26 April 2011


How busy are you?  Do you do the things you want to do or are you too busy?  Do we create busy...hmmm that's a big thought for so early in the morning.    

I saw a television clip not long ago from a motivational speaker/business consultant, Danielle La Porte.  You can find her here http://www.whitehottruth.com and she is a firecracker! 

The particular clip was about being "BUSY".  The synopsis was how everyone is "busy" and each person feels their "busy" is more important than someone elses "busy" and that people will be competitive about how "busy" they are!!  It's also about how we use "busy" as an excuse for not doing _______.

I found the whole clip to be hilarious and enlightening.  Do I use "busy" as an excuse?  The short answer is "yes and yes and no".  

I tracked my "busy" for a week and found I did use "busy" as an excuse to not complete some ugly tasks ...hardly a federal offense.  I claimed "busy" to send regrets to a couple's wedding shower...I am sending a gift early, and I really do have other plans that can't be changed.  Then I cleared my schedule for this weekend to just be with family, no busy what-so-ever; college graduation and having the family over for supper. 

There are 22 of us...but 4 were "too busy"!! 

Sure, it will be busy, a great, fun, fabulous kind of busy with family!  I can't think of a better way to spend my time....        

23 April 2011

Preserving food thoughts....

This week I started a new series of monthly cooking classes as The Boulevard Market called "PRESERVE IT!".  It's a concept I've been thinking about for a long time and now with the Creamery kitchen enlarged, it's a reality!

I think preserving food is an interesting lesson of life.  To capture peak produce and other foods at the height of their growing season and keeping them that way for a length of time, requires forethought, time/space planning as well as creativity and a bit of science!  Like many people these days, I am feeling the need to purchase foods locally produced, however Michigan has a LONG winter and I don't have a problem supporting other USA grown produce/products!  I am enjoying beautiful, sweet Florida strawberries as we speak!

I've plotted and planned our vegetable garden for this year, so I will have plenty of homegrown vegetables to eat fresh and preserve.  Now if it would just STOP raining and warm up!

I am not up for canning 100's of quarts of traditional tomatoes when it's 90 degrees outside.  I am up for canning 20 pints of heirloom tomatoes from my garden to use as soup or sauce all next winter!  I also like to make liquers and sauces from whatever fruit is in season, bruschettas, marmalades, herb rubs, candied citrus peels and more! 

This year's newest challenges for me will be wine vinegar from a "mother", my own pie fillings and bamboo skewers stacked with onions, cornichons and olives for martinis!  Fun stuff, stuff I like to have on hand, (that's the beauty of doing your own preserving) goodies I like to eat and give as gifts!

Join us at The Market if you are in the area, or watch for recipes and postings here!  Our first class is Wednesday and we are preserving citrus fruits in all sorts of fabulous ways!  Feel free to comment or email for details.  


18 April 2011

Queso Blanco with Chipotle, courtesy of Four Corners Creamery

Four Corners Creamery Queso Blanco with ground Chipotle.

With a cheese maker for a husband, occasionally I ask John to make me cheese and we barter and bargain for them....you don't want to know what I have to do to get Ricotta!

Lately, I've been on a Queso Blanco kick.  Queso Blanco at Four Corners Creamery is made with cultures and rennet versus just drained & pressed curd, so it has a bit of time to stay fresh, yet acts just like the fresh version.
Pure cows milk is gently pasteurized, inoculated and separated by rennet and then drained and pressed.  We occasionally make plain, but I really like when John adds ground Chipotle peppers.  The chipotle gives the mellow Queso Blanco a smokey flavor without too much heat.

Queso Blanco is a bit odd when used for cooking, it doesn't truly met, but softens and becomes a bit goopy (for lack of a better description) yet, doesn't spread.  This is so miraculous when making enchiladas as the cheese stays right in the tortilla!  I only cut the cheese into long slices and fill the tortilla...no grating of cheese required!
  I usually add refried pinto beans to the cheese filling as well.  I prefer canned pinto beans, rinsed and tossed into a saute pan with a bit of olive oil and chopped onion & salt.  I mash them as they warm and taste so much better than the already mashed canned refried beans.

I put about 2 Tablespoons of beans and a slice of cheese in the corn tortilla that has been flash fried in vegetable oil, roll it up and lay them side by side in a baking dish.

I mix a jar of crushed tomatoes(drained) with a can of diced chilis (drained) and pour over the top.  Top with a bit of cheese and bake 375 degrees for about 30 minutes!  Topped with some shredded lettuce and sour cream is fantastic!

Don't despair if you cannot find Queso Blanco with Chipotles in your area, simply use plain cheese and add a bit of chipotle powder to your refried beans!

