28 February 2011

I swore I'd never....

My mom, Linda with Jamie and my nieces

In the midst of teenage angst, I made of list of the things I swore I'd never do, that my parents did.  I know you have at least one lurking around in your brain too.

I had parents that were so different from my friends parents.  My mother worked full time and my dad stayed at home farming with my grandparents' farm across the road.  We worked on the farms....there was always plenty to do, not much tv watching or telephone talking.  We still had a party line back then and howed the soy bean farms in summer!  I didn't have much appreciation back then, but I grew up to appreciate the ethics they instilled in me.    

Back in the day, they just didn't understand, were from a out of touch generation, yada, yada, yada.  I now have grown children and teenagers.  I officially "do not understand", "am from a different generation", and I (for the first time in my ENTIRE life) wore a denim shirt with jeans.  A denim suit, of different denims, with a floral print scarf, that kinda looks like Little House on the Prairie calico, I wore it out of the house.
Yes, it's nosy little dog, Pierre

My mom loves denim.  Usually with some sort of red, white and blue accessories.  Sometimes plaid or quilted or embroidered.  She looks great in it all, truly.  She even has earrings and bracelets that bring the whole gig together.  It's amazing.  It's Linda.

I swore I wouldn't do it...EVER.  Somewhere between Target's bleach and sponges, the cutest little denim shirt jumped into my cart, the scarf followed and here I am, dressed in denim.  My mother saw me and said it was "adorable".  Hmmm.... usually she says "you shouldn't wear so much black, it washes you out".  She's right of course, but really.

I've made peace with "I swore I'd never..."a long time ago.  In fact, I am enjoying becoming more like Linda as I get older.

My mom is an incredible woman.  She is generous, hard working, a great cook, an inspiration and a handful.  She puts up with our ideas, kids, puppies, businesses and prays for us along the way!  She makes us tow the line, bosses us about child rearing and still tells me step-by-step how to make a salad.  She also feeds my obsessions with dishes (she has one too) and vintage jewelry.  She reads me recipes on the telephone, even though we live 3 miles away.  She drives 1000 miles for my Dad's cancer check ups (85mph on the freeway no less) with my mentally impaired sister in the backseat!  She sits in the rain on spring Saturdays selling my brother's flowers and vegetables.  She is the one that comes through for any emergency, with her overnight bag!!!  She looks great in denim...if I can only live up to those standards, it will be a life well lived.      

Pierre's Chicken Coop!

I have become "a dog person".  I actually THINK about what my puppy, Pierre, might like to play with.  (Please withhold eye rolling at this point, it gets better)  We have a multitude of toys that squeak, make duck or monkey noises, are soft and/or hard and everything in between.  I put some away and take others out regularly so the baby does not get bored (and proceed to chewing on undesirables).

I mostly shop at our local pet store, Red Mill Pet Supplies, but I was checking out invisible fencing and decided to stop at a PetSmart.  While perusing the nearly ridiculous amount of dog stuff, I came across the new line of Martha Stewart for pets.  You can imagine what happened...I really wanted the "nantucket"-looking cable sweater, crocheted toys, leather harness and everything,  but chose an intelligence building Chicken Coop.  John was bitching the whole time.   It was the best $15 I've ever spent!

I'm not sure I need to build Pierre's intelligence (he occasionally scares me when he understands the words I say) I'm perfectly happy to have a non-highly-intelligent-terrier.  He really likes to hide things, so I thought the coop would be perfect.  Our dog is OBSESSED with this toy.  The barn is plushy and crinkly and has a couple entrances in which to get out stuffed and squeaky chicks.  The dog loves it and the cats really like the barn too.  Pierre plays with this toy everyday and not one tear to the fabric, chicks are still intact and squeaky, it's incredible.
It's impossible to take clear pictures since Pierre is ALWAYS moving!!!

Over the years I've been a sideline fan of M.S. but never got too involved with her products, shows etc.  I was on her side during the prison years (for real, prison time....it boils my feminist blood) and was happy to see her success after that episode.  I respect her for her business acumen and sheer determination.  I now REALLY like her for this dog toy.

I am picking another up for my brother's mini Australian Shepard, Marty, for his birthday next month.  Feel free to commence with the eye rolling at this point...I've gotten used to it when I start talking about dogs!  

