About Me

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Baker. Cook. Gardener. Animal Lover.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good Bye February...Hello March

Good Bye February.....Hello March.... hey everybody..February is almost gone...and you know what that means.....SPRING ! I have a little daffodil update for you today. Remember those daffodils I got the other day..well, look what greeted me this morning as I walked downstairs to make tea. THESE beauties. They opened overnight in my kitchen window. While we were all asleep under a full moon...the daffodils opened.The white ones are from my garden. We had a pretty good thunderstorm yesterday morning and it knocked the life out of these outside, so I clipped them and brought them in to add to my daffodils. The little cardboard easter chickie is old, i have a collection of them across my piano, but i put this one up in the window...she just looks so Springy... the little spun wool rabbit is old too..i also collect those.Can you see the row of clay pots through the screen? I just hung that windowsill container on the fence the other day. It is very shady there but I am going to plant some impatiens in the pots. I saw some in the Burpee catalog called Candy Box. I have ordered them before and the colors really do like they are out of a candy box.The vine is a morning glory..I can't wait till is starts to bloom.... how many days till Spring?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Daffodils and Lemon Chicken

My mom used to make a turkey breast from julia that she roasted under a piece of parchment paper. And it was good. So I have taken this idea and re-arranged it. I love the lemon chicken out of my Rao's cookbook, but he uses pieces of chicken. I like roasting a chicken that has had the backbone removed and has been flattened out. And right here is where i wonder if i should take a pass on getting the backyard brown hens this spring and naming them. do you know where i am going on this? i think you do. anyway, i went and got a good kosher chicken this morning and while i was at the market i scored and got some Meyer lemons. i have a ton of italian flat leaf parsely coming up all over my garden from where it reseeded itself from last summer.so i thought about getting the chicken and doing the rao's marinade, flattening it like i like, and roasting it on the parchment paper. The marinade is simple. just the Meyer lemon juice, the good olive oil from my friends ellis and susie bassetti, it is from their olive trees up in paso robles, the variety of olive is called "taggiasca". it was a gift from them at christmas and it truely is pedestal worthy. along with the lemon juice and olive oil i just add some chopped italian parsley and some pink sea salt. i am hooked on this sea salt. you can get it at trader jo's. my real favorite salt is the flaked one from wiliams-sonoma called Maldons..but at 16 bucks for a tiny box...well,that stuff is reserved for special occassions.so i came home and worked over that chicken and have it marinating right now. at supper i will turn the oven on to a pretty high heat..400 degrees i think and let it roast till it's brown and done..about 45 to 50 minutes. bbqing it would be even better...but we are waiting for rain...so no bbq . not tonight anyway.... and the daffodils are in my kitchen window...still in the bud. the little cream bottle says 'morning,noon and night'...how much do you love that?

I Never Left

We never left home. I really don't know what to say...I just hope that most of my dear friends have pets...cause the reason we never left was Buddy. Problem number 1. As some of you know back in December he was diagnosed with a collapsed trachea.And most of the time he is just fine. But he started coughing...and to be perfectly honest with you, I couldn't leave him.My brother Mark and his wife Julie were coming to stay..they have done it before and they do a great job, but this was different. I just would have been too worried. Problem number 2 was our destination. We had decided on Lake Tahoe...but a huge storm is due to blow in the day we were due to leave and to make it home it would mean driving on Interstate 5...known as The Grapevine in California and it is no fun. It runs up and down the center of the state and it is a very dangerous road even in good weather....so now I am laying awake at 3 in the morning wondering what would happen to Buddy and Whiskey and Dande and Pixie and Mumbie, not to mention my hummingbirds, doves,goldfinches,Tony the blue jay and all the other assorted critters that depend on me. What if we crashed...oh, I have to tell you I was making myself crazy. So we skipped the trip. We'll wait for another time.It just didn't feel right. I did not want to go. So instead, I went to the yarn shop here in downtown San Luis and am taking a knitting class. I am so excited about it. The lady, Anne got me started yesterday afternoon, but the class is tomorrow at 10. It is for making a pair of pretty fingerless gloves. You use 4 needles, number 2, very tiny... Anne got me going ...and I think I am getting it. Buddy is fine, it was just a scare,but I couldn't leave him behind. There was no way. So we're home, knitting, waiting for rain and holding Buddy close.
I am gonna say it.....I really did miss all of you and our visits and am I glad to be HOME.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time Off

Hello my sweets....we are taking a few days off and hitting the road. Not really sure where we're headed.Wherever the wind blows, I guess...I'll be back towards the end of February ...I'll bring the camera and take pictures for sharing when I get back...I'll miss you all and I look forward to being back with all of you soon.....sending love, Kary

