Mar 20

Due to lots of chorus activities around St. Patrick’s Day, I completely forgot to make my Soda bread. I love soda bread. I love its simplicity and plainness. No wonder it is such a good companion for tea. But.  And no apologies to those vocal defenders of soda bread. Yes I know you got your recipe from your Irish ancestors and I know how dear you hold the simplicity of your soda bread. But I firmly believe that a basic soda bread can be a canvass for other flavors. My research has found that a daily soda bread is a simple dish…no butter, no sugar, no eggs…often, no raisins. But on festive occasions and feast days, the humble soda bread was “dressed up” and additives like butter, dried fruit, even nuts were added. Here is mine. I added a pinch of sugar, rubbed in some butter to help the bread keep for more than a day, and I added some toasted pecans. A brush of an egg yoke wash and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt before baking pushes this over the top. 

If I have offended your delicate sensibilities of what soda bread “should” be, please save your energy and hold as tightly to your narrow definitions. I’ve waged bigger battles over other firmly held food beliefs (sugar in corn bread, etc). This is my soda bread. Don’t like it? Don’t make it. 

1/2 lb whole wheat flour (or about 1 3/4 cup)

1/2 lb all purpose flour (white)

1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cup butter milk (or half buttermilk/half cream)

4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold,  cut in small cubes

3/4 cup raisins soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained)

1/2 cup coarsly chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 and make sure a rack in in the middle of the oven. 

Mix the flours, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined. Rub in the butter until no large chunks remain. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. Mid way through give it a feel with your hands…you’ll feel if it needs more buttermilk…you will also see lots of flour in the bottom of the bowl. You want to work this dough as little as possible so you have a tender bread.  On a piece of parchment paper, form into a ball. Brush with a beaten egg yolk mixed with a Tablespoon of milk, sprinkle with sea salt. Cut your traditional cross in the dough, and Darina Allen (the Julia Child of Ireland) pierces each of the four quadrants with the knife, to “release the fairies”.

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 425 and bake until the bread is gold n brown and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom. 

Try, if you can (I often cannot) to let the bread cool. Of course slather with butter and enjoy

Jun 20

Bunnies and Flowers

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The mystery of the black and white bunny is solved! And flowers are blooming. 

Bunny love #colorblind

Here she is with her wild bunny friend munching on grass in the back yard. Until last night we thought she was just a loose domestic bunny. Turns out she is out neighbor’s pet! A free-range domestic bunny, she said. The rabbit (whose name I forget) goes out each morning and comes home every day. Since she hasn’t eaten flowers or anything so she is welcome to visit…her little grey friend too. 

I never noticed any Philodendron flower with this subtle shading before…just the top petal! Maybe I didn’t look close enough. But it’s quite pretty. 

Philedendron White with yellow

And then this amazingly rich orange-red day lily. And the fragrance. 

Day Lily

That’s it from here. We will leave it without any ugly commentary of other happenings. Let’s hope we get to work intact, though. 

Jun 18

Really? Again?

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It’s just in my nature to obsess— to try and try and try, tweaking here and there, until I feel I’ve reached perfection. These are not perfection. But I was wondering how the end biscuit would be if I cut them out AND baked them in my cast iron drop biscuit pan

Not drop biscuits in a drop biscuit pan

The results are really good. Flakey and tender. Just not that explosive height that I like. So future experiment are certain. 

THEN I had an idea. Why not make and egg and biscuit sandwich (admittedly stolen from Carole who made some recently). But how to make the egg the same size as the biscuit? Cook it in the same pan, silly-while it’s still hot from the oven. 

Egg biscuit!

Now that’s perfect! (IMHO)

Jun 07

Ever since I posted pictures of the newly planted garden, people have cautioned me to put up a fence against woodland critters. I am certain there is a groundhog who lives in our back yard. 

groundhog digs (get it? a little double meaning)

So I bought some chicken wire (twice…don’t believe the measurement in the package. Because apparently, 25′ may not mean 25’…mine was more like 24’4″. Not enough to to go around my raised beds.) I spread out some cedar mulch to discourage critters from getting into the garden. Maybe some will get in. But hopefully most will stay out. 

Out new fenced-in garden.

Will I be cleverer than the back yard critters? Time will tell. 
Oh. I almost forgot. Right when I got home the skies opened up. And I had to wait to work on the garden. And then this happened. 

