Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, fall issue

4 09 2017

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013).

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.





Learn how to make jam!

6 03 2016
Want to learn how to make jam? My friend and jam master Sophia Stadnyk shows you step-by-step how to make jam in our spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Turn to page 36 to learn how. Then turn to page 42 for Barbara Kelley’s article, “Cooking with Jam,” where you’ll find (jam-packed!) recipes for an appetizer, entree and three sweet treats.
Barbara Kelley and I published this magazine series in 2012-2013 as a personal project. Click on the link below to download the free pdf of this issue!

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!):
Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping):
http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Written by Sophia Stadnyk. Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Making Jam






Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, Fall Issue

14 10 2015

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013).

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.





Monday smiles

1 06 2015

Bell peppers were on sale at Giant Food this morning for just a buck each (really good deal), so I bought two red, two yellow and two orange (for the ark?), with no particular purpose intended for them. I started chopping them up for bite size dipping snacks and decided that whacking off the tops (stuffed pepper style) would speed up the process.

1 Yellow Pepper

I cut up a yellow one first and when I lopped off its “head,” voila—a happy smiley face greeted me—in both top and bottom sections. (FYI, this only happened with the yellow peppers. How appropriate is that?)

11266432_10207129966514317_139177935691832397_n

What’s better than one smiley face? Two!

2 Yellow Pepper

Figuring this was a fluke, I cut into the second yellow pepper (very scientific approach, eh?) and voila—another smiley duo. This one has a crooked smile just like mine (plus Groucho Marx eyebrows).

3 Yellow Pepper

I give you the Smiley family. If they don’t cheer up your Monday, I give up!

4 Smiley Family





Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, Fall 2012 issue

24 10 2013

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013). Just in time for fall, I’m reposting our first issue that highlights perfect-for-fall recipes by Barbara Kelley.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





Chef Emily’s Light & Lively Summer Menu

19 07 2013

Chef EmilyCheck out Chef Emily Doerman’s light and lively menu (from appetizer to entree to dessert) in the summer 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine! Download the issue free in the links below. Visit our website to download previous issues at http://www.celebratehomemagazine.com.

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

Photography and design by Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

LightLively





Wanna learn how to make jam?

4 04 2013

Jam master Sophia Stadnyk shows you step-by-step how to make jam in our spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Turn to page 36 to learn how. Then turn to page 42 for Barbara Kelley’s article, “Cooking with Jam,” where you’ll find (jam-packed!) recipes for an appetizer, entree and three sweet treats.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!):
Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping):
http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Written by Sophia Stadnyk. Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

JamSessionBlog





Winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

11 02 2013

The winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





From now until Oct. 31, get your printed copy of our Celebrate Home Magazine at 25% off!

24 10 2012

Magcloud.com is having a 25% off sale from now until October 31! Get the printed copy of the fall 2012 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine for $17.55 (reg. $23.40), plus shipping. The print copy is gorgeous, but you can also view it online free by signing up for a free magcloud.com account. Click on the link below to enjoy 25% off the print version!

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/447668





Celebrate Home Magazine now available on www.issuu.com!

10 10 2012

Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for viewing on http://www.issuu.com! You’ll love the page-turnable interface and downloads are FREE. You can even control the zoom in and out features! Check it out here:

http://issuu.com/celebratehomemag/docs/celebratehomemagfall2012

Help us get those numbers up by downloading your free copy now. Every click helps us grow the magazine, ensuring more issues for you to read in the future. Help us spread the word!





And that’s the way we roll…

2 10 2012

Below is Barbara’s friend Lucille’s “Pumpkin Roll” recipe. I can attest to its yumminess, having consumed some before, during and after the photo shoot. P.S. Did you know that cats love cream cheese too?

Want the recipe? Click on either of the links below the photo to download a pdf file of the entire magazine. I’ve included two different pdfs—one is a two-page spread view (best viewed online) and the other is a single-page view (better for printing off the recipes on one page). Bon appétit!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 





Thriftshoppin’ — Soup bowl with a cracker moat

1 01 2012

How cute and practical is this? This afternoon, my dad and I went to a Salvation Army store in San Antonio and I spied these unusual soup bowls. How often have you asked, “but where do I store my crackers until I’m ready for them?” Well, I don’t have to worry about that conundrum now that I have these little beauties. I bought four of them for just $1.99 each. They have a potter’s mark on the bottom, but I haven’t been able to find anything about them in my online search. (I would love to have more of them, so if you happen to see any while you’re out, please buy them for me. I’ll pay you back, I promise!) The salesclerks at the register said they didn’t know why they had the little ledge on them. When I explained what I thought the ledge was for, they looked wistful and said the bowls had been there, unclaimed for quite some time (and gathering a patina of dust).

