Let's Eat

"Let's eat!" was always something I loved to hear growing up. I knew that whatever was going to be on the table would be prepared with love by my mother or grandmother and would be delicious. And suddenly, I had a family of my own. I must confess that I have put things on the table and said "Let's eat" with far less enthusiasm. What had changed? I was doing the cooking for one thing. Cooking alone can be a balm for the soul, but it can also feel isolating if everyone else if in the living room visiting. Cooking together has been a favorite pastime for my husband and me. We even went through a period where we were cooking our way through a Cajun cookbook. We couldn't eat it all by ourselves. We started inviting friends over and called it "Friends in our Kitchen". That was fun and when it was time to call "Let's Eat!", the joy had returned. So, for cooks who like to cook and for people who don't have time to cook but still want to eat, I get it. I tend to be both of these depending on the amount of time, energy, and interest I have at any given moment. One thing is for certain, I keep great recipes and get rid of the ones that aren't. I am also pretty good at taking a ridiculous recipe and simplifying it without loosing any of the yumminess. Eating well is one of life's great joys. Slaving in the kitchen is not.

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  In the Garden,  Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    1st World Problems at the Homestead

      Ha!  It makes me laugh when my “worlds” collide.  Back in Virginia, I kinda got on a subsistence life-style kick.  I learned how to make wine, can vegetables from our garden.  We even had goats so I could milk them and make cheese.  It was fun and it was a lot of work.  I loved the forced routine.  When it was time to milk the goats…it was TIME.  When the vegetables needed picking, we were out gathering.  I loved the routine and the order it brought to my life.  I had things that absolutely had to be done and it was fun to pretend that there weren’t grocery stores. …

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living,  Uncategorized

    Christmas Food at the Homestead

    I have been dreaming about my grandma house for a long time.  I was disappointed that we weren’t in the Homestead last year, but the joy that we experienced this year certainly made it worth waiting for. First, we had the a great Thanksgiving which ends with us putting up the Christmas tree.  That was an adventure in and of itself.  We had a new tree this year and so, it was our first time to put it up in a new house where we had never had a Christmas tree before.  Lots of firsts means lots of learning. The Cookie Exchange We hosted the first (hopefully) annual Cookie Exchange.…

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living,  Uncategorized

    Pied Piping and a Cookie Exchange

    A Bit of Bragging… I have been called a “Pied Piper” by my husband and others.  Ric Hertless may have been the first to proclaim this in a work setting.  I didn’t know how I felt about the moniker.  It sounded to me like all I did was try and get people to do what I wanted and that smacked of manipulation.  However, upon reflection, I think that I just get board and when I do, I try and get people I love and enjoy to come play.  So far, we have come up with some interesting reindeer games… Burch Beach Like the time we built a beach in our…

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    Thanksgiving Food and Traditions

      Besides twinkling lights and the look of amazement on children’s faces, is there anything more wonderful than holiday food? I don’t think that much can compete with the thrill I get planning a holiday menu and thinking about sitting around the table with my favorite people visiting and celebrating.  Traditions are important and food as a holiday tradition is probably one of my favorites.  As traditional as we are, we have broken with some old ones and are establishing some new ones for our family.  Here are a few of my favorite things (cue the Sound of Music soundtrack…): I want to tell you that I love Christmas above…

  • Let's Eat

    Instant Pot: Poached Pears in a Mulled Wine Reduction

    First Time Amazement I am not a huge fan of cooked fruit.  Pineapple on a pizza?  Nope.  Apples and pork?  No, thank you.  Fruit pies are hit or miss with me as well.  I do love a cobbler, though.  I just made poached pears in mulled wine in my Instant Pot.  They were incredible and didn’t remind me of any of the cooked fruits I had had before.  They were super sweet.  The mulled wine reduction was what made them so good.  The spices (cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves) did their job by adding depth and complexity to the wine.  The wine gave the dish an extra level of fruitiness. …

  • Let's Eat

    Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons

    Preserved Lemons I had never heard of preserved lemons until I wanted to make a Moroccan chicken recipe.  Of course, the recipe called for preserved lemons and the cookbook helpfully included the recipe for the lemons.  Some would say that I am a planner.  I make lists and I use sticky notes, but doesn’t everyone?  I do not however, plan my meals three weeks out.  And that is how long it takes to preserve lemons.  The recipe called to me though and I had continued to put off making it because of those danged lemons.  There was only one thing to do.  Make the lemons and have them ready and…

  • Let's Eat

    The Cheese Making, Goat Milking Lifestyle Surprise

    Hobby to Lifestyle Change Looking back, it is easy to see how I went from cheese making to a goat milking lifestyle.  I can, sort of explain it to most open-minded people.  It made sense (really?) to get goats to milk.  When we decided to make cheese, the natural progression was to make cheese we need milk.  To make goat cheese, we need goat milk.  Goat milk comes from goats.  We should get goats to milk. But the addition of the goats meant that a cheese making quickly went from a lark hobby to full-on lifestyle. Once upon a time I said I wanted to make cheese.  Our favorite cheeses…

  • Let's Eat

    Five Cheeses for the Beginning Cheese Maker

    Plans Are Like Swiss Cheese… Some have holes in them.  Certainly, my cheese making journey had plenty of holes.  If you want to know how many holes, check out this blog post.  If I were going to begin the cheese journey again, I think I would focus on making the soft cheeses that are ready in a week or two and leave the aged cheeses to the professionals.  And yes, there would be lots of my favorites that would be left off my cheese making list.  However, there are several soft cheeses that will keep us satisfied for a lifetime.  Here are our top five cheeses that are perfect for…

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    Dangerous Cheese Making: Lessons in Time Commitment

    Hobby or Major Time Commitment? Cheese making as a hobby is a pretty cool choice.  We are a cheese crazy family.  We love nibbling on all different types of cheese.  Indeed, we have spent a fortune at cheese counters around the world purchasing our favorites and trying out new cheeses.  It appeared to me that cheese making was a logical thing to learn.  But not all cheese is created equally as I quickly learned.  Cheese making can be a serious time commitment if you let it.  The time requirements vary greatly for different kinds of cheeses.  Some take months, some just a few days.   Some you drain the curds, salt…

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    Do You Need an Instant Pot? Yes!!!

    New Gadget or Must Have? I love a new kitchen gadget.  I bought one of those things that peels, cores, and spiral slices an apple about twenty years ago.  I have used it about five times.  It works great, but I just don’t need to peel, core and spiral slice apples all that often.  I have some other things that have ended up in the bottom of a drawer, taking up space.  Jerry has been trained to question my need of a new gadget because I love them, and then I leave them…in the drawer. That was probably his first thought when I said I needed an Instant Pot.  “You…