Here's a link for the buying the chicken coop online http://dealnay.com/919013/martha-stewart-chicken-coop.html

Breakfast for Supper

Debbie's beautiful fresh eggs! 

John off to the gym, Julia at work, Jamie studying at a friend's house...it has been 6 months since I've had the house to myself!

I only had myself to cook for.  This usually means pasta, but not tonight.  Tonight I had a Panettone begging to be made into French Toast for supper.  And real butter and real maple syrup.  Oh, yes.

I know not everyone is a big fan of breakfast for supper.  The French student, Sophie, that stayed with us in July, thought it was the strangest thing.  The French do have their opinions about food.   We personally love to eat omelets and such for supper.  It's comforting and no matter the temperature outdoors, it seems to be the perfect easy meal that appeases the whole family.

Panettone is an Italian sweet bread traditionally made with raisins and candied orange peel.  The bread is delicate and flavorful without too much sweetness and a fine, light texture.  It's baked in a round that is quite tall and comes beautifully wrapped per the Italiano culture.

I simply added a dash of vanilla to 4 beaten eggs and sauteed in a butter drenched pan until golden.  A bit of syrup, so heavenly.  If you don't have access to maple syrup, I have been successful with Lyle's Golden Syrup too!  (I was too busy eating to photograph the finished product!  Hopefully the ingredients will be enough for you!) 


21 February 2011

Psst...Check the "Giveaway" page today on my blog!!!

Molten Lava Babycakes=Pure Romance

I meant to post this for Valentines Day, but time (and pasta) got in my way!

One of John's favorite things in the world is chocolate...which is true for so many people.  I would like to say he is extremely picky, but that would be lying.  He will eat and enjoy nearly anything with cocoa in it.  This includes but is not limited to Hersheys, mexican mole sauce, Valrhona chocolates, cake, hot cocoa, brownies (homemade or boxed it matters not) and chocolate milk is a particular favorite!  The beauty of John's love affair with chocolate is that it trancends to me with every chocolate dish I prepare!  Nifty huh?

Molten Lava Babycakes are a particular favorite and so easy to make.  It's a lovely chemical reaction that allows the interior to stay so gooey and soft, yet the outer cake is perfectly delicate and spongy!  A few raspberries (thank you California,USA) and whipped cream are the perfect complement! 

Molten Lava Babycakes

5 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (I used Callebaut 66%)
10 Tablespoons Butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups Powdered  Sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Espresso Powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter together, stir until smooth and let cool about 15 minutes.

Butter 6 ramekins generously and sprinkle with sugar to coat entire interior.

Beat eggs and egg yolks until smooth and stir in powdered sugar, flour, espresso powder and salt.  Fold in cooled chocolate mixture until just combined.

Pour into ramekins until about 3/4 full.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes until edges are firm, but center still have a bit of jiggle.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!!

Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes.  Loosen the sides of each cake with a sharp knife and turn out onto a serving plate.  Garnish with raspberries, strawberries or bananas and whipped cream.

I often put these together in the morning, and pop in fridge until I get home from work.  An extra 2 minutes in the oven is all they need! 

15 February 2011

Gnocchi & a twist on Alfredo!

After a busy day selling cheese at the farmers market, all I could think about was a steaming plate of gnocchi.  It helped that the guy across the market had homemade gnocchi for sale.  I bought 2 lbs. and a pound of pumpkin ravioli, all frozen.  I am not Italian, so please forgive my recipes, but I know what I love and I hope you love it too!

I created this alfredo recipe because I don't always have heavy cream, but I ALWAYS have cheese.

1/4 cup butter
8 ounces of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 tablespoons prepared basil pesto

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add mascarpone and Parmigiano cheeses and stir until melted and smooth.  Stir in pesto and serve.  I love basil pesto, but you can add more or less to taste.

I boiled up the gnocchi and sauteed a red bell pepper in olive oil, plated the  pasta and covered with alfredo.  Bella! 

A 2011 goal of mine, is to SUCCESSFULLY make pasta and this gnocchi is my new gold standard!  Fresh and light and tasty...made with real potatoes.  Even the fork marks were fabulous! 

14 February 2011

Coffee Bag er...Bag!

