The Taste of Summer

November 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer is my favorite season, no questions asked. I love the sunshine and heat and warm nights and cooling off in the pool or the ocean and especially, I love the fresh fruit. We live in a fabulous modern age of strawberries in February, but they are truly not the same as the strawberries of July, plucked fresh off the plant, nor are the peaches you buy in January anything like summer’s fresh peaches so ripe they practically burst when you bite into them, dripping sticky juice down your chin no matter how fast you eat. And fresh summer cherries, sweet and firm and plump, the perfect size to pop into your mouth – I can eat a pound at a time (and have, but I don’t recommend this…you’ll have a tummy ache). The downside is, I get so excited about all the fresh fruit that I end up buying more than I can possibly eat before it spoils.

So when I found myself with some peaches and cherries that were getting close to passing over from perfectly ripe to rotten mush, I decided something must be done. And then I decided that something was a cherry-peach cobbler. I used my go-to cobbler recipe, only instead of berries, I used the peaches (sliced to about 1/8”, not peeled) and cherries (halved and pitted). The result is a delicious summery cobbler, fantastic as a breakfast treat or as a dessert…especially delicious under a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Delish.

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Getting saucy in the kitchen

April 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

I hadn’t planned on doing a ton of cooking yesterday, but the day felt differently about things. I had a couple of days off for Passover (I’m not Jewish, but my company observes) and had been planning to make country style pork ribs in the slow cooker. I made a double batch of BBQ sauce last week so I’d have enough sauce to cook in with a bit left over to serve on top. First time I’ve tried making my own sauce, and I have to say, it is absolutely delicious. Definitely a keeper (see recipe below).

Being in the kitchen and immersing myself in tweaking recipes or prepping things so I can time them to come out so they’re ready to eat together, losing myself in the feeling of food…it’s all so therapeutic. No matter how much I have on my mind, eventually I become completely immersed in measuring, chopping, kneading, pouring, stirring — whatever the task at hand is. It’s almost meditative. When I come back from it, I may still be stressed and upset, but I am calmer and more well-balanced, better prepared to face what needs facing.

Dinner

Country-style pork ribs, fresh bread, apricot-maple goat cheese

So while I was in the kitchen, I went ahead and whipped up a batch of my favorite bread (which I loaded up with apricot-maple goat cheese from my favorite local farm — accented the ribs perfectly; also, see notes for modifications I make to the recipe), a blackberry cobbler(see notes), and a couple of quarts of ice cream (vanilla and praline — both came out great). The bread dough was much wetter than usual, which made it difficult to handle, so I was concerned about how it would come out flavor- and texture-wise. It turned out just fine, even though I forgot to steam it so the crust is a little chewier than usual.

Dessert

Blackberry cobbler, homemade praline ice cream

I had been planning to whip up some cheese grits, but I was a little under the weather and thought (rightly) that I probably wouldn’t be able to eat more than a few bites of anything, so it would just be a waste of grits. Most things I’m fine with having leftovers, but I just don’t care for leftover grits. Something about the texture. Leftover ribs, I discovered a while back, make excellent pulled pork. I’ll use some of it later in the week to make pork and cheddar pies, then freeze the rest.

NOTES:

Bread: The recipe calls for hand-milled wheat flour; I use King Arthur’s from the store. I also store the extra dough already divided into loaf sizes in quart Ziplocs

Cobbler: I grew up with pie crust cobbler and still love it that way, but this recipe has an almost cakey crust that’s absolutely delightful. I often have this cobbler for breakfast as well as dessert (though usually sans ice cream). The recipe calls for 6 cups of fresh berries; I find that 2 bags of frozen berries works perfectly — just thaw and drain before cooking.

RECIPE:

Laura’s Sweet ‘n’ Sticky BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4c brown sugar
  • 1/2c chili sauce
  • 1/2c rum
  • 1/4c ketchup
  • 1/4c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4c garlic vinegar
  • 3Tbsp molasses
  • 3tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp ground dry mustard
  • dollop of vanilla
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

In a 3qt saucepan over low heat, mix all ingredients. Simmer 30 min., stirring occasionally. Let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. Note: You may wish to remove the garlic cloves before storing.

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