All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dinner Menu for a Fellow Gardener

My dear friend and mentor Elma is an amazing gardener and has blessed me with all kinds of produce over the years, so I wanted to make a special in-season meal for her and her husband using fresh produce from the garden.  Of course, I didn't think to take any pictures (partly because I was rushing around since I hadn't planned on needing to release a rabbit in the midst of my preparations - see post below!), but the food was yummy and she thoroughly enjoyed it, which meant the world to me.  She was also gracious about helping me finish up the food prep.

One of my goals for this summer is to share the beauty of my backyard by doing some entertaining and exposing people to the fabulous food that can be prepared from fresh, in-season garden produce.  It's a delight for me, because good food eaten in the company of people I enjoy makes the food taste ten times better.

Below is the menu (minus any pictures!):

The Menu:

Strawberry Sorbet with Fresh Whipped Cream


Do baby bunnies count?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Worth Contemplating

"That which, like a sea, threatens to drown you, shall be a highway for your escape."
- Charles H. Spurgeon

Girl Meets God

"... what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening."

"Jesus is fishing for you, not to kill you but to give you life."

...  you don't merely follow the commandments, you beautify them."

-  Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pizza and Champagne!

I had a wonderful time last evening celebrating my 5-year cancer milestone with family and friends over pizza and champagne.  The weather was lovely, and it was a perfect way to celebrate health, honor dear ones who had walked with me, and to feature the in-season  food God so wondrously designed our bodies to be nourished by and enjoy.

One of the fruits of my cancer journey was discovering the "local/in-season/organic" approach to eating.  While I certainly wasn't happy about having to endure a cancer diagnosis and treatment, I will be eternally grateful for where I landed food-wise; it was very significant for me to celebrate that aspect of the journey last night as well.

Everyone pitched in and helped...

... young and old.

 Since garlic was one of the featured ingredients of the evening, it seemed only fitting to include the beautiful garlic scapes... part of the decor, in addition to incorporating it into the menu.

The Menu:
Crostini Appetizers:
Goat Cheese with Strawberry Jam
Champagne & Sparkling Cider
Strawberry Sorbet with  Fresh Whipped Cream  

Peter Reinhart's pizza crust recipe was the backbone of the evening, so here's the recipe:

Peter Reinhart's All-Purpose Pizza Dough
Source:  adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

5 c. unbleached bread flour (22.5 oz.)
1 T. sugar
 1-1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. instant yeast
2 T. olive oil
1 3/4 c. plus 1 T. water, room temperature
olive oil spray

In a large bowl using a large spoon, combine all ingredients.  Mix until ingredients are combined and all the flour is wet.  (Dough will be soft, and gluten won't be fully developed at this point.)

Turn dough out onto lightly-floured counter and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 3 minutes.  If dough seems very stiff, incorporate more water, a teaspoon at a time, as you mix; if the dough is wet and sticky, sprinkle in more flour as you mix.  Dough should be tacky but not sticky.  Lightly grease a bowl with olive oil.  Form dough into smooth ball and place in a deep bowl, turning to coat the surface with oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap but do not let wrap touch dough.  Let dough stand at room temperature 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight, or up to three days.  (The dough will continue to rise in bowl until it goes dormant from the cold.)

Two hours before you plan to make the pizzas, mist a baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut dough into 4 equal pieces, and form each piece into a smooth, round ball.  Place dough balls on prepared pan, mist lightly with olive oil, and cover lightly with plastic wrap.  While dough proofs and comes to room temperature, prepare toppings and preheat oven.  Stretch into 8-10" rounds and place on parchment paper.  (Be sure to click on this helpful link to learn Peter Reinhart's technique for shaping pizza dough.)

To bake pizzas:
About 45 minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack one-third of the way up from bottom of oven.  Place pizza stone on rack.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Prepare pizzas as directed in recipe.  (You will be baking the pizzas one at a time.)  Using pizza peel or flat cookie sheet, slide topped pizza along with the parchment paper onto the hot baking stone in oven and bake 5-7 minutes until toppings are bubbling, cheese is turning golden, and edges of the pizza are golden brown.  Rotate pizzas halfway through for even baking if necessary.  Remove pizza from oven with peel and allow to stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Yields: 4 crusts

"The quality of the pizza is determined by the crust.  A pizza with a great crust can have anything on it and still be memorable."

Cancer Treatment Centers of America logo, as drawn by my nephew Ricky.  :)
(Thanks, Juanita, for snapping most of the pictures!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Elma's Sour Cherries

My dear friend Elma was kind enough to share her bumper crop of sour cherries with me.

I was so struck with the beauty of not only the cherries,

but their quaint farmhouse property as well...

I'm so grateful for her generosity, both in friendship and food!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vintage Scrap Rug

I was thrilled to acquire this little rug (or maybe it's a chair mat??) today at an Amish junk shop.  I had seen a few weeks ago when I stopped by their shop, but it wasn't marked for sale.  In fact, it was simply part of the workshop, sitting on one of the chairs.  I had looked at it carefully, trying to figure out how it was made and mentally took notes so I could make one for myself.  After I got home, I could have kicked myself  - why in the world didn't I ask if it was for sale?  And, why didn't I at least take a picture?!  So today, I stopped back at their shop and timidly asked if they would be interested in selling it.  The kind shopkeeper wanted to give it to me instead of selling it when she realized how much I appreciated it.  She had purchased it at a yard sale at a Mennonite home, for the very same reason as me.  Of course I paid for it, but it warmed my heart that another woman with the love of fabrics and creating wanted to share her treasure with me.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Recent Thrift Shop Finds

Some vintage buttons,

...pillow cases,

... lovely needlework

(here's an up-close view),

... some sweet hankies,

(how could I resist the letter "H"??!),

some more needlework...

... that begs to be appreciated,

and some Pyrex mixing bowls -

such fun colors!
(even though I couldn't figure out how to capture their beauty with my camera!)