Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I had to work a weekend recently, so I brought Ayla in with me for the day for company. She did really well too: she ran around the office in the morning, then hung out in my office. At lunch we took a hike on the Fire Trail, and then she came back and slept the rest of the afternoon. I'm very lucky to have a job where I can bring my dog in with me on occasion, though I'm very careful not to abuse that privilege. Here's a few shots from the day...

 Babushka Ayla - her neckerchief fits well over her head.

 A forest of fungi

On the Fire Trail - it was a beautiful, slightly foggy day

We went on a walk this afternoon and passed this tree or bush I've been admiring for a while. It looks so interesting without its leaves, all bare white branches.

That's it for now. Time to get ready for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Biscuits and Gravy: Deconstructed

Call me bandwagon jumper, and I won't disagree. The fact is, I'm a little late to this party already.

"Deconstructing" took the food world by storm perhaps four or five years ago, and Tom Colicchio of Bravo's Top Chef explains the phenomenon succinctly as "... an approach to a plating style, as well as a way of personalizing a dish and making it one’s own." Its about taking the different elements of a dish and putting them together in a different fashion. Its basically another way of playing with your food.

Technically, my biscuits and gravy aren't really deconstructed. I separated the dish into three components: the biscuit, the gravy, and the sausage (since I always remember it being a sausage gravy). Then I plated it all on one of my favorite leaf-shaped plates and we ate - tearing off bits of biscuit and dipping them in the gravy, spearing slices of sausage and biscuit to dip together, eating the gravy on its on, and doing whatever else sounded good. I didn't really put the components back together in a new way, but eating the dish this way allowed us to pay more attention to the various components themselves, which might have gotten lost in a big ol' pile of biscuits smothered in gravy. Not that there's anything wrong with that either!

And of course I slightly altered the individual components. I just can't leave well enough alone, so I made cheddar garlic biscuits, a creamy mushroom gravy with a good splash of wine (a lovely Bowers Harbor Vineyards Gewurztraminer, from a wonderful friend in Michigan, because its what I was drinking that night!), and vegetarian Italian sausages (I like Lightlife's Smart Sausages and Morningstar Farms Italian Sausages best).

The sausages aren't the only shortcut I took. The biscuits are Bisquick! We always had this around when I was growing up, and keeping a box handy makes pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and more even easier when you just can't be bothered to do anything harder. I used the recipe on the back of a box of Heart Smart Bisquick and threw in about a cup of grated cheddar, three cloves of minced garlic, and a pinch of Herbes de Provence.

I did, however, make the gravy...

 Hearty, Creamy Mushroom Gravy

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally,for about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the wine and broth and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.

Its easy-peasy, and very tasty! Now get on out there and play with your food!

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