Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Bag Full of Love

As a member of the Price family you learn to love food.  To share food.  To used food to show love.

Last weekend I visited my family.  And yes, 72 hours, 7 dishes and perhaps 7 gained pounds later I felt extremly loved.

I also headed home with a bag full black walnuts, hand shelled by my loving father.  Given with the loving look he only has when gifting me items from his garden, his trees or from the Cadbury chocolate factory, I know these black walnuts must be used wisely.  After the hours he spent hulling these tasty nuts I know that these nuts are more than an accessory to a dish.  These nuts are a symbol.  These nuts show his his love for me, his devotion to me and the fact that he know that I love them.   Ah, the pressure.  To keep in the Price tradition, I know they must be used in items I love, cooked when feeling loved and for items given to the people I... well, you get the picture.  For a week, I have pondered what I would create with this emotionally charged ingredient. 

Tonight, after a weekend spent in a zip code I love, doing things I love with people I love, (and a not-so loving, one hour trip to Whole Foods) I decided I was in the right frame of mind and with the right ingredients to begin the process.

Cranberry & Black Walnut Scones

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup packed dried sweetened cranberries
1/3 cup or so walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or using your fingers until butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Make a well in the center and add the egg and milk. Beat gently with a fork. Continue stirring, scraping down some of the dry ingredients from the sides as you stir. Add the walnuts and cranberries about halfway into mixing. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat dough into a ball and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Press down into a round, evenly flat wheel about 1 1/2 inches or so tall. Cut into eighths and sprinkle the wedge-shaped eighths with sugar. Place about an inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until just golden.
The above item was created while listening to music I love, of course.

On the play list:
In The Midnight (Live)- Langhorne Slim
Mornsong- The Be Good Tanyas
Unwritable Girl- Gregory Alan Isakov
That Moon Song- G.A.I.
By Your Side- The Everybody Fields
November Blue (Live)- Avett Brothers
Nobody's Fault- Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet
I Hear Them All (Live)- Old Crow Medicine Show
DogSong- The Be Good Tanyas
Welcome Home Song- Radical Face

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Mobile Gal's Guide to the Best Working Cafes

As I was took a conference call while running on Rock Creek Park trail yesterday I decided that I love my job.  Now, do not get me wrong, I am busy but I am mostly the master of my time... and where I spend it. 

I have a home office on K but mostly I am mobile finding the best real estate
in the city's best cafes.

Mobile Gal's Favorite DC (and one VA) Office Spots

1. TrystPros: Strong coffee, good music, tuna melt
Cons: I almost always have to purchase the tuna melt and frequent run ins with people I want to avoid.

2. Filter
Pros: Amazing pour overs, sometimes a tasting from owner, quiet enviornment
Cons: Filter is small so you have to wish and hope and pray (and often stalk) for a good table.

3. MidCity CafePros: Pour over coffee, tasty yogurt (see above) and almost always a table.
Cons: Often runs out of baked goods (could be pro or con)

4. Michas
Pros: Great iced Americano, amazing scones and good service.
Cons: Location is only right for my Alexandria working days and see second part of Tryst con. 

5. Baked and Wired
Pros: Amazing iced Americano and cappacino, friendliest staff in town and best baked goods.
Cons: Location is rarely near where I need to be and I cannot leave there without one of their delicious brownies! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fishing With the Bait I Had

Last week I was getting my haircut when I asked Dino, my adorable hair dresser, how his life was.  He says, "Stacey, I am living life, trying not to complain... I am just fishing with the bait I have."  As promised that evening, I am plagiarizing him less than seven days later.

Tonight, I fished with the bait I had.  Or more precisely, the pureed roasted pumpkin and ricotta I used in last night's muffins.  

*The important part, my dear friends (if you are even still out there) is that I fished.  And I am here writing about it. And I documented it with my new nifty iPhone camera lens.

So often when we cook we feel like we have to go out and buy all new ingredients to make a great dish (like I did, circa last night, as I spent $33.25 to make baked goods for a morning meeting).  I remembered tonight, as I concocted this tasty dish, that I am most happy in the kitchen and in life when I am working with a blank canvas, merging flavors and textures and finally when enjoying an end product that was created without a plan. 

Tonight as I put the finishing touches on my client's event (something like emailing and begging people to come) I will enjoy a little pasta with my party planning... and admire my catch from the computer.  

Pumpkin Ricotta Pasta with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Garlic

1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup pureed organic pumpkin
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan (mine actually had less because it was the bait I had)
1 cup whole wheat pasta
2/3 cup shredded kale
2 sweet potatoes, roasted (again, I only had one but two would be GREAT)

Cook pasta as recommended.  Cube sweet potato and roast brushed with olive oil and salt.  In a bowl, mix the ricotta, pumpkin, garlic, Parmesan and salt/pepper. 
Add to cook pasta.  Stir in kale and finally, the sweet potatoe.  

This dish is best served in the fall, at a table, with another person. Tonight I am enjoying it just fine, alone at my computer but hey, it's just like Dino says...