Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Greetings

Hurried as I am, I wanted to send a groovy ghoulie greeting to all you cheeselings on this pagan high holiday. Truth be told, I am not in costume today. With a relatively low-key evening plan (involving steamed mussels, a fire, and in-laws) and a vehemently anti-costume spouse, I am somewhat uninspired. It wasn't always this way.....only a few years back, my beloved wowed the crowd as a washed up Chippendales dancer, and years before as a leprechaun. However, his rented elfen costume held some bad Rennaisance Faire juju and he has been off dressing up ever since. That didn't stop me proposing a series of genius couples costumes for us this year (Linda Evans & Yanni, Mystery & J-Dog, Sweet Lime & Jack Whitman). If those references elude you, don't worry. It's now a moot point as I got shut down on all counts. Or as Rick Springfield would say "the point is prolly moot.")

In any case, I hope the rest of you have a kooky costumed night of spooky shenanigans. And hey, don't egg my house. I am standing by with candy, at the ready.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Automatic aromatics

Behold my lovely wheaten bread.

Nothing says "domestic goddess" like a loaf of freshly baked bread. And nothing says "all the glory with none of the effort" like this super-simple recipe from one Mrs. H. Gillan. I've never made fresh bread so easily or quickly. I'm even inspired to make it in the mornings to enjoy with tea or when friends pop by for cheese 'n' things. It's that effortless. But you can still pretend you slaved all day and emerged coifed, fresh-faced and full of party charms.

Wheaten Bread

6 oz whole wheat flour
2 oz flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 pint buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl (I used my hands, but a mixer will do). It will be too sticky to work with so add a few more shakes of flour till you can reasonably mold it into a flattened ball. Place on a floured baking pan and bake for 35 minutes. Voila! Serve it warm & slathered with butter or sliced room temperature with sharp English cheddar and chutney. A nice cuppa tea or a pint and you're right as rain!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No, your eyes don't deceive you.

I am in fact blogging.

Healthy, alive and back in the saddle. I'll skip the excuses, apologies, whining, et al. I may have been a slack correspondent, but I've been a dervish in the kitchen, which, I like to think, counts for something.

Now, onto the news of the day. First of all, this:
I found this wee pineapplet in Mollie Stone's today while cruising the produce section in search of a non-soggy avocado. And when these fruity friends caught my eye, I was stopped in my tracks. I trust you can discern the scale of this culinary curiousity as it rests in the palm of my hand. And I must emphasize the smallness of my hands lest you imagine some Seinfeldian "man hand" scenario at play. I assure you, dear readers, mine are the daintiest of digits. What's really remarkable about this tiny find is the potency of its perfume. I drove home with senses confused as I inhaled the summer scent of piña colada while driving through the driving rain. Which, of course, led to song composition ("If you like piña coladas, driving home in the rain...")

And that's not all this morning's market run yielded. As I ambled through the cheese section (hello, old friend....), I encountered a jolly Aussie peddling cheesy wares, including wafer-thin cracker crisps and molds of intense fruit and nut gelees to serve alongside one's fromage. It turns out it was this fellow though today he looked more like this, manning his stand of delectable comestibles. He explained he was on tour in the states, spreading the good word about his great products--and indeed his products are worth the effort. I started with the pear and hazelnut pyramid (which remains my favorite), then moved to the apricot and pistachio and closed it out with the fig and almond combo--a figgy flavor burst that will knock down any old newton. As you've by now surmised, I liked his products a lot. I bought some and you should too. I also liked that he was there, himself, taking it to the streets and promoting his product the old-fashioned way, with a friendly smile and a side of queso.

In other news, I was thrilled to learn our friends Jen and Chris just took the gold at the Sonoma Harvest Festival for their Syrah, Cuvee Julian. You heard it here first, people: (last summer, I believe)...Stark wines are simple and stunning. And people are starting to notice. Plus, their prices are afforable, so order some for the holidays before they get all high-fatulin' and jack their prices. PS--their viognier remains my favorite of all, so don't overlook it!

And that, my friends, is all the news that's fit to print. Or at least it's all the news that I can muster at this instant as I'm still getting over a nasty flu. No, I didn't get a flu shot and don't get me started on that racket. I am too delicate to argue the illogic of being shot up with flu serum when this year's strains are inevitably different than those that came before. Instead, I will luxuriate on this rainy afternoon, fire blazing, pup snoozing by my side (I call this one "Ruby in Repose") and husband snuggled on the couch studying for his citizenship. The little boy from Belfast will soon be signing on with Unky Sam. Well, not signing over his soul, he would be quick to point out; he can retain his birth citizenship as well. And with Belfast on the brain, I will retire to the kitchen to fashion some Irish wheaten bread from the ancient community cookbook sent over by a white-haired, Irish auntie. The only question is whether to make the recipe submitted by Mrs. C.E. Brennen from the Manse in Whitehead or that contributed by Mrs. H. Gillan, from Turroloskin, Ballycastle. I must admit, I am partial to all places Bally: Ballymoney, Ballyna, Bally-by-the-Waye. I guess we know which wheaten wins. And will it ever taste delicious dipped in the potato leek soup I'll serve tonight for dinner.

Ta, my cheeselings. It's good to be back.