Sunday, August 28, 2011

summer fare

If I had to choose one favorite summer meal, it would be basil pesto and caprese salad. Simple. Easy. Uses several fresh ingredients from the garden. It makes me happy.


Caprese Salad

Pour 2-3 Tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar into a bowl
Add fresh mozzarella medallions and halved cherry tomatoes
Mix well
Top with fresh shredded basil leaves
Drizzle with good olive oil



Fresh Basil Pesto

Place the following ingredients into a food processor:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup good olive oil

Mix until pureed and smooth

Add the above mixture to one package (16 oz.) of prepared pasta (I like linguine). Pass freshly grated parmesan at the table. You may want to add a little salt too.

I served this with a green salad, because I can't get enough of the fresh greens right now. The caprese can be served on the side with the green salad and the balsamic sauce can be drizzled onto the greens in place of dressing, so you don't add a foreign flavor to this delicious mix.

A freshly baked, warm baguette goes well with this too.

Enjoy with a glass (or two or three) of red wine on one of these warm summer evenings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

peach pie

peach pie

My teen starts high school in a few weeks. I'm not really sure how that can be possible. I want to help her start out the year with a system for keeping assignments and projects organized in one general area.

Here's an interesting fact: In the last 30 years, the size of the average American house has doubled, but the size of the average American family has halved. It's not that we don't have enough space; we have too much crap.

I tend to hyperventilate when there's too much clutter surrounding me, and trying to change my daughter's innate messy behavior creates friction between us. So, I've hired a professional organizer.

Ruth arrives tomorrow! Some preliminary purging was necessary prior to her arrival. I've completely cleaned out my very messy office closet (that's the catch-all spot to keep my space neat... you know, out of sight, out of mind), emptied out a small desk, and reorganized furniture to make room for a small photo studio. “What does your office being neat and organized have to do with your daughter's study space?” you ask.

All this purging motivated my daughter to do the same. Copious toys, clothes, shoes, junk were discarded or put in large plastic garbage bags for a garage sale. She refused my help. Yeah!

I grabbed this opportunity to do a little baking and photography in my new mini-photo studio space.

peach pie

Looking forward to a late peach crop! and a visit from Ruth!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

i scream, you scream...

...for cinnamon ice cream.


Although we all thought it had been canceled this year, summer FINALLY arrived in Portland. What took you so long? Huh? Huh?

August 6... counting the weeks until school starts. Some days it's with anticipation of new projects. Some days it's with dread of rising early, juggling a crazy busy schedule again.

Most days I'm feeling like we still need to celebrate what's here and now. And what's here and now are the warm, long days of summer. Camping, barbecuing, swimming, bike riding, hiking, iced coffees, churning homemade ice cream.

Just in case you need more motivation to make this delicious ice cream, here are several benefits to ingesting cinnamon:

• Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.

• Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

• In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.

• In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

• It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.

• In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.

• When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.

• One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.

• Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

• It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

Who knew?

I won't mention the cream and sugar part if you don't. Let’s just stay positive today, okay?

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Makes 4 cups

1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool.

Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.