All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

pickling day: red onions and cucumbers

In spite of my taking a sick day and sleeping for 12 hours - twelve hours! - the CSA box arrived again last night with more cucumbers and lovely red onions, BUT.  We still have some from last week - what to do, what to do.

Then I remembered those wonderful pickled red onions I made last year, and the Finnish cucumber salad my daughter likes so much, so spent a few hours this morning stuffing the already full fridge with those zesty condiments.  Easy to make, and delicious with everything from cold chicken or fish, to French potato salad, they're a perfect way to use up your summer abundance.  AND I used the last of the dill, mostly stems by then, to start a new bottle of dill vinegar.  So pleasing to have all three of these condiments stashed in the fridge and pantry.

Enjoying the blue, blue sky with wispy clouds overhead , the chattering of the children just back from the beach - and eyeing my bed for a little siesta:)  Enjoy your summer days!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Anni's kale salad with breadcrumbs and garlic

Thursdays are CSA pickup days around here, and after struggling to empty the fridge before the next box,  we're finally getting the hang of it.  As soon as we got home, my daughter-in-law Anni whipped together this wildly popular minced kale salad.  I've seen recipes for it, but thought I wouldn't like it.   Boy, was I wrong!  

The last cup of this went out the door this morning in my daughter's lunch box, but I had scribbled down the off-the-cuff recipe last night, thankfully.  Looking in the fridge, there was just enough tuscan (aka dino ) kale left for half a recipe, so here it is:

Anni's Kale Salad

2 slices wholegrain bread, toasted, cooled, and whizzed into breadcrumbs
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste
3-4 cups of kale, stripped from stems, then minced.  It should measure between 1 and a half to  2 cups minced kale.  There was a stray stem of yellow rainbow chard in there:)
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)
about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a pan on low, then add the minced garlic.  Cook a few minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs are lightly browned.  Remove from heat.

Place the minced kale in a bowl, then add the breadcrumbs and massage the kale for a few minutes.  Add the parmesan, if using (I skipped it).  Sprinkle the lemon juice over, toss, and serve.

It's been hot in Minneapolis, so I haven't been exploring as much, but I do notice these beautiful orange flowers everywhere - if you know what they are, I'd love to know!  We did go to The Mall of America.  I'm not much of a shopper, but loved the Lego world display, where this enormous dragon peered down at us from the second story.  Hope your summer is going swimmingly!

Friday, July 10, 2015

exploring Minneapolis

We had the most wonderful field trip the other day, visiting one of the hottest pizza places in Minneapolis - and after one bite, I understood why - Punch makes the best pizza I've ever had.  Their wood-fired pizza oven maintains a temperature of 800 degrees , so your order is done in minutes.  Unlike my homemade pizza, their pies are very light and thin, with a few delicious charred bubbles of cheese and dough.  

After lunch, we meandered to Nicollet Island - a tiny island in the middle of the Mississippi river, with a charming Inn and lots of parkland to wander through .  We met up with a family friend, who was fishing there (below) - he didn't catch anything, but the fish were leaping and splashing just a few feet away from us.  What an amazing place!

And here is Frankie at one of the farmers' markets - wearing his butterfly wings:

                                                 Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2015

jamie's red pepper pasta sauce with lemon, parsley, and ham and Saturday sightseeing

I love exploring this new place!  Saturday we visited the St. Paul Farmers Market, just over the Mississippi River, which was packed with shoppers and visitors, like me.  Lots of herb and flower plants, which made me feel a little wistful, as we have no garden space here - yet.    Flowers were everywhere, making for a very colorful market, and we picked up some gorgeous Italian parsley and fresh basil for our dinner recipe (and two small baskets of red and yellow shallots, for $3!)

On the way home we happened to pass this stunningly gorgeous French villa, and I made my daughter stop so I could take pictures.  Putting down my camera for a minute, I saw a poem inscribed in the sidewalk beside the house, such a surprise and a joy.  

And that night we made Jamie's wonderful red pepper pasta with Parma ham and lemon, tossing in a handful of bright, fresh broccoli we had picked up at the market.  I opted for a chunkier sauce than Jamie's - I'm sure it's just as delicious either way.  Amazingly, all three children (2,4 and 9) loved it!

