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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Three Sisters Chowder

Wow -- time has flown since I last posted. Well, I have a good excuse: last weekend Bill and I went on a lovely camping trip in the redwoods with our trusty Westie, complete with beautiful weather, starry skies, delicious food, a most-beautiful all-day waterfall hike and... a wedding proposal! The only answer was 'YES!!!', of course. So we have been reveling in the engagement bliss while also succumbing occasionally to full-on wedding planning (well, half of us have succumbed, that is).

We love the redwoods -- you may remember this excursion, complete with homemade marshmallows. Big Basin State Park holds a special place in our hearts, though. It is the place we went on our first date, with a hike on empty trails in the rain, hours of non-stop chattering about everything from fish to Phish, lots of banana slug and California newt sightings, and a trip to a local brewery to warm up afterward. The perfect first date -- and then subsequent dates -- and now engagement! We even had our trail map and notes from our first visit, thanks to Bill's awesome organizational skills (and keen insight into the importance of small things).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chow Chow

The change of seasons has been palpable. A couple weeks ago the air was cool and the smell of rain hung in the air all weekend until it actually sprinkled -- the first rain of the season, if you can call the bit that fell 'rain'. This week it's been pouring and cold at night -- cold enough to test our heater. I like this time of year, yet am always caught off guard when it arrives. On the east coast it was easier to mark the seasonal change: watching the leaves change and pointing out the showstopping leaf colors that seemed to appear overnight. Here in California the first hint before the rain comes is the shifting light. I've had to adjust my photography accordingly in order to catch the best rays of the day.

Like I said, autumn somehow catches me off guard. When the reality finally sinks in I instinctively start to horde all things summer. The past few weekends have seemed like a mad rush of canning, pickling, freezing. That's where this recipe comes in. Chow Chow is both an ode to and celebration of the end of summer. It heralds green tomatoes. Sure, you can pick green tomatoes any time of the summer -- but I really like making this recipe at the end of the summer. It makes good use of those few stubborn green tomatoes left on a wilted, brown plant that just are not going to ripen at the end of the season. And it calls for cabbage, a quintessential fall vegetable. A nice farewell to summer and welcoming of fall.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roasted Chanterelles with Parmesan Polenta

This past weekend Bill was up north of Seattle visiting friends and helping on their new 20 acre farm. On hikes through their land and nearby woods he found some beautiful wild mushrooms. He was lucky -- a little bit of recent rain helped push them up through the leaf litter. He sent me photos via iPhone, and I was happy to share his treasures through our phone technology. I never expected that he'd carefully package them to protect from bruising and smushing and bring them home to me! The best gift ever.

While on his trip, Bill had chanterelles in a cream sauce tossed with whole wheat pasta that sounded delicious. We researched other recipes that would highlight the delicate flavor of these forest treats. Bill cooked up the lobster mushroom with onions, garlic and red pepper into a frittata. I roasted the chanterelles with thyme, shallots, olive oil and butter and served them over Parmesan polenta.

This recipe would be delicious with other types of mushrooms -- even the button mushrooms you can find in any grocery store -- but wild mushrooms are simply divine. Bill picked these wild mushrooms with the help of friends' experience and knowledge of mushroom identification -- wild mushrooms should never be eaten without proper identification.