Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe: Slab Pies

Mac and I are going on a little road trip to see some friends this weekend.    We haven't had a vacation or taken much time off in quite a while - we are desperately hoarding our vacation for our elopement or as I have started referring to it as - "when we run away from home".   Because at this point we don't really know what we are doing... seriously (but my friends that is a whole other post).   But I am really looking forward to some time away from the office, I will admit too many consecutive days working has really taken a toll on my attitude... but my attitude wasn't the point of the story, SLAB PIE was the point!  Focus Brooke, Focus.

My favorite pies in the world are slab pies, it is like a grown-up pop tart - just enough filling, with lots of pastry and icing (oh yes don't forget the icing)!   My favorite and go-to recipe is Martha's Sour Cherry Slab Pie.  I have also made a slab pie using peaches, but I have to tell you because of the nature of the slab pie I am always worried it is going to be too "juicy" and spill out all over.   So I have been studying other examples of the slab pie to get a feel for them.

Genius... I even found a recipe for a savory slab pie!   I thought to myself, what a great idea, so simple yet now that I think about it, embarrassingly obvious. 

Cheesy Potato Slab Pie
Sour Cherry Slab Pie (this is the slab pie I always make)
Apple Slab Pie
Nectarine Blueberry Slab Pie
Peach Vanilla Bean Slab Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie, another recipe
Crumb Topped Apple Slab Pie
Brandied Apricot Almond Slab Pie
Blackberry Apple Slab Pie
Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Peach Raspberry Slab Pie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Design Files: Loving the library

Since, I am completely devoid of inspiration these days and really don't have much to say... I thought I would share with you some library photos I have collected.   I think everyone should have a place to keep their books and I think that place should be comfortable and practical (for them).

There is something for everyone here, whether your library is a wall or an entire room; or hiding a secret passage.   Can you tell how much I love bookshelves?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mixed Tape: July 2010

1.   In the sun - She & Him
2.   Don't Upset the Rhythm - Noisettes
3.   She Loves Everybody - Chester French
4.   Dancing On My Own - Robyn
5.   More of This - Vetiver
6.   Clap Your Hands - Sia
7.   Your Car is On Fire (or things that don't go together well: Cars, Fire, Beer) - Shortwave Sunshine
8.   Ready to Start - Arcade Fire
9.   Mixtape - Tift Merritt
10. ILU - School of Seven Bells
11. Never Had Nobody Like You - M. Ward feat. Zooey Deschanel
12. China Town - Wild Nothing
13. Stop and Stare - Fenech-Soler
14. You Lift Me Up - Blake McKibben
15. Off I Go (2010 Mix) - Greg Laswell
16. My Heart Still Beats for You - Anna Ternheim
17. Me in You - Kings of Convenience
18. The Cave - Mumford & Sons

 Love the blog header - from their website

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Cooking

Last week it was so hot here that I vowed to not to even walk near the stove.   So to accomplish that I was going the have to get creative with my menu planning.    I could cook on the grill or make salads, period.    I did pretty well not turning on the oven, of course until I got the great idea that I needed to try Smitten Kitchen's Bourbon Peach Handpies... and on the oven went (I am not very good at following rules).   Here is what we ate last week.

Taco's with a Mexican Chopped Salad with honey lime dressing
Dorie's Banh Mi Chicken Sandwich with Confetti Coleslaw (recipe below)
Grilled Pizza's with a side salad
Chicken Souvlaki Salad with Tabbouleh and Hummus

All of it was really great, not a bad meal in the bunch.   I tried to marinate the chicken for tacos, sandwich and salad in advance and then grill everything all at once.    I cooked some Italian sausage and mushrooms on the grill for the pizzas and voila.   My favorite (besides the Banh Mi which I will always adore) was the Mexican Chopped salad... so good!    But my favorite way to beat the heat was with these Blended Golden Mojitos... WOW.

As I am writing this I am facing another hot weekend ahead and am at a loss and completely uninspired in the kitchen... would it be wrong to eat homemade ice cream for dinner every night?   I don't know why cooking in the summer is so much more difficult for me... maybe because I love stews, soups and bubbling baked pastas so much.   I let you know what I come up with.   Have a great weekend!

