Archive | October 2016

The Quilter

hungry-catepillar Quilting has been around for a long time.  When the English and the Dutch came to America, quilting flourished. Originally it was strictly for keeping warm but over time the patterns became more elaborate.  Women would gather together as a social event making quilts.

In case you are interested in the origin of the word it is derived from the Latin word culcita meaning sack.  If I was talking to the Dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding he would probably be able to tell me the Greek origin of the word.  I could probably google it but it wouldn’t be as much fun. I loved when he would talk about words in the movie. Unlike Tula I found his dialog fascinating.

Pat is our quilter.  It would be nice to have a quilting circle but unfortunately we are all to busy and barely have enough time to do the important stuff like have our wine meetings and drink.  There are always priorities in life.

She has made some really beautiful quilts including one with tee shirts.  I have seen several of those around and love them.  They are especially nice if the tee shirts tell a story. One of my colleagues and her husband attend this festival every year.  They have been going to the Festival  for years.  Every year they buy a new tee shirt.  Many of her husbands tee shirts were a “little” worn and getting a little ratty looking. So she trimmed them and made them into a quilt.  It looked great.

The quilt on the top is the one Pat is working on as a gift for her grand niece. She made the one below for her Mom.   I think she does a great job of picking subject matter and then surrounding it with the perfect fabric.

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Sea Glass

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This wine deserves a mention.  It was one of the bottles at our wine club in September. The appealing thing about this wine at least to me is it is unoaked.  Yes it does make it a lighter flavored wine. And yes you do need to really think about what you want to serve with it so it is not overpowered.  That being said  I think you are better able to taste the flavors of green apple and citrus making it a lovely wine to sip alone.

A Hearty Vegetable and Meatball Stew

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It was a cabin weekend.  The weather was glorious.  There was a tiny chill in the air but by the afternoon it was in the mid sixties.  It was the Perfect day to have  Vegetable and Meatball Stew for lunch.  Margarita Maggie had a great recipe that she made for us.  It gave us all great sustenance so that we were able to do our craft project which I will post on a different day. A glass of wine and a whole grain bread make it a lovely supper.  Stay tuned I have some perfect wines and a bread recipe that is really great.

This is Margarita Maggies recipe

Winter vegetable and meatball stew

2 med. Potatoes cut in 1″ cubes

2 med. carrots  sliced

1 large onion chopped

2 Tbsp. Beef bouillon 

1bay leaf 

1 1/2 tsp. each thyme and oregano

1/2 tsp. Rosemary and basil

1/2 tsp pepper

Bring 4 1/2 c water to a boil. Add all of the above , return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 min.

Meatballs

1 egg

1/2 c. Bread crumbs

1 tsp onion

1 tsp Worcestershire 

1/4 tsp. Garlic

1/8 tsp. Pepper

1 lb ground beef

 Add to broth and cook  15 min.

2 med. Sweet potatoes 1 ” cubes

2 med. parsnips cubed

2 med. turnips cubed

 Add to pot and cook 20 min. 

Mix 1/2 c water with 1/3 c flour. Add to broth and cook 10 minutes.

Comfort cooking for Fall Foodies: Pork and Apple Casserole

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Fall is here you can smell it in the air. It is a crisp, clean smell and I love it.  It means that the oppressive summer days are drawing to an end.  Did I mention I hate heat.  The only thing I like about summer is the long days.  I love that there is still some light at 9 PM and in the morning at 5 am.  Oh well I guess you can’t have it all.

Fall also means casseroles and two of my favorite ingredients to use are apples and pumpkin.  I have already shared one of my pumpkin recipes I do a lot of cooking without a recipe so I decided to combine apples and pork to make a stew.  It came out a lot better than I thought it would.  The secret was the spice combination.  I used fresh rosemary, nutmeg and chipolte chili powder and it seemed to work.    I am sharing the recipe with you.  I made a large batch so that I could serve one meal and freeze several meal.

 

Pork and Apple Stew

3 lbs country ribs

flour to coat pork

1 medium onion chopped

1 lb baby carrots rough chop

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup apple juice

¼ c apple cider

canola oil to brown pork

1 tsp chipotle chili powder,

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 medium gala apple

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In large pot add onion chopped.  I like bigger pieces so I roughly chop them.  Cut the carrots in relatively large chunks and add to pot. Add the broth, apple juice, apple cider and all the spices. Cook on low heat. Coat the pork with flour and brown in frying pan. Add pork to the large pot with your other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about an hour.  Cut the Apple into cubes and add to pork mixture.  Continue to cook for another half hour.

If you want the stew with a little more kick you can add more chipotle chili powder.

I served this over couscous but you can substitute rice or noodles.

 

By the Sea By the Sea By the Beautiful Sea

 

Sunset on the Bay

Our wine club is very fortunate.  We have two wonderful retreats for a girls weekend.  You have heard me talk about the cabin but our Beach Lady Sharon and her husband have a beautiful place on Assawoman Bay.  Yes I said Assawoman and it is in the Ocean City area.  The picture in this post is sundown and I can tell you there is nothing more relaxing than sitting with a glass of wine on her deck watching the sun go down.

Sharon calls it her Happy Place and I can so understand why.  We have a different routine when we go to the beach.  Walking the boardwalk is the best.  Last year we went in October.  You can’t really go swimming but the boardwalk is divine.  No big crowds, same great vendors, no bumping into people when you walk.  There is a slight chill in the air meaning no sweating.  I hate to sweat!

