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Chocolate Banana Icebox Cake
Test Kitchen: Icebox Cake /Research
Homemade Corned Beef on Homemade Rye
Simple Chocolate Mousse
Test Kitchen: Questions
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Experimenting: Butternut Squash Update
Experimenting: Butternut Squash Pancakes
Picnic Bento
From the Formica Top #6: Test Kitchen (+ Other Thi...
Foodie Blog Roll
Just Bento
Chez Pim
Amateur Gourmet
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Traveler's Lunchbox
Foodie Farmgirl
Always in the Kitchen
Dorie Greenspan
Triple Protein Bento
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Triple Protein Bento

From left to right:
Stir fry of shrimp, sugar snap peas and yakisoba noodles with toasted sesame seeds (245 cal)
Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patty over butternut squash mash (160 cal)
Boiled egg (80 cal)

posted by Rose @ 7:56 AM   0 comments
From the Formica Top: Thanksgiving Coverage
From the Formica Top #5
What's been going on around my kitchen lately

I'm consolidating all my Thanksgiving reports in one place...

Report #1: Sunday, Bloody Sunday
The hunt for a turkey is successful!
Report #2: Crumbs (Garlic and Herb)
So much to do! (Not a post on how to make bread crumbs, but metaphorical "crumbs")
Report #3: Adaptation - Kielbasa Stuffed Onions
Tinkering around with onions and black rice
Report #4: I'm Getting Very Sleepy
Posted around midnight on Wednesday before the Big Day
Report #5: Prepwork (Photo Collage)
Ah, photos from my kitchen
Report #6: The Final Menu (+ Commentary)
Pretty self-explanatory
Report #7: Leftovers
What to do with all that stuff in the fridge
posted by Rose @ 7:26 AM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #7: Leftovers
As I skimped on photo heavy posts for Thanksgiving, here's one that shows what I did with my leftovers...

Lenny's Leftovers Breakfast
This is a three egg omelette made with the extra stuffing for the "Forbidden Onions" (as I sort of made up the recipe, I get to name it!), which has black rice (often called Forbidden Rice), local kielbasa, celery, onions and a little chicken stock. On the side are reheated Frijoles Enpuercados (made by Evelyn, they're refried beans with chorizo) topped with some shredded Mexican cheese and two mash potato patties, made by simply shaping some mashed potatoes into a ball and flattening them.

It was fairly easy to make and very filling--Lenny didn't quite finish it. I think it could be scaled back and made with one or two eggs for a less Paul Bunyan-like breakfast. I don't know where I got the idea for the mashed potato patties, but I thought they stood in for hash browns or potato pancakes just fine. If you flattened them a little more, you could top them with a fried egg and sausage for another yummy breakfast.

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie
Please excuse the blazing light in the background of this photo. I wasn't paying enough attention to composition. I should have used my mobile studio, but I was lazy and, as I was serving this to Lenny, didn't want to let it get cold.

From the bottom up: cornbread stuffing with pecans and bacon, packed on the bottom for a good crust, then Evelyn's ground beef stuffing, smothered in a gravy I made from a Bechamel sauce with cream and chicken stock, then some of my homemade cranberry sauce, mash potatoes as the final layer, with sliced sweet potato pressed into them for a pretty accent. I put a few pats of butter on the top, wrapped in aluminum foil and threw it into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbly. Lenny said it was very good. I think it's all the good bits of Thanksgiving, sans turkey, which was made into sandwiches a lot (with Miracle Whip and pepper, as Lenny orders).

Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie was the inspiration for this, particularly the stuffing base and sweet potatoes. And of course, this Serious Eats post got my butt in gear.

Brown-nosing Leftover Bento for Two
Not really a bento, because I wouldn't eat all the components cold, but packed like one.

When I went to work yesterday and told two co-workers about my Thanksgiving, they sent over dirty looks.


"You didn't bring us any!"

So I've packed them a lunch for two, a sampler. This is a terrific way to get rid of leftovers and brown-nose your way into someone's heart. Because no matter how much everyone has eaten, everyone is always a little jealous of someone else's Thanksgiving.

Above is the top layer, with pumpkin pie with a gingerbread crust and Evelyn's beans, topped with cheese (of course!).

