Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Kakes

In homage to Hurricane Sandy, I made Sandy Kakes…oatmeal cookies – made from a mix – with dark chocolate Raisinets mixed in. 

I found this graphic of the hurricane path on…it’s pretty funny.  This storm is not very funny though.  I have some University of Delaware refugees staying with me and feel better knowing they are safe. 

Please be careful everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Polenta Squares with Sweet & Sour Onion Relish

We had dinner at Singer’s house this past Wednesday.  We welcomed Architect home and we also welcomed Fall devouring delicious Polenta Squares with Sweet and Sour Onion Relish and Butternut Squash soup.

We were all so excited to see Architect and delighted in the photos she shared from her trip.  She was exhausted after her 24+ hour journey home but did a great job narrating each photo.  I liked the stories about the people and animals….she said that elephants are the sweetest creatures and, somehow, I always knew that about elephants.  I’ve never touched one, but always wanted to…maybe when I travel over 7500 miles, I’ll get my chance!  Anyway, Architect and Mr. Architect were kind enough to share some photos that I thought you would enjoy:

Golden Temple

Annapura, South from Ghorepani


Elephant Taxis, Beer

The All-Seeing Eyes of Budda

A Sweet Elephant

Back to Polenta.

Polenta is corn meal that, in earlier times, was more commonly known as gruel or porridge.  Polenta is cooked by simmering the grain in a disproportionate amount of water or broth, often with herbs.  Once set, polenta can be shaped into balls or squares, then baked or fried and topped with all kinds of goodies such as meat, cheese, tossed into soups, or, for a sweeter indulgence, topped with fruit.  Polenta, like oats, requires a long time and lots of stirring to cook, typically simmering for 45 minutes.  But, also like oats, quick-cooking alternatives that can be prepared in just minutes are available.

Some shy away from making Polenta because of the frequent stirring involved.  So, I did a little research into preparation options….sans the drudgery. says “put the basic recipe in a slow cooker. Cook on low over night (at least about 6 hours). In the morning you will have the smoothest, creamiest polenta.”  Another option "prepare the polenta exactly as before, but once you've drizzled the corn flour into the boiling water, cover it with brown paper (a grocery paper bag is fine), clamp the pot lid on, move to the back burner and turn the heat to very low. After the statutory 40 minutes the polenta is ready - with no stirring.”

I have not tried either method, but when I do, I will report back.

Polenta Squares with Sweet and Sour Onion Relish  
Adapted slightly from Cooks Illustrated Cookbook

1 ½ half cups of coarse-ground cornmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill Polenta Corn Grits)
Note:  you can alter the amount of cornmeal to produce a creamier or firmer polenta
6 cups of water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
A pinch of baking soda
4 ounces of Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of butter -unsalted

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in salt and baking soda.  Slowly pour in cornmeal into water in a steady stream, while with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Bring to boil, stirring consistently to produce a smooth consistency.   Bring heat to lowest possible heat.  Cover, for 5 minutes, and then whisk polenta to smooth out any lumps that may have formed.  Scrape sides and bottom of pan.  Cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes until quite thick and the polenta peels away from the side of the pot.  Continue to stir from time to time.  When finished, pour into baking pan or sheet to cool in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Cut polenta into squares and place on a cookie sheet that has been greased with olive oil or canola oil spray.  Drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil, and top each square with Sweet and Sour Onion Relish, cheddar cheese, and walnuts.   Broil for 3-4 minutes until reheated and cheese melts.

Sweet and Sour Onion Relish

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of butter
2 sliced red onions
4 sprigs of thyme
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
6 ounces of Sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup of toasted Walnuts

Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat, add onions, thyme, salt and cook until beginning to brown and caramelize 5 to 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add water, balsamic, brown sugar and continue to simmer until liquid has evaporated and onions are glossy -- 7 minutes more.  Discard thyme, and season with salt and pepper. 

It was my turn to bring a salad and, totally unaware of the root vegetable gig Singer had going on, I roasted beets with olive oil, orange peel and herbs and tossed the jeweled beauties into an arugula and goat cheese salad….so good.   Foodie brought homemade macaroons…YUM!

I’ll post the Butternut Squash soup in a few days since it’s likely we’ll be housebound courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Tree

This post is not about food or knitting but it is about acceptance and beauty, things that good friends, good food and a good knitting session all promote.

I just returned from a conference.

I love conferences because however weary one might be feeling before attending, somehow interacting with peers, attending sessions and experiencing something new all seem to naturally invigorate the body and spirit.

We drank too much wine and ate too much food and I did not log my calorie consumption or lack of exercise into “myfitnesspal” when I was away for fear of a virtual scolding that would go something like this:

"If every day were like today, you would weigh 1000 pounds in 5 weeks."

Technology can be so smug sometimes.

I heard many wonderful speakers and one such storyteller was Kenneth Little Hawk.  He is a Native American speaker whose messages are clear and simple, influenced by his traditions and heritage.  He offered some pretty profound commentary, and one remark that resonated with me was that, as people, we are all the same…we may not all look or sound alike, we may wear different clothing and celebrate occasions differently, but, as human beings, we are all the same.   He said, flowers, for instance, come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, heights, and hues, but all are flowers and we appreciate each for their unique beauty and contribution to nature's kaleidoscope.

