Showing posts from July, 2012

All Good Bakers Cold Cucumber Soup

I'm off dogsitting in North Adams, MA again, and my husband was sweet enough to send me off with some tasty items from All Good Bakers. It is a loaf of sourdough and some cold cucumber soup. Now I am a huge cold soup fan. But this cucumber soup is something else. I think what makes it so unique is the possible presence of hot peppers. I would guess it also has black pepper, carrots (?), and scallions. This soup is amazing, like a mouthful of how it feels to walk into a cold movie theater from a sweltering, dusty asphalt parking lot. It is completely refreshing, and yet a bit unexpected with the scallions and peppers. The bread is great too. It is moist on the inside, with a fabulous crust, and a fully developed sourdough flavor. I liked their wheat loaf too. They are just so talented, and we are lucky to have them around in our community.

As a side note, we went on vacation to the Finger Lakes a couple weeks ago. We drove through a lot of upstate NY towns, and had some good dinne…

TWD, Baking with Julia: Blueberry Nectarine Pie

As part of Tuesdays with Dorie, using the book Baking with Julia I made the blueberry nectarine pie. I made it for some friends we were having over for dinner, and even though I just walked in from a trip to the flea market late in the afternoon, I was able to make it in time for when people came over. I thought it was a pretty easy recipe. Everyone really enjoyed the pie and the unexpected combination of blueberries and nectarines.

 Then, after we ate the full size pie I had a good amount of blueberries, nectarines, and pie crust leftover. I decided to make these little handpies to serve at my salad bar party

 To do this I used my tortilla press with small balls of dough. I did the first few by folding the dough around the mixture, but then I realized it was much easier to treat it like a ravioli. I put one piece down, put a spoonful of filling in the middle, laid another piece of dough on top of the whole thing and pressed down on the edges. I can thank my ravioli class for having…

Big Summer Potluck 2012

This weekend my friend Celia and I went to the Big Summer Potluck in Bucks County, PA. We had a fabulous time, and she even won a KitchenAid standing mixer! There were several great presentations, and lots of amazing food. I helped ladle the juices onto the pig that was roasting for dinner.

Here is the pig being carried to be set up for serving.

And it on the table for carving.

 The result:

Celia made me, herself, Joy the Baker, and Shutterbean "Boom Boom Pow" t-shirts. Its s reference from a podcast. Totally fabulous. I love it so much! Apparently, you can do anything with freezer paper.

My takeaway thoughts from the event:

It seemed wrong that we were out in this incredibly beautiful setting with fabulous food and smart, interesting people, and we were complaining about Pinterest and unattainable ideals that are marketed to us on the internet. The internet isn't that serious. It is the typing television. Think back to the original AOL interface and how you could only …

Brimfield Antique Show, Brimfield, MA

Last weekend a car full of my coworkers and I went to the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA. We were originally going to go back to the Raynham, MA Flea Market, but that one isn't open on Saturdays. I had originally read about the Brimfield one, which is on a few times a year, in the Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I met my corworkers who live in North Adams, MA at the Lee Outlets, and it was about a two hour drive total. It was totally worth the distance though.

One of my coworkers naively thought we could or should see the whole thing. This thing is monstrous. We got there pretty early, and still couldn't really see it all. By shopping around we only paid $3 for parking, which was pretty good because there were $5 and $7 lots right next to that lot. I got a crazy amount of stuff: one green polka dot dress, one brightly colored floral dress, a schnauzer brooch (we had one of those dogs when I was a kid), a cookbook from 1930 about hot weather dishes, a plate to hang on …

Salad Bar Party

I got the idea for a salad bar party a while ago from a podcast on I absolutely love these guys on The Table Set, who also suggested a "Bring Your Own Pizza Topping Party". You could also do a "Bring Your Own Omelet Filling Brunch Party". When I was dogsitting for my coworker back in the winter, I read something in the Red Hat Society Cookbook (which I made fun of quite a bit) where you could have a boiling pot of water going, have everyone choose which omelet fillings they wanted, then you put the eggs and the fillings in zip-lock bags, write their names in marker on the outside of the bags, shake them around a bit, and throw them in the pot of boiling water. I'm not sure if that omelet technique would work or not, but I thought the salad bar party concept worked out great. You would never buy all of those separate toppings, so making it a group thing is a way to make it way more feasible. Plus, it is summer and who wants to turn the oven on?


