I am a yogurt fool. I have loved it pretty much since the first time I had a little supermarket-bought plastic tub. Since then, I’ve been going from brand to brand and type to type, discovering new and better varieties. A major high point (as would be for any yogurt lover I think) was trying Greek yogurt while working on a project in Greece. A creamier, more perfect yogurt I am hard pressed to find to this day. Although I am still a plain ride away from real Greek yogurt, I have come a long way since that first tub from the supermarket. I am happy to report that I have found two suppliers that sell wonderfully creamy natural yogurt – both from local dairy farms!
Aside from being a breakfast staple, baking ingredient, and quite the talented player in dips and dressings, yogurt also has the ability to comfort me during troubled times. Don’t get me wrong, chocolate is still number one in the fix-all department, but yogurt has its place in the medicine chest too. Whereas chocolate is more like a powerful happy-pill, yogurt is a soothing anaesthetic. It’s clean, fresh, light taste (and texture) is like a salve on my wounds...calming and quieting.
When the charming Bordeaux of Marita Says (love him and love his blog!) chose yogurt as the theme for this round of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day I was ecstatic! Flavor my own yogurt oh my! Many combinations went through my head and I had a few top choices planned but I, erm, missed the deadline :( Luckily Bordeaux (did you read my mind friend?) decided to extend it...so here I am with Chai Spiced Yogurt!
I know! I already did Chai Spiced Oatmeal (sheepish grin). What can I say? When I love something, I really love it :) (and this most likely won’t be the last “chai-spiced” dish I make)
Chai Spiced Yogurt
You can find the original recipe for Donna’s Mint Yogurt here
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cardamom pod, bashed a bit
- 1/4 – 1/2 of a cinnamon stick
- 1 peppercorn
- A thumbnail-size piece of ginger, peeled and bashed a bit
- Dash of nutmeg
- 1 cup chilled plain yogurt
- 1 cup chilled cream
- Pine nuts for topping
- Make the syrup by placing the honey and water, and all the spices in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until small bubbles appear on the side. Remove from heat and let it “steep” for about 15 minutes.
- Beat the yogurt and cream together until light and creamy.
- When the syrup has cooled, beat into the yogurt/cream mixture.
- Spoon into individual cups and sprinkle some pine nuts to top. If it’s not sweet enough for you, you can also top with more honey.
This certainly took yogurt up to the next creamy level! It was quite dessert-like and, aside from on its own, would also make a fabulous topping for cakes and tarts. The yogurt I used is already creamy, so I’ll be using less cream (probably half) the next time I make this.
This is Bordeaux’s second time to host HHDD...he is a two time winner! And he hosted this round while travelling with no kitchen access! Bravo Bordeaux!!! :) Thank you for choosing a fantastic theme! Thanks also to Bron of Bron Marshall for captaining the HHDD ship! And big thanks to Barbara of Winos and Foodies, the HHDD creator who we all love! :)
This mantle piece makes me envious that a booth display could look so much better than my home! Their booth was so comfortable yet so sophisticated.
Oh yes, we even had some touch with true celebrity fame in Houston. Marie Osmond was making an appearance. She is so tiny! Lots of people were waiting in line for her to sign something.
Sometimes, life can be like a perfect dish – just the right ingredients, combined in just the right way, at just the right time. These are moments and experiences that seem like gustatory masterpieces, lovingly prepared by a brilliant master chef. These are the stuff dreams are made of…the stuff we spend time and effort and planning and countless star-wishing to achieve. And when we do finally achieve these pockets of perfection it is amazing.
Most of the time though, I think life is like leftovers. You do the best you can with what’s been dealt. That is not to say that most of the time we are just settling on what is lying around in the back of the fridge. Not at all! I think it’s more a process of taking what life puts in our path and, after assessing the situation, taking steps to make it not just bearable, but beautiful -- perhaps chopping it up into a tasty fried rice, or adding a dash of pimeton de la vera and caramelized onions, or even warming it with some cream and those dried herbs you brought back from France and covering it gently with puff pastry. Sometimes, like life, these dishes don’t always turn out the way you’d like. But sometimes, they turn out so much better than their parts…an edible example of how you can take things (food, situations, people, dreams) seemingly past their prime with nothing left to give, add a little something (heat, love, a new flavor, puff pastry) and have them emerge as if a goddess from the sea…gorgeous, delicious, renewed, surprising and captivating us all. Culinary reincarnation.
