Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indian summer in Belfast

The day was so beautiful it made me weep. Sunny, warm, golden, perfect. A reminder of what summer just was, at least a reminder for a few days: Indian summer. The weather was too gorgeous to take on responsibility for house and garden and off I was to the ocean, at last. Belfast, with its antique malls on the way, and its ever growing ensemble of restaurants, stores, pottery places, revamped ocean front and microbreweries. Yes, it is fall in the making and people started to bring in their boats for the winter, but also enjoy them still on the ocean. The only place to have my shipyard seasonal pumpkin beer was… in the shade.

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"Open by chance or appointment” the sign read at Front Street Pottery. I have visited Belfast for 8 years, and there was never a ‘chance’ opening of the pottery store until today. I ventured inside. One of those hand-made teapots found a new home….

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Three Tides Microbrewery and beer garden.

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Route 1 bridge in the back, and the pedestrian bridge below.

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Newly paved walk and bike way on the ocean front connecting all the beer bars and restaurants.

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Downtown Belfast, and yes, it was more pleasant in the shade.

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One day, I will buy a house here.

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Until then, I’ll visit.

A day at the university

It was a beautiful Indian summer Friday in late September at the university, one month into the semester.

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A concrete canoe

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Engineering plaza and Laboratory of Surface Science and Technology (LASST)

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Stevens Hall (Business School) in the background

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The Mall, center of the campus

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Indian summer ahead

The Indian summer is back --- beautiful sunny, mild weather for the next few days and a weekend on top of it These days I try to stay ahead of any cold with my morning mix of a cup of fresh cider from the farmers market, a few frozen strawberries and bananas, all mixed in the vitamix, a surprisingly good refreshing mix with the right amount of sweet, fresh and tart. My immune cells send me thank you notes.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Individual Italian plum crumbles

The treasure’s at yesterday’s farmers market included a steal/deal on more Italian plums. I was thinking of making another plum cake but decided to stay light and just make a crumble. I found this wonderful recipe with the key ingredient of spiced candied ginger and cinnamon. Instead of a single large baking dish I used individual ramekins and just some rolled oats with sugar as topping. The soul is in the plums anyhow, right? Once it is all bubbly and hot it is ready to serve!

Plum Crumble
Serves 2-3 (probably just 1)

10 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger (chop by hand!)
3-4 tablespoons rolled oats + 1/2 TB brown sugar + pinch of cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, optional

1. Place plums in medium bowl, add brown sugar, candied sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and the flour. Mix well . Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.

2. Distribute plums  in 3 ungreased, oven-safe small ramekins.

3. In a small bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon and the sugar. Mix well. Sprinkle over plums.

4. Bake for ca 35min. Cool (slightly) and serve.

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Curried hummus

This morning started out with rain, and plenty of stuff to do around the kitchen. First of all, the chickpeas cooked all day on low in the slow cooker yesterday needed to be converted into hummus. This time I used a farmers market inspiration of curried hummus and created my own version. – A classic hummus recipe but with a dash of curry and a tablespoon of maple syrup. Delight!

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Curried hummus (ca 2 cups)

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved 
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or kosher salt), or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini  (sesame paste)
  • 2 Tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
  • a few drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 – 1  teaspoon curry powder (start with less)
  • 1 TB maple syrup
Place all ingredients into a food processor (except the salt) and process until the hummus is finely pureed. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with a good quality olive oil and serve.  

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

The annual hippie fest

Yesterday, I finally had a day ahead of me with no pressing work, beautiful weather AND the annual common ground fair in Unity. A perfect combination. I put on my best hippie clothes and off I went to Unity. When I arrived at noon, the first wave of visitors was already leaving, the many, many school buses with the students whose teachers deemed common ground fair a valuable part of education. It was still humming with people since the weather would be slowly declining from fantastic to good to rain by Sunday.   I made my rounds, sampled the free bread, goat cheese, and fromage blanc, smelled the home made soaps, investigated the pottery, stocked up on a new hand-made cherry wood cooking spatula, fed the sheep with clover, had some honey sweetened lemonade, and was all-around happy.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When apples turned into pears

The other Sunday I set out to go apple picking on Maine Apple day. I drove to a nearby apple orchard, and the wonderful old man said “We have NO apples this year. The spring was too long and too cold, no pollination. Never happened to me in the 30 years I have this orchard.” Bummer. “We have pears. Do you want some?” Apples, oranges. Pears. Oh well, “Of course!”

So I drove home with a bag of rock hard pears, but within a week they’ve turned soft in rapid speed and I try to come up with new recipes. One is definitely a classic: mixed greens,sliced pear, gorgonzola, balsamic vinaigrette and walnuts. Or, cranberries in my case.

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Salad bowl, the beautiful

I do have a thing for wooden hand-made salad bowls and  have 2 already. I realize anymore would be more a collecting (hoarding?) and museum type need. But, they are so, so beautiful. Like these three on etsy. Love!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

European lunch

The weather forecast promises another sunny, warm week for this week, starting this afternoon. Currently it is gray and so chilly I closed the windows and turned on the heat. Might have to change from t-shirts as standard outfit to sweaters soon. Socks, too. Lunch was unusual, sweet instead of savory, but the mini plum tart and a cup of coffee seemed like such a European lunch, like eaten in a Vienna coffee house. Only the whipped cream was missing. On both coffee and tart.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Swiss Plum Tart

Today I finally managed to bake an authentic Swiss “Waehe”, a plum tart with a very thin dough crust, fresh ground hazelnuts (filberts), Italian plums, and a custard made with eggs, cream, milk and some vanilla and sugar. – Delight!

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Swiss Plum Tart (“Zwetschgenwaehe”)

Regular 9 inch size tart pan, or a smaller and 2 mini ones.

  • homemade or store-bought short pastry or puff pastry (I used a frozen store-bought pie dough)
  • 1 pound Italian plums (or apricots, apples, or cherries), pitted and cut in quarters
  • 3-4 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml whipping cream
  • 2 teapsoons of flour
  • 1-3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 425F degrees (220C).

Layer a pie tin with thin short pastry or puff pastry, sprinkle the base slightly with ground hazelnuts or almonds. baked in the oven for 7 min to give the crust some stability.

Mix the prepared plums with 1 TB sugar. Once the pie crust is prebaked, remove it from the oven, and arrange the plum slices in a round pattern.  Add 1 TB sugar sprinkled over the fruit and bake in the oven on the lower part for 10 minutes

Meanwhile mix eggs with the milk, whipping cream and flour, add 2 more tablespoons of sugar. Season with vanilla extract. Pour the custard mix over the fruitcake and bake for another 20 minutes. Let it set for 10 min before serving taking it out of the pan. Serve with some whipped cream.

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Italian plums, pie dough with hazelnuts, and sugared plums.

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Arranged plums in pre-baked crust. Custard added to prebaked fruit.

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Baking!

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Setting for 10 minutes.

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Bon appetite!