Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birthdays!

Photobucket
Taking pictures of the food at this event was a complete afterthought. I had been drinking wine and making no attempt at capturing a quality photograph. Just fucking deal with it. Sorry if your eye balls start to hurt.

September is birthday month in my family. My husband Trevor had his 30th on Sunday, and my sister Brooke had her 27th on Friday. This year, my parents hosted the annual double birthday party with their "Joint Effort Lasagne". My dad is somewhat famous for his meat sauce. Pork and beef are lovingly ground in his own little meat grinder, then he drinks what is left from the bottle of red wine needed for the sauce while it simmers away*

* I'm pretty sure his recipe calls for about a cup. Leaving him with plently of happy-happy-joy-joy

Photobucket
Ricotta has no place here. We are a "strictly bechamel" people.
We also forget to turn off the flash.


Mom covers the rest of the prep, whisking up the bechamel (ricotta, while tasty in and of itself, is slanderous in their lasagne, as it should be in everyone's.) making the pasta, and layering it all together. She also takes care of the required giant caesar salad and caprese, for an Adams Family Lasagne Feed is not complete with out these valuable supporting roles.
Photobucket
Tomatoes picked from mom's garden minutes before making the salads- you can't see the candy-sweet sungolds in the caesar, but they're there, making it the best goddamn caesar ever....am I spelling caesar correctly?

Photobucket
Brooke and Trevor, both being very diplomatic and sharing the happy birthday song and candle blowing out ceremony. Personally, I prefer to be the center of attention and would hate it if my stupid brother-in-law was in the way. Brooke, you truly are and selfless being.

I made a triple layer chocolate cake iced with ganache and vanilla bean ice cream. We all made gluttons of ourselves, Trevor drank a healthy portion of the growler of beer Brooke and CK gave him, then we all went home early and passed from food comas.

It was a good day.

I should also mention that this here blog celebrated it's first birthday this month. Time has flown by, as I still feel like a complete noob at this whole food blogging movement.
Photobucket
Happy birthday the pie lady. Thanks y'all for reading.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pie #7- Peach, as promised

Photobucket

Apologies for taking so long to get this baby posted, I seem to be suffering from lack of hours in the day-itis. Not to mention, I'm trying to get my ass into the gym regularly these days to pay for the summer-long shmorgisborg of bbq'd pork products and booze. Sitting on it editing pictures of pie seemed counter intuitive to my efforts.

Having said that, this pie is too good not to share before the peach's cruelly short season is over. Yeah, it's a little bit of an ugly duckling. It doesn't have the vibrant colors or cut into a tidy slice like some of the others, but the flavor is worth over looking those superficial aesthetic-only qualities.

This is pretty much your all purpose, unadulterated peach pie recipe- meaning unfucked with by mace. I do not care for spices in my peach pie. In fact, it pisses me right off. If ruining peach pie is a behavior that you are into, by all means, add mace. It's a free country. Just don't come crying to me when the delicate peach flavor is besmirched by the taste of metal.

Another thing I don't do is boil the peaches to peel them. I cuss enough already. Making peach pie is a folksy, grandma-like activity. Calling the slimy peel that doesn't seem to "slip right off" after the blanching process a stupid cocksucking mother fucker totally inhibits my pie making chi.
Instead, I invested in an 8$ serrated peeler- a tool that I adore.
Photobucket
Peaches, peeled without angst.

Also- peach peels are full of flavor. I squeeze the juices from the peels into my pie filling to pump up the deliciousness. Just let the peels fall into a bowl (see above), then pick them up and squish the life out of them.
Photobucket
Extracted peel juice. Rich in peachly goodness.

My last piece of advice is, as always, use the best quality fruit available- or don't even bother. I know I say this all the time, but it's the golden rule for good pie. For Northwest readers, look for Pence Orchard peaches out of Wapato, WA. They're huge, freestone, and juicy.
...And don't worry about the fact that it's kind of hideous looking.
Photobucket
Peach Pie

7 large peaches
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tb cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
your favorite pie dough- enough for a 9" double crust pie

Photobucket
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, starch, and salt. Set aside. Peel the peaches. Squeeze the juice from the peach peels into a large bowl. Slice the peaches and toss with the reserved peel juice and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients and stir gently with a spatula until the dry ingredients are absorbed.Photobucket
Place filling into bottom crust and dot with butter. Brush over hanging dough with water and adhere the top crust. Fold the edges under and form a crimped pattern. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 and bake for 30 minutes.Photobucket
Photobucket

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wino Country!

...Because you know you love looking at other people's vacation pictures.
Photobucket
I've been back for a week now, as many of you may have noticed my lurking on your blog. I just haven't had a moment to breathe, let alone unpack, until now. So between loads of laundry, why don't I regail you of the shenanigans that occured in Chelan, Washington's wine country? For those just interested in looking at the pictures- Highlights include getting the last two spots at an amazing wine maker's dinner, drunken karaoke (is there any other kind?), barfing at a farmer's market (I can now check that one off of my life's "To Do" list), and some hardcore Mother/Daughter-bonding/drinking.

The Lake Chelan Valley is located in the North Cascades National Forest and surrounds a 50 mile glacier fed lake. It is 1486 feet at it's deepest point and 1.5 miles at it's widest. Apple, pear, and peach orchirds are everywhere here. Recently, it was decided to replace a few of them with wine grapes. Good thinking! There are now just over a dozen wineries and more to come.

