Sourdough French Toast

Val gave me a sourdough starter and brought sourdough bread with her when she came out for Mom’s birthday. I don’t usually have bread in the house … not unless I am making something specific so French toast is usually not on the menu. But … fresh home-made bread just begs to be made into French toast, so I did.

French toast isn’t hard – start with day old bread, or slightly stale bread. Eggs, milk, butter and a hot pan and you have breakfast.

Recipe:

  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, sliced thick
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • butter, maple syrup and fruit for serving

Beat eggs and milk in a bowl. Dip bread into egg mixture and let soak for a few minutes. Heat a large frying pan over a medium high flame and melt some butter in the pan to coat the bottom. Before adding the bread, dip each side of the bread again in the egg mixture. Cook a few minutes on each side – until the egg coating begins to brown. Serve immediately.

img_20190217_090807

Cremant D’Alsace

  • Producer: Kuentz Bas
  • Location: Alsace, France
  • Year: No Vintage
  • Type: Bubbly, white
  • Price estimate: Mid twenties (Bob picked it up and could not remember the exact price)
  • Tasting notes: Medium yellow color in the glass. Slightly darker and more intense color than I’m use to for sparkling wine. Aromas of bread, apple and apricot – very pleasant smelling. Lots of yeast/bread notes on the palate with an unexpected soft texture. Apple, apricot, pear notes are balanced by mineral notes that run through the wine. Long, lingering finish.
  • Conclusions: Wow! This was one of the best sparking wines I’ve had in a long time. Beautifully balanced, soft texture in a bright wine. I need more of this in my life.
  • Notes: Bob picked up our cheese box this month and he grabbed the last bottle of this Cremant while he was at the cheese shop. I’m so sad they don’t have any more and am now on a quest to find it. The difference between this wine and the one we picked up at Trader Joe’s for under ten dollars is pretty noticeable. They both have their place, but this one is well worth the extra money and seriously I think the best sparkling wine I’ve ever had.

img_20190212_182248

Twisted Drop Stitch Infinity Scarf

I wanted to make myself a scarf, learn a new stitch and have a smaller project that I could travel with. The blanket that I’m (still) working on is really bulky and would not do well on a plane or in a car. I had this really pretty silk and bamboo yarn just lying around so I decided to try something new.

IMG_20181209_104933At first I tried this really pretty basic lace stitch with the two strands intertwined. I loved the effect, but I had a really hard time with remembering which row I was on (two-row repeat so that is important) and purling the thin, slick yarn. I really love the effect of this but the project was a little much for the easy project I wanted. So, I searched and came up with a different stitch to try – the twisted drop stitch. I can’t remember where I found the stitch, but I did and I loved it. It looked pretty easy and the scarf would not require a pattern per se, so … why not.

I decided to go back to the long tail cast on (something I don’t normally do because I horrible at estimating how long to make the yarn and always up with way too much or way to little) and just go with however may stitches I could – it turns out that one arm length of yarn for me was twenty stitches.

The basic idea of this stitch is that you wrap the yarn around your needles twice – once over both needles, then once over only the right needle – and knit as normal. This creates the elongated stitch of a drop stitch and the twisting effect. With the two strands of yarn, this came out to a really pretty pattern. I did one row of twisted drop, then two rows of regular knit stitch for the scarf and use as much yard as I had (two skeins of each color) then seamed the ends together. I probably could have done just one row of knit between the drop stitch rows, but I like the way this turned out. It has some weight to it and will be pretty warm, so who knows when I’ll get to wear it. 🙂

 

 

Mom’s Birthday

I don’t entertain very often. Socializing takes a lot out of me and large scale parties scare the dickens out of me. While I’m good with the planning, organizing and most of the details, just the thought of doing all of that makes me twitchy sometimes.

But … Mom had a big birthday this year and Val and I decided that a party was in order. Since I’m on the same coast as Mom and Dad I got to do most of the planning (which I do like). We wanted something really nice, a little different and something that would be special for Mom. So … I went to my favorite cheese shop and talked to Louise about planning a party/dinner for the big day. I also made sure to send info to family as soon as mom gave the initial okay so she couldn’t back out.

It was a really lovely evening. I forgot to take pictures once people started arriving and went into hostess mode – not something that comes naturally, but I tried. Louise and her team did an incredible job and it seemed like everyone had a fantastic time. Good food, good company and good wine … its hard to go wrong.

To make myself even more out of my comfort zone, I hosted lunch the next day at home.

