All posts by mumescher

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

I’m completely and totally not into Valentine’s Day.  My children usually hate it.  The whole forced to bring in something for everyone in the class even the person who makes you feel awful day after day part of the equation can be overwhelmingly upsetting when you’re in elementary school…or high school.  However Lucy (and her Boyfriend!) have plans for Valentine’s Day.  She’s been cooking up some plan for a movie date and making him a box of treats.  She also mentioned making him brownies.  Young love!

The real kicker though is that for some inexplicable reason Ella is actually looking forward to it as well.  Despite her love of all things hearts and pink she’s never been too enthusiastic about this holiday.  She says it always makes her feel left out.  Awwww, my baby!  Well this year, the year of the Fenniken (for those that follow the Pokemon astrological calendar), I found her just the Valentine Poem:

Charmander is Red(ish-orange),

Squirtle is Blue,

If You were a Pokemon,

I would choose You!

And for the last 11 years Kevin and I have had more to celebrate on February 11th rather than the 14th.  February 11 is the day that we got engaged.  He kneeled on a rock out on Olmsted Island in Great Falls MD, sang me a beautiful song and asked me to be his wife.  Of course I said yes!  Greatest Not Valentine’s Day Ever!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day and Not Valentine’s Day we’re having a very pink, red and strawberry day.  Starting with strawberry friands adapted from a similar recipe from one of the most beautiful blogs/cookbooks of all time “What Katie Ate” by Katie Quinn Davis.  So what the heck is a Friand?.  Friands are similar to muffins, but they’re made with almond meal instead of wheat flour (so already heading to a Paleo Place of Happiness!).  They’re originally a French food, known over there as financier, although they are super popular in Australia and known there as friands.  Any which way, they’re very tasty and make an excellent dessert or can stand in as a paleo breakfast muffin.

For dinner we’re still having Tacos…’cause its still Tuesday, but I thought I’d make a special dessert in honor of the day.  And since Ella is still undecided about chocolate, (sometimes I wonder where we went wrong…honestly how can she NOT like chocolate?) I decided to make panna cotta with strawberry elderflower compote instead.

Panna cotta is like grown up creamy jello/pudding.  The first time I can recall having panna cotta was at River Cottage (see, there it is again!).  We harvested the little yellow flower buds from a Scottish Broom Hedge (which incidentally has an almost tropical smell to it) and steeped them in milk before adding gelatin and sugar and letting them set up to a seductively wobbly texture.  Yes, wobbly can be seductive.  But for Valentine’s Day I think I’ll add a wee dram of elderflower cordial (found at Ikea of all places!).  It’s very sugary and not very Paleo but come on…it is Valentine’s Day!  You could skip the cordial and add a bit of vanilla extract and or vanilla seed pod to be more paleo.  I should also mention that while this recipe can be made with almond milk (behold a recipe from nom nom Paleo) I plan on making mine with milk and cream.

Here is my adaptation of the BBC Good Food Recipe for Elderflower Panna Cotta but in approximate US measurements and with out the vanilla, I think it competes too much with the very delicate elderflower flavor.

Elderflower Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

3 oz (by weight) pure cane sugar

4 tbsp elderflower cordial (they call for elderflowers but cordial works fine too)

2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder (such as Great Lakes or Knox, see my note about gelatin below)

Note about Gelatin: the recipe originally called for 2 leaves of gelatin…see this website for information on how to convert the amount of powdered gelatin to leaf gelatin.  The information on the website is for making a hard set gelatin, and that’s not what we’re going for here, so take this advice with a measure of salt…er gelatin.  We’re making panna cotta…remember we want a seductive wobble not knox blox or jello jigglers that can withstand the abuse of a toddler before being consumed!)

Scald the milk, cream and sugar in a small sauce pan.  Add the cordial and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Then add the gelatin (the liquid should still be hot enough to melt the gelatin) and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into ramekins (or a heart shaped silicone muffin mold).  Place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours until set.