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rainy Night In Little Italy

It is raining here today in San Luis Obispo. But my heart is in Little Italy....San Francisco.

i want to be right downtown..... with the sound of cablecars clackity clacking along the tracks...pigeons cooing from the rooftops,rain soflty falling, and the sweet scent of pastry wafting from the italian bakeries....

after i posted about that bakery, all thoughts went to being there. in The City as we call it out here in california. today i am pretending that i am in little italy in a small upastairs tiny apartment. i have just made my way home from the molinaris deli down on columbus avenue and have bought a couple of cans of San Marzano tomatoes and a nice big piece of parmesano reggiano cheese. for the sauce i will simply saute up some yellow onions and celery in olive oil, add the tomatoes, a little chicken stock,some thyme,parsely and oregano that is coming up all over in the garden and let the whole thing simmer gently on my stovetop. just before serving it I will add a nice big dollop of soft organic butter from petuluma..just up the coast..making sure it barely melts and top off the pasta with the parmesan...and to go with it....focaccia. but this time i am making it from my Rao's cookbook. it is the one i always make. it has 1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes in it.i have no idea why. it is a great recipe that i am happy to share. so the sauce is simmering, Buddy is snoozing, the rain is falling gently in the garden and the focaccia is rising on the drainboard.We will open a bottle of red wine, build a fire and eat...in our little apartment..in little italy tonight. ciao, my friends

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Farmers Market Saturday

our farmers market was this morning and i really didn't need produce, but it was such a beautiful morning i just felt like getting out and smelling the air. and look what i found. pink tulips and white hydrangeas. the little bare branches are apricot branches leftover from when john pruned our bleinheim apricot trees last saturday. the room is where i blog.if you look closely on the left hand side, on the stack of books...you'll see a black and yellow book...it's a copy of blogger for dummies. i need all the help i can get.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lemon Bars In The Cast Iron Skillet

First off...the heat wave broke. Woke up in the middle of the night to drip....drip.....drip... Fog rolled in off the Pacific Ocean. And it was thick. Yesterday afternoon I decided to make some lemon bars but this time I thought I would try them in the cast iron skillet.And they turned out great. The shortbread bottom was flakey and crumbled in your mouth and the Meyer lemons were so tart and sweet. The recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jim Fobel's Old fashion Baking Book.Recipes from an American Childhood.

Lemon Bars

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

8 Tablespoons...1 stick cold unsalted butter, sliced

2 large eggs....I warmed mine in warm water in the little bowl

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1. Postion a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal and work it with your fingertips till it holds together. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 8 inch square pan. Here is where I went with the cast iron skillet instead. Bake about 15 minutes, until light golden brown. remove, but leave the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, in a meduim bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs until frothy. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, beat at a high speed for 10 minutes, until smooth and slightly thickened.

3. On a sheet of waxed paper combine the remaining 2 Tablespoons flour with the baking powder and salt, gradually beat into the egg mixture, beating just until smooth. Pour over the baked layer and bake about 20 minutes longer, until set and lightly browned. Cool in the pan on a rack. Sift the remaining powdered sugar over the top and cut into bars or in pie shaped pieces if using the cast iron skillet.

A little taste of Spring.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

English Peas By St. Patricks Day

I wasn't going to say anything. I really wasn't . But I am planting english peas today and watering the garden. The english peas are called Early Frosty. How could I pass that up? I couldn't.I finished planting the sweet peas and morning glory seeds.The morning glory I planted were Heavenly Blue, Grandpa Ott and Milky Way.

Should I say the next part? Maybe not.O well, I've gone this far, why stop now. Are your ready? We're bbqing tonight. There, I said it. Hamburgers with Camp Beans and Bessie's asparagus vinagrette .That's our sun tea brewing by the kitchen door. For dessert I am making Meyer lemon bars, the lemons a gift by the back gate from a neighbor. That was my lucky day. Oh, see the quilt. That was my grammys.I just put it out this morning. I planted the yellow johnny-jump-ups and red geraniums about a month ago.I bring out the quilt every Spring...and that's where we're having supper tonight. But just to be fair...the weatherman says RAIN...what? Really? Rain? Yep, it's in the forecast for the weekend. Looks like my free ride might be over. Bet your glad about that, huh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Scent of Sweet Peas

I have to tell you. It's 80 degrees out in my garden today.I won't mention it again. Promise. I went to Farm Supply yesterday afternoon and bought a bunch of sweet pea seeds. I like to soak them overnight because the seeds are so hard. The package said on the back that in my area they can be planted before St. Patrick's Day. Last year I had the whole fence coming up the pathway to the house in sweet peas. And I am doing it again this year. When you walked in the gate on an early summer afternoon you were greeted with the scent of sweet peas. AAhhhh. I planted all differnet kinds. Wedding Blush, High Scent, Streamers Mix,Sweet Dreams Mix,Cupani,Singing The Blues, Butterfly,Miss Willmott,Old Spice Mix and Painted Lady.

