Showing posts from June, 2010

Splendid Greens

Amongst foodies who love public radio, Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table is kind of a rock star.

As a good friend noted, just her buttery voice coming across the airwaves can soothe you, and then she speaks of food - pasta, cheese, wine, herbs, veggies, baked goods - and even her words are manna from heaven.

She also has a spiffy cookbook called How to Eat Supperthat I find to be one of the best cookbooks I've read. Lynne loves flexibility in the food she prepares, which I like also. Out of fresh buttermilk? Make do with a cup of regular milk mixed with some lemon juice. No zucchini in the crisper? Try yellow squash instead. Kale gone missing? Use spinach.

Last night I cooked dinner solo - and Lord knows I can eat some weird stuff when there's no husband around to protest, "But that's not a square meal." I had some wilting Swiss chard from the B-more market begging to be consumed, so I went straight to a LRK recipe that sounded just about perfect after a …

Banana Puddin' and Scones

I'll admit it - my food preferences bounce all over the spectrum from sophisticated to tacky. Case-in-point: my love of scones (at end of this post) and banana pudding.

I made the latter, Southern dessert for a visit to a friend's hootenanny on Saturday in Takoma Park. (THANKS for hosting, Chris & Isabelle!) If you're going to drink lots of beer, sit out in 100 degree heat and listen to autoharp, banjo, accordion and washboard music, you need a suitable dessert and banana puddin' is just-right.

The photo below is the Southern institution in progress, me just having realized that the cool whip was still part-frozen - DOH!

That discovery was all the more reason to dig out the frozen bits for immediate consumption! (and to foster quicker heat-up, pliability of the remaining cool whip for topping off the puddin')

Banana pudding (or puddin', if in proper form) is easy to make and a summer treat! Here's my mom's take on on it.

Miss Laurie's Banana Pudd…

Dutch Country Farmer's Market

On the advice of Erin's NPR boss, we took a trip to Dutch Country Farmer's Market in Laurel, MD, just up the road from us in Riverdale Park, MD.

It's a farmer's market in the sense of the Your DeKalb Farmer's Market (Atlanta area), in that it's not all-local, but nonetheless offers a mix of local foods (dairy, meat, some produce) plus tons of food made in-house (bakery, sweets). There's also a whole candy/spices/nuts/pasta, etc. section.

And of course, with it having a focus on all things Pennsylvania Dutch, the scent and sight of soft pretzels hits you the moment you walk in. We committed food-shopping sin #1: shopping while hungry! After a short walk around, and it being not too long after breakfast, we went traditional (regular soft-pretzel, below right) and adventurous/brunchy (steak, egg and cheese STUFFED, yes STUFFED, into a soft pretzel, below left).

We picked up smoked pork chops and NY strip steaks (all pasture-fed, no gunky hormones, etc.), local…

I Shall Conquer This

Perfect timing! Just as I lamented recently the price hike of the big-ass plastic tub of Stoneyfield yogurt we buy each week, along comes this genius article.

They make it look so easy, this yogurt making. I think if I can handle preserving and canning, turning dairy and cultures into creamy goodness should be a cinch.

I love the idea of making my own yogurt because a) it's cheap, b) I can say/brag I made it, which is always nice, and c) how cute will my homemade yogurt look in little glass jam jars?

It's on, y'all.

Friday Shout Out: Iced Tea

Yes, it's a worn-out topic at this point, just a mere five days past the official Summer Solstice - it's really freakin' hot outside.

So let this be my last grumbling about the heat on this here blog - can't speak for Scott, but I do want to just let the bitching about the heat go, as it's nothing I can personally control. Unless God (or the great Creator, whomever he or she may be that controls the Almighty Global Thermostat) decides to help us all about and turn down the temps any time soon, we just need to flat-out deal. And chill.

The best way to do so? No, not Gin and Tonics, though they are a close second or third behind stripping down naked and finding someone to fan you down while feeding you iced and peeled grapes.

It's iced tea, people - the good, old-fashioned, non-alcoholic (though you could add some Firefly if you're feeling frisky) beverage of choice, and sweetened for those of who grew up south of the Mason-Dixon.

