2 Bigs + 4 Littles under 1 Midsize Roof = Life As We Know It
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Fancy Fun With Figs

I did it! Two weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to make a fig tart with fruit from the trees of family members (see Fun With Figs). And a little more than a week ago, in honor of Shawn’s birthday and at his request, I actually made it. I followed a recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s cookbook The Pie and Pastry Bible, substituting sprouted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour it called for in the tart crust. We thought it tasted like a fruit-infused tiramisu—especially on the second and third days, after the tart crust had moistened from soaking up the marsala-flavored mascarpone filling. It was the most gourmet item I’ve made in awhile. The process was time-consuming and required focus (something that’s often in short supply around our house!), but it was worth the effort to have something special to celebrate Shawn’s day. And I don’t even think he minded that I refused to mess up the masterpiece by poking 44 candles into it for him to blow out. After all, he’d already gotten his wish. :-)

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

August 3, 2010   3 Comments

Sweets for My Sweetheart

Chocolatepeanutbuttercandy

Shawn has always been a big fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so when I saw a healthier homemade version of this treat circulating on some of the blogs I follow, I knew I had to try it. My friend Wardeh Harmon wrote about it two weeks ago (click here to see her results at www.gnowfglins.com), and she found the original recipe here, on a blog called Oceans of Joy.

First, I soaked raw organic peanuts overnight in salted water to neutralize the nuts’ enzyme inhibitors. Then I dehydrated them almost completely in the oven the next day. (I didn’t get them quite as crispy as I would have otherwise because I planned to grind them into peanut butter. Next time, I think I will crisp them up all the way to impart a more roasted flavor.) I placed them in my Vita-Mix (another blender or food processor would work, too) with a bit of sea salt and ground them until they were smooth. It wasn’t what I would call creamy peanut butter—it was a bit crumbly, actually. But I knew that I would be adding coconut oil, honey and vanilla to it to make the peanut-butter cups, so I decided that was OK. And it was. Next I made the chocolate mixture, and then I began layering the chocolate and peanut-butter filling into heart-shaped candy molds. It was a little time-consuming, but not difficult. I popped the filled molds into the freezer, and after dinner I surprised Shawn with his Valentine’s Day treat.

We both liked the peanut-butter cups, although the chocolate layers were the tiniest bit bitter. Next time, I think I’ll add a touch more honey—or maybe even melt in some Enjoy Life brand (dairy-free and soy-free) chocolate chips—to make the sweets just a little sweeter. :-)

Nothing else in my Kitchen Life was new this past week, but that, I’m excited to say, is about to change. I enrolled in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse (which I wrote about here), and I’ve been preparing for the lessons that will begin after the enrollment period ends Feb. 22. I ordered a free sourdough starter (which I hope will arrive before Lesson 12: How to Make Sourdough Bread!). I’ve lurked a little in the forum, where other enrollees have written introductions and shared resources. And I watched instructor Wardeh Harmon’s sneak-peak video detailing how to make her basic soaked muffins. You can tune in, too, by clicking here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

February 16, 2010   4 Comments

Kitchen Cleanup

This week, my Kitchen Life revolved more around what I did to my kitchen than what I did in it. Which got me thinking that maybe I should share a photo of the room where I spend a lot of my time. But before I do, I must explain that much of our home—including this all-important room—has been in remodeling mode for more than a year. And believe me, that has made it incredibly challenging to undergo a conversion to real-food preparation methods all at the same time! As you will see from the photo, we aren’t finished yet. (Note the pieced-together old pink Formica and plywood countertops, which will be in place until we can someday afford to replace them with granite. And you’ve gotta love the rustic look of the walls that remain untextured, unpainted and—if this is a word—unbacksplashed.)

Kitchen

No, I am under no illusion that my kitchen looks great. But it’s getting there. Really. You should have seen it before. (I don’t have a photo handy of what it used to look like, and if I did, I’m not sure I’d share it.) :-)

I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we (well, Shawn, really) did much of the work. The tile floor (which replaced a very outdated cream-colored tile with burgundy grout that Shawn laboriously broke up and removed) and the recessed lighting (which replaced two hideous fluorescent-tube fixtures) were installed by outside subcontractors. And when we discovered that our old cabinets were solid oak buried under layers of paint and dark stain, Shawn asked a friend with a finishing business to strip and refinish them. But Shawn built the island unit to match the existing cabinets, replaced all the hinges and added knobs and pulls. He also removed an ugly soffit that once filled the prime decorating space between the cabinets and the ceiling, and tore out the existing unnattractive backsplash. He rewired a dead phone line and reconfigured the exhaust/venting system on the new microwave before installing it. (I’m not a big fan of the microwave oven, which removes most—if not all—of the nutrients from the food it cooks. I use it mostly to heat water and to time what I’m cooking on the stovetop. :-) But it turned out to be a better option than an oven hood to provide an exhaust outlet. Plus, it saves counter space and adds resale value—though I have to say, after all this work, I don’t plan on moving. Ever!)

In addition to all of the construction work going on, my kitchen had been cluttered up for quite a few months with unpacked boxes filled with everything from cookbooks to linens and utensils, as well as large bags of bulk grains and beans that I couldn’t cram into my pantry. This past week, I finally tackled it all. I unpacked, organized, discarded and donated until everything found a place where it belonged. I scrubbed the entire floor by hand and then sealed the tile grout. It was exhausting and invigorating at the same time! It helped me to catch a fresh vision of what my kitchen might someday look like (when we eventually have the new countertops and backsplash, a new sink, barstools, curtains, a few shelves, and whatever else we add to the list). And perhaps more importantly, it has helped me enjoy actually being in the room that requires so much of my time. My kitchen might never grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, but to me, it’s looking pretty good!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

January 20, 2010   9 Comments