Archives for posts with tag: food photos
Photo shows whole pecan rolls.

Hot homemade pecan rolls. Photo by Sharyn Dimmick, who ate the missing one.

Two of my lovely readers, Smidge and Granny, asked me separately what the theme for November would be on The Kale Chronicles. I said I wouldn’t know until Sunday. Here it is Sunday evening and I have had a little time to think about themes for November. My first theme for November is returning to solvency. To that end I sold some more books. To that end I studied the buskers at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market yesterday, watching to see who was making money and who was not: the guy playing quietly to himself and not looking at passers-by had two or three dollar bills in his hat; the guy who sat in a chair playing the blues with his face to the crowds had a guitar case full of dollar bills. Who do you suppose I plan to emulate when I make my debut next Saturday afternoon? In the spirit of solvency I will be continuing to work with what we’ve got around here: today’s recipe incorporates some of the lovely pecans Lisa Knighton just shipped out here.

My second theme for November is NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. As a NaNoRebel I eschew the novel form altogether and have started another 50,000 word installment of my memoir, covering the history of Johnny and Sharyn, my pitiful finances and my various attempts to make money. I may post an excerpt of it here sometime in November to honor what I am doing (I spent the afternoon at a write-in at the Berkeley Public Library, scarfing leftover Hallowe’en candy and black tea, participating in “word wars” with my fountain pen — trying to write more words than dextrous young-ens typing on laptops — and feeling a little like John Henry meeting the steam drill…). At the end of the day I dropped my pen nib into my bottle of black ink by mistake and was grateful for my garage rag and bottle of water with which I scrubbed it clean, wiped the table and began to remove ink from my hands before going home to knead the roll dough that I had left rising in the fridge.

Which brings me to the third theme for November, always and forever a month of gratitude with Thanksgiving the third week in to remind us Yanks about sharing food with others, helping people and other things that got the Native Americans run out of their territory. My friend Vicki has started a month of gratitude posts on Facebook and it makes me happy to go to her page once a day and think about what I am grateful for: today it was the computer I type on and the apple pie that Mom made last night, specifically the slice of it I had for breakfast this morning with my decaf coffee.

When I was in the kitchen this morning mixing up sweet roll dough I realized that I had not had my hands in soft dough for a long time: roll dough is the lightest of yeast doughs — I can knead a full batch by hand without resorting to the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook. I used to make bread every week. I don’t know what happened to that habit — I just fell out of it somehow, between the demands of sourdough starter and the activities of daily living. I enjoyed having my hands in the fragrant dough, stirring with a wooden spoon, working in six cups of flour, greasing the bowl with a little butter before heating a tea towel and setting the dough to rise.

My pecan roll (and cinnamon roll and orange roll and spice roll) recipe comes from our trusty Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. I make a full recipe of Sweet Roll Dough, using mostly butter, amending it to include a cup of whole wheat flour for health’s sake, scalding the milk because my Grandmother Carroll always scalded the milk. Before I leave to write at the library I divide the just rising dough in half. I give half to my mother to shape into clover leaf rolls and tell her to transfer my half to the refrigerator for a slow rise when she punches her dough down.

For the pecan filling I look at The Cheese Board Collective Works: they make delicious pecan rolls except for the mornings when some misguided person throws Sultanas or golden raisins in them and I have to pick them out. Repeat after me, “Raisins do not belong in pecan rolls, which are all about pecans, brown sugar and butter.” I take inspiration from their recipe, but not proportions: there is no way I am going to include a stick and a half of butter in twenty rolls. Theirs are good. Mine will not induce a heart attack. Pecans have healthy fat for you; butter not so much. If I use half a cup of butter it will be a lot.

To make your own pecan rolls, procure at least a cup of pecan pieces. Make sure you have milk, sugar, eggs, white and whole wheat flour, butter, yeast and brown sugar and cinnamon in the house. Then proceed with the recipe below.

Pecan Rolls

Proof 4 and 1/2 teaspoons yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. (If your yeast is sluggish, add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of flour)

Scald 1 cup milk.

Add to milk one stick of soft butter (1/2 cup) and 1/2 cup sugar. If you use salted butter you will not need to add any salt. Otherwise, add a pinch.

Pour milk mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Beat 2 eggs in the cup that you used to measure the milk. Temper the eggs with the warm liquid and add them to the  mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup whole wheat flour, plus 2 and 1/2 cups unbleached flour.

