A Muffin for this In-Between Month

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Decidedly, increasingly, it's getting colder around here. The dogs sleep on the bed with us, Murphy and Milo in the middle, sandwiched by my body and Nolan's. The window stays open and sometimes a stray moth floats in. If we bat it down with a tissue box or sock, it turns to dust and tumbles down.

I can't seem to stay awake. I can't seem to do much of anything, but everything is getting done. That's why I'm not a huge fan of September, because it's the in-between. It's the un-season. It's has the lazy transient waltz of earthworms and bumblebees. I want it to be over. I want it to be October. I want to celebrate my niece's birthday and wear layers and sit facing one of our pastures and dream of what comes next.

But in the meantime, we have our chores. I was cleaning out a cupboard when I found some muffin liners I thought were gone. I found some tahini, too, tucked behind a bottle of olive oil. And so I made muffins. Big, hearty ones. Ones that have a hint of molasses, a hint of fall on the tongue to keep us satiated and still waiting. 

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Ingredient:

  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 4 TB unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs +1 yolk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TB molasses
  • 3 TB candied ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F and prepare your muffin tin (I used a large muffin tin, if you use smaller, baking time will be reduced by 10 min or so)
  2. Sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together tahini, butter, and sugar
  4. Add eggs and mix to combine. It will look a little lumpy at this stage
  5. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, vanilla, and molasses
  6. With mixer on low, alternate adding your milk mixture and flour mixture to your tahini mixture
  7. Once a batter forms, fold in ginger
  8. Evenly distribute between your muffin tins
  9. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  11. These muffins are good for up to 4 days in an airtight container
Tahini Ginger Muffins
Tahini Ginger Muffins
Tahini Ginger Muffins

French in the morning: Oeufs au Plat

Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

I'm still learning about the land we bought, the restless five acres that house hidden deer on the hill and raccoons behind the garage. We came back from Iceland this week, a six hour flight and a two-hour drive home. When we made the turn that led to our house, the expansive reality of our ownership surprised me. Five acres looks so much bigger when you've been staring at nothing but the mindlessness of an airplane cabin.

There are many things I didn't realize about the land. How much effort it takes to maintain it and how effortless it is to respect it. How cautious I am to burn anything. How fearful I am of giving our chickens anything that isn't first corroborated between two websites. How quiet it can be, home alone all day with lazy, dozing puppies. How lonesome the night feels sometimes when the sky, coquettish, hides behind sheets of moonlit clouds.

This is our first autumn at this house of ours. There are four bushes that are in our backyard. I ask Nolan what kinds they are, as they haven't yet blossomed or changed color. I know so little about these types of things. And, because of this, I am able to be surprised in the resolute sense that this world will shift forward without my incessant question-asking. 

The chickens will lay on their time.

The dogs will bark in the nighttime.

The bees continue to build their ruddy nests in places we haven't yet discovered.

And we may find a deer, broken and flattened, on the side of our driveway. This is through no fault of our own. None of it is, really.

I am beginning, just beginning, to find peace in acquiescing. To hold so little responsibility, to become a steward of our animals and this homestead I am responsible for, versus a master of anything. I hold no ego the way I once did. I hide behind no fantasy, the way I once did. Sometimes I cannot tell if I am exhausted from years of trying so hard to keep everything together, or if it was all in my head for nothing.

Next year, I'll know a little more. And this recipe is in preparation for it. Herb and tomato and egg from our land; I'm waiting for the day when I can taste it.

Tarragon and Garlic Ouefs au Plat Bressanne

Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

Adapted from this recipe, this dish is perfect for a simple Sunday meal for two. Feel free to adjust your garlic, seasoning, and even herb choice as you like. Adaptable French is key to how I like my meals, you could say.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, diced finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 slices of quality bread, sat out to stale for a day or so
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F and butter a small cake pan, baking dish, or skillet
  2. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper on medium heat until bubbles just begin to form on the edge of the pan
  3. Remove from heat and let steep
  4. Lay bread in prepared pan
  5. Pour cream mixture over top
  6. Cream a small well in the center of your bread to nestle the egg yolks
  7. Crack your eggs over the bread
  8. Add tomatoes
  9. Bake for 12 minutes, but begin checking at 10 to see how your whites have set. You can take out anytime after 10, depending on desired runniness of your eggs
  10. Sprinkle with tarragon and any additional salt and pepper
  11. Best if eaten immediately
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

My Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer Meal

A line from a song keeps running in my head - "Don't let this fading summer pass you by."

