Friday, April 16, 2010

Fritillaria Friday

Happy weekend! It's been a long week and I'm off to Cincinnati for the Crafty Supermarket this Saturday. I'm leaving you with these flowers to enjoy. Both are Fritillaria which is from the Lily family. Aren't they cool looking? I bought them last fall because they're deer-resistant but had never seen one. Wow!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Casting off: Knitting at the Blue House

knitting at Blue House Ann ArborDoesn't she look like an old pro? Rory was one of the students in my first Knit One/Intro to Knitting workshop at the Blue House last week. In just two hours she, along with Julie and Kaylee, were casting on, knitting, casting off like they were born to it. We even got to some purling and laughing. I'm pretty sure they would all do it again. There's another workshop coming up next Friday evening, so if you're in the area and looking to learn how to knit, why not join us? Stay tuned for more dates or you can check out the Blue House web site for more workshops and info.

knitting at Blue House Ann Arbor

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It started with a clam bake and ended with a cheesecake

I've always wanted to host a real, full-on clam bake for my birthday. Hot coals and seaweed buried deep in the sand with tons of fresh seafood — the whole nine yards. Maybe that's what sparked it, I'm not really sure, but for some reason when we first started dating the boy and I ended up in a little seafood place on Long Island eating a restaurant-style full-on clambake. There was lobster and clams and shrimp and potatoes and corn on the cob and I can't even remember what all. We grinned at each other goofily over lobster bibs and stuffed ourselves silly. The waitress came and offered up an endless list of pies at the end of the meal and my eyes glazed over. But the boy kept going and ordered up a slice of Key lime cheesecake. I told him that he should just go to town because I don't like Key Lime pie and I don't really even like cheesecake. Knock yourself out, I said. Famous last words, of course, cuz that pie knocked the boy out and then it came for me. Bowled us over. Best ever. So, I had to learn to make to further impress the boy and now it gets carted out for just about all special occasions. And yesterday was a special occasion. It was the boy's birthday. The big 4-0. Wowsa. That's old. So old, he deserved a Key Lime pie.

Key Lime Cheesecake
Adapted from Bon Appetit

For the crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir first 3 ingredients to blend in medium bowl. Mix in butter until moistened. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake just until set and golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Cool completely. Stack 3 large sheets of 18-inch-wide heavy-duty foil on work surface. Place cake pan in center. Wrap foil snugly around pan sides. Maintain oven temperature.

For the filling:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
2 teaspoons finely grated Key lime peel
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Beat in sour cream, then sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in lime juice, lime peel, and vanilla. Pour batter over crust. Place wrapped cheesecake in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake pan. Cover cheesecake pan (not roasting pan) loosely with foil.

Place cheesecake, still in water bath, into oven. Bake 1 hour. Uncover and continue to bake until just set in center when cake pan is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Remove cake from water and place directly into refrigerator; chill uncovered overnight.

Cut around cake to loosen. Remove pan sides.

I've made this in all kinds of kitchen and it can be easily improvised. Only have pie plates? Great! This filling amount will make two 9-inch pies. Same with a tart pan (as seen above). If you can't find key limes, go ahead and use regular, but double the zest. Don't have a roasting pan? Use a baking sheet, but check the water levels while cooking as it will evaporate quickly.

Happy birthday to the boy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The ultimate microgreen salad

Last year I wrote about my difficulties with thinning plants out effectively. I know, ridiculous. I'm issue-ridden over sprouts. But there it is. My friend, BE, sympathized and told me that she leaves hers on the lawn for the rabbits. But being in an apartment complex, we don't have a whole slew of rabbits — or lawn for that matter. This year, I vowed to harden myself and yank away at the little buggers. Then it came time and I waffled. So I came up with a better plan: we would have the world's microest of microgreen salads. I felt much better about pulling them out knowing they would be eaten, even though I knew all along that I was giving the other little plants a better chance of growing up to be big and tall and healthy. Parsley, cilantro, dill, spinach, radish and wee little lettuce sproutlets — roots and all, with a couple rings of scallions thrown in for good measure. No dressing required. I highly recommend it.