valentine's weekend

Hello hello! It's been forever since I've posted a personal update, but this weekend we broke out our "real" camera a few times so I wanted to share those photos with you. Friday was Valentine's Day and Luke brought home FOUR DONUTS after his team trained in the morning. Yes, we did eat them all. Yes, you have permission to call us Valentine's Fatties.

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Our one tradition for the day is a dinner of homemade soup, which began in 2008 when Luke ended up getting sick on our first Valentine's day as a couple. In past years we've made broccoli cheddar, tomato, creamy potato, and vegetable beef--I wish we'd kept yearly recipes! This year the soup of choice was chicken tortilla. So good.

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I did write down the recipe loosely this year which I'll try to get on a printable recipe card for you. It has a bΓ©chamel base and gets its flavor mainly from cumin, chili and cayenne seasoning which is what I happened to have in my cupboard! I don't know where I'd be without my trusty cumin supply...

Then yesterday we drove up to Newport Beach to go on a whale watching trip. It was really fun to be out on the water and thrilling to see the wildlife! A pod of dolphins swam and played alongside our boat at one point and we saw a huge gray whale surface in between dives several times--it was the first whale I've ever seen in my life! Everyone on our boat gasped and cheered whenever he showed just a fraction of his massive body, which was such a testament to the power of nature even in our world of ever accessible larger-than-life photos and HD video.

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(Luke actually gave himself a haircut later on in the day Friday after 6 months of growing it out! In case you wondered what's different about him here…)

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So that was our sweet little weekend. I hope you all had a good one, too! I'll try to be back before too long to give you an update on my work and business. Have a great week, all!

homemade gnocchi

Gnocchi is delicious. And although this wasn't the more common potato variety stuffed with a yummy, cheesy filling, they were still awesome because they were homemade.

I'm on a vegetarian cooking kick. My husband is the least picky eater ever, which is the best. It was actually his idea to try to eat more vegetarian meals. Nice going, Luke.

 

 

Isn't there just something about kneading dough? I've always wanted to get into breadmaking. I just love that process of creating and working the dough.

 

After rolling out the dough into long strips, I cut them into pieces and shaped them with fork prongs. To make them fancy. BTW, I used this recipe.

 

 

The swiss chard was straight out of Richard and Stella Novack's garden. So, so, so good. I had the privelege of sitting in the garden with their daughter, Mary, my very dear friend, while they picked me a vegetable goodie bag last week.

 

 

Luke was a little more excited about the meal than he looks. I think. :) Recipe here.

What are you doing this weekend? We're driving to Pennsylvania and back for the second weekend in a row. My cutesy nieces are having a triple birthday party (my brother and sis-in-law are smart -- three birds one stone).

 

An inspiring story (one I can appreciate as a former waitress) about a man's last wish.

One of my very sweet girlfriends is having a baby. Eek!

This had me laughing out loud. Yeah, you're ridiculous, real Yelp users.

Really cool company selling shoes to empower women.

 

happy weekend!

 

 

Homemade Granola

The first person I ever heard of making her own granola is the dear mother of dear friends, Stella Novack. What a sweet woman she is! There's much to learn from her other than you should learn to make your own granola. This particular recipe comes from Luke's Aunt Becky, though. Through the grapevine I've learned that nothing bad can ever come out of her kitchen! So thanks, Becky, for this recipe!

 

 

Earlier today I read this article from the NY Times and I really appreciated it. It's true, granola is little more than some oats mixed with a little oil & water and honey to sweeten it up. You know the Bear Naked granola that looks so appealing in the health food aisle? And it's five bucks at least? No more falling prey to it! Homemade granola all the way! I actually woke up this morning wanting to eat granola for breakfast and it's so easy that I whipped it up in time to do just that. Granted it was a lazy morning (do you think I would do this before work one day? not a chance), but really, you could do it too. I will be honest and tell you this is probably the fourth batch I've made and something seems to go wrong every time. I tried to be all Pioneer Woman and make it for my in-laws last week, and completely burnt half of it. If I can say one thing I think made a difference this time, it was to use sea salt. Well, and watch the timer. But mostly use sea salt! I keep a container in the cupboard to use for special things, like salted caramel once a year, and homemade granola.