Again, once people began to arrive, I forgot to take any pictures. Arthas had a great time convincing everyone that he was starving and needed food. It was really nice to see everyone and spend time together. Mom’s birthday provided a great excuse to get everyone together and catch up. I can only do this once every ten years, but once a decade, it is kind of nice to stretch out of the comfort zone and play hostess.

img_4966

Rose Sket

  • Producer: Schloss Biebrich
  • Location: Germany
  • Year: No Vintage
  • Type: Rose Sparkling
  • Price estimate: $8 (Trader Joes)
  • Tasting notes: Pale salmon in color with effervescence and fine bubbles. Not a lot of aroma on the nose, some subtle strawberry is present. Really fine bubbles on the palate. Notes of strawberry, white grape and peach. (Bob got watermelon jolly rancher with some minerality.) Little sweetness, but I wouldn’t call it a sweet wine.
  • Conclusions: While this isn’t my favorite sparkling wine, it is pretty good and at the price point, perfect for a weeknight or lazy weekend.
  • Notes: This is one of the few wines where Bob and I tasted completely different things. He swore this was sweet, I got fruit, but not sweet. He found watermelon and mineral notes, I had strawberry and peach. We both liked it, but it was a little odd that we had such different flavor profiles to associate with it. I’m going to stay I’m right, but who knows. 11% alcohol by volume.

img_20190203_165723

Potato Corn & Leek Soup

Sometimes I want a simple meal. Something hearty and delicious, but I want it to not take a lot of brain power to make. One of my favorites in this category is soup because it really is filling and can have great flavors without being difficult. Yes, there are soups that are more complicated, but sometimes a straightforward soup is just as good.

When I was at the farmers market over the weekend I found really pretty corn and a beautiful leek. What better way to use them in the middle of winter than in a soup.

The one thing that may seem a little strange here is the corn cobs in the soup. I add them in when I’m cooking the potatoes because I think it adds to the flavor of the soup. It’s like the bay leaf – you can leave it out, but it is just better if you add it in.

Recipe:

  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced – about 1/2 cup
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large russet/baking potato
  • 4 cups vegetable broth/stock
  • 2 ears corn with the cobs (or about a cup of frozen corn)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil or butter for pan

Slice the leek lengthwise then chop into small pieces. Place in a bowl and add water. Gently toss the leeks to separate then let sit about three or four minutes. (This is where I chop the onion and garlic). Remove leeks from water – do not pour out -clean out the bowl and repeat. Leeks keep a lot of dirt trapped, so I like to clean them twice.

Heat the butter or oil in a large pot and when hot add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring about three minutes (the second cleaning of the leeks for me). Season with salt and pepper. I used about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Yes, kosher salt – more on that later. Add the clean leeks and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked down a little and soft. (About 5 minutes)

Peel and chop the potato. Once leeks and onion are cooked down, add potato, vegetable broth and bay leaf to the pot. If you have the corn cobs, remove the kernels here and add the cobs to the pot. If not, skip. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook about 25 minutes until the potatoes are done. Remove cobs and bay leaves, add the corn kernels and cook about 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot. If I had some chives, I would have added those to the top as a pretty garnish, but it really isn’t necessary.

*So the kosher salt. I know lots of chefs and cooks who deride kosher salt because it is much saltier than regular salt or sea salt. But that is actually why I’ve moved to using it when I cook. I love my salt grinder and the light tough of salt that I can get with it, but I wasn’t getting enough salt when I used it (I have awful luck with salt grinders – it’s a little maddening). So I experimented with the kosher salt, and was careful in how much I used and found that if I use it for the initial seasoning – just at the beginning – my dishes were coming out much better and I didn’t need to add more salt as I ate, or even during more of the cooking process most of the time. So … yes, kosher salt.

Lorenzo’s Heritage Red Wine

  • Producer: Bedrock Wine Company
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Blend – Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, and Carignan
  • Price estimate: $39 (direct from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Inky and dark purple in the glass. Notes of raspberry and blueberry on the nose. First sip is like silk – smooth with a great mouthfeel. Dark red fruits, a little cherry, but not much and a lot more raspberry than anticipated. Really beautiful finish with notes of chocolate and more raspberry. A little hint of wood, but not unpleasant.
  • Conclusions: Amazingly good. I would be happy with a bottle of this any day of the week, and especially if I was celebrating something.
  • Notes: Bob and I decided to open one of our better bottles the other week just because. We had some really nice cheese from the cheese shop and thought a nice bottle of wine would be appropriate. Bedrock did it again with this wine – really well-balanced – good acidity, but not overpowering, excellent texture to the wine and a lot of flavor. This is a wine that you can sip and enjoy or drink while having some good food and conversation. 14.6% alcohol by volume.

img_20190202_173750