<--Here is the real meat of the "bento"--the Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie, two Forbidden Onions (I had to supply one red and one yellow, just for prettiness) and two chicken enchiladas (thanks, Evelyn!). Real enchiladas are not smothered in sauce, but actually quite dry and so won't get all mixed in with the others. Have I mentioned that these were quite impressive? They're also getting some of my flan, but as that has a sugary sauce, I didn't want to mix it in and get everything else sugary. They're not getting turkey, mostly because I'm being a little greedy with it, as I put so much time and love into it (not to mention money!) that I wanted to hold onto it. So I'm almost down to an empty fridge now, but some things were still packed away in there. Enter the greatest invention in food preservation...

Stuffing the Freezer
I really did have to make a list on my fridge whiteboard of everything in my freezer, because I literally forget what's in there.

Wouldn't you? I mean, I've been stacking things in there since I started going to the farmers market.

Turkey guts (meaning bones and skin) went in, because I didn't have the patience for stock.

Turkey went in, to make turkey stew.

Evelyn's beans went in, because I had so much. Same with the cornbread stuffing, but I dried it out a bit on a baking pan before I froze it, which I'll reconstitute (bring back to life) by pouring hot stock over it. Perhaps even the turkey stock. Cranberry sauce went in, too, as well as the leftover six-grain spelt, because it has such a great dark color that would look awesome in a stuffing.

And I've collected quite a few proteins from local sellers: lamb, petite tender and London broil steaks, pork shoulder, bacon and two whole chickens. I'm saving the rind of my Pleasant Cow cheese to throw into a soup at some point. And there's chicken breasts, tilapia, homemade shrimp and chicken stocks, some store-bought eggrolls, turkey patties and burritos.

Look, it's stuffed! I've been seriously considering a huge freezer, because I have all sorts of cookie doughs to store in there, too, for holiday baking. I could always borrow some space in my neighbor's though, because she's offered...

And that concludes my Thanksgiving 2007 coverage...'til next year!
posted by Rose @ 6:32 AM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #6: The Final Menu (+ Commentary)
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thanksgiving 2007

My Vision
In staying with my efforts to eat much more locally in general, I went that way for Thanksgiving. I really want the quality of the products to shine and maybe, just maybe, convince people a little bit. I don't get on a soapbox. I just feed people and hope that they get it, or at least that they get full. And, I really wanted to share my house.

I have been terribly homesick lately and having my house full of people, women asking questions in the kitchen, football on the tv, a million pans in the oven, drinks refilling, dinner running late and general hubub, I felt like it was a holiday. I don't think I could skip this holiday ever, regardless of whether or not we travel. But travel we will, next year, because I'm ready for a cycle of not hosting. It was fun, but really, rotating plans keeps you fresh.

The Guest List
We ended up with 10 people: Lenny and I (of course we were there), Tom and Fran (neighbors), Beth and Teddy (Fran's daughter and her husband), Evelyn (the world's best sous chef) and her friend Ivan, and our last-minute vegetarians, Jesse and Leisl. We actually managed okay, setting things aside before they were meat-ified and they ate quite well, so that was a successful wrench in the works. I'm glad they ended up coming, actually, as it added a little youth to the proceedings.

Evelyn wasn't so much a guest, as she was kidnapped Wednesday night and cooked with me for the duration. She made a whole bunch of stuff, too, and it was us taking turns in the kitchen. I learned a whole bunch of Mexican techniques, too, and asked a lot of questions. I'm excited to try them out.



Northern Spy - Oooooh, was this good. And it was a sneaky drink. I definitely stayed close to this one. I really enjoyed it and I hogged it a bit. But, to be perfectly fair, I cooked for close to 24 hours straight, with an hour or three of sleep snatched while things baked in the oven and I really wanted to enjoy this drink, which had been on my mind since I bookmarked it through my Serious Eats feed.

Spiked Eggnog (Eggnog from Trinity Farms) - This got drunk, so I'm assuming it was pretty good, although I only tasted it when it was first spiked to make sure that it was up to snuff.

Dawn’s Stuffed Celery - Lenny's favorite, and simple. This was his only request for the entire meal. It's just chopped up green olives and garlic powder in cream cheese spread over the celery.

Deviled Eggs (Courtesy of Fran) - These are always good. Always.

Abuela’s Little Sausages in Sauce - My grandmother used to put little sausages in a hot sauce. My sauce wasn't hot, but it was still pretty good (ketchup, molasses, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, a hot sauce from Herban Spices which is a local seller, red pepper flake, white and black ground pepper). These were a hit with the men.

Six