Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Phone, Text or Photo?

I am a strict advocate of no texting while driving, no phone without hands free but I confess, I did probably worse than all that....I could not resist photography while driving. The point and shoot digital was sitting right next to me.

The sunset was captivating. I knew I would not make it back to the marsh where it was even more spectacular I am sure. But, there was another reason to take this shot. I am constantly in awe of rainy day reflections from street lights, cars and more as I drive and I think it would make a fantastic photo essay someday!

So to start that essay, when I finally drove off the highway I sat at this red light. I realized this image was quite poignant & exactly what I should include in my photo essay. It is not just roads, reflections, highways and sunsets. It is what we see to and from work each day. If we open our eyes and see the beauty in every moment...maybe our days can start and end looking for these opportunities!  Hmmmm......starting a new folder.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Treat

This holiday we wanted a few different side dishes. Corn on the Cob, grilled and Brussels Sprouts au Gratin were the winners. Have you ever seen the whole stalk of sprouts? It is fun, they are fresh for sure and made for some fun photo opportunities.

It is a 2 foot long unique but awkward stem of these little cabbages.

Here they are cleaned of outer leaves and broken off their stem.

And the barren stalk remains.

Grilled corn, the roasted sprouts, other sides, wine & candlelight. It was a bountiful and blessed feast. Again, I am very thankful for everything.

Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin Recipe
Prepare the sprouts. Peel off outer leaves and cut the stem on each. Slice in half and arrange on a cookie sheet with sides to prevent rolling sprouts! Drizzle and massage with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper. Roast for approx. 1/2 hour @ 350 or until sprouts are just slightly tender. Don't over cook these little gems...they can become bitter if overcooked.  Remove, Put into a covered baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan. This can all be done in advance! Roast again covered in 350 oven until warm and serve immediately...and enjoy them!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I am thankful for...

Family, friends, good health and good food. Nature, its beauty and its surprises. Art in all shapes and sizes. Hard work, time off and people who appreciate the same. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autumn Colors

Aside from realizing my little point & shoot camera is partially broken down, I still see such change in the months between summer and winter and I appreciate the moments of COLOR that I have been able to capture. Here are some of my gardens and beyond.

The Burning Bush, the dried hydrangeas and the spent hostas are just as beautiful now as 3 months ago! Add in some mums and color is in abundance. Autumn is awesome.

The marsh turns from green to golden, the grasses follow and dry to perfection. Even the composted leaves have an identity of "mixed greens" but not green at all.

From one tree to the next, especially the Japanese or Chinese Maples the color is striking if you take the time to look.

The moss taken from inside my chimney (yes, it was growing there!!) was my last autumn awesomeness. Thankfully now my chimney and fireplace are clear and free of growth from neglect and we will be having a winter fire again. Bring it on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Horseshoe Hideaway

I had a lucky day quite a ways back. Three good things happened and one was finding a perfect little Horseshoe Crab washed up on the beach. I vowed to make it a home.

Finding a shadow box was harder than expected! Now onto creating a dark background to offset the precious specimen.

Prime, paint black and then due to brush strokes, add an acid free piece of cover stock. This will not fade in sunlight and the matte finish is what I was looking for.

The little horseshoe crab was the perfect fit!

One with the crab....photographing under glass is tricky. Here I am truly reflected and I love it.

Glued in with a sprinkle of sand from the crab itself in the bottom of the box!

And the final resting place for my little crab. 
A place of honor in the sunporch with another shadow box of shells.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No matter what you follow – Astrology, The Farmer's Almanac or some other persuasion, the full moon is always a beautiful site to behold. The Farmer's Almanac describes the November Full Moon as the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs, and thus dubbed the "Beaver Moon".

Another source names the November Full Moon -- Beaver, Frost, Mourning and Fog Moon. Early Norse cultures knew all of November as Fogmoon, a time to honor the fallen, and swear oaths on oath-rings, to show dedication to aims of the new year.

All I know is that no matter what month it is or where you are, the full moon draws you in and makes you stop, look and think.  A hard photo to capture with a little point and shoot digital!

The fast moving clouds gave us glimpses of the moon one night before the actual Full Moon.

Tonight the clouds have covered the moon. Tomorrow is 11.11.11. Talk about thinking!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where's the Boeuf?

This week I made the dish made famous by a blog...or a movie...but actually by Julia herself. I inherited Julia Child's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking from my great aunt. It is an early edition dated April 1965. I wish it was a first edition!!

I think the first time I was truly aware of such a thing as a "blog" was while watching the movie Julie & Julia in 2009. I rushed home to pull out my book, look up the recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon and try it myself. Since then, I have made quite a few batches of this rich, savory stew and have obviously now started a blog myself!

Following the recipe almost exactly, the whole process takes 3-4 hours. A labor of love.

Frying the bacon, browning the meat. (important-dry the meat first!!)

Browning the onion and carrots.

Adding the essential spices, broth and wine & cooking at a low heat for 3 hours...

And finally, the next day, boiling the potatoes and spooning the tender, tasty concoction atop. A sprinkle of Parmesan and time to enjoy.

The recipe taken from the book follows. More steps than I have photographed but believe me, take the time to do it all, it is well worth the effort.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe created by Julia Child

As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.

Vegetable and Wine Suggestions
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.

Servings: Serves 6
·      9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
·      Slotted spoon
·      6 ounces bacon
·      1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
·      3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
·      1 sliced carrot
·      1 sliced onion
·      1 tsp. salt
·      1/4 tsp. pepper
·      2 Tbsp. flour
·      3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
·      2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
·      1 Tbsp. tomato paste
·      2 cloves mashed garlic
·      1/2 tsp. thyme
·      Crumbled bay leaf
·      Blanched bacon rind
·      18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
·      1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
·      Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spaghetti Squash So Fine

A quick post. Have you ever cooked Spaghetti Squash? I just love it. 

 Just halve it, steam it and fork it to produce the most unexplained phenomena in the food world!

It truly looks like pasta and acts like pasta but is a awesome.

Ahhh, steamed peas & carrots plus heirloom cherry tomatoes and a little pesto. 

This is a heavenly dish. Try it before the spaghetti squash are out of season!!!