Author Archives: mlaforge

About mlaforge

Reader, teacher, mother, principal, mathematician, quilter, baker, neighbor.

Crabmeat Gruyere Fritatta, salad, Flourless chocolate cake, first week of new job, a conversation with an old friend, and books

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Frittata, courtesy of Mark Bittman

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups cheese (today I used Gruyere, but I have used cheddar, havarti, or in a pinch whatever is shredded in the bag from Hannaford)
  • 2 cups of milk, cream, or half and half (today I had half and half
  • Salt and pepper and a shake of cayenne (I didn’t have it today because my parents don’t have any and I left it on the counter at home)

Mix the eggs with a whisk until blended, add the rest, pour into an oiled cast iron frying pan and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Oh, and I forgot, add fresh crabmeat!  Yes! If you are me and you are making this any other time than now when I am at my parents who often have fresh crabmeat, you add something sauted…onions and broccoli, or ham and potatoes and onions fried up together, or whatever.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs

325 degrees F 45-60 minutes until set and top is cracked. Best is to use a springform pan so you can take it out easily.

Special Whipped Cream for Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 3 tsp instant coffee crystals
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whip until done, of course.

Here are some pictures, including ones of us. We arranged to have crabmeat frittata, farmers market salad, and flourless chocolate cake together on Sunday. I brought the stuff and cooked in Harpswell. Mom and Jim watching the finals of the world cup (France won) and Dad and I took apart a computer and talked on the front porch, watching the waterfront. Girls stayed behind to make props for the Theater Project’s production of The Hobbit (think Beach Blanket Hobbit) Theater Camp they are leading. Rowan and Nick were present and both took home some of the strawberry freezer jam I made yesterday.

Whew. Enough. I’m goimg to read…

ML

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Memorial Book brunch June 26 2018

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Last Saturday

Gathered with friends last Saturday to attend a memorial service for Edie Rentz, friend, neighbor, educator. Sad and beautiful. I was lucky enough to also attend a wedding that same afternoon, for another neighbor, friend, and educator, Carol O’Donnell. Happy and beautiful. I felt gratitude at both to be with friends and family.

Some Freeport educators were able to gather again at Karen’s house on Tuesday, for brunch and to talk about books, of course. The food, conversation, and company were all wonderful and shared below.

Today it is pouring, though I managed to get the donuts to Public Works without incident. Wrapping up, writing notes, quilting, reading, shopping, doing laundry, reading. Celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary yesterday by going to Henry and Marty’s for dinner and discussing Jim’s dream of a river cruise in Bordeaux. Josie’s 18th birthday is Saturday. These days where I don’t have a schedule and leap frog from one activity to another are so glorious. I suspect it isn’t as glorious in writing, sorry!

Michele

Some books we talked about:Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 10.01.09 AM.png

Some articles we talked about:

In Time, Matt de la Pena’s Why Children Shouldn’t be Shielded from Darkness.
And also in Time, Kate DiCamillo’s response in Why Children’s Books Should be a Little Sad.

Some of the recipes from brunch

from Karen:

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From Mary, a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins is available on request.

From Jean, the recipe for Blueberry Strata from Bent Creek Lodge can be found here.

From Edie, shared last year, her Asparagus Strata

ASPARAGUS MUSHROOM HAM STRATA

         Makes 6-8 main dish servings.

  • 1 lb. asparagus ends trimmed and stalks cut into 2-3-inch pieces
  • 2 TBL butter
  • 1-2 minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3-4 cups mushrooms (white and baby bella combo is tasty)
  • 1 lb. loaf crusty bread (sourdough is great) cut into 1-2 -inch cubes, crust and all
  • 2 cups shredded Jarlsberg lite cheese
  • 2 cups cubed ham
  • 6 eggs (or egg substitute or combination)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1/2 ‘n 1/2 and skim milk)
  • herbs of choice : 1 TBL fresh or 1-2 tsp. dried dill, oregano, thyme, basil( I used fresh dill, then added more dried.)
  • pepper to taste  (no salt necessary with ham)
  1. Cook asparagus al denté about 3 minutes; drain and dry on paper towel.
  2. Sauté garlic and onion in butter 2-3 minutes; add mushrooms and cook until soft and most liquid has evaporated.
  3. Spray 9” x 13” baking dish. Layer 2/3’s of the bread cubes.  Top with ham, mushroom mixture, 2/3’s of the cheese and sprinkle with 2/3’s of  your choice of herbs.  Cover with remaining bread cubes.  (Note:  the 2/3’s portions here are my way of ensuring the top layer has enough of the textures and flavors.)
  4. Beat together eggs and milk. Add  pepper to taste.  Pour into the dish and press lightly with spoon or spatula to thorough moisten bread.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and herbs on top.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 24 hours. (I don’t know what a minimum chilling time would be. Perhaps 4-6 hours?  I always make this kind of dish the night before the brunch.)
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bakes uncovered for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes.