Confetti Coleslaw
I used regular cabbage and left out the bell peppers because I really dislike them
Author: Bob Blumer - Cookinglight bulletin board

2 Tbs rice vinegar*
2 tsp toasted sesame oil*
2 Tbs peanut, canola or safflower oil*
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice*
1 Tbs honey*
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)*
2 carrots, peeled and grated coarsely
1/3 head red cabbage, cored then cut crosswise into the narrowest ribbons possible and separated
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, then sliced lengthwise into the thinnest strips possible
1 red pepper, seeds and membranes removed, then sliced lengthwise into the thinnest strips possible
1/3 medium-size sweet onion, finely sliced, rings separated
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, stems discarded before measuring, chopped
2 Tbs finely grated or minced fresh gingerroot, peeled first*
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds plus a little extra for garnish

1. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, both oils, lime juice, honey and cayenne. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly. Then toss with dressing.

3. Serve immediately or refrigerate. If you’re preparing more than an hour in advance, don’t mix in the cabbage until just before serving, because it will turn the whole salad purple.

4. Just before serving, toss with sesame seeds and finish with an additional sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Love this....

Letterpress art by Etsy seller tagteamtompkins

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recipe: Sour Cherry Jam

Hi!   Sorry I have been AWOL.   It has been hot and I have been so uninspired lately.    I have also been distracted with large projects at the day job that have really sucked the life out of me.   I know... no excuse.  So... I did actually make jam with my sour cherries last weekend and it is delicious!  My favorite uses for all of my jams is to mix them into Greek Yogurt... it is delicious.   Try it, I promise you will love it.   Anyway, I did struggle with the jam, because it really didn't want to set up at all.   I followed David Lebovitz' recipe for cherry jam, which isn't exactly a recipe it is more of a guideline.    Which is actually exactly how I like to make my jams... a free-wheeling sort of jam making, that way I am not stuck to the notion that I really have to put three cups of sugar into my peach preserves, when it tastes perfectly delicious at two cups.  

So... tell me do you want a jar?   I will send you one.    Leave a comment by Sunday at 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) and I will pick a winner (randomly of course)... the catch is that you will have to tell me how you like it.    (Yes... girls you are all going to have to figure out how to comment on my blog... you know who you are... nice trick, eh?)

Friday, July 16, 2010


So many times summer passes me by and I haven't done any of the things that I longed to do during those winter months, instead I fill my days with work, gardening and yard work.    So... lets all make a resolution to have a picnic this month.   

 Picture from Martha Stewart
 Picture from Soule Mama on Flicker

Here are some ideas to make your picnic planning easier:

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Picked all the pie cherries off my tree this weekend.   Yum.   What should I make?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sewing: Girly dresses

I made my friend Annabel two jumper dresses for her birthday.   I really like the pattern I used, Mcall's 5613, but I thought the sizing on the shoulder straps was a bit off, either that or the chest piece was designed to small... I think if I double the size of the chest piece it would be perfect.    It could just be that my sewing was off... it has been a few years since I have sewed anything other than a curtain, a cushion or a quilt and it really shows.    My gut reaction was to not place the buttons/buttonholes until I had her try them on... but I didn't listen.  

I think I am going to try the other version on this pattern.   I am also going to check the reviews of the pattern to see if anyone else thought the chest piece came out too small.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garden Pictures: June 2010

I know I am late posting this... here are some pictures from my garden last month.    I promise not to wait to long on the next garden update... it has changed a bunch... these were taken early June.

Cherries (Montmorency)

Chive Blossom

Monday, July 12, 2010

4th of July....

I don't know who had more fun over the 4th... Mac and the fireworks or Mox and the pool?

