Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sesame Snow Pea Salad and a New Puppy!

When we got home from Maine, our snow peas were ready to pick. This was a good thing, since the Kitchen Genius had a family reunion the next day and we didn't have time to go to the grocery store. He whipped up an absolutely delicious sesame snow pea salad that everyone loved.

Since he came up with this yummy recipe I've made it again twice - first with the last of the snow peas and then again when my bean crop came in, substituting green beans for the snow peas. Sugar snap peas would also be great.

He used a toasted sesame ginger seasoning made by Victoria Gourmet in Woburn, Massachusetts. You can order it on the link above or substitute 2 Tablespoons black and white sesame seeds, toasted, 1 teaspoon finely chopped gingerroot and salt and pepper to taste.

The Bruno family reunion was a blast and the food was incredible, of course, with an enormous Italian buffet. There was eggplant, chicken marsala, lasagna and all the other family specialities including the giant meatball!

Here's KG getting some sister love while his cousin looks on:

And for everyone who left kind messages when our sweet Bonnie passed away, I wanted to introduce our new puppy, Sadie. She's an absolute love and quite a little clown.

Just so our cat Daisy doesn't feel left out...

Sesame Snow Pea Salad

2 pounds snow peas
1 large red pepper, cut into 2 inch strips
1/4 cup garlic scapes or scallions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons Victoria Gourmet Toasted Sesame Ginger Seasoning
dash of red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop pea pods and red pepper strips into pot and boil for 1 minute. Drain and immediately shock the veggies by submerging in ice water. Drain again very well. In the meantime mix dressing ingredients together. Toss with pea pods and red peppers.

For a printable recipe click here

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill

Since we got home from our vacation in Maine, it has been all work all the time. So I decided to go back to vacationland for a much needed respite. One of the best things about photos is they take you right back to the moment and I actually felt calmer than I have in weeks just looking at the pictures.

One of my favorite vacation memories is visiting Blueberry Hill. With a name like that I just had to visit it, because Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is one of my favorite children's books.

Blueberry Hill was NOT easy to find. With no formal directions or guide book information, we drove around the gorgeous countryside for (quite) a while, before we finally stopped here for directions:

You know what that sign means, don't you? Whoppie pies for lunch! Tommy got the famous brownie one. It was so big, even he couldn't finish it.

The Kitchen Genius and I shared a pumpkin chocolate chip whoppie pie and it was so good, I'm determined to find a recipe in the fall when I have more time.

Of course we also bought a bottle of blueberry wine, which was quite tasty with the cheese we found at a farm on the way home.

The store owners gave us directions and we finally found Blueberry Hill. The view was magnificent - lake upon lake in every direction we looked.

And the whole hill is indeed covered with blueberry bushes. We used the bags our whoppie pies came in to gather a few cups. It took a while because wild Maine blueberries are as tiny as a baby's fingernails and Tommy was just like Sal and little bear in the book and simply ate his way down Blueberry Hill.

Back at the campsite I decided to make blueberry muffins over the campfire. Just kidding... My Mom was camping nearby in her beautiful camper that has a fully equipped kitchen, and she even had one of my favorite cookbooks, Recipes From a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw and her mother, Martha. I interviewed Linda and Martha a few years back when their cookbook first came out and they are incredibly nice as well as being being fabulous cooks.

I planned to make their "Foggy Morning Blueberry Muffins," but my Mom didn't have any muffin tins in the camper, so I used the same recipe but put it in a loaf pan. I also added a thick layer of crumb topping because my blogger friend Dawn at Vanilla Sugar insists this is the best part. She's right!

For my dear friend Jennifer, I'm also adding a few photos of the local rodents. There were several very camera shy red squirrels, which are much smaller than our plump Cape Cod gray squirrels.

The kids named our resident chipmunk Chippy (Does every kid name a chipmunk Chippy?) Her hole was right next to our campsite.

And how do I know Chippy is a female? She spent the whole week we were there gathering food - just like Sal's mom and me.

The Recipe

Foggy Morning Blueberry Muffins
(from Recipes From a Very Small Island by Linda and Martha Greenlaw)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half, or whole milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspooons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin tins or fit with paper liners
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs, half-and-half and vanilla until the batter is smooth.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the egg mixture, whisking until fairly smooth. (The batter will be stiff.) Fold in blueberries.
4. Divide among the muffin tin, filling about three-quarters full.
5. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tins for five minutes and then unmold onto a rack.

*Changes I made:

I made a large loaf of blueberry bread instead of muffins. I added a crumb topping made with 1/2 cup of butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar, and sprinkled it on top and then baked the loaf at 350 degrees for an hour.

For a printable recipe click here