This is all part of my continuing mission to avoid food waste…sharing my “leftovers-turned-meals” and pushing myself to make the absolute best out of what is left behind!
I realize though, at least among my immediate sphere of existence, that part of our leftovers are those doggie-bags we take away from restaurants. Unless the contents are an absolute favorite, they most likely end up tossed after a couple of days in fridge-limbo. So on the road of culinary reincarnation, let’s not forget these stragglers.
Peking Duck Stock
- The bones (the whole carcass including head) of 1 Peking Duck
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut in half or thirds
- 4 small red onions, peeled and cut in half
- 3 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, bashed
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and bashed
- 2 star anise
- A few sprigs of parsley (I used curly and flat as that’s what I had)
- A few stalks spring onions (I used about 3)
- Whole black peppercorns (I used the whole sprig you see in the photo) + roughly the same amount Sichuan peppercorns
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- Place everything in a stockpot and cover with water. The water should reach about an inch over the duck.
- Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that appears. Reduce to a simmer and cover pot. Let the stock simmer gently for 2-3 hours.
- Uncover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes more to reduce stock. Taste and either adjust seasoning or reduce further to deepen flavor.
- Portion as you prefer and let cool. Use immediately or store in the fridge if you’ll be using it in a couple of days…if not, freeze for future enjoyment!
Do you doggie bag the carcass of your Peking Duck? You should! It is better off going home with you and making you this delicious stock than staying at the restaurant and perhaps getting tossed out in the dump (poor thing). Besides, you did pay for it! This stock is a perfect case of creating magic from what would appear to be beyond salvage. Aside from the flavor of the duck itself, you are getting all the wonderful aromas of the spices and sauces that go into making Peking Duck! The other aromatics I used were also things in the fridge that needed using up (so feel free to be flexible with them). This makes for a deeply savory stock that you can use in so many ways. I decided to keep it simple and use it as a base for a wonton soup. With some bok choy, chopped spring onions, and cilantro, this was an intensely satisfying dinner (especially since I was feeling sniffly when I had it).
When we have taken those seemingly odd bits life throws in our path, and with a little cleverness and some courageousness, transformed and wrenched success from them – well, I believe these are the stuff greatness is truly made of. If you don’t believe me, just check the history books (and don’t waste those Peking Duck bones!) ;)
It was a whirlwind weekend and it was awesome. I was in Houston at Quilt Market. I worked more than I played this time. I really got my creative groove back at this show. I could really feel it this time. I didn't get a lot of photos of all that was going on but I did stop by a few booths.
My friend, Amy Butler, sent me this special book yesterday. So lovely. The designs are wonderful and they make me want to [almost!] have another baby. I don't review a lot of books but I have to say that I love this book. She has a wide variety of designs ranging from simple blocks to a couple of her awesome bags. I love the "Everything Bag" and I'm going to make a few for gifts. I am going to make the "Cheeky Monkey Laundry Bag" for my boys because they wanted that one the moment that saw the photo of it.
I took this photograph this summer when it was nice and toasty. It has been quite cool here in the past week. Reno even left the ice scraper for me in the doorway on his way out one morning. Brrr!
Most of us in the quilting industry are prepping for Quilt Market this weekend. I can't wait! I love to meet up with friends and to meet some new ones. It is wonderful and I always come home inspired. Wishing you a lovely, warm day!
Is it just me or is time flying by much too quickly these days? When did the days (and the months and the years) start whizzing past me at hyper-speed? When was it that life suddenly seemed pressed for time, bolting forward alarmingly while I struggle to keep pace?
