Friday, June 17, 2011

Final Taste of Spring: Shaved Asparagus Salad

Depending where you are, asparagus season may be just about coming to a close. It is here and I've been trying to take full advantage and eat my fill — practically daily. In case you've grown sick of it — gasp — here is a nice variation I had not tried before. It's asparagus in the raw and it's the kind of thing that just can't be done with bland grocery store asparagus. No exact measurements are given — it's all just to taste. You really can't go wrong.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Lemon and Parmesan
From Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds 1 pound asparagus, rinsed (No need to snap off the tough ends)
1 lemon, halved
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread nuts on rimmed baking sheet in single layer  and toast for 5 to 10 minutes. DO set a timer and keep a close eye on things. They turn golden in a flash and then burn in a jiffy. We've all done it!

To shave asparagus, rest a single stalk on a cutting board while holding onto the tough end. Use a vegetable peeler  to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough end in your hand. I'm sure a Y-shaped peeler would make this a breeze, but I used a standard one and it worked just fine. Discard the tough ends once you’re done peeling.

Pile one-third of your ribbons on a medium-sized serving platter. Squeeze some lemon juice over the asparagus, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Toss gently and then use your peeler to shave curls of Parmesan right off the block, over the asparagus. Sprinkle with some toasted nuts.

Repeat with remaining asparagus, a third of the remaining bundle at a time. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Indieana Handicraft Recap

First up: Sunday Afternoon Housewife. I met this clever, clever gal—the other Martha—at last December's Bazaar Bizarre in Cleveland and she was kind enough to play hostess for the weekend. She and her husband Mark live in a gorgeous old house with a menagerie of sweet beasties. Martha makes really fun Scrabble Tile pendants, glass tile pendants and silk screened tees. Her blog is a great source for crafty advice, tips and more.
Jess from Paper Acorn was also a guest at Martha's and it was great to have the chance to hang out with this lovely crafter who is a spectacular paper artist. Her display — as are her products — was as refined and beautiful as ever.

Oh my goodness! Aren't these the greatest?! These hand-crafted birds by Carol Davidson aka Davidson Handmade are just magnificent. She does not appear to be online, so all you get are these photos. Sigh…

Last but not least, Detroit's finest were on hand: Perfect Laughter was in the house with their latest in display perfection to showcase their silkscreened beauties. Their name banner was hand stenciled by Dennis — amazing! I am coveting, coveting, coveting their "The Cure for Anything is Salt Water: Sweat, Tears or the Sea" print.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Nomadic Pickle Project

Did you happen to notice the pickle in my post a few days back?  I hinted at him, but didn't want to reveal too much too soon. You see, the pickle blogs and I wanted to give him time to get his posts together. Yep, that's right: A blogging pickle. Now that he's ready… ahem… I'd like to formally introduce Mr. Pickle, aka the Nomadic Pickle. He was born out of crafty genius by Amanda and now travels the land with whomsoever will have him — friends and strangers alike. And then he blogs about it.
I had the pleasure of Mr. P's company two weekends in a row. You can read about his fishing adventures with my family in South Carolina here and follow his crafty journey with me to Indianapolis for the Indieana Handicraft Exchange here.
So how 'bout it? Wanna have a pickle friend along for your next adventure? Mr. Pickle is quite organized and keeps a tight schedule here. Find out how you can participate and sign on to the pickle project here. Hooray for pickles!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Millet Muffins

I recently bought a bundle of millet from the bulk section without any clear plan of what to make. I've been interested in trying a wider variety of grains lately — especially as this beautiful book made the blog rounds. Millet is a new one to me and after making this recipe I plan to experiment with it a lot more.  

The kitchn has a great page about millet. It explains that it is an ancient seed that's a staple for about one-third of the world population today, though here in the U.S. and much of Western Europe it has been demoted to bird and livestock feed. It's extremely nutritious, great for those with gluten allergies and is easily digestible and soothing to the stomach. 

There are many varieties of millet but the kind most often found here is yellow proso, which is what I used for these delicious muffins. I debated between three different recipes. I was particularly keen on trying Heidi Swanson's version, but didn't have enough honey on hand. I liked that the millet was slightly crushed in this version, but was too lazy to take that extra step. And so I landed on this version from the Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia. The millet provides a distinct texture and crunch that I just love and the batter has wonderful flavor with a mild sweetness. These are best eaten the day they are made, though slathered with a fresh bit of strawberry jam on the second day is equally worthy. 

Crunchy Millet Muffins
Adapted from Slash/Food

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/4  teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup millet, lightly toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Preheat over to 350º F with rack in middle of oven. Toast the millet by spreading it out on a cookie sheet and baking it for 10-12 minutes. Every three or four minutes, take the pan out and give it a careful shake, to make sure that every kernel of millet gets toasted evenly.

Raise oven temperature to preheat to 375º F. Butter 12 muffin-pan cups or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in millet. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.

In the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until well-combined and somewhat fluffy. At low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Take care not to over mix.

Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin-pan cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool for five minutes and then remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.