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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Santa Came Early

All right people, get your minds out of the gutter. Seriously!

The photography at Just the Right Size will be greatly improved over the coming months. You see, I've been going to the Central Florida Camera Society meetings on and off for the past few months, but it's kinda lame if you don't have a good camera. I've been using a Sony Mavica, which has its purpose, but it's not a Nikon D60!!!!

I was like Jesus Christ Acapella Reprisal when I got it! Now I gotta figure out how to use it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And Then There Was Ina

I was having a little pre-Thanksgiving meltdown last night about side dishes. First, let me mention that we are having TWO dinners this year, one at my sister-in-law's-sister-in-law's house (yes, that's correct), and one at our house on Saturday. See, hubs and I agree that one of the best things about Turkey Day, besides family and friends, are the leftovers.

Now going to someone else's house for Turkey Day is great, but no leftovers at home! So, we're having our own throw down with some friends on Saturday. So, back to the side dishes...

I always find myself in a rut about vegetables. There's always so many rich, gravied, smothered, and sugared things on the table for Turkey Day already, and I like to keep a few things simple. I panicked. I was already making roasted beets and butternut squash, and I was CERTAINLY not going to have a nasty, green bean casserole.

Then I remembered Ina. I have every one of her cookbooks, and every one of her recipes are pure, simple, let-the-food-shine-through gold.

Have a happy, safe, and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Green Beans with Shallots
Recipe sourse: Family Style by Ina Garten

1 lb. fresh green beans, cleaned
3 shallots, sliced thin
2-3 tablespoons of butter
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Blanche the green beans in boiling water 2-3 minutes, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. In a sautee pan, melt the butter and sautee the shallots over medium/high heat until they start to caramelize, toss the green beans with the shallots just enough to reheat. Season with salt & pepper, serve hot.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Meet Mr. or Mrs. Burns!

To save you from the constant onslaught of food porn that is pouring in from other foodies this week, I bring you Mr. or Mrs. Burns the Black Racer!

We've seen this little guy (girl?) zipping around our property for some time. Maybe a year or so. But lately we've seen a few babies here and there, so we've considered renaming him/her to Mrs. Burns (anyone a Simpson's fan?).

She's sweet and sleepy lately due to the cool weather, but she still manages to give me a good jump every now and again when I least expect it. She's about 4 foot long and a nice addition to our cache of critters.

Anyone know anything about snakes? Is this a black racer? (I hope!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BRRrrrrr!

Do you feel that? The temperatures got down into the 30's last night here in Central Florida! I was lucky though, it hovered just above freezing and I didn't have to do the Bedsheet Boogey for my more sensitive plants.

I LOVE it though! Even though hubs and I are Florida natives, we both have families that are only one or two generations off the boat from Europe. We both LOVE the cold, so we can blame it on our Norwegian ancestry.

Last night, we built a fire outside in our fire pit and had a big bowl of this chili to keep us warm. This is a really good "chili", although it's more of a soup. Either way, it'll warm you up!

Kathy’s White Bean, Chicken, & Corn Chili

2 poblano peppers, diced
1 habanero pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
4 cans navy beans
4 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 7.5 oz can chipotle peppers w/adobo, chopped (I usually use about half a can, but you can add more or less depending on the "heat" factor you like)
1 32 oz. Chicken broth
2 T chili seasoning mix
1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped and cooked

Saute diced poblano, habanero and onion in olive oil until tender (2 minutes). Add navy beans and next 4 ingredients and bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce temp, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add cooked chicken and cilantro, simmer 5 – 10 minutes more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brandied Cherries

If any ol' stranger would to stumble upon this blog and say, "Oh what's over here?" then they'd surely think I have a drinking problem.

I give you dear readers, yet ANOTHER recipe that contains alcohol! Yay me! Actually, don't let these sweet, innocent maraschino cherries fool you, they contain quite a punch. It's simple, batta-bing-batta-boom. Two step wonders over here! The best part is making these into chocolate covered cherries for the holidays!

Step 1: Buy a large, Big Box store jar of maraschino cherries and dump out half of the juice.


Step 2: Back fill with brandy. Put lid on, and stick in the refrigerator to marinate for several weeks. Enjoy at own risk!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meade Making 101 (Continued)

So after 7 weeks, your meade should have stopped fermenting and cleared up nicely. In this picture, you can see where the fruit is still floating on the top and the sediment (the lees) have settled to the bottom. Mine is still a bit dark, as I mentioned that I used unfiltered honey. If you used the typical, storebought filtered honey, your meade will be perfectly clear at this point.