Check temperature with fingers. When mixture is no more than warm add reserved yeast.

Continue to add flour by the cupful until you have a soft but firm consistency. I used six cups total flour today, beginning with the cup of whole wheat and eventually adding five cups of unbleached flour, but sometimes the recipe takes as much as seven cups altogether. You know how bread is.

Cover roll dough with warm damp dish towel and go away for awhile. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down. If you do not have time to wait through the next rise, put the covered dough in the refrigerator and pull it out this evening or tomorrow morning. Let it warm and then roll it out on a floured board into a large rectangle. Roll it thin, but not so thin that it will break, perhaps 1/2 inch or a little thicker.

Let dough rest while you melt 1 stick of butter and stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar, plus 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Spread one third of this mixture in the bottom of a baking pan (I used a 13″ x 9″ Pyrex pan), leaving a clear border at the edges with no goo.

Spread the rest of the butter and sugar mixture on the dough. Sprinkle on the pecans evenly and roll the dough up like a jelly roll, starting from the short side of the rectangle. Slice one-inch rounds from the log with a sharp, serrated knife and place each roll atop the goo in the pan. Let rise for fifteen minutes while you preheat your oven to 350.

Bake 25 minutes or until sufficiently brown. Then invert carefully onto another plate so that the goo runs down over the rolls. Enjoy, perhaps with a glass of milk.

Painting Note. No painting. I started one but I prefer not to paint after dark. When I finish it I’ll pop it into the post later in the week. Meanwhile I have NaNoWords to type.

Photo of ripe red watermelon in steel bowl.

The one that got away — part of the watermelon that rolled off the counter.

On Wednesday I received a small watermelon from my Riverdog Farm CSA. Grown eighty-some miles away in summer heat, the melon was sweet and pink — I know because five minutes after I set it on the counter I heard an odd thunk: it had rolled off the counter and split open when it hit the floor. There would be no saving this watermelon for later. I picked it up, washed it off and tasted it. Good. Then I set it aside for a few days as the temperature took a nosedive and the fog rolled in to stay — who wants to eat watermelon in fifty-degree weather?

Fortunately, I had a plan for some of this watermelon: when I bought my Nesco American Harvest dehydrator the booklet contained this sentence: “Cantaloupe and watermelon slices become candy-like when dried.” Candy-like. Hmm. Then Krista and Jess reported on their dried watermelon chips. I knew I had to try it when watermelon came along again.

I spent an hour in the kitchen this morning, cutting 1/2 inch thick slices of watermelon, removing the seeds and cutting the rind away. The easiest way to do this proved to be to cut a slice and then slice through the melon perpendicular to the rind to produce small batons or wedges and then to cut the rind away. After half an hour of this, I noticed that I was developing a neat pile of watermelon rind.

Now, I am one of those people that, if you give her a slice of watermelon, will eat deep into the rind. Watermelon rind reminds me of cucumber with no bitterness and no seeds. And yet, because Mom doesn’t can, I have never made watermelon rind pickles. I called her into the kitchen and asked, “Back in the day when you ate watermelon pickles, were they sweet or sour?”

“Not sweet enough,” she said.

“Sort of like bread and butter pickles?” I asked.

“Not as good,” she said.

She told me to look in the old Mowequa cookbook, but I headed upstairs to check my saved blogs file. Not too far into the seven hundred recipes I had saved was Natalie’s recipe for watermelon pickle. I have started to make it and will report on the results on Wednesday.

Painting depicts apple pie ingredients: flour, butter, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg.

Gravenstein Apple Pie 8″x8″ gouache and watercolor pencil Sharyn DImmick

Things to make right now: Gravenstein apples are in! Ann and I picked a big bowlful of them from a yard in Berkeley and Mom made our first Gravenstein apple pie of 2012. I cannot say enough good things about this pie so if you are lucky enough to live within range of Gravenstein apples, by all means, get some. Bernie at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market has them right now if you don’t want to forage for them, or if you need more. I also made zucchini-feta pancakes this week. This time I threw a little leftover pesto with the fresh herbs and feta — it’s a delicious variation. As I write this I have another peach and plum crisp in the oven, this time made with white and yellow peaches and little cherry plums from someone’s backyard tree. And two days ago I made this tomato tart, again with lemon cheese, but with brown mustard and shredded tarragon. And of course this is a good time for Deborah’s somewhat famous tomato platter or Greek salad, with tomatoes and cucumbers in the market and peppers beginning to come in.

