As I write this, it is early morning and Big Guy’s off on his first clamming expedition. Max is sleeping on the sofa wrapped in his favorite fleece blanket, Finnigan’s gone back to bed wrapped in the feather duvet and here I sit in the bay window of the dining room looking out over a perfectly beautiful garden and the endless sky filled with cotton batting clouds kissed by the early morning sun. What can I say …surely I’m in heaven. Welcome to Rose Cottage. Are we lucky or what?
Located at Ona Beach about half way between Waldport and Newport, our little home for the month is a miniature palace. In fact, I have to pinch myself ( Big Guy’s already done it for me) because there’s absolutely nothing and I mean nothing that we don’t love about it. Light filled, warm and truly comfortable with a lovely ocean peek from the living room, it sits high on a bluff in a neighborhood filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people. It’s cozy, comfortable and most important; the kitchen’s very well equipped and definitely big enough for all of us.
We broke it in last night as we shared our traditional first meal at the beach with fellow blogger Lorraine from Figs and Artichokes. That's her in the pic with Big Guy...go visit her site now ya' hear. It's fabulous!
Now, if you’re a blogger you’ll understand me when I say there’s a sisterhood that develops over time in the food blogging community and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to make some fantastic friendships thanks to this thing I call a hobby.
While Lorraine and I had met only briefly last year in person, we’ve spent the past 365 days getting to know each other so when she arrived for dinner last night bearing a huge beautiful basket of wines, cheese and incredible locally smoked salmon and bacon (stupid me, I forgot to take a pic) it was as if greeting a long lost sista’ from anotha’ motha’ if you know what I mean. We’re so blessed but enough or I’ll get all gushy.
As for dinner, our menu included a simple salad of mixed greens, dried cranberries, crunchy almonds, creamy goat’s cheese and a purchased raspberry vinaigrette followed by our traditional first real cookin’ night entrée of 5 Hour Stew. Of course we got talking and I forgot to take a picture of the main course, but here’s the one from last year …oh and the year before too. Served on a bed of creamy horseradish mashed potatoes – it was a perfect way to initiate a new to us stove to fill the air with delicious smells and warm the soul of our little cottage.
Dessert was simply a plum kuchen made with huge and incredibly tart red plums in one of our favorite sweet treats. We’ve made it here before; however, I had to do some quick thinkin’ and substituted sour cream for the heavy whipping cream the recipe asks for – so here’s last night’s “new” version. As you can see, it was crunchy on the bottom – or would have been if most of it hadn’t stuck to the pan…. But the creamy custard filling and crumbly top were darn near perfect. Along with a scoop of Umpqua’s finest vanilla, it was a tart, not too sweet and every bit satisfying end to a laughter filled evening.
Incidentally – as I mentioned yesterday the only thing missing at this perfect little place is internet service so posting won’t be as regular as it is the other 11 months of the year. Keep checking in though, OK because while you might be able to pry JBug away from her computer, you sure as heck can’t keep her out of the kitchen.
Easy Five Hour Beef Stew (adapted from Slicing, Hooking & Cooking, Jackie Eddy)
2 to 3 pounds good quality stewing meat (I use chuck)
Flour, black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, sliced
2 cans golden mushroom soup
1 cup red wine, plus more if needed
1 package dried onion soup mix
Cut meat into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Dredge in flour and sauté in large Dutch oven until well browned. Work in batches so pan isn’t crowded and meat browns well. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add onions and garlic to casserole and cook until onions are softened. Scrape browned bits from bottom as onions cook. Add carrots, mushroom soup, red wine and dried onion soup mix. Return meat to pot and stir well to make sure meat is well coated with liquid. Cover pot and cook in 275 oven for 5 to 6 hours. Check pot after 3 hours to make sure there is enough liquid and add more red wine if needed. Serves 4 to 6.
1 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
6 large red or black plums, cut in half and pit removed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk together sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder until well mixed. Add cubed butter and using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub butter into dry ingredients until crumbly. Reserve 2/3 cup of mixture then press remaining crumbs into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch pan. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 20 minutes until slightly golden in color.
Remove kuchen from the oven and maintain oven temperature. Place plums cut side down onto par baked crust. Beat together egg, sour cream, half and half and vanilla until well mixed. Pour custard mixture over top of plus and sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until custard has set and top is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving.