Friday, July 30, 2010


  -made with green plantains - if they have gotten yellow & spotty, they will not stand up to this treatment!

Heat about an inch depth grapeseed or peanut oil in a deep skillet.

Slice 4-5 green plantains into about 1 1/2" chunks, and then remove the peel.

Fry the plantain chunks until lightly golden, drain on paper towels.

When a bit cooler, take a heavy pot and squash the plantains  flat (they look like "large paws" -patacones-) and dip them (do not soak them!) into a bowl of salted water  (about 2c. water and a tbs. or so of sea salt) then carefully place them in the hot oil and fry again until crispy brown!

Top patacones with guacamole and fresh salsa, or a garlic/mayonaise combination- they are a great alternative to chips and crackers. Best when eaten hot!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Precious Pikle-It

Now that we have finished running about between Missoula and Portland like bees buzzing between flowers, I can tell you all about my favorite kitchen "gadget" this year..... the Pickl-It from the wonderful People at Pickl-It.
I got a set for myself and my sister-in-law, - since we both are fermenting fiends.

A few years ago, I had gotten a Harsch Gairtopf crock (see earlier posts regarding sauerkraut making) because I was tired of skimming my 'kraut. Essentially, I love kitchen science, but I'm even more enamored of  accomplishing kitchen crafts with less oversight! The Harsch crock has a wonderful "burping lid" water lock system that allows you to leave your crock unattended for several days at a time while the fermentation beasties work in a safe environment. My Harsch crock is in almost constant use, and I would never give it up.

But there were still times when I wanted something smaller....for those tiny baby carrots, or the 3 small heads of garden fresh bok choy, or even just one quart of baby dills.
Here's Jon's approved 5-Star concoction:

Ginger Stuffed Baby Cucumbers
      adapted from The Joy of Pickling

Start with about 7-8 baby cucumbers, about 4-5" long.
Slice them, long-wise, not quite all the way through, 2-3 times on each cuke, and sprinkle a bit of sea salt along the insides of the cuts. Set them in a bowl containing 3 c. filtered water with 7 1/2 tsp. sea salt dissolved in it. Let them sit in there, at room temperature, for about 2-3 hours.

When you are ready to stuff the cucumbers, place the following in a shallow bowl (future "stuffing"):
     1  daikon radish & 1 med. carrot, sliced into matchsticks   about 1 1/2" long
     6 scallions, sliced lengthwise and slivered
     2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
    fresh ginger sliced into matchsticks in volume about equal to the carrots and daikon
Sprinkle these with another tsp. of salt and a tsp. or so of cayenne pepper flakes.

Drain the cukes, and reserve the brine. gently open cucumber and carefully stuff an assortment of matchsticks and slices in each of the cucumber cavities. Place the remainder of any stuffing in a bowl, and place the full cukes on top. Cover with a tea towel and let stand overnight or about 8-10 hours.

Finally, pack the stuffed cucumbers into the 1.5 ltr Pickl-it, sprinkle any remaining "stuffing" around them, cover with the reserved brine, place the weight on top to keep things submerged, attach the (water-filled) air-lock, and let stand at room temperature for 2-3 days before refrigerating.

The Pickl-it air-lock can be removed and a tiny rubber plug inserted in the hole, so that storage in the fridge is easy and not cumbersome.

These were a hit as our Fourth of July pot-luck contribution - we served them cut into about 1" chunks.

Monday, May 17, 2010


We have a Rhubarb plant...
Every spring, we get at least three large harvests from our wonderful pie-plant!
This year, i thought we could do something beyond pies or crisps or stewed toppings for ice-cream.

  So I chopped up about 8 stalks and simmered it in a simple syrup concoction (1 part sugar to 2 parts water - this batch used 4 cups of sugar and 8 cups water). Simmer this until the rhubarb seems to have fallen apart and is just a globby bit of green. 
Strain the syrup from the rhubarb bits and bottle. 
We got about 3 liters (see the discombobulated rhubarb remains behind the bottles?)

Jon made "Rubarb-A-Ritas"
2 double shots of tequila, a cup of the rhubarb syrup, and enough ice to cover the liquid in the blender. 
Pour into a martini glass, rimmed with sea salt and garnish with a lemon slice. 

Kids will like their rhubarb syrup mixed with some soda water (Rhubarb Soda Pop!) or in their lemonade :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

greens and grains and good things to read!

