Monday, April 29, 2013

Saint Catherine of Siena Soup Day

Today is the feast day of Saint Catherine of Siena. She was an amazing woman who lived in the fourteenth century in Siena, Italy~hence the title. Sigrid Undset wrote a terrific biography on this saint that I highly recommend!
My dear friend Annette, during her recent adventure to Italy, brought me back some wonderful gifts, including an authentic Sienese soup mix. I was excited to receive this, and when I realized just what it was, I knew this would be what we eat today for dinner! The mix contains farro which is something I haven't tried before. It also has the Consorzio Agrario Siena label on it which means it can only be made in that region (like champagne only being able to be from Champagne, France).
E 'tempo di zuppa (It's soup time)!

I'll be making this along with some whole wheat bread which I talked about in my previous post.
Here's a yummy sounding farro and vegetable soup recipe from Mario Batali.  Be sure to enjoy something Italian today and ask for Saint Catherine's intercession!

Mixed Vegetable and Farro Soup, from Mario Batali 
and Food & Wine Magazine 

  1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  3. 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  4. 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  5. 1 cup farro or wheat berries
  6. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  7. 2 quarts water
  8. One 15-ounce can borlotti or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  9. 2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  10. 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  11. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  12. 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated and shiny, 30 seconds. Add 1 quart of the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, 30 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with the basil and serve.

Just Another Mangia Monday

Spring has sprung!
The Burrow sign on our front porch
Have you ever gotten tired of what everyone else calls "gorgeous weather"? The sun has been working overtime here in the mid-Willamette valley over the last week which should make me a happy person. To be totally honest, however, I wouldn't mind a bit of rain right now. Sorry to say this to all my happy Salemite friends who have started putting away sweaters and boots in exchange for birkenstocks and capris. The whole sunshiny thing, along with my youngest on hyper-garden mode, has made it a busy week at "The Burrow" ~quick explanation: in the Harry Potter books, the Weasley's home is known as "The Burrow". The girls have decided our home is much like theirs- without quite so many kids- so for Christmas this past year they made me a sign for the front porch which you can see!Anyway, Mary has decided to tackle the yards, both front and back, this summer. As we have at least one summertime party coming up in the next few months, I am in full agreement with her gumption and ideas. This, however, has caused a bit of consternation on my part, not to mention a few sore muscles in places I forgot I had them. Instead of whining, I figured I should just go along with it as it's been sort of a cross-training program for fencing! After working with her for a few days in our backyard, it actually is starting to look a little like what we've been envisioning. Of course, now we just need to wait to see what will grow as well as waiting to have a little "extra" cash for barkdust.
Wheat bread beginnings
Bread making time!
While we're waiting- even though the sun is still shining its' rays down on us- I have spent this Monday morning in my usual manner, in the kitchen baking the weeks worth of bread. Today I made the regular loaves of  white bread, but I am also trying a whole wheat recipe from Pinterest via I have the two bowls of whole wheaty goodness- the preferment and the autolyse- sitting on the counter doing its' chemistry as well as two batches of Grandpa Aziz' bread 
Grandpa Aziz' bread dough
 to be made into bread. Sometimes I wake up Mondays and wonder why I bother baking bread, but then I remember how much better it tastes than any store bought bread plus how much money I am saving our family- part of my job as wife and mom. It's those thoughts that make me glad to be able to enjoy the little things at "The Burrow" on this Mangia Monday!

Ruby enjoying the yard
Our backyard lavendar and ranuculus
Strawberry plants in the wagon
Little fountain on my front porch

More front porch plantings

I just pulled out the bread and muffins from the oven and thought I'd share photos...

