what are we doing to ourselves? April 26, 2008
The Garden, 2008 Edition April 23, 2008
My flowers are blooming! I am so excited. The daffodils that are showing off their bright yellow faces, and white and purple crocuses have popped up to join the snowdrops. The tulips are promising to have a good year, too. There are enormous groups of tulip leaves popping up all around my house. I don’t know what it is, exactly, about tulips that make me love them so, but oh, my dearies, I love tulips.
I am going to try my hand at a few rosebushes this year. I got some last year, and we didn’t love them enough, so they up and died on us. I’ll attempt to love them more this time around, so we’ll see what happens. And also some echinacea, more lavendar, two kinds of sunflowers (for MyGal’s Bit of Earth), pansy, nasturtiums, and a variety of herbs.
Spaghetti with Rich Meat Ragù April 13, 2008
I am a lucky girl, I tell you. I have a friend who subscribes to Food & Wine Magazine and is kind enough to pass them along to me when she is finished with them. And I have another friend to whom I pass along the mags when I am done. And she has a friend…
I love me some spagets, and this is one of my favorite recipes. I made it for dinner tonight. You should make it, too. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you don’t like meat. Then you’re in for some trouble.
Here’s a couple of tips before you get in up to your elbows.
First, browned meat is not grey. It should be brown, and look as if it is a little on the crisp side. Think marshmallows when you are browning your meaties. Would you eat a grey marshmallow? Well, maybe you’re utterly weird and like that sort of thing. But SHOULD you eat a grey marshmallow? Absostinkinlutely not. But should you eat a marshmallow that is golden brown, one that looks like the heat was making out with it, and how? Absostinkinlutely you should. With chocolate and graham crackers, too, but I digress. Grey meat is not so much flavorful meat. But something about leaving it sit, in the pan, on the heat, and the fat, in the meat…now that is right.
Another tidbit for you: I had no italian sausage, but I do have ground pork and ground beef, and that was what I used. So while the meat was browning, I cleared some meat out of the way, and threw a tablespoon or so of fennel seed in the pan, and let it get all toasty and fragrance-ish. Then I stirred it in real good. And I used a little more onion and more garlic, so the meat was all seasoned and kindasorta like sausage. I was also out of rosemary (and I never have sprigs of the stuff) so I used thyme, my most favoritest herb ever.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook and drain spaghetti.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the meat is coated, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the milk and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss over low heat until combined. Use extravagant amounts of sprinky cheese.
Pancakes April 10, 2008
It’s been a while, and I apologize. I offer you today a wholegrain pancake recipe that you will love. And how do I know you will love it? Because the children watched me add all the ingredients with disdain, but inhaled them at a speed that would make a learjet jealous.
I have a few batter bowls with a handle and pour spout that I use for pancakes. I like to pour them into the pan; the Mister uses a measuring cup, I think. Whatever works for you is what you should do.
In the batter bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup all-purpose), 1 cup of oatmeal (rolled or quick), 1/4-1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons each baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, 4 Tablespoons sugar, 4 Tablespoons oil or applesauce, and 2 eggs. Add a scant 2 cups milk or buttermilk, so the batter is not too thin and not to thick. You can also use plain or vanilla yogurt. That is good, too.
I fry them in my large cast iron pan that is brushed with vegetable oil. When the edges look firm, and the bubbles that rise to the surface have popped, it’s time to flip. I cook pancakes at a very low temperature because I get distracted by other things and burn them, and that makes the short people irate.
Yesterday when we ate these, the children requested blueberries and chocolate chips. It was a little much for me, as pancakes are the one bread-based treat I prefer without chocolate. And of course we doused them with good old fresh New York Maple Syrup. Can’t beat that.
The Popcorn March 29, 2008
You can be guaranteed something lovely when a recipe is referred to as The anything. And it’s been a few posts now with no butter at all, so as my introductory Recipe With Butter, I give you The Popcorn.
You will need a saucepan with a lid. The one I use holds slightly more than a quart. Pour some canola oil in the pan. I know that there are a lot of you out there that have Negative Feelings about canola oil, but I have experimented with other oils (corn, olive, etc.) and none of them were actually good. I am just suggesting the canola oil, from the yummy canola plant (?). You are going to do what you want anyway, so whatever.
