Culinary Patchwork

So, left to my own devices for a week, I continued to have a blast experimenting in the kitchen. Mainly, my meals consisted of two (very satisfying) things; pasta and fool. I guess you could say that both are fairly humble dishes, but sometimes unadorned and simple is the best. And both leave a lot of room for patchwork-like experimentation. I suppose it makes the most sense to simply go through them all in order.

Encouraged by my lovely sweet potato pasta, I decided to combine smoked salmon, sun-dried tomato and a cream cheese sauce (which was basically butter, cream cheese, milk, chive and dill… I didn’t say this was lowfat cooking experimentation). I finished it off my bowl with a soft-boiled egg. Since this is basically what I’d put onto a bagel, I’ve decided to call this concoction Breakfast in a Bowl:

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Delicious. The egg was a perfect finishing touch; the soft yoke filled up the bowl like a sauce of its own.

I should probably mention that in addition to my one big trip to the grocery store on Sunday, I had the benefit of an overflowing garden and an empty house, so I took advantage of the many fresh veggies. My next cooking adventure was spaghetti and meatballs—but I made the sauce a little more interesting than usual. Starting with a plain tomato base, I decided to add all this:

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Most of it’s pretty standard- zucchini, carrots, tomatoes (all from the garden), avocado… and pineapple. Turns out, that little bit sweet (I even added some of the pineapple juice) makes your average pasta dish much more exciting. And of course, it turned into another wonderfully colorful meal (I also threw in some last-minute Swiss chard, also from the garden):

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Then I took a slight pasta detour and decided to try my hand at polenta. I’ve done this before, but never as the central feature of a meal. I started with the same basics; the polenta, chicken broth, and lots of cheese. Then, once again, I threw together lots of garden vegetables, but this time added a touch of sweet with some cubes of apple. All heated together, it become a wonderful warm sauce. I combined this and some barbequed pulled pork, and voila, a fabulous meal:

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Then, last but not least, I used the one garden product that I hadn’t yet experimented with; pears. Turns out, pears in pasta is divine. I combined them with dates, caramelized onion, feta cheese, prosciutto and ground macadamia nuts (incidentally, the food processor has always been my boyfriend’s favorite kitchen appliance and I now understand why).  

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But like I said, my kitchen experimentation didn’t end with pasta. I also made a few different fools, my new favorite dessert. I’ve decided that fool is like ice cream but better. It’s not too sweet and it’s very fluffy and light (perhaps not calorically, but at least in texture) so you can have a nice big bowl of it and not feel overwhelmed. First, I made a simple red currant fool with berries from the garden:

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Then I decided to go for something slightly more unusual and made banana-blueberry fool. Another success. The mushed banana blended in beautifully and the blueberries gave it a nice tart touch.

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Finally, since our pear trees were overflowing even after my pasta, I made a pear-honey-ground almond fool (thank you food processor, again).

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All and all, it was a week of pasta and fool heaven. In fact, I’m anticipating that this will be the majority of my diet when I move to my new apartment; not bad, since you get pretty much every bit of the food pyramid in there in the end.

Don’t think that I’ve forgotten my weekly breads. Last week’s orange-honey loaf was lovely:

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But I decided to make up for that yeast-less bread by making my own yeast! Yes, I am growing a sourdough starter. It’s been a couple of days, and it’s thriving. I’m rather fond of this gratifying little experiment; just water and flour, fed daily, and kept in a warm place. It’s been bubbling and smelling funny and doing all the things that one would help their homegrown yeast to do:

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We’ll find out tomorrow if it actually makes successful bread.

I’m also starting from scratch in another important way. I’ve decided to try printing my own fabrics. In fact, I spent the morning washing a few yards of solid cotton prints, making stamps, and preparing my dyes…

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…. But now it’s raining so I’ll have to wait for nicer weather to carry this experiment through (my mother is understandably nervous about my using her kitchen table to dye fabric for the first time). Ah well, more time to plan what exactly I’m going to print.

Besides, I got my fabric fix this week in other ways. Having decided to share the wealth of my fabulous antique fabrics and put together a couple of patchwork pillows that are now on sale on Etsy!

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One is made of that 1960s Tasmanian fabric, and the other is old feedsack cloth. I used flannel for the alternating squares so that they’re nice and soft.

Last, but not least, my latest ninepatch. This week has been…hot. Not just hot; broiling. The kind of heat that you don’t even have to move in to break a sweat. This isn’t necessarily my favorite weather, but it’s quintessential Boston summer, so I tried to make a patch that captured that feeling with bright, warm colors (and yes, to continue using up scraps from my feedsack fabric):

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That being said, I’m looking forward to the fall and this next phase of my life. In a couple of weeks we’ll be moving into our new apartment and I’ll be cooking and patchworking all over the place.

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2 Comments

Filed under cooking, quilting

2 responses to “Culinary Patchwork

  1. Izzy

    I am greatly impressed by your productivity while we were away! All the pastas look absolutely DELICIOUS and I’m going to need you to make the polenta with vegetables before you move out.

  2. ME thinkiset your on your way to a culinary articel… I loved your post. Esp the Chickens. I think your trying to lure me from behind the redwood curtain with food. I think that is great that your making so much food. My dinners include really good cheese a lean cuisine ( which are good) and lots of wine. Hoipe your enjoying your food fest

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