Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Can't Believe it's Homemade Butter

Until today, I thought making butter at home was an obsolete practice which involved stout women in colonial garb and hours of laborious churning. After reading a fellow blogger's post about how easy it was to make homemade butter, I decided I had to try it for myself. (thank you to Them Apples) Sure enough, it was as simple as shaking a jar. It took about 25 minutes for it to work through the stages of forming butter (which I used as a rare opportunity to give my arms a workout while sitting on the couch). After straining off the buttermilk, I rinsed the butter with ice water to remove any excess milk. I portioned it out into several small batches and rolled it up in wax paper for safe keeping. I also decided to make salted, thyme/parsley, and basil butter but the pure unsalted version was the smoothest, creamiest butter I have ever tasted. So the next time you have some bottled up frustration, take it out on a jar full of cream and then at least you will have something to show for all of your vigorous shaking.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dog Tale

My loyal canine friend always sits outside the kitchen, watching patiently as I stumble through all sorts of culinary creations. He waits quietly and looks at me with an encouraging expression. I know he is secretly hoping for a mishap that will lead to delicious morsels flying through the air and landing conveniently on the floor for the taking. He rarely gets treated to any of the finished product but today was his day. I decided to tackle homemade dog treats. I found an easy recipe for peanut butter biscuits at and doctored it up a bit for my pooch with special dietary issues. I used rice flour instead of wheat flour, I opted for water instead of the milk, and for one batch I added 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. When presented with the option of cheese or peanut butter, he chose the peanut butter but that's not to say he didn't eat his share of the cheese treats too. For all his unconditional love, this was my token of appreciation... Good boy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Diary of an Accidental Foodie

Oil and vinegar are pantry staples...but if you are a "foodie", you probably seek out unique flavors in oil and vinegar the way some people savor particular varieties of fine wine. This past week I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Traverse City, MI. Downtown, I stumbled across a tasting bar called Fustini's. The store was flanked by gorgeous stainless steel canisters that housed 21 different types of olive oils and 14 varieties of balsamic vinegars. Strolling along the bar, I sampled delectable infusions of everything from meyer lemon to porcini mushroom. The wonderful balsamics were all from Modena, Italy and barrel aged at least 12 years. They ranged from white balsamic to pomegranate and of course there was the traditional 18 year balsamic. The flavor combinations seemed endless. I opted for the tunisian harissa olive oil and the cherry balsamic. As soon as I got home, I couldn't wait to get another taste of that flavorful heat of the harissa so I quickly sliced a baguette and dipped the crusty bread right into a deep pool of oil. Delicious.

I must admit, three years ago I never even thought about flavored oils and vinegars. Thanks to my friends at Sur La Table, who generously gave me my first good bottle of aged balsamic vinegar, I have been officially converted. Yet another milestone in my adventure as an accidental foodie.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eating the Rainbow

Every Saturday morning, I peruse the local fare that is strewn about along the bluff here in St. Joe. This weekend's find was carrots. Their unusual coloring caught my attention and I snatched them out of the bin the minute I saw them. I raced home and snapped these photos of the crunchy characters in all their crooked glory. I immediately sliced them into a carrot salad, mixed with cucumber slices and balsamic dressing, and their flavor was as punchy as their hue. I must continue to eat the local rainbow as long as it is around because winter's grey umbrella is looming.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Conveniently Delicious

After 11 straight days
of working (5 of which were on
location in the rain) all I wanted this morning was a tall cup of coffee, a delicious muffin, and some relaxation. Mission accomplished. This delightful concoction was an experiment in convenience. Since I had vowed not to get out of my pajamas today, I used only ingredients that were currently in my pantry. I foraged through my kitchen and found Bisquick (don't judge me), some organic sugar, half and half, as well as the remnants of a pint of blueberries. Long story short, I made a thick pancake batter from the Bisquick and poured it into muffin tins, tossed in the juicy blueberries and dusted it all with sugar. VOILA!...delicious muffins. The blueberries plumped up out of the tops, the sugar baked into a crunchy crust, and when I slathered on some butter it became absolutely mouth watering. For a second, I forgot about my 14 hour work days and sore feet. Ahh, the power of food.