Work, family, friends, hobbies, passions, dinner, breakfast, life...I scurry and scramble to make sure I clock in as much time needed for each one. Sometimes, I find myself gasping to catch up. Does this happen to you? Or am I just a slow life-runner?
When life moves too fast, I find it more effective to do the exact opposite of what my gut tells me. My instinct tells me, “hurry up!” but I hold my palm up firmly and say with conviction, “life, I am taking 5!”
We all need a breather once in a while and there’s no shame, and you’re not hurting anyone, to go ahead and take it. I get to catch my breath, regroup, and then get back into the game with renewed vigour and inspiration. It can be anything from a whole day dedicated only to yourself, to a weekend away with your wingman – the important thing is to get off that ever-speeding treadmill and relaaaaax. We deserve it!
Now, not all of us have a whole weekend, or even a whole day, that we can spare. I know the feeling. But if you’ve got five minutes, have I got a lovely, soul-satisfying activity for you! Why don’t you make bread?
Bread??? Yes, you read right!
Most everyone has already discovered Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg’s fantastic book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you haven’t, go check it out now! Or check out their blog, or Zoe’s blog, if you need more prodding. In their book, they so graciously share with us their method of making (wonderful, boulangerie-looking) bread using only 5 minutes prep time (the rest being either proofing time, or daydreaming-about-what-you-are-going–to-do-with-the-dough time).
Not to say I don’t enjoy the long process of bread making, because I love the kneading and the waiting. Making bread helps me clear my head, not to mention the benefits of kneading for anger management! But, in these fast-forward times, it’s not always possible to go about bread making the long way (although I do recommend it when you can manage...it’s like a gym and a shrink rolled into one!). This artisan-in-5 dough, which (yes!) you put together in five minutes, will stay snugly in your fridge, ready at a moment’s notice, for when you want to use it.
The bread pictured here is a loaf of Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Bread (from the book), which I put together in no time at all for a couple of friends who came over for drinks. I took some of the Master Boule Recipe dough out of the fridge, flattened it, sprinkled with my oven-roasted tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese, and that was that! A short wait while the oven pre-heated and the bread did a final proofing, and I was on my way to fresh bread that looked like it took hours to prepare! With the same dough (you just tear parts of it off the waiting blob in your fridge) we also made pizza and a regular boule.
There is nothing like pulling a crackly-crusted, miracle-smelling, gorgeous-looking loaf from your oven to make you feel like you have all the time in the world! When in reality, all you did was take 5 ;)
I am having one of those weeks where everything is going wrong at the worst of times. I have to laugh about it or else I will cry.
The fabric company is located in a great place in the heart of the garment district. Right around the corner of the offices are two of my favorite stores, Tinsel Trading and M&J Trimming. The ribbons, trims and other little decorative things are so special.
Right outside of the office building where Henry Glass is located, is a gorgeous flower shop. I can't remember the name of it but it is at 37th and 6th Ave. The colors are gorgeous aren't they? Sorry the photos are lousy. I can't believe that I forgot my camera! I had to use the one on my phone.
When we were finished lunch and the meeting, there was a lot of traffic from the finish of the Columbus Day Parade so I decided to walk a couple of blocks to Kinokuniya. Don't you just love the cover of this one?
I only got a quick glance of the books because I started feeling sick [I've been battling a bad cold all week] and I also had to leave by 4 p.m. or else I'd get stuck in traffic.
I just love the buzz that I feel when I go into the city. It's refreshing and invigorating. Everything's within a few blocks of each other so it's like a major shot of creative adrenaline.
Oh, the grittiness is pretty cool too. xo,L
One of my food resolutions is to learn how to cook Filipino food. My own cuisine has always been, to me, a secret world of family recipes that I never took the time to learn. Why try to learn how to make adobo and sinigang when somebody’s grandmother or mother or aunt has already spent years mastering it? Why not just enjoy these dishes at their tables and spend my cooking-energy learning something like how to make pasta and bread and French desserts?
Shamefully, I have fallen into the trap of familiarity-breeding-complacency when it comes to Filipino food. Obviously, it’s everywhere over here! And since this old comfort-blanket of dishes has kept me warm and safe quite successfully for all this time, I hesitate to weave my own version.
