Hi, friends! I don’t know about where you are, but it’s raining something fierce here. Intense, driving, just-watch-as-it-washes-out-the-driveway-again rain. Coupled with the bursts of wind sending leaves, wind chimes, and small birds aloft, today is definitely one for staying indoors.
You might recall the post I made a few weeks back about Huxley’s “H”. Several of our friends recently had babies (including my friend Bailey, a 4th-year medical student, who had twins!!!) and we thought that letters for their nurseries would make fine, unique gifts. Using the methods outlined in that first post, Hubs whipped up the letters above for “Sophia,” “Ben”, and “Jack” respectively.
With the holidays quickly approaching, these letters would make great gifts for those with wee ones in your lives. You can get all kinds of creative with the design, evidenced by the handmade artwork on S, the slats in B, and the holes in J.
My grandmother liked them so much that, upon viewing Huxley’s letter, she put in a request for a letter of her own. Here’s hoping she loves her letter just as much as the others have been smitten with theirs.
Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your holiday was wonderful. Ours was the definition of the word feast! Oh my!
Here’s a round-up of a few things that tickled my fancy, piqued my curiosity, and made my stomach rumble this week:
*Totally smitten with Designerica, especially the honeycomb ring.
*Garden Betty’s brand new chicken coop is gorgeous!
*Interested in this food blogger conference out in Seattle in June (never been to that city, but many of you readers know how very much I heart the PNW).
*Completely captivated by everything Hank Shaw does.
*Been nibbing on this stollen for breakfast all week with hot coffee.
*These brussels sprouts are seriously calling my name.
*The Anthology Winter Gift Guide is full of sublime eye candy.
*Thinking of making these soon.
*Garden & Gun is really growing on me.
*Picked up a live, root ball-bound Christmas tree here today (at wholesale pricing it cost only $30!!!).
I’m also totally digging just how much Huxley loves playgrounds these days. He’s crazy about slides and swings and log-like things he can crawl through. We took advantage of the fresh air today and played at a local playground before heading out to pick up our tree. He’s seriously addicted to playing outdoors. We might very well end up building him a tiny version of these more grandiose playgrounds out here.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, may it be grand.
Oh, man. I don’t know about you, but we’re busy as squirrels chez English, gathering up items from the market, prepping dishes to try to get a leg up on things, sprucing up the house, and getting ready for a big day of feasting tomorrow.
We’ll be hosting 8 adults and 2 children (well, 3, technically, if you consider the few bites that Huxley will munch on), including Lynne Harty (the photographer behind all of my books with Lark), her husband Steve Cohen, and the Rattigans, proprietors of the legendary French Broad Chocolate Lounge, including Dan’s mom and sister. My mom and grandmother (“Gigi” and “Nanny” respectively) will be in attendance as well. Everyone is pitching in with a dish or two, while Hubs takes care of the big bird. It should be a grand time.
I don’t know if it’s because last holiday season was such a blur, as I recovered from the birth and got used to being a new mama, or if I’m just feeling really festive lately, but I’ve been yielding to the holiday lure in a big way. I’ve already had eggnog (several times! with fresh nutmeg! and bourbon!), have been burning this heavenly candle, and have even enjoyed some classic holiday tunes. I’m planning to make my own snow globes, have foraged pine cones from my yard and mother’s to put on handmade wreaths, will be back in the saddle with my annual cookie exchange out here on December 4th, and have picked up some snowball-shaped candles I plan to do a “frosty” decorative treatment on. The thrill is in the air, folks, I tell ya!
But, before I plow ahead with Yuletide festivities and Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I’d share with you a recent dish Hubs and I cooked up for dinner. Using local grass-fed pastured beef from Hickory Nut Gap Farm, we created an apple and bourbon pan meatloaf. Many a meatloaf is rendered dry, bland, and tough on account of overcooking, under-seasoning, and inadequate moisture. Here, eggs, milk and fresh apples provide ample moisture, while fresh herbs and a sweet & savory glaze take this loaf to the meatloaf hall of fame.
We used some of the apple butter I recently made in the glaze, and a touch of bourbon throughout to inject it with an added layer of flavor. Suffice to say, it’s good. Stick-to-your-ribs-warm-your-toes-tickle-your-fancy good. While turkey is getting all the attention this week, consider this meatloaf once you’ve had your poultry fill. We spread it out in a baking pan, as opposed to shaping it into a loaf, as we discovered that, in keeping it wider (versus higher), the loaf cooks more uniformly throughout.