I have been taking photos of a beautiful maple tree that lives right outside my house for many months.  I am both fascinated and humbled by the stages of seasonal life and wanted to capture nature’s masterpiece on “film.”  As you can see, the tree is magnificent and however different it appears during each season…it is still the same tree.  I share the seasonal photos so you can also enjoy them and take delight in the tree's simple message. 
Spring Tree

 Summer Tree

 Fall Tree

Winter Tree

 Image of Kenneth Little Hawk is from

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken with Rosemary Goat Cheese Cups

It was Architect’s turn to cook last Wednesday but being that she was still half way around the world, we thought it would be too difficult for all of us to tote our salad, wine and dessert over 7000 miles….fun, but difficult.  So, we switched turns and I cooked for our smaller crew still on this side of the Atlantic and a few little mountain ranges.

Although our gathering was smaller, the Chicken with Rosemary Goat Cheese cups I made were a big hit.  This recipe is from my Muffin Tin Cookbook and, although I tried to follow the directions that called for cutting the chicken breast in half, placing a slit in the cut side, and filling the pocket with the yummy mixture of goat cheese, rosemary, shallots and breadcrumbs, I quickly abandoned that malarkey and employed my own method.

As Julia says, when you’re in your own kitchen, who’s to know!

Chicken with Rosemary Goat Cheese Cups

3 boneless chicken breasts, slice in half width wise
4 ounces of goat cheese
1 small shallot, diced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Prepare 6 jumbo muffin tin cups by spraying with cooking spray.  Pound the chicken breasts thin and line six of the the muffin tin cups with the chicken.  Place the goat cheese, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and rosemary in a food processor and mix completely.  Place some stuffing in each prepared chicken cup and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. 

The next time, I’ll fold some dried cherries into the goat cheese mixture before filling the chicken cups.  Also, before baking I’ll bush the meat muffins with olive oil to keep the meat moist and encourage more browning.

This recipe can also be made with ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning and figs.  I would also experiment with some other soft cheeses, maybe brie, herbs de Provence and raspberries.

We also had a salad of mixed greens, pistachio and apples served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and a bottle of Deadly Zins wine. 

Look closely....the label of this wine is pretty funny and plugs the seven deadly sins…sloth, envy, greed, vanity, wrath, and of course, lust and gluttony…wonder what they’re suggesting?!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shoulder Capelet

I am busy making a capelet that I plan to embellish with a bunch of fun stuff.

During the Spring, Foodie and I visited loop, a yarn store on South Street in Philadelphia. While there, we saw this lovely little capelet on display and we both decided to give it whirl. Foodie has made two (2)...I have a quarter of one done (1/4).

As I have said before, I am a slow, but neat knitter.

This caplet, that the instructions call a "Shoulder Cozy," is made using 13" circular needles, 2 skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed, and 1 skein of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a lace-weight mohair yarn. The pattern is available on here.
This Churchmouse Classics pattern is very versatile and can also be worn as an infinity scarf or pleated around your neck and clasped with a pretty pin.  It is all garter stitch but garter stitch worked in the round requires that you to alternate knit and purl rows to achieve the distinctive ridges.  I was afraid I would forget if I was on a knit or purl row but a quick look at the stitches is a gentle reminder…

…when on a knit row, your stitches look like those on the left; the stitch is wearing a little “knitted” scarf.  When on a purl row, your stitches look like those on the right; the stitch is wearing a pearl necklace. 

I will post a photo of mine when it is done, but in the meantime, above is one of Foodie’s lovely capelets…I adore the color.

Knit/Purl image from images.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken with White Wine and Vegetables

It was Foodie’s turn to cook this week.  In the background of the photo you see a  woman in a LBD and a strand of pearls…that would be me.  I normally do not dress so formally for our little gatherings but I had a work function to attend and came straight to dinner from work. But the looooong day concluded perfectly when we sat down to enjoy this delicious concoction of chicken, herbs, wine and vegetables. 

What I have not told my dear readers before this writing is that Architect and Mr. Architect planned a trip to Kathmandu and were boarding a plane the night after our dinner.  Kathmandu is the largest city and capital of Nepal. There is evidence of ancient civilization through archaeological digs in this city nestled among some of the world's ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest.  It will take the daring duo about 24 hours to travel 7604 miles to their medieval destination and to give you an idea of just how far that is, please see below:

While there, they will hike and camp in the mountains, quiet their minds and bodies in yoga and meditation classes, explore the historic city and outside trade markets, and take a elephant taxi ride through the jungle in search of rhino, monkey, deer, antelope, crocodile and perhaps the ever-shy tiger (I hope the tigers aren't hungry). We can’t wait to hear all about their adventure and see some amazing photos.  I am following on Instagram with the hope of a paparazzi preview.  More on this when she returns.

Well, I don’t know about the tigers but we certainly were hungry as we sat down to enjoy the meal that Foodie prepared.

Chicken with White Wine and Vegetables

8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
Herbs de Provence
Olive oil to coat the pan
1 onion, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup white wine
I can of chopped tomatoes
Capers, to taste
Olives, to taste
Zucchini, cut into batons

Season the chicken with salt pepper and herbs de provence.  Brown the chicken thighs in olive oil and remove from the pan. Add the onion, peppers, mushrooms and let soften a bit.  Add white wine, chopped tomatoes, capers and olives.  Return the browned chicken to the pan, cover and let simmer for about 20 min. Add zucchini for another 5 minutes. Served over brown rice.

It was Architect’s turn to bring dessert…we were delighted by and thoroughly enjoyed her contribution of Klondike Bars…she had more important things on her mind, like packing for a two- week trip half-way around the world!  Safe travels, dear friends.