16 May 2020

Some thoughts and a Recipe

As I begin to assess these months, I begin to wonder how I will look back on this lockdown?
Found distraction.
Found moments of creativity.
We unstuck this window!
Then there were the emotions. In the beginning, there was fear, but as time passed I grew frustrated being home, especially when our summer came too soon and there was no hiking.
I stepped away from French, reading, and normal studies that enrich life.
But fortunately, a few weeks into this my sister needed help with her third grader's schooling. Through Facetime, phone calls, and texting, I am managing to teach my niece. We were a homeschooling family, so this is somewhat natural, except for a silly curriculum never set up for online, nor homeschooling. However despite the silliness encountered, we improvise and have fun! Homeschooling my daughter was a blessing, and it I think it would be okay for me to say, that it has helped her through this time. It is something we know how to do. Keep busy. Experience the boredom. Distraction can lead to learning and creativity. So I imagine these days will enrich her young life too and a window to possibilities. My sister says that she loves school now. 

Here is a recipe that I adapted during this time. My husband loves it, but he loves rice.
 Mine is quick and assumes some foods are already made. It uses ingredients that are more easily found or are less expensive than say fresh parmesan. This recipe is inspired by the cookbook author Mimi Thorisson’s Asparagus Risotto. I adapted mine to leftover rice in the refrigerator and items we have during this slow economic time. Mimi Thorisson said, “There is truly nothing better than on a rainy spring Monday than a risotto like this and a good bottle of wine. Enjoy.” I would have to agree about risotto! Even with this less expensive, quick version that substitutes a few fresh ingredients for store bought! If you don’t eat meat, I would suggest add vegetables of your choice. The mild taste of this made me feel like I was back in the Dolomites. I think that next time, I will make it with fresh mushrooms. I used sliced (juliened) French Green beans in a can.

Quick French Green Bean Risotto with Rotisserie Chicken (Made from leftovers) It is probably on the table in under 40 minutes, if you have everything.) I cook on a gas stove and I use a wok.

The chicken from the breasts of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
4 cups of already cooked Long Grained Rice (or the fancier ones for risotto) (I already had four cups of cooked rice leftover from when I made two cups of dry rice.) 
½ cup of a good white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
2 cups of homemade (frozen) chicken broth (unfrozen is fine too)
A can of well-drained French Green Beans (You could use more, or fresh if they were cooked longer than al dente in my opinion.) 
¼ of a large yellow onion (OR 1 smaller onion OR ½ of a medium onion).
2 small cloves of crushed garlic or 1 regular size clove. (cloves are the smaller parts of the bulb. It gives a slight hint of garlic.)
3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil (2 to saute and 2 to add later)
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 oz. Kraft Parmesan Cheese (weighed)
You can give it a prettier color by adding a bit of paprika if you are like me, and can’t taste it. There are fancier ways too, like saffron.

Tools that I use: garlic crusher, a scale, wok (I use my wok all the time. I can move things to sides to not overcook things, and it is deep, so less food falls on the stove.

French Green Bean Chicken Risotto
Sautee ¼ of a large yellow onion finely chopped with 2 small cloves of crushed garlic from a garlic crusher in two tablespoons of olive oil. 
Next, add the four cups of already cooked rice. Mix and coat every grain. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter, allow it to melt and then coat all the rice by mixing it well. 
Add ½ of good white Sauvignon Blanc wine. Coat all the rice. 
Add the 2 cups of frozen homemade chicken broth. Let it melt and reheat. 
Slowly add and mix in gradually 3 ounces of Kraft Parmesan Cheese that you weighed. 
Add one can of well-drained French green beans and the breast meat of a freshly roasted chicken. (I like this kind of chicken because it pulls apart and looks rustic). 
Heat to serving temperature again. 
Add one more tablespoon of olive oil or two before serving mixing it in well. 
Salt and Pepper to taste and Garnish for serving.
If I had walnuts, I would have crushed some for the top. Also, pieces of chopped green onions from the garden look pretty. (I wouldn’t buy them, they are too expensive for garnish.). Finally, you can't go wrong with fresh parmesan on top if you have it. 
This makes a lot! There is probably enough for 4 to 6 people, unless you have big eaters, growing boys, or men in the house. My husband had it for several meals. 
I have made it twice now and once with 16oz of fresh mushrooms instead of greenbeans.
I enjoyed it more! I saute the mushrooms with the onions and the garlic and leave out the french style green beans.