Schenectady Food Swap, July

Tonight I went to the From Scratch Club food swap in Schenectady. I hardly ever go out that way, so it was fun to have a reason to go. I brought the mosaic frames I made on July 4th, vanilla extract, and quinoa and kidney bean veggie burgers. My friend Jessica showed up since she works out there, so that made it even more fun!

I always liked this Woody Allen quote, though I realize now I have all along been taking it to mean the opposite of what he meant. About winning awards: "I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't.'' -- Woody Allen, shrugging off Sleeper's lack of Oscar nominations, 1974. People were crazy for my lavender lemonade, way crazier than I could have predicted. Sometimes they want things more than you expect, and sometimes less. People went crazy for the frames last time, so crazy they were asking for my non-existent crafting busi…

New Provence Wine Bar Menu

We had pretty much a week long wedding anniversary celebration this year (we even took some photos to commemorate). We went to Provence for dinner, and while we were there they informed us of a new wine bar/tapas menu they have. We thought it was really exciting. It is cool to think that really great Albany restaurants don't just have to be for special occasions like your wedding anniversary (we have friends who went for just cocktails at the bar at McGuire's which is straight up class). You can go on a Friday night for a glass of wine and share an appetizer with someone as a fabulous way to transition from your work week to weekend. After we read their new wine bar menu, we couldn't wait to go back. This Friday we went after work (it was also the start of my week long vacation), and Scott had a great Rhone glass of wine and I had some champagne. I had the sun dried tomato and goat cheese tartlet, which to me tasted a bit like a mini-pizza. There is a crab tartlet too on t…

Cold Soups

We are crazy for cold soups right now.

First off, gazpacho from the French Laundry Cookbook. Oh my goodness. It is about as fabulous as you would expect. So you just combine all the ingredients (tomato - mine were from the Berry Patch, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, tomato paste, tomato juice, lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper, vinegar, and garlic) in a large bowl. You let the ingredients sit overnight, and something about the lemon juice sitting with the tomatoes overnight makes them taste as if they have been cooked when they haven't been. Then you purée the ingredients and serve.

 Then you purée the ingredients and serve. It is amazing and refreshing, and I even had some for breakfast this morning.

The recipe said you could also use gazpacho as a sauce or squirt some on your plate next to a salad. Basically, the luxury in Keller's recipes comes a lot from straining and puréeing things really well. There's something about the smooth textures of his recipes that…

Bennington Farmer's Market, Vermont

I went to the Bennington, VT Farmer's Market today. They are open on Saturdays and Tuesdays. You may remember when I tried to go in November and it didn't work out.  I love Vermont so much. I went to the anti-hydrofracking concert at The Egg a few months back, and they mentioned how Vermont had a ban on hydrofracking. That's a good thing, since it seems like easily one of the most beautiful places on earth. It would absolutely break my heart if anything were to ever happen to that state to diminish its natural beauty (also there doesn't seem to be any gas deep down there, so it wouldn't seem likely hydrofracking would occur, but its nice their priorities are in the right place). Oh, Vermont, doughnuts, cheese, and produce! How can you not love it completely?

My former coworker has a farm, it is actually called the True Love Farm, and she posted on facebook about the Tuesday Farmer's Market which reminded me about it. It was small and adorable, but I did pretty …

Panzanella, Potluck Picnic, Picture Frames

We're really enjoying all the perks of summer this week. Do you know what the best part of summer is? Farm fresh tomatoes! Can't be beat. I never loved summer like I love summer with still warm from the sun, big as your head, tomatoes. We make a panzanella or caprese salad and forget all other foods exist. I love The Berry Patch in Stephentown, NY. They also sell their produce at the Troy Farmer's Market.

