And that's a wrap

Well, it's New Year's Eve and with it comes a time of reflection. I always have mixed feelings about New Year's Eve. Some years I get really excited about celebrating the end of the year and having it go out loud. Other years, like this one, I find myself in a quieter state of mind wanting to celebrate a bit more low key. Some years I feel like reflecting and some years I don't.

I do feel like this time of year can be difficult with our desires to end on a high note and start off on a high note. It's full of expectations and this sense of starting over. I definitely like those elements, but I try to not let it stress me out. I look forward to the year ahead with excitement and with goals in mind, but I also don't want to start off a new year freaking out about what I NEED to accomplish. It's healthy and necessary to reflect, but let's not have it bog us down. Let's have aspirations and dreams for the year before us, but not before we give thanks for what this past year has brought us. I realize that some folks want to kick this past year swiftly in the rear and that's fine. Sometimes that's what we need to do.

However you decide to end the year/ring in the new year, I hope you do it surrounded by good food and those you love. For some that may mean spending it alone and that's perfectly good. For others that may mean a crowd of strangers. There are plenty of ways to celebrate and I hope it's just right for you.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and blessings for 2013!



Simmons Family Farm

A couple of months ago some friends and I decided to take a trip about 30 minutes south of Austin to visit a local farm that we've grown to really like for a number reasons. They grow beautiful vegetables, take great care in growing them, and they themselves are lovely people. Simmons Family Farm is located just south of Austin in Niederwald, Texas and sits tucked in just off a dirt road. It's not a big farm, but they have a lot going on for their small acreage. Harry Simmons, along with his wife Maew, his mother Penel and brothers, are the faces behind this great farm.

The weather on the day we visited was perfect, so we were able to see all of the farm and chat with Harry and his mother Penel as he showed us around.

We started off by visiting the baby chicks, which were the newest additions to the family farm. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture because I was to enamored with the chicks! They were so cute and all I wanted to do was pick one up and squeeze it. Gently of course. I did however refrain from freaking out the chicks and let them be, but not before I had ooohed and ahhhed a good bit. After that we moved on to see some full grown chicks, or should I say ladies? I typically buy my eggs from Simmons Family Farm, but this time of year the ladies aren't laying very often so no eggs for me that day.

From the chicken coop we moved on and saw the rest of the farm and learned about some of the organic and sustainable farming practices of the farm. If we didn't know it already, we definitely saw it first hand. Farming is hard work folks! Especially small family farming. It was really great to learn more about the care and hard work that goes into some of the veggies that I enjoy shopping for at my local farmers' market. It made me appreciate them and the people that much more.

One more thing! Harry's wife Maew is Thai, so they grow a variety of Thai veggies, greens, as well as some tropical fruits like papaya. They are experimenting with avocados too!

Broccoli Rabe

French Breakfast Radish

Farm Cat in Bok Choy

Penel's gorgeous yellow roses

Last of the jalapenos

One of the fields at the farm

Papaya plant

Bed of greens


Basil Pecan Pesto

I made pesto today. Basil Pecan Pesto to be more precise. I decided to make pesto, because I still have basil in the garden that looks good and I want to use it before a frost comes and takes it away for another year. Not that I need to worry about a frost quite yet here in Texas. We don't typically see the first frost until mid-November. However, last night's temperatures were dipping low enough that I figured I'd better get on it.

I usually make pesto in a food processor, but a while ago I watched a video in which Jamie Oliver made it in a mortar and pestle. Pesto is after all a form of the word pestare, which in Italian means to pound or crush. To be considered true pesto it should be made in a mortar and pestle, because this is how it was traditionally made. So, not one to argue with tradition I decided to have a go at it tradizionalmente. Ok anyone who knows me knows that I do argue with some tradition, and I did leave out the cheese* and swap out pecans for pine nuts.

I followed Signor Lebovitz's instructions, but used the Basil Pecan Pesto recipe I found on Epicurious. I wanted to switch it up a bit and I had some pecans on hand that I needed to use up.

The final result is definitely not as uniform as compared to using a food processor. It's a bit thicker and almost like a chutney. I actually like it more, because it has a bit of a bite versus being a creamy sauce like most food processor pestos. That's not to say that I've sworn off the food processor for making pesto. Convenience wins out most times. But, for those moments when I have a bit more time on my hands, I think I'll stick with tradition.

*I left out the cheese, because I try to avoid dairy as much as possible. I'll save the why for another post. I also didn't have any Parmesan on hand, but I probably would have left it out. Probably.


Sunday Ritual: Olive Oil Maple Granola

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how to get this blog going after my first post months ago. My first thought was to write about what you might find on this blog, but then realized I don't even know what you'll find on this blog. Food definitely, but in what form? I don't quite know yet. Probably some recipes, maybe some restaurants reviews, and pictures. Probably. Maybe? 

So, instead of trying to make a big splash I thought I'd start by dipping my toes in first. I might jump in from there, or just slowly test the waters and wade in. 

So, what's up first? How about something simple that I find calming and peaceful every Sunday. Making granola.

I started making my own granola a few years ago when I got married. My husband was used to eating homemade granola for breakfast, so I wanted to continue that and make it a part of our new life together. We enjoyed that granola for a while, because it was/is tasty and was familiar. But, I always found one thing lacking. Texture. I like my granola crunchy and crisp, but this granola didn't have that. At first I tried tweaking the recipe, leaving it in the oven longer, but nothing seemed to work. I finally realized that it was never going to be crunchy unless I burned the hell out of it. Of course, then I'd have a whole new issue on my hands. Burnt granola. So, I started looking for recipes.

I came across tons on the internet and in cookbooks and finally settled on Ellie Krieger's Nutty Granola recipe. It had the right crunch and it wasn't too sweet, which was a hiccup I was experiencing with other granolas. I made that granola for a while, but recently got lured away by Melissa Clark's Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios. I can't remember if I first came across it online, or in her book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, but the use of olive oil was intriguing enough to toss out my old recipe. At least for a week I thought. 

Well, it's been longer than a week and I keep coming back to my variation of it. To be honest I never tried the actual recipe. The use of two sweeteners just seemed a bit too rich for me. I don't like my granola overly sweet. So, I've tweaked it a bit by leaving out one sweetener and the dried fruit. I've also swapped out and added some nuts. The final result is below. 

I hope you'll enjoy it. And, who knows. Maybe it'll become part of your Sunday ritual.

Olive Oil Maple Granola
adapted from A Good Appetite

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecans 
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips. Toss to combine.
2. Add maple syrup, olive oil, salt, cinnamon and cardamom to oat mixture. Stir to combine making sure everything is well coated.
3. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
4. Take granola out of oven and let it cool before transferring to a storage container. It should last at least a week in an air tight storage container. (I keep mine in the fridge, which I think makes it last longer. Not that it every last longer than a week in our house.)



Yay! You made it!

Welcome to my new home! Wow, that's a lot of exclamation points! But I'm excited you're here!

For those of you who have followed me here (all 5 of you), thank you for your patience as I find my voice in blogland.

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I'll be posting soon to share a bit about who I am and my vision for this space, until then you can get to know me a bit through Pinterest or Instagram @buenprovecho.

I'll see you soon.