Tuesday, July 20, 2010

19 on the 19th!

Drew celebrated his "golden birthday" on July 19th. This is to say he is the same age as his birthday number - 19.

I really adore my boy. I may be biased, but I think he's handsome, brilliant, capable, and charming. Of course, that means, he is a lot like Rich. :-) And he still kisses me goodnight - I love that. I'm thankful for the young man that he is.

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We kicked off the birthday celebration a little early by having lunch after church Sunday at Pie 'n Burger in Pasadena. We missed Emma - she's spending a week at the Hardy's in North Carolina. But we brought along one of Drew's favorite people.

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What do they have at Pie 'n Burger, you ask? Why, they have burgers (amazing burgers)...

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...and they have pie. You would have never guessed that, huh? Love this joint - the only thing that has changed in over 50 years are the prices! They even still mix their sodas by hand. (P.S. the Boysenberry pie is the best- warm.)

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On Monday, Rich took the day off from work, took the top down on the Jeep, and we went to a "secret" beach in Malibu for a wonderful mid-summer beach day. Note we are the only ones sitting on the beach at 11:00 a.m. in July. Where is this beach, you say? Now, if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, would it? (just kidding, see address below.)

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Mid day, we headed to Malibu Seafood for a little fish 'n chips lunch. Mmm, another Harasick family favorite food spot. Killer fish 'n chips here, and some righteous fried shrimp, according to Drew.

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Later that night we met up with our good friends, who happen to be Stephanie's parents, for the Dodger Game. It was the perfect night at Dodger Stadium: great weather, friends, an exciting game, and of course, Dodger dogs, peanuts, and real Coke.

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Robert & Luci

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Unfortunately, the "rally hats" didn't help. The Dodgers lost to the Giants 5-2. All in all though, one fine birthday for Drew!

Carbon Beach East park near 22132 Pacific Coast Highway and walk through public access path
Pie 'n Burger 913 E. California Ave, Pasadena
Malibu Seafood 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Got fruit?

You may have remebered about a week ago that I was up to my ears in apricots. I froze some for future jam and apricot crisps.

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Well, today, there was more fruit to be reckoned with. Actually, a ton of fruit. Making lunch was a little challenging with no available counter space!

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I braved the heat to pick the Satsuma plums and Elberta peaches.

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And, the Golden Dorsett apples, too. There were even a few ripe tomatoes to be picked.


To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming! I knew I needed to utilize my freezer or a lot of fruit would be going to waste.

I sat down with my trusty apple corer/peeler/slicer and got to work on the apples. I filled bags with 2 apples each for my Apple Pancake recipe. I made the filling for 4 pie plates of Apple Streusel. I even set aside a few more bags to make my friend Kari's wonderful recipe for Apple Cake.

Moving on to the plums and peaches, I made some plum crisp filling and some peach/plum crisp filling. All I need to do now is defrost the bags, pour into a pie plate, top with my oat/brown sugar crisp topping, and bake it off. The taste of peaches and plums will be so welcome once they are out of season.

I have the best Fruit Crisp recipe! I have featured it before, but for those of you who may have missed it, I am republishing it. It uses very little sugar and you can use any stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots or any combination) and it comes out wonderful every time. Just remember that crisps take a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to cool and set before serving. Don't try to serve them earlier than that or you will find yourself with fruit soup.

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My happy freezer. Do you want to come for dessert? I know what I'll serve!
Fruit Crisp

Filling:
8 cups peach (peeled) or plum slices (skins on, OK)
2 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all filling ingredients and pour into a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Combine all topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over fruit.

Bake for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Notes:
~May halve recipe and bake in a 1 ½ qt. dish.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WDW - Peanut-Ginger Chicken with Fruit Salsa

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WDW returns today with this longtime favorite summer barbecued chicken recipe. When the stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums) are at their peak, I always think to make this. I got the recipe from Better Homes & Gardens magazine a very long time ago, and make it several times each summer. The chicken is so tasty and the fruit salsa just screams "summer!" This is a great one to serve when you have company.

The interesting marinade gives the chicken it's unique flavor and is a great tenderizer. One ingredient that might be unfamiliar is the chili sauce. This is a product similar to ketchup and in fact Heinz makes it. Leftovers keep as well as ketchup, which is good, because I know you'll want to make this recipe again and again. I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this, but use any chicken pieces you prefer. The chicken tastes best when you can marinate it overnight, but I often just get it going the morning I plan to cook it.

Enjoy your summer and this wonderful dish!


Peanut-Ginger Chicken with Fruit Salsa

5-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ cup hot water
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup chili sauce (it’s made by Heinz)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground ginger

Mix and marinate overnight. Grill chicken over medium heat.

Fruit Salsa

1 cup chopped fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums)
1 cup chopped seeded and peeled cucumber
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onion or chives
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients together and chill 1-2 hours in advance. Serve chicken topped with fruit salsa.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Worker Bee Cafe in Carpinteria

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We've been camping in Carpinteria late summer now for about 6 or 7 years. It's one of our favorite camping spots and favorite little beach towns as well. Sometimes we bike into town in the morning for some coffee or a little breakfast. Once we found a place that looked interesting, and it turned out that they served their eggs with veggie bacon and roasted broccoli. Let's just say that wasn't my hubby's thing. Last summer though, we discovered a kitschy little place for breakfast in town that is just great. It's called the Worker Bee Cafe, and the decor is, well, you guessed it - everything relating to bees and honey. Stuff everywhere! The place is so cluttered with decorations that it's actually sort of charming, and I just fell in love with it the minute we first went in. It is owned by an unlikely older couple named Oscar and Jamie - he's the sole cook and she's out front. Oscar's quite a character and visits with everyone while he cooks (be sure to visit him at the window to the kitchen), and Jamie is soft spoken and matter of fact, and you can easily see that waitressing is like second nature to her as she swings by and refills your coffee often. And, let me tell you, Oscar knows what he's doing in that kitchen- he's a one-man show back there fixing up awesome breakfast fare like home fries, hashed browns, buttermilk biscuits, and all the rest. I just love cute little breakfast places that just know how to do basic breakfast stuff right and keep the coffee coming. You feel like you're in a old-style diner where locals hang out, mixed with your grandma's living room.