Saturday night had us visiting our local coffee roaster that supplies The Boulevard Market with it's incredible freshly roasted beans.  Evelyn Bay Coffee Company is owned by Tia and Rich who are super people, roasting only top grade beans.  They consistently fulfill my darkest desires in Jamaican Blue and Kona beans.  We also have children about the same ages and are independently owned businesses in the same general vacinity, creating specialty goods, so we face many of the same challenges in growing our businesses. 

ANYWAY...as I sat in the adjoining cafe;http://www.evelynbayofbrooklyn.com/index.html, one of my biggest secrets roared it's head.  I am addicted to handbags.  Leather, fabric, woven straw, plastic, totes, clutches, shoulder...it matters not.  I buy them overseas, I buy them every where I go.  They sleep at the top of the closet and wait for my whims.  What does this have to do with coffee you ask?  Well...

Back to my original story, as I sat at the cafe, I was surrounded by the most charming, unique, well made bags I have come across in a long time.  Each bag was crafted from coffee bags and fully lined in fabrics.  Antigua bags, Organic Colombian bags, Hawaiian Kona bags...OMG!  So, after perusing, nibbling on the great food and visiting with new friends ( the owner, Vickie is so sweet)...I selected this one;

Here is the interior...check out the pockets!

Are you wanting now?  Well, here is the link; have fun!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/cafebags#




I think this page will be super fun!  I've been thinking about offering some giveaways for a time, but I wasn't sure how to go about it.  So I poked around on the internet and decided to make the giveaways easy on everyone!  Every so often I will offer up a little something for free (and I'll even pay the shipping) and all you have to do is send a comment/answer to the question etc.  Now the hitch is; 

a) that you  become a follower of my blog, either through  Networked Blogs or google.  I hope you won't mind doing this, as you can make up a name to be "anonymous".  Please add your blog or website...we can link up (I have to learn how to do that :)) 

b) sometimes you might be required to post a comment, which might be answering a question, giving your opinion, etc.   

c)one entry per person with winner chosen at random 

d)feel free to forward to your friends so they can enter too!!


09 February 2011

Winter Farmers Market & Ricotta

Cheese production doesn't stop at Four Corners Creamery (aka John and I's home away from home!) just because it's winter!  Our goat milk production has slowed a bit this month as all the girls are awaiting kids, they are keepin' that milk!   So, we make a few different cheeses that are great seasonal additions to our line up. 

The first is whole milk ricotta.  Folks, this is not the stuff from the cooler section of the grocery.  This is warm, milky, rich, eat off the spoon cheese.  I am not Italian and just didn't get the "ri-coat" love affair that my customers had.  Until a visit to Italia in 2009.

A perfectly blue sky, a crisp, Sicilian morning in April rocked my world.  I watched a farmer deliver his Fresh Ricotta and by the time I made it to the dining room of the restaurant, it was dished up with a tiny cup of fresh fruit chutney, waiting for me.  The most passionate love affair ensued.  John is aware of this affair and feeds it weekly, right here in Tecumseh.  A spoon and the honey jar are waiting patiently for this week's batch.  Any leftovers are headed into crepes.

We learned more than just cheese making in Italy and Sicily.  We took pleasure in the smallest handmade/handpicked foods.  Simple meals created with joy and the fresh, fresh, freshest ingredients!  In fact, with all of the simple meals, it made restaurant meals seem less special, less flavorful, less personal. 

My favorite part of farmers markets and producing cheese is the personal aspect.  A farmer/producer "nourishes".  The actual food itself is nourishing, the connection to the earth nourishes our souls, the market itself nourishes our "primitive gatherer" and the relationships created nourish our community.  

07 February 2011


Every January/February I cannot resist purchasing tiny orange kumquats.  Tiny, shiny and citrus-y, they just jump into my basket!  I am always intrigued by their sweet/sourness.  I make the same recipe with them every year.  Kinda silly, I know, but it's so good!  A little "chutney for cheese" is the recipe and it's so easy! 

