Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The cake

One of the dessert staples at my childhood home was the famous apple cake. Not just any apple cake, but the one made by my mom, often present in the house for any and every occasion. So simple, yet delicious.
Since I like to change things up a bit I often make it with fruit other than apples. Peaches, strawberries, blueberries... any berries will do! It makes a fantastic, fluffy and summery cake. If I make it in winter I stick with the apples, add cinnamon and the smell itself just creates the atmosphere of Christmas.

Apple Cake
1c sugar
3 eggs
Mix those two ingredients. Add:
1.5c flour
1tsp vanilla
2 sticks of non-salted and softened butter
1 tsp baking soda
Pour the batter in the pan. Place peeled and halved apples (about 4) on top of the cake. Bake about 40 minutes at 350F. If I use fruit other than apples I just mix it in the batter. I often sprinkle with powdered sugar once the cake has cooled off.

The batter is light and fluffy and so if the cake. Now, go lick your spoon!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The miso soup for a rainy day

First day of summer coincides with Jeffrey's birthday and although he did not let me throw a party to celebrate his "advanced" age, I could not let him get away without celebrating and remembering this day. So, for the first time ever I went out of my European cuisine comfort zone and cooked my hubby a batch of delicious shiitake mushroom miso soup. How appropriate on this cool, rainy day... Did I mention it was the first day of summer today???
After searching for the perfect recipe I decided to use Tyler Florence's one - I know, I know, he's not of Asian descent, but the recipe sounded pretty yummy and uncomplicated to me.
The soup turned out pretty awesome, especially for a Polish girl who first heard of miso only a couple of years ago. I modified the recipe a bit; since I could not find pieces of dried kelp I used ground kelp (thank you Amazing Grains grocery store!) and since nobody seems to carry bonito flakes I added a little bit more miso paste. I had fun working with baby bok choy, not knowing what to do with it and lacking detailed instructions in the recipe prompted me to research it online, after which I just... chopped it up and added it to the soup. It worked out quite well!
Also, fresh shiitake mushrooms were on sale and I used a small batch in addition to dried shiitake.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nachos machos

Late night snacks at the Palmer's kitchen can get a little crazy...
Guest starring is Brie cheese, alongside buffalo sauce, parsley, cheddar cheese, onions and chips, of course. Such an odd addition to the usual cast, but it worked out quite tasty!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The best coffee

It used to be the drink of royalty in Africa and Arabic countries. Now we all can enjoy it, but is what we drink really meant to be called coffee?
Everyone who knows me also knows that I enjoy a good cup of joe. Not Starbucks or Caribou, I said GOOD, didn't I? The best coffee I ever came across is the Lavazza Italian coffee. I almost never see it in the grocery stores around here, so I either purchase it on Amazon, or I impatiently wait for packages from my mom from Europe...
Even though I use an espresso maker and end up with coffee that is pretty strong, Lavazza never has a bitter taste and I hardly have to use cream or milk in it. But I often do, just for that extra creamy flavor in it, and I even top it off with frothed milk - now that's just for looks!

Europe never disappoints - here in Prague enjoying an espresso.
Make sure to keep it in airtight container, mason jar will do! And, contrary to popular belief of keeping coffee in the freezer, you can just store it in the cupboard.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Leaving the mountains

It was hard leaving the mountains after Easter! Of course, the weather was the nicest on the day I left, even though it was cloudy and even snowing lightly all weekend. I was looking at the Tetons trying to save the picture in my memory so that I can recall it whenever I want!

This photo was actually taken last September when I climbed the "hill" - more like a mountain, behind LM and Rick's house. I thought it would be a nice morning activity, instead of running. I didn't realize it would take me a couple of hours, thanks to the soft soil and numerous sage brush bushes, which look small and conquerable from the distance. I struggled in my running shoes and swore I was never doing this again! But the view certainly was worth it. I keep this photo sometimes as a background on my blackberry to remember that world isn't flat everywhere!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great Harvest

Right after visiting Utah I stayed with my in-laws in Jackson, WY where I admired the mountains, ran the trails until I was out of breath (which didn't take long - I blame it on the elevation!), and ate delicious and natural food. One of the places I visited was The Great Harvest on Center St, which is famous for the bakery and everyone knows I am a sucker for bread!

So many choices today!Upon entering the waitress gave me a free, huge piece of bread with natural almond butter on it. Tasty appetizer for me and a great way to advertise their bread!

The fruit bar reminded me of the one at the Mary's Kitchen Port in Traverse City, MI, where I once worked as a salad girl... Memories!
Tempting... Who could say no to taking one of these home?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hoodoos

My recent trip to Utah was more of those "active-adventurous" kinds, rather than "culinary-adventurous" but I loved every minute of it! Utah Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park welcomed us with the most amazing, breathtaking views. Living in the plains of North Dakota deprives me from such visual pleasures but also makes me appreciate these journeys so much more!
The Hoodoos - or the rock formations that the Bryce National Park is known for.
Melissa and Rick looking at the Hoodoos.

Before our hike at the Zion National Park. Aaron trying to be funny. He's not actually going dressed like this, is he?!
The hike of Angel's Landing at the Zion Park. Steep and long, but the views are worth it!

The top of the Angel's Landing. Although, may I say, I was the first one out of my family to make it at the Scout's Lookout, I never actually climbed it to the very top of Angel's Landing. No, no - that one is for the brave only - 0.5 mile of crawling on narrow sandstone ridge while supporting yourself with chains anchored in the rocks... But look at the views...