Alaskan King Crab steamed served with Farmhouse Butter and Meyer Lemon
Gruyere and Emmenthal Cheese Fondue with Nutmeg and Kirsch
French Bread, Cubed Assorted Sausages Steamed White Rose Potatoes
Mache Salad with Hass Avacado
Raspberries and Cream Shortbread Cookies with Walnuts and Apricots
Wishing all of you were here with me by the fire for New Years Eve. I know we'd have a good time. I just know we would. You have brightened my world this year with your love, laughter in good times, support in tough times,kindness and that wonderful feeling of community. I Love All of You and treasure each and every friendship. You mean the world to me and I wish you all a happy and peaceful NEW YEAR !
Over Christmas here we thought it would be nice to make some cannelloni. We did the one out of Mario Batali... Molto Italiano Cookbook. We made the pasta, rolled it out, made the filing with the veal and pork, made a red tomato sauce and a white besciamella sauce, cut the pasta into squares, filled them, rolled them and layered on the two sauces. I took us five hours from start to finish. And John helped me with most of it, helping out with all the dishes and cleaning up. If I did it alone I would probably still be in the kitchen.
But we had them for dinner that night and it was worth all the effort...they were good.
Only 3 days to go and it's been pretty busy around here at Farmhouse. This morning was kid's baking day. I got this snowman cake pan years ago from Williams-Sonoma and have never used it. Every year we say we are and then the season comes and goes...and Frosty is still sitting in the pantry. So this year we made a point of it. I made the cake yesterday..thank you to my new best friend, Mr. Duncan Hines.... I think if I would have made the recipe on the Frosty The Snowman box we could have stood the cake upright like the picture. That recipe seems like it would make a dense gingerbread-like cake. But time was running short..so we did the best we could....and the cake is pretty fragile..so we just left it flat in the pan...but the whole idea was to let the little ones do the decorating. We had all kinds of frostings, sprinkles, gumdrops, candies, jelly beans, coconut, sanding sugars...so we just let the fun begin..and we had a ball. And Frosty turned out pretty good....
The first thing on the top of my list this morning..one week till Christmas Eve...was getting some cookies baked to take to Buddy's vets and the staff at Animal Care Clinic here in San Luis Obispo. They really went above and beyond the call of duty when the chips were down a week or so ago. And he really is doing alot better. I had bought the Christmas Sunset magazine earlier in the month. That magazine always reminds me of my grammy..she ALWAYS had it in the living room on the coffee table. And it does give me that Old California feeling. So this morning I got it out and decided to make the shortbread linzer cookies. I bought a linzer cookie cutter at Michaels right after Thanksgiving. I love how the linzer cookies look..with that red raspberry jam shining from under the top cookie.And the shower of powdered sugar makes them look like they are covered in snow. So I mixed butter and flour and sugar...put it in the fridge, got it back out..and what a mess....that dough was so crumble-ee I couldn't even get it to roll into a ball. I tried to flatten it out and it just fell apart. I knew the dough had to be good...there were only 3 ingredients...and I bought the good butter..The organic one. How could they be bad?
So I just rolled the dough in my hand until it came together. Placed them on the baking sheet and let them go for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees in the oven. After that I just rolled them in powdered sugar. John and I tasted the ones that broke...and they were good.
So I piled them on a plate that I had picked up at Cost Plus..added a few olive branches from from my tree out back, and tied it all up with a silver bow.And they loved it. But I think I loved it even more. Merry Christmas to all the wonderful doctors who make our beloved pets well. Peace on Earth to all the animals.........
Saturday should have been the day I baked...but was too busy trying to keep Farmhouse from flooding. The water was right up to the door here at the house. The garden looked like a lake. I spent most of the day sweeping the water away from the door. But by Sunday morning it was just showering...and I felt like making Bessie's Christmas Bread. My mom used to make this every Christmas. She used the candied fruit...cherries and pineapple..the red and green kind. And it does make a beautiful bread when sliced. Looks just like stained glass.But John and I prefer it with dried fruit. So I just substitute dried fruit for the candied. I used apricots,cranberries,and apple. I just cut it up and added it in. I also added about a teaspoon of grated orange zest just because we like it and it makes it taste like....Christmas.
This is the original recipe. It is a VERY dense and heavy bread. There is only 1 cup of flour for 2 loaves so this bread is mostly fruit and nuts. Very good toasted in the morning with coffee or tea.
Bessie's Christmas Fruit Bread
1/2 lb pitted dates 1 lb brazil nuts, whole 4 oz. red candied cherries 4 oz. green candied cherries 4 oz. red candied pineapple 4 oz. green candied pineapple
1 cup flour 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Half the dates and cut all fruit,either candied or dried into pieces. Combine with the whole nuts.
Add dry ingredients to the fruit and nuts.Combine to coat mixture. Stir in beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir well.Batter is very dense.
Line loaf pans with parchment paper that is buttered. Pour batter into pans.
Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Reduce to 300 degrees and bake another 20 minutes. Cover with foil if the bread is getting to brown. Check bread with a tester till it comes out clean. Let loaves rest on a rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans and tear away paper. Let cool.
Buddy is Back Buddy is doing so much better and we both want to thank all of you who have sent the kind words,who have showed so much love and concern..it has been overwhelming to me. You helped me get through a very difficult time and I love all of you for it..I am so lucky to be a part of this blogworld...it truely has made the world smaller...I have met so many wonderful new friends from all over the globe this year and feel so blessed at this Christmastime to have each and every one of you in my life. Wishing all of you peace and happiness as we approach Christmas....
Had another scare...just got back from the vet..x rays and blood work..got REALLY nervous cause he stopped eating for 2 days...John and I just cooked him an organic chicken thigh and he ate the whole thing...... Thank You, God.
