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Monthly Archive for October 2008

Maple Nut-Apple Scones

As if it weren’t already painfully obvious: we have officially arrived at the “Seeeee, I told you fall was my favorite season” portion of the program. I know it’s been a full-on assault around here of apples, pumpkin, squash, potatoes and braises. But I simply can’t help myself. And today is no different: apples (again!), maple and toasty nuts. Yup, breakfast doesn’t get much more fall than these scones.

Fall, as a season, feels to me a little like lightning in a bottle. As the steamy summer winds down and the dog days have me at my wit’s end, I find myself trying to hurry fall along. But all too soon, it’s the end of October and I am holding on white-knuckled to the last days of this fleeting season. When it boils down to it, you really only get a few flawless fall days: sunshiney skies, warm golden light, tree limbs feathered with leaves that were once green and will soon be gone altogether, the scarf wrapped around your neck fluttering in the breeze.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Breakfast,Recipe on October 30 2008 » 13 comments

Headlong into Potato Season

Like it or not, we are plunging headlong into potato season. Even though potato season involves unmentionables like pasty skin, runny noses and bone-chilling winds, I still find myself in the “like it” category when it comes to tubers. I love all shapes and sizes (really, no two are exactly alike, no?), all colors and all preparations I’ve tried to date: mashed (especially my step-dad’s famous recipe, but since that’s also a secret recipe (no doubt because I’d balk at the amount of butter thrown into the mix) these will do in a pinch), baked (wrapped in crinkled foil and shut away in the oven for a good, long time), roasted (with just a slick of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and, if I’m feeling crazy, a sprig or two of rosemary), fried (duh), even boiled.

For all that, though, I’d never tried salt roasting. It’s a technique that I’ve wondered at for some time. It seemed novel and somehow scientific and it was on my to-do list. After hand picking 20 or so fingerlings from the market a couple weeks ago, I decided to give it a try.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Side on October 28 2008 » 24 comments


Until recently, the most Halloweenish things to happen to me this fall had been (1) a Sunday afternoon with a pumpkin that ended in gobs of roasty orange puree and quite a few baked goods and (2) an unfortunate walk home from the market after dark involving a jet black cat prancing across the sidewalk directly in front of us. Beyond that, I couldn’t get all that into the spirit. We had no costumes, no parties and, in our fourth floor condo, we’d surely have no trick-or-treaters.

But, then I got an e-mail from a few food blogging friends. They were planning a mini-Halloween event and wanted to know if I wanted in. Ever since, I’ve been dreaming up the perfect Halloween treat to bake (in the end, I settled on these iced pumpkin-walnut cookies, drizzled with cream cheese icing) and the Halloween spirit has taken hold.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Dessert,Recipe on October 27 2008 » 18 comments

Do You Like My New Outfit?

Good morning!  I’ve got a “real” post lined up for you, but it won’t arrive until tonight.  In the meantime, though, I wanted to ask: do you like my new outfit?  After almost a year, I have undergone my first mini-blog makeover.  It’s simpler, brighter and more me.  I’ve got some more changes in the works and I really hope you’ll like those too.

Speaking of new and different, tonight’s post is my first-ever participation in a multi-blog event.  Stay tuned!  So, have a good day and I’ll see you back here in a few hours, okay?

Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Milestone on October 27 2008 » 18 comments

Caramel-Glazed Apple Cake

Over the past several months, Sundays have come to mean one thing: our little neighborhood farmers’ market. Well, actually, Sunday also means a couple grocery stores, yogurt parfaits, baking extravaganzas and, more recently, Mad Men. And, sadly, this Sunday two of these things—the market and Mad Men—are coming to a close for the season. Whereas Mad Men has been building toward this final act for weeks now and will likely exit in highly dramatic fashion, the farmers’ market has just kind of petered out.

It’s funny, really, how the farmers’ market season unfolds. It debuts in the spring, when the patrons are desperate, but the crops are meager. I am practically moved to tears when the first verdant spears of asparagus appear. And by the time my misty eyes clear, strawberries, ramps, rhubarb and green garlic swoop in to really set my heart rate racing. Then, as if overnight, summer’s bounty sneaks up and we’re swimming in a rising tide of juicy tomatoes and fuzzy peaches and sweet corn. It’s difficult to remember, in the glut of July and August, that such delicacies won’t last forever.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Dessert,Recipe on October 23 2008 » 21 comments

Braising Season

After a sun-saturated Saturday and a Sunday awash with golden and crimson leaves, the yang to fall’s much more lovely yin has arrived in force. Every morning this week, I’ve needed not only a coat but a scarf too. What was once a pleasant waltz from the train to the gym in the morning has become a hunched speed walk into the wind, my head withdrawn turtle-like into my upturned collar. The previously sweeping view from my office—a little sliver of the lake here, a slice of the Sears Tower there—has been socked in by fog and driving rain. I even found myself leaving work on Monday, caught in a dreary rain storm: without an umbrella. All of this is to say: it’s time, friends, to braise.