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 lb. kumquats (1/2 pint containers are perfect) sliced 1/4 inch, seeds removed
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns (the mix of green, red, black and white look pretty)
1 star anise (whole pod)

In a saucepan over medium high heat, bring sugar and water to a boil and reduce by about half.  Turn heat to low and add remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring occasionally about 6-8 minutes until kumquat rinds are soft.  Remove star anise and let cool.  Store in a small jar or crock in refrigerator.

My FAVORITE cheese to eat Kumquat Chutney with is Delice de Bourgogne.  Delice is a triple creme cows milk cheese from France.  It looks similar to brie, yet it's softer, richer and taller.  You want to purchase a piece that is not still chalky in the middle.  Soft cheese stop aging once they are cut, so taste before purchasing to assure you get the appropriate age.

I remove the rind on Delice as it is a really pungent and in my opinion, unappetizing flavor.  However, it is edible, like most brie/camembert rinds and strictly a matter or individual tastes.  You can also purchase Delice in a small round inside a wooden box, in that case, I merely scrape off the top rind and use a knife to scoop out the cheese.

Allowing your cheese to come to room temperature is vital!  It always tastes so much better, the texture improves and doesn't harm the cheese in the least!  Delice should last in your fridge for about 3 weeks if you're purchasing from a reputable "cheesemonger" and it's a wedge.  The small rounds with the rind intact will last a bit longer and continue to age.  Served with a sparkling wine like Prosecco, Cava or Champagne will give you the most immense pleasure to be had while eating cheese!  It's worth the splurge!  

 The kumquat chutney keeps quite well in the fridge and could be used along side chicken, other poultry or pork if you desire.  I think duck would be super with it!

02 February 2011

Knitting again....

Do you have a friend that no matter the time apart, you pick up right where you left off and feel so good to be around them again? 
That is my relationship with knitting.
I only know how to knit and purl, I cannot decrease or increase, I cannot cable or create any other stitches.  I am nearly capable of casting on and off neatly.  Knitting is something I really LIKE though!  Even if I'm not very good at it.  I really like choosing yarn and knitting like mad to create a pretty scarf (that's the only thing I can make) and I usually do something weird to hide any dropped stitches or bad casting on/off.  Buttons and felted flowers are like magic for that stuff!!

I often feel my life is a bit like my knitting, it seems to get better with practice and I just put a fun patch or embellishment on the bad parts.  YOU know they are there, but it's part of the fabric now, and no reason to not wear it proudly or share it with someone you love.  

I am interested to see what you have to say on starting new projects.  What kinds of projects do you take on even if you are not very adept at them?  Are you the type of person that takes it apart and starts over?  Do you finish them even if they are not quite right?    

01 February 2011

Quick Mexican Comfort Food

It's a blizzard tonight in southeast Michigan.  The perfect night for pure Mexican comfort food!  John could eat Mexican every night of the week, it's not necessarily my first choice, but I do enjoy it occasionally.  This dish is an exception however, I could eat it round the clock and never get tired of it!  All of the ingredients were in my fridge or freezer (BONUS, as the grocery stores wee a nightmare today!) and it took only a few minutes to whip up!  I apologize, as I don't always take the most lovely photos of food, possibly there is an SLR camera in my future?!

1 pound Mexican fresh chorizo
4 eggs
8 flour tortillas, 8 inches round
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (yes, I actually purchased this!!)
mild green sauce

In a skillet, saute chorizo until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks. Lightly beat eggs in a separate bowl and add to cooked chorizo.  Stir to combine roughly.  Cook until eggs are just done and remove from heat.  Over a gas burner, slightly toast tortilla until edges are just blackened.  Pile in chorizo mixture and garnish with green sauce and shredded cheddar cheese.  Wrap up and eat warm!

If you cannot source fresh Mexican Chorizo where you live, you can easily make it at home.  I've never measured any of the ingredients, yet it always turns out great, go figure?!

1 lb. fresh pork sausage
apple cider vinegar
ground chili powder

I place pork in a bowl, dump in about 1/2 cup of vinegar and sprinkle in about 1/4 cup of chili powder.  Mix it all up, meat should be a bright pumpkin red color.  The mixture should have a nice pungent, chili smell to it.  Let rest in refrigerator for 24 hours at least in a covered bowl or ziploc bag.  Use in place of ground beef in mexican dishes or try the recipe above!

We also love it sprinkled on refried beans or added to mexican rice!