Note:  I can see any number of variations to play with:  sautéed peppers, Canadian bacon or prociutto, difference cheeses, green onions, etc., etc., etc.   A crusty multigrain bread  would make this even heartier.  Bon Appétit!

From me, a recipe from the Inn on Canaan Street, Canaan, New Hampshire:

Cardigan Sunrise Breakfast Strata (Overnight recipe)

Lightly butter 9×13 inch baking dish. Butter bread slices on both sides and line bottom of dish with half the bread. Saute scallions and ham cubes in butter/oil until scallions are soft and ham is slightly browned. Sprinkle across bread. Spread ¾ of the cheese over the ham. Layer the rest of the bread.

Pour the egg and milk mixture over the whole thing and press with your hands to be sure everything is distributed well. (That last part is me.) Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Bake for an hour or so total. 30 minutes covered, 30 minutes uncovered.

  • 16 thick slices white bread, crusts removed (I used two medium Hannaford sourdough crusty loaves and very definitely did not cut off the crusts. Sliced thick and then in half.
  • A stick of soft butter (I used only about half)
  • 6-8 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cups of ham, diced
  • 12 oz. of a combination of cheddar and provolone (I used cheddar and Havarti)
  • 10 extra large eggs, beaten (I only had 9, didn’t seem to matter.)
  • 3 cups of milk

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April 29, 2018

Always wonderful when someone whose cooking you admire and are so lucky to share asks for a recipe. Here’s the Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Bars, Rick, and the original post with it in it, in case you want to see pictures of us from Halloween 2011!

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Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars (Martha Stewart’s Food magazine a long time ago)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp, plus 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line the bottom and side of a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat stick of butter, brown sugar, flour, and salt until coarse crumbs form.  Pour mixture into prepared pan; press firmly into bottom.
  2. Bake until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.  let cool, 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same large bowl, mix eggs, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and melted butter until well combined.  Add chocolate chips and pecans; spread over crust.  Bake until set 25-32 minutes.  (I add the two because today I was in the shower when the timer went off and was at least that long and it is perfect.)  Cool in pan, but you can just lift the parchment paper right out.

And, here are a few pictures:

 

LaForge out.

Blizzard #2 1/5/18: Snow, Pumpkin Bread, Oatmeal Bread, Re-reads and new reads

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Dear Josie and Maggie,

Because you have said that Snow Days in your memories include food baking in the kitchen, I am copying today’s two recipes here in case you want to make them years and years from now.

This is a pretty weird year and I often wonder if you will remember the good or the bad. Most recently, a writer I respect but don’t enjoy, said this about now and I’m on board. Here’s hoping that you are about to enjoy pumpkin bread in your own future, wherever it is.

This is Nana’s pumpkin bread and there is some kind of story behind it. I called her to get it but she is out playing bridge, Puppa says.

Nana’s Pumpkin Bread

1. 2 2/3 c. Sugar
1. 2/3 c. Oil
2.2.2.2. 4 eggs
3. 2 tsp. Baking soda
3. 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
3. 3/4 tsp. Salt
3. 1 tsp. Cinnamon
4. 3/1/3 cup flour
5. Mix well.
6. 2/3 cup water
7. 1 cup nuts (we never do that, but instead add an entire package of mini chocolate chips if we want to add something)

8. Mix well again.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and cook at 300 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Or

Pour into 3 greased and floured loaf pans and cook at 300 degrees F for 55 minutes.

I suspect you could make muffins if you wanted.

They tend to need a few more minutes to cook. And sometimes I cook them at 325.

Honey Oatmeal Bread

You probably know this already, because by now I have probably found you a used copy, but one of the seminal cookbooks of our family is the Portland Symphony Cookbook. Sometime in the 70’s a fancy Women’s Committee of the Portland Symphony Orchestra held fancy dinners and eventually produced a cookbook. We make a lot of things from it and if a cookbook yields even 2 or 3 wonderful recipes, it is considered a good one. This one includes Baklava, Fudge Pie, Carrot Dill soup, and Honey Oatmeal Bread among other things. I have modified the bread over the years so here is my version:

In a large bread bowl pour 2 cups of boiling water over 1 cup of rolled oats (not instant). Let it sit for half an hour or so. Add 1/2 cup honey, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of melted honey. Once that is all mixed in, add two packages of yeast and let it sit until the mixture is foamy (because the yeast is alive and hungry). Add flour until it holds together and knead 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. (About 5 cups of flour).