We hurried home, cleaned them thoroughly, then added my sister Debbie’s white chicken tortilla soup with a side of crackers, of course. I’ll get the recipe from her to share with you—it is part cookbook recipe and part Debbie’s concoction and it is really, really good!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. (Soup © Debbie Talbert. Food styling by H.M. Dyer)





How not to bake

12 12 2011

Many of you may have read slept through my recent posting titled Wannabe Kitchenista. Apparently I haven’t yet given up the yearning to master all things kitchen since yesterday morning found me in the kitchen at the way-too-early-on-a-Sunday-morning time of 8:47 a.m, setting up shop to bake seven dozen (yikes!) oatmeal cookies for a cookie exchange the same day. I had at least four hours to accomplish this task, so piece of cake cookie, right?

I had the foresight to mix the batter the night before (industrious, aren’t I?), so all I had left to do was prepare teaspoon-size balls and start baking. Our stove runs cooler than the temperature I had to set, so after carefully bringing Batch #1 to completion, I determined that I would need exactly 12 minutes of baking time to get soft and chewy cookies.

Everything went fine for Batch #1-5. [Yay, me!] Just two more to go. And Nancy, the host of this soiree, said one batch was actually for me to take home, so I figured if I screwed up Batch #7, it was no great loss, right? I put Batch #6 into the oven and decided 12 minutes was plenty of time for me to check my e-mail really quickly.

Mistake #1. A minute of e-mail time turns into several minutes of blogging and then I remember the cookies. In my little cooking-challenged brain, I thought, “The timer will have gone off; the cookies might cook awhile longer in the residual heat, but the oven isn’t still actually on, right?”

Misguided Notion #1. It dawns on me at this point that the timer doesn’t actually turn the stove off; it’s simply an indicator to take your creation out of the oven. Duh. Yes, I’m sure that deep down I knew this fact. Fortunately, no smoke detector had gone off and the kitchen wasn’t overcome by noxious fumes yet, either (although I did see a tad bit of heat rising from the top of the oven).

I opened the door and saw the blackest cookies I have ever seen. Rock hard and black as coal. Culinary weapons, they were, like throwing stars straight out of a Bond flick. So, what was I, a guest at the “7 dozen, please” cookie exchange party, to do? I had to make another two batches from scratch. Lesson learned, I stayed put for the next 24 minutes, monitoring them diligently.

I toted my 84 cookies to the exchange, made some new friends, and let my host’s husband have my batch of oatmeal cookies. I don’t want to see oatmeal cookies ever again. What did I learn from this little experience?

Baking + e-mailing = throwing stars.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Below: my new not-cooking-challenged friends





Wannabe kitchenista

9 12 2011

Let me begin this post by stating that I am not a cook. I can count on both hands and both feet the number of times I have actually cooked (not an exaggeration). It is one of those endeavors that I wish I had the patience and skill to do. My mother was a wonderful cook. Both of my sisters seem to enjoy the task as well and are good at it. I have cooked so little that I can actually remember almost every attempt in the kitchen. Yes, I have had some successes. I make a crazy-good basil pesto (and lots of it) every year. (Last year’s posting on making pesto, along with the recipe I use, is here.) My cooking repertoire now includes a wonderful pesto chicken dish and my go-to grilled chicken dish with mustard and tarragon (courtesy of Martha Stewart). I can add my friend Barbara’s Baked Cranberry Orange Sauce to that tiny list of culinary accomplishments. It shouldn’t surprise you that my idea of a great (solo) dinner is a well-made sandwich—wheat bread, light on the mayo, turkey and cheddar cheese, with potato chips shoved in for texture—although a bowl of Cap’n Crunch is a close second. If it weren’t for Michael’s kitchen skills and cooking patience (aside from that one incident where he inadvertently poisoned me one Thanksgiving with a partially cooked ham), I would still be eating 10 for a $1 chicken-flavored ramen noodles and burned biscuits. (Did I mention how much I love 90-second rice in a pouch and Bird’s Eye Steamers?) Below are my top five memorable moments in the heart of the home.

