WIP Wednesday: New Beginnings

Welcome back to WIP Wednesday!  I recently finished two knitting projects that I am very excited about.  I will be sharing them with you soon.  In the meantime, it is time to start thinking about what I will knit next.

I have a bit of yarn left over from one of my recently finished projects.  Enough to actually make a little something.  In a fit of frugality (or something!), I became determined to use it right way rather than stick it away in the stash and never look at it again.  I found a pattern for fingerless gloves that looks like it should fit the bill.  It uses two colors  and close to the amount of yarn I have left.  As you can see, I am not very far along:

Roku Mitts in Progress

I am making Roku Mitts in a size small.  This is a risky project because I might not have enough yarn. And I won’t know until I finish the first glove.  The suspense might kill us!

Here is a photo of me using my new ball winder for the first time (well, I’m not actually in the picture, but I’m sure you can imagine me standing right there winding my yarn):

Winding Yarn

A few readers who are related to me can guess that this yarn will be used to make something for my daughter.  I had such success with her fingerless gloves last year that I thought I would see if I could get her to wear a hat made in her favorite color.

Caked and Ready to go!

I am using the Knitted Hats for the Whole Family pattern.  It should be a quick and easy knit, perfect for taking with me to my daughter’s weekly OT appointments.

What do you do with your leftover yarn?  Do you use it right away?  Does it ever get used?  Please share!

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Couscous Salad + Tomato-Mustard Tart

Happy Friday!  I kept my promise and made two French Fridays with Dorie recipes this week!  I’m feeling motivated because I only have six back-log recipes to complete.  Most of them are good Fall/Winter recipes and I plan to hit them this year, so I don’t miss my final window (the group will be finishing the book around April or so next year).  So, what did I make?

Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad with Chicken

The official recipe of the week was Couscous Salad.  It was a pretty easy recipe.  Quick-cooking couscous was cooked in a mixture of chicken broth and spices along with raisins.  After it was cooked and fluffed, it was tossed with diced cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, sugar snap peas, and chickpeas.  A simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, and a sprinkling of cilantro, and it was done.  I served it with the optional Lemon-Grilled Chicken to make it a full meal deal.

I don’t quite know what to say about this recipe.  We liked it well enough.  I just think the flavors are not favorites of ours.  I thought I would eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, but I couldn’t quite muster the enthusiasm for it.  So, we didn’t hate it, but we didn’t love it either.  I won’t be making this one again.

Gérard’s Mustard Tart

Tomato-Mustard Tart

Gérard’s Mustard Tart goes way back.  It was the second recipe the FFWD group made back in October 2010 (before I joined in the fun).

The recipe in the book is Dorie’s friend Gérard’s take on the traditional mustard tart with tomatoes.  Since we have gorgeous garden tomatoes right now, I knew I had to make the original version of this tart, which Dorie helpfully includes instructions for.

This truly is a mustard tart.  The filling consists of lightly beaten eggs, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, and grainy French mustard.  I topped it with two sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of thyme leaves (my addition).

We really enjoyed this tart!  The flavor of the perfectly ripe tomatoes was delicious against the piquant flavor of the mustard.  This one I ate the leftovers!

What will I make next week?

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Roasted Peppers + Tomatoes Provençal

Happy Friday!  The first week of school has come to a successful close.  I enjoyed having some time to myself and got a few things done that I just didn’t have time for over the summer.

Now that I have a little more time, I am going to try to hit two French Fridays with Dorie recipes each week for a while.  I missed a few over the summer, and I really don’t have many of the older recipes to catch up on, so I want to start cranking them out!

This week I made two easy and delicious summery side dishes: Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Provençal.

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers

We love roasted peppers.  My husband buys jars of them all time time for snacking on.  I don’t know why I don’t make them more often, because homemade tastes so much better and they really aren’t a lot of work.

Dorie’s version is pretty classic.  Roasted peppers drizzled with olive oil and scattered with garlic and fresh herbs.  The big difference is the cooking method.  I have always charred my bell peppers under the broiler, but Dorie has us roast them in a 425°F oven.

