Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creative Wood Stacking, a Video, and a $500 Recipe

Happy 12-12-12. A thousand years till that happens again!  Lots of random things to share.........

A friend who is aware of what a big role firewood plays in our lives here in the mountains sent these along today and I couldn't help but lead with them. We burn it up so fast this time of year that there isn't much use in getting artistic with the stacking but I love the inset crate idea so I'll be brainstorming a way to incorporate that!

More photos to share...... I already did a post on our local apple press event but I had forgotten that there are actually two community apple squeeze events in Quincy now.  At this first one, our 6 year old was in charge of the camera and I love the slightly different perspective his photographs provide.

All photos by L.G. Kusener

The next thing I'd like to share is a simple recipe I created for a recipe contest I entered. I learned about the contest in a magazine I subscribe to. The contest required that the recipe have only 5 ingredients, one of which is chicken. Salt and pepper and fat for cooking were bonus ingredients. I had to make dinner that night anyway so I submitted the following recipe and won $500. I was delighted!

Chicken and Green Olives with Apricot Shallot White Wine Sauce
Serves 4

An easy weeknight preparation that utilizes the much loved fruit/meat flavor combination.

About 1 pound (6-8) chicken breast tenders
freshly ground pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 t. butter
¾  cup thinly sliced shallots
¾  cup white wine such as chardonnay
½  cup apricot jam (note that cherry, peach, or plum jam, or even orange marmalade work equally well here)
¾ cup of pitted ripe green olives                                                                              

1.  Season chicken breast tenders or thighs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces.
2.  Add shallots to the hot skillet and sauté 4 minutes until soft and browned. Add wine and stir to deglaze skillet. Add jam and stir mixture until it smoothes out and begins to bubble. Add chicken pieces and olives, stir to coat and turn off heat. Serve with pan sauce.
I like to serve it over basmati rice. The last time I made it I used some homemade peach jam from last summer and vegetable broth in place of the wine and it was even better than the original. The recipe will be part of an on-line cookbook available soon and I will post the link to it here on the blog.

If you have a spare 4 minutes, this video that pokes fun at foodies and the high-end grocery store, Whole Foods, is highly entertaining:
It's gettin' real in the Whole Foods parking lot!
That is all for now.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Experimenting with a New Format as the Rain Comes Down

Hi there. We've had 6 inches of rain in the past 48 hours. It is really nice. I love the sound of it hitting the roof and gushing through the downspouts. There is comfort to being inside, warm and dry. As I begin my second year with Farm Girl Blog, I've decided to experiment with a new design and layout. This new template is just a slightly altered stock template offered by Google. The only glitch I have noticed so far is that sometimes when I open my website it is missing some elements. If you click on the Farm Girl Blog title at the top of the page it re-loads and the elements are present. If the words Farm Girl Blog are orange, that is as it should be. If not, please click on it to re-load page.

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday of the year. Just the fact that there is a holiday called thanksgiving is pretty cool. I love it for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it has escaped commercialization for the most part. Our family had a lovely 5 days in western Sonoma County that included a traditional feast and jaunts to the beach where we enjoyed unseasonably warm, sunny weather.

It was my first gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner and it went fine. No stuffing, gravy, or pie. No worries. Yes spicy fennel almonds, cranberry sauce, turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, beets, onions, carrots, wine and chocolate truffles!

I made these as a gluten-free dessert option:

Well, whatever. I was going to post a recipe for a spicy pumpkin fish coconut curry I threw together the other night inspired by a visit to a Himalayan restaurant in Sebastopol over the holiday. That is why I lead with the pumpkin photo. But truth be told I took no notes and would be approximating and generalizing at every turn if I tried to share a "recipe" with you. But these truffles, on the other hand, are super easy and straight-forward with only a few ingredients so I will share how to make them, hereby firmly securing my new identity as a bit of a chocoholic. I swear this is a brand new development in my life. Isn't it fascinating how our food interests and passions can evolve and change throughout our lives?

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Dark Chocolate Truffles

6 oz. (1/2 12 oz. bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. (1/2 12 oz. bag) bittersweet chocolate chips
6 T. organic virgin coconut oil (your local health food store or here)(I think I will receive a discount coupon if you purchase anything through my links.)
4 T. water
1 t. vanilla (other options: 1 t. brandy, 1 t. rum, 1/2 t. almond extract)
pinch of sea salt
For rolling truffles: toasted shredded coconut, cocoa powder, crushed nuts (pecan, pistachio)

Note: I don't have a double boiler so I just use a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil with the water in a double boiler or as described above while stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in your extract and salt of choice. Transfer chocolate to a shallow bowl and let cool in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Scoop into balls and place on parchment or waxed paper. At this point you can roll the truffles in cocoa powder to coat. When I am using coconut or nuts, I find that I need to warm the truffles slightly with my hands to get the coarser toppings to stick. Makes 18-25 truffles depending on size of scoops. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Bring to room temp. before serving.

Virgin Coconut Oil, Gold Label - 1 quart

Here are photos of the pumpkin curry creation anyway.
Let me know what you think of the new format. Good or bad....I'm not emotionally attached: )