Berlin, Md is not too far away.  It was voted one of the top 20 small towns in America of 2016. We had a great lunch there with of course several bottles of wine.  That was followed by some serious retail therapy.  It was so great to get away with all my wine ladies and relax. There is nothing like a little Wine time at the beach unless it is Wine time in the mountains.

Pumpkin Season

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I was reading the Parade section of the paper and this one fact just screamed at me.  Americans spent 361 million dollars on pumpkin flavored items from 2014 to 2015.  I was right in there with the pack.  I am a pumpkin fanatic.

During pumpkin season I buy pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin flavored peanut butter (although this will be removed from my list this year since I am a peanut butter purist), pumpkin flavored oreos, I think you get my drift.

In addition to pumpkin flavored food items I put pumpkin in as many things as I can.  I even buy the sugar pumpkins that you make pie out of but I usually make pumpkin butter with it. So over the years I have collected a lot of pumpkin recipes.  One of my favorite is Pumpkin Lasagna. I love serving this when I am having people over in the Fall and Winter.  In fact, I made this lasagna for our Fall getaway at Sharon’s Happy Place at the Beach.

Here is the original recipe that I found but I usually adjust it and here is how.  I sometimes use ground beef or the vegetarian sausage crumbles instead of the sausage.  I tried ground turkey but did not like it.  But if you  like ground turkey that is a good substitute.  I also add a tsp at least of chipolte chili powder to the tomato sauce.  If you like to turn it up a notch add more.

 

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pumpkin puree in a fine sieve over a bowl; set aside to drain while you make the sauce.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 more minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato sauce and herbs and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and toss with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.

Mix the strained pumpkin puree with the egg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and the romano.

Build your lasagna in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish: Start with a layer of sauce, then top with a layer of noodles. Evenly spread half of the pumpkin filling, then half of the zucchini, over the noodles. Top with half of the cheese mixture and cover with some of the sauce. Repeat the layers, finishing with noodles and sauce; sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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The Original Soup Nazi not our Pam! Here is her soup story in her own words.

 

My heart skipped a beat last weekend when the realization hit me that the end to the bounty of summer was coming soon.  I love fall, but I really embraced the concept of eating whatever’s in season this summer.  There were times I didn’t think there would be enough tomatoes and basil to go around.  So, in a panic, I stopped at the farm nearby and raided them of more than my usual daily allotment of goodies.  When faced with an assortment of ingredients, there’s only a few obvious choices: pizza (it’s a blank canvas after all; anything goes), casseroles, or soup.  Enter Maryland Minestrone.

Since I am the Soup Nazi (yes, I stole that from Seinfeld) of the family, I love to see what variations of soup I can come up with.  The secret of any great soup is the stock, and I learned long ago from Chef Jeff (a.k.a., my brother) that you should rarely ever throw away or even compost food scraps until it’s given its last essence in a big pot of water.  Tip #1: keep a gallon-sized resealable bag in in the freezer; every time you cut onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, etc., put the ends and skins in the bag; when it’s full, put the contents in a big pot covered with water, add a bay leaf or 2 and some salt and pepper, and simmer until it’s a rich brown (from the onion skins) – a couple of hours; drain and use or freeze.  Tip #2: Add some with bones (I roast them at 450 for 20-60 minutes first) for a meat stock or shells (crab, shrimp, clam, etc.) for a seafood stock.  Your soups will thank you.

We got some steamed crabs a few weeks back, and I went a little overboard making a LOT of stock.  Well, since crabs are a Maryland signature item, some of that just had to go into the pot.  Add some local corn, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, and tomatoes (everything fresh at the moment), and you’ve got Maryland Minestrone soup to capture the summer sun for dinner tonight and to remind you of warmer days in the winter.

Maryland Minestrone Soup (serves as few or as many as you want based on how crazy you get buying the veggies; freezes very well if you go overboard as I did)

1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped (optional, but I think it adds that Minestrone flare to the soup)
1-2 zucchini (depending on the size; I used medium sized, about 1 1/2 inches thick), quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick slices
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bag of fresh green beans (about 3 cups), stemmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (don’t cook first if you use frozen, just add them with the corn)

2 cups small red, fingerling, or new potatoes quartered or halved (depending on size)
2 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes with the juice (cut up or crush the tomatoes first)
4 ears of corn, steamed for 10 minutes and kernels cut off the cob with the steaming water reserved  (or about 2 cups of frozen corn)
3 cups crab stock (if you don’t have some, you can use clam juice and add some Old Bay to get more depth of flavor)
3-4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock 1 bay leaf
1 Tbls. Old Bay seasoning, to taste (you may need more if your crab stock is lightly seasoned)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and parsnip in stock or olive oil over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes stirring often until beginning to get tender.  Add the zucchini, yellow squash, and green beans (and more stock or oil if needed), and saute for another 5-7 minutes until tender. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the corn; stir to distribute evenly.  Then add the crab stock, 3 cups of the chicken/vegetable stock (you can add the last cup if it’s too thick or you just want more broth to your soup), and the reserved corn water (the starch helps thicken the soup), bay leaf, Old Bay, and salt and pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the corn is heated through and the soup starts to look thicker.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Enjoy!

If you want to add some protein, some chopped chicken or northern beans work well.