Gallbladders & the Gift of My Girls

Having a 23 year old daughter living in the same town with a great job- this one at Greenbaums Quilted Forest (the coolest quilt/fabric shop EVER)- is such a blessing to me. We usually get to see her at least once a week when we celebrate Sunday Mass together then hang out for family dinner and facetime with brother Josh in college. Sometimes, however, those young adult children need a little bit of "momming" (even in this case with that being done by sister & grammie as well). this all had to do with Cari's surgery to remove her gallbladder last Friday. As David and I were needing to be in Bellvue, WA for a fencing tournament, youngest daughter Mary~ who now has her own blog at under the apple tree~ was happy, or at least okay with, being Cari's "momming" helper at the hospital  and at my parents house where my mom- Grammie to the girls- helped take on the "momming" too. Both my mom and Mary were such gifts to me as they did a bang-up job of taking care of Cari, who had a bit more complicated surgery than expected as the doctor had to go in to do some stuff that was originally supposed to be laparoscopic.
Lentil soup
Gluten Free Crackers
Cari and Mary then came to our house on Monday via the Grammie van as our suburban was too high for Cari to climb into easily. It's been such a gift for me to be able to take care of her this week. When  I've had to go to work, Mary's been here to do the "momming" for me with much tenderness as a future nurse will need. David, of course, has been here for mostly comic relief although we've been trying hard to to keep Cari from laughing as it hurts her stitches area. Brian's been glad to do bits of running around picking up necessities. It's been fun to make gluten free/low fat recipes for Cari to try too. Mary made some oven fries to go with leftover chicken. I did a garlicky lentil soup for dinner last night from the fisheaters blog along with some homemade rice crackers. I also made her gluten free waffles and breakfast quinoa. Tonight is roasted chicken and rice with veggies.
Two chickens ready to be roasted!
It's been anything but boring at our house this week, that's for sure! Having Cari here along with Mary being so great at helping to "mom" her has shown me what a gift I have I these girls and that  gallbladder surgery isn't always as bad as it seems!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

First Tuesday Morning Recipe Tries

Since I have Tuesdays off from the salle, I've decided to use them to do some domestic things. I figured I can usually have ingredients to try new recipes (mostly found on Pinterest, but some from magazines and cookbooks as well), and I've also been wanting to try making more things that we would normally buy prepackaged- along with some healthier ideas too.

Here are photos from today's recipe tries along with the websites they originally came from and the links, so you can try some then...mangia, mangia!

Salsa from Two Peas & Their Pod
Brian had some of this with chips, and gave it his stamp of approval!

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing from Simple Food Healthy Life
I had this on a turkey/cheese/tomato/carrot wrap for lunch- wow!

Strawberry Jam Bars from An Edible Mosaic
I know at least two family members who are planning on these for breakfast tomorrow...

AMAZING vanilla coffee creamer from  Bacon in My Pocket

Healthy Bars from Roxana's Home Baking
I wrapped these up individually for David to take to school or the fencing salle

Three Recipes and a Doughnut

Okay...this was originally started a few weeks ago, but I got too busy to finish it (sorry)! So here it is for you anyway...
Yesterday was my day off, so after attending 7:00a.m. Mass with the kids, it was time to experiment with some new recipes. These were all on my iPad (Christmas gift from hubby) from the very popular (and sometime time consuming) Pinterest. After going on Mary's Pinterest account for a few weeks, I decided it would be better to just get my own account. Mary had admonished me to be sure to actually use the stuff I pin instead of just pinning on my board. (For those of you who haven't gotten sucked into the Pinterest vortex- it's a fun way to find ideas and then keep them on "boards" you share with others). This long explanation is the reason behind my trying these new recipes!

The first thing to share is Cheesy Kale Pesto Bites ~ I actually made these Sunday for a baby shower, but it's too good not to share!
Kale Pesto
4 cups packed kale leaves (I used a package from Trader Joe's- it's cut, washed & ready to use!)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves 
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive or grapeseed oil

Mix all ingredients in food processor until fairly smooth paste. Serve with pasta or in Cheesy Kale Pesto Bites.

Cheesy Kale Pesto Bites
1 batch kale pesto
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Shape into walnut-sized pieces. Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly on rack before serving.

Homemade Harissa- it's so yummy!
Recipe #2- Harissa
(adapted from Saveur)
8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded- about 2 oz.
8 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded- about 1 1/2 oz.
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 cumin seeds
1 tsp. dried peppermint leaves
3 tbsp. grapeseed oil, plus more if needed
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
5 cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
Place chiles in medium bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit until softened. Grind caraway, cumin and peppermint leaves in coffee or spice grinder (I use my Proctor Silex coffee grinder- bought just for spices) Drain chiles and place in food processor along with everything else. Turn on processor until everything is combined into a paste. Pour into jar and cover with 1/2" or so oil to help keep it longer.
Homemade American Cheese (aka Velveeta)!!!!!!

Recipe #3- American Cheese 
I copied this one straight off the blog From Away which is definitely one of my favorite food blogs. I am pretty sure the great photos have something to do with it although the fact that the food always sounds delicious AND they are in New England which helps me feel a bit closer to Josh might help a little. I knew the minute I saw this recipe I needed to make it. It was as good as I thought it would be! Now, you know you want to try it too, so gather up the stuff and get cooking!!!