Monday, March 17, 2014

What Julia Ate Has Moved!

Dear Reader,

I have started a new blog called The Preserved Life. I really hope you will come and visit me over there! Sign up to get posts via email or put me in your reader. I will also try and link every post on Facebook (which is still under the name What Julia Ate, as it's a little difficult to change names on FB) or Twitter (which I've changed to @preservedlife) and Instagram (which is a mix of both).

Thank you so much for being a reader of What Julia Ate! It's been so much fun, and there's a lot of good things in here which is why I'm leaving it up intact. The Preserved Life will have a lot of the same, so I hope you will join me!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hearty Greens Pie

Despite the cold, icy weather, snow days and sickness, (not to mention the early Thanksgiving) we've gotten a lot of holiday fun in this season. I've never been big on Christmas, but having my son has made it a bit more twinkly. We go to local Christmas festivals, make cookies, read holiday books, and of course, trim a tree. Even still, we keep it pretty low key. The tree is usually a teeny tiny thing from our yard--there is a hillside with them sprouting out which we would clear anyway. I thought my son, now five, would request a larger one when we went to the hillside this year, but he picked one and wouldn't have anything else. I wonder if it had anything to do with reading A Charlie Brown Christmas this year (my very own copy from childhood). Presents are usually few, and we parents don't exchange them at all. I know more and more folks who are toning down their Christmas routine. Even cards have been nudged out of rotation. I feel it makes the season quieter and more intimate, but I know some people might disagree with me.

We do a lot of rich eating this time of year, and sweets are certainly everywhere. That's why we welcomed this onto our dinner table the other night. It was gone by the next afternoon. Chock full of so-good-for-you greens, and a light pastry made with olive oil, you can't help but to be completely fulfilled by a wedge of this pie. It's just as good cold the next day for breakfast or lunch. And then, maybe you can follow it with a few cookies or caramels from your holiday stash.

Hearty Greens Pie

I used this brilliant pie crust recipe from the NY Times. It comes together so nicely in the food processor, and it was a dream to roll out. You can't imagine how nice and flaky it was!

2 large bunches of greens
a good sized chunk of feta (around 8 ounces, give or take)
1 large onion
Fresh herbs
grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350. Have a glass pie dish at the ready. You can make the greens mixture while the dough is resting in the fridge.

Remove the tougher ribs and chop greens roughly. Blanch them in batches for a few minutes, then transfer to a food processor and chop them finely. Once you have them all in a large bowl let the mixture sit a few minutes, and you will see you can easily drain off some water. Press the mixture on the side of the bowl to get out as much water as possible.

After you do the greens, process the onion and herbs together finely, then sauté them in a good splash of olive oil in a large pan. Once they have become translucent, add the greens and toss gently. Heat them through and cook for about ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and crumble in the feta. Again, toss gently, because your pan should be quite full.

Roll out a circle for the bottom layer of the crust. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the bottom to soak up any moisture from the greens. Then add the greens; it should fill up the pie to the top. I think the amount of cheese depends on your taste; I added more at the end making a layer on top of the greens. Then I sprinkled more bread crumbs, and some parmesan. Cover with the top crust, make a few slits to let steam escape. I brushed my pie with buttermilk; an egg wash might have shined it up more.

Bake until crust is golden, about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cranberry Sauce Bread

My brain is a busy place. That's not to say I'm particularly smart. Just a "busy body," as my mother used to say. I'm forever talking to people in my head. Do you do the same thing? I talk to friends, I talk to strangers, I talk to this blog. I compose snippets and phrases too, but they often get swished around and lost, along with the conversations. Busy, busy, busy!

This week, I had some car problems. Actually, I have been having problems with my car for a while. When we drove we'd hear this sound my son and I have named the "boomerang sound." You can imagine it's not a sound you want your car to be making. I was finally able to bring the car in on Monday. On Tuesday, when it was supposed to be ready I found the wrong part had come in. Leaving me carless for the day. And I sort of had a hissy fit. On the phone with the garage. Which I am very embarrassed about and have since apologized for. The thing is, I was upset because I suddenly had SO MUCH to do. And having no car was SUCH an inconvenience. But, given a few adjustments, it's all worked out. What was I so busy with?