Scott and I have enjoyed roughl…

Weekends Were Made for This

Yes, it was hotter than two rats fornicating in a wool sock (one of my all-time favorite expressions, and that's the clean version) this weekend. Yet we couldn't let 90 pesky degrees get in the way of some good times, could we?

Naaaaah. We sucked it up and headed out for Alexandria and DC on Saturday, Baltimore on Sunday. In pictures I will demonstrate:

We met up with one of my best college buds Kellie visiting from Asheville and toodled around an old 1940s munitions factory that was converted into an arts center - the Torpedo Art Factory in Alexandria. Awesome artist-in-residence studios with views of the Potomac, with lots of pricey fun stuff to look at. One throwback:
An old-school soda machine. When was the last time you saw these? Especially the Mountain Dew! After a lovely time with Kellie, Scott and I decided to brave the National Mall and walk to Smithsonian's American History Museum. As luck would have it, one floor has Julia Child's kitchen on one wing and a tra…

Old North State

Presenting my new favorite kitchen item - a North Carolina-shaped cookie/biscuit/carb cutter gifted to me by my dear pal Shelby.

Shelby found this at a shop in D.C.'s Eastern Market called Hill's Kitchen. Isn't it awesome? To commemorate its total awesomeness, I used it to make Cheese Bannocks, a Scottish recipe I found on the back of an Arrowhead Mills oat flour package given to us by a friend who cleaned out their pantry while moving out of their DC apartment. (Yes, what a random explaination that was.)

Cheese bannocks are like a heartier version of the ubiquitous Southern wedding/funeral/church refreshments known as Cheese Straws. They are yummy. Want to make them? Here's how.

Bannocks deFromage

1 cup oats
1 cup oat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 400ºF
Mix the oats, flour, salt and spices well.
Cut in the softened butter
Stir in the cheese.
Add 1/2 cup warm water and mix, kn…

Friday Shout Out: Wild About Wasa

It's Friday, I just watched the World Cup at work with my department peeps, and I'm in a pretty great mood.

Today I "lunched" on a bowl of this spectacular gazpacho recipe that I prepared and let "marry" on Wednesday night and enjoyed for dinner last night. Holy tomato, it is wonderful. Perfect and light, cold or at room temp, and loaded with veggies and all my favorite things. Interestingly enough, it calls for making a paste of one boiled egg, garlic and salt - sounds icky but it really thickened the soup up and tasted great.

I enjoyed the soup with a small salad and a few Wasa crackers I found at Safeway that I've never seen before - "thin & crispy flatbread" in the rosemary flavor. I can't find a link to share so you can see what I'm talking about but they are super-thin, extra crispy, just herby enough, and a great accompaniment to my soup and even on their own or with a little cheese or some type of spread.

If you like crackers …

Something Smells Fishy

As a lover of all the fruits of the sea, I have really wondered about this awful cluster of an oil spill's effect on the seafood down in Louisiana and Florida, NC even.

So sayeth an FDA staffer:

"Our goal both collectively, FDA and NOAA, is to make sure that fish that have become contaminated or might become contaminated are kept off of the market so that they don't get to the consumers, so consumers don't have to ask themselves, 'Is the fish I'm about to buy safe?"

I really love shrimp, scallops and oysters, and though I hate seeing the photos of oil-soaked birds (and this comes from a straight-up bird loather), my heart really goes out to the sea. I've always felt a strong attachment to the ocean and I hate the idea of coastlines being ravaged and the environs and organisms in them being devastated and depleted.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - a top authority in seafood sustainability - "the spill will affect many popular commercial sea…

Green Goddess, I Am

I have to give a shout-out to this amazing and oh-so-easy recipe that has saved my ass so many times when I've had basil, some pasta, and not much time or effort to devote to meal making.

After time got away from me and I realized it was 7:30 and both of the Hungry Times Two peeps had grumbly tummies, I whipped up this green goodness that features tons of spinach and wonderful fresh basil leaves, garlic, and a creamy base that isn't fatty at all - it's cottage cheese made smooth by a whirl in the blender. I used a teensy bit of pine nuts instead of walnuts and didn't have broccoli - I served it with a salad instead.