Vin Du Lac
This place is like France. Enough said.
Photobucket
sipping wine under the apple trees
Photobucket
little nibbles, enjoyed with the Syrah
Photobucket
Mom, in her element

Tsillan Cellars Winery (pronounced "chelan")
I am so pissed off at myself for never taking any pictures here. It is one of the most beautiful wineries in Chelan, looking like a little Tuscan Village. I had some really good reds here, and an awful rose- it was a just little too heavy on the strawberry. Who am I kidding? It tasted like kool-aid.

Tildio Winery
Right when we drove into town, we stopped at a little natural foods store for some cheese. We were trying to make our dinner plans and asked the ponytailed British Hippie shopkeep for suggestions. He pointed us toward Tildio, where we got the last two spots available at the last wine makers dinner of the summer. The meal, view, and company was perfect. However, it was the beginning of my downfall. I had already been to a couple of tastings, and had a few cocktails before this event, where with each coarse, we were served at least 2 full glasses of wine.
Here is the menu:

First:
Yellow and red tomatoes with julienne greens, mint, feta cheese, and green tomato vinaigrette.
Tildio 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Second:
Zucchini fritters served with baba ghanouj, pesto, and lemons.
Tildio 2006 Chardonnay

Entree:
Grilled steak with sundried tomato relish, corn succotash and mushroom scented farro.
Tildio 2006 Syrah

Dessert:
Nectarine crostada with cherry sauce
Tildio 2007 Riesling

Photobucket
The view from our table
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
the sun set before I could get any pictures past the first course
Photobucket
mom enjoying the first course. I have to remember to email this picture to my dad. Grrrawl!
Photobucket
I don't remember the circumstanses of this picture, other than it was 7 or 8 glasses into the dinner. You can't take me anywhere.

After the fabulousness of that dinner, we decided to stop by the little sports bar next to our hotel, where karaoke was in full swing. After all that wine, I was ready for beer. Coors light in the bottle to be exact (what the fuck?????). After a few bottles, I grabbed the mike. I then proceeded to wail, yes, wail "Freedom" by George Michael. It's the first time I have ever karaoked by myself. Usually I have a gay guy next to me and it's "Islands in the Stream" Seth- you would have been so proud of me!
Photobucket
Photobucket
In a few minutes, I'm gonna get up there and turn that mother out.

So. If you're still reading, you may have guessed that I am completely sloshed by now. However, we had plans to get up early and check out the Manson Farmer's Market. We stopped for an awful latte (one thing about Chelan, there is nothing but Starbucks' and horrible coffee stands. Plan to go through withdrawl), and headed to the market. First off, let me just say that I NEVER puke. Never. That is my husband's job. It is my job to just have a slight headache and laugh at my puking husband. Well. I got my comeuppance for that. I started by puking up my latte AT THE FARMER'S MARKET. Any of you ever puked at a farmer's market? It is horrbile. It just does not mix with the little jars of jam and fresh fruit. At all.
I composed myself, bought a few jars of Apricot jam, and we went out to breakfast.
I managed to barf several more times over the course of the morning, including the few bites of hashbrowns I managed to eat. I almost never actually made it to the toilet. So glad I brought that febreeze.
Photobucket
The scene of the crime
Photobucket
Raaaaalph!!!

After some serious loafing by the pool, I magically started to feel like eating. By the way- thank you mom for putting up with this wretched behavior. We went on a quest for hangover food.
Photobucket
Oh yes. This looks promising.
Photobucket
And....hangover gone. The silo of diet pepsi in particular was like some sort of beautiful healing nectar.
Photobucket
better throw in a shaved ice for good measure.

Finally on the mend and holding down food, it was time for more wine!
KarMa Vineyards and Cave
This place was lovely, and had the best Gewurztraminer I have ever tasted. It was dry and had a mineral taste, rather than the syrupy sweet Gewurztraminers I am used to.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Coriander flatbread and tzatziki with our wine flight. Enjoyed on the patio next to the koi pond.
Photobucket
Photobucket

Nefarious Cellars
A cute young couple from Seattle and their dog run this place. Beautiful view from the patio where mom and I drank a glass and debated the best way to roast a chicken.
Photobucket

Chelan Estae Vineyards & Winery
There are no pictures of this place, because it is basically a shack on top of a hill. However, here is where my favorite wines of the trip are made. A 2006 Merlot Rose that had the flavors of a chicken dinner, and the Pinot Noir had a smokiness that I fell in love with. This is one of those little places that would be easy to pass up. But don't. You will end up leaving with cases of wine.

Benson Vineyards Estate Winery
Two blondes listening to Jimmy Buffet pouring a remarkable 8 tasting flight. For free. Plus an gigantic cheese platter, which we ate outside while the weather began to turn stormy. We took this opportunity to call our husbands. We both lied and told them it was 85 degrees and sunny. It was a delight to hear the envy in their voices as they told us that it was raining cats and dogs in Seattle.
We are such bitches.
Photobucket

Well folks, thats about it. I could go on forever, but it's time to wrap this baby up. I have things to do today, including getting my butt into the gym. My wasteline will be paying for this trip for the next month.

It was so totally worth it.

Thanks again Mom! That was the most fun I've had all summer.
Next summer: WALLA WALLA!!!

Thanks Norm!