25 November 2008

pumpkin pie for dinner?

well, sort of. i made this winter squash galette, and chose pumpkin for the squash. it is savory, delicious, wintery and warming. and, considering the cookbook it comes from, surprisingly simple. if you are comfortable making pie crusts, it is especially easy. you make the pie crust while the squash bakes, chill it while you mix up the filling, roll it out, drop the filling in, and roughly fold over the edges. then bake, and voila! pumpkin pie for dinner! sage, pecorino and winter squash go beautifully together. this author has a squash soup recipe that features this same combo, also incredibly yummy. my neighbor lara has large, beautiful sage bushes in her garden. they are hardy enough to stand the winter cold, and she (thankfully) allows me to snatch a few leaves now and then.

so, without further ado, here is the recipe:

winter squash galette

galette Dough (see recipe below)
2 1/2 pounds winter squash (I used pumpkin)
1 small head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the squash
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or parmesan
12 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
Freshly milled pepper
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and brush the cut surface with oil. Stuff the garlic into the cavities and place the squash cut side down on a sheet pan. Bake until flesh is tender, about 40 minutes.
Make the dough while squash is baking.
When the squash is done, scoop out the squash and squeeze the garlic cloves. Mash them together with a fork until fairly smooth, leaving a bit of texture.
Warm one tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sage and cook until the onion is very soft and beginning to color, about 15 minutes. Add it to the squash along with the grated cheese and seaon with pepper to taste.
Roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle and spread the filling over it, leaving a border of two inches or more. Pleat the dough over the filling, then brush the edges with beaten egg. Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

the galette dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 12 tbsps cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water, as needed
1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Cut in the butter by hand or using a mixer with a paddle attachment, leaving some pea-sized chunks.

2. Sprink the ice water over the top by the tablespoon and toss with the flour mixture until you can bring the dough together into a ball. Press into a disk and refrigerate until ready to use (you may want to take it out a few minutes before rolling it, but it will soften quickly).

recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

(p.s. this dish makes wonderful leftovers, and i think most kids would like it.)

23 November 2008

on the day cosmo turned three...

there were
presents (i built cosmo an easel),

friends and family,

more presents,

desserts (carrot cake, chocolate swirl cupcakes),

and prismatic squawker blowouts.

there was
a stray cat,


a pinata (it's supposed to be jupiter),

a bonfire (not pictured),
and a jam session with kid kazooey.

as cosmo was laying down to go to bed tonight, he asked "i'm three, now?" and practiced holding up three fingers.

19 November 2008

and so it begins.

as we pulled into the driveway yesterday, cosmo says to me,

"it's all yours mama."

"what?" i ask, bewildered.

"yours. it's all yours." he says, matter of factly

"what's all mine?"

"fault. it's all your fault, mama."

15 November 2008

game day

if ya wanna see something funny...look at these videos shawna took of cosmo playing his first basketball game at the banneker center. it is a bloomington parks and recreation league, and cosmo is at the younger end of the three and four year olds. it is so damn comical, i can't stop laughing.

collective craft

my friends, lara and tammy, have a tradition of making handmade gifts for the holidays. they get together as many evenings as they can manage, starting in late october, through most of december. they've made soap, marbled paper, glass mosaics, sand-dollar ornaments, painted tiles...you name it, they've probably tried it. last year i was lucky enough to be invited to participate. i made a few gifts with stained glass, but the best part was hanging out, working, talking, sharing ideas and cheering each other on. they both have large families, and long lists of people to give too. a stressful chore becomes a time for bonding with friends.

this year we decided to try an idea for some beautiful humming bird feeders that shawna invented. we also wanted to attempt marbling on fabric, to make sets of cloth napkins. it took most of a day just to gather the materials and get set up. we couldn't find carrageenan at any of the craft stores or specialty food shops, and we thought agar agar might work just as well, since they are both powdered seaweed, and are both coagulating agents. we found out the hard way that they are not interchangeable. the agar agar we found had sugar in it, and is used to make a jell-o like dessert.

you cannot float paint on top of hardened jell-o, and make marbled prints from it. we tried. can't be done. by the end of the night, we were referring to it as agarfuckingagar. luckily, on day two, carl checked at pygmalion's art supplies, and found some carrageenan and another marbling medium called methocel. they also had special marbling paints in an inexpensive set.

this stuff worked much better. we got a nice bath, of high viscosity liquid, that floated paint beautifully. we took over the entire workshop/art studio/former garage a.k.a. the space, or as we have been calling it this week, the methlab. we strung lines of string, for hanging the cloth, all across the room.

we cluttered our work table with the homemade tray/bath (made from cardboard lined with plastic), paints of all colors and weights, squirt bottles, distilled water, combs, rakes (boards with nails in them), skewers, and stacks of news paper. we had a huge rinse bucket on the floor and a couple of ironing boards set up (there are many steps for getting the fabric ready for printing, and heat setting afterwards. you end up ironing each napkin at least twice).

another complication: the fabric needs to be treated with alum before you print on it, but alum is corrosive, so only have about 2 days to work with your fabric before you need to rinse the alum out. since we had already processed all of the napkins in alum, and dried them. and ironed them, we wanted to get them all printed in that two-day window.

one of the rules i learned in architecture school is that most things take 6 times longer to make than you think they will. that rule holds true for marbling fabric. however, once we got the bath right, and marbled our first piece, we let out a whoop and a shout, and ooohed and ahhhed over the resulting napkin, printed with the intricate pattern. it truly was magical. when you drop the paint on the surface, then you get to swirl it around into trippy patterns, and it is almost impossible to mess it up. i'd been inspired by julie at craftknife, to incorporate cosmo into my projects more than i do. this was the perfect opportunity. he loved twirling the paint around, and rinsing out the cloth. he made some of my favorite designs.

was it worth the effort? i am not sure. i'm happy to have tried it, but i doubt i'll do it again. 3 days of paint, jelly goo and ironing are enough for me. you'll have to ask tammy and lara how they feel about it, and, how many names they got to cross off their lists. and, i will say, despite all the discouraging set backs, we had a great time together, and isn't that what the holiday spirit is all about?

check out the video.

