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Posts from the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Chicken Breasts Diable

Celebrating life, community and new experiences.

Double Digits! WP 2013

We celebrated my youngest’s birthday when she rolled into proud double digits. It is our family tradition to honor a new year with a special dinner.  The previous year she choose Lamb with her family-famous quote “Lamb is my cake” when asked what she desired for dinner. This time she chose her favorite steamed beets with melted chèvre and being a member to the French Friday’s with Dorie I decided to try a new recipe from her most loved cookbook Around My French Table – Chicken Breasts Diable.

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It’s A Comfort-Food-Farro Kind Of Day

Spring is here, no wait… it’s not, oh here it comes… Nope. Now it’s snowing. Don’t get me wrong:

I LOVE SNOW.

But I can see grass now. It’s over, I can’t go back, I’ve gone and done it. The potting shed is clean and the seeds are calling my name.

RKW_4449 Seeds
Ok, so it’s mud season; the fifth season (right after Winter; just before Spring)  Mud season is when we are thankful for all wheel drive and a high clearance vehicle, when I get to be a little crazy at the wheel, just to get up the mile long road we call a “driveway.” Mud season is when the dogs’ paws are caked with the newly emerged earth and their fur becomes the transporter for all that was outside to now reside inside. My neighbor tells me “You’re out numbered” (kids, dogs, cats, bird, bunny, chickens… oh and our exchange student’s fish-Fishy (guess who’s fish it will be in July?)) she advises to “Just let go.”

I think it will be my new mantra.

RKWeymuller Mud Season

This morning I practiced that mantra and put on slippers (dirt goes unnoticed better that way) and made emmer pancakes; a little comfort food for a cold damp day. I was surprised by the fact that breakfast, from egg-crackin’ to clean-up, took little more than 20 minutes. The aroma wafting from the griddle pulled my little sleepy heads out from under their covers and had them at the kitchen bar in no time. I had that Proud Mama moment of knowing that I’m providing a healthy, beginning of the day meal (that they will actually eat) for my active kids. Hopefully they’ll be satisfied until lunch.

Oh! Lunch! I plan the day from one meal to the next. Last night I tried something new; the farro boldly went where only basmati rice had been before…the rice maker. Yup, hoping it would transform our long stove top cooking times to that of a care free slow cooker experience. I am happy to report:  <<genius!>>  It worked! And today I have fresh farro for lunch, via my rice maker.  (Enter celebratory music and little happy dance that you really don’t want in your head).

RKW_4493 Farro, Goat Cheese, Kate and tomat salad

Spinach and Blue Bird Grain Farro Salad:
serves 2 for lunch

1 cup farro
3 cups washed baby organic spinach
A handful of sweet cheery tomatoes halved
1/4 cup goat cheese(Sunny Pine Farm)
dash of lemon pepper
pinch of salt

Stove top method:  Add the Farro to a medium pot with 3 cups or so of water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 45-50 minutes.When farro grains are plump, soft and still chewy remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Or
Rice Maker method: I use a 1 cup grain to 1 cup liquid and set it to gaba (longer time but great for more nutrients) brown rice mode. But follow your rice makers directions for brown rice.

~Saute baby spinach with a little water and a dash of lemon pepper and a pinch of salt, until it wilts then remove from heat
~fill warmed bowl with farro
~crumble goat cheese onto the farro
~top with wilted baby spinach and halved tomatoes

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Caramelize Life Cooking Class @ Sun Mountain Lodge

It was a perfect time of year and a wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of women in a garden to table cooking class.

Caramelize Life was kindly invited by Methow Arts Alliance and  Sun Mountain Lodge  to bring local produce and share simple recipes that could be made quickly at home with a lovely group of women visiting the Methow Valley.

It happened to be perfect timing for the class as the garden was in full production and ingredients were as fresh as could be.  On stage were succulent Heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, a selection of creamy chèvre from Sunny Pine Farm and locally sourced salmon

We all had a splendid time whipping up seasonal fair and an even better time sampling from our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~cheers Rachelle@caramelizelife

FIND YOUR MARKET

Spring has sprung literally in the last week, here in the Methow Valley.

