Splurge

P1010685One of my goals this year is to buy more American made clothing. This is actually something I’ve been doing for a while not, but I’d like to go beyond just basics from American Apparel, and I also want to incorporate the whole family in this endeavor. After all, we spend most of our time defending this country and it’s important to us to invest in it as well.P1010701

America once thrived in textile production and clothing manufacture. Of course, this was before the days of labor laws and safe working conditions. Remember a few months back when there was news of factory fires in Southeast Asia? That sort of thing happened here too. It’s unfortunate, but in our quest to have all the latest and greatest, we often forget that our clothes are often made by people who are slightly elevated above slavery (if at all). My point is this, while often more expensive, American manufactured clothing is made by people who are being paid a fair wage and there is more transparency as to the sourcing and production of garments leading to a better connection and understanding of where our clothes come from. There’s a huge movement to do this with our food, why not our clothing as well? P1010706

I love clothes, and I used to have a closet bursting full of fast fashion from retailers like H&M and Target. Then, a few years back, I cleared out all the junk and opted for a smaller wardrobe of higher quality that I could keep and enjoy for years. I’m not saying I don’t shop at these retailers from time to time, but I find myself doing it less and less, opting instead to work more creativity into a smaller collection. I realize that to buy completely American is impractical for more Americans, especially for those of us on small incomes and with small children who outgrow their clothing faster than you can say “Elmo’s World”. It’s really handy to go to Old Navy and stock up on $10 shirts and pants. After all, we live in a global economy, but I think it’s time we demand more transparency and quality in the things we wear, as well as fairness and safety for the people who make them. Buying American can be a big and important part of that.P1010709

This coat was made by Poppy Von Frolich in San Francisco, and it incorporates pretty much everything I am a sucker for like buffalo plaid and deer motifs. I actually have a similar coat that is unlined with bracelet sleeves, making it great for fall but impractical for winter. I had my eye on this one after I saw it on Pinterest, and decided it would be a great present to myself. I love the fabric (it’s Italian wool), the swing fit, and the details. A slightly peter pan-style collar, the swing style, and the overall quality and fit . I received absolutely phenomenal customer service from Trudy, It’s refreshing to have a connection to the person who made your garment, and to know how much pride they poured into their work. She will definitely be my go-to gal next time I’m looking for a coat that will last me forever and I can feel proud to wear.

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7 Shots: Week 8

19Feb: Outside Time

19Feb: Outside Time

20Feb: Oatmeal and new knits

20Feb: Oatmeal and new knits

21Feb: This shirt no longer fits

21Feb: This shirt no longer fits

22Feb: Lunch

22Feb: Lunch

23Feb: Total pyjama day

23Feb: Total pyjama day

24Feb: New clothes

24Feb: New clothes

25Feb: Game that I don't yet know the rules to

25Feb: Game that I don’t yet know the rules to

I took a couple days off from the Internet for no other reason than I could. Of course, this did not preclude me from obsessively browsing Pinterest on my phone. Nonetheless, last week as previously posted was all about kitchen time. It seems like this week is all about kitchen misses more than hits. Right now the kitchen is both my personal classroom and therapy. I think sometimes the hardest part of a deployment is that last few weeks, when you know that you’ll be reunited soon, but just not soon enough. Here’s hoping March will fly and bring April quickly on it’s winds.

Kitchen Round-Up

It’s been a while since I spent any real time in the kitchen. Usually, there’s a mad cacophony of plates and pans, flours and sugars, herbs and spices, kitchen things and more kitchen things. But I took a break for a couple months, kept things super simple, ate a few store bought rotisserie chickens. It was a good break. It gave me time to acquire a few new cookbooks, go through quite a pile of magazines, and return to my kitchen inspired and ready to get back into the homemade.

Here’s how it went:

Maple meringues

Maple meringues made with left over egg whites from an ice cream fail

Hazelnut butter! Great on toast or in sandwiches with preserves.

Hazelnut butter! Great on toast or in sandwiches with preserves.

Cherry almond baked oatmeal. Delicious, but still tweaking the recipe for this one.

Cherry almond baked oatmeal. Delicious, but still tweaking the recipe for this one.

 

Life changing bread. I don't know that it's been life changing for me, but it was a good way to use up lots of nuts and seeds. It's filling and makes great toast as promised.

Life changing bread. I don’t know that it’s been life changing for me, but it was a good way to use up lots of nuts and seeds. It’s filling and makes great toast as promised.

Basil infused olive oil. I love having this on hand for homemade pizza and pesto.

Basil infused olive oil. I love having this on hand for homemade pizza and pesto.

Oh look! Pesto! Spinach, almonds, pine nuts,  with the basil oil. The Bear even enjoyed a bit of this.

Oh look! Pesto! Spinach, almonds, pine nuts, with the basil oil. The Bear even enjoyed a bit of this.

Brown sugar pound cake. I can't speak for the final product just yet, but the batter tasted amazing. (batter is calorie free...right?)

Brown sugar pound cake. I can’t speak for the final product just yet, but the batter tasted amazing. (batter is calorie free…right?)

