It Can’t Rain on an Indoor Parade

August 2011

Hey, those are my feet in those red Toms shoes, and that’s my dining room table.  It’s decked out like a picnic because I had every intention of loading my picnic basket and finding a sunny, summery spot in the cemetery (it’s pretty there, not morbid, for the record) for an outdoor meal.

However, I live in Pittsburgh, the city that laughs at outdoor plans and challenges them with gray skies and spits and fits of rain.  This was one of those Sundays, so the plans changed.  Nina came over, and we picnicked indoor style.  It all worked out for a pleasant afternoon.  It can’t rain on my indoor parade!

(We look quite serious about our brunch endeavor)

The menu was inspired by the little kid days of PB&J picnics, but the delivery was a different interpretation with a side of a beets experiment.  Let us begin.

Blueberry, Walnut, Oat Bread
This is a hearty one kids!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
2 Tablespoons local creamed honey

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup organic rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

½ cup local, organic blueberries
½ cup chopped walnuts

1 egg (local/free-range)

Directions

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

Whisk together the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl.

Add the nuts and then the blueberries.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Oil an 8-cup [stone] loaf pan. Turn the dough into the pan, cover with a clean cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven, and place on a wire rack to cool.

Mixed Nut Butter

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup peanuts
½ teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons hazelnut oil
1 Tablespoon local honey

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency (in the case of my tired lady, I went for a “rustic” consistency).

This honey packaging was so beautiful.  I couldn’t resist buying it for a brunch occasion.

Voila…a variation of a childhood classic…

Blueberry walnut oat bread + layer of nut butter + honey from the beautiful package + fresh, sweet, local, organic blueberries from here.

As for the side dish experiment… Beet Jamboree?

Ingredients

4 medium-large sized, local beets
1 cup unsweetened, dried cherries
½ cup + 2-3 Tablespoons sugar in the raw
1 cup fruity red wine
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
4-5 local peaches, sliced

Directions

Combine the beets, dried cherries, ½ cup sugar, wine, water and 1 teaspoon organic lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the beets are soft, at least 40 minutes.

In a separate skillet, combine the peach slices, 2-3 Tablespoons sugar and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until peaches are glazed, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the beet mixture to the skillet, stirring frequently.  Add a bit of water if the beet mixture is too thick.

Once thoroughly combined, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Serve with homemade crème fraiche and a garnish of local mint.

The Caffeine Portion of the Meal + My New Pitcher (a present from Nina!)

I am a fan of cold coffee beverages, but if you want to take your time and sip your brunch time mug, the result can suffer some dilution from the ice cubes, especially  if your brunch time meal is outside in the heat.  As it turned out, there was no thermos necessary, since my picnic moved indoors, but the coffee flavor remained bold as a result of my foresight.

Cold Brew Coffee + Coffee Ice Cubes

1 cup coarse ground coffee (I used Mocha Java from Whole Foods)
4 ½ cups water

Combine the coffee and water in a pitcher and leave in the refrigerator overnight.  When ready to use, use a fine mesh strainer to remove the grounds.  Serve with coffee ice cubes and a mason jar o’ milk.

As for the Cocktails…

Just a Splash o’ Whiskey + Organic Peach Lemonade + Fresh Local Peaches + Fresh Local Blueberries + Fresh Local Mint and ice.

This little guy came in a pair as a present from Nina.  If you know Nina, you’ll know she didn’t give me roosters.  She gave me cocks.

The world is our photo booth!

It indeed was a Grand Buffet!

The world continued to be our photo booth…

Still come cocktail sipping to do.

Nina made her own table arrangement after the meal to highlight my salt n’ pepper shaker and jam jar presents from her.  I feed her, and she gives me presents.  It’s really a perfect match!

I believe I have told you and told you again, but one more time…I love Sunday afternoons in my dining room!  They make Mondays a little rough, though.

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