Roasted Peppers and Chicken

These peppers were tasty!  I used basil from the garden, but you can also use parsley, rosemary, and/or thyme.   I served mine as a side dish to Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken (except I had to roast the chicken due to an unexpected thunder storm).  A delicious dinner!

Tomatoes Provençal

Tomatoes Provençal

The FFWD group made Tomatoes Provençal last month.  I chose to wait so I could use garden tomatoes.  It was worth the wait!

This is a very simple, but impressive, side dish.  Tomatoes are halved and placed in a baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, top with diced garlic and herbs (again, I used basil from the garden), then drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven until tender and delicious!

If you look at the picture above, you can see that I served these tomatoes with leftover Roasted Peppers, as well as a chicken salad made from the leftover chicken.  Another winner of a dinner!

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Gâteau Basque

Gâteau Basque

Happy Friday!  Believe it or not, today marks the last day of summer vacation for us.  My daughter’s school district began a new school calendar last year and school now starts in early August.  Summer went so fast!  We have a few fun things planned today (lunch at a favorite restaurant and a trip to the Discovery Museum) to mark the occasion.

I am running a week behind on French Fridays with Dorie due to a fun vacation and other out-of-town activities.  I had actually hoped to get this post written before I left for my vacation, but it didn’t work out.

We only have a few desserts left to do, so we have been spreading them out a bit.  The group recently tackled Gâteau Basque, a specialty of the Basque region of France (and I suppose it’s common in the Basque regions of Spain too…).

Gâteau Basque

I am always amazed at the wonderful and different ways to use a few basic ingredients:  flour, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  This time they came together as a soft cookie-like shortbread cake with a sweet filling of cherry jam.

I didn’t get a lot of help eating this one.  My daughter enjoyed her piece quite a bit.  My mother-in-law ate a piece while babysitting (I never heard if she liked it or not).  My husband usually doesn’t consider a dessert without chocolate worth eating, so he didn’t have any.

Good thing I liked this cake!  I loved the buttery, vanilla-y cake layers.  The jam I chose was a little too sweet for my taste, but I enjoyed the mix of flavors.  While the cherry jam is traditional, this would be wonderful with other jams too, particularly apricot or strawberry.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online cooking group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.  If you would like to try making Gâteau Basque you can find it in Dorie’s book, or here.

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Provençal Vegetable Soup

Provençal Vegetable Soup

Happy Friday!  Here we are at the last French Fridays with Dorie recipe of July already.  Does anyone else feel like this summer is flying by?

This week we made Provençal Vegetable Soup.  Soup seems like an odd thing to make in the middle of summer, but this one is chock full of summer vegetables.

What vegetables are in this soup?  Here is the long list:  onion, garlic, carrots, potato, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and fresh corn.  Add to that some pasta and cannellini beans, then top with pesto, basil, and Parmesan cheese.  For an all-veggie soup, this one is quite hearty!

Provençal Vegetable Soup

I was able to use several herbs and veggies from our garden:  rosemary, potato, tomatoes, and basil.  Even the pesto came from last year’s garden.

Now, we’ve been having some hot weather here in Reno.  We had a couple weeks over 100°, and soup really doesn’t sound appealing when it is that hot out.  Thankfully, early this week we had a patch of cooler weather, and the day I made my soup it was a little cloudy and rainy, with a high of *only* 85°.

We loved this soup!  To me, the pesto really makes the soup.  Even though the corn is non-traditional, we felt that it really added a nice flavor and texture.  This soup is a winner for sure.  Maybe I’ll make it again in the Fall when the weather is a little cooler?

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, and online group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  If you would like to try Provençal Vegetable Soup, I highly recommend getting this wonderful book!

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Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

Look at me!  I’m posting the correct French Fridays with Dorie recipe on the correct day!  We made one of the “diciest” recipes in the book:  Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras.

Foie gras pâté is not one of the easiest ingredients to come buy.  I didn’t have the time to drive all over town looking for it, so I ordered mine from D’Artagnan.  Because shipping was so expensive (they have to FedEx it overnight) I ordered a few more goodies to maximize the cost:

French Goodies

I can’t wait to try everything!