We’ve enjoyed the first couple of Farmers Markets held each Saturday 9am to noon. Our early spring heat wave has been kind to all the vendors and welcomed shoppers with a warm embrace.

For years I’ve been a patron to any farmers markets I can find either at home or abroad.  The market can be a unique window into local communities health and its products.  Market atmospheres are lively and festive. They celebrate our earth and what it can produce. Markets highlight and strengthen our ties to how and where our foods are processed and originate. Not everyone can live on a farm and learn from family traditions handed down each generation but most everyone can find a farmers market and take the opportunity to meet and learn from the farmers themselves.

Markets move with the seasons from the beginning seedlings in the early spring to the mounds of apples, spices, jams and jellies in the late summer harvest times.  This seasonal reminder of what our local land provides is something that becomes forgotten in the long outer isles of the mega supermarkets. I know, I love bananas in my smoothies and pineapple too.  I am not ready for a strict change but I do appreciate the fresh reminder to clean out the cob webs in my brain and love the fact that I can challenge myself to finding Saturday night’s dinner at the market.

So tempting…but no she didn’t…really.

If you would like a little help in the area of spring cleaning of the cerebral spider webs there’s an app for that! Ok, not really but if you are tech savvy and have an iPhone, sorry Blackberry and Android, you can download an App to find out what’s in season it’s called NRDC Eat Local.
Wendy Gorden of the Huffington post described the app perfectly in her blog   New App Answers: What’s in Season Near You?  it is worth the read.

I also adore the life lessons the market imparts to our children. They learn from example and experiencing the arts and local agricultural producers at a personal level is such a gift. Taken a little further and the market is inclusive allowing children to try their hand at their own entrepreneurial endeavors. Read my post life lessons a budding entrepreneur at the farmer’s market  to learn more on this topic.

Each Market has it’s own structure and set of guidelines to help it run smoothly so check in with yours before you jump in feet first.

Market Dinner or Breakfast Challenge:

Simple Scramble with Chevre and Spring Greens

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 Tbsp oil (your choice; coconut oil gives a nice change in flavor, olive or grape seed oil or butter)
1 Tbsp chevre we used organic chevre from sunny pine farms
1 cup spring greens (washed, torn or chopped and stems removed) For a fun you could forage and use Dandelion greens! (remember to properly identify the plant, make sure it hasn’t been sprayed and pick young fresh leaves. Their bitterness will mellow and blend nicely with the eggs).
1 Tbsp chopped fresh seasonal herbs (your choice; chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro etc)
salt and pepper to taste

A slice from a fresh baguette or rosemary bread to toast.

Each market is unique to its region and what it can offer, when in France, I love to add olives to this scramble or capers.

Directions:

~Wash, tear or chop spring greens and herbs and set aside
~Pre-warm two serving bowels
~Slice bread and put in the toaster
~Crack eggs in a medium-sized bowel and beat with a fork until mixed. Then add half of your seasonal herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
~In a preheated nonstick or cast iron saute’ pan add oil, and then the egg and herb mix. Scramble the eggs turning from the outside in.  Right before eggs are fully cooked add the chevre  and remove from heat. Then, divide into equal portions (or as much as you are hungry for)and place in your warmed bowel.
~Next, add a tablespoon or so of water and wilt greens in your saute’ pan turning constantly until wilted and then pour over chevre and egg scramble.
~Sprinkle with the second half of the fresh herbs.
~Add salt and pepper to taste

~ enjoy!

Find your Farmers Market!

Here in the Methow we are lucky to have a few:

Methow Valley Farmers Market Saturdays 9am to noon, April through October
Winthrop Market Sundays 10am to 2pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Mazama Market Wednesday afternoons, during the growing season

The folks at Local Harvest. Org make it easy to do just that. Click on the link and enter your zip code or state and they will point you in the right direction. It is a great tool to use especially if you are traveling.

Here are a few more links to help you find a market near you:

The USDA Farmers Markets, Food and Wine articles on the Worlds Best Food Markets, Open Air’s market list, and the Huffington Post Photo’s of the worlds largest farmers markets.

