Wednesday, May 16, 2007

from 4/30/2007

Pittsburgh, you are lookin' cute today! And, I hear that we're in for some sunny, warm good times all week! Woot!

Apart from being way too short, this weekend was super-duper! Friday night I made up the other pocket tart filling, assembled and baked the tarts and some mesquite chocolate chip cookies and wrote a little song about ramps.

The third filling was a sweet one. Cherry-Cinnamon with Almond Cream Cheese. Yum!

1 bag frozen organic whole cherries, thawed (I used 365 brand from WF)--make sure they're all pitted. I found two pits.
cinnamon, to taste (I used about 1 t.)
1 t. cream of tartar, disolved in a couple T. of cold water
1 T. butter

Heat a skillet over low heat. Add butter, then pour in thawed cherries with juice. Add cinnamon and the dissolved cream of tartar. Cook down for about 5-10 minutes of low heat, stirring often.

Almond Cream Cheese
1/2 pkg (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 pkg (4 oz) farmer cheese, softened
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t. almond extract

Use a mixer to blend up the cream cheese and farmer cheese, mix in the egg until well incorportated, then add sugar (sifted if lumpy). Mix in almond extract, and taste to adjust sugar and extract. This makes way more than you need for the pocket tarts (I just used about 1 t. for each tart, so feel free to cut this in half, or just think up something else delish to use it for).

Do you believe that I completely forgot to take picture of the tarts?? I'm so annoyed with myself! They were hands-down the cutest things I've made so far. Dang.

Well, I'd never worked with puff pastry before, and I was a little nervous, especially when I realized that puff pastry and phyllo dough are not, in fact, the same thing. They're similar, but not the same. I'd gotten phyllo because it was a lot cheaper, and I thought it'd pretty much just be like a poor man's puff. But, no. It's much more difficult to work with, to cut, and you use many fewer layers or you lose the taste of your fillings. After one test batch, I figured out my method. They still turned out great, but I'll totally use puff pastry next time. Then they'll be even cuter. Which may not even be allowed by law!

But, they got a good reception from my fellow roadtrippers, so it's all good.

I also made some mesquite chocolate chip cookies from Heidi's recipe in Super Natural Cooking. These cookies are show-stoppers. They taste like little pieces of heaven. Me + mesquite meal + Heidi = TLA! I just baked half the batch for the trip, then another dozen (plus three for me) on Sunday morning for a friend, and then froze the rest of the batter which is probably enough for another dozen or so. I'm glad I froze it, or I would've eaten up the dough. Dang, it's good.

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On Saturday the rampin' roadtrippers met up at Beleza for coffee and hit the road. We had a fun drive to Morgantown eating tarts, cookies and playing SHAZZAM! (a game I made up at my beach trip last year). Our car was Ellen, Jr. and I, the other car was Mags, Ani, Fig and Raindog. Then we met up at the Lozier homestead, dropped off some dogs, hung with some parents, and joined forces for a one-car journey the rest of the way to Elkins. We took windy, back country roads, and it was lovely. We even passed through a town called Junior! We made it to Elkins and the sun was shining (it had been alternately cold and rainy, then warm and sunny all day). We hit the booths first where I bought three bags of ramps, some dehydrated ramps/salt and some honey, then we made our way over to the cook-off tent. There, it started being rainy/cold again, there was a Top-40 Country cover band playing (way too loud), and mullets a-plenty. Ahh, home.

While we were waiting in line, Ellen procured us some deep-fried ramps. They were tasty, but seriously greasy. I think my stomach's rebellion later was specifically related to these babies. But, going down? Divine.

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Then, we made it into the tasting tent. About a third or half the things were vegetarian (yay!). I tasted Ramp Bruschetta, Griddle Cakes with ramp relish, Pickled Ramps and, um, there was one other thing. What was it? Hmm...

Anyway, I'm totally making those Griddle Cakes. My great-grandma Virgie used to make griddle cakes and top them with maple syrup. Sweet or savory, they are fantastic.

We jetted out of the festival after that, and took a scenic route back. We passed through Thomas, WV, and stopped at The Purple Fiddle. This is such a great cafe! ( It's in an old general store with all the original tin celings and woodwork, and it was just really homey and sweet. I had tea, but they also had coffee drinks, soups, ice creams, beer, and a full lunch-type menu. So cute! And, they even have a B&B. I was completely charmed.

We meandered back through WV and even into Maryland, where certain members of our party took a spring baptismal dip in Deep Creek Lake. Seriously, we pulled off the side of the road, and they stripped down, and skinny dipped, dunked and waded while I laughed so hard that I nearly peed. Too cold for me, but it was fun to watch! But, then the funk in the card only increased--ramp breath and damp lesbian. Whoa.

I got back home that night thoroughly sated and sleepy. I'd planned to maybe go to Art All Night, but I just didn't have it in me to navigate the crowds.

Got up bright and early on Sunday morning, baked another batch of cookies, watched a saved episode of Good Eats about pocket pies, and started reading Rebecca Wood's The Splendid Grain. When Heidi replied to my fan letter, she suggested I check out Rebecca's blog and cookbooks.

Then I met some friends (some old, one new, and a couple I'd never met) at Zenith for brunch. I don't know why I always forget about this place. I probably hadn't been there for two years or more, and I'd only been for lunch, never for brunch. Oh my god. The food--the bounty and the deliciousness--were AMAZING! I'm going there every week from now on. So good! In addition to the fabulous spread, we also just had a great group of folks. I laughed the whole time.

Then some of us (including my potential new roomie) went to check out the house I'll be moving into soon. Looks like I'll be moving in July 1st. I hope this roommate works out, 'cause she's a peach. But, even if it doesn't, I'm so glad to have met her.

Check it out. This is the view from the deck at the new house.

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I can't wait to move in! So, that was my morning. I got home in the mid-afternoon, and had big plans for a nap, but I kept thinking of stuff I wanted to do or read, so I just read for a while instead. The first section of the book is about wild rice, and it reminded me that Maggie gave me a bag of wild rice a couple of weeks ago that her uncle had hand-harvested in Minnesota, so I cooked it up. It cooked kinda weird. I've always see wild rice just flecked in other rice, and it always was pretty uniformly brown and straight. Mine came out all wiggled up in all sorts of tones, shapes and sizes, and deliciously nutty. I ate some warm, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with some of the ramp salt. I had it again for dinner along with a salad. I was talking to Amy on the phone, and she was telling me about her salad which sounded gorgeous and good-tasting, so I made a Hurd-inspired salad of spinach leaves, steamed asparagus and snap peas, grape tomatoes, shaved manchego cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with lots of fresh ground pepper.

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I brought a re-run of that for lunch. And, it's almost lunch-time. Goody.

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