Life has been peacefully quiet during the past month, yet the weeks have flown by on the calendar. How did 2016 arrive so quickly?! Traditional Austrian straw stars, designed to celebrate Advent, still hang in my window. Purchased years ago at the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, these handcrafted treasures will remain on display a bit longer, at least until the end of this month. They recall past holiday celebrations plus some wonderful travel adventures and are too festive to hide away in the Christmas bins. I'll just rename them "snowflakes" and pretend there's no timeliness issue.
December brought some new additions to the kitchen. Friend Margi returned from Tofino (on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada) with a gift copy of this delicious cookbook. Delicious? Yes! the appealing recipes, text and photos all seem scrumptious and I can't wait to cook from this book, beginning with the recipe for smoked salmon chowder.
Friend Laci sent us a fresh fruit and chocolate Edible Arrangements treat. The fruit array included some amazingly sweet pineapple flowers, perfectly ripened chocolate-dipped strawberries and grapes, flavorful cantaloupe spears and some crisp but fairly bland honeydew melon spears. Of course we sampled the chocolate-covered fruit first. The red ceramic vase remains as a useful, multipurpose vessel.
Imagine our surprise when the kitchen's resident Green-Frog-with-Pink Wings morphed overnight into the Green Freindeer! Niece Hilary and Ron have a long-running story line going with this little guy, but it's Hilary's creativity that produces the visuals. Hmmm, do we sound slightly mad? Well, you can't imagine the mischief blamed on this little critter.
A small bottle of Bulgogi sauce leapt off the store shelf and into my cart, promising a quick, shortcut version of tasty Korean BBQ Beef. It lived up to its promise and added amazing flavor to braised short ribs, but now I'm eager to create bulgogi sauce from scratch. It might take another restaurant visit or three to educate my palate... set expectations... and enjoy bulgogi and kalbi at some of Seattle's notable eateries (link) while I continue the online search for recipes to try.
In my kitchen the menu has lately leaned toward old favorites, dishes too easy and familiar to merit a special blog post. I did grab a few iPhone shots to show that I have actually spent some time at the stovetop and oven. Of course I cheerfully turn over kitchen action to Hilary and/or RL when they insist.
* Rolled almond and nut coffeecake, with some whole wheat flour added to the usual AP flour, disappeared quickly. The slather of butter on these slices wasn't really necessary, but some habits die hard.
* Sweet potato-red onion hash filled my bowl at breakfast and made a tasty lunch item as well, though RL politely refused to sample this creation. Orange vegetables are never his favorites, so he reheated some borscht from the freezer instead. Both dishes are colorful comfort food, welcome on cold, gray winter days.
* Three-bean soup with kale kept
us me energized and cheering during countless football games; lately college championship bowl games and Sunday Seahawks games. RL isn't much of a football fan but he does check in when the shouting gets too loud or he's ready to enjoy a bowl of delicious bean soup at halftime. (recipe to follow soon on this one)
* Still-warm loaves of sourdough bread and a bottle of wine were hostess gifts when we joined friends for dinner at their new condo. While the lemony Parmesan round with walnuts was a hit, it was the sour cherry boule with lemon zest and pecans that received rave reviews at dinner and (as reported via email) toasted for breakfast the next several mornings. This success called for another round of sourdough baking - as soon as we returned home after dinner I mixed another batch of dough with cherries, lemon and nuts for us to enjoy the next day. Old Faithful, my sourdough starter, has been busy lately producing tasty breads, quickbreads, pizzas crusts and waffles. Oh yes, I do have breadaholic tendencies.
Here's wishing you and yours a healthy and peaceful 2016 - Happy New Year!