sweetly sinful

It’s been since November since I last posted on this blog — a lot has happened since that last post not the least of which was moving from Austin to Chicago. The Austin Cook With a View kitchen has been retired and is now surely filled with the aromas and foods of India — the buyers of our home were from Southern India and they love to cook so I am glad that the kitchen will remain busy and productive.

As for a new Cook With a View kitchen, we’re in a transition period while Patrick and I explore the Chicago area and decide where to buy our next home. What comes with that however is an exploration of Chicago’s culinary assets — and let me tell you they are bountiful. But before I get to that I wanted to share with you an interview with a friend and former colleague who has recently turned her creative force into a new candy business called Sweetly Sinful Candy Company.

Just in time for valentines day I encourage you to RUN not walk to your computer peruse her website and either call (208-315-3634) or email YUM@SWEETLYSINFULCANDYCO.COM to order your Sweet some sinful sweets and see what kind of trouble you get into!

here’s what Suzann had to say about making candy

CK: So Suzann you are one of the most creative people I know. Is making candy a creative endeavor for you?

SK: It is! Every chocolate I make is a design project, from flavors to color and shape, along with the final sheen and presentation in the box. I love that I can use all my experience as a graphic designer in this business!

CK: Have you been making candy all your life?

SK: I started making candy at 15 – it was my first job! Stirring caramel over a huge kettle, wrapping chocolates and the like. Then it became a holiday tradition making caramels, hard candy, truffles, etc. After a few years of giving them to local friends, they finally talked me into making them for resale!

CK: What is the most surprising thing you have learned about making candy?

SK: Patience is a virtue! And chocolate is as complex and varied as wine. Try one bar made from beans in coastal Ecuador, and it will taste completely different than a bar made from cacao beans grown in the Ecuadoran mountains.

CK: What are your most popular candies? Are these your favorite?

SK: Caramels, no doubt about it. They are my favorite as well, and I really love the fleur de sel caramels dipped in dark Belgian chocolate. They are sublime, and quite addictive.

 

CK: Ill never forget your stories of working with the Bee Professor in Montana. Have you considered collaborating with him or creating a line of honey candy in honor of his work and that time in your life?

SK: Ahhh…..Dr. Bromenshenk. I love that you remembered that! The bee man with his buzzing behavior. I had not thought of that concept, but it’s sure a cool idea! I may have to process that a little more and come up with something. I do have a ton of honey from my dad’s Montana farmland, and have been conceptualizing something with honey and milk chocolate. Or a lemon, lavender and honey flavored truffle.

CK: Have you found that men and women have different flavor favorites?

SK: Surprisingly, no. Just when you think you can predict something, it becomes the opposite! A big, burly guy loving a white chocolate and plum heart, and his tiny girlfriend going for the super dark chocolate with espresso and whiskey!

CK: Is your family supportive? What advice have they given you on this endeavor?

SK: My family, and most of all my husband, have been behind me 100%! I could not do this without them and their encouragement. They all want me to go for it and make this a full-time endeavor.

CK: Are you interested in your company growing?

SK: Right now, I would like to see slow growth and make a living as a full-time chocolatier, then eventually add an employee or two until I am ready to open a retail chocolate shop. That’s a few years down the road, and I don’t want to get too big. I don’t want to lose sight of my original principles of small batches of hand-crafted artisan confections. No big machines or robot arms here!

 

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sunless in san diego

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Last month my husband Patrick and I traveled to San Diego — a short trip to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. I have traveled all over California, but had never made it to San Diego, the city of perfect weather. We … Continue reading

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Aside

Agora, Magdalena Abakanowicz

Something struck me on a recent visit to Chicago ~ why are some cities meccas for cultural philanthropy and others are not? Everywhere I turned in Chicago it seemed, there was another outstanding example of civic leadership in support of the city’s arts and culture.

Lion outside the Chicago Art Institute

Chicago has a cultural asset practically on every corner – outstanding public art, theaters large and small, classic and experimental dance companies, museums, public gardens, historic homes…and the list goes on and on.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millenium Park

My visit inspired me to think about what makes a community like Chicago so successful at nurturing and breeding civic stewardship?  Is it born of the cultures that settle in a given community? Does the size of the community figure into the equation? Does it take one or two passionate, outstanding individuals to stand up and serve as role models? For example, has Seattle seen an increase in philanthropy as the result of Gates and Allen as role models?