First, the camera I have known and loved for 4 years decided to come down with photographic-parkinsons, and then we were incredibly deluged with Missoula Community Chorus responsibilities : Hiring a new Chorus Manager (Andy Morris - he's great!), then interviewing, auditioning, and hiring a new Conductor (Tod Trimble - he is going to take us far!!) and then it was time for our Spring Concert - and whew! So, Dear Jon helped me get a new camera - "just like" the old one, but with up-grades. It is going to take a while before I figure it out.... the whole back is a touch screen - so about every other picture, I  inadvertently change settings....

I also recently acquired a lovely pair of GREEN Shoes  and a Kindle (note the extraordinarily beautiful green embossed leather cover!) that I just had to show off. Naturally, the shoes required a new pair of socks, and Spring Spirals came to mind....

For Gluten-free people, Injera is a great substitute for wrap breads that I used to use frequently for is made with a sourdough-like starter, and of Teff flour. Teff is an amazing grain that looks like a tiny seed - from the lovegrass family - so, it's related to "Love-lies-Bleeding" that Victorian garden beauty, and Amaranth! With that lineage, who wouldn't want to eat it?!
My F-I-L gave me the starter- he has always been generous with his kitchen experiments - so rather than wait for 3-5 days, I was able to go forth and cook!
 Here's how to make Injera:
  • In a bowl, place 1/2 c. starter + about 1 1/2 c. teff flour + 2 c. water.  Stir it all nicely - it will look like thin pancake batter. Set aside , covered with a towel, and let it ferment for 2-4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, to the batter, add a pinch of salt if you like, and a crackle of pepper - or not :-)  Heat a flat bottomed griddle (the trusty 12" cast-iron seen here) over medium heat and add a drop or two of oil. 
  • Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet- lift it, and twirl so that the batter covers the whole bottom... it's not as thin as a crepe, so no worries.
  • Cook until holes (bubbles) form in the injera, the top is dried, and the edges brown. Do not flip it over- Injera is only cooked on one side (this is what gives it that spongy-soaks-up-flavors-of -everything texture!)
  • Remove, and cool.
My first one was so deformed, that I tossed it right out - again, sort of like cooking crepes! And Jon, being the international type that he is, decided to eat them with (home made) yoghert and applesauce and declared them "quite fine"
I cooked the remaining batter, setting aside 1/2 cup of batter to start my next batch (refrigerate, in a covered jar, and feed with 1/2 c teff flour + 1 c water every week or so) and simply separated the injeras with parchment paper and froze.

And here is how to create an Injera Starter:
  • Mix 1 1/2 c. teff flour + 2 c. water and let stand, in a bowl covered with a clean cloth, at room temperature until it bubbles and turns sour. About 3 days.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy April 15th!!

Tax Day! 2010!!
Enjoy this day - we may never have it this "good" again!!

  • 47 % of Americans will pay NO INCOME TAX at all on their 2009 earnings!
  • Tax-Freedom Day: US citizens only had to work until April 9th (99th day of the year, this year) 2010 to pay their "portion" of Income taxes for the year. After this date, everything you earn, you keep :-)
  • This is one day later than last year, but more than 2 WEEKS EARLIER than 2007, when Mr. G.W. Bush was fearlessly in charge.

 Here in Missoula, some of our neighbors are gathering in front of the federal building lying about their tax burden.
What do you think they are really angry about? (I have a few theories myself!)

Here's a sign my dear Jon made for us to wave back at them:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Catch Up

Where have I been? Chairing the Vintage on Broadway committee -  putting on the huge fundraiser for the Missoula Community Chorus! Successful this year- sold more tickets, had higher caliber Auction Items, food included an exquisite spam & olive spread on brown bread (our theme was 1940-1950 Golden Age of Broadway!), and this year's musical entertainment was polished and well-received!
WHEW!! We raised over $12,000 for the chorus - and then I went to bed for a few days :-)
Meanwhile, back in the spiritual realm, TeaParty Jesus has been giving people parables and questions to think about -
here's just one example.......

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truly, madly, Peep-ly....

Spring has arrived... and with it the miracle of marshmallow Peeps


Naked Peeps!!

Here are some of this years' Peep Diorama Winners from across the U.S.....

and my favorite

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'd like to give the world an Irish Blessing

Noirin Ni rian - one of my favorite Irish singers.... and a Blessing from St. Brigid.

Happy St. Patrick's Day !

The vision of St. Brigid was a heavenly community in which all created beings were joined together in joy. This is a poem attributed to St. Brigid giving voice to this hope:

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God.
I'd love the Heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.

I'd love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I'd put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of love I'd give them,
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I'd offer
To every man.

I'd make Heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I'd make the men contented for their own sake
I'd like Jesus to love me too.