Hello, old friends, I'm back to blogging this month! There are so many recipes I've made that I haven't posted, and while I'm going to Iceland in just THREE (!) days, I still haven't even written about Vermont yet. But, I'm back. Back to a messy kitchen and a flour-covered camera. Back to cakes, back to breads. I'm trying my hand at savory more, as you've probably seen the last 3 recipes on here. 

I needed the time away. Sometimes I get gripped by the inextricable need to be a quitter, a runaway. I don't think it's a fault of mine, but it makes it hard to stick around long enough to see something blossom into success. I get bored. I get discouraged. I burn out. This summer, my priorities shifted a bit since we're back in Pennsylvania at our own house now. I'm doing more with Nolan's family, like weddings, showers, and christenings. I'm busier with housework, farm work, and my full-time job. So I didn't document what I ate as much lately. I haven't really been active on instagram. I haven't let the fading summer pass me by just yet.

With so many weekends away and trips to plan, we've been making more meals that are thrown together, roasted or sauteed for flavor, and all in one pan. The below is no different. In fact, it's the best kind of cookery that I enjoy the most. Easy, comforting, quick to keep the kitchen cool when it's muggy outside. In just weeks it will be cool and I'll want to have the oven on all the time. But for now, with the windows open and a breeze rustling the hair the nape of Elsa's neck, nothing is better than a quick meal so I have more time for connecting with the home I built and love so much.

Quick (and adaptable!) Cannellini Dinner!

cannellini dinner

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon, roughly chopped
  • 15-20 green beans
  • 2 cups kale, chopped with stems removed
  • 2 cans 16 oz cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each for me!)
  • 1 or 2 hardboiled eggs
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, add bacon and begin to cook
  2. When browned and crisp around the edges, add your green beans and begin to cook down
  3. As the green beans cook, they will crisp around the tips and turn a vibrant green, turn heat to medium-low
  4. Next, add your kale and allow to wilt
  5. Add cannellini beans and stir constantly to warm
  6. Finally, add your garlic, salt and pepper
  7. Transfer to a bowl, add your egg and a squeeze of lemon and enjoy!

Note: You can really use any vegetables or meat for this, just follow the basic recipe to mix it up however you want!

cannellini dinner
cannellini dinner
cannellini dinner
cannellini dinner

My Summer Staple: Roasted Dill Potato Salad

Summer's ending and I am currently in Vegas for my company's annual meeting. Hot, tacky, loud; I pretend I am Maria in Play It As It Lays. I wanted to smoke a cigarette because I am here. I wanted to play Black Jack and win big. I wanted to lay out by the pool and sleep the day away. Instead, I got Chinese food brought to my room and was in bed by 9:30.

The days here will drag. My annual meeting always signals that summer is over. I come face-to-face with my coworkers and make small talk. I work remote, so I am used to the conversations I have with the dogs--a series of "No's", "Good girl", and "Want some of this cake?". It's their peaceful, calm silent reply, their gentle taking of the food from my palm, the body language that passes between us for the 8 hours I am home alone with them that is a more meaningful dialogue than those I work alongside.

I'm a bit of a crazy dog lady, in truth.

But with this signal of the end of summer, I look back on all that I did not accomplish. I have not written my Vermont post; nor have I made the friends we made there their gifts. I did not clean out the garage like I wanted to, but we did catch the mouse that lived there for the last 2 months--so small and silent and so frustratingly uncatchable for so long. I did not listen to my mother all the times she told me her advice. I did not go to the gym like I had promised myself I would  (again). 