14 November 2008


did you ever have something you want to blog about so badly, that you can't even wait until daylight (when your camera takes nicer pictures) to get it online? that happened to me today. i know that soap felting is already out there, in the crafting community, the etsy crowd etc., but i just found out about it, tried it, and fell in love.

for those of you not in the know, it's a bar of soap, wrapped in felted wool (some call it "soap in a sweater"). you wash your skin with it. a built-in washcloth, if you will. they are beautiful to look at, nice to hold, scrubby, yet soft when sudzed up, and oh-so-easy to make. i made 12 of them in the span of 2 hours---hours during which i was distracted by the needs and desires of one-not-yet-capable-of-fully-caring-for-himself. i found locally made/handmade soap, for cheap, in the 'seconds' bin at the co-op. making one's own soap would be even better (though you wouldn't be able to see the soap itself). did i say how much i love this yet? i really do. they are so quick, and so wonderful, i want to make one for everyone i know.

crafting projects that are more involved, difficult and time consuming can be great too. i' tell a story about one of those next time. in the meantime, if you want to know how to felt a bar of soap, here is a step-by-step guide. it's not the instructions i used, but it looks about right to me.

08 November 2008

keep yer forks...there's pie!

one of cosmo's familiar favorite songs is "turkey in the straw." he once wrote his own version punkin' in the pie, which basically goes:
"punkin' in the pie...do do do doooo,"
i consider it his first song, and, of course, i love it.

i sing it to myself whenever i make pumpkin pie. like today. one of the best things about november (other than barak obama being elected president of the united states), is pumpkin pie. this one turned out as yummy as i remember from last year. i bake the pumpkins beforehand (or, carl sweetly bakes them for me), and then puree them. the crust gets pre-baked, with pie weights (i have a jar of dry chickpeas that i keep for just this purpose) so it doesn't get soggy.

today we were talking about stocking up on pumpkins while we can still find them at the farmer's market, and storing them in our garage-turned-workshop/studio-space. it's insulated. carl loves to bake pumpkin bread, and i do like me some pie!

update: the recipe
my notes:
i bake the pumpkin ahead of time. i simply cut a pumpkin in half, place it face down on a cookie sheet, and bake it at 350F, for an hour and 15 minutes, to an hour and a half. once it has cooled a bit, the peel comes off easily. then i puree it in the food processor, but you could also use a potato masher.
i sometimes make the crust the night before, stick it in the fridge, and make the pie in the morning.
this crust rocks. i use it for all sweet pies now. the little bit of sugar gives a lot of flavor, and helps with browning.

Flaky Crust

for any single curst pie, 8 to 10 inches in diameter. double the recipe for a two-crust pie.


1⅛ cups (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting work surface

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces

~ About 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed


  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon ice water. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, and freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes); this will ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two, or freeze it almost indefinitely.)
  3. You can roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, usually quite successfully; sprinkle both sides of it with a little more flour, then proceed. Or sprinkle a countertop or large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes; it should give a little when you press your fingers into it.
  4. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. (If the dough seems very sticky at first, add flour liberally; but if it becomes sticky only after you roll it for a few minutes, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Continue to roll, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. (Use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.) When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter (it will be less than ¼-inch thick), place your pie plate upside down over it to check the size.
  5. Move the dough into the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters, then moving it into the plate and unfolding it. When the dough is in the plate, press it firmly into the bottom, sides, and junction of bottom and sides. Trim the excess dough to about ½ inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes).
  6. When you’re ready to bake, prick it all over with a fork.

To pre-bake the crust

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
tear off a piece of foil large enough to fit over the entire crust when folded in half. smear butter on one side of the foil, then press it into the crust. weight the foil with a pile of dried beans or pie weights or a tight fitting skillet or sauce pan--anything that will sit flat on the surface.
bake 12 minutes. remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 350 F, and carefully remove the weight and foil.
bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is a beautiful shade of brown.

start the filling while the crust is baking

when crust is done, turn the oven to 375 F


3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch salt
2 cups pureed pumpkin (can use canned, if you wish)
2 cups half-and-half, light cream or whole milk

Beat eggs with the sugar, then add the spices and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree and the the half-and-half. While the curst is baking, warm this mixture in a medium saucepan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot to the touch; do not boil.
Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour this mixture into the still-hot crust and bake 30-40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like jell-o but is still quite moist. cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

from the book How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

07 November 2008


the day after obama won the election, we went out to play in the valhalla memory gardens. cosmo found this cicada carcass in the leaves. he wondered, at first, if it was an "old moth."

oh, and i decided to participate in photo friday (see below), since i was photoblogging anyway...

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

05 November 2008

never thought i'd see the day...

on the way to our polling site (couldn't have asked for a prettier day)

"why that sign says 'NO'?"

we vote in a house of worship (but it's better than the knights of columbus building, where i once voted in houston)

finally, casting my ballot.

i am, for once, proud of my country. feels weird.

04 November 2008

you know what to do...

image by nikki mcclure (get her calender for yourself and a friend this year)