Scrape out the bowl you used with a scraper or whatever so that most of the loose bits are gone and smooth some oil around it all. Put your ball of dough in, smoothing some oil over the top, and cover it with a wet, wrung-out, clean, dishcloth. Set it to rise somewhere warm–will take a couple hours–until the doughball is 2 times the size it started.

When it is doubled, punch it down and divide it in two, and then two again. Form balls of each quarter and place two side by side into each greased loaf pan. Drizzle a little melted butter over the top (or pat it on). Let it rise again some then put it into the preheated 325 degree oven for 50 minutes or so until brown and hollow sounding when tapped with the end of a knife. I think this last part is magical thinking and not particularly informative, but heck, your Nana does it, so I do.

In other news,

I’m reading Little Fires Everywhere, London Falling (audio reread), Great Expectations (for the first time thanks to Jean), Jane Unlimited, The Girl in the Tower, Shadow in Summer. Jim’s reading A Horse Walks into a Bar that I got him for Christmas. I’m not sure what you are reading right now, though Maggie, you might be reading a book on Korean Kpop dramas and Josie you might be reading Van Jones’ new book. Maggie, you have been drawing and logging into your google classrooms for school (even though there has only been one day of school yet in the 2nd term). Josie you have been working on college applications and texting Thomas, I suspect.

Love,
your Mom

P.S. Before I could select “post”, you got into an argument over Nick eating the last Hobnob of Josie’s. He is now, apparently, banned from our house forever. It was to be Jim’s birthday present. That seems lame it me and the response outsized, but we’ll see. More love, but still your Mom

Birthday Freezer

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For my birthday, Barbara and Gerry bought me an upright freezer.  We thought I could cook on the weekends and put it in the freezer for the weeks.  Well, we all know that I’m not great at sticking to routines, but it does seem like inspiration might see me through this.  The painful part is thinking of what to make, it turns out, so if I document what I do for the next little while, I will have some idea of what worked and what didn’t for the future.

I didn’t document the first time around, here, though I have some pictures.  I cooked all day on a Sunday and ended up with

  • Two enormous lasagne pans with chicken stew (carrots and potatoes from the share, made entirely with boneless breasts and thighs in the crockpot and gravy made from stock).  One we ate, one I froze.
  • Two large eggplant lasagne that I think only Josie and I eat.  One eaten, one frozen.
  • A pound of ground chicken cooked in taco seasoning to be taken out for a taco night
  • Two chicken enchilada casseroles.  One eaten that week, one frozen.

This time, I am still kind of all over the place.  I made:

  • A pound of ground chicken cooked in taco seasoning
  • Pizza from pizza dough I froze, but not the first Big Cook.  Some other time.
  • Blueberry french toast to eat because the bread was getting stale. There are leftovers, so I guess I’ll have them in the refrigerator for dinner tomorrow or Tuesday, or tonight, for Maggie, since we are eating…
  • Chicken Marbella, enough to freeze half but my parents are coming so who knows, maybe we’ll just eat it into the week
  • Seedy Date Bars, which has nothing to do with freezing at all but I want something snack like to bring to school for me and Maggie
  • Overnight coconut oats – again no freezing but for breakfast
  • Cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries because they are finally in the stores and my dad likes it so much
  • Date bars from the Rebekah’s cookbook

That said, I did buy a big package of chicken breasts and thighs so I can make crockpot chicken stew sometime, and froze them.  I think I would like to know how the Chicken Marbella freezes.

I’d take pictures and upload them and write some more, but I am too tired and need to go work a while before my parents come for dinner.  Maybe later.  I’m reading Meddling Kids and Ancillary Justice and Carry On.

M.

Beginning of July 2017: jam, pie, greens

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I’ve been trying all day to write this post but now that I’m finally here, I realize just how tired I am.  Jim and I, plus Dad and Mom, spent the day working on the outside of the house–sanding, scraping, reframing windows.  I spent the afternoon making dinner and supplies for the girls’ lunches this week since they are teaching a Theater Project camp.  Tabouli, pasta salad, and pasta and greens.

Pasta and Greens

  • A giant bowl of Swiss chard, chopped roughly, plus the stems separated and chopped
  • A big old sweet onion, chopped big
  • Some pasta boiled separately with some water reserved, about a cup
  • A pound of crumbled feta

Sauté the onion and stems.  Add all the chopped chard and sauté for 3-5 minutes.  Add some water (1/4 cup or so) and cover to steam, another 3-5 minutes.  This way the greens get tender.  Mix in as much pasta as you want and whatever kind.  I like fusilli.  Mix in 1/2 a cup or so of reserved pasta water. Turn off the heat, mix in feta, cover and let sit so the feta melts some and the salt moves from the cheese to the rest of the dish.  That’s it.