Photo of watermelon candy, aka dried watermelon

Watermelon candy in the dehydrator.

The watermelon candy is small and sticky — it reminds me of dried tomatoes, only sweeter and pinker. I was catching up on my sleep today after nearly a month of periodic insomnia so I didn’t take the time to do a new painting. Instead I offer you photos of watermelon and watermelon candy.

Original photo of brown and blue eggs in gold star dish. Photo by Sharyn Dimmick.

The eggs that starred in Sunday night supper.

It is late on Sunday night on the day of the time change. It is, in fact, later than I would like it to be. I arrived home from a visit with my friend Suzanne in Santa Rosa bearing a gift of five eggs laid by her backyard chickens. Mom had been alone all weekend, except for an episode involving my cat Fiona, several neighbors, the police, my brother Bryan and my sister-in-law Barbara. Bryan got scratched and Fiona got liberated from the house she was trapped in — she is fine, if unusually skittish. Mom was tired and in no mood to cook and I knew the fresh eggs should be the star of our spring supper.

Original photo by Sharyn DImmick of eggs in a star dish, plus daffodil bouquet.

Photo: eggs and daffodils. Sharyn Dimmick.

Sometimes simple is best. I cracked the eggs into a metal bowl and whisked them with a little salt. Then I washed a bunch of spinach leaf by leaf, transferring each leaf to a dish towel. I sliced an onion into thin rings and put it to saute over medium heat in a little olive oil and a half tablespoon of butter. While the onions softened and browned I chopped the spinach leaves. As I added each batch to the pan, I seasoned them with freshly ground nutmeg and black pepper. When I added the last batch I grated about two tablespoons of pecorino into the greens with my microplane and put two plates in a warm oven.

Original watercolor painting of eggs and daffodils.

Sunday Night Supper. 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

While I cooked the eggs by adding them to the pan with just a smidge more butter, Mom toasted some whole-grain tortillas. We each had our eggs and greens with an orange on the side. The food was beautiful, the deep yellow of eggs from free-range chickens, the vibrant green of spinach and spring onions. Alas, by the time we had cleaned our plates, the light was fading and I had yet to paint a picture. I gamely grabbed a gold star-shaped dish and a small bouquet of daffodils cut from our garden and set to work, sketching the star shape, working in yellow, brown, a bit of orange, greens. Above the star dish of brown and blue-green eggs I sketched in the yellow daffodils, one pale and one richer, sunnier yellow. I blended three different greens into a bunch of spinach, three more, plus cerise into quick onions. I added a purple tablecloth and then, as an afterthought, the dining room windows, framed in a deeper blue-green, almost peacock. The light was gone entirely and I “finished” the painting under the compact fluorescent light mounted over my bed.

Usually, I am satisfied with my paintings as I complete them and have at least a brief experience of falling in love with them. This one still looks like a sketch to me. “Oh well.” I say, like my northern friends. Perhaps some of you will enjoy seeing a beginning painting, a painting that is more of a sketch than a finished piece, an attempt or a gesture rather than a “real painting.” But if I paused to correct shading and continued to mess with it, I might never get this blog post finished. I include, for your pleasure, a few photos of the eggs: they might as well be film stars as well as the stars of a Sunday night supper.

photo shows Mosaic blood orange oil, cookbook, oranges and muffins

Oops — no painting. Had to substitute a photograph

It is now February and the tangerines have stopped arriving, but the oranges are still in full swing. This morning was cold and we needed a hot breakfast. Because I am preparing for a trip to New Mexico I picked up my copy of Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home on my way down to the kitchen. This book falls open on its own to Multigrain Muffins on page 56, the recipe I use most often (For a zucchini season variation, those of you in the southern hemisphere might want to check out zucchini gingerbread muffins, adapted from the same basic recipe). The muffin is a good, plain, not-too-sweet muffin containing oats, whole wheat pastry flour, buttermilk and vegetable oil.

Because there were fourteen oranges sitting on the counter we were going to have orange muffins. Grab a large one and begin zesting it with the microplane into a small mixing bowl. All of your liquid ingredients, plus some brown sugar and quick-cooking oats are going to go in with the zest. Got all the zest? Now juice the orange into a one-cup measuring cup. I got somewhere between 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup. Since the Moosewood recipe calls for one cup of buttermilk, I pour buttermilk into the orange juice until I reach the 1-cup mark. See? I have just made my first substitution: 1/4 plus cup fresh orange juice plus zest for 1/4 cup plus of buttermilk. Both buttermilk and fresh orange juice are acid and will be reacting with the baking soda in the recipe to rise. Now I turn on my oven to 400.