To make Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras, a few small chunks of foie gras pâté are placed in the bottom of a ramekin.  Carefully break an egg on top and season with salt and white pepper.  Spoon a little cream over each egg, then sprinkle with fresh tarragon and parsley.  Dorie recommends a few slices of black truffle (if you can find/afford them).  I found a foie gras pâté that contained black truffles, so I got the flavor without the expense.

Coddled Eggs

Finally, the ramekins are placed in a large steamer and cooked until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.  Actually, I didn’t do this.  I really don’t like runny yolks, so I cooked mine a little longer until the yolks were just set.  The end result is basically a decadent version of shirred eggs.

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

The verdict?  Very rich, with delicious flavor.  That was my opinion.  My husband would not try it.  He just didn’t like the idea of eating duck liver (he is not even aware of the controversy surrounding the production of foie gras).  So, this was fun to try, and I liked it, but I will not likely be making it again.

Are you interested in finding out how the other FFWD participants liked Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras?  Check it out here!

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Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

It’s Friday, and once again I’m going against the grain and posting a make-up recipe instead of the current week’s French Fridays with Dorie pick.

This week’s recipe involves zucchini blossoms.  I am hoping (finger’s crossed!) that my garden will start producing zucchini blossoms very soon.  It’s been a tough year for my vegetable garden.  I am having a big problem with pests eating my sprouts and seedlings.  Of the 24 or so green bean seeds I planted, only two sprouts look like they might survive.  The rest were eaten, sometimes before they even broke through the soil.  My zucchini plants are struggling as well.  It looks like two or three of them have a good chance of surviving.  If you see a zucchini blossom post from me in a few weeks, you will know they survived!

Salmon Rillettes

Instead of skipping this week altogether, I did a make-up from last month instead.  Salmon Rillettes is a delicious spread made from a combination of fresh and smoked salmon.  The fresh salmon is gently poached in white wine, then mashed with the smoked salmon, lemon zest, chopped shallot, lemon juice, and a bit of butter.  After chilling, it’s ready to serve.

Salmon Rillettes

I served Salmon Rillettes for dinner with toasted baguette slices and a nice salad.  I loved it!  Though I served it for dinner, it would be excellent as an appetizer for a dinner party. I had leftovers for lunch on a bagel with cream cheese, and it was quite tasty!

We have made 3 rillettes now (sardine, salmon, and tuna), and this is my favorite.

I found the recipe for Salmon Rillettes on pbs.org.  You can also find in in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

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Catching Up…

Happy 4th of July  to my American readers!  Happy Friday to the rest of you!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a delicious sounding tomato recipe.  I did not make it.  In a few weeks we can start harvesting garden tomatoes, so I will wait until then to make this dish.

Instead, I am catching up on some recipes from May and June that I hadn’t gotten to yet.  Actually, I made two of these back in May but just haven’t written about them.  The fish I made this past week.  Let’s get to catching up!

Smoked Salmon Waffles

Smoked Salmon Waffles

Smoked Salmon Waffles are a savory waffle meant to be served as a starter or a snack.  The concept is pretty simple:  basic waffle batter enhanced with smoked salmon, green onions, and chives.

Smoked Salmon Waffles

These were good!  Though they would have been better served as a starter rather than a main dish.  These would be wonderful for brunch!  In fact, the next day I reheated a leftover waffle and put a fried egg on top of it.  Yum!

Pipérade Stir-Fry

Piperade Stir-Fry

Pipérade Stir-Fry is really just a dish inspired by the Basque Pipérade.  Colorful bell peppers are sauteed until tender, then coated with red wine vinegar.  After cooling to room temperature, the peppers are seasoned with thinly sliced red onions, garlic, piment d’Espelette, and salt and pepper.  Dorie suggests these peppers are great with any kind of grilled meat.

Piperade and Steak

I served Pipérade Stir-Fry with our first grilled steaks of the year (remember, I made this back in May).  So delicious!  The peppers really did go well with the grilled beef and we enjoyed this side dish very much.