But nevertheless, I pull back my shoulders and put a tentative toe in the Filipino kitchen. I’ve already started making adobo – I have come quite far from my first attempt I’m happy to report. I’m still far from setting a recipe in stone as there are just so many things you can do with it! With the arrival of this bounty of vegetables though, pinakbet was the obvious choice.
Pinaktbet (or pakbet for short) is a very popular Filipino dish that hails from our Northern province of Ilocos***. Ilocos is a region with quite a distinct culinary profile, and some of its dishes, like pinakbet, have become popular all over the country. It is a vegetable dish that includes eggplant, ampalaya (bitter melon), okra, sitaw (long beans), chilli, tomatoes, ginger, fatty pork, and bagoong isda (their fish sauce). In some versions of pinakbet, squash is added – but I think this may be more a Southern move.
Another reason why I was so excited to make this dish, aside from the serendipity of having all the main ingredients delivered fresh to my doorstep, was my palayok. A palayok is our native clay pot used for cooking and I have had one for a couple of years now. It’s been sitting in my kitchen, longing to be used, but I’ve just never had the wherewithal to do so.
Well, it seems like fate had all the stars aligned for a pinakbet in a palayok and who am I to argue with culinary kismet? :)
No recipe yet, since I was just feeling my way around the dish (making kapa). But in a nutshell this is what I did:
Other than the veggies getting a bit smooshed by my stirring, I was quite pleased with the result! Not in the least because it actually tasted like pinakbet! It was very flavourful, and with a hot steaming scoop of rice, and some fried bangus (milkfish), made for a simple yet satisfying meal.
If you need more pinakbetspiration check Marvin’s post on finding his soul and Marketman’s Palayok Pinakbet!
I sense an all-new comfort blanket of Filipino dishes steadily in-the-weaving :)
***I’ve had the good fortune of visiting this lovely and delicious part of my country and you can take a peek here, here, here, and here, if you want to learn more :)
I took karate when I was younger but tae kwon do is a bit different. It's more like the stuff that you see in the movies. Lots more kicking involved and lots of flying kicks too. Tae kwon do literally means "foot, fist, way" whereas karate means "empty hand".
Great job! xo, L
Let's move on to lighter and more creative stuff. I made these last year for the boys' bathroom. So cute, huh? I used my Funky Flowers fabric and cut silhouettes from plain black fabric. Then I fused and framed. It's a quick and easy decorating idea and also a great gift.
A few people wondered what my chocolate colored powder room looked like. It used to be blue with beige wallpaper. The former owner had more conservative taste. Wouldn't she be surprised to see it now. Sorry the pic is not that great. This room doesn't have a window.
Gotta pic up Little A and then back to work. xo, L
I was honored to once again to be invited to the Highlights Illustrators' Party 2008! This year's theme was the Enchanted Forest. Here is the invitation with a stunning illustration by John Sandford.
It's a weekend filled with face-to-face fun with Highlights folks and illustrator friends. Here's a group posing for pre-party photos: Phyllis Harris(fairy princess), Judith Moffatt (Queen Malificent), and me (mushroom-Ms Shroom), also Emilie Boone (bumble bee), Sharon Holm (mother nature), front, Lily Gucfa-Flanigan as Dorothy.
The costume party
takes place in the
with an art show
featuring all the
The Beach Lake fire hall is where the dinner and big shindig/square dancing takes place.
the night away!
The staff does a remarkable job making sure we have a fun filled time with emphasis on each and every detail - like this coaster (I'm sure from the enchanted forest : ) for each guest!
The weekend was truly a HIGHLIGHT in the beautiful Pennsylvania mountains at the height of the fall colors!
We ended with a group photo of PBAA'ers!
Left: Emilie Boon, me, Sharon Holm, Jennifer Emery, Anni Matsick, Layne Johnson, Laura Jacobsen, Judith Moffatt, and Phyllis Harris.
Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on this event!
For those requesting more mushroom shots - here you go ....