Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's Not Always About the Food...

We take many things for granted.  Chopping carrots, cutting your food with a knife and fork, doing the dishes, showering, blow-drying hair, putting on makeup, taking photographs, and typing on a keyboard.

When you only have one hand, these things become extremely difficult. 

Dear Friends, and Followers,

Two weeks ago, I was in an automobile accident. 

I fractured my left wrist in the impact.  I feel so fortunate that it was only a fractured wrist and not a more serious injury! 

One week ago, I had surgery on that wrist to remove some bone fragments and have a plate put in to stabilize the radius bone.  A very common fracture and one I also had done to both wrists years ago when I was 11 years old from a fall off of my horse while galloping. Poor horse slipped in some mud and stumbled.  Horse stopped, I didn't. 

Since it was so long ago, I don't remember the pain, and the affects on daily living.

To rub salt into the wound, my dear mother-in-law passed away the afternoon before my surgery.  Needless to say, last week was a real trial for my husband, dealing with his mother's passing and seeing his wife through surgery and recovery has not been a walk in the park.  I have to say, he's been a real trooper and wonderful care-giver. 

So here I am, one week post-surgery, and I am actually typing with both hands (albeit, very slowly). I'm able to do more and more things on my own but still haven't cooked a meal since the accident.  My beloved garden has become overgrown and today, I forced myself to get out and cut the snapdragons which were going to seed. 

In one week from today, I get a removable immobilizer so I'll be able to shower and have even more use of my left hand.

What else have I been doing the past two weeks? Napping, reading, watching television, playing with apps like Prism on my devices (which you can see in the photos above). 

And watching the deer family from my window as they eat the rest of my daylilies.

Not the best way to end a summer season that is short, cherished and anticipated for months - but I continue to be thankful. 

As I heal and can navigate the world a little better I will catch up with those of you whom I follow and miss very much.  I just need a little time.  


Monday, June 27, 2016

Rhubarb-Cassis Sauce with Homemade Crème Fraîche

Ah, rhubarb! Although not quite as fleeting in the garden as peonies, it should be enjoyed as soon as it's ready to pick and enjoyed often. I grew up eating rhubarb sauce that my mother made from her garden rhubarb patch.  I don't know of any better way to turn a vegetable into dessert. That's right, rhubarb is actually a vegetable!

This rhubarb sauce recipe was inspired by Jacques Pepin's newest cookbook Heart and Soul in the Kitchen. I love Jacques Pepin and used to enjoy watching him cook together with Julia Child on their PBS television series "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" in 1999-2000. Did you know, besides his culinary expertise, that he is also a wonderful artist?

Jacques' version of rhubarb sauce is made with honey and Creme de Cassis, which is a liqueur made from black currants.  I always have a bottle of Creme de Cassis in the refrigerator and love a half teaspoon or so in a glass of white wine or champagne in the summer (Kir and Kir Royale, respectively).  It's also delicious poured over vanilla ice cream or a dish of fruit. Great reasons to own a bottle of Creme de Cassis!

His recipe is served with a sweetened, sour cream and yogurt sauce but my version is served with my own, homemade crème fraîche. It's ridiculously easy and so, so good. It's slightly tart, but not as tart as sour cream, thick and creamy.  If you've ever shopped for crème fraîche in the store you'll know why it pays to make your own as it's quite expensive for a small container.

The past few weeks I've actually tried two different recipes for crème fraîche after seeing a few of my blogging friends recommend making your own, such as Madonna at Make Mine Lemon.  I had also done a little research and found another recipe from What's Cooking America that mentions using sour cream instead of buttermilk to thicken and activate the heavy cream used to make crème fraîche.  I liked the sour cream version slightly more the the buttermilk version and I seem to have sour cream in my home more often than buttermilk so I'm glad I tried it! 

The rhubarb sauce is delicious and I was surprised how wonderful it tasted with the homemade crème fraîche.  Try it!

In the garden, all my favorite clematis are blooming now! Betty Corning, Warsaw Nike, Perrin's Pride make a lovely corner on the fence. Ashva, Madame Julia Correvon, Piilu and Arabella are the beautiful ladies on the bottom.  Don't you love the names?

I hope you are enjoying the start of summer as much as I am! Bon appetit!

Rhubarb-Cassis Sauce

Printable Recipe

1 pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup honey, or agave nectar
1/4 cup Creme de Cassis, or any sweet, fruity liqueur

Place all ingredients into a heavy saucepan and stir together over medium heat.Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, cover and reduce the heat to low.

Cook for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until the rhubarb has softened. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, place about 1 cup of rhubarb sauce in a pretty glass serving dish and top with a generous spoonful of homemade crème fraîche. Garnish with berries or mint.

Note: I had a few fresh raspberries in the refrigerator so I added them to the chilled sauce.

Adapted from Heart and Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin

Homemade Crème Fraîche

Printable Recipe

Please note that you will have to start the crème fraîche at least 30 hours before you need to use it. It needs 24 hours to thicken to the right consistency plus 6 hours of chilling time.

8 ounces/1 cup heavy (whipping) cream (Do not use ultra pasteurized)
4 ounces/1/2 cup regular sour cream, at room temperature, or, 1 tablespoon Buttermilk
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar (optional). (Use if you prefer a slightly sweeter version for dessert use, omit for a more savory version)

Place all ingredients into a glass jar with lid and shake thoroughly to blend. Remove the lid and cover the jar with a small cloth or piece of paper toweling secured with a rubber band or twine.

Leave on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring once or twice.

After the mixture has thickened sufficiently (it will thicken faster in a warm room), stir, cover tightly and refrigerate for another 6 hours before using.

Adapted from What's Cooking America