Skate Halibut with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce

Halibut with Cornichons and Capers

So, this dish was supposed to be prepared with skate.  I knew there was no way I was finding skate here in Reno, so I decided to see what looked good when I hit the fish counter.  The wild-caught halibut looked good to me!  (Actually, I tried making this dish a week earlier, but got seduced by the fresh and wild Copper River sockeye, and I didn’t want to mask the wonderful flavor with this sauce…)

This is a very quick and easy recipe.  After the fish is cooked in butter on the stove, a sauce is made by browning butter and adding sherry vinegar, grainy French mustard, thinly sliced cornichons, and a few capers.  Spoon it over the fish and eat!

This sauce was wonderful with the halibut.  Don’t be afraid to try this recipe if you can’t find skate.  I am sure it would work with any firm, white fish.

All of these recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.

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Guacamole with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

Guacamole with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

Guacamole for French Fridays with Dorie?  Why, yes!  Apparently it is quite common in France, especially Paris.  Who knew?  One thing I have learned through this FFWD journey is that French home cooking is just as “melting pot” as American home cooking.

Guacamole

This was a delicious guacamole recipe.  There were instructions to make it smooth or chunky.  As you can see from the pictures I opted for chunky.  The ingredient list includes lime zest and juice, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, diced jalapeno, grape tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, and (duh!) avocados.  The only change I made was to use only half the lime juice, which I found to be more than enough.

Guacamole and Chips

We ate most of the guacamole with blue corn tortilla chips, but we saved a bit of it to top beef fajitas for our main course.

Beef Fajitas

The best part about this guacamole was that I made it on the first night of vacation!  Guacamole is always good, but it is even better on vacation.

We stayed for several nights at Lake Almanor in Northeastern California.  The lake was fun, but the highlight of our trip (besides the delicious guacamole) was a day trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The park was beautiful and interesting – a fun time was had by all!

Lake Almanor:

Lake Almanor

Lassen Peak from the “Devastated Area”:

Lassen Peak

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WIP Wednesday: Too Busy To Write Edition

When I started my WIP Wednesday feature last month, my intention was to write an update at least every other week (as long as I had updates to share!).  Well, it’s nearly a month and a half later.  Whoops!  My excuse is not that I haven’t accomplished anything, but rather that I have been so busy with my projects that I haven’t had time to write about them.

Knitting

Larch is coming along nicely!  This has been a very enjoyable project and I love how the pattern shows off the beautiful yarn so well.  I can’t wait to finish this one!

Larch in Progress

Next month I will be starting another mystery knit-a-long!  This one will be a two color hat.  I chose the following colors of Simplicity.  I used the Pantone Fall 2014 Fashion Color Report for inspiration.

Simplicity Yarn

This is another KAL hosted by Skacel and Michelle Hunter.  For more information about the KAL see:  http://knitpurlhunter.com/kal/uncategorized/july-kal-3/.  If you are interested in participating in a mystery KAL, I highly recommend Michelle’s.  They are very well run and I always learn something new!

Home Improvement

My bedroom project is coming along slowly, but surely.  It is slow-going because this is the first time I have done any of this, and I am learning as I go.  The project also got stopped in it’s tracks due to have my mother visit to help me with a garage sale (she stayed in the room, so I had to make it liveable for her) and the school year ending.

Since I last updated you, I have ripped out the closet doors, washed the walls (a painful process because of leftover wallpaper glue), painted the ceiling, and patched the walls.  I had hoped to have a fun before/after photo of the ceiling and new light fixture for you, but we ran into a snag with the light fixture that requires some research and perhaps a consultation with an electrician.  Trust me, the picture will be more fun when the light fixture is installed!

I made a decision about the closet doors!  They have been removed and will not be replaced.  My sister-in-law, who has young children of her own, convinced me to go doorless.  Thinking about ease-of-use and accessibility for my daughter, this made the most sense.  Here is a photo of the closet right now:

Empty Closet

The white bits are where the original shelf and rod were installed.  I removed those and patched the walls.

Right now I am working on masking the rooms so I can get the walls painted.  I hope to get that done when summer school starts in a couple of weeks.  Then the project will be put on hiatus until the new school year starts in August.

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