14 April 2011

Perennial pursuits

The first daffodil of the year

Michigan is finally feeling a bit of Spring weather!  I changed plans, grabbed the old gardening shoes and left house cleaning for a rainy day!

I decided to tackle the front cottage garden as it was still full of leaves and old stalks.  The cottage garden was put in about 12 years ago and I have a variety of perennials, so it doesn't usually get cut back heavy in the fall because I still have blooming mums, asters and hydrangea.
Rhubarb is rearing it's ugly, but tasty head

I liken perennials to people while gardening, some have spread out a bit, some are getting thin on top.  A few are still as vital as the day I met them and others didn't return after a hard winter.  I always remember who shared which plants and send them a celestial "hello" or "miss you" and continue to dig.  I always remember someone's pleasure when given the promise of a blooming perennial.  It's the beginning of a long relationship.

There is still much work to do this Spring, but I will be amongst old friends, my flowers.
Toad has seen better days...guarding the garden pond

I am looking forward to adding some new rose bushes this year...http://www.teapotsandpolkadots.net/2011/04/riotous-roses.html  was such an inspiration and I have a couple roses that over winter reverted back to standard rootstock.  Maybe fuschia? Oh, the possibilities!!

The vegetable garden is being planned and plotted too.  It has scaled back in size over the last years, as my brother farms vegetables.   However, he refused to plant my favorite green beans and shallots.  Plus, I like to pick my own stuff...my lettuce tastes better than his!  My sweat, blood and tears give it a little "sumpin sumpin" extra.
The only chicks & hens I'll be raising this year!

I hope you are enjoying your gardening as well and give me a call if there's a perennial you're looking for....        


09 April 2011

Yucky wine...

I'm not a wine snob.  We sample and drink a fair amount of wine through The Market and they are usually really decent wines.  I also like to buy wines I'm not familiar with, for their labels and bottle colors/shapes and or unusual varieties.  It's a way to get out of my comfort zone with wine drinking.

Occasionally we come wines that are nasty.  If I don't want to drink them, I don't want to cook with them either.  I dumped them down the drain for the longest time until I decided to make wine jelly after tasting some lovely Italian wine jelly made from Lambrusco wine.

The first couple batches I made from really lovely wines and they turned out fantastic.  Then I made a batch of wine jelly with a hideous Rose from Spain...and it was delicious!!! Since then, I have strictly used wines I don't care to drink and time after time the jelly turns out great!  Red, White or Rose, it doesn't make a difference and I have been known to throw in whatever wine is hanging around, regardless of color.

I usually buy some fun stemless wineglasses to fill for gift giving with a hunk of cheese, but any glass jar will work if you don't want a truly preserved jelly (no sealing of jars) and recipients should store refrigerated.  The jelly is an incredible accompaniment to salty, soft cheeses but also works great in thumbprint cookies and on toast/bagels/quick breads for a lovely brunch item.      


2 cups Wine (any will do!)
3 ¼ cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin

Bring wine and sugar to a boil.  Add the pouch of liquid pectin and boil for exactly 1 minute!  Pour into clean, hot jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  (You can find directions on water bath processing in the pectin instructions.)

I think you'll love this recipe!  Let me know how your icky wines turn into beautiful jellies!

A fabulous year begins...

Yesterday was my birthday. I contemplated wearing the sweater I wore on my birthday last year, in hopes of denying another year had passed me by. 
Birthday 2010-Paris

I don't mind getting older (much) it's more the feeling that life has sped up and I still have so many things I want to do!!!  I thought my "Things to do in this Life" list would get shorter and instead, I find myself adding to it every week!  There are so many places and people, things to cook and eat...stuff to explore!

My partner in crime, John, always makes my birthday special.  How did I ever get so lucky to have him by my side for 22 years?  John can make cheese and play anything on an electric guitar.  He can MMA train, kicking ass and sing "Happy Birthday" to me while holding p-dog.  He makes me laugh everyday and took me to Paris.  He is the love of my life. 

His gift to me was "Pixie"!!! Nespresso's newest espresso machine.  An orange one...we drank espresso at 11pm toasting another great year.  John also got an enormous sampler pack of cartridges in every flavor.   It was a fantastic day! 
Meet Pixie!

The Roma is fabulous!

Our oldest daughter, Gina, fed some of my serious addictions...soap.  She sent me this little beauty and a this sweet little candle.  I am loving the cat (as did she) and the fact that it killed the odor of frying corn tortillas in oil the other night.  It's a miracle.  I am saving the soap until tonight...I've just been enjoying the beautiful aroma and package.

My mom fed my dish addiction with sweet,earthy Japanese small plates and a lemon pound cake!!! She also forced some forsythia branches for me and brought a lovely bouquet to The Market for all to enjoy.
Lemon Pound cake with Chocolate and Pistachios!