You can use this as a pasta topper, dip, sandwich spread, or just all around amazing condiment. Good lord, it's so good it feels sinful, but it's not. I know, another ridiculous Moosewood recipe from Erin but damn if they don't know what they are doing up there in Ithaca, N.Y. I'd love to visit sometime, though a friend and former newspaper co…

Tour de Crab

A friend sent me this link today about the DC area's best crab cakes. Somehow I think I should totally take a day (or two) off and just visit them all in a whirlwind feast of crab goodness.

I do love me some crab. Right now I am fantasizing about a crab and avocado salad... I have never had one but I have seen many recipes for them and even on menus before and I never took the plunge. Something about the soft flaky crab meat joined with the cool and creamy avocado just seems decadent and absolutely wonderful. Methinks I need to make that happen. I am in the land of crab, yes?

Over the weekend I visited the Delaware coast and hung out in Dewey Beach (paaaaaarty on, man!) and Rehoboth (both family-friendly and a gay mecca). In Rehoboth I enjoyed a great crab crake at Claws Seafood House - not too bready, broiled instead of nasty fried, and plenty of substantial lump meat). We also lunched at Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats, where our incredibly witty waiter told us their crab cake was…

Berry Delicious

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake* Day!

Go out and get you some!!!

*The food, not the '80s cartoon character.

Early Friday Shout Out: Nutella

Meet one of my most favorite food items ever.

Yes, it's Nutella, that yummy choco-nutty spread that I just can't deny. I first tasted Nutella at a breakfast buffet at a hotel in Germany (in Munich or Berlin, maybe) my sophomore year of high school (spring break of '96, I think? Oh God. Now I feel really old.) The tasty goodness was packaged in small little individually-sized tubs, similar to butter or jelly foil-sealed packets, and I think I grabbed five, or maybe ten, to stuff in my backpack "for travel emergencies."

It's been a while since I had a jar of Nutella in my home, as it's a dangerous thing. I broke down about three weekends ago and purchased one and have been carefully parceling out the spread, using just a smear between two Anna's Ginger Thins as a yummy sweet sandwich cookie thing. It also tastes bloody good on a warm roll or croissant, or hell, even plain toast. Confession time: I have also dipped my finger in the jar once or twice.

But I …

Because I Can Can Can

Apologies to all Moulin Rouge fans for the post title - I never really took to that movie but I am a HUGE Ewan McGregor fan (oh, the Scottish accent and his fearless roles, especially in the cult classic Velvet Goldmine), but I digress...

I'm up on here today to tell you all about canning/preserving and how satisfying it is - yes, that thing that your grandmomma/grandma/gran/MeeMaw does or used to do. Canning, or "putting up/laying up" as it is colloquially known, is a great way to make use of particular produce you love and want to enjoy year-round.

My lovely friend C. taught me how to do it last summer and I have really, really, really enjoyed all the things I have canned thus far. I'm not really into pickling or preserving a lot of veggies, except for tomatoes, but I love making fruit spreads like jams, preserves, chutneys, butters, etc.

Yesterday I took to the stove in my wee hot-as-hell-kitchen and made seven pints of strawberry jam.It went a little something like …

Friday Shout Out: Grills are Great

So it's really hot outside.

Our teensy apartment comes not with central air, as we have accustomed ourselves to, but with two window units - one in our bedroom and one in the living room area. Unfortunately, there is not a source of cooling for the kitchen, therefore cooking involves a lot of sweating, struggling, and, for me at least, a sailor's vocabulary of curse words.

It is real hot in there, mmmkay? So hot that I just want to commit right now to a summer of no-cook cereals and salads. However, man (and woman) cannot live by lettuce alone, so we're going to have to figure something out.

My first hunch is to secure a grill. Yes, we gave ours to a friend when we moved, which was hasty (both the move and the giving of the grill - sorry, KG, you know I love ya and I hope you're using that thing). We used to have a built-in gas grill at one of our many rentals in Nashville and then we bought a tiny tabletop-style charcoal grill that isn't amazing but it gets the job d…