Friday, April 27, 2012

checking in

testing... just putting forth enough effort to make sure that google doesn't delete this blogger account. If anybody is still following me, I've been recovering from a pinched nerve for the last six weeks. Getting better but still not up to any significant desk time. Hope to be there soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Every kitchen has a drawer...















Every kitchen has a drawer...
where,
among the expired coupons
for cleaning spray
and dog food, clothing
care tags, and appointment
reminder cards from so long ago
they are
certainly, only
of limited
archaeological interest,
there it is:
the unexpected sculpture you
made that day you forgot
and let the pot boil dry
while you were
sterilizing
the baby bottles:
comic reminder of
the dangerous potential
of inattention.
Never could let it go.
Cheesecloth.
cooking twine and strapping tape
batteries, drained or amped:
who knows?
A letter: "my darling," it begins,
"I have missed you so much,"
and though the words have
since proved false,
you continue to hope,
takeout menus from restaurants
long defunct
empty seed packets
a note to the fairies
surreptitiously intercepted
a calcium supplement
that you take every day,
when you can remember to take it
A phone number scrawled with a Sharpie,
ripped from a lined notebook,
"call on Friday," it says
"don't forget"
and you wonder if you did
a menu from an encounter
only you remember
a swatch of thick paper,
orange with silver swirls,
that might make an interesting
accent for a collage you might make
when you finally learn how to make a collage
grocery lists
Sharpie markers
The menu for your daughter's 6th birthday,
in her own careful hand:
pizza, carrot sticks, chocolate cake
with chocolate frosting. NOTHING ELSE!
totems
talismans
unrequited loves
Every kitchen
has just such a drawer
Empty it out
Throw every bit away
It will make itself anew.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yesterday, at the Farmer's Market

Found hoophouse spinach and winter carrots; Michigan Winesap apples and Bosc pears; spicy pickled carrots and fresh sauerkraut with caraway from The Brinery; frozen summer peaches and creamed corn, thanks to Locavorious; one whole chicken; lots of rosy red-skin potatos. Unexpected variety for mid-January in Michigan, but good to see...

The $64,000 question, though is this: what should we do with it all?

Around here, much of it went toward an excellent chicken dinner later that night: M. roasted the chicken on a bed of heavily buttered and thickly quartered potatos; he roasted the carrots, too, in a separate pan, because we've learned from hard experience that potatos and carrots don't always achieve roasted perfection in exactly the same cooking time. Seasoned simply with plenty of salt and pepper, it made for an easy, uncomplicated entree, one that perfectly fit that combination of comfort and austerity that January demands.

Taking inspiration from this post over at The 5-Second Rule, I chopped the spinach along with a little red onion, half of one of the tart Winesap apples, a handful of the peppered pecans I made over Christmas (and stored in the freezer), and a scattering of raisins. Dressed it all with a combination of equal parts cider vinegar and olive oil, a little salt & pepper. Even Mr. "What's That Green Stuff?" ate it with enthusiasm, and it was gone before I could get a picture.

Tonight, it's leftovers for dinner, possibly with the creamed corn and sauerkraut as accompaniments, just to refresh the experience. Maybe peaches poached in red wine with orange and anise, if time and energy permit, a little something to serve with vanilla ice cream.

Later in the week, maybe pork chops with sauerkraut & grated carrots and apples, polenta on the side; another light meal could be made from sauteed greens with eggs and potatos. That's what I'm thinking right now. But already I'm wondering: maybe I should serve spaetzle noodles with the leftovers tonight and save the creamed corn for a midweek chowder, on a night when I'm getting home late from class.

And something spicier would be nice to add to the mix, as well. Should I improvise, try something like pork and sauerkraut tacos? Or do you have other ideas? We've still got plenty of garlic and onions in the root cellar, plenty of cans of tomatos; lots of curry and chili powders. Any ideas? If this were your haul, what would you do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthday season


...means chocolate cake season around here.

It starts with Dorie Greenspan's Almost Fudge Gateau. Add in the grated zest of one large organic orange, a splash of grand marnier, and a pinch of cayenne to complement the chocolate; a third of a cup of finely ground blanched almonds to add denser body to the cake. We tend to go with a straight butter and chocolate glaze with just bit of Grand Marnier; this time I used some Scharffenberger mocha dark chocolate made with ground coffee. Made for a bumpy glaze, occasionally crunchy, but delicious. Might try to have some on hand for the next birthday coming up... all too soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blue apple


Not really blue, but a blue pearmain, one of the many Michigan heritage varieties currently available at The Produce Station in Ann Arbor. It's crisp and sweet with a pure white flesh that tastes of cinnamon and cider, a bit of apple wine. One good reason to make the, for me, out-of-the-way stop on South State Street on my way out of town.

And possibly a good reason to make the very out-of-the-way trip up to central Michigan to visit the orchard from whence it came, Eastman's Antique Apples. More than 1500 varieties of heritage and antique apples: sounds like a tasting opportunity I might have to experience!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday afternoon

...with almond macaroons, via the always delectable Alice Medrich:


Compared to making macarons, with the aged egg whites, and touchy touchy process for folding the batter, these are both much easier, and at least as delicious.

Begin by grinding 7 ounces of blanched almonds (whole, slivered, or sliced) together with 1-1/2 cups of sugar into a fine powder. If you have a food processor, the almonds and sugar will begin to collect on the sides in a thick paste. At least that's what Ms. Medrich claims. If, like me, all you have is a blender, you will probably have to process the almonds and sugar in batches, and guess a bit as to when it looks done.

Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract, and then gradually process in 3-4 egg whites until the mixture is the texture of thick mashed potatos. Again, with the blender, this was a little tricky, but, with occasional pauses to stir up the ground nuts that were stuck at the bottom, the job got done.

Drop rounded teaspoons (two teaspoons, total) of the batter onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Let sit for 30 minutes to age. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to color just slightly. Rotate trays midway through the baking time, both top to bottom and from front to back. Drizzle with chocolate, if desired.

These will store well, frozen or refrigerated for several days.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Start here...


Slice in thin ribbons and fry in lots of butter until just crisp, but still green.
Add: a little sliced garlic (if you like), some peas (if you have them), bacon (if the carnivores in your household insist).

Pour over your favorite pasta and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. A glass of wine, of course.

Call it dinner. No one will complain.