Flowers from Mom

Julia and Jamie sent lots of birthday wishes, kept Pierre in line and the homestead tidy.  Those were great gifts!
My in laws had a short visit and a Frank Sinatra singing card with some cash tucked inside.  Enough for a cute pair of stripey capris I've been eyeballing.  That was a great gift and Sinatra is still singing this morning!
My friend Mel brought me Madagascar Cocoa!!

I received lots of Birthday wishes from friends and family, near and far...Facebook can be amazing.  I am raring to start another year full of love, adventure, food and family!       


06 April 2011

This weeks thoughts....

Pierre is our first dog.  How long do you have to dance, get excited, give treats and generally flip out every time they go potty outside?  None of the books tell me this important fact.
Pierre helping himself to a snack.....

I always thought it quite odd when a sales clerk would check a pair of shoes in the box before ringing up my purchase.  Like I was trying to buy 2 different sizes or something...until I got a box of shoes home the other day and realized I only had 1 shoe!!!!  Shoe checkers everywhere, I apologize and carry on checking shoes, please!!

I realized yesterday I still have Christmas potpurri on my bathroom vanity.  Pinecones, sparkly ribbon and juniper berries galore.....it matches the wreath that is still stuck on the exterior of The Market (and the weather in Michigan).
Potpurri exchanged for spring tulips!

I really love greek salads at Coney Island restaurants.  Especially when they add chickpeas and english cucumbers.  They always taste better there in the funky little clear plastic dishes shaped like lettuce leaves!

I cannot get over being horribly disgusted when the dog eats poop outside.  We installed an invisible fence last month, so at least I won't have to witness it much longer!  UGH!

Sweet Fentiman's Tonic water bottle says "SPRING!"
I had been loving Ray LaMontagne's music until the song "Beg, Steal Or Borrow" which talks about a young man who is willing to do all 3 above mentioned to get out of his small hometown.  The lyrics go on to say "Pull all the friends that you knew in school, They used to be so cool, now they just bore you.  Look at 'em now already pullin' the plow, So quick to take to grain like some old mule."  Really?  This makes me want to rant about attitudes regarding young people taking up farming.


05 April 2011

Roquefort Roulade

I'm stuck at "A Table in the Tarn" recipe section and I'm never leaving!!! 

A year ago at this time our family was preparing to visit France.  This week has been fun to relive a few of those memories and eat a slew of French dishes. 
We absolutely love Roquefort cheese, it's powerful and a tad salty, yet beautifully delicate enough to melt on your fingertips.  I have served it with grilled steaks and served it with seedless grapes...it complements so many different flavors.

I believe the only downside of Roquefort is it's price, not for the faint of heart.  I wouldn't use any substitutions in this recipe, however, as the cheese is the star and it only take 1/2 pound.  The finished recipe is also quite rich and will easily serve 6 with a salad and bread. 

This Roulade is a bit like a quiche, but more interesting in texture, flavor and appearance.  I only changed the size of the pan required.  I have made a few egg roll-up recipes and liked the size the 11X15 sheet pan created.  A bit easier handling than the 10X13 called for.  You can make your own judgement on that.  Despite what looks like a huge recipe, it all came together rather quickly and we were eating in 40 minutes, start to finish!  I love that!

Roulade of Roquefort
by Orlando Murrin of "A Table in the Tarn"

3 T butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup Cantal, Comte or Cheddar cheese, grated
dash of nutmeg, Dijon Mustard and cayenne pepper
3 eggs, seperated
2 T Parmigiano-Reggiano,grated

2 T Butter
2 T flour
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 pound Roquefort cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, flour and milk and stir constantly until thick, reduce heat to simmer and cook 3 minutes.  Stir in cheese, seasonings and egg yolks.  Mix to combine.  Whisk egg whites to soft peaks and fold into cheese mixture.  Pour onto a parchment (VERY IMPORTANT to line pan with parchment) smooth with a spatula and sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese.  Bake about 15 minutes if using 11X15 or 20 minutes if using 10X13 pan.  Bake until golden brown and puffed.

Make the filling while the Roulade bakes.  Add butter, flour and milk to a small saucepan over medium high heat and stir constantly until thickened. ( Will be a bit thicker than above was)  Add mustard and stir.

Crumble Roquefort and set aside.

To assemble:  Remove Roulade from oven and use a spatulas to loosen edges from parchment.  Let cool about 4 minutes then spread with filling and sprinkle on the Roquefort.  Starting at the short end, roll up, jelly roll style (It will end up being 11 inches long) and let cool about 10-15 minutes on parchment paper.

Slice on the bias a bit and serve!  It will be a bit oozy, which is correct! 
I served with a sundried tomato and bacon wilted spinach salad!