Thursday, February 27, 2014

Notes From The Country - Winter Food Cravings and Random Things

I went to Whole Foods and had entirely too much fun. I had a mid-winter craving for fresh vegetables though so I indulged. I've gone back and forth lately between fresh salads and unctuous winter soups.
I enjoy simple salads full of fresh vegetables, lettuces, spinach, and in this case some fresh peppery arugula and marinated, roasted chicken. I added the blueberries too.
One night I made a cheese and bruschetta platter. I love bruschetta because the ingredients are fresh on the bread. This was a combination of small heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, basil, capers and a balsamic vinaigrette. And kale chips with a bit of smoky red pepper to go along with. I can't get enough of kale chips lately.   
I'm trying to infuse a little eclectic fun in my decorating hence the little antlers above I bought at a place in the mountains last year. An antler shop. Nothing but.
I also made a citrus salad with some navel oranges, blood oranges and cuties with an olive oil and fresh basil vinaigrette. It also works with a honey mint dressing. 
 Speaking of citrus, we put my Meyer lemon tree and my husband's lime tree up in my daughter's room because it has great corner windows for winter sunlight and she only comes home every couple of weeks now that she has her own apartment. They are both full of blossoms right now and the fragrance is filling the entire upstairs. It's better than perfume.
Someone else has taken up residence there as well.

Since we've had plenty of days like this lately, I've also been craving and making some soups and broths.

 I made beef stock - with roasted beef bones and vegetables...It reminded me of the story I always used to read to my girls when they were little - Stone Soup.
I started to make a pureed vegetable soup for dinner one night, but I realized at this point I needed to use up the rest of those vegetables I bought so it turned into a Tuscan white bean soup with vegetables - cauliflower, shallots, carrots, asparagus, spinach, chard in which I sauteed most of the veges first then cooked in a little flour for thickening and simmered it all in chicken broth with cannellini beans, herbs and a leftover rind of parmigiana reggiano. A really nice warming winter soup.
I also really enjoy roasted root vegetables and sometimes for a simple dinner I just roast some chicken along with. I used one of our local mushroom-sage infused olive oils which gives everything a little extra flavor and a handful of my dried herbs and salt and pepper. Golden beets, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and brussel sprouts (ok these last two not root veges!)
The next day for lunch, I pureed the leftover roasted vegetables and added vegetable broth for a pureed soup for lunch. Along with some tea.

Speaking of tea, my brother gave me a set of beautiful little tea cups for Christmas along with some special green teas from Lupicia in San Francisco, so I've been tasting.

 I made a rice bowl for lunch one day. I lightly poached some salmon, steamed some brown rice then took a few mushrooms and some bok choy (I love bok choy!) and put it all in a bowl.
Then I brewed some fresh sencha tea and poured it over all to make a soup. The hot tea finished cooking the salmon and wilted the cabbage and mushrooms just enough. Simple and more on the bland side - it was just right for me.
My chickens have started laying eggs again! I've never had chickens start laying this early in the year. So nice to have fresh eggs again.
So I had to make my favorite Ina Garten
French herb baked eggs - although I added mushrooms and steamed asparagus for a little more substance. Oh so delicious.
Here's the view outside from our new garage door window

You would be excited too if you could have seen the old door. I think it's beautiful.
Speaking of snow, this is what living on a dirt road where it snows can make your car look like.
And while walking around the garden I was reminded that I didn't do garden clean up - yet again - last fall. The tomato cages should be clean and stacked up in the shed. 
As well as the pea trellis'. Oh well.
Back inside where it's warm I'm slowly making progress on some new things.
I love my home and animals and land but sometimes I dream of living in a little gnome-like cottage at the edge of a rain forest with a barrel of herbs outside the front door.

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