Having substituted orange juice for part of the buttermilk I followed the recipe as written for awhile, adding to my orange-buttermilk mixture, one egg, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats.  I whisk all that together. Quick cooking oats feature smaller pieces than rolled oats. Soaking in liquids helps them break down and blend with the other ingredients — you won’t know they are in the finished product, which is useful if you have suspicious children or significant others who are dismissive of “health foods.”

The recipe calls for 1/4 cup vegetable oil. I usually use corn oil, but I have a secret ingredient for citrus recipes, a wonderful product by Mosaic, a blood orange olive oil. In case you don’t know yet that I am not a high-income gourmand who goes out and buys everything under the sun, let me tell you that this oil showed up at my local Canned Foods Grocery Outlet. My friend Elaine gave me some as a gift and I went down and snapped up another bottle of my own. If money is no object, order yourself some. If you find it on sale, stock up. This morning I was wondering if I could buy some blood oranges and whomp up some of my own for less than the cost of a new bottle (my supply is getting low), so I read the label. They make this stuff by pressing olives and blood oranges together. Oh. Too bad — I don’t have access to olives.

Anyway, back to the recipe. In the same measuring cup I used before I poured about 1 Tbsp blood orange oil. Then I filled it with corn oil to reach 1/4 cup. This was my second substitution and there is a theme here: with each substitution I am building orange flavor. I’ve added zest, juice and now oil made from olives and oranges. Just for the heck of it, I added 1 tsp of vanilla and a grating of nutmeg because I like them.

Okay. Now I’m almost done substituting. I docilely mix the 1 cup unbleached flour, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder called for in the book, whisking them together in a large mixing bowl. Before I stir them into the liquid ingredients I get out my standard 12-muffin muffin tin. I am too old to eat jumbo muffins — if I want more, I’ll just have two.

Oops. Substitution number three coming up: Moosewood says to oil the muffin tins: if I do, they will stick — I need something greasier than oil. I dig out the greasy margarine from the butter compartment (this is the kind of thing we use margarine for — if I didn’t use margarine I’d lube the tin up with good old Crisco or another vegetable shortening. Or if I had a butter wrapper handy I’d swipe it through the muffin cups). For insurance I melt the tiny half pat of butter on the butter plate and swab that in with my fingers. It will add flavor.

Time to mix the liquid with the dry ingredients. I made a well in the dry, poured the liquids in and mixed with a rubber scraper just until I saw no flour clumps, hauled the batter into the tin quickly with the same scraper and popped the muffins into the oven. While they baked for twenty minutes I had time to do all of the dishes and put stray ingredients away, plus get out a cooling rack.

The muffins were good. That’s why I’m telling you about them. I made myself a cup of decaf coffee with half and half and ate two of them slowly. They have a subtle sweetness, best noticed if you chew them thoughtfully rather than wolf them down. I know from experience that Moosewood’s Multigrain Muffins taste sweeter and stronger after they have cooled, but it is lovely to eat them hot on a cold morning and know that the ones you don’t eat will taste better later.

Food Notes: The Mosaic blood orange oil is a lovely thing. I said that already. I would try any oil of theirs that I came across. No, they do not pay me, and I have no affiliation with the company. Could you make lemon muffins instead? You certainly could. Tassajara Bakery used to make a killer lemon-ginger muffin. You could do that, too. Could you use all white flour? Sigh. Yes, you could, although it pains me to admit it. In the privacy of your kitchen you can pile on the white flour and white sugar, too. I do that in desserts sometimes, but I don’t like gummy, white muffins. Could you use a different oil? Sure. If you keep to the amounts given in the recipe you can make any reasonable substitution. Out of buttermilk? Use yogurt or sour milk. Have only regular milk in the house? Sour it with a little vinegar or lemon juice OR eliminate the baking soda and add an additional teaspoon of baking powder. Enjoy

Painting Note: There is no painting this week. I thought there would be — let’s just say time management is not my forte. I did take a few photos to prove that I actually made these muffins and didn’t make them up, so, just this once, I substituted a photograph for a painting.

By the time you read this I will be en route to Taos, New Mexico sans mobile devices for eight days. I will not be able to read and respond to comments until my return on February 12, but I love it when you comment. If I can, I will bring you back something good from the land of green chile and pine nuts.

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