Meatballs in my family make their own meal. They’re palm-sized and ever so tender nestled in tomato sauce with rarely a carb in sight. You could bake them in the oven – yea you could – but we like them simmered until they are just barely held together. Mom recently bought half a whole hog which she split with her good friend Priscilla who lives up the road. They’ll be cooking everything save a few offal, including the head, which are illegal to ship outside state lines. She’s still waiting on the cured bits, but ground pork, raw sausage and chops have graced our table in the last few weeks. It’s damn good pork, out of a small farm in Maine. Today we broke out the ground pork and some grass fed beef.3 Comments » Keep reading »
In the words of my father, “Darlin, you really went to town on lunch.” Well, not exactly. What he was referring to was our lunch today of mushroom barely and chicken soup with focaccia. The focaccia was made last night by Matt in a baking frenzy – or as much as rolling out pizza dough and topping it with rosemary and goat cheese and little slivers of onions can be considered a sudden impulse. Yet focaccia does lend itself to a certain spontaneity and resulting crusty satisfaction. And we had mom’s post fresh in our heads to fuel the fire. While the dough was being rolled I stuffed a chicken in a pot, covered it in water and made the fixings of a good stock. After an hour or so of ever so carefully simmering the contents – which on mom’s stove requires a ton of finagling of knobs and peeking under the cocked lid to make sure the bloop, bloop is constant – we took the chicken out. I had started to feel the kind of crappy where your head is stuffed with foam and your kidneys hurt and you just want to lay on the floor in the kitchen and moan. So I lay there, perfectly useless, while Matt pulled apart the steaming chicken with a fork and a thumb. I did emerge a few times to pull dark chicken meat from the bowl and pop it in my mouth. I think boiled chicken may still rival the roasted kind in my book. Then we threw the bones back in and continued to barely simmer the stock, for what was supposed to be two more hours. At this point you’re aiming to get all the gelatin out of the bones. Well, unsurprisingly, we fell asleep somewhere in there and woke up at 2am to find the stock had been going strong for three long hours. It was down to about 2 inches in the pot including bones and vegetables and such. Ooops. It smelled divine, but we effectively had the essence of chicken stock, boiled down to very little. Matt strained it while I wobbled around, brushing my teeth, thinking about stock and getting into bed.4 Comments » Keep reading »
I don’t know which is a more unfortunate name for this vegetable: sunchoke or jerusalem artichoke. Sunchokes look like overgrown, dirty ginger, are a cousin of the sunflower (hence, sunchoke) and native to the US, and taste like a slightly sweet potato with a bit of nuttiness and the texture of a turnip. Unfortunately, both its names and odd ginger shape have caused this root to be relegated to the oddball end-of-year bins at farmers markets.1 Comment » Keep reading »
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Pancakes, the limp dicks of the bread world… er… the carb darlings of the American breakfast. I’ll admit, I never liked ‘em. Pancakes always seemed like a sucker punch – refined flour and maple syrup taking turns until you were forced to go curl up in a corner and take a nap. Of course I always loved making them – they were the first food I learned to cook when I was about two. Mom would turn around the kitchen chair (so I didn’t tumble over onto the stove top) and let me (slowly now) ladle the batter onto the griddle. I’m sure there was a lot going through my kid brain at the time, but all I remember was making little dinosaurs and A, B, Cs.
Matt and I have been planning to live in a campsite in the woods for over 6 months now. On September 18, our plans came into fruition on a small homestead in Annapolis, California. Our woodland adventure is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and start to learn primitive survival skills – which we will ultimately hone over a lifetime if we keep up with them. To some this conjures up images of secret stashes of spam and artillery. While we expect at some time to learn our way around guns, planes, and blades, we don’t share a doomsayer outlook nor an appreciation for meat “foods” that will outlive humans. We simply want to expand our awareness and learn to adapt, survive and enjoy the experience of the wilderness. Of course we’re still working remotely, so it’s not an entirely off-the-grid dirty hippy holiday.1 Comment » Keep reading »
During the winter as kids my brother and I would make little pine cone feeders so the birds would have some fat to tide them over until spring. We’d have already collected and dried the cones. Mom would give us a jar of peanut butter and a bunch of bird seed. We’d rub peanut butter in the little crevices of the cones. Smelling of roasted nuts and dripping all over the place, I’d want to lick them. Then we’d sprinkle them all over with sunflowers seeds and maybe some cracked corn, tie them with little ribbons and hang the cones around in the yard. The chickadees would invariably come. With their melodic chicka-dee-dee-dee singsong, little black heads and puffed out bellies, the chickadees were a family favorite. While everyone else was blanketed in a snowstorm, the chickadees would happily hop around, foraging and taking advantage of the quiet. They’d hop right along on those ice-coated tree branches to visit our cone feeders.11 Comments » Keep reading »
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I grew up in a family that still made good of our leftovers. We pan-fried leftover grilled corn, made meatloaf, stuffed all sorts of vegetables, made soup with bits and bobs of meats and leftover rinds and things. At times I thought it was amazing and at times a cruel joke. Do they really think I’m not going to notice that the corn in my fritter is from the half cob I refused to finish yesterday?! My attitude towards leftovers depended on age, and whether at that age I saw my parents as gods or messengers of evil, plotting against me. Reinventing foods to make something new and possibly more satiating is no laughing matter. It requires gusto which my mother has in spades. Many of the soups, stews, loafs, and stuffings we revere come from these humble roots.
Rocky Durham said in a cooking class we took with him back in Santa Fe, if you put grilled in front of just about anything, people will buy it. Seeing as this Santa Fean chef launched a series of successful restaurants, all called Santa Fe with exactly this premise in mind, let’s humor him and give it a try. Salad. Grilled salad. Watermelon. Grilled watermelon. Pizza. Grilled pizza. Springer spaniel. Grilled springer spaniel. Well, you get the idea.3 Comments » Keep reading »
The other day it was easy and breezy in Portland and I was missing steamy NY. This is the yin and yang of the journey. As I get farther away from where I’ve been, I am closer to realizing what matters to me. This Portland summer is altogether wonderfully mild… and sometimes that makes me feel complacent and underwhelmed. We’re about to take a plunge and attempt to live in the woods OFF THE GRID for a few months by ourselves. While this is something I have been dreaming about, here I am missing the most urban place on the planet.5 Comments » Keep reading »
A couple months ago Matt and I stopped ingesting large sums of caffeine. For people who spend a lot of time at their computers – writing and programming respectively – this is sort of professional suicide. We cut out basically everything except chocolate. And I’m not saying we swapped it out for some English Breakfast or Mate, which. BTW, is NOT coffee, but a bitter tonic that makes you feel like your chest is in a vice grip. For people who know us, this was a huge red flag – not the first indication that we’d gone off the deep end. They assumed we were half way to converting to Jainism and wearing bug nets in front of faces so we didn’t, perchance, swallow an unsuspecting fly, and that our cussing had been reduced to references to sweet snacks. Naaah, we’re still us, just not artificially pepped up like jackhammers. Really, my body needed a break. The caffeine wasn’t working anymore. Part of me also assumed I’d be like all the other 20-somethings out there who look back fondly and sheepishly at that one glorious year after college when they attempted to get off the juice. Or that it would be like the time we went on THE MASTER CLEANSE. We subjected ourselves to a few days of eating lemons, grade A maple syrup and cayenne pepper before we broke down, partially because we could barely concentrate enough to remember to drink the stuff, and raced around Manhattan looking for maple sugar candy leaves or a maple tree to tap. This is before we realized Manhattan is not in New England.Leave a comment » Keep reading »