1) Steak & Au Gratin Potato Dinner
Picture this: I am a college student, still living at home. My mother, sister Debbie, and her husband Bill are visiting relatives in Georgia. Kelley and I are left to fend for ourselves. My dad is working the 4-midnight shift as a Customs Inspector at the port of Brownsville, Texas. I decide that dad needs a good home cooked meal and I’m just the chef to do it!

I decide he needs a manly dinner—steak and potatoes. I’m assuming we already had these ingredients in the pantry because shopping in a grocery store was a foreign concept to me (and it kinda still is). As a rookie in the kitchen, I do not know how long it takes to cook a steak. Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the internet, so I didn’t have a recipe site to double check. I can’t ask my mom or sister because they’re out of the state. I can’t call dad to ask him because that would spoil the surprise. Dad doesn’t get home until 1:00 a.m. I start cooking at 9:00 p.m. Yes, you read that right. Four hours before he will arrive home from work.

I start the steak at 9:00 p.m. and continue to warm it up, over and over and over (and over) until he comes home. Can’t have steak without potatoes, right? I raid the pantry and discover an au gratin potato mix. It calls for x amount of butter and I decide (as if I possess years of culinary know-how to deviate from a tried-and-true recipe) that x amount of butter doesn’t look to be nearly enough. I add double that (or maybe it was triple?). It officially becomes the worst au gratin potato dish the world has ever seen. To this day (honestly), I cannot look at nor eat au gratin potatoes. They were that bad. Paula Dean might have eaten them, though—the gal does love her butter.

I hear my father’s car in the driveway and run to greet him. “Dad, Dad, Dad! I made you dinner.” He looks at me suspiciously since he has only seen me in the kitchen when I’m passing through it. He sits down to the seven-times-warmed-up steak (think shoe leather) and the butter-overdosed au gratin potato side dish. After the first bite, he gingerly asks, “umm…when exactly did you start cooking the steak?” I’m sure after I went to bed, he probably ditched it and headed for the Raisin Bran.

2) Some Kind of Pie
After perusing some magazine of my mother’s, I decided I was going to make a pie. I don’t remember what kind of pie it was, but I do remember my attraction to it—it was garnished with beautiful fall leaves hand cut from pastry dough. I spent an interminable amount of time cutting out the leaves and fluting the edges of the pie crust top and bottom. I was exercising my creative muscles, but it was exhausting. Then I read how long it took to bake—45 minutes. 45 minutes? Are you kidding me? I don’t have the attention span to wait that long. I remember running to my mother and begging her to watch it for me. What a saint she was…come to think of it, I don’t remember cleaning up the mess I made, either. I do remember that it was quite a lovely pie visually. And isn’t that all that matters, really? A for effort!

3) Rice Krispy Treats
When the recipe for rice krispy treats calls for butter, use it. Do not try to use I-can’t-believe-its-not-butter because it is not butter. Trust me on this. If you do, your treats will be swimming in a sludge of yellow liquid when you take them out of the oven. No one will eat them. Your boyfriend will laugh at you. You will never make rice krispy treats again.

4) Roasted Vegetable Soup
A few years ago, I decided that I would surprise Michael by cooking dinner (it always surprises him when I cook, so it’s a predictable reaction). It was winter, so what would be a better dish than a hearty bowl of soup? I proceeded to pick out the most complicated recipe in one of the many cookbooks I collect. (Don’t you judge me; I’ll get around to them some day.) Roasted Vegetable Soup. This complex recipe (I’ll bet it was one of Martha’s) required a trip to the grocery store, where I discovered that red and yellow peppers are not cheap. I loaded up on red, green and yellow peppers, yellow squash and green zucchini, onions and tomatoes. I roasted all the vegetables and then made the soup. It took forever. Remember, I’m now in Virginia, so I couldn’t beg my mom to finish it for me this time. Michael came home and was drawn in by the wonderful scent wafting from the kitchen. He settled down to a heaping, hearty bowl of soup and proclaimed it a winner, gushing and complimenting me on the dish. Devoid of expression, I announce that he will never have this dish again. Ever. So he better enjoy the leftovers.

