Monday, December 31, 2012

The end of 2012; Soups, Rice and more!

Well most of you who know me well can agree that 2012 has been quite a year!!
From moving to a new area, getting married, starting a new business, and just settling into married life in a rural area.... I've been busy!!

And I've been cooking like CRAZY!!

From my homemade applesauce (image above, Blog to come in January), to making new soups (newest below), to camp cooking (Rice and Pizza), to experimenting with new ingredients and different techniques.

Here's a recipe I've been promising for a while.

Island Rice - Hempire 2012

2 Cups Long Grain White Rice
1 Can BUSH's Low Sodium Black Beans
1 Bunch Green Onion
1 small Red Onion
2 Large Tomatoes, Diced
1 Clove Garlic (Optional)
Lime Juice
Rice Wine Vinegar
Coarse Sea Salt

Cook Rice according to package directions.
Dice Tomatoes, chop red onion and chop green onion.  Mince Garlic.
RINSE Black Beans
Toss Black Beans, Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic in bowl.
Add a Pinch Coarse Sea Salt
Add a Dash or two of Lime Juice
Add a dash of Rice Wine Vinegar.
Once Rice is cooked, fluff and add a dash of rice wine vinegar.
Let rice cool for a few minutes and then mix in with rest of ingredients.
Season with Extra Lime Juice and Rice Wine Vinegar and Salt to taste.
You should serve this dish at room temperature.

This is the dish that I brought to HEMPIRE (Hem Empire) 2012 and then of course I forgot to send out the recipe!  So here it is!   You can also get creative and add some pineapple or sesame oil!  Sorry, it was so good I forgot to take a picture!!  I like to make up a batch of this and serve it with Chicken Breast.

Something a little more recent that I made is more WINTER appropriate.. And it used my Christmas present!!

Corn, Ham, and Potato Chowder 

2 cups Corn - Whole kernel Frozen
2 cups Diced Ham (Leftover from a Baked Ham the night before)
Ham Jelly (see Day 2)**
Diced Yukon Potatoes (about 4 medium sized)
4 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup chopped green onion
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated, about 1 cup.
3 tbsp flour
heavy whipping cream

Day 1.
In your LODGE PORCELAIN ENAMELED CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN, cook your small ham (bone in shank or butt), adding 1.5 cups water.
Once your done cooking your ham, do not throw out the juices left in the pan!  Instead, remove any meat or debris and let liquids cool overnight.  Chop up at least 1 to 2 cups of ham for other dishes!

Day 2.
Skim the Fat from the Ham Stock.  The stock should have gelled up a bit overnight.  You want to remove all the hardened fat.
Remove the Ham Jelly** (I refer to this as Ham Jelly as this is the BASE for this soup and more!

Clean out dutch oven by rinsing with water and wiping clean.  Then the fun begins!  Remember that all ingredients can be modified to your liking.

Cook bacon until crispy(or at least until the fat is rendered well) over medium heat.
Remove bacon and set aside.
Add onions and a few slivers of garlic and cook for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant 
Do not let the items burn, if the pan is too hot, turn down a degree or two.
Add Corn (if using frozen, let the water cook out for a few minutes).
Add diced Potatoes and let cook for 2 minutes, heating them up.
Add some fresh ground pepper - Yum Yum!!
Add a few pats of butter - UNSALTED BUTTER Please!
Once the butter has been melted, sprinkle all ingredients with flour and mix well.
You've added enough flour when all items are coated - and are still wet and sticky.
Add some water to get the flour to mix (up to 1/2 cup).
Then add the ham (because you cooked your ham in the dutch oven the night before, it should not be too dry to add it now.  If you worry about overcooking the ham, feel free to add it at the last minute).
Add the Ham Jelly and stir well.
This should add just enough liquid to really coat all the ingredients, but now comes the good part - the cream.  We call this a Chowder because of the cream added.  And we do like our Cream here!
So with your wooden spoon, start stirring the pot with one hand, add 1/4 cup of cream, stir again.  Keep adding cream, in 1/4 cup increments.  If you're one of those that thinks Cream is evil, you can either add some water to thin it out or use Whipping Cream, Half n Half or Whole Milk.  But in doing so, you may have to add more cooking time to get the right consistency.
We like to use enough cream to make the chowder a white color, usually about 1.5 cups,
Then, if we didn't have enough Fat in here yet, we're adding a bit of cheese.  Just 1/3 cup of SHARP cheddar cheese...and some more pepper!!  Don't skimp on the pepper!!

The most important part now, is to bring the chowder just up to a boil, then reduce and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, stirring often as the bottom may start to stick.  If you didn't add the ham before, add it towards the end and then let simmer for at least 5 minutes more.

When the potatoes are tender.... and you're ready to serve, serve in a bowl and top with:
Grated Cheddar Cheese, Green Onions and crumbled bacon. Optional items can include:  Chopped Cilantro or a dollop of Sour Cream!