Ben, Deborah Butterfield, Senca Park

A couple of years ago in Austin the non-profit community launched a public service program called “I Live Here, I Give Here” to encourage Austin residents to become philanthropic. I love the idea of this program, and it seems to have legs from a marketing standpoint, but I think it is still too early to judge if it will have a long lasting effect.

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

I don’t have answers to this question, and I would really love to hear your thoughts about what you think encourages citizens to care about their cultural and social heartbeat.  I invite you to share your thoughts here.

~ Catherine

American Windows, Marc Chagall, Chicago Art Institute

 

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yoga moves ~ half moon pose

Half Moon Pose (Arda Chandrasana)

Half moon pose is another great standing balance pose (are you seeing a theme here)? It helps to strengthen the ankles and thighs. Both Lisa and I use a block  prop to help us reach the ground. Using props in yoga is a great way to gently train your body to reach or achieve the full expression of a pose. Using props should not be considered cheating, or a negative reflection of your ability. Do yourself a favor and buy some blocks, they will help you align properly and when you are aligned properly you receive the full benefits of the pose. Some other great props to invest in are belts or straps, a bolster and a yoga blanket. I was recently in Chicago (a new food for the soul post is coming soon) and had the pleasure of using a rope wall for body alignment. The studio – Yoga Among Friends – is in Downers Grove, Il. I enjoyed lots of great Inyengar practice while I was there. Love, loved, loved the studio, and I can’t wait to go back.

Its easy to see where I need to place my focus when doing this pose by comparing my photo below to Lisa’s photo above.  My extended leg and upward reaching arm both need to be more active – stretching, rotating etc… The extended leg should be reaching and my foot should be fully engaged in a flexed position. My arm also needs to be reaching upward with my fingers bright and spread apart. It’s always great to have something to work toward! Let me know how your yoga practice is going.  ~ nameste, catherine

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green monster

The garden has morphed  into this huge mass of vines and leaves. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between the lemon cucumbers and the Roma tomatoes …or are those pear tomatoes?

While we were in Chicago at the end of June we had friends  – Elliott and Tom – water and harvest the garden to prevent it from dying under our blistering Texas sun. They did a marvelous job keeping the garden going as you can see. When we returned home I was able to harvest 3-1/2 cups of tomatoes, enough to make  the tomato sauce I posted under Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Roma’s were a bit small so I had to cheat a little and use a few pear tomatoes to achieve the 3-1/2 cups I needed. The pear tomatoes worked very well and added a tiny bit of sweetness to the sauce.

I harvested two Ananas heritage melons before we left for Chicago, and when we left it appeared the melon vine had produced all it could this year. On our return home we were pleasantly surprised to see not only a new melon growing, but the largest one to date!

2 days before harvest

day of harvest

delicious!

I am not growing basil this season – In my past garden endeavors – in Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington – I never had luck with herbs, and these are the places where everything grows lush and full. So I didn’t even consider growing herbs here in Austin. My guess is that it would take planting a big crop of any herb, cover them with shade cloth  and water them more than I water the veggies to be able to grow enough herbs to harvest. I could be wrong about the watering, but I definitely think shade cloth is necessary.  I did buy some beautiful basil at Whole Foods in order to make the tomato sauce, and used the remainder to make a big batch my famous walnut basil pesto – which can be frozen if we don’t eat it all first.

Walnut Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil (I start with 1/2 and add more if necessary)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor add all the ingredients except the oil. Process for 2-3 minutes or until completely chopped. While processing add drizzle in oil until well mixed and moist enough to mix well with pasta.

Use the pesto with pasta or as a spread.

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yoga moves ~ tree pose

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Its easy to see that this pose helps with balance. So many of us struggle with balance. Not just the standing upright kind of balance, but the juggling of our every day home life, family, friends and work kind of balance.  How many of us put ourselves on the needs list let alone at the top of it? This pose is a great opportunity to practice while you meditate on the other balancing acts in your life – let me know what comes up. ~ Nameste

Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced showing the full expression of this asana.

