Apr 19, 2010

Inspiring Spring

Lately, I have been inspired by the movie Marie Antoinette. I think it must be that the joy of spring is starting to rise - but the colors and tone of this movie create a longing inside me. A longing for beauty, walks in open fields and, most of all, those nummy petit fours.

Apr 14, 2010

On Surprising Myself

I am finding that I surprise myself.
Last night, as I was printing out inspiration for dinner, I realized that out of all the things that I enjoy, I am beginning to experiment with cooking the most.
That thought literally made me stop. Made me plant my feet on the way to the printer. To understand this response, you must know that while growing up, I was by-far NOT the cook of the family. Not at all. I was the baby. The chopper of ingredients. The salad-maker. The stirrer. The pot-watcher. Definitely not the master chef.
To illustrate, I will share with you a very vivid memory. I was in middle school, home alone with my extremely sick sister. Like any sick person, she wanted soup. Not home-made soup, but just regular old soup from the can. I panicked (if there is one reaction that has been consistent in all of my culinary battles... it’s panic). I cried with the overwhelming idea that I had to learn - on my own, no less - how to make something more than a sandwich.
I got through the “soup ordeal,” reading the instructions very carefully... not missing a word. But as you can see, the thought that I may actually be inspired by cooking more than I am by clothes (okay... maybe a long ways off) or hair or makeup or painting is near ridiculous.
And with that realization came the flood of other realizations. Realizations like... it is so funny how our lives turn out so much different... so much better... than we’d hoped. When I was 19, I barely knew how to boil an egg. Now, I am creating my own recipes. And, pardon me, but they are good! Who knew that this little cook was hiding underneath all that fear, waiting to burst out.
Now, I’m not saying by any means that I’m a master. No, no, no, no, no. I am just saying... I’m learning. I’m creating. I’m having fun. I’m not afraid of the rice cooker or the (gluten-free) bread maker. Not afraid of the wok or the millions of kinds of flours! I’m saying... I love cooking!

(Last-night’s recipe coming soon...)

Apr 12, 2010

Meat Pancakes and a Wonderful Weekend

This weekend has quite possibly been the best my husband and I have had since we got married. It was full of joy, rest and moments where you stop and get to say "Wow... this is my life." Those are my favorite moments.

First off, on Friday night I made meat pancakes... not to be confused with meat made INTO a pancake shape, which would be considered a hamburger. No, no, I truly made meat-filled pancakes (or Blinis, to be exact).
These crepe-like, pseudo-pancakes are the russian equivalent to Indian Naan (at least in my mind) in that they are a traditional food and are eaten with many different toppings - from caviar and creme to fruit preserves.
I chose to use the traditional meat filling for my blinis, but you can pretty much top them or fill them with anything your heart desires. Also, since I am gluten intolerant, I made my tasty "pancakes" with buckwheat flour instead of the usual wheat flour. I found that the buckwheat didn't quite stick together as I had planned (which turned into a bit of a frustration leading to what some may call a pancake throwing tantrum), so next time I would try adding some Xanthum gum to the mixture.
The recipe that I used will be at the bottom of the post.

Smaller, thicker appetizer-style Blini with creme and caviar topping

On Saturday, my husband Adam and I went to the local parade to celebrate the beginning of the pear season. There were little "shops" in the park next to the parade selling a variety of local products - a few of which were questionable (i.e. 1200 thread count sheets for $25, and medieval leather dress with matching corset). But all in all, we had a good time walking around and watching those Shriners whizzing by on their tiny cars.

Next, we went to visit my DARLING nephew, Lucca, in the NICU. I was really sick with a nasty virus (and a neck sprain... yuck!) when he was born at 34 weeks on April Fools' Day. Since he was born so early I couldn't see him until all of my symptoms were gone. He is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen, if not the cutest. Really, he is beautiful. I'm not just saying that. I brought my sister some home-made soup, and while she rested a bit, I got to hold him while he slept peacefully in my arms.

Lucca and Elisa in the hospital

Uncle Adam and Lucca's tiny hand

On Sunday, we finally got to go to church after (what is for us) a long hiatus. It was so great to be able to spend time with our friends and worship together. As part of the ministry team, Adam and I were particularly blessed to be able to pray and minister to people.
After church we went home, ate yummy left-over chicken soup and grilled sandwiches and then headed to the laundr-o-mat. After finishing the laundry (and playing an AMAZING iphone game called "Angry Birds." I highly suggest it) we headed to Target, where I got my first bikini ever. Ever. And 2 new pairs of shoes. Plus, my husband surprised me and bought my favorite movie, "Once". So, we went home, made spaghetti and watched our new movie (Adam's first viewing), cuddled and rested. Dreading the end of the wonderful weekend, we got ready for bed. "At least we have spaghetti for lunch tomorrow," I thought. Mmmm... Spaghetti.

Blini with Traditional Meat Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup Buckwheat flour (or wheat flour)
  • 3 cups hemp, almond or cow's milk (DO NOT use rice milk. It is not creamy enough to hold together the ingredients)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon margarine

1 Medium onion
1 lb. beef
1/2 cup parsley
1 Tablespoon dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic (to taste)

Separate the egg yolks from the whites and place into separate bowls, using a large mixing bowl for the yolks. Beat the egg yolks with the butter, salt and sugar until creamy. Add the milk. Gradually add the sifted flour, stirring continuously to make a smooth batter. If lumps exist, put the mixture through a sieve. The mixture needs to be thin and should slide off a spoon. If it doesn't, add more milk until it does.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the batter.
Heat a small nonstick frying pan with a little coconut oil or butter. Using a ladle, add enough batter to thinly cover the bottom of the pan (try to make as thin as possible [like a crepe], or you can make them smaller and thicker if you are making these for an appetizer).
Cook the blini on one side only (if necessary, you may flip to cook the other side). When cooked stack them onto a plate under a pot or casserole lid to keep them warm and moist as you continuing cooking.

Chop the onions and garlic and saute them in coconut oil in a frying pan. Add the minced beef, dill, and at the end, the herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread a thin layer of meat filling over the cooked side of the blini. You may serve the Blinis open-faced or folded (like a burrito).


Traditional Style, Crepe-like Blini

Recipe based on "Blinchiki" recipe found on http://www.russianrecipes.co.nz/recipes/meat-beef-pancakes.html

Apr 6, 2010

Scrumptious Somethings

Life… sometimes it feels like we don't do anything. We move, we work, we eat, we sleep. We love - fail - try again or don't. There's never enough time. We crave time. Time for those hidden loves - for expressions that are waiting for us to slip through the boredom and walk toward fresh air. But we push through to find something to push through to find something to push through.
Then suddenly, over the in-between, there comes that moment when we realize we mean something - of only to those few or that one. That moment when it happens. Where all our nothings add up and burst open to reveal the truth: they were very carefully planned.
That is what this blog is about… the in-betweens and the scrumptious somethings that we live for.