But I did make the best potato salad for a party we threw a few weeks ago. And when my sister asked me for the recipe, I would say this was probably the best thing I did this season. And I'm okay with that, because, finally, I am realizing the arbitrary timelines I put on myself are just that - arbitrary. And I'm learning to take it a little slower now.

Roasted Dill Potato Salad

Roasted Dill Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs red potatoes, roughly cubed
  • 1-2 TB olive oil to coat potatoes
  • 3 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 TB dill, finely chopped

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare a sheet pan and preheat oven to 425*F
  2. Cover potatoes in olive oil and a little salt and pepper
  3. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp
  4. Allow to cool in a bowl slightly
  5. Mix in remaining ingredients, add extra seasoning to taste
  6. Chill for about an hour before serving
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad
Roasted Dill Potato Salad

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter: A recipe from Vegetarian Heartland

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter

The past three weeks have been a hazy blur. A rotation of sleeping and bathing and working and driving. Laundry and dishes and chickens and dogs. We hit the ground running after Vermont. We had a housewarming party that I hope to write about later this week.

It's a stressful time, a time when I want nothing more than for it to be the grey period of unplanned weekends that comes more so in the winter than in the late summer for us. The Sunday we got back from Vermont, a few of my relatives from Indiana visited. They wanted to see our house, having done a long and winding coastal tour of my siblings and their children, we were the final stop.

I do not have a relationship with my extended family. Or, I should say, it is always in the fractious stop-and-go phase. A mass of aborted potential stands between us when we are all in the same room together. I see them so rarely, I forget they exist sometimes. Both sides of my family are from the same small town in Indiana, a county that rests on the border of Ohio. I am the outsider, having grown up in Pennsylvania and not the true Midwest. 

And because of this, I cannot remember the last time my grandfather called me. I do not think my aunt ever knew I lived in California for those five years. I was forgotten about; and it was mutual in many ways. Though not bitter. A difference, so out of each others' control it has always been better to leave it as is.

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter

I had these thoughts circling my head all of Sunday. I told Nolan I was nervous to spend so much time with them with no distraction. I hoped they would have canceled at the last minute. I thought of every excuse I used up in high school to play hooky. To be faced with silence is a nauseous feeling for me.

But instead, they did come. They met the dogs and hugged Nolan. They saw the barn. They got the tour. They commented on the bones of the house, the structure. They asked what we paid and forgot what we did for work. They laughed at our jokes and my father held out his arm when my grandfather needed help down our staircase. My aunt hugged me tight and she smelled sweet, like a citronella candle. I loosened up enough by dinner time.

And it was then I remembered how deep my roots go. To sit across from my family was to look in a broken mirror, a thousand small and shattered version of myself in their mannerisms and expressions. My uncle holds his fork like my mother. My grandfather stays quiet during meals. I share my nose with his side and I saw a withered, but vital, older version of myself--a version of myself who hobbles from age and beer and who has worn the same suspenders for the last 30 years. My uncle, who spoke a little loudly at the table, commented on the menus and everyone's dinner choice. In the awkward down-tic of conversation, I find myself doing this too.

And even though I am not from that town anymore, there are bits of it still left in me. I am my family's as much as I am my own self. It is the Midwest that stays deep in the crags of my personality. It comes out most when I'm around them. And maybe I need to stop running away from that side of myself. Maybe it's time I embraced those who didn't call for so long and understand that there is an unspoken resolve to being from the same small town as the rest of them was never a bad thing to begin with.

I thought about all of this as  I read through Vegetarian Heartland, by Shelly Westerhausen and made her dish below. I found that I could be so connected to where I am from, but adapt to who I am now and that isn't a bad thing. That fearing it can only make it that much harder to resolve yourself to it, whenever that may be. Whenever I am ready to do so.

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter

The recipe, which can be found by picking up a copy of Shelly's book, is so simple and truly delicious. I ended up doubling it to my pie pan, which worked well. This is a recipe that can stand up to variation and adaptation and I can't wait to see how it will bring me into the winter months, when I'll be dreaming of these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes!

Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter
Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter
Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter
Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter
Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter
Baked Ricotta and Tomatoes with Thyme Butter