5) The Ole Meat-and-Cheese-on-a-Toothpick-in-a-Grapefruit Appetizer
Some of you are old enough (go ahead, admit it) to remember the 70s and the meat-and-cheese-cube-on-a-toothpick-stuck-in-a-grapefruit appetizer. I realize this doesn’t entail any cooking, but I clearly remember making this kitschy appetizer. I remembered one time my younger sister and I asked if we could have a party. At the time, she was in junior high and I was in high school. We got permission and one of the appetizers we made was the skewered grapefruit sculpture. The property we lived on had a grove of grapefruit, orange and tangelo trees, so obtaining the base for this delectable was as easy as stepping out the back patio and plucking one! Tiny half inch cheese cubes stacked with ham slices (or was it dad’s bologna we raided?), then skewered on a toothpick and stuck into a large grapefruit—how retro! (As I’m reliving this memory, I’m half tempted to host a “back to the 70s” appetizer potluck just to see what my guests bring.)

AN ADMITTED BIBLIOHOLIC
In my career as a graphic designer, I have designed the covers and interiors of more than 50 books, both hard and softcover, on a wide variety of topics. I am also an admitted and unashamed biblioholic. I love books. I love well-designed and well-written books. Coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction, reference, graphic design, photography, art, craft, gardening, travel, poetry. All have their own sections in my library. On more than one occasion I have bought a book simply because of its beautiful design and compelling photography (one such book is a photo essay about octogenerians).

So despite my clumsiness in the kitchen, I adore a beautifully designed cookbook. And for some reason, cookbooks always end up on the extreme bargain tables, therefore I have amassed quite a collection of them. I love the more contemporary look of food photographs today and love perusing blogs by cooks who are both great in the kitchen and at photographing their dishes. I think it’s partly due to the styling and texture in the photographs that I am drawn to food photography as of late. I love the idea of being a great cook—they make it seem so effortless and so rewarding. It is a creative endeavor that also melds all of the senses.

POTS AND PANS AND GADGETS GALORE
I love the gadgets, pots and pans and the multitude of serves-only-one-purpose items that cooks covet. I drool over the Williams-Sonoma catalog. Last year, my friends Gina, Karen and Rob gave me a beautiful white KitchenAid mixer for my birthday because I had once said to Gina, “if I had one of those, I know I would be baking. I just know it.” I’m happy to report that it has been used several times. The first time it was used, Gina and I baked (way too many) Christmas cookies for her friend who is serving in Afghanistan. I recently used it to make pumpkin bread (yes, it was edible). For my birthday this year, Michael bought me a mini-pie maker. It has since produced four chicken and pesto pot pies, as well as cherry and apple pies. We’ll make a (mini) baker out of me yet.

IF-IT-DOESN’T-HAVE-FREEZER-BURN-THROW-IT-IN-SOUP
On Monday night, I decided to clean out the freezer and anything that didn’t have freezer burn (boy, were there a lot of bags that fit in that category!), went into my no-recipe-soup, which I like to call “If it doesn’t have freezer burn, throw it in soup.” Via telephone, my sister Debbie was my sous chef, advising me to throw in rice, a can of diced tomatoes and various spices. It was quite tasty and Michael consumed two bowls of it when he got home from work.

I am a Restaurant Impossible junkie (even if I think the two-day, $10,000 budget, and Chef Irvine’s overly dramatic demeanor is a bit much at times). I love watching Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Giada at Home and The Next Food Network Star. Watching those shows makes me want to learn how to really cook. I would love to immediately know what to do when I’m handed a basket containing boxed mac & cheese, gummi bears, canned cream of mushroom soup and string cheese.

But most of all, as a lover and maker of images, I love looking at simple, contemporary photographs of food. So, when I helped my friend Barbara decorate her Thanksgiving table this year, I offered to bring some backgrounds and set up shots of some side dishes that she had prepared in advance. Check out her Holiday Pumpkin Cookies recipe here. Her husband, Bill, is in charge of making the annual ever-changing pecan pie. This year’s concoction is Pecan-Bourbon Pie with a Touch of White Chocolate. Since this dessert is created sans recipe, he can’t really share his formula with you, but you can read all about it here.