While I don't have step by step pictures.  I do have this final result.  Man was it good!!!

You can tell we liked it!  I made extra for lunch!  This is going in the "Keeper" pile!

So here we are, on New Year's Eve, ready to say good bye to 2012 and hello to 2013.
We're looking forward to new adventures, new foodie experiences, new travel locations and who knows what else!

Happy New Year!!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer 2012

So I haven't been blogging in quite a while.  I've been pretty busy! Getting married, starting up a new business, honeymoon, and just living life to the fullest!!  

Here we are, all dressed up in our finery!!  This was AFTER the sun finally came out, after the rain storms, and with bright blue sky about to shine down on us!

I'm not about to post all of our wedding pictures on here... but I will tell  you this, we couldn't have had a better time.  The ceremony, for me, was kind of a blur.  As I was walking down the aisle, on the arm of my other 'dad', R, I saw my very soon to be husband.  This was it.  One of the longest walks down the aisle to the man that I have come to depend on.  He is my best friend, my confidante, my goofy co-conspirator, my sounding board, my idea listener.  And on this day, he became my husband.

From the picture, you can see the handcrafted benches that B made.  We had farmer's market flowers on short shepards' hooks in Mason Jars that had a wire ties that B made.  We almost were not able to get married out here, but the weather cleared and our guests were great sports, sitting on the burlap covered benches, each with their own garbage bag!

We really could not have asked for a better wedding, enjoyed with those closest to us!!

Thank you to everyone who helped out and made it a GREAT DAY!!!

Of course, there are so many other wedding details I could go into today, but I won't. 
Next time I'll talk about the wedding menu and give y'all all the recipes for my Pulled Pork and Potato Salads!

A few weeks after we got married we knew we needed to just get out and explore. FIRST, of course we attempted to do some Firewood....As to which I fell, hurt my knee, scraped up my wrists, and was told that I may not be as good as others when it comes to making firewood...  But I still try each time!
B making  rounds with "The Beast".

Looking up toward Iron Mountain, where B proposed.

And of course, I continued to injure myself while picking raspberries later that same day.... Yes, my foot bled for these!  I accidentally stepped backwards, my heel slipping out of my flip flop and gashing down on a raspberry stem - one I had cut down to an inch, but forgot to trim all the way to the ground a few weeks before.
Now I just won't be picking raspberries in my flip flops.
So, my lovely Mr. Wonderful patched me up, looked at me and said "I think tomorrow we'll just go for a drive."

So off we went to see if we could cross the mountains behind our house.  We removed a Stump (well B and Black Beauty did - I just take the pictures!)

While B was pulling the stump out of the way, I got to take pictures of Mt. Higgins, outside of Darrington.

and once the stump was out of the way, we stopped by a creek and around the corner we came upon some snow.  This was the end of the line for that day!

The snow was up to 2 feet deep in spots!
It was melting though and we expect to be back and crossing the pass before the next snow season!

Thus we turned around (but not before our picture!) and headed to our Viewpoint.

How about a Side of Mt. Baker with a Flag view??

Looking towards Puget Sound.

But our adventures don't end there... We've been gardening, including watching our lovely tomatoes grow in the greenhouse.....

In the front and side gardens....

Missy is the Garden Guardian!

And of course, we're taking time out of our busy days to simply Smell the Roses in the Rose Garden, and just be a bit goofy, like Missy here.

So until I get another free moment, don't forget to stop and smell your own roses and appreciate all that is around you!!


July 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Years & The Changes

You may have heard about it.  But I'm officially an "upriver" gal.  I no longer live in the hubub of the city, but amid cows and dirty 4x4 trucks, and that makes me happy!! Concrete is a great little town and I'm excited to become apart of this small community.

Things have changed with Books N Brew.  We had a great Christmas offering, and since everyone was surprised this year with their Soda Breads, we're planning on making an Irish Stew and making our Soda Bread Mix, so stay tuned to see how it turns out!!  We'll provide the step by step pictures, but the tasting is remaining at home.  As you guessed it, our annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner will be limited, as I just don't have the room for 30 people.  So, I hope you get an invitation, and if you do, please make sure to RSVP!!

I have not bought any new books so far this year, but I'm rereading quite a few.  I've decided to reread all of my Stella Cameron books.  For those that don't know, Stella Cameron is a Washington Author, but the series I have are based in Louisiana.  I'd love to have her do up a series about the North Cascades.  I'm sure we've got enough stories and drama around here to keep the rest of the world entertained!!

Wedding plans are coming along. . . We're planning a simple & elegant wedding.  A down-home shin-dig that is comfortable and relaxing.  Just telling y'all now, boots are required!! Seriously, you won't want to break your ankle in spike heels!  The only and solid ground is on a patio we are not using!  So you can call this the Sturdy Shoe wedding!!

My New Years Resolution is to blog at least once a month, letting y'all know about what we're reading, cooking, creating, and the plans for our wedding!!!

Until then, keep on cooking!!