Rainbow over Harris House

Jun 04

I think it is fair to say that I might be obsessed with biscuits. As simple as they are to make, it seems there are an infinite number of recipes and techniques.

I love most of the recipes, the richness of the Pioneer Woman’s Cream Biscuits (I swear I saw an episode where she used heavy cream in her recipe), or the quickness, simplicity, and deliciousness of Clara Parkes’ drop biscuits. I feel like I am coming close to my ideal recipe (a riff off of King Arthur’s Flour biscuits as taught in the class, “Tea breads, biscuits, scones, and more.” (I think it’s a great class by the way.)

But, my biscuit cutters were lost in the move, so I ordered some more. Only, they haven’t come yet. And last night, Michael showed me this: 

Cooks Country Magazine

Square biscuits using the addition of cream cheese? Intriguing. So I jumped. 

Cream Cheese Biscuits

Easy to make if you happen to have cream cheese on hand (oh yeah and cake flour-which I don’t always have). 

The end result—yum! Not quite as flaky as “mine”—these have a little more structure. And I don’t always have cream cheese and/or cake flour. But tender and light with lots of flavor. A very good recipe in my humble opinion. 

Cooks Country Cream Cheese Biscuits

Anyone hungry? These are best fresh! I got extra!

May 27

Things are falling in place. You all know how important this room is to me and with my favorite things in place, it is becoming home. 

Some other random thoughts:

  1. I have a lot of knitting books. The EB Library Knitting Annex?
  2. I have a lot of cookbooks…see #1 above
  3. I love walking in the grass in my backyard in bare feet!
May 26

Michael set up the Sun Room. It’s such a lovely room…you’re sort of outside, but away from the mosquitoes (yeah…living by wetlands, bound to have ’em). It has sliding screen doors on 3 sides giving an amazing cross breeze. We’re going to enjoy that room a lot this summer! 

May 20

East Bridgewater!

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I am happy to announce our upcoming move to East Bridgewater on May 23rd. I sent out official change of address notifications to people whose  email address I had…PM or email me with your email address and I’ll send it to you as well if desired.

Knowing we are moving past the point of casual drop in visits, I’d like to tempt you with some photos and area attractions to hopefully encourage your visit. If the prospect of just hanging out in the back yard and eating delicious food isn’t enough…yard darts, croquet or maybe we start being a family of Bocce players. (please note we have none of these games, so you’ll have to bring them with you! LOL).

Just next door to our house is the entrance to East Bridgewater’s section of the Bay Circuit Trail. And if you’re not susceptible to motion sickness (the video is a bit jumpy) you can watch a little video of a tour of the trail (and see our house at 1:08 into the video) here.

My nieces and nephews will love exploring this area which were close to or part of the Indian paths/trail to Plymouth used in Colonial Times. It is said there are remnants of an old Indian Fishing site on the river back there.

We are also close to F1 outdoor Kart Racing which could be a fun outing.

And we are just a jump from Plymouth and the historic sites there like Plimoth Plantation!

Only 4 days 23 hours to go!

Apr 12

#Whole30 4/12 (Day 16, 14 to go)

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Well I’m past the half-way point. It’s hard to say how I feel…it’s like a clarity of mind. I don’t have that abundance of energy people talk about yet…perhaps it’ll come.

The biggest thing I’m realizing is (and it’s not necessarily a bad thing) that I have used food for so much more than food and nutrition. It’s a self-soothing, calming thing to do…cook and eat. But I can see that I’ve gained weight because of eating when I’m not hungry and causing all sorts of problems.

Digestion is great…sleep is much better. And I can’t wait to see what happens once Pedro is gone forever!

Some pit-falls I am recognizing. I’m getting bored with eggs for breakfast and have to think of something else. Although I don’t really see me eating chicken or fish for breakfast. Is that just cultural?

Mar 28

#Whole30 1/28 (day 1, 29 to go)

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Well here we go with all the enthusiasm I can muster. I’ll be sharing my experience, emotions, cravings…right here with you.

Day one menu:

Breakfast: a crust-less quiche with grilled butternut squash, grilled asparagus, spinach, and turkey breakfast sausage. While yummy, I did miss the cheese I might have added in another life. But it was very filling. No coffee though….should get interesting.

Lunch: spaghetti squash with bolognese and a small mixed green salad (no photo)

Dinner: grilled burger over peppers and onions with a cayenne mayo and a spinach salad

Midday brought a crushing headache…and a little bit of a foggy feeling. Hoping it’ll clear soon.

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