I'd like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around,
I'd give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I'd sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We'd be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here's the ranch that raised the sheep, that grew the wool....

that was sheared and combed and spun into the fine wool that made up the sweater that Jon wears :-)

And here's a little lamb - the first of this year's flock! at our friend's Daniel and Karen's ranch in the Mission Mountains.

A great story about renewal and spring - the rite of lambing on the ranch can be found here...

Daniel's Little Lambs

Since it hopped off the needles, I bet he's worn it 3 days a week - and still gets compliments!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Buffalo yarns, Portabellos, and Sepia Jazz

Here is the first of the four little wraps I promised for our Chinese friends.... this one is for Anne and is made of 100% American Buffalo fibers- a nice rich bison-brown color.Soft and lofty, this should keep the wind off her lovely neck!
And here, the Portabello Mushroom kit from Stan and Bev, is beginning to bloom We got a couple nice sized ones to make an omelet with - and there are more coming.m!

Lastly, Missoula's annual Hospice Ball was this week - Jonathan played with the Ed Norton Big Band  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Persian Chicken & Rice - you'll never go back!

A friend of ours invites a bunch of us over for music making, a bottle of wine, and dinner every so often - and we always have a grand time. But, I have never appreciated her hospitality more than last week, when she had us over and served us "Persian" Chicken and Rice!

We walked in the house and dinner smelled.... enticing, a bit floral, and toasty. She set out the dish, and the browned chicken looked lovely nestled in a golden rice pilaf. But it was the first bite, and then the second, that sent me over the edge - I might have actually moaned at the table. Composing myself again, I casually asked (while pouring her another glass of wine) if I could peek at the recipe - she claims to have gotten it from a piano student's mother years ago. The next day, I picked up a fresh chicken and an orange, and I was cooking!

It's actually the rice that is "Persian"... and you could make the rice as a stand-alone side dish. Here's how:
cook 1 1/2 c. jasmine , or other fragrant rice, in lightly salted water until done. (I use 1 1/2 c. rice to 3 c. water and it only took about 15 minutes, once it was simmering under cover)
Peel a nice juicy orange, cut the peel into small (1/8th inch) strips and cook in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and mince; set aside. Eat the orange as an appetizer.
Shred carrots to get approximately 3 cups (I used 8 medium carrots) and saute them in 1/2 c. butter over low flame for 8 - 10 minutes. To the carrots, add the orange zest, with:
1/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8th tsp saffron (I used my tiny tin of threads Amelia brought back from India! If you have no saffron, use a pinch of turmeric for color)
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
cook a minute or 2 longer, then add 1/4 c. water and boil rapidly until it evaporates. Stir in the cooked rice. At this point, you could serve the rice alone, or continue as below for the Chicken and Rice version!
Start with the Chicken first if you want to make this as a combination dish.....
Brown 1 or 2 cut up chicken(s) in a bit of oil. When nicely tanned, add 1/2 c. broth (or water + bouillon) and simmer until the chicken is tender - I kept it covered for most of the time, taking the lid off for the last 5 or so minutes. When rice is finished and combined, pat is into a large, greased casserole dish, and nestle the chicken pieces into the pilaf. Bake, covered, 20 minutes at 375.
We serve it with curried sweet potatoes and spinach - a quick stove top dish that changes every time we make it, but always includes chopped crystallized ginger .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Birthday Boy's Best Presents!

This greeted Jonathan on the morning of his birthday...
a luscious chocolate cake (re-make of a family recipe) and an almost-there-just-a-few-more-rows-honey sweater......
The sweater was finished three days later, as was the cake!

Jonathan's Super Chocolaty, No Crumb Left Behind, Gluten-Free, Very Good Birthday Cake
(yes, we were still eating off the Christmas plates.... they finally got put away for the year after finishing the sweater - I've got priorities, after all!)

The original version of this cake featured rich milk chocolate flavors, a moist buttermilk crumb, and has been the "Rose Family" birthday cake since Jonathan and Louise's childhood. This year, I made a Gluten free cake, and incorporated super dark chocolate for a "mature" guy's birthday cake!

Sift together - or dump in a large bowl and "fluff" with a fork! - the following:
1 c. fine brown rice flour
1 c. almond flour
1/2 c. each: tapioca flour, potato flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 c. sugar - we use organic unbleached sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Melt (use either double boiler, or melt in the microwave for about 1 minute)
6 Tbs. dark cocoa powder (Hersheys has a "Special Dark" cocoa!)
1 C. water
2 sticks of butter (oh, come on, it's a birthday cake!! use 2 sticks :-)

Mix the hot and dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add:
1/2 c. buttermilk
with 2 eggs beaten into it, along with
1 tsp. vanilla
and mix until incorporated.

