Archive for the ‘berries’ Category

Fresh Blackberries. Because it’s summer, kids.

August 10, 2011

I literally don’t even know how to describe what has been going on with my life since I last wrote in my little corner of the blogosphere. So much. I’ll just go with “a lot.” Is that anti-climactic? Yeah. Sorry. Next time I won’t wait this long to tell you that “a lot” is going on.

I will say this: Summer in the Shenandoah Valley does not suck. People have such bountiful gardens here that they bring their extra tomatoes, zucchini, onions, chard, etc into the break rooms of my parents respective workplaces and leave them for whoever. Do you know how much a tomato costs at the Arlington, VA farmer’s market? NOT free. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 bucks. So at least the Valley has been entertaining for me that way this summer! I’ve been house sitting periodically for our friends Jill and Craig (currently writing from their house, actually), who have a massive garden that I enjoy feeding myself out of. Last time was a Potato and Kale Stew with dill, which was pretty ridiculous if I do say so myself. This time, I’ve discovered a patch of blackberries right next to a grape arbor currently producing some beautiful, musty smelling, mystery varietal grapes (note to self: Ask what these are. They smell intriguing). These blackberries were beckoning on a walk with the dog this morning, so I came back with a bowl later, which I quickly discovered was too small. Or I was too greedy. Or both.


I originally had grandiose ideas of cobbler and pie and other silly things for these, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel like fussing around with them. I wanted to enjoy the soft burst of juice on my tongue from these amazing little gems, gratis from the world, to celebrate an amazing time in my life. The berries were so ripe, they were practically fermenting on the vine. With a little added raw sugar on top, they were divine.


I feel like the world is looking out for me lately, pointing me where I’m supposed to be going. I finally have stopped fighting it, and my reward is peace. That’s what these were today. Peace, in the form of warm summer berries off the vine, eaten on a splintery wooden picnic table in the warm sunshine. Find a farm stand and buy some peace of your own, or go on an adventure and find some.

free is fun


Dinner Party

July 18, 2008
This is Cat. See Cat cook.

Hello foodies!

Last night I hosted the first of what I hope will be MANY dinner parties at my new apartment. This one was for my friend Cat, who is leaving for two weeks to have enforced family bonding time. Fun?

Anyway, in attendance were Cat and her boyfriend Phil, our friend Cami (another MBC grad), my bf, and myself. Nice small group and thank goodness, because I realized after agreeing to host that we only had 4 actual dining room chairs! oops. I ended up on a desk chair. No worries.

Here’s the Boyfriend. He was feeling handy and
built me an Ikea shelf. Thank goodness for handy boyfriends.

Cat LOVES when I cook for her, and I have a suspicion that if I were a guy, she would leave Phil for me. She has two favorite meals so far: first is homemade macaroni and cheese, and second is clam sauce with linguine. Both are, as boyfriend puts it, “mom food”, meaning my mom’s recipes. 🙂 So I can see why she loves them so much! My mom is an amazing cook. So while I toyed with the idea of a super impressive veggie lasagna for last night, I ended up making mac and cheese, salad, and strawberries with balsamic reduction. Mmm. Low effort. Maximum impact.

Below is a quick look at the progression of a basic white sauce, which is the base of many wonderful and not healthy things that I love making. This mac and cheese, however, was as healthy as it gets. I used low carb elbow macaroni and low fat cheese. I also used skim condensed milk because I wanted to make this a little creamier.

Melt one stick of margarine

Add 5 tablespoons of flour

Whisk together until it forms a paste

Add 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 2 cups
of condensed skim milk or 2 cups of 1% milk.

This is your white sauce. Pour it over cooked macaroni (2 cups uncooked) and stir in 2-3 cups low-fat cheese. Top with a little extra cheese and back at 350 for 40 minutes.

Strawberries with a Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
Serves 6

2 clamshell containers of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 tsp. Splenda
1/2 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. Blackberry jam

Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the Splenda (or sugar, whatever. I’m on a diet.) Let them sit out on the counter for approximately 25-30 minutes. This will draw out the juices and make them soft and lovely.

Simmer the balsamic vinegar and jam in a small frying pan or sauce pan over medium high heat. You will notice as it goes on that it will start to reduce in volume, which is what you are trying to do. This will intensify the flavors and take out all the vinegar taste, leaving it surprisingly sweet. Reduce it by about half, which will take approximately 5-8 minutes. Just keep and eye on it and don’t let it get tooooo thick! Taste it and if you like the taste, take it off the heat. If not, let it reduce a little more.

You can either toss this with the strawberries or serve it seperately. I chose to serve it seperately because my guests were a tad apprehensive when they found out that the sauce was made of vinegar. Silly kids. Obviously it’s going to be delicious if the Italians invented it. 🙂 This was a HUGE hit and everyone asked me to make it again next time! Unfortunately it disappeared too quickly to take pictures of, but maybe next time.