When Erie is Like Florida

Weather and distance have been a recurring theme in the past week.

I left Erie to visit Florida for the President’s Day weekend … and then the temperature was warmer in Erie on Saturday than it was in Clearwater, Florida. Today, Erie will only be about 5 degrees cooler than where the some of the Erie snowbirds are flocking.

Erie has its own micro-climates as well. I knew this growing up, just didn’t know what to call it. In the summer we’d head to the beach from our house in Millcreek. When we’d leave the house, not far from the Millcreek Mall, where it would be sunny and warm. By the time we got to the lake, it could be 10 degrees cooler and cloudy.

Taking the kayak out onto Lake Erie in late February 2017.

This morning, I left my house by I-90 in Fairview and it was 57 degrees. I drove 5 miles down to the lake and it was 42 degrees, courtesy of the easterly wind coming off the 35-degree Lake Erie. As it shift to the south today, the temperatures will come closer. And I’ll be paddling on Lake Erie for the second time during the month of February.

It’s crazy.

I’m worried about the fruit trees being fooled into budding. As much as I love a 70-degree day in February, I love peaches throughout the month of August even more. And cherries. And plums. And apples.

I don’t dare dream of actually having spring in March in Erie. That’s just out of the question. Then we would really know the world was out of whack.

Before leaving for Florida, I had the honor of hosting a group of women called the Black Diamond Divas, a mastermind group of women who are part of the Coffee Club Divas. They are a fantastic group who are taking me to the next level of developing a business. More will come on that at a later date.

The challenge for making them lunch is the diversity of diets – namely gluten intolerant and vegan. Neither of these comprise my typical meal – but I do love a challenge. This Thai Quinoa Salad, adapted from FoodieCrush.com was perfect. Indeed, my daughter loved it the night before (I made early before so it could marinate in the dressing). I didn’t mention gluten free of vegan. She just declared it delish.

Hope you do too.

XOXOXO

marnie

marniemead@gmail.com

 

 

Print Recipe
Thai Quinoa Salad
For me the secret to the salad is two-fold: make your quinoa in a rice or pressure cooker and marinate the whole salad the night before serving. You can add protein, such as roasted chicken or shrimp if you feel the need for a more substantial dish.
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Rinse quinoa under cold water. Cook according to package directions. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  2. Add vegetables, quinoa, cilantro, and basil to a large bowl. Toss.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, Braggs, limes, sugar, vegetable oil, sesame oil and red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust to your liking (mainly checking for more heat or sweet).
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Can serve immediately or refrigerate overnight.
  5. Sprinkle peanuts over the salad before serving.
Recipe Notes

I like to use the multi-colored quinoa, just for color.

Adapted from FoodieCrush.com

Share this Recipe

Super Moon Monday

Tonight the moon will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter – a super moon, according to NASA. This will be the closest the moon has been to Earth since 1948.

Moon on Saturday night, with an ice crystal halo. The moon will be full tonight, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.
Moon on Saturday night, with an ice crystal halo. The moon will be full tonight, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

The forecast for tonight is for some clouds, so if the past couple of nights is any example, it should be quite spectacular. Not spectacular enough for me to pull the lounge chairs out of the garage and stare at the sky for an extended period of time, given that it is mid-November and all. But I will watch it rise as I take the dog for his evening stroll around the neighborhood. I might even dash out in my jammies right before bed to take another look. And I will give thanks that I don’t have to don the shearling boots and heft my nightie up to climb over a snowbank to do it.

The weather has been so delightful, I’ve been keeping the back screen door open while I bake in the evenings. The fresh night air has been cooling of the kitchen delightfully and keeping some of my little burned pieces from stinking the whole condo up.

I was experimenting with a muffin recipe from Martha Stewart that involves tender muffin filled with a seasonal jam and topped with a crumble. While I’m a fan of Martha at times, I also have difficulty with some of her recipes. In this case, there was too much muffin mix for 12 cups. I should have realized when the muffins were filled to the brim before going into the oven that it was going to overflow, which it did. Which stinks up the kitchen with burning sugar.

The muffins themselves have great potential with strawberry jam in the spring, followed by raspberry, blueberry, cherry, peach, plum, apple and pear through the fall. The recipe is worth keeping, I just need either the extra-large muffin tin or the tall muffin baking cups. So I ordered the fancy cups (take up less space than yet another pan) and will see if they are sturdy enough to bake the muffins on half-sheet pans.

In the meantime, I tried a New York Times tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipe, according to the Times’ Cooking site. The recipe was for Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. 

Sprinkled with some powdered sugar, it is as pretty as a full moon.

I made a couple of changes, adding orange zest, instant espresso and a little bit of vanilla – all to coax the chocolate to its fullest potential. If you aren’t a fan of orange and chocolate, skip the zest. But do add the espresso and the vanilla. Top with real whipped cream for an extra treat.