Happy rainy Monday to you all....

Friday, July 3, 2015


Here I am!  New town, new neighborhood, new everything!  I've been exploring this sweet little neighborhood , most of which are small, cozy looking houses, with bright flowers , tidy lawns, and lots of stucco, adding up to great charm.  And the people are just like me - striking up conversations from their yards to me as I walk to the stores.  The small market I walk to has beautiful, huge pots of planted edibles and herbs, and there are flowers everywhere.

  See the blackberries (not quite ripe) below?  Someone has planted huge walls of berries along the sidewalk so people walking by can pick a few to eat as they stroll by.  I love that spirit of sharing.

And it's wonderful to see Izzie, Frankie, and Noah for more than an hour or so -!

Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

poached haddock with dill, lemon, and tomatoes (as the frazzle builds)

Oh, such a beautiful day here!  Light pitter patter of rain this morning, sunny and blue sky as I load the car for one of two dump runs, THEN maybe a walk.

Getting distracted while cleaning and packing, completely forgot lunch, so here I was twenty minutes ago, gobbling up this fresh haddock.  A half a pound, and methinks I should've bought more.  Not proud that I was standing up surveying the boxes and rooms while I was eating:)  I couldn't remember which child liked the rabbits (with bells on) so I'm packing one for each of them.

This is part of the "Minneapolis pile"  Ironically, that 2005 Real Simple is all about conquering the clutter.  I despair that will not happen for another month.  

Poached Haddock with dill, lemon, and tomatoes

1/2 pound piece of fresh haddock

Place the haddock in a small stainless steel skillet or saucepan, and add water to just about halfway up the fish.
Bring to a high simmer/low boil and cook for five minutes on one side, then gently flip the fish with a spatula and cook the other side another 5 minutes.  
Gently poke the fish with a fork, making sure it is completely cooked, then remove to a plate.

Toss out the water from cooking the fish, and quickly melt 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, then pour over the fish.
juice from half a fresh lemon
kosher salt
fresh dill sprigs
a tablespoon of sliced scallions
2 handfuls tiny tomatoes, halved

And serve to your appreciative audience of one.  This makes one serving.

Happy, happy June!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

buttermilk bran muffins and too many boxes

Early Sunday morning in the kitchen, I made the coffee, pulled out my muffin tins and buttered them, set up the mixer, pulled out the ingredients - and looked for the recipe for my favorite buttermilk bran muffins.  My recipe notebook was missing in the mess of boxes and piles as I prepare to move in a few weeks.  I checked my blog, and was surprised to see I hadn't updated the recipe in a long time.  Two hours later, my notebook showed up under a box of papers to be filed (if it were up to me, I would file everything in the recycled paper box for the dump).  BIG sigh of relief.

I know even saying the words "bran muffins" sounds dismal, doesn't it?  Most bran muffins have an odd metallic taste to me, which is why I treasure this recipe.  Soft, filling, bouncy, with plumped, juicy raisins folded into the batter , it's still my favorite muffin.  Not too sweet, not too heavy, and a delicious flavor, and pretty much fail proof.   They freeze well, too.

Buttermilk Bran Muffins with plumped raisins

3 cups wheat bran ( I get mine from the health food store) divided
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup light oil
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs - I always use extra large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, add 1 cup of the bran, the raisins, and the boiling water.  Stir and set aside.

Grease your muffin tins well, or line tins with muffin papers and set aside.

In mixer bowl, add the rest of the bran, the light oil, cinnamon, baking soda, flour, sugar, eggs, and buttermilk and mix briefly.  Add the wet mix of bran, hot water, and plumped raisins and mix again.

Using a regular ice cream scoop, scoop batter into tins - I use two scoops for my Texas size muffins, one scoop for normal sized muffins.  Here you can see the difference between the sizes: 

Bake 20 minutes for normal size, and five or ten minutes more for the big muffins.  The muffin tops should spring back when you press them gently on their tops.

Let cool on cooling rack, then remove from tins with a dull knife to cool further.


Hope you enjoy this beautiful Spring day!  The last few mornings out the kitchen window, the dark lilacs are fluttering with beautiful butterflies.