When ready to serve, dip the ramekin into hot water briefly before turning out onto a plate.  You may need to use a knife to break the suction at the side of the ramekin.  A slightly damp plate will help you position the panna cotta as you wish (freezing plates and allowing the resulting frost to thaw will give you just the right amount of water).  Garnish with a fruit compote and mint leaves if you want to get fancy.

Or just eat them with a spoon straight from the ramekin.  But you won’t get to see the seductive wobble if you leave them in the ramekins 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Or if you’re like me and mine and mostly give this day a miss, at least have a Happy Two-Desserts-in-One-Day Day!

Photo Credit: BBC Good Food Website,


What’s For Dinner Feb 13-19

I’m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment so I’ve planned next week’s menu to be full of easy to prepare family friendly staple meals.  Although it may seem a bit counter-intuitive I believe roasts are some of the easiest meals to make.  Just season a cut of meat (or a whole bird) and toss it into the hot oven.  A pan of roasted veg that cooks along side the main roast makes the rest of the meal a breeze too!   The only drawback to the roast dinner concept is the time it takes to make.  However, since most of that time is passive rather than active for the cook it’s really just a matter of planning to start dinner prep at an appropriately early hour so that dinner is ready for the family at your usual time (i.e. if you plan to eat around 6pm you may need to start the roast about 4pm – which admittedly is not usually the time I’m beginning dinner preparations.) Continue reading What’s For Dinner Feb 13-19

What’s For Dinner? Feb 6-12, 2017

February 6 – 12, 2017

As we were sitting down to enjoy our Chicken, Butternut and Gnocchi Skillet Dinner last Monday, Lolly chimed in with an idea for dinner this week.  “You know Mom…I love tomato soup.  The really thick kind, not chunky.  Can we have that tonight?”  Totally oblivious to the bowl of steaming gnocchi goodness that had been placed before her.  As she was already reaching for her spoon even!  Yay, we’ve gotten to the selective vision stage.  Well, hopefully she won’t miss the thick (not chunky) tomato soup being served up on Monday.  Actually, I know she won’t miss it because I’m putting her to work making it!

Fact: Lolly’s favorite animal is the lamb.  She was preschool age when we lived in England.  Kevin’s “Typical Dad” answer to the question about “where do lambs come from?” was that the farmer planted Lamb Seeds.  Every spring (usually in March) we’d wait anxiously to see the pristine white lambs dotting the verdant green hillsides near our house in Oxfordshire.  And Lolly would exclaim in her best Peppa Pig voice, “Look Mummy, the lamby seeds have sprouted!”  It made for an interesting conversation with the teacher one afternoon when I picked her up from school.  I was laughing too hard and had to send Kevin in to straighten things out with the teacher.  Fitting really since it was he who started it! Continue reading What’s For Dinner? Feb 6-12, 2017

The Lay of the Land

Before I begin any discussions of my goals for the garden areas of the house I would like to take a moment to show everyone the lay of the land.

Our house is named Overhill – with good reason!  Not just because we’re huge Lord of the Rings fans (there was a Hobbit family called Underhill, and we thought it was fitting).  Our entire lot is a steep hillside!  In fact we have a 4′ high concrete retaining wall near the bottom of the garden that was installed by the builder to help create a “flat” section closer to the house.  It didn’t really work.  But we’re doing better than our neighboring house.  They have a 10′ retaining wall! Continue reading The Lay of the Land

What’s For Dinner?

My challenge this week – to hop back onto the Paleo bandwagon.

I received two new magazines in my mailbox this weekend.  The Jan/Feb 2017 Cooking Light, and the February 2017 Southern Living.  Both had mouthwatering recipes featured on the cover.  Although the Lemon Cheesecake is most definitely Not Paleo!  Lolly took one look and declared that was what she wanted for her First Communion Feast. Continue reading What’s For Dinner?

Turning Over A New Leaf

Spring is in the air, even though its still January.  And with spring comes change and renewal.  Here at Plate and Plant we’re eager to get this Spring season started with all sorts of exciting new projects.  Like trying new recipes, kicking off a fresh gardening season, and indeed, writing the first installments of our newest venture – The Blog! Continue reading Turning Over A New Leaf