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Maple Hazelnut Butter

P1010657Listen, before you say “Oh, you had hazelnuts? Why didn’t you make Nutella?!” I’d like to point out that hazelnuts aren’t just for making Nutella, they are far more versatile than that. In fact, yesterday I made both bread and this nut butter with them, and I don’t miss the chocolate at all. They’ve also become much easier to find. I bought these at Trader Joe’s. In the PNW they’re available in the fall, though I recommend you buy them already shelled.

If you haven’t tried it before, nut butter is super easy to make and endlessly adaptable to your tastes and dietary needs. Here I added cinnamon for a little spice and just a tablespoon of maple syrup for a hint of sweetness. I think it would be great with honey too, and maybe a pinch of nutmeg or ginger. Whatever you decide, make it up, slather it on your favorite toast or muffin and enjoy the fruits of your labor.P1010651

Cinnamon Maple Hazelnut Butter (adapted from My New Roots and Food in Jars)

Makes approx 2 cups

Note: If you decide to use more maple syrup you may want to dial back the amount of oil you use as it will effect the consistency)

2 1/2 C shelled hazelnuts

4T sunflower oil (or other neutral oil such as Safflower) + more as needed

1T maple syrup

3t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F

1) Spread hazelnuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes. Nuts should be fragrant and golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes then rub with a kitchen towel to help loosen skins

2) Remove as much of the skin as you can and put nuts in bowl of food processor. Grind until nuts are coarse crumbs (approx 3 minutes)

3) With processor on, add oil 1 T at a time until butter reaches desired consistency (it should be spreadable, but not too greasy. For me it was 4T +1t)

4) Add maple syrup and cinnamon, process until fully incorporated

5) Transfer to jar and store in fridge

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7 Shots: Week 7

OMG, you guys! Did you see Downton Abbey last night? What a disappointment, truly. I feel like the show is just going to collapse onto itself next season if the overly over dramatic keeps up (and the death of all the truly good and likable characters). Of course, I’ll probably watch it just to see what everyone is wearing. So anyway, this week started off down in Seattle where we enjoyed room service and some fantastic croissants. There may have been an even more fantastic grilled cheese in there too, but I’m still tinkering with my own recreation to share with you later this week.

12Feb: Coffee and Croissant from room service

12Feb: Coffee and Croissant from room service

13Feb: Star Trek

13Feb: Star Trek

14Feb: Is this thing on?

14Feb: Is this thing on?

15Feb: The tree outside our house

15Feb: The tree outside our house

16Feb: The mixer is too loud

16Feb: The mixer is too loud

17Feb: Tea and mincemeat pie (and Downton Abbey)

17Feb: Tea and mincemeat pie (and Downton Abbey)

18Feb: No Makeup

18Feb: No Makeup

Tomato Lager Soup

P1010533Every once in a while, I wonder if I miss living in a city. Then I go visit a city and realize I don’t miss it at all. There was a time when I was living in Philadelphia, and I thought I would live there forever because I loved it so much. Then life happened. I knew there was more out there, and felt suffocated in the city. So I ran off and joined the Navy, and met DB, and we got married, and had the Bear, and now we in live in a small, remote place, and it’s great. Except for one thing. I miss the food. Philadelphia is an amazing food town, and I miss having access to all its deliciousness. In fact, the food is probably the only thing I really miss. (Ok, seriously, friends, I miss yous too, but you’re people, not things, and we always miss the people in our lives when we are far apart from one another)

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This soup is the brainchild of chef Scott Schroeder of South Philly Tap Room, once a stone’s throw from my apartment and scene of my first date with DB. He had oysters, I had this soup. I love this soup. Previously, I tried to recreate it here, and it was good, but it wasn’t THE soup. It reminded me of home, but it didn’t take me there. So I was pretty excited when I visited with my mom last spring and found this in the paper. The soup! And it’s easy! Made with pantry staples! Perfection. I used to hate tomato soup, but this what tomato soup is supposed to be. Rich, warm, with a little bit of texture and a hint of heat.

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Tomato Lager Soup (adapted from the South Philly Tap Room)

This is comfort food, it’s not meant to be light or diet friendly. Don’t skimp on the butter. If you want to go the traditional route use Yuengling which should be widely available. I use our home-brewed lager, but when we’re out of that I opt for the Trader Joe’s Vienna Style Lager. Finally, whatever you do, use whole peeled tomatoes and not diced or crushed, I tried this once and it didn’t achieve the desired effect. This makes about 8 cups and will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 jalapeño, including seeds, chopped (optional)

18oz (1 1/2 bottles) lager beer (see note)

1 Can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes in juice

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup diced onion

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter until and brown slightly (you want it to be a deep gold, not tan)

2. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Saute until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the lager and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes then remove from heat.

4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Place soup back on medium heat and add the diced fresh tomatoes and diced onion, cook about 3more minutes. (if you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer soup in batches to food processor or blender to puree)

5. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. (Alternatively, once it’s pureed (before adding the fresh vegetables) allow to cool and freeze until ready to use. Defrost and then add the fresh vegetables when reheating)

Happy Valentine’s Day

P1010596In truth, before I was married I can remember one really fun date I went on for Valentine’s day, and then plenty of other years drinking obnoxiously with 30 of my closest friends. Those drinking days were great, but I’m glad I have DB now and that we can be happy and in love everyday and not just today.

This is a song he wrote me in the brief window between when we started dating and when we got married. A time that feels like it happened a lifetime ago, but really, it’s only been two years. What an adventure!