All posts filed under: Kitchen

New Year’s Day Soup

Every year, no matter the kind of year just closed, no matter the hopes or anxieties of the coming year, one thing stays the same. Well, to be more accurate, four things: pork, greens, cornbread, and black eyed peas. Today is vaguely unceremonious for all my excitement at ousting a tiresome year. All the seed cases have been sorted and a list of needed seeds and other garden accoutrement made for the coming season. The annual Twilight Zone marathon has droned on for more than a day. But more than anything, it is a quiet day, calm and tranquil. Rather than casting forward nets toward mighty goals as was my proclivity with yesterday’s goal noting endeavors, today is all about the quiet. After too many months trapped in a forward moving and somewhat productive but more so deeply stormy and saddening year, today is like the first break in the clouds. Our house feels restful thus wrapping up garden planning, idly prattling away in the kitchen, and reading up on new to me ideas in soil …

Gingered Shortbread Cookies

 In the early morning, long before dawn, the cold crept in and woke me. The fire was dying. A quick rekindling and coffee turned on, I took my first glance outside at the icy glaze glistening in the dark. The world had been coated overnight, the first ice storm of the season and winter hasn’t officially started yet.      But Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas tree is up, and plans for hanging outdoor lights are being bantered about. It is that time of the year. And so, since this is the time when homemade sweets are ever at the ready for grazing, a simple cookie recipe. Because I love gingerbread and usually make it around Christmas (to be fair, in my world anything ginger is acceptable any time of the year) but this year I crave the soft sweetness of shortbread, a sort of combination of the two seemed in order. All the sweet sharpness of ginger pairs beautifully with the buttery softness of shortbread, making these cookies a simple go to recipe for …

Winter Vegetable Salad

Love though I do Halloween, Thanksgiving is a very close second. Every year the pattern repeats: up pre-dawn, shower and coffee, begin the feast by 7am. Pies and goodies prepped the night before mingle with timeworn cookbooks and flying utensils while the Macy’s parade plays on tv. We’ll eat in the early afternoon, if nothing goes awry. The menu is planned well in advance, always essentially the same, with or without turkey (we’re a ham family) and with an occasional swapping of a side, albeit scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, and dressing are absolute mainstays. Post feast come naps and decorating the Christmas tree to the tune of E’s excitement and George Bailey finding out it really is a wonderful life. And while those traditions repeat annually, this year something new to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in our home. My poor little 50’s kitchen table I’ve had since college has sufficed as our dining table for a time now, but its scant four feet by just under three feet surface hardly cuts it especially for larger meals. Knowing we wanted something …

Persimmon Nut Bread

Waking up late on a weekend morning, just in time to see the golden orange syrup of first light in autumn playing on the last of the turned leaves and the deep dark green of the pines, and I felt inspired to be outdoors. We winterized, cutting back my fruit trees and clearing the flower beds, trimming up outgrowth and splitting wood.         Autumn is shifting toward winter, first frost is coming, the light stays filtered in amber all day and the long shadows never dissipate from sunrise to dark. Inside, the smell of chicken broth from the all-day cooking of chicken and dumplings mingled with the smell of an apple pie baking. It’s cool season, when cooking becomes heavy and the savory smells of each meal permeate the air long after the food is devoured. And this is the season when an instinctual need to bake takes over. This year, inspired by some stunning persimmons, I opted to adapt a bread recipe of my granny’s with a recipe run once in the Times-Picayune. …

Vanilla Cranberry Pumpkinseeds

Anyone who has known me for more than a day or two will likely be aware of two things: waste disgusts me and Halloween is the end all, be all greatest holiday of them all. Although, to be fair the latter is hardly opinion, it is fact.     And so, as we prepare costumes and travel plans and watch E run amuck in her amazing unicorn costume, a new recipe for those tired of the old standard roasted pumpkin seeds. With multiple pumpkins carved into Jack O’ Lanterns or roasted into homemade pumpkin pie, standard roasted seeds would’ve been running out of our ears. But this recipe, adapted from Wallflower Girl, plays the wholesomeness of roasted pumpkin seeds against the sweetness of honey and the tartness of dried cranberries. A delicious snack, it’s perfect for an overabundance of pumpkinseed. VANILLA CRANBERRY PUMPKINSEEDS Adapted from Wallflower Girl. 1 cup pumpkinseeds ½ cup dried cranberries (dried cherries or raisins may be substituted) 2 tsp vanilla extract 4 tsp honey 2 tsp sugar 2 tbsp. boiling water Preheat oven …

Chickpea & Spinach Ginger Tomato Soup

And so, October. Most days have been unseasonably warm, but then came the first with cold gray skies and wind that carried that sharp snow smell. It seemed ridiculous to put off the last of the garden clearing any longer. The tomatillos and some of the beans are still putting on, but otherwise the season has ended for another year, and due to the amount of soil damage and powder mildew, winter gardening is being skipped this year.     Final vegetables were picked for seed, each plant was pulled for compost if possible, supports were stacked with like kind and the greenhouse is nearly full now with stored supplies. Raised beds built for rotation have had their frames pulled and stacked and their dirt spread as the rest of the garden was plowed down. I am, however, postponing pulling the remaining flora until first freeze as the hydrangeas, morning glories, and four o’ clocks are still bearing. By project end, my face was flushed and cheeks cold and the sky was darker, leaves blowing out …

Apple Slaw with Orange Ginger Dressing

More often than not, I crave home flavors. The stylings of food rooted deeply in the great gumbo pot of the South, the most basic vittles based in hillbilly essentials and seasoned with heart. And, over the years and many varied moves, I have adapted those tastes and flavors exotic and new to me into the fold, taking that which my granny taught me and adding a splash of flavor standards from other regions I called home, from recipes of friends near and far, from cookbooks of the other side of the world. To wit, this. A recipe founded in that most basic concept of apple slaw, a roots food autumn staple, while gently folding in a layer of Asian influence, taking the basics of cooking with spices common to my much adored Thai dishes and rolling them back into Southern equivalents, just for a bit of flair. Out went the more common mustard and lemon replaced with orange and ginger, ideal for fall. APPLE SLAW WITH ORANGE GINGER DRESSING ½ small red cabbage, sliced 1 …