Pour enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom, and then add a little extra so that the oil sloshes around when you shake the pan. The sloshing oil is KEY here, people, so don’t try to be all healthy and leave it out. Leaving out the oil does not give you The Popcorn. You may as well get out your air popper from the early nineties, put your hair up in a big scrunchie and get busy with Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart. Shake that rad, healthy, unsatisfied thang!
Now that your oil is sloshing away in the pan (because I know it is), turn the stove up as high as it goes. Yeah, nice and hot. You know it, baby. I am also going to go out on a limb and assume you have put the pan on the stove. You will notice I leave out little things like, put the pan on the stove, put the bread in the oven, etc. If this gets in the way of you enjoying actually cooked food, go somewhere else where the lowest common denominator is being served.
Your oil in your saucepan is sizzling away on the stove, uncovered. Drop two or three popcorn kernels in the pan. When these little guys pop, and they will likely pop themselves right out of the pan, so you shouldn’t actually stand over the boiling oil, looking down into it, because that would be dangerous (read: dumb).
When your happy trial kernels pop, it is time to put in the rest of the kernels. One handful of popcorn is good for one person who has eaten dinner and isn’t in the mood for snacking at all. Two handfuls (handsful? handsfuls?) is good for the kids’ afternoon snack. And three handfuls is perfect for me, when I am alone, and needing to pig the heck out.
There isn’t much need to shake the pan after you put the popcorn in it, until the oil starts to really sizzle. Use this time to get your big bowl out, and put a little bit of butter to melt. I use the warmer burner on my electric stove, I wouldn’t actually put a dish of butter over a gas flame because I’d probably burn myself. You can also melt your butter in the microwave, if your best friend hasn’t put Terror and Fear of Microwaves in your soul. But once it does, we are back to the oil sizzling part here, hold the cover on the pan, and shake it the way you did to Groove Is In The Heart. Just enough so’s you look cool. As the popped popcorn exceeds the space of the pan, carefully lift the lid and dump some out into the big ol’ bowl. If you are a multitasker, you can drizzle some melted butter over the popcorn as you put it into the bowl so it is well-disbursed. And if you loves you some salt, like me, you can gently (or not) salt the popcorn as you butter it.
When it’s all popped and in the bowl, salt to taste and enjoy immediately. I like my salty popcorn with a glass of orange juice (The Mister thinks this is bizarre behavior, but he’s seen worse from me). Or beer. Or wine. Or Maker’s Mark and cola, or Maker’s Mark and ice, if it’s been one of Those Days.
I suppose you do not really need to add the butter to The Popcorn, if you’ve popped it properly in a sloshy pan of oil, or even a semi-sloshy pan of oil. But it is awfully good, and after all, it’s recommended that you eat about nine thousand servings of whole grains a day, and popcorn is about as whole grain as it comes. So obey the Pyramid and eat you some popcorn!
ABC Saute’ March 26, 2008
Cut florets from broccoli, then chop up the stems into matchstick-ish pieces. This chopping of the stems is the only way I can get my children to eat the stem part of the broccoli. They feel it is inferior, and will not ever consume it unless it looks nothing like broccoli stems. Last night, they were convinced it was celery, and would not hear otherwise. I win!
Peel carrots, cut into pieces that are about the same size as your broccoli stems. This way, they will be done at the same time as the broccoli stems.
Heat a large skillet, and pour in a happy amount of olive oil. The idea here is not to boil or poach your veggies in oil, that would be gross and you wouldn’t taste the veggies’ loveliness, only the oil. And that is not the point of sautee-ing your green guys.
When the oil is shimmery, it is hot enough for a saute. If you are a particular sort of cook, put the carrots and broccoli in the pan for a few minutes before you add the asparagus. If you are me, dump everything into the pan at once.
If you are that particular cook, get out your measuring spoons and put 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme in the pan. If you are me, you would grab a big pinch of thyme. And then another, and then possibly another. I love thyme. Cook over medium- to medium-high heat until the veggies are the brightest-colored version of themselves.