Apple Bourbon Pan Meatloaf
For the loaf:
-2 1/2 pounds ground grass-fed sirloin
-2-3 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cubed
-1 tablespoon butter
-2 ounces bourbon
-3 cups fresh breadcrumbs (or 1 cup dried)
-1/3 cup milk
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped fine (or 1 teaspoon dried)
-1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
-2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried garlic granules
-2 teaspoons sea salt
-Several grinds black pepper
-Olive oil, for baking sheet
For the crust:
-1/2 cup catsup
-1/2 cup apple butter
-A splash of bourbon
-1/2 tsp garlic granules
-A pinch of salt
-Several grinds of black pepper
-A few drops of hot sauce, if desired
1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet (the size of the baking sheet isn’t important; we used a 9″x12″ sheet pan, but what matters is the thickness that you shape the loaf into).
2) Saute the apples in the butter and bourbon over medium heat for about 10 minutes until they start to break down.
3) Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the meat and stir to fully combine.
4) Add the breadcrumbs to the meat and apple mixture.
5) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt together. Add to the meat mixture and stir to combine.
6) Add the soy sauce, herbs, pepper, and garlic.
7) Mix well (clean hands are best for this task!).
8) Form a flat loaf on the greased baking sheet, about 1 1/2-inches thick.
8) Mix all of the ingredients for the crust in a small bowl. Smooth the mixture evenly across the top of the loaf.
9) Cook at 375 degrees for one hour (we put some sweet potatoes into the oven at the same time to bake while the meatloaf cooked).
10) Place under the broiler for 2-4 minutes, until the crust starts to brown a little.
11) Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
I’ve been hugely inspired by the livestock grazing practices of Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. Winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge, Savory is literally changing the landscape of our planet for the better with his holistic land management. The video below shares his philosophy and practices. Hickory Nut Gap has been inspired by Savory and we’re immensely fortunate to have access to such sustainably raised beef in our area.
When you live in a house with two adults that love to cook, kitchen space is always at a premium. We entertain a lot, so our pantry is stocked not only with edibles, but with all manner of platters, serving bowls, cake stands, coffee makers, ice cream makers, pie pans, ramekins, pastry bags & tips, fancy beverage glasses, portable hot plates (great for both canning demos out and about and in-home soirees to keep soups or drinks warm) mandolines, immersion blenders, rolling pins and so. much. more.
Couple that with a penchant for canning and a spouse found of picking up sets of dinner plates whenever he sees some that he likes and our pantry is packed to the gills. Ever resourceful, Hubs created this canning shelf to make use of the unused vertical space in the pantry. The shelves are in a variety of heights to accommodate the height of half-pint, pint, and quart jars respectively.
Our pantry (and entire home, for that matter) runs a bit on the dark side, so apologies on the last photos in the group. You get the jist of it, though, I think. If you’re fond of canning but have found yourself similarly short on space, you might want to consider such a shelving system. With it now in place, our pantry is definitely ‘moving on up’!
Hi friends! Happy Friday!
I’m experimenting with a new weekly feature here on small measure. All week long, a good chunk of my work time is spent online, reading blogs, discovering new websites, and getting inspired by images found there. I thought it might be fun to gather up some of my findings and corral them into a weekly round-up here, entitled “What I’m Digging.”
Here’s what left me hungry, contemplative, motivated and excited this week!:
*Peanut Butter & homemade muesli cookies on Elaine’s blog
*This solstice book
*Photos of her train trip to the Scottish Highlands on Hannah’s blog (I did this exact same ride in August ’06; proof can be found here)
*Enjoying this New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale
*Fresh figs & caramelized onions! Garden Betty’s pizza
*This should go in my crock! Homemade sauerkraut
*These mushroom ornaments need to be on our holiday tree
*A great piece on some of the challenges facing young farmers
*These children’s booties (thanks to Amanda for the link!) would keep our little dude warm
Also, as of 11-11-11 (thanks ever-so-easy-to-remember date, buddy!), Huxley is now walking. And, although he looks like a zombie while doing so (with his tiny arms outstretched for balance), and although there are many spills and falls en route, he’s doing a great job. And he’s keeping me busier than ever!
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, may it be grand!