Print Recipe
Super Moon Monday
This cake is best made a day ahead and allowed to refrigerate overnight to develop the flavors.
Course dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. You are going to need 3 bowls; 1 9-inch springform pan; 1 pan large enough to hold the springform pan with room around all the sides and at least 1 -inch deep; and foil to wrap the pan (so water doesn't leak in). You will also need to have a kettle or pot with about 4 cups of boiling water.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Prepare your springform pan by wrapping the bottom in 2 layers of foil to prevent water from seeping into the pan. You will be cooking this cake in a hot water bath. Grease pan. Place it in a large roasting pan (or a pan that has at least 1-inch of room between the edges of the two pans).
  4. In one medium-sized bowl, add butter and chocolate. Microwave in 30-second intervals. Stir after each interval. Repeat until butter and chocolate are melted. Allow to sit at room temperature while you move on with the recipe. The chocolate needs to remain warm.
  5. In the meantime, in separate deep-sided medium bowl, beat your egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar. Continue beating until peaks form. You do not want to keep beating until dry (this isn't meringue).
  6. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until frothy and lighter in color. This will take about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla, salt, orange zest (optional), and espresso powder. Fold in chocolate mixture.
  7. Now fold in egg whites in 1/3 increments. Keep it as fluffy as possible.
  8. Pour into springform pan (which should have foil on the bottom and be in the roasting pan). Place roasting pan with cake into the oven on the middle shelf. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan so it is about one-half way up the side of the cake pan.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes. Top will be firm.
  10. Remove pan from oven. Remove cake pan from roasting pan and place on a cooling rack. As the cake cools, it will pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove outside ring. Wrap loosely and refrigerate.
  11. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe Notes

The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. If you need to substitute semi-sweet, lessen the amount of sugar by 1/4 cup.

 

Adapted from New York Times

Share this Recipe

You say To-May-Toe, but my To-Mah-Toes are terrific

IMG_4413One of my guidelines for food, work, and life is finding ways not to be negative. If you focus on all that you cannot do, then the negative attitude will follow you around. So whenever I engage in a new venture – diet, relationship, job – I try to focus on what will be positive about it (and not what I can try to change). If the negatives outweigh the pluses, then it is time to take a pass or move on.

Engaging in the Whole30 meant I could focus on all the foods I couldn’t eat – and the list was quite extensive – or what I could. I chose to focus on what I could enjoy. With summer’s bounty ripening outside my doorstep and around Erie County, Pennsylvania, every day, I had plenty of choices. Plus, this supports my choice to eat local and support local farmers.

I’m not going to lie and insist a peach or slice of melon is as satisfying as a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day. But the peach or melon doesn’t carry the baggage of guilt and the accompanying bloating. And an RX chocolate bar isn’t the same as a homemade brownie, but it will do in a pinch. Plus, I’m notorious for cutting off all the edges and eating them – pretending that I really haven’t even had a “real” brownie.

Hah.

The goal, also, wasn’t to make one dinner for me and one for my daughter each night. I don’t think you can ever be successful making a lovely meal for some of the family and then serving yourself something that isn’t as pleasing. Some nights I may have had sausage and homemade tomato sauce with a side of roasted eggplant, while my daughter had the sausage and sauce over pasta.

My homemade roasted tomato sauce is doing many duties. It can become plain sauce, soup, or get jazzed up with add-ins, such as onions, capers, raisins and mint to make a divine sauce for fish or chicken. You can also freeze it and use it in the dead of winter.

Print Recipe
Roasted Tomato Sauce
This versatile sauce can be used alone or combined with other ingredients to make a more elaborate sauce or a simple soup.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half. Put into 2 9x13-inch baking dishes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and herbs.
  3. Bake for about 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to make sure they are OK and not cooking too quickly (if you see brown or black, that's your indication). Turn oven to 400 degrees after 2 hours and roast for about 20-30 minutes (check after 20). They should be slightly brown around the edges.
  4. Allow to cool. You have the choice of running them through a food mill, which will remove the skins and seeds. Or, put them in a high-speed blender (I use a Ninja) and puree until smooth.
  5. Add 1 cup chicken broth. Mix well.
Share this Recipe

Market Monday: Can’t Beet It

 

Let me open this post by acknowledging that some people just don’t like beets. I get it. Especially if your only experience with beets comes out of a can or jar. But fresh, oven roasted beets, especially served with contrasting flavors and textures, such as nuts and cheese, are really delish.

My own first experience with beets involved my father making borscht, which is a clear beet soup popular in Eastern Europe. It was a lot of work on his part, served to a largely unappreciative audience. More recently, I tried several beet salads at restaurants, which convinced me that I could like beets if they were prepared a certain way.

My all-out favorite is simply roasted beets, sliced thinly and served with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with some crumbled Bulgarian (or other sheep’s milk) feta cheese. But I’m doing a no-dairy stint at the moment, so the cheese was out.

A beet and apple salad at Whole Foods inspired me to try this recipe, which has a citrus dressing. It is topped with roasted nuts – walnuts, cashews, pecans or pine nuts all will serve well.

Here are three tips I learned about working with beets:

  1. Roasting is great. Just chop off the tops, which can be used in something else, and wash. Place several (depends on the size, but try to find like sizes) in a packet of foil with a drizzle of olive oil. Leave the skin on. Seal. Place in a pan in case your foil leaks. Roast at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. It may be 90 minutes depending on how big your beets are. Allow to cool.
  2. To remove the skin, take a paper towel and just rub. This will remove the skin and keep your hands from turning pink in the process.
  3. Use a plastic cutting board that you can clean with bleach or be prepared to have a stained cutting board.

Print Recipe
Beet and Apple Salad
Easy summer salad. You can substitute pear for the apple, or add both. Be sure the pear is firm fleshed.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60-90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Dressing
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60-90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Dressing
Instructions
  1. To roast the beets, wash and chop off the tops. Create a foil packet. With it open, add beets and drizzle with a splash (about 1-2 teaspoons) olive oil. Seal. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.
  2. Remove from oven and allow to cool in sealed packet. When cool enough to handle, take a paper towel and rub off the skin.
  3. Slice beets into matchsticks.
  4. Core and slice an apple into matchsticks.
  5. Add beets, apple and greens to a salad bowl. Toss with juice, olive oil and vinegar. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Top with nuts and serve.
Share this Recipe