This is an important pose for me to practice after having foot surgery on both of my big toes. I think it’s easy to take our toes for granted – they’re short, often covered up with socks and shoes and they’re far from our direct line of vision. But toes and feet provide us with an all important gift — balance.  Once something happens to your balance (at least in my case) it’s time to give great thanks to the Almighty Toe.

 

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food for the soul


Tolerance, by Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa along Houston’s Allen Parkway – the route of the parade.

I was in Houston last week at the American Association of Museums (AAM) annual conference. Houston has one of the strongest cultural scenes in the country, and it was great to be amidst all that creative energy for a few days.  I thought I would share with you a few pictures from the Houston Art Car Parade and the Menil Collection.

The Art Car Parade should be on your bucket list if you love to laugh, to see people’s sense of creativity and humor and just want to celebrate life.

Part Airstream, part hot rod

Grrrr

Mobile Mastodon

Popcorn Mobile

Houston offers so much diversity. The next group of images are quite different from those of the parade, and they bear witness as previous images do of the need to create in the continuum of life . The Menil is a campus of buildings created to house the collection of John and Dominique de Menil. The collection is spiritual, inspiring and life affirming. The location, a quiet, peaceful residential neighborhood,  and is as fitting as the artwork in its midst. I felt the most profound solitude walking in the neighborhood going from one building to the next. It gave me the same safe feeling I had as a child in my front yard – filled with awe and wonder and ready for exploration within the confines and safety of my parents gaze.  As you can see the experience was quite personal, and I imagine that is part of the intent.  I hope that you will find the time to visit this gem.  I can’t wait to go back.

Outside Rothko Chapel, Menil Campus

~ Cat

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my how you have grown

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Each day when I go out to our little garden square I am shocked by the changes. The green limbs, vines and leaves seem to double in size every night and it reminds me of the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk … Continue reading

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time to fiesta!

On April 30th,  cook with a view hosted its third cooking class ~ Healthy Mexican Food. It was a great success, and the food was out of the world if I do say so myself.  Below are a couple of recipes from that class that I hope you’ll enjoy. I would love to hear from you if you try one or both of these. What’s your favorite Mexican Food? Share it and let’s see if we can find a way to give it a healthy overhaul – beyond just using reduced fat cheese!

Chayote and Chile Poblano Soup

  • 2 poblano chiles roasted and cleaned
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion, chopped
  • 2 lbs. chayote peeled and chopped (shown in the photographs)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 cup Mexican cream or heavy cream
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes

peeled chayote squash

cubed chayote squash

  1. Cut poblano chiles into strips and set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and onion. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chayote, corn and broth, as well as the roasted poblano chiles, salt, white and red pepper. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chayote is soft.
  4. Place the soup in a food processor in two parts and puree. Or use an immersion blender.
  5. Return to pot and add crème.

Low-Carb Option Omit the cup of corn and lower the carbs to 11 grams.

Low-Fat Option Use low-fat milk instead of the cream and lower the calories to 116 as well as shedding 10 grams of fat.

 

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing Salad

  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 2 cups chopped seeded tomato
  • 2 cups chopped peeled jicama
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels, uncooked (or frozen or canned)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • Half a ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Honey-Lime Dressing

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large scallion bulb, finely minced

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over mixture and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

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Rome wasn’t built in a day …

… and neither was our garden.

The organic garden we just installed is not exactly as I had dreamed it would be when we bought our house, but its a work in progress. It has given me plenty of ideas of what would make gardening easier and ultimately more fun. I’ll have to wait a little while before I start adding major landscape elements though. For now I am happy to have just a little plot of land to dig in and put down roots.

Starting to take shape

Here’s a little recipe to get you dreaming about fresh Roma tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 3 Tbsp red wine
  • 28 oz. of fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat (do not use a non-stick pan). Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and add the tomatoes crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon or with your hands as you add them. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the basil leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for a bout 20 – 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Makes 3 cups. You can freeze this sauce for up to 6 months.

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