Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Love Olive Oil Cakes

I know I have written about olive oil cakes before. In fact, more than once, which is why I hesitated writing about them again. But I simply had to. How could I not, when I keep finding such great recipes for them? Like this one... 

Heidi Swanson's take on Kim Boyce's Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
Click the link for the recipe on Heidi's blog or find it in Kim's (wonderful) book: Good To The Grain

Beyond tasting good... beyond the lovely moist texture... beyond their rich flavor that is not too sweet, olive oil cakes will always be a go-to dessert for me for the following two reasons:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quoting... John Greenleaf Whittier

"Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South, come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?"

- John Greenleaf Whittier (from the poem, The Pumpkin, 1846)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Total Concentration

We were blessed this summer/fall with an abundant crop of tomatoes. I am talking about major abbondanza. Some of the shrubs didn't do very well or produce much, but the ones that did... did so with sheer abandon. Not only did we have enough to stuff ourselves silly with, but we had enough to bless friends and neighbors with too. Such a great feeling. But all good things come to an end as they say, sunshine and tomatoes included. So I reduced, concentrated, and intensified the last 5 lbs of sun and warmth... and stuck them in a little jar for when the cold, wet, gray of the coming winter starts to get me down. Just like rainy days and Mondays. 

Eating Paste
It may seem an odd choice, to make what is essentially a small amount of tomato paste out of the last of our homegrown tomatoes, but to call this stuff "paste" is to call filet mignon "a steak", or aged balsamic "vinegar"... doesn't quite do it justice. No tomato paste I've ever had has the depth and intensity of flavor that this stuff has. So is it tomato paste? Yeah... but it's really really really good tomato paste. And won't it be wonderful to use in the middle of winter when flavorful ripe tomatoes are the stuff of summer dreams and memories.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Get the most use from an ordinary pumpkin
What can you do with a jack-o-lantern that never fulfilled its Halloween destiny? That was what I pondered earlier this week. We bought two rather large orange beauties but then got too busy to carve them in time for Halloween. In the past, I would've just called them autumnal decor and enjoyed them as-is until they started to get squishy. Now I'm thinking what a silly wasteful girl I was. There is so much goodness in these orange orbs... it's almost spooky.

Most folks use sugar pumpkins for their pie-baking etc. Truth be told, I prefer them also. They're smaller and easier to work with as well as being naturally sweeter than their carve-able cousins. They also cost more. The cheapest I found was a buck a pound. Might as well buy the canned purée. But... there is a trick to using jack-o-lantern pumpkins (which are a much better deal) which you'll see in a minute. First things first...