FYI, for those of you who don’t already know it, Barbara’s father, Johnny Garneau, invented the salad bar “sneeze guard.” Yes, it’s true, and you can read all about it on Barbara’s blog here.

I always approach my photography with a graphic designer’s eye. I believe that is evident in my photographs—whether I’m photographing people, flowers, landscapes or something edible. Composition remains my main priority, no matter the subject. If you can hone just that one skill in photography, the rest—lighting and post-production—will follow. I don’t know where learning food photography could possibly take me, but it’s a lot of fun when I have a chance to do it. Who knows? It just might inspire me to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, camera nearby. Michael might just get that roasted vegetable soup one more time.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sour cream ghost busting a move…

1 12 2011

I take credit for this (unintentionally humorous) garnishing on Michael’s latest soup creation. Don’t you think the dollop of sour cream looks like a ghost doing the Saturday Night Fever dance? Trust me, it wasn’t planned—I envisioned swirls of the white stuff but my garnishing skills obviously leave a bit to be desired.

Michael made this butternut and acorn squash soup as a starter for our Thanksgiving dinner with our friend Karen down at her  lakehouse. He found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Because the butternut squash he used was so large, he opted to add nearly a teaspoon of cinnamon (the recipe isn’t specific about how much) as well as a little extra onion. The recipe reviews had a common thread; many who tried it said it was way too sweet, which is why Michael opted to not add the brown sugar to his version. It was enough soup to completely fill a crock pot—and it was delicious!

And, are you sitting down? I did some cooking, too. I made my friend Barbara Kelley’s Baked Cranberry–Orange Sauce (check out her posting, the recipe, and my photography on her blog here). I do not profess to be an expert in the kitchen (by a country mile), but when I mixed the cranberries with 2 cups of sugar (really? no liquid to add?), I thought, “hmm…I’m no expert, but that just doesn’t look right without any liquid.” I cut out some of the sugar but followed the other directions that Barbara gave me. It’s obvious (to anyone but me) that the cranberries supply the liquid during the baking process. Clearly, I missed that Good Eats episode with Alton Brown. (Note to self: do not think you will ever be a contender for Chopped). I cut the sugar in half in my version because I knew I would be adding orange marmalade (which is already sickly sweet). It’s still a sweet dish and my dinner companions actually ate a good helping of it (out of pity, perhaps?) My other contribution to the day was crafting the tablescape (truly my favorite thing to do in the kitchen!).

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (Michael opted out on this ingredient due to the reviews)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • fresh parsley, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.
  4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley (we had home-grown chives in lieu of parsley), and serve warm.




“With Basil then I will begin, Whose scent is wondrous pleasing”

3 10 2010

Re-post from 10.13.2008

…from Michael Drayton’s 1612 topographical poem, “Polyolbion,” describing England and Wales. Drayton was an Elizabethan poet and one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.

Yesterday Karen and Gina and I made far more pesto than we really needed. My basil harvest was fairly skimpy this year (enough for about 4 cups total). Gina’s harvest was about the same. Enter Karen—that’s her in the first photo, arriving with a bountiful harvest of both Genovese and Purple Basil that she and I planted in late spring in her memorial garden honoring her mother.

In the second photo, you’ll see all the ingredients necessary for a “Pesto Preparation Party.” Ample basil, olive oil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, a food processor, salt and pepper, and plastic containers for freezing. The soda and brownie bites are simply fuel for the cooks (but every bit as essential).

Gina and I have made pesto from our homegrown basil for the past two gardening seasons. This year Karen joined us (thankfully—otherwise, our final product would have been far more skimpy!). Having never made pesto, Karen was an eager and willing assistant. We told her our basic recipe, but after watching us “tweak” the recipe batch after batch, no doubt she is now confused on exactly how much of each ingredient we really used. Gina, as usual, served as the quality control inspector, sampling each batch on a bit of bread, then announcing, “needs more garlic,” “tastes too green and/or basil-y,” “add more salt,” and “cheese, must have more cheese!” Each batch was a little different from the previous one, so we ultimately just combined all the batches into one. Please don’t ask me for our final recipe. We have no idea what it is. We just make it from a basic recipe similar to the one here, (or see recipe below) then tweak to perfection as we go along.

Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. If you are using walnuts instead and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first before adding the basil. Add the garlic then pulse a few more times.

2. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Add grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup. Serve with pasta, over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguettes.

We ended up with SIXTEEN containers of pesto. When Gina and I prepare pesto with our meager harvest, we max out at about seven containers. Muchas gracias to Karen and her contribution this year!

SIDEBAR: Every year Gina and I make pesto in preparation for the much-anticipated annual Pesto Fest that Michael and I host in our neighborhood. This year’s event was slated for Sept. 27, but had to be cancelled due to the constant rain we had that week, including the day of the event. We thought rescheduling for one of the next two weekends would put us into too-cool-to-have-it-outdoors scenario, but that was not the case. The past two weekends have been glorious. Sigh….take a look at last year’s festivities here. There’s always next year!

P.S. Gina and I made “Sage Pesto” the first year and strongly advise that you avoid it at all costs. Ewww.

Click here for the “How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother” recipe.

Click here for a slew of pesto-based recipes.

Click here for more recipes, folklore, and growing tips.

Click here to learn more about growing, harvesting, and cooking with basil.

And finally, click here to read about basil in literature and art at the site for The Herb Society of America.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A plethora of pumpkins (squash and gourds, too)

5 10 2008

Yesterday, Michael and Regina and I went to Nalls Produce in Alexandria to see their huge assortment of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. We got there past the ideal shooting light and I shot most of these in the mid-day sun. Morning light would have been best, eliminating the hard shadows on some of the images, and intensifying the colors. I plan to go back to reshoot some of these for comparison later and will post the reshoot. All in all, I still like most of the images, despite the lighting. I especially want to get a good shot of BLUE pumpkins (which are actually a purple-grayish-blue)!

PUMPKINS
On the subject of pumpkins, did you know that Antarctica is the only continent where pumpkins won’t grow? While researching the myriad varieties of pumpkins, I also learned that:

• The Irish brought the tradition of pumpkin carving to America. The tradition originally started with carving turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins were plentiful and easier to carve.

• Pumpkins are 90 percent water and were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

• The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds and the largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs, and took six hours to make.

• The name pumpkin originated from “pepon”—the Greek word for “large melon.”

• Pumpkins are native to North America and have been domestically grown here for five thousand years.

Click here to see the extensive list of the variety of pumpkins that are grown.

For some really sophisticated and very imaginative patterns, check out Martha Stewart‘s site.

Check out Tom Nardone’s www.extremepumpkins.com site for all things pumpkin (including “pumpkin pyrotechnics!)

GOURDS
Wouldn’t you just know it, there is an American Gourd Society! It is located in Kokomo, Indiana. Learn everything you could ever want to know about gourds on the Wayne’s Word site. This site is dedicated to the gourd family and reports that the total number of species may exceed 700!

SQUASH
Nalls also had a wide variety of squash, both ornamental and edible. Click here for a squash glossary, recipes, and decorating ideas. Click here for more recipes and learn the difference between summer and winter squash.

Regina and I were really smitten with the beautiful variation of colors on the Indian corn. Click here to learn why the kernel colors vary in Indian corn.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Truly a sad day in the publishing world…

20 08 2008

Michael and I just got back from browsing our local Borders. There was a four-book series in the discount cookbook section and I caught the error immediately. If you don’t see it, then you, my dear friend, need to visit the Grammar Girl‘s site. Real quick like.

I flipped each book over and the title is correct (losing the “are” in the title). No, I didn’t buy it—for many, many reasons: 1) we already have a gazillion cookbooks, 2) I’m still doing the vegetarian thing (gave up chicken and turkey two months ago; beef almost 20 years ago), and 3) even though it was only $2.99 (a bargain for a hard cover cookbook), I simply can’t bring myself to put something like that on my bookshelves. I think it was a British publication—the price printed on the back was in pounds.

I just noticed the type in the circle at the top left—“This book just makes you wanna cook.”

No. This book just makes me wanna weep.

As my father, the Grammar Guru, says….so many errors, so little time to correct them all.

Oh. One more thing. This book cover photo is courtesy of Michael’s camera in his new iPhone 3G. What an marvel that thing is! He e-mailed the photo to me while we were in line to check out. How’s that for service?