 

 

Also: eat your homemade granola with Stonyfield blueberry yogurt for the best possible results. Mmm.

 

 

I hope everyone had a good Sunday. This afternoon Luke and I hiked Hook Mountain and saw this stunning view from the summit, and didn't take one photo. Not even a phone pic! Main because there was an army of dive-bombing beetle creatures buzzing around up there, and also because we don't own a camera at the moment. It's so tricky to be a blogger when you don't own a camera. Soon, soon this problem will be remedied. It's also tricky to be a blogger when you're not comfortable taking lots of photos of yourself and posting them. Hmm...maybe I should find a new hobby? But wouldn't you guys rather look at pictures of my beautiful stainless steel bowl full of grains than my mug?!

 

 

Click below for the recipe!

 

homemade | Summer Kohlrabi

 Yesterday Luke and I went to a mid-week market at Atherton Mill, just outside of uptown Charlotte. I love this market. We bought locally roasted coffee, homemade black bean salsa and garlic pickles, local squash, garlic, and kohlrabi. I had never tasted or cooked kohlrabi before, and the farmer admitted he hadn't either! However, his wife had sent him with a stack of recipes (printed from Cooks.com, mine is slightly adapted) which he helpfully gave to me, wishing me well. Earlier today I prepared the kohlrabi for us to eat with our dinner.

I had absolutely no idea how to prep it, so I took some photos of the process in case you'd like to try it yourself. Simply peel with a vegetable peeler or a knife (I used my favorite paring knife), cut in half, and slice thin. Some sites recommended I slice the kohlrabi like matchsticks. I'd like to experiment slicing it differently for future recipes.

Looks a little like green apples, tastes a bit like broccoli. Such an interesting veggie! The recipe instructed me to saute it with butter and add flour and milk to create a sauce. We ate it as a side dish alongside spaghetti with homemade pesto sauce and a simple salad of romaine, tomatoes, blueberries and our favorite Brianna's poppyseed dressing.

I thought it was pretty tasty, but I definitely overcooked it during sauteing. And it was heavy. I would love to try out a stir-fry type recipe for kohlrabi with olive oil instead of butter and some additional vegetables, herbs and spices. But since I wanted to share the new Nightingale Handmade recipe card, and to commemorate my very first cooking experience with kohlrabi, I've shared this particular recipe below (click to enlarge). Enjoy! 

 


Strawberry Picking & Homemade Jam

Today I went strawberry picking with my mother-in-law, Lola! The end of the season is quickly approaching here in SC, but we were still able to pick nearly 12lbs of the brightest, sweetest berries in the hot morning sun.

As soon as we brought them back to my house we got to work making strawberry jam. **Disclaimer: if you are an experienced canner, please don't laugh at us with our wok and our too-small pots. Lola was gracious enough to agree to teach me to make jam though I lacked proper equipment.**

The first step was washing and halving 4 cups of berries and combining with 1 cup of sugar in a medium-large pot (we doubled it so each of us could take a batch). After letting the mixture sit for 15 minutes, we brought it to a boil, stirring consistently.

Then we added more sugar. LOTS more sugar. Like, 6 cups more! Yikes! Along with a box of pectin, this is what helped the jam stand up. Once we added the pectin it didn't take long to finish the process--the jars and lids had been sterilized and were sitting in the hot water waiting for the jam to be poured in. Once we filled all 9 jars, we lidded them and waited for the seal.

The jam is absolutely delicious. I can't wait to share with friends and family and eat large amounts of peanut butter and homemade jam sandwiches. This was actually my first canning experience, but it was so easy I can't wait to do more. I have plenty of strawberries left--some already stashed away in the freezer to enjoy long after the season is over--so I'll have to think of other things to make with them. Until then, I'm going to enjoy them with cereal and yogurt and pop them like candy. 

**Disclaimer 2 If you're going to can without proper equipment, be aware that you might make a huge mess and at one point fill your house with smoke. Bear in mind it's all worth it in the end.**