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased and floured* 9 x 13 pan, 30-40 minutes.
* chocolate cake hint: "flour" the pan with cocoa powder - this avoids any unsightly white specks on the bottom of the cake!*
6 Tbs. Dark Cocoa powder
6 Tbs. milk
1 stick of butter (yes, we are up to 3/4 pound of butter in the completed cake - sheeesh! it's a birthday cake!)
Melt the above ingredients either on stove top or in microwave as before.
Stir in:
1 pound box powdered sugar + 1 tsp. vanilla
until smooth.
Make the frosting and pour it over the hot cake when you've pulled the cake from the oven! As the cake and frosting cool, the frosting rather melds into the cake, and becomes like a roof of fudge.

Jonathan's Cobblestone Sweater was made from wool spun from the sheep our friends Karen and Daniel raise near Ronan Montana on a ranch that looks out over the Mission Mountains. I had to adjust the pattern significantly in order to use the bulky weight yarn (instead of the worsted weight the pattern calls for).
After starting a sleeve a couple of times (why "swatch" if you can just cast on and go?) I ended up adjusting the stitch counts down to approximately 85% of the original, and used size 10.5 needles. The short Row section for the yoke was the most difficult to fudge this way - I have kept my notes, and will post them on Ravelry so they link to the pattern for anyone else interested in using bulky yarn for this pattern.

I love how it looks like chain mail on my handsome guy :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

OK, Here we go! Let's see if I can finish 2 (out of the 4 promised!) Chinese New Years gifts between the Opening ceremonies and when the flame is extinguished!
I have purchased (at dear price!) a skein of American Buffalo Yarn - fingering weight, 2 ply - as soft as a cloud!

First 2 shawls are for Annie and Rosita.....After that, I promised both Cassie and Anne as well. When I showed a variety of patterns to all 4 friends last night, they ALL chose the same pattern!
I will have to figure out how to make this a interesting challenge as well- what can I do to the basic pattern to create something absolutely unique for each woman?!
Stay posted!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Makes you wonder....

Makes you wonder Who would be able to vote if we had literacy tests.

.....about Tom Tancredo.....and his friends..... and who he thinks are his followers?!

Former Congressman and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo told an audience on Thursday at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville that "people who could not even spell the word 'vote', or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House."
"His name," Tancredo said, "is Barack Hussein Obama."
Tancredo delivered the opening keynote speech at the convention where several hundred Tea Party conservatives have gathered.

Makes you proud to be an American, don’t it?

Of course, the thing they’re ignoring is that Barack Obama, and his wife, could have passed any literacy test invented by the good ole boys who spell those signs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A trip to China always means I get to find new yarn shops - thanks to's China Knitters forum, I have found more than a few!! Here I am in front of Cheer Wool (see their English web site here) in Hong Kong. Following the directions I had in hand, we found a very tall (20+ stories) building shrouded in blue plastic and bamboo scaffolding. Thinking that we must be mis-reading the street numbers, we walked around the block again a few times, and finally asked in another shop if they knew where the yarn shop was. It was, of course, about 2 blocks up on the opposite side of the street... always an adventure!

I found some Australian cashmere and purchased some children's needles and scissors for Nan. Alas, at age 3, Nan was more interested in the scissors than the yarn. Oh well, there is always next trip to indoctrinate her!

While Nan played "cooking" with her scissors, I finished up 3 washcloths to leave with our friends ....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What a gift!

Christmas pajama pictures are here:

It's been toooo long since I up-dated the blog! Sorry for that - after our Thanksgiving trip to the Oregon coast, we had Stella & Marcus & Iris (the grand-pug) visit for early Christmas, then we went to my mom, Bev, and then Jon's Mom, Cindy's for "Christmas", then we went back to Portland and the beach for New Year's, and as soon as we got back home, we got on the plane and trekked to China for 2 weeks for our annual factory visits.
Whew!!! It's a miracle I even remember that I have a blog!

Christmas 2009 took some planning.... Here is what several people on our list got! Big picnic Baskets full (10+ jars in each basket) of home-preserved sunshine and love.
Jon used our Hot Foil embossing machines and brown paper circles to create the labels, then he proceeded to create a recipe booklet - using pictures and recipes from Robbin's 2009 blog - that called for the basket ingredients. He published the booklet via Mac - isn't it professional looking?!

In addition to much of the already documented canned goods, I infused Stolichnaya Vodka with vanilla beans, and also created a pepper and thyme while wine vinegar for the baskets. We filled in the empty spots with packets of orange peel candy!

One of the funnest things I made this year was for Marcus - a "Secret Identity" to keep him warm on the slopes!