Well ..we are finally getting some COLD weather..and rain is on the way. We even had frost and freeze warnings last night. It actually got to 28 degrees. That's cold for here. And I love it...
When Julie and I went to New England our last night was in Portland, Maine... and we hit the lottery of food world. We had supper at Fore Street.And it ended up being a night we will never forget...that's for sure. It was so good...we cried.....were we tired? Sad to go home? No..the food was that good. Cry - worthy. It was late October and as we walked in we were greeted with a big long farm table with just a few pumpkins and gourds on it.Simple. Maine-Style. Perfect. We ate dinner there that night and we were served in cast iron skillets. Old ones...from the antique shops in Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine.After our supper we went back to our room at The Pomegranite Inn...yeah..you read that right... The Pomegranite Inn .How cute is that? And talked till 3 in the morning about the food..the restaurant...and one long and very beloved trip to New England.
Since it is so cold here tonight I decided to make lasagna in a cast iron skillet a la Fore Street...
I just did my own version...really simple.
Farmhouse Skillet Lasagna
Saute some shallots till soft Add in some chicken italian sausage and brown Add 1 large can organic whole tomatoes Add some red wine...a splash or two Salt About 3 scoops of tomato paste
Simmer about an hour
Add some chopped fresh basil....I still have it in the garden..maybe not for long
Boil some lasagna noodles
Layer sauce, pasta and grated cheese in cast iron skillet
I just used mozarella...nothing fancy
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour till hot and bubbly
First a quick update on Buddy. We had a pretty bad night. He coughed most of it. We are exhausted. This started last Thursday...and truth be told, I don't really know how many hours of sleep we have managed to get in. Poor Buddy. The medication we got from Dr. Evans on Saturday just didn't do the trick..so this morning we started all over...and he just now FINALLY stopped coughing and is settled down. Had to up the ante and now he is on Vicodin..at least for 10 days till Dr. Evans ( Jennifer) says we do different...Thank You Dr. Jennifer....
So I decorated my tree last night, but, honestly, there is not much on it. It is a real pretty tree, but with all of this going on with Buddy, I have just been too tired and worried about him to focus on much else. Just like in the last post...let it go...do what you can do. It feels Christmasy in here though.
We live in San Luis Obispo and it is home to California Polytechnic State University..John and I both graduated from there...and the school really started out many years ago as an agriculture school. And it still is. The have a little plant shop up at the top of the hill..next to all the livestock and at Christmas the kids do a pointsettia project/fundraiser. So every year I like to go out and see what they have. I went this morning and it was like walking into Santa's Wonderland...when I turned and looked in the main room, I gasped. They had the most beautiful display of poinsettias...sometimes I am on the fence when it comes to these plants, I can't decide if I like them or not. But they really do say "Christmas". I like the traditional red ones. I got one that is just a single stem..with just one big flower. It is called RED VELVET. Each one is stunning in it's own way. They have so many different varities it's hard to decide...
It was so warm and cozy in there...they had on Christmas music and were serving hot cider and donuts....it was a nice break..to be sure.....
I had a Christmas Party to go to at Sharon's on Sunday night. And I was out of juice. That Buddy situation left me flat. He is doing really well and I appreciate all the kind words and well wishes. More than you can know...but, as far as getting into the kitchen and making something really special..well, it just wasn't in me.Before The Buddy Situation I had high hopes. I told Sharon that I was going to make the walnut cake out of Julia Child. The cake is wonderful...BUT..it takes most of the day to make...there are several steps...and I just couldn't face it. So I took the easy way out. Frankly, I barely could muster doing this.The boxed Duncan Hines angel food. I made the cake and frosted it with just a simple whipped cream. That was it. Simple. It was like the cupcakes...only one great big one. It wasn't my proudest moment..but it got me to thinking..it isn't about the dessert..it's about your friends..and being there..especially at the Holidays...just do what you can...it's all you can do sometimes.... and it's o.k.
We just got GOOD NEWS ! ! ! I might as well tell all of you, I have been sitting here holding Buddy crying all morning....thinking the worst..and the vet just called...Buddy will be fine. All little old dogs have this. I asked her, is he going to die? She said, no, Buddy is not dying..He will be just fine. She is prescribing a medication that will help him, said it might just be an episode...
I have to tell all of you how much I love you and am so very thankful for each and everyone of you. It's just me and Buddy here on the farm most of the time..and I find so much comfort knowing I have all of you. Thank you all so much for the kind words, thoughts and prayers.It means more to me than you'll ever know.....
I am in a situation with Buddy right now....he started coughing yesterday and I freaked out...was at the vet all day..it is not life threatening...but am waiting for a call from the vet about how to proceed with some medication..he has a collapsed trachea...very common in older toy poodles...so I can't think about anything else except Buddy .....just so you know.....
We went and got 2 Christmas trees last night. But before that we went to Pepe's Restaurant and had a real enchilada...and this one was good. So we've got that out of our system. I got a few of my decorations out. The old book is from my collection of vintage Christmas books...this one..."The Birds Christmas Carol" was a gift from my dear friend, Julie.
The little tin Christmas box was also a gift from Julie...I just love it..I leave it out all year....just sitting in my bookshelves...but at Christmas I set it out for all to see...
The candy canes are old..I scored them one year from an antique shop up in Cambria called "Birds of a Feather". They were used to decorate a Christmas tree lot...love them too.....
And the little wreaths in my kitchen window are part of my vintage Christmas collection.
I'll start decorating the house and trees this weekend....
the night will never stay, the night will still go by, though with a million stars you pin it to the sky; though you bind it with the blowing wind, and buckle it with the moon, the night will slip away like sorrow or a tune.