This 4th of July, Rich and I drove up to join our kids and some friends who were on a camping trip in San Simeon (we hotel'ed it this time - Rich got back from Juniors camp on Saturday afternoon). We decided to stop in Carpinteria for breakfast at the Worker Bee Cafe, and it was delightful. Here are two pics of what I could see from my seat at the counter:

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It's cluttered but immaculate!

We sat down and at the same time as the coffee was offered, I wasted no time in ordering up one of their amazing cinnamon rolls. They get them from a bakery in Ventura called "Siblings" and they are to die for. They come warm with - get this - a side of whipped butter. Oh mama. Cinnamon rolls are SO my weakness and this one didn't disappoint. Just look at it:

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I really should have stopped after the cinnamon roll and coffee, but instead I moved on to perfectly cooked over-easy eggs and hashed browns, and a fresh buttermilk biscuit. It was all so delicious and after eating about half of it I was stuffed. After that, I vowed not to eat the rest of the day! If you ever find yourself in the area, you really should stop in and have breakfast at the Worker Bee. It such a great experience, I would drive to Carpinteria just for this.

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Oscar's wonderful homemade biscuits.

The Worker Bee

973 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

What did I do with all those apricots?

So, remember the bucket of apricots I picked the other day? Since then, I've picked two more buckets! And, now the Santa Rosa plums are coming and I picked a bucket of those. So I was sitting there with probably 25 pounds of fruit and feeling like I needed to do something with it. However, before summer I made a vow to myself NOT to do any canning this summer, as I wanted to eliminate any time-stealers in my summer (I also took a summer Facebook break!). Normally, the fruit is ripe and the pressure is on to drop everything and put up the jam, which takes two consecutive days. I was relieved not to have that pressure right after returning from Resolved. I would just give the fruit away, I thought. Well, I've been doing that, but I still am up to my ears in it.

Well, with such large quantities of apricots still on my hands, I finally gave in. Last night, when nobody was home, I did a smart thing: I prepared and froze my fruit in Ziploc freezer bags for future jam. I portioned it out so that each bag is one batch of jam. I added the lemon juice from the recipe and mixed it in. Now, the fruit is all ready when I want to make some jam. Since the labor intensive (and messy) part of making the jam is done, I can now do the canning when it fits into my schedule.

A word on preparing the fruit. I prepared it by boiling it whole (in batches) for 1 minute in a large pot of water. Then, I shocked the fruit in ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking, peeled and pitted it, and mashed it up. I know that many recipes call for leaving the skin on, but this method really does yield much more flavorful jam. I do this when I make my plum and peach jam as well.

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Freezer bags of fruit ready to become jam.

Here are two of my favorite recipes for apricot jam, from Linda Amendt's wonderful canning book Blue Ribbon Preserves. Both are amazing recipes. Santa Rosa plums really are superior for the apricot-plum recipe. I had an interrupted love-affair with Santa Rosa plums beginning when I was a child. I used to sit on the shady grass in my grandparents' backyard and eat all the fallen plums right of the ground from a big old tree (yuk, I know). I never forgot the taste - so amazing - and I remember the juice would drip all over my clothes as I ate. I never knew what they were called, or ate anything like them again until I was an adult in my 30's. Then, I tasted a Santa Rosa plum from my friend Lori's tree and knew instantly that was what Grandpa had. The love affair had resumed! I planted one of my own about 8 years ago, and it is so wonderful. I have seen them at Farmer's Markets during the summer - do try them if you haven't, or better yet, plant one. (note: be sure to plant a Satsuma plum tree nearby for pollenation.)

Do scroll all the way down this post, as I have a wonderful apricot recipe at the end!

Apricot Jam

makes about 6 half-pint jars

4 cups pitted, peeled and crushed ripe apricots
6 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin (I use Certo)

In a 8-qt. pan, combine the apricots and lemon juice. Stir in about half of the sugar. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

Remove the cover and stir in the remaining sugar. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the apricot mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam again.

Stir in the butter. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam. Allow the jam to cool 5 minutes.

Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

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Apricot-Plum Jam
makes about 8 half-pint jars

2 1/2 cups pitted, peeled, and crushed ripe apricots
1 1/2 cups pitted, peeled and crushed ripe Santa Rosa plums or other plums
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin (I use Certo)

In a 8-qt. pan, combine the apricots, plums and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Remove the cover. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam again.

Stir in the butter. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam. Let jam cool 5 minutes.

Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

And lastly, after preparing all my fruit, and freezing four batches of future jam, I still had some apricots left, so I prepared this apricot crisp. I have never baked with my apricots before. It was simply divine....and I was rewarded for the "fruit" of my labors! Not a bite remained after four of us ate it, and I pretty much licked the casserole dish clean when all left the kitchen. Enjoy.

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Apricot Crisp

1 3/4 lbs. ripe apricots, pitted and cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl, combine and stir together apricots, sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla. Pour into greased 8" baking dish or equivalent.

Rinse the bowl. In it, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter. Sprinkle over fruit.

Bake at 350F degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until bubbly. Cool 15-20 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

May double recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan.



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