Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Local Fall Cooking and Native Plant Landscaping

We decided to try out a new farm for a winter CSA (community supported agriculture) share. We are sharing it with some friends and still getting lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and even eggs. I love having a CSA because the contents of our weekly box is always a surprise and always inspires new recipes and cooking adventures.

Here are some of the things I've been making this fall:

Pumpkin Ice Cream (adapted from a recipe by williams sonoma)


  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned
    unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg


In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

Pot Roast (adapted from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated)

1 1 bottom round rump roast (2lbs)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium
1 small carrot , chopped medium
1 small rib celery , chopped medium
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1 cup beef broth
1 sprig fresh thyme
cup water
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 pounds carrots (about 8 medium carrots), sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 pounds small red potatoes , halved if larger than 1 1/2 inches in diameter
pound large parsnips, sliced 1/2 inch thick


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees ; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

  2. 2. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer roast to large plate; set aside. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot, and celery to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef broth and thyme, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot; add enough water to come halfway up sides of roast. Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then place large piece of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook, turning roast every 30 minutes, until roast is almost tender 2 hours. Add carrots, red potatoes, and parsnips to Dutch oven, submerging them in liquid. Continue to cook until vegetables are almost tender 15-20 minutes.

  3. 3. Transfer roast to carving board. Allow liquid in pot to settle about 5 minutes, then use wide spoon to skim fat off surface; discard thyme sprig. Add wine and salt and pepper to taste; boil over high heat until vegetables are fully tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to warmed serving bowl or platter. Using chef’s or carving knife, cut meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices or pull apart into large pieces; transfer to bowl or platter with vegetables and pour about 1/2 cup sauce over meat and vegetables. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Ina Garten's Carrot Pineapple Cake


For the cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the decoration:

  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.


My friend Kate and I went shopping at an amazingly affordable native plant nursery call "Go Natives" in Shoreline, WA. I was overwhelmed at this this place because of the selection and prices. I could have bought way more than I did, but decided to keep it to a minimum on this trip. I ended up with several Oregon Grape (the type that can handle deep, dry shade), a small Goats Beard, Ocean Spray, and several Sword Ferns. We already have a lovely Red Flowering Currant, some Native Columbine and of course 3 very large Douglas Fir Trees. Hopefully over time we can make our backyard a native plant and wildlife urban habitat.

Here are images what our new plants will look like:

oregon grape

goats beard

ocean spray

sword fern

I'll post photos after we plant them!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our New Truck and Fall Gardening

It was a nice sunny fall day today so we took advantage and did some yard work. We had to take out all the spent vegetable plants and clean up the beds for fall and spring planting

Here we planted garlic around the edges

Garlic from Sky Nursery

Here I planted Freesia, a bulb that blooms in the spring. I love the smell of the flowers!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My 3 New Blogs

I started three new blogs! Check them out!

Every Dog Has Its Day - about our experiences with fostering dogs

The Jet City Jumpers Blog - to record our training progress and tournaments and other fun stuff

A Nutrition Blog - I havent posted to this one yet, but I will. I plan to write articles about popular topics in nutrition.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our LIfe: September - October

A Random Selection of Photos from the Past Few Months.......

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bratislava and Budapest

It was really windy and rainy in Bratislava and somehow these are the only two pictures that we took. It was a nice little town, but it was very cold so we didn't see much.

Damaged in one of the many wars that destroyed Budapest

The Danube separates Buda from Pest.

Admiring the beautiful scenery

Central Plaza in Budapest

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vienna is cool

We saw a little "classical" concert in Vienna. It was pretty touristy, but the music was good.

A swimming pool barge in the middle of Vienna. No one is crazy enough to swim in the actual river

This cake was rich! With a crispy sugary layer on top.

This cake was good, but it had some liqueur in it which is always funky.

Lunch is served!

This is one of the few nonsmoking Viennese coffee houses

Even their grocery stores are fancy

These things really work. I still haven't taken my Strumpfhose off.

One of the many neat building in Vienna.

The Lippizzaner stallions live right in the heart of Vienna. We got to see one walking around, but weren't fast enough with the camera. Apparently they are a horse fancy enough for the city of Vienna

Some of our comrades on the boat

They gave the earth back to Atlas so these ladies could relax for a while.