Then, today we went to a potluck picnic in the Washington Park. It is always difficult to know what to bring. I discovered that we had almost a whole thing of sour cream in our fridge because the strawberry cake I made only required about a tablespoon out of the whole container I bought just for that. I had seen on Shutterbean a sour cream bundt cake, but I thought I would look through a bunch of cookbooks before I decided. Then, I noticed in my Joy the Baker cookbook a very similar recipe that required even more sour cream (bonus!). I made that and people went nuts for …

Fourth of July at our house

What do you do with a holiday in the middle of the work week? It seemed weird, and yet who is going to argue with any day off in the year, really? We went to the Tailored Tea for lunch because I am in love with it. I went in Hobby Lobby for the first time. I thought it was a cool store. It was huge. The merchandise seemed of good quality and reasonably priced. They have party decorations, cake decorating supplies, nice picture frames, and even some furniture items. I liked the selection a lot better than the Michael's across the street.

For dinner, Scott made a delicious salad. He cooked up some flank steak in a cast iron skillet, made a dressing with shallots, lemon, and Sierra Nevada mustard, and threw in some olives and giardiniera. It is one of my favorite summer dishes because it is light and refreshing, but still satisfying for dinner. Check it out.

Then, I did an art project. Last time, at the From Scratch Club food swap I literally got off the train from Michigan about an…

TWD, Baking with Julia: Hazelnut Biscotti

As part of Tuesdays with Dorie using the book Baking with Julia, I made the hazelnut biscotti. As with the pecan sticky buns, I tried to find someone else's house I could make them at since my husband is allergic to nuts. In this case, my friend Elizabeth agreed that I could use her kitchen. I mixed the dry ingredients all together at my house, and the wet ingredients (including eggs from my boss's backyard chickens), but then I realized I was late in going over there and skipped putting in the sugar. I got over there and she made a lovely cocktail with Hendrick's and an orange liqueur. It was delicious and refreshing. Their house is older with a lot of character, in contrast to my house which is new and might require less upkeep but might have less of a story to tell too. It is fun to see the inner workings of other people's kitchens - what awesome gadgets they have, cool books, different products or missing elements (my coworker doesn't own a fine mesh sieve). I…

Summer Salads and Sourdough

I've become totally obsessed with cucumbers lately. I'm not sure why, but every summer I seem to get totally obsessed with one thing that is refreshing, easy, and does not require turning on the oven. It is as though being obsessed with one item takes away the work of coming up with what to eat when the heat makes you not hungry at all. Last year, I ate watermelon gazpacho every day. I totally got sick of it at the end of the summer, which will probably happen to cucumbers too. But for the time being, check it out!

Here is the first one I made. My goal here was to copy the sauce my sister made for the bacon wrapped asparagus. I also didn't bother peeling the cucumbers completely or scraping out the seeds, but I think after the cucumbers are in the fridge in a dressing even over night it makes it much less soggy to complete those two steps. So pretty much: cucumbers, ginger, jalapenos, sesame seeds, and a dressing of sesame oil, lime juice, rice vinegar, little bit of brown…

Jacqueline Lynch, Albany Photographer

Hard to believe we got married already a year ago! J & S Watkins supplied us with a free anniversary cake which was included in the cost of our wedding cake. And Jacqueline Lynch came over to take anniversary photos of us (check them out on her blog). She is the best. She strives for creative, interesting photos, and she is much more reasonable that the other options in the area for wedding photos. Check out all her fabulous photos of our wedding here. My sister loved her so much that she wish Jacqueline could go all the way to Michigan for her wedding. Jacqueline said she likes to keep her prices reasonable because she likes the interesting type of bride that attracts. I think she is a great photographer. I read her blog a lot, and like to view all of her different projects.

I feel that good photography is worth the price. Sure, it can be expensive, but most photographers are running small businesses and have to keep up with the cost of equipment. Also, if you don't take mat…