This morning, instead of driving to the bus stop, my son and I walked there. And we noticed all the frost covered everything in a fine fuzz, like a buck's antler. We hopped on our feet and blew plumes of steam from our mouths. We counted cars. Once he was on the bus, I walked back home and it was early. Enough time to clean the house, polish candlesticks, and bake this bread. It's perfect for an afternoon tea, not too sweet. It's a bright sunny day, crisp and cold. I might take a walk down the block and visit a friend if she's home. Bring her some of this bread. Take deep breaths.

Cranberry Sauce Bread
makes one small loaf

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8" loaf tin.

3 tablespoons of room temperature butter
1/2 cup of sugar (or 1/3 cup of honey)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg
1 cup of cranberry sauce

1 cup AP flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the butter and sugar together well. Add the cranberry sauce and egg; beat well. Blend flours, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Smooth into prepared pan (I like to sprinkle some coarse sugar on the top at this point), and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Note: You can add 1/2 cup of dried fruit (apricots or raisins would be nice) or 1/2 cup of nuts (pumpkin seeds or walnuts). I left it out because I am hoping my son will eat this, and he's not into a lot of texture. Sigh.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Instant Shrub

Oh, goodness. I've been sick three times already this fall! They were all more of the fighting off kinds of sickness, not full blown luckily, but still, I've been battling and it takes the energy out of you. Is it kindergarten? Is my child bringing me home all sorts of strains of viruses? The last few days I've been battling a bit of a stomach bug. I don't want to talk about food just yet, you know? I'm trying to hydrate. I haven't wanted anything sweet, so now that I'm feeling better I'm sort of craving it. A little toast with jam hit the spot. The last of the raspberry jam, which is my favorite. After I scraped the jar almost clean, I stashed the jar on the side of the sink, because as we all know, a little water or seltzer in the end of a jam jar not only cleans the jar, but affords a frugal and refreshing drink. And you don't have to waste a spot of those precious raspberries that you hand picked in September. My only problem with jam-water (what is it called, anyway?) is that it needs a little brightening. A splash of apple cider vinegar does the drink and boom you have instant shrub. Instant shrub is going to get you, you know.

One of my favorite drinks in the fall is apple cider, a splash of apple cider vinegar topped with seltzer. When I was in Seattle last year, I was lucky enough to be taken to Bar Sajor and they had so many drinking vinegars! It's a big west coast thing. Did I have a rhubarb? I can't recall because there was so much good food eaten, but take a look at their lunch menu, it's all amazing stuff. I don't think I've seen any shrubs up in these parts, but I'm sure Brooklyn is all over it. Do you like shrubs? Or a vinegary drink? I love them!

Friday, November 15, 2013

An Ax to Grind

You know, I've never picked up an ax and split wood before. The other day I tried it out. We had some logs that were small, but they had nice cracks in them and looked like they could be split in half easily. Granted, it was oak, which is a hard wood, but that was some tough business!! I think I split 6 logs. My arms were all weak afterwards, and it messed with my quince prep (as I mentioned yesterday). What people used to have to do to survive always blows my mind. I am so thankful for my comfortable life! Comfort aside, there's always something to work on, and things to feel anxious over, and things that don't get done.

With that said, I am handing in my NaBloPoMo badge. I'll still write every day, but I think I'm going to  keep it in my personal files. It didn't use to bother me, but now just hurriedly writing something just to post it is starting to wear thin. I wonder why it was decided to hold this writing event in November, when everybody is starting to freak out about the holidays? Why not February, when there's absolutely nothing to do? Ah well, it's been fun! I'll see you next week, with something I've worked a little harder on.