On my instagram, you can see my new kitchen island. It is made from an older piece that I had, with the butcher block from the island that I had.  I didn't want to destroy the top of the older piece, so we figured out a way to use some bolts to attach the top over the other. We stained the top in a beautiful walnut. It looks rustic, and French, and I'm enjoying it.
You can always fine me on Instagram

06 April 2020

A Lemon Tart Recipe

Everyone feels and reacts differently in these times. For me, being busy is helpful. On weekends, I watch Lost in Space via antennae. True vintage TV!  I laughed when Dr. Smith said to Will, “don’t get too close, it will contaminate you, and you will contaminate me”. Then a few days ago, in a dream, I heard the song The Boxer. And as I struggled to read the music, I woke, so I looked up the lyrics. It mentioned N.Y. and lines for jobs. Suddenly, the tears coursed until my cheeks stung. The days seem to run into days, and morning light wakes earlier and earlier. Today, I busied myself with my niece’s schooling via face time, cooked homemade soup, and baked a lemon tart. A routine helps the day pass.  The tart recipe is wonderful and requires so few ingredients even though I had to make a crust! It’s from the amazing Mimi at Mimithor, and she mentioned it in her stories today, because it’s republished at Sezane’s Blog under home. You can link directly to it in her stories. And interestingly, I since learned that Paul Simon created a new video of his famous song The Boxer, and it’s on YouTube. 

The recipe is in grams so, I converted the ingredient measurements for the lemon filling. I did not have the dough, so 
I made a simple crust by my own methods. 

Simple Pie Crust (only for a bottom)
1 and 1/4 cup of flour 1/3 cup of shortening and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 6 tablespoons of water, worked it with a fork, until I could roll it out on the table smeared with flour. I put it in a pie plate, and then once I made the filling, I poured it in. It's so easy, and it is delicious!

Thank you for all your lovely comments. Always… Tonight, before the sun sleeps below the mountain, perhaps light a candle for the shadows. Su Johnson  

The filling is here: Sezane
They highlighted her talent.

I have since realized that the filling was not self-explanatory. I apologize.
Two lemons give you about a half a cup of lemon juice. 1.5 lemons is a little less about 1/8 of a cup less. (so 3/8 of a cup, don't go more than 1/2 cup. You might be able to get away with less, let me know. I tried as low 1/4 now... a little drier. I think the sweet spot is around 3/8 and not more than a half.)
4.5 tablespoons of melted butter
12.5 teaspoons of sugar
1 egg

I like to bring the egg to room temperature by putting it in warm water for a few minutes. Though some say 5 to 10 in warm water or 30 minutes on the counter.
It is warm in my house. 75 degrees.

I whisked the egg for two minutes by hand until fluffy.
Then I put in the melted butter and the sugar and whisked till it was mixed.
Then I add the lemon juice: 1/2 cup and whisked more by hand... Probably 2 minutes more. (It creates not quite a cup of filling, because I poured it into a  liquid measuring cup to measure.)
Next, I poured it into my prepared  9 inch regular size pie plate with my uncooked crust, because that is  the size pan I have. I pinched the crust. 

I cooked it at 420 F for 20 to 25+ minutes in the oven longer than what the Sezane website suggests, but if you use the a converter it is 428 F.  Last night, I tried 425, and this time in my toaster oven it took 30. (My big oven is gas.) Until it was golden, almost brown, tanning . (It always depends on your own oven.) It is still bubbling when I take it out and looks like it is still cooking as it sets. At that high temperature, it cooks quick and the sides shrink down a bit, a little different than pie, and it looks like a tart anyway with a little higher sides.  
It is thin, and tart :), because there is not a lot of sugar.
When it totally cooled I removed mine from the pan quite easily. 
But you can always leave it in the pan and serve it from that. I like it on a plate.

When it is totally cooled, I sprinkle with powder sugar. 

I make pinwheels with the extra dough.  I got about 5 of those. I just sprinkle sugar and cinnamon, but some use butter. 
Pinwheels 375 for 15+ minutes, a little longer in a small electric oven for the golden color.

You can always find me on Instagram.        

01 April 2020

New Post April 2020

I have not written here in awhile. But with everyone home with their children or maybe even grand-children, I have had some ideas to share. But rather than write them here, I will give a preview. If you are interested then you can look at my Instagram. I will post a photo, and the second in the series will be something that I've written. I reach more there, and it is more accessible.

So I am sharing my little pink house, my living room, and porch. Also, in the stories there is a video tour of my backyard garden.

On a couple of posts there are ideas about grocery lists and taking care of others when we can in these times.