Zucchini Ribbon, Cherry Tomato and Corn Pappardelle

It’s Labor Day, the last hurrah of summer.

We’re spending the day in town. Casey’s getting ready for school to start this week — his first year of teaching. It’s exciting for both of us, and we’re glad this new chapter of our lives is starting. I have the day off of work, and I’m doing a bit of cooking and cleaning, and then we’re headed to a barbeque at my parents’ house.

Each morning feels more like fall. The air is crisp, and we’re no longer leaving the windows open 24/7. My cooking is starting to change, too. I’m starting to crave soups and comfort food, and I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes this year.

There’s still time for a few more summery recipes, and this is one of them. A pasta dish that celebrates the best produce of summer, without complicating it too much. It’s also light, yet filling, and easily made vegan if you need to.

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 0

A Jam Class + Strawberry Jam with Aged Balsamic and Black Pepper

Making jam is something I look forward to each summer. This year, I’ve been busier than usual. The jam I had made earlier in the season is long gone, and it was looking like I wasn’t going to have an opportunity to get my hands dirty again before summer was over.

I hear from folks all the time how they love homemade jam, but they don’t know how to do it, or that it seems too hard to do on your own. When I heard my friends Dawn and Roxanne express interest in learning the process, I jumped at the chance to teach them.

And I jumped at the chance to get a new cookbook, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Oh, it’s a beauty. Really. Page after page is filled with gorgeous photographs and interesting jam recipes with unusual flavor combinations, as well as old favorites.

Since strawberries are a great price right now, we settled on the Grown-Up Strawberry jam recipe, which features Drambuie. Right before they came over, though, Dawn realized that Drambuie has honey in it. Since she is vegan, that wasn’t going to work. Luckily, there were plenty of other fabulous choices. The Strawberry Jam with Aged Balsamic and Black Pepper stood out to me. I already had some lovely aged balsamic, so why not?

Not only was this a jam class for Roxanne and Dawn, but I was learning something new as well. I had never made jam before without the addition of commercial pectin. I realized the recipes in the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook don’t call for pectin. Uh oh. What to do?

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 0

Strawberry Jam and Some Canning Tips

My Opa recently brought me some of his homegrown strawberries. He had so many, he needed to share. I was happy to take them off of his hands.

The beauty of homegrown strawberries is that you can let them ripen on the vine, yielding the reddest, sweetest, most strawberriest berries you’ve ever eaten. The problem with conventionally grown strawberries is that they’re often picked before they’re fully ripe, and are left to ripen off the vine. I mean, they’re fine, but their strawberry essence often hasn’t had time to come to fruition.

When life gives you strawberries — you guessed it — you make strawberry jam.

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 1

Roasted Tomato, Asparagus and Zucchini Couscous with Lemon Basil Dressing

Summer has officially begun. Well, by the calendar, that is. Last week held the first day of summer. Looking outside today in the Pacific Northwest is another story. It’s cold. It’s raining.

Boo.

While the weather might not get the message, summer foods are in full swing. I’m eating all the Rainier cherries, asparagus, watermelon and peaches I can get my hands on.

My Opa brought over some home-grown strawberries earlier this week, and I even got the chance to make strawberry jam. Look for that post later.

If you’ve never had homemade strawberry jam, you’ve not lived. It tastes so…strawberry-y. It’s so strawberry-y, you’ll feel like you’re tasting them for the first time. Summer in a jar.

Recently while at Mayfield Lake with my family, I went on a cooking marathon and came up with this Roasted Tomato, Asparagus and Zucchini Couscous with Lemon Basil Dressing.

It is easily my favorite thing I’ve made in a while. So simple. So freaking full of flavor and goodness.

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 4

Crab and Corn Chowder

Admittedly, it’s been a bit of a rough week.

From attending the funeral of one of my husband’s high school friends to our family having to put down our beloved dog Rocco, let’s just say I’m glad this week is over.

At times, the fragility of your own existence slaps you in the face and makes you take a hard look at how you’re living and what you’re doing with your short time on this earth.

Time with friends and family has certainly helped me get through this week. Moments of joy with them,  a special walk with my husband, or being with others at a community celebration bring me back to what really matters in life.

Celebrating the things you are passionate about and living the kind of life you want to live, whatever that may be, comes back into focus at times like these.

For me, cooking has a way of soothing my soul.

Something about quietly chopping vegetables, stirring a pot and being present in the moment, yet not really thinking about anything in particular, grounds me and helps me process whatever is going on.

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 4
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