The Kitchen

Does anyone else have a place they go or a thing they do throughout their day that just keeps moving them forward, that recharges them for whatever the day may bring? Aside from being on a luxurious vacation or actually going somewhere, being in the kitchen for me is like therapy. At the end of the day to stand in front of the stove while I cook dinner is one of my favorite parts of the evening. If we have been really busy and I haven’t had time to batch cook on the weekends or bake I can feel it.  Sometimes I just NEED to be in the kitchen, I just CRAVE creating something simply delicious. The kitchen is where I recharge.

Watching the olive oil in the pan heat, chopping vegetables, watching everything soften and come together as the fragrance of dinner fills the air.  The flavors and smells of a meal coming together, a little of this and a little of that, it soothes me. Sometimes I have a long day and just come home and throw a dinner together in desperation, but not if I can help it. I think meal planning is what allows me to do this during the week so well. If come home and have no idea what to make, then it is not always as an enjoyable experience. Even just having a slight idea helps.

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Might I let you in on a little secret, the best way to spend time if you really don’t feel like watching the pot boil, turn on some tunes and just dance. Honestly. Before my husband comes home and I’m cooking dinner is often a dance party in the kitchen. The kittens just hate when I try to get them involved in these dance parties. If I’m not picking them up and dancing around with them (swaying really, I can’t dance). They are sitting in the kitchen staring at me. I am totally going to be THAT mom. You know, the one that dances around when her favorite oldies song comes on. Anyone else have one of those? Yea, my mom was mortifying as a teenager. Windows down, oldies blaring, and she is rocking out at the steering wheel. WHILE I had friends in the car. Looking back, its a funny memory but as a teenager it was the worst.

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I’ve been reading a fabulous book called Cold Tangerines By Shauna Niequist. It really got me thinking about the need that we have to create, to make something beautiful, to express ourselves. While I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person I have always been told that I have the ability to create wonderful and unique things in the kitchen. I got to thinking, the kitchen is where I create, my creative outlet and recharge zone. Just like writing, or gardening, or any other hobby might do it for someone else. As we create we recharge and reconnect to our souls and to our true selves.

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What recharges and connects you?

Homemade Tortillas

Based off this recipe

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup warm water

Directions: Mix dough in kitchen aid mixer with dough hook on medium speed. First mixing flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add oil and water. Let dough come together until it is no longer sticking to the bowl and forms a smooth ball. Divide into 12 balls and let set for 10 minutes. Heat a cast iron skillet (or regular skillet) to medium heat. Roll balls out flat adding flour as necessary.  Add small amount of oil to pan. Place first dough round into pan and cook 30 seconds or until bubble form. Flip once bubble form and the side is slightly brown. Cook until bubbles form again and remove from heat. Continue cooking additional tortillas. Adding oil as needed. If you do not add enough oil they may be hard to bend in half.

Family Recipes

This past weekend was Pi day (3-14-15). Being married to a science nerd and being somewhat of one myself we found it noteworthy this year that it was not only 3.14 but  3.1415. So of course I used it as an excuse to bake a pie. Yes, I know the two are completely unrelated but I enjoy the play on words and any excuse my husband can make for me to bake a pie he will in fact make. When I asked him what kind of pie he would like he responded with cherry. Now, cherry pie is not my favorite kind of pie but I agreed to bake one for Pi day. Instead of turning to the trusty internet or Pinterest as I often do I decided to turn to a cookbook, a very special cookbook. A cookbook that my mom worked on developing for our family for nearly a year. Since my brother and I have grown up and moved out on our own we have often emailed, text, or called her for various recipes that she made while we were still at home. As her retirement from work approached she decided it would be fun to take on a new project, to make a family cookbook. For almost a year my mom spent her time picking all of our brains for family recipes, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even their families. In the end it turned into an incredible family cookbook full of 5 generations of recipes. IMG_5681 She used heritagecookbook.com to create the actual book. I helped her edit along the way and found the website and company easy and great to work with. My parents gave everyone in the family the book for Christmas this past year. Let me tell you what a joy it was to be a part of those gatherings as everyone poured over the cookbooks and the memories brought back by all the recipes. This book not only covered the typical meal recipes, but sweets, crafts, snacks, drinks, and everything in between! It has been so much fun to read through the book and be able to read all the stories and look at all the pictures that went along with the recipes. Not all recipes are gourmet recipes, some family members are just not cooks but their children still remember the spaghetti or the chili (all from a can) that they would make and the memories that were formed while sharing those meals together. And that my friends is why meal time and sharing meal time with others is one of my favorite things. It isn’t always about the food, it’s about the company.  The connection with one another as we cook a meal for or loved ones or share a meal with new friends, the conversation and memories that are formed around that table, that is what matters. Last weekend when I pulled out that book it was to bake my great grandmothers cherry pie…. IMG_5637Now, that was a good pie! Cooking brings me such joy, but cooking that connects me to people brings me an even greater joy.

Mom’s Famous Cherry Pie

3/4 cup sugar

3 TB flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup cherry juice (reserved from draining cans)

3 to 4 cans red sour cherries, drained (I used 3)

1 TB Butter

1 9 inch pie plate

Favorite Pie crust recipe (see mine below)

Favorite Crumb topping recipe (or another crust)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Blend Sugar, flour, and salt in medium saucepan

Blend in cherry juice

Add the cherries, cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture has boiled for one minute

Remove from the heat and stir in butter

Set aside to cool while you prepare crust

Pour filling into a 9 inche pastry lined pie plate

Place a crust or crumb topping over the top

Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes

No Roll Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tso sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup oil

3 tbs milk

Put all ingredients together into a 9 inch pie pan and mix with a fork, then hands to incorporate and spread throughout the pan to create crust. I have found mixing with your hand is the best method.

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup unsalted butter

Mix sugars and flour

Cut butter in small pieces

mix with hand until crumb like texture forms

Do you have any favorite memories or recipes from your childhood?