Stop here unless you want to look at a bunch of dog pictures

Design Files: Chalkboard Paint

Picture from Alkemie

I have thought recently that the chalkboard paint trend was over, but last weekend in a design magazine I saw a new picture using chalkboard paint!  (Of course, now can't find said magazine nor can I remember which one it was... yes I have a magazine "problem" people but that is a whole other Oprah).  Maybe it isn't over... I have to tell you I love it.  It combines my love of black walls with a splash of utilitarian purpose. I personally LOVE my chalkboard wall.

How to make your own chalkboard paint:
Apartment Therapy
Martha Stewart - this link also has some great ideas for using it!!!

I have never used anything but the plain o' gray chalkboard paint... but I am fascinated by the new colored paint.   Buy it here at Hudson Paint.   Although I am wondering how well it works?

I found a ton of great images on the internet... Check them out

Friday, July 9, 2010


This video is a collection of all the sounds in the movie Up.

Oh I really, really love the movie UP, although I have recently seen this 2005 French student film and have wondered about Pixar...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cheater Pain au Chocolat

Photo from Epicurious

This my friends is an impressive way to cheat and have hot Pain au Chocolat fresh from the oven on a Sunday morning.   Now I have made crossiant dough and it is not an easy nor quick task to undergo.   I pulled these together on a whim Sunday morning after finding some Puff Pastry lingering on a shelf the night before during a late night dig through the freezer for some ice cream.   The next morning I cut them in 12ths; brushed them with egg wash; rolled up some chocolate chips in them; brushed with egg wash; and sprinkled sugar on top.   Fifteen minutes of baking and nirvana...

Today when writing the post I found a recipe on Epicurious.

Petits Pains au Chocolat
(Gourmet, April 2004)

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package), thawed, each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 water (for glaze)
4 3.5-ounce bars imported bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2x3/4-inch pieces

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze. Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square. Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate. Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate. Place pastry rolls on baking sheet, seam side down. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate remaining egg glaze.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Outdoor Oven

I have wanted to build a outdoor oven for years.   Maybe it is my memories of the Horno's in New Mexico or maybe I am just too obsessed with all things cooking.   I have collected pictures and instructions and product sources in a folder that collects dust in my house.   But, I have never had room in my current yard.   Then Williams Sonoma came out with a portable one last year that I oogled for sometime, but holy 3 thousand dollars Batman... I can't do it.   I can't spend three thousand dollars on an outdoor oven.   I did find a tutorial for a portable one, of course, the instructions are in French and they built it on a wooden stand.   But, I have to tell you... putting a wood burning oven on top of a wooden stand doesn't sound like the best idea... maybe something is getting lost in translation and they layered the bottom of the wood oven with something BEFORE putting it on the wood stand....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce

Photo from epicurious

A few friday's ago I had some friends over for dinner, now friday is a hard night for a dinner party.   So I needed something fast and impressive... this is it my friends.   It comes together so quickly that you will be waiting for guests to arrive.

Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce
(Gourmet, April 2008)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound peeled large shrimp
3 large garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup sweet (red) vermouth
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound capellini

 Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook shrimp and garlic with oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes total. Stir in vermouth and tomatoes, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet. Add cream and briskly simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice.
Meanwhile, cook capellini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta.
Serve immediately, topped with shrimp and sauce. Thin with some of reserved water if necessary.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Design Files: Kitchen inspiration

Photo from House Beautiful

Photo from New York Times

Photo from Country Living

Photo from Country Living

Photo from House Beautiful

These are multiple photos from a spread done a few years ago in House Beautiful... I loved this kitchen so much I even clipped its floor plan

refrigerator that is accessible from ether side...

Fridge is on the left of the photo and this is the other side of the kitchen

Another collection of photos from architect Oviatt and Pratt... this house was newly constructed Gothic Victorian built to resemble the house in Practical Magic... (images originally found on Hooked on Houses)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Swagger Wagon

Yes...I think this is hysterical.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence Day

Hope you all have a great holiday weekend and Independence Day everyone!   I have always wanted to decorate my house with some patriotic bunting... but I never have.   Above are a few holiday crafts from Martha Stewart to decorate your bbq... thank you Martha!   Have a safe 4th and don't light anything on fire!