Archive for the Nourishment Category

Breakfast in the Dark

Posted in Nourishment with tags , , on 02 July 2012 by handpeaced

We had breakfast without power on Saturday morning.  A horrible storm tore through most of the Northeast, with hurricane-force winds causing enough damage to steal our electricity for a few days.  So, we improvised.

The challenge: cook our meals only on the grill–nothing from the fridge or freezer–and keep it interesting, yet simple.

The goal: a sweet-style crostini.

Preparations for Sunday breakfast began with slicing up ciabatta bread (from these people) picked up the day before at the farmer’s market in Phillippi, WV.  I sliced it diagonally and brushed coconut oil on it.  (No electricity meant no a/c, and because of summer heat the coconut oil was in liquid form instead of solid.)

That went on grill until toasty.  Flipped once.

Then I sprinkled it with just a little bit of course salt and cinnamon ‘n’ sugar, but…

… not just any cinnamon and sugar.

…Vietnamese cassia cinnamon (my favorite cinnamon!) and vanilla sugar (sugar which has been getting cozy with a used vanilla bean for a couple months now).

Super aromatic, and super tasty!

A fantastic, simple, grilled breakfast.

Life Should be Celebrated

Posted in Nourishment, Spirituality with tags , , , on 20 March 2012 by handpeaced

Life should be celebrated.  That’s why my friend, David, received a decadent birthday cake to celebrate his 25 years of life and breath.

Friendship, I have been told, can be conceptualized in concentric circles around a core.  The core is the self.  Within the first concentric circle are those friends who are immediately next to the self–those most often privy to the “true self.”  Then there is the next sphere of friends.  These are not as intimate, but do share special moments and a good bit of quality time.  And, then there is the outer group of friends who by distance, time or simple lack of commonalities are considered friends, but remain in the outer sphere.  Certainly none of the people in these concentric circles are fixed, and sometimes a person from the outer perimeter will dip into the core at a key moment.

Friends aren’t systematically assigned to these different circles.  More, they just are in one circle or another based on how they relate to us.  My hunch is that even if you haven’t conceptualized friendship in this way, you already know it to be true in your heart.  There are those who are closest to you, those who are pretty close, and those who are more than acquaintances, but not best friends.

Maybe this is too heady a thing for friendship–a very heart-y thing.  But, isn’t friendship is an endeavor of both the heart and the head?  And, I find the model useful for guilt-relief.  Sometimes I feel guilty because a particular friend and I aren’t “core” friends.  But, thinking of this model helps me to rest.  I remember that my innermost sphere doesn’t have space enough for everyone.  In fact, in an identical mathematical model, the space between the innermost concentric circle and the core has the smallest area.  In the same way that space in friendship has the smallest room for others.  Too many people too close will cause tension on the core.  (Not enough friends around the core causes tension, too.)

That’s my small thought for the day.

Mostly, I just wanted to encourage you to celebrate your friends–no matter which sphere the occupy.  And, David’s birthday cake is one such celebration.  On to the gooey details…

The recipe I used for the cake batter was called: “Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake.”  It is baked in two 9″ pans.  Each 9″ cake was then cut into two, so the cake can be built into layers.

I made an espresso syrup to brush onto each layer, which serves the dual purposes of moisture and flavor.  The syrup?  Oh yes!  Dark rum that has been infused with a leftover vanilla bean pod for the last 3 weeks.  Some fresh espresso and sugar make it sweet and flavorful.

What else?  Chocolate ganache.  Yes, that’s chocolate and heavy cream melted together, chilled, and whipped.  This went between the deep, dark layers.

     

And for the top, then.  Of course, chocolate buttercream!

And this, my friends, is how we celebrate life together.  Do be sure to make time to celebrate.

Local Butternut Squash Ravioli

Posted in Nourishment with tags , , on 15 February 2012 by handpeaced

“Butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli in a browned-butter sage sauce with fried cabbage.”  That’s the true name of this delish dish!

By the descriptors in the title, you might be able to imagine just how mouth-watering it is.  I took a few pictures, but they truly do not do it justice.

Before I reveal the recipe, let me tell you a few things that made it extraordinary:

  • The butternut squash was roasted with olive oil and kosher salt, before being pureed into seductive, sweet oblivion

Roasted, cubed butternut. (Butternut can also be roasted whole. Mine just happened to be cubed and frozen.)

  • The unplanned co-star of the dish–the cabbage–happened to be picked up that morning at farmer’s market

Early season, farmer’s market cabbage

  • The goat cheese also came from the farmer’s market stall of a man from just down the road (and it’s SO good!)

Now, on to what you have been waiting, so patiently, for… The recipe!

(serves about 4)

package of wonton wrappers (store the extras airtight and in the freezer for the next time)
2 c. butternut squash, sprinkled with salt and roasted in olive oil–pureed
5-6 Tbsp goat cheese
1 small head of savoy cabbage
1/2 red onion
1/2 c. butter
16-20 sage leaves

Combine heated butternut squash with goat cheese, which should melt into the squash.  Set aside to let cool.

In a pan melt butter over med-low heat and add sliced onion and cut-up cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and grind a little pepper over top. Add sage leaves. Heat until cabbage reduces in size a little and becomes soft, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, spread wonton wrappers out on counter and prepare a small dish of water (for sealing). Scoop 1-2 tsp of squash mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Dip fingers in water and run over all four edges of the wrapper.  Pick up one corner of the wrapper and fold it to the corner diagonally across from it, making a triangular shape. Push down on the edges so that the ravioli is sealed tight. Fold the ravioli again by dabbing water on one of the ends of the long side and pushing it to the other corner on the same side.

Toss ravioli in a bit of flour to get rid of excess moisture.  Once all raviolis have been made, toss them gently into a boiling pot of well-salted water.  Boil for a few minutes until they float.

Dip from the pot and place in serving dish. Remove cabbage, onion and sage butter from heat and scoop onto ravioli.  Toss together.  Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Local, seasonal flavor made this dish extraordinary to the palates and plates of many of my friends this past weekend. Local foods also tend to be produced more ethically than food sourced from other regions of the world or from large farms on the other side of our own country. That’s my small plug asking you to support local whenever you can!  (Look for future posts on this, as it is quite a soapbox of mine.)