A New Roasted Vegetable

Old friends are awesome.  Old friends are special, and rare, and sweet.  Old friends take you to big-town grocery stores, where you can find things like this:

What a dear, sweet vegetable (not as dear and sweet as long-lasting friendships, but special nonetheless).  Why in the world has this little green gem gotten such a bad name for decades?  I think it's because of a deep cultural inability to do more than boil it into tasteless mush.  So sad.

I haven't yet told you what it is.  I'm going to hold out a little longer.  It's just so cool-looking and tasty, I don't want to negativize the relationship you're forming with the little guys just yet with any of your preconceived notions.

Here's what Longest-lasting Friend and I did with the grocery store find:

1.  Remove the little sprouts from the stem by snapping them off.  Cut off any tough parts of the stem that stayed on the sprout, and remove any small, yellow leaves.  Wash thoroughly.

2.  Give Little Girl a kitchen cabinet full of tupperware to occupy her, and thank Longest-lasting Friend's Mom for having a child-friendly kitchen.

3.  In a bowl, combine vegetable, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter, 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2-3/4 tsp. dried rosemary.  Stir with a rubber spatula until fully coated and delicious looking.  Spread onto a baking sheet or roasting pan.  Have you figured it out yet?

4.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until browned on the outside and soft (but not mushy) on the inside, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

5.  Enjoy the New Kind of Roasted Vegetable.  See, Little Girl likes them too.

Are you ready?  Brussels Sprouts.  There, I said it.  But they are delicous!  Give them a chance.


Pink Path Baby Quilt

I've been working on this custom order for the past few weeks, and it's finished ... just in time for a baby shower to welcome a sweet baby!

I'm so pleased with how it turned out, especially since I was working from a mental picture rather than a pattern.  Here's the back that I pieced from the leftover fabrics:

I used 1/2 yard of four different fabrics (the blocks on the front) and about 1 yard of yellow (I used two different yellows which may or may not show up in the picture).  The front blocks are 4.5"x8.5", the sashing in between is 1.5" wide, and the border is 2.5" wide.  I used standard 2.5" strips for the binding, piecing together all the different fabrics to get enough.  Now ... you can make your own!

I had just enough fabric left over to make a my favorite little bird toy to go with this Pink Path baby quilt.  And of course, not wanting to waste anything, I stuffed it with the fabric bits leftover from the quilt!

You could say I'm tickled pink.


True Southern Spirit

Fried Green Tomatoes

Take 4 or 5 medium green tomatoes.  Cut them into 1/2 inch slices.

Beat an egg in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix some cornmeal (maybe half a cup), some salt (a teaspoon?) and whatever other spices catch your eye (I used crushed red pepper and Cajun seasoning).

Dip the tomato slices in the egg, then in the cornmeal.

Now the fun part - fry them in about 1/4 inch of hot oil until golden on one side.  Turn them and fry until golden, then remove to a paper towel to drain.  Um, delicious.

I'm not 100% sure that I fall in the category of "all things southern" in the way that my friends and family members do ... but I think I've planted myself a little deeper in southernness with these green tomato gems.  They were surprisingly citrusy - and really, really good.

In the spirit of Loving the South, I'd like to direct you to my favorite girl cousin's blog, Local Townie.  She moved to Kentucky over the summer, and has found herself the recipient of some beautiful southern hospitality.  I love, love, love this gal!  You've got to read her story here.


Make A Pie Crust

Basic Pastry Dough for pies, tarts, and quiches
(makes 2 11-inch pie crusts)

Note: This does require a food processor.  I didn't have one for the longest time - but now I do, and it's glorious.  If you don't have one, it's still possible to make your own pie crusts but the methodology is a little different - I found some tips by doing a google search for "make a pie crust without a food processor" :)

2 2/3 c. all purpose flour
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. ice water

 Insert the metal blade and put the flour, butter, and salt in the food processor work bowl.  Process for 8-10 seconds, or until the mixture is like coarse meal.  While the processor is running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Stop processing as soon as the dough begins to form a ball (OK - better said "as soon as the dough begins to stick together").  Do not overprocess.  Divide the dough and any little scraps on the bottom of the bowl into two equal parts and put each into a plastic bag.  Work through each bag to press the dough together into a ball, then into a disc.

Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours or overnight, or freeze it.

Roll each disc of dough on a lightly floured surface to a cirle about 1/8 inch thick.  Press them into place in two greased pie pan.  Use kitchen shears to trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overlap beyond the pan.  Fold the overlap inside to form a double thickness on the sides.  Press the dough firmly into place, pushing the crust up a little bit above the edge of the pan to allow for shrinkage during baking.  Pinch the crust to form a decorative edge.  Prick the bottom and sides with a fork and refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and fill it with uncooked beans or rice.  Bake it for 12 minutes.  Remove the paper and the beans/rice, prick the shell again and bake it for 6 minutes longer, or until it is lightly browned.

Use for sweet pies or savory tarts and quiches.

So, I don't know about you, but pie crusts have been one of those things that I've just assumed you buy in the frozen food section of the grocery store.  I always thought that making it myself would be too much work (after all, who can really commit to rolling something to 1/8th of an inch thickness?  I don't have the time for that.)  But recently, I found myself in need of a pie crust, and it wasn't exactly a good day for grocery shopping (I could blame this on the baby, but really ... it was my lack of planning that made it not happen).  So, I pulled out the instruction manual to the trusty food processor, and found this recipe in the back.  I tried it.  And it wasn't hard.  In fact, it was surprisingly quick, my fingers didn't ache from trying to cut butter into flour, and I even got a break of a couple of hours in between preparing the dough and rolling it.

And yes, I got it to 1/8 inch thickness - WAAAYY easier than I thought it was going to be.

I haven't been too adventurous with this until today when I ran out of white flour.  So half of the flour is whole wheat.  And I threw some garlic powder in the food processor bowl just for kicks.

I'm in the middle of that 2-hour-chilling-of-dough-discs right now, so I can't tell you how it's going to turn out.  But I'm excited, and I think it will be the perfect homemade crust as the basis of this quiche that's our dinner tonight.

What are you going to use a pastry crust for this week?