When your ready, put a hose into the clear part of your meade and siphon off the golden nectar. You can put a small cloth at the end of your hose for a filter, but I've never had to do that. I'm just careful to not siphon up any of the sediment and stop when I'm close to the bottom. It helps to move your meade jug to the "siphoning spot" several days before you siphon. That way, any sediment stirred up during moving will have a chance to settle at the bottom.

Once you're done, cork your gallon jug and stick it in the refrigerator! As I said, this is a very sweet, complex dessert wine, so it's best to drink in very small amounts as if you would a cordial. It can be served chilled or warmed (for those frigid Floriday nights), and you will find that it has a wonderful honey/orange flavor with hints of spice.

Your meade should look like this (in the pictures above, mine still has a way to go before it's perfectly clear). What's up with my husband's pinky finger????

And that's it! A lot of people like meade for the fact that you don't have to add sulfites. Honey is an amazing preserving agent all on its own, which makes this experiment so darn easy and forgiving. We bottle ours in small bottles (since it is so sweet) and plan to give them as gifts this year for Christmas.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Meade Making 101

Recently, I've had a few people ask me how I am making my Orange Spiced Meade, and I've promised to give a demonstration. For those of you who aren't meade savvy, meade is wine made with honey. Sometimes it can be as dry and complex as a top-notch wine, and sometimes it is as sweet as a cordial.

In this case, I am making a very sweet dessert wine, which has flavorings of oranges and spice and everything nice. This was my very first meade, and from my experience, it is the easiest to make. From start to finish, this meade will take approximately 8 weeks.

For this example, I am using unfiltered, raw honey, but I recommend that a beginner use filtered honey. This is my second batch; the first batch I made with filtered honey, was much easier to clear and not as finicky. You can buy a gallon of filtered honey from any Big Box store like Sam's for around $20.

Orange Spiced Meade - 1 Gallon
Recipe from: Joe Mattioli

Ingredients:
3 1/2 lbs (56 oz) Clover or your choice honey or blend
1 Navel or other seedless orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count)
1 stick of cinnamon
1 whole clove (or 2 if you like - these are potent critters)
3 allspice berries
1 teaspoon of Fleishmann’s bread yeast (Active dry)
Balance water to one gallon

Equipment:
- 1 gallon glass jug
- 1 wine airlock – you can either find these online at either wine or beer hobby sites for around $3, or see if there is a wine/beer hobby shop near you.
- An airlock rubber cork (this is basically a rubber cork with a hole in it where the airlock fits).

Process:
Use a clean 1 gallon carboy (a carboy is the same thing as a glass jug) . In these pictures, I am using a 3 gallon carboy...hey we do things big around here!

Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights -- add orange, rinds and all to carboy.

Dissolve honey in some warm water and pour in carboy using a clean, food-use only funnel (please don't use the one from your dad/husband's garage).

Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries. Fill carboy with water to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (leave room for some foam -- you can top off with more water after the first few day yeastie frenzy).

Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.

When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's! You don't have to rehydrate it first. Give water mixture a gentle swirl.

Install water airlock. Put in dark place (in my case, the spare bathroom). It will start working in about an hour. After major foaming stops in a few days, add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeasties! Leave them alone except to remove the airlock to smell every once in a while.)

Racking --- Don't you dare
Additional feeding --- NO NO
More stirring or shaking -- You're not listening, don't touch!

Leave your meade alone for 7 weeks (do not leave longer on the fruit for more than 7 weeks or the meade will taste bitter)

STAY TUNED FOR WHAT HAPPENS NEXT....!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you California!

Thank you Oregon!

Thank you Washington!

This is a good day indeed!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Everyone is Boo-ti-ful

In their own waaaaay.

Ahem.

Did you have a nice Halloween? We sure did. We had lots of kiddies come to the house and we had a blast. Hubs dresses up in the same costume every year and sits very still in a chair on the driveway. All the kids think he is a "dummy" and try to poke him or get the nerve to go up to him. When they get bored...MUWA-HA-HA-HA! He jumps up and scares the bejeezus out of them.

We never do that to the younger kids, but the older ones are totally free game. Especially the ones with facial hair.

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