A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Brunette's Take on Blondies

This past weekend we were home after over a month of travels and visitors: back and forth to the east coast twice, up the coast to Portland, and hosting (fabulous) friends from New Hampshire. While traveling and hosting is energizing and exciting and interesting and fun, it was really lovely to be home with no plans! It was a slice of heaven to curl up on the couch with a book, do some baking, take meandering walks, do laundry...

These blondies proved to be a great comfort food for the weekend. The weather was cool for the first time in forever and heating up the house with these luscious-smelling treats was a nice way to celebrate and welcome autumn. Are you familiar with blondies? The non-cacao-based brownie? They are a lovely golden color and caramely in flavor. In this version, the chocolate melts lusciously into the top and the almonds are a nice, toasty and buttery addition. You could try walnuts or hazelnuts, too, and white chocolate if you prefer. I love the flavor, but I'd make these again just for the smell as they bake: mouthwateringly enchanting!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mosaic Biscotti: biscotti di mosai

After my great experience with these Italian cookies, I've been hooked on finding my next Italian cookie love. Bill has requested biscotti on several occasions, and I've resisted. I'm not a huge fan of the biscotti you buy next to the register at coffee places. I do like how the crisp, almost inedible cookie gives way once dunked in coffee, but even more than that, I like cookies that I can eat any time, with or without coffee. These mosaic biscotti are a great compromise: they dunk beautifully in coffee, but do not have the dry, stale, tooth-breaking hardness of what I've come to know as 'biscotti'.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cucumber Cooler Cocktail and a nod to Decatur, GA

Over Labor Day weekend we headed across the country to see my sister's new home (and puppy!) in Decatur, Georgia and road-tripped with my family up to western North Carolina, where I was born. It was a great visit -- both for the company as well as for the flavors. I like to ask around to see what's up with the local food and drink scene when I go somewhere new. The south did not disappoint us. Neither did the puppy:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Figgy ice cream with ricotta, white wine and honey

It's fig time... again! The second crop of figs to appear each year in our farmers' market is a real bumper crop.  While the California Fresh Fig Association says that figs are available mid-May through mid-December, I see them in our farmers' markets in early/mid July for a teaser and then for a second crop in late August or early September. I pretty much buy them whenever I see them. I can't help it -- they are so beautiful and delicious and fleeting. 

In addition to their lovely looks, fresh figs are a great source of fiber, potassium, calcium and iron, plus all those antioxidants. Here are some other great fig recipes to inspire you.

It's near the end of summer, and I sprung for ice cream this week. Partly denial that fall and winter and coming. Partly because fig ice cream sounded so interesting. Not just fig ice cream: fig, honey, cinnamon, white wine, ricotta ice cream. Yes, it really works. This is one delicious and striking ice cream. Guests sit eating it, bite after bite, deep in thought -- What is that flavor? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Serious Energy Bars (vegan, gluten-free)

These bars were born from the desire to have a healthy mid-day or trail-side snack that packs lots of nutrients, good taste, a little sweetness and nice texture, minus all the fillers, strange ingredients, massive sugar dose and preservatives. They are a work in progress: there are so many variables to be tweaked for different flavors and textures (as with my granola recipe).

Granola bars used to be associated with the health food movement. Now, most of them have so many ingredients, soy and corn products, sugar and preservatives that they are not actually healthy. And they are a hit to the wallet. These certainly do not store as well as a processed and packaged granola bar (a week in the fridge), but you can freeze them and take them out incrementally -- I like to take one out in the morning and pack it in my lunch bag for later in the day. They are pretty good straight out of the freezer, too!