Archive for October, 2011

Sneak Leek Attack

Posted on October 21st, 2011 by Tonia 1 Comment

The leeks in our garden are ready for harvest, and what better timing? Late October, dark and cold. Superstition hanging in the air like a frozen breath. Things that wouldn’t normally bother us, everyday things like the damp stairway down to the basement, suddenly send shivers up the spine. And perfectly, little more than a week before the capstone of this eerie season, the monster-ly leeks with their rockstar hair reach maturity.

Obviously the only way to harvest such a veggie is to sneak-attack them at night. They never saw us coming.

Maybe I will be a leek for Halloween. I think that costume would go over much better in our little farmy town than my “Lindsey Lohan Goes to Jail” costume last year {turns out, no one knows who Lindsey Lohan is around here.}

Isn’t it funny how the spookiest veggie makes the most comforting supper? We enjoyed several hot bowls of Potato Leek Soup this evening next to the cozy wood-stove, and we think you should too:

Rustic Potato Leek Soup
From “The Best Recipe Soups and Stews” by Cooks Illustrated.

4 pounds leeks {rinsed and and chopped into 1 inch pieces. Use only white and 3 inches of light green portion}
4 tb. butter, unsalted
1 tb. flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 lbs. potatoes chopped

Heat the butter in a large stockpot until melted and foaming. Stir in leeks, increase heat and cover for 15-20 minutes, but do not brown the leeks.

Sprinkle flour over the leeks and coat evenly until it dissolves.

Pour in the stock, whisking continually. Add the bay leaf and potatoes and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with crusty bread. Yummmmm!


1. Add cooked kielbasa or white beans just before serving.

2. Let the soup cool and then blend it in batches in a high-powered blender until completely smooth. Return it to the pot to warm it back up before serving. While blending, add a couple slices of a seedy, grainy bread {the gluten in the bread makes the soup extra smooth and creamy, and the seeds/grains [especially ones like flax and fennel] stay intact for a nice texture and add flavor.


Posted on October 9th, 2011 by Tonia 2 Comments

The fall colors are beckoning us out into the woods. So tomorrow we’re embarking on an impromptu little backpacking trip in the hills with a couple friends and our dogs.

Image courtesy bippity boppity boo.

And then, as soon as I emerge from the wilderness, I have to jump in the car with my folks and trek down to Columbus, Ohio for a wedding. It’ll be approximately 13 hours of books-on-tape and the ABC game. Yikes. Please tweet with me to keep me from poking my eyes out with boredom!

Get outside and play in this glorious fall weather! I’ll meet you back here in a week!

neighborly visits

Posted on October 9th, 2011 by Tonia 2 Comments

October is the best month for gathering together. It’s a calm month, with the hectic summer behind us and the holiday season well enough ahead of us. October is for cooking up good food {without fear of over-heating the whole house. Hallelujah for cooler temperatures!} and sitting for hours with a glass of wine just talking.

Which is precisely what we have been up to lately, with a variety of different neighbors, friends, and family members. Our meals have mostly been comprised from the odds and ends that are still lingering in the garden: cherry tomatoes that weren’t bothered by the very light frost we had in September, kale, and acorn squash.

It’s a little difficult to take good photos of these visits, since they happen after dark in the dimly-lit kitchen where our camera is only capable of producing fuzzy, blurry versions of the real scene. But chances are that you’ve experienced a fall get-together of your own before, so you know what it looks like.

The Swedes have a special cake, aptly named the Visiting Cake, which they make and bring to potlucks or even just for dropping in on a neighbor for a chat and some coffee. It’s simple, delicious, and full of comforting flavors {although, since Mike is 50% Swedish, we’re perhaps a little biased.}

It could be made gluten free very easily by using almond flour instead of wheat flour, but I would suggest skipping the almond extract in that case {almond flavor can easily overwhelm.}

The only dairy in the cake is the butter and the eggs, so for you vegans I would guess you could use substitutes for both and it would still come out great. Olive oil is a great sub for butter- I have used it in cake recipes before and could not detect any difference from the butter version.

Image courtesy Baked Bree.

Swedish Visiting Cake
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for preparing pan
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy oven-proof skillet or a 9-inch round cake or pie pan.

Pour sugar into a medium bowl. Add lemon zest and blend zest into sugar with your fingers until sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Whisk in salt and vanilla and almond extracts.

Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in flour. Finally, fold in melted butter. Scrape batter into prepared skillet or pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.

Scatter sliced almonds over top and sprinkle with sugar. If using a cake or pie pan, place pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and a little crisp on outside; the inside will remain moist.

There you go! You’re all set for your next neighborly visit. Enjoy!