My gardening tool is my wooden spoon from the kitchen. The handle is the perfect thing. I just pick a spot, start poking holes with the spoon and drop in a seed. Some sweet peas all already up . They must have re-seeded from last years garden. I also planted some Dahlias. I got the big ones called Dinnerplate. I had them last year and they were HUGE. I planted the bulbs, not the plants.Put in alot of soft pink and lilac colored ones.The yellow were already sold out. Might have to try another nursery. I just love how old fashion they look in the garden in summer.

Soaking more sweet peas tonight..so you know what that means for tomorrow.....

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Second Favorite Place On Earth

This is my second favorite place on earth. It is The Apple Farm and it is located way up in northern California in an area called The Anderson Valley. Thhe coast of Mendicino is about a 30 minute drive away. It was started by Don and Sally Schmitt...they were the ones that originally started The French Laundry Restaurant which is in the Napa Valley in the very small town of Yountville.In 1992, Thomas Keller came to look at The French Laundry which was for sale. He said," I came to Yountville on the advice of a friend to look at The French Laundry. The grounds were enclosed by honeysuckle, and climbing roses covered an arched trellis leading to a courtyard. It seemed as if I'd been heading there my whole working life."

Thomas Keller bought the reataurant from Don and Sally..and as Ruth Reichl wrote in The New York Times "Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor of The French Laundry in the Napa Valley-the most exciting place to eat in the United States. Thomas is a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right."

Don and Sally left Yountville and came up to the tiny town of Philo and started a working farm called The Apple Farm. They planted an apple orchard and sold apples, fresh brown eggs, flowers and other produce from their farm at a roadside stand.

Eventually, Sally started cooking classes. They then added small out buildings in the apple orchrds which were turned into rooms for people to stay that were there for the weekend cooking classes.The rooms are all small, simple and charming.

Julie and I have had the pleasure of going there and taking cooking classes from Sally. No matter what the season, she always has something wonderful to cook from their organic garden. Don and Sally bake bread and make delicious meals at their Apple Farm. After the class is over, you are invited to stay and have lunch or supper. If it is a warm day, it will be served out on the courtyard. Julie and I were lucky because when we were there it was a warm spring day in April and we sat out in an orchard of apple blossoms amoung potted pots of tulips and daffodils. We sat in the warm sun and visited with people from all over ...we made friends... and we had a great time. The Schmitts and their family are a delight. It took us 8 hours to get there...traveling from Cambria to San Francisco, over the Golden Gate bridge and another four hours way up into the Napa Valley and beyond. We even saw a wild boar running down the road. Philo is small and remote....but it was worth every mile....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Favorite Place On Earth

This is it. Deetjens Big Sur Inn. On the Pacific Coast Of California. Julie and I have stayed here many times on our way to Carmel, San Francisco and Napa Valley.It is simple and charming....all the food served is grown in the organic garden out back. Cats and dogs sleep stretched out on the porch. Woodsmoke fills the ocean air. A fire is always smoldering in the fireplace in the dining room. Classical music plays throughout. A large wood bar serves tea in the morning...wine in the evening.Bouquets of wildflowers and stacks of old books fill every room.I am trying the best I can to make Farmhouse like Deetjens. There really isn't much more to say. The pictures say it all.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Trip To Carlock's Bakery

I took a ride out to Carlock's Bakery today. It about 15 minutes away in Los Osos. It was such a pretty drive because the hills are so green and the yellow mustard is in full bloom. When I got there, it did not dissapoint...I go there for every holiday just because it is so old fashion.

The men were sitting in the back drinking coffee and eating doughnuts. Nothing fancy here. Nothing trendy. Just coffee and doughnuts. The place always reminds of the bakery in my hometown of Los Gatos called The Cream Puff.When you walk in the ladies are dressed in pink and white dresses and are ready to help.The chalkboard in the back lists the specials of the day. Today it was all Valentines. I brought home the little tiny heart shaped cake in the last picture for John and I to share tonight with some fresh raspberries. Sending all of you Warm Valentine Wishes.