Eat a carrot. If it is too crunchy, pour 1/2 cup of water into your pan, cover and let the veggies steam for a minute or two. And voila, you are done.
If you are feeling super saucy, put a little vinegar on them before you eat.
I love me some veggies! March 25, 2008
Pretty much all of us who dine in the Dayton Kitchen on a regular basis love us some veggies. A whole bunch of veggies. But man, those tasty guys can really be expensive. And based on the USDA Food Pyramid (I am just not going to even get started about the USDA today…) everyone should have 3 to 5, 1/2-1 cup servings of veggies a day. And that is in addition to fruit. In my house, I serve 5 people who like vegetables, so I will do math this way: 5 people X 5 servings X 3/4 cup = 18.75 cups of vegetables EVERY DAY! And that, my dearies, is pretty ridiculous when you are grocery shopping. And also, very expensive. Top that with a burning desire to eat food that is fresh and free of pesticide? What is a veggie-lovin’ mama to do?
The Answer: FIND A CSA. What is a CSA? you ask. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You can read about it here and here. Basically (read: for those of you who can’t bear to break away from your daily Dayton Enlightenment) it is a member-supported farm. Sometime near the beginning of the growing season, members pay the yearly “dues”. You generally pay up-front, so that the farm can, you know, buy seed and stuff so that by the time the farmhands are ready to pick, there’s veggies all ripe and ready to come out of the ground or off the vine. Then, every week during the season, which depends on the weather where you live, you get a bag or box of vegetables. Here in Western New York, the season lasts from June-ish until November-ish. Some CSAs are member-run, meaning that after you pay your dues, you put on your super-stylin’ muck boots and head out to the field. MY CSA is WAY COOLER THAN THAT! I do not have to actually go out in the field or drive a tractor in order to be a member. However, I would totally LOVE to drive a tractor, and could probably handle picking veggies for about an hour or two, because I am a big, wimpy girl, and I doubt I could cut it as someone who actually had to labour for her food. But I digress.
Back to digressing for a minute-I did get up at 5:30 a.m. a number of Saturdays to pack bags at The Farm, and even when it was freezing cold and everything I touched was dripping wet, and no gloves allowed!, it was really fun. You should try it. The end of digressing. Digression? Note to self: pay better attention.
would suggest highly recommend am just going to tell you that for your own good, the health of your wallet, and the health of you in general, and if you live in Genesee County, Buffalo, or Rochester, you should buy into Porter Farms CSA. For about $15 a week, my family enjoys the bounty of this Elba, NY, Certified Organic Farm. FIFTEEN DOLLARS A WEEK! FOR ORGANIC VEGGIES!!!! There is no other situation where you can score enough actual vegetables to feed two people, let alone five people, for such a small amount of money.
Except if you were stealing veggies, and boy, if you were stealing MY vegetables from Porters, I’d hop on the tractor and run your sorry butt over. Unless somebody else got to you first.
But seriously. They grow very nearly a gazillion kinds of foods. And the Porter Family is just about the loveliest bunch of people you will ever meet in your life. And I know about lovely people.
So go to the Porter Farm website. In the spirit of honesty, I will tell you that it the Porters spend more time farming than on the internet, so the site is pretty basic and isn’t updated frequently. But I would much rather have a farmer who is in the field, cultivating my food in a wholesome and responsible fashion, than one who updates his info daily. So get over it already. And really, the only bit of info you need to know is this:
Organic vegetables, locally grown, picked on Friday, picked up on Saturday.
$310 for the season, if you pick up.Send your check to: Porter Farm, PO Box 416, Elba, New York 14058
We are getting two shares this year, so that we can freeze and can enough of these fabulous vegetables to last through the winter. My goal is to spend less than $1200 between June 2008 and June 2009 on vegetables. Pre-paying our shares will count towards the $1200.
So consider this. And before you go, look at the beautiful field, love my beautiful children loving the Farm, and ogle the nicey-nice pie pumpkins. You know you want some of that. But you can’t have the kids. I made ’em, I keep ’em. Like pie.