If there is an upshot to nasty weather and grim skies and a perpetual chill it is ensconcing oneself in a cozy home and sweeping away the elements with a slow cooked, homey meal that sends clouds of roasty smells into the air, while the hot oven inches the room temperature up a blissful degree or two. It’s an intense craving for just this brand of comfort that keeps me coming back to braises all the livelong fall and winter.

I’ve got a dependable stable of braises all stocked up for winter, but it’s small and I’ve decided to use the less-than-lovely fall (pre-winter?) days to audition new additions to the roster. It’s my kitchen version of baseball’s spring training, you could say: I’m scouting the promising recipes from the farm system. I’ve had my eye on a number of prospects: hearty greens, tiny Brussels sprouts, tough cuts of beef, meaty pieces of fish, even some forays into new-to-me realms like lamb shanks.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Chicken,Recipe on October 21 2008 » 27 comments

The Sleeper Hit

My parents were here the weekend before last and we made a cozy fall feast on that Friday night: this herb-encrusted pork tenderloin (which, I’m happy to report, works really well in the oven, now that grill season is all but over), these mascarpone mashed potatoes, a big bowl of simply dressed greens and the glazed red pearl onions you see up there.

The onions were full of surprises. They were a pain in the neck to make, for one. I skimmed the recipe quickly before adding it to the menu and thought it sounded easy enough. Just blanch the onions and peel them. I can do that, right? Well, sure I can do that. But it wasn’t all that fun. It turned my fingers all prune-y, ruined a manicure and took a very long time. Luckily, I had good company (thanks, mom!) and a glass of wine. Otherwise, I might’ve scrapped the whole thing, figuring that this was just a ho-hum side dish that we could live with out.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Side on October 20 2008 » 19 comments

Fun While They Lasted

Today, my sister is packing up her car, heading northwest on I-94 out of Chicago, up into Wisconsin, over the St. Croix River and into Minnesota. And, after a year of living about a mile down Armitage from Kevin and me, she’s not coming back. She’s moving home to Minnesota and it’s got me pretty sad—a little weepy, even, and a lot nostalgic—this morning.

I know I’ll see her soon: Thanksgiving, at the latest. But I also know that it just won’t be the same. For the year that she lived here, we saw her at least once a week, usually over dinner. We called it Family Dinner and, on this nostalgic morning, I wish that we could re-live every single one of them. We settled into such a comfortable pattern with the dinners—painstakingly craft a menu, pick a day, convene after work, Ali bears a bottle of wine, Kevin mans the television for the evening, Kristin darts around the kitchen, all of us feast. It was the kind of easy comfort that only comes with family.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Dessert,Recipe on October 17 2008 » 25 comments

My Mom’s Soup Files

I’ve told you about my food magazine addiction before and I think I even mentioned the cause of it: it’s a trait I inherited from my parents. This feature of the gene pool was on vivid display during my parents’ visit last weekend, while we sat around the living room lazily sipping coffee and each flipping through the magazines that normally litter my coffee table. My mom had somehow missed the January 2008 issue of Gourmet and I was delighted to call her attention to must-read essays and must-make recipes.

We do the same thing back at their house in Minnesota, only the back issues there hark back to the mid-90s. And the stacks of old magazines are supplemented by shelves full of cookbooks, ranging from spiral-bound recipe booklets published by Lutheran churches to slip-covered, glossy-photoed tomes from the world’s hottest chefs.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Soup on October 15 2008 » 20 comments

An Uncooperative Autumn

My parents were in Chicago for the weekend and we packed nearly every minute of it with all things fall. We made a dinner that featured a roasted pork tenderloin, glazed onions, mashed potatoes and apple crisp. We were in Evanston for a college football Saturday (so much for the Cats’ undefeated schedule). We watched playoff baseball. We feasted on freshly-baked apple streusel muffins for breakfast. We ordered desserts after a dinner out on Saturday night that involved pumpkin and caramel. We studiously avoided talking about politics, as we do every fourth fall, so as to avoid heated arguments. I bought a new scarf while I was out shopping with my mom and sister. We even discussed the Thanksgiving menu.

Despite our extremely admirable (if I do say so myself) efforts at playing fall, the weather refused to cooperate. It was hot. Hot. Eighty on Sunday! Eighty on October freakin’ twelfth. The trees were plump with green leaves. The sunshine absolutely flooded both Saturday and Sunday. Not to sound too Palin here, but to all this I said: thanks, but no thanks.

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Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Salad on October 13 2008 » 8 comments

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