Roasted Sausage, Butternut Squash and Apple Stew

A savory stew and a few fall updates

The mountains of Colorado were glowing in the warmest shades of gold, amber and ruby. Though it lasts only a few days, I look forward to this time and always like to plan a little getaway right when the leaves are at their peak. The children got an unexpected day off from school a couple weeks ago, which perfectly aligned with the changing leaves, so we packed a picnic and headed into the mountains for the day. As a little girl, I spent so much time in the mountains riding horses and foraging for chanterelles and wild rose hips which my grandmother would make into jam, I feel most at home here. The mountains are a little like a mother to me, wandering through the steep, shadowy valleys feels safe – like being held in her embrace. Of course, in the fall I always keep my eyes peeled for mushrooms and juniper berries, out of habit. It’s a little too early for the wild enoki mushrooms that grow, in the fall, beneath the thick aspen groves, but one can hope. I love to collect pinecones and acorns to decorate the house with during the fall, and we always pick up a few leave to press between the pages of books. It’s wonderful to open up an old book in the dead of winter and discover a beautifully preserved leaf that was forgotten months or years ago.

Continue reading “Roasted Sausage, Butternut Squash and Apple Stew”

Artichokes with Vinaigrette

L’artichaut.

In this world of fast food and instant gratification is there a place for such a discerning vegetable? This vegetable which must be treated tenderly, approached slowly and handled as delicately and deliberately as if one were courting a mate? Each taste escalates in pleasure ever so slightly – for within the meat of the artichoke lies an enzyme that heightens the sensation of sweetness upon our tongues. Peeling back each meaty petal exposes flesh in ever increasing bites. To eat an artichoke is to play a subtle game of anticipation, building toward crescendo with the disrobing of the sacred and guarded heart. To eat an artichoke is an act more akin to making love than to dining and in so lies the mystique of l’artichaut.

Continue reading “Artichokes with Vinaigrette”

Butternut Squash Spaghetti

The still life arrangement of seasonal fruit and vegetables on our kitchen table is slowly transitioning from winter to summer.  It makes me think of the living statues you find at carnivals.  Looking at them, it’s hard to perceive any change in movement at all, but if you walk away and return five minutes later, the statue is in an entirely new position. It’s the same with the table – bowls that contained oranges and apples suddenly contain fresh berries and lemons.  Asparagus, chive blossoms and herbs from the garden are appearing next to aging pumpkins and squash. Continue reading “Butternut Squash Spaghetti”

Dijon Mustard Roast Chicken and Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Yesterday I made a roasted chicken with Dijon mustard and I shared on Instagram the situation regarding food here in Colorado which, I am sure, is very similar across the country and around the world right now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  I’m not sure how it is where you are, but here, since the state of Colorado has issued shelter in place orders, we’re advised to only shop for groceries every other week. For someone who used to shop daily, this has been a bit of a learning experience.  It’s okay, we’re getting along just fine and I’m always up for a challenge, but add to that the fact that stores are limiting what and how much we can buy, it makes shopping for two weeks especially puzzling.  Currently we’re allowed just two chicken products and two beef products per family.  If we’re lucky there might be some pork behind the butcher’s counter, but for the most part, the shelves in the markets are bare, especially of pantry staples like beans, rice, flour and sugar, and I haven’t seen eggs in stock for weeks.  Thankfully, fresh fruit and vegetables have been plentiful. Continue reading “Dijon Mustard Roast Chicken and Roasted Mashed Potatoes”

Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad

Covid-19

This will likely be a very untraditional post.  Like everyone else in the world, we’re confined to home for the (un)foreseeable future.  When I sit down to write a blog post I often draw inspiration from past experiences, dreams, restaurant meals, what I’ve found in the farmer’s markets or at the grocery stores.  But the markets are empty, restaurants are closed, I still have my dreams, and I still find much comfort in the kitchen cooking for my family, maybe more now than before. Cooking with only what we have on hand in the pantry is a bit of a game to me.  I took time to organize the kitchen this week, rotating the old with the new.   I’ve never liked to waste food, but now, when food seems to be scarce, it’s even more unbearable.  I had a few stalks of asparagus in the fridge and half a bag of wild rice in the pantry and so this salad was born.  If you don’t have asparagus your could substitute green beans and it would be just as good. Continue reading “Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad”

Chicken Paillard with Lemon Orzo

Chicken breast is such a staple in my kitchen, but sometimes it can feel a little repetitive and a bit boring.  I compensate by trying to hide it within elaborate casseroles or stews, but there’s no reason why chicken breast can’t take the spotlight of the meal, if it’s cooked correctly.  This Chicken Paillard is an elegant dish that comes together in just minutes and showcases the chicken as the star of the show.  It’s neither bland nor boring, and is a great dish to make if you find yourself in a weeknight meal rut. Continue reading “Chicken Paillard with Lemon Orzo”

Rosemary Country Bread

Baking bread, for me, is a meditative process.  The repetition of mixing and kneading the dough helps me relax and collect my thoughts after a long day.  When I first became a mother, I read somewhere that the best way to soothe a crying baby was to rock him to the same rhythm as your heartbeat.  It’s true – it worked every time.  I’ve thought about that principle often, and find that any repetitive motion, especially kneading bread dough, is always the most soothing when done to the tempo of a heartbeat.  Speaking of that, do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child? Perhaps not.  But if you’re a parent then maybe you remember getting out the dough for your children.  Showing them how to roll it and shape it, it’s almost impossible not to join in on the fun, and in doing so it brings you right back to your own childhood.  Even the smell is transportive.  For me, baking bread at home is the same.  The smell of wildflower honey and the warm yeast working its magic, fill the kitchen with that slightly earthy and ultra comforting aroma.  The feel of the dough as it comes together into a ball beneath my palms is so calming.  Baking bread is one of the most relaxing and satisfying experiences, and I love to repeat the process almost weekly. Continue reading “Rosemary Country Bread”

Normandy Pork with Apples

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US.  I like to take this week, not only to plan the menu and shop for the big meal, but also to tackle all my fall cleaning tasks.   Replacing old blinds and washing the curtains, polishing the furniture and the silverware, scrubbing the baseboards and cleaning the ceilings in the bathrooms, changing the linens from summer to winter – it all makes the house feel cozy, bright and ready for a stream of holiday guests.  Maybe it’s weird, but I absolutely love fall cleaning, even more than spring cleaning.  There’s something so completely satisfying in making the dull and dingy shine again.   For Christmas one year I was given a book called, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, and it’s still one of my favourite books today.  It’s like a cookbook, but with instructions on how to properly clean anything and everything in your home.   Continue reading “Normandy Pork with Apples”

Pork Tenderloin with Plums

One of the easiest ways to elevate an everyday dish to something elegant and refined is by adding a little dried fruit.  I love to cook with fruit in both savory and sweet dishes.  When paired with roasted meat, it brings a subtle richness and a depth of sweetness that you can’t get from anything else, especially when using dark dried fruits like raisins or prunes. Continue reading “Pork Tenderloin with Plums”