See you at the Market!
Rachelle @ Caramelizelife

Which came first?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The age old question has baffled and tormented philosophers and lay folk like myself when it comes to mind. It is a great question to ponder over your breakfast quiche in the morning, but inevitability I soon feel like a gerbil on a spinning wheel or lost in a maze of repeating fractals and phew! I’ve finished breakfast and on to other thoughts.

Or, I could answer the question…neither came first!  I say it was the Bunny that came first. That’s right the sweet little guy who comes around each Spring, filling baskets with rainbow colored eggs. No chicken lays rainbow eggs so it’s got to be the Bunny. Ok, a few lay blue, green, brown, and white eggs but I’ve seen none with swirls…and how about the fancy glittery ones?

A few years ago I had the task of explaining to my 5 year old why the Easter Bunny brought baskets full of colored eggs…why isn’t it an Easter Chicken? I think we’ve got a budding philosopher in the family. How do you answer such an inquiry? Quick on my feet, I said nothing. Instead I started placing decorated eggs in the chicken coop.  Ok, now the gig is up and thankfully she doesn’t have a Facebook account or read this blog just yet because she is in that space of wanting to believe but really smart enough to know that neither bring those beautiful eggs and chocolate. Come to think of it, I may still be in that stage as well.

Yes, that’s right: it is all complete nonsense. If you want fresh eggs you’ll need a baby chick and if you don’t already have eggs that are ready to hatch, you have two options; stop by your local feed store because right about now they should be stocking sweet little peeps to fill your coop. Or, you go BIG (25 or more chicks) and order a flock from a reputable hatchery.  The next step is to wait.  The post office will call which usually wakes me from some wonderful dream like Spring break trips to Hawaiian beaches, of which I am not on if I am receiving that call. They will most likely be yelling into the phone over the cacophonous peeping in the background. This call first thing is to let you know your one day old chicks have arrived and would you PLEASE come down as soon as possible to pick them up. A flock in a box as we call it. I wonder if this only happens in America?

The latter is the path my daughters chose when they ventured into their aptly named egg business, Sister Chicks…more on their adventures at a later date. If you do go BIG then be prepared for lots of eggs = the need for recipes that use all those eggs, like your stack of summer zucchini recipes. The ones you needed when you found someone had secretly filled your mail box with orphan zuchs…again, a post for another time. Returning back to scrumptious recipes that include eggs, here’s a favorite of ours at Caramelize Life.

Savory Mushroom Quiche

If you have time to make your own, I love Blue Bird Grain Farms whole-grain-crust recipe the best and works great to make extra, stored in the freezer for the days you don’t. However, if today is that such day where you find yourself short on time, many grocery stores carry pre-made pie crusts, just be sure to choose one without sugar.

Crust ingredients (using Blue Bird Grain Farms recipe):

1/2 cup Bluebird whole grain soft white or hard red flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Quiche ingredients:

2 cups grated Swiss Cheese (Gruyère is my favorite and we usually have some in the freezer leftover from fondue nights  otherwise any Swiss cheese will work).
4-6 organic free range eggs
1 large yellow onion minced
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms sliced
3 Tbsp organic butter
7.5 oz  Crème Fraîche  ( I use the Bellwether Farms but if you want to make your own you can add a bit of buttermilk to cream).
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 cup organic milk or half and half.

~ Preheat oven to 375f,  190c, gas mark 5

~ Saute’ minced onion and sliced mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper over medium heat until onions are golden and set aside.

~Cover the bottom of the crust with 1 1/2 cups cheese. Reserve the rest for the filling.

~Assemble the filling; beat eggs with Crème Fraîche, milk, and salt, pepper and nutmeg .

~Pour mushroom and onions over cheese layer and then add liquid filling mixing in the last bit of cheese with a little for the top.

~ Bake for 40 minutes, test with a knife in the for solid center.

Yields; One  nine-inch pie or 4-6 servings.
Can be doubled easily.
Freezes fine, just thaw in the refrigerator and reheat.
Great for lunch boxes, breakfast, appetizers or a main dish.

*On many occasions we mix it up and add steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, salmon, bacon, tomatoes, soft cheeses such as Camembert or anything else that we have in the refrigerator that sounds good.

Happy pondering!

Rachelle @ caramelizelife.

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