Freezer Jam

Make strawberry freezer jam according to the Certo liquid pectin recipe.  🙂

And now, for the Celebration of the Portland Symphony Cookbook portion of the blog, recipes from pages 301, 302 and 307.  Actually, I’m not going to talk about page 307 but I did make baklava today and so it is worth noting that THAT is where you will find it.

Strawberry Pie, p. 302

  • 1 baked pie shell, 9 inches or so
  • 3 cups of strawberries, sliced and divided
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 – 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

I made a batch of my mother’s pie crust (here), divided it in half, chilled it for 30 minutes, and then rolled it out.  The one for the Strawberry Pie, I pricked and baked with weights in the bottom of it (um…dried chickpeas) and when I dumped the chickpeas out, the shell slid beautifully out of the glass plate.  It was so pretty, I just filled it like that.  I think in the future, I’ll leave in glass since the syrup leaked a little through the bottom in one spot.

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But anyway…

Simmer 1 of the cups of strawberries with 3/4 cup of water for 3-4 minutes.  Make up a paste of cornstarch and sugar and as much/little water as you can get away with so that the paste works.  Add it to the simmering strawberries and simmer another few (or more) minutes until the syrup is thick and clear.  Cool for 5-10 minutes.

The other two cups of strawberries (or maybe a few more because they are so delicious) you put in the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour the slightly cooled syrup over the strawberries in the pie shell.

Chill for 1-3 hours and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Apparently, it can be made with raspberries or blueberries too.  But I haven’t done that.  Though I might now.

Fudge Pie p. 301

Compared to the Strawberry Pie, even easier!

  • 1 UNBAKED pie shell
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Put the butter in a saucepan on VERY low heat.  Stack the chocolate pieces on top. The butter melts and the chocolate falls down into it and melts too.  Turn off the heat, if you remember to, before the chocolate is all the way melted because then when you stir the last solid bits in, it cools the whole thing down a little so you can…

Add the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla, mixing well, with a whisk.  Add the eggs one at a time or even all at once, whisking until the whole thing holds together.

Pour into the bike shell.  Bake 45-60 minutes until the pie is nicely rounded and the top is cracked a little.  If you tap it with your finger, you’ll know that the pie is baked, and not still made out of batter.

As it cools, it sinks down in the shell.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

In other news…

  • I wrote a much more scintillating post yesterday and LOST the whole thing.  Wordpress hadn’t auto saved in 29 minutes.  What is this?  The computer lab at UNH in 1986?  Needless to say, I was upset, but here I am back again tonight.  Let’s see if this one sticks.
  • We went to Burlington, VT last week to see UVM.  Found two great bookstores, a cute town, and stayed in a hotel together.  The togetherness was very…together.
  • I got new glasses.

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  • I am reading books.  Josie is reading a book about science and the answers to unusual questions.  Maggie is reading 100 Years of Solitude.  Jim is reading For the Common Good, Chuck’s new book.  Yay Chuck!

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  • I have finished David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding and am desolee.
  • We also visited with cousins, and Michele attended a conference in Bar Harbor, BJ and Phoebe and Max got their picture taken and there are flowers on our window sill.

Love,
Michele

Sunny, so much like summer, and Sunday night dinner with the gang

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  1.  Stir fry tonight.  Chicken, bok choi, pea pods, peas, scallions, tricolor carrots, lomein noodles.  Mirin, soy sauce, a little honey.  Josie Adolf and Kevin will put bottled “Classic sauce” on it in the end.
  2. Oven not preheating and staying hot like it should.  But I managed to make some cookies in between its shenanigans.
  3. Rode my bike to Wild Oats this morning to have breakfast with Jeanne.
  4. Two flowers came up from the bulbs I planted years ago.  I brought them inside.  Three other flowers grew out back and I’m not sure why.  The lilac bush we planted last year is still small but it is healthy, so that’s nice.
  5. Made Russian iced tea with fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice.
  6. Kevin and Josie are coming over.
  7. I’m reading Oryx and Crake, The City of Stairs, The Thief (because Meg Whalen Turner has a NEW one finally, so a reread is in order), and the Short Drop.  Jim has been reading graphic novels…Lemire’s Roughnecks, and one called Tom Boy.  Maggie just finished Chronicle of a Death Foretold and on her own she is reading The Butcher’s Hook.  Josie is reading Catcher in the Rye.
  8. The house smells like ginger and scallions and cookies.  There is grass on the ground and new leaves on the trees and the first cherries were at the store.
  9. Yesterday we went to see Josie at All State, Nana, Pupa, Jim, Michele.