5am gym sessions!).  So I have gotten back in touch with my relationship to food.  Some live to cook, others cook to live.  (I surely live to cook, eat and save room for dessert!)  And I am working on getting back to the cooking to live.  And last weekend (yes, this took me four days) I did…

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!  Yesterday was my first day in partial retirement.  Well, really more like part-time work!  Not only do I get to work part-time, I also get to bake…I mean work, from home!  So what did I do on my first afternoon free?  I spent a few hours reading about food – blogs, articles, cookbooks.  And I no sooner dropped it all when I read an article from last year’s Bon Appetit Magazine, A Slice of Ireland.  Andrew McCarthy, the author, talks about his trip ’round Ireland in search of the perfect brown soda bread.  He transported me to Ireland guiding you through the chewy and spongy soda breads to the dry and crumbly.  I was intrigued by his discussion of traditional soda bread becoming increasingly difficult to find in Ireland due to the invasion of caraway and raisins into the dough.  And thinking back on all of the traditional Irish food I have had during my lifetime, I had never had traditional brown soda bread.  And in an effort to not be a green beer drinking american on Saint Patrick’s Day (I’m wearing my pink UConn sweatshirt) I did it up the traditional way…

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When I think of carrots, I think of a vegetable normally coated with butter and served as an afterthought with a holiday meal.  Yes, my mind wandered back to the holidays as I prepped the carrots with snow flurries falling out the window over the kitchen sink yesterday.  But, I smirked at Mother Nature as I remembered all those little tomato and herb plants germinating in my indoor greenhouse.  She had me convinced New England would not make it through the winter of 2010, but we preserved despite the ice dams freezing our front doors shut, water leaking into our basements and snow banked narrow roads causing held breath each time a car (especially snow plow) came the other way.

Reluctantly thinking of the holidays and the under appreciated carrots I had sitting in my fridge, I thought it was time to up the ante.  Carrots serve as the basis for many stocks, stews and French dishes.  A component of one of the first French words a culinary student will easily roll off their tongue – Mirepoix.  Carrots add flavor to so many other dishes, yet are rarely highlighted on their own – unless in baby carrot form, maybe with some ranch?!

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