Friday, October 30, 2009

Ladybug in my hand

ladybug in my hand, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

This was my scribble for Thursday. Who knew bugs had so much detail up close

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to peel a pomegranate????

pom whole, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

What a lovely fruit and the juice tastes so good. But any of you who have tried to open one of these fruits is soon spattered with purple/red juice that is hard to get out of your clothes; leaves your fingernails stained and is sometimes just not worth it.

When I was a child I lived about 100 yards from my grandparents who had a huge pomegranate tree growing behind their massive garage. Oddly landscaped it was growing right next to a heavily thorned cactus my grandfather no doubt transplanted from the desert he so much loved to visit. Needless to say it was really difficult to pick the Poms and looking back I am not sure how much of this fruit my grandparents actually ate. But always at this time of year the 7 grandchildren living on the adjacent properties managed to get our share. Our parents stripped us down to our underwear and we were allowed only to eat them outside. We thought the rules were kind of funny but I certainly understand them in retrospect. Eating pomegranates in our undies. Oh what fun!

I still love this fruit. I look forward to every fall for pomegranate season and it is here! We all know by now that pomegranates are superfruits. They and antioxidant treasures and so many food manufactures are adding them to commonly consumed food and drink. Check out the California pomegranate official website to find out more cool stuff. Let me show you how to get at the inside of this fruit without splattering all over yourself and without stripping down to your undies.....although that may be fun....just keep it inside.

pom, top off

pom, top off, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Start by cutting off the top end. Then cut into sections....I usually cut into fourths. Cut down the middle. Then lay the cut side down and cut again...Remember we're trying to avoid splatter

poms in bowl

poms in bowl, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Place the sections into a bowl of water at least 3-4 inches deep. Turn the skin back and with your fingers loosen the arils from the segments. Keep your fingers and the pomegranate pieces under water.

arils in strainer

arils in strainer, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Pour the water and the arils into a strainer. ENJOY!

P.S. I wore very good light colored clothes while doing this...Not a splatter!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Ah! A classic French salad. Years ago when I was a student at the Cordon Bleu in Paris I, like many other "locals", would spend some of my free time at the cafe sipping coffee, water or wine. Dejeune was sometimes included....not dinner... that was either a picnic or at a bistro. I soon found a favorite in either sliced tomatoes (always vine ripened) and mustard or this classic salad named after the city of Nice. The essential Mediterranean influence ingredients: haricot vert (skinny little young green beans), small potatoes, olives, tomatoes,hard boiled eggs and tuna. Here is the method:
Make a vinaigrette dressing of
olive oil
lemon juice or a good vinegar
mustard...Dijon of course
herbs, finely chopped
Toss the salad greens with some of the vinaigrette and lay on plate
Arrange along the outside the vegetables and eggs
Place the tuna (salmon and shrimp are also yummy) in the center
Drizzle more of the vinaigrette over the top.
Now, open a fine bottle of wine and take your masterpiece outside and enjoy the day.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cherie's pomegranates

Cherie's pomegranates, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

My friend, Cherie, has a mature pomegranate tree in her yard. She brought these to me at work the other day. It was a fabulous gift. The arils (seeds) are the most purple I have ever seen. Most of the ones in the markets are sort of a light red. I had a little time to paint today. I took my pomegranates to Salt Creek Beach and sketched them while relaxing.

Chicken pot pie..comfort food

chicken pot pie, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Who doesn't love a good chicken pot pie? In anticipation of selling my house soon and then packing and moving as little as possible, I am looking to my pantry, freezer and fridge for inspiration. I always have baking essentials in the pantry. I had a package of peas and another of pearl onions in the freezer; leftover roasted chicken and carrots in the fridge. I had frozen my chicken stock from last week's cooking; and I had fresh tarragon in the voila! all of the ingredients for chicken pot pie. I had to make a quick trip to the market for an onion, parsley and cream. But unless I have company coming for dinner or I am craving something crazy, this is the way I cook. It's like I am just waiting to be inspired by what I brought home on a previous shopping trip that had no plans attached.
This recipe from Ina Garten made 6 of these containers full. I will keep a couple for meals this week and freezed the remainder for another time.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yellow cauliflower soup

Yellow cauliflower soup, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

This soup is a family favorite. My daughter, Whitney, loved this soup when she was still living at home. It is hearty for a vegetable soup and really simple. My ingredients:
1 head yellow cauliflower ( yellow has more antioxidants than white)
1 qt. chicken stock....homemade or purchased
3/4 cup smoked Gouda cheese, grated

Break the cauliflower into flowerettes and steam for about 10 minutes or less. Place half of the flowerettes in a blender with some chicken stock and puree. Then add the remaining half. Return the puree with the remaining stock to a saucepan and heat until warm enough to eat. Add the grated cheese and continue to heat until melted. You won't need much if any salt if you add the cheese. Maybe some pepper. My chicken stock has some herbs and pepper so I add very little pepper at this stage.
Whitney made this soup this week too. She added potatoes. It was more creamy & hearty.
Without the chicken stock....puree cooked potatoes and cauliflower and the result will be much like mashed potatoes.
no butter
no milk or cream
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday baking

fig and almond tart, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I started baking bread yesterday and I just finished this lovely fig and almond tart today. Inspired by the beautiful figs I found at Whole Foods this week and a segment on Martha Stewart I just had to grab the flour and get going. It was a little difficult finding a fig tart recipe but this one is dandy. The rustic crust is like a crostata. The figs are halved and placed over a almond/marcapone cheese paste. Very quick and easy Try it!

figs, halved

figs, halved, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Figs, stemmed and halved

Carrot bread

carrot bread, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

This is a fabulous recipe for a beautiful hearty bread. It was so simple to kneading! Chef Jim Leahy of Sullivan's Bakery in NYC was on Martha Stewart on Thursday and the segment caught my eye. I just had to try it. His method is very simple, very low on yeast, no kneading and you bake the bread in a cast iron Dutch oven. The secret ingredient is time. I started the process Saturday at 3 pm and had the bread for today's lunch. I used 50% wheat flour, 50% all purpose flour, 1 1/2 cup fresh carrot juice. I am making this again for Thanksgiving in Seattle...maybe even sooner.

carrot bread batter

carrot bread batter, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

After the first mixing

bread risen

bread risen, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Ready to be placed in the Le Creuset dutch oven

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seagulls, Pelicans & Sandpipers

wave break, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.


sandpiper, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

cliff succulants

cliff succulants, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

What a beautiful Saturday! I decided to start the day early with a yoga class in Laguna Beach. When I left the house at 8am it was 72 deg. The sky was a beautiful blue already so I was optimistic that it would be clear at the beach. The Yoga class about killed me but the beach was calling me to take a walk on its shore. I crossed PCH to the Montage Resort and then down to the water. It was a bit overcast but burning off so I took my camera. This time of the year the tides start to shift the shoreline. In the summer the beach is flat but in October the water relocates the sand....first by berms and then steep verticals. The wave breaks were powerful and loud leaving rough deposits of sand much different than the soft sand of summer. Very few people this early. My friends were the seagulls, pelicans and sandpipers.. After my walk on the beach I went home to a temperature of over 90deg and it wasn't even noon. More birds at home: the hummingbirds were feeding off of my lavender, nasturtiums and salvia. A pair of yellow throated warblers hopped up onto my front porch to look for food. What a great way to start my day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Suzani quilt

Suzani quilt, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

"Suzani" means needlework in Central Asia. This design is from one of Kaffe Fassett's quilt books. The colors are rich and earthy like the natural dyes in that part of the world. For a little more detail I hand quilted the inside of the circles with a #6 perle cotton thread. I have fond memories of this quilt. I made it in a week during a trip to my friends, Marjorie and Harvey in Maine in the summer of 2006. Marjorie picked me up from the airport in Portland and we quickly drove to the sweet little town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Portsmouth Quilt Shop where I picked out almost all of the least all of the gold background fabrics and most of the solid shot cottons. During my visit Marjorie and I spent a lot of the time at our machines sewing and just catching up and doing what friends do. When she returned me to the airport the following week we made a second stop into to quilt shop because of course we might have needed more fabric. I pulled out the finished quilt top and they sales associates could not believe that only a week had passed. This may be the definition of obsessive but I would just call it good clean fun. This quilt now keeps me warm at night. It is by far one of my favorite. And I have great memories of that week with my friends in Maine. Oh by the way....The gold backing of the quilt top was completed before the circles were added to the top. The extra bulk was then cut out....and I just had to use the cut out circles for placemats. What can I say? I grew up in the 60s with parents who grew up during the Depression. I just can't waste anything.

Suzani detail

Suzani detail, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

yummy French treasures

yummy French treasures, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

French roses, French parfum and Gilles. France does produce an abundance of yummy things. As I was showering I looked across to my countertop and noticed I had clustered some treasures from France. I thought it would be my next subject for watercolor that have been pushed aside for a few weeks. Merde! But I do love all things French. I lived in Paris for a month while attending the Cordon Bleu School of cooking; I love my Apilco white French porcelain dinnerware. I love French perfume....although I do have a Bobbi Brown on the counter, n'est pas? and I love all roses. These just happen to be French Paul Bocuse. I also love the blog Paris Breakfasts and I am happy to see Gilles Marini take a role on Brothers and Sisters. Now he is yummy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Denver Botanical Gardens

Denver Botanical Gardens, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Sunday morning we took a trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens. The leaves on the grape arbor were just beginning to turn color. The grapes were no doubt harvested last month. The view is to the herb garden. I was delighted that there were so many plants that grew here and were thriving. Even my favorite roses were hardy. One of the sad thoughts of moving to Denver has been the limitation of garden varieties but after visiting....even in October I am now excited to garden in Denver. The Botanical Gardens are the most beautiful I have ever visited. It rivals the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California but the design, architectural elements and the variety if gardens is unbelievable. Whitney purchased a family membership (luckily for me the fam includes Grandmothers) so I am excited to return with my sketch and watercolor books....and maybe a down parka and gloves.

Kate in the circle

Kate in the circle, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Kate runs through one of the circle gateways in the Asian garden

Ella on the circle

Ella on the circle, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Ella on the circle

Short fam

Short fam, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Whitney, Ryan and the girls

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

French rose baby quilt

I went to Denver this weekend to see my girls and to go to a baby shower for my new Great niece due to come into this world November 11. I hope she will like this quilt I made to keep her warm. The pattern I used was French rose. It is a raw edge applique which means the edges are not sewn and will therefore softly fray the more it is loved and washed. It has a chennile piece in each rose making it even more soft. The border is a Kaffe Fassett design. I love the orange and pink and the big roses give it a very modern look.

French rose t-shirt

French rose t-shirt, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I took one of the blocks and appliqued it to a T-shirt for Kate. I hope she likes it.

Kate models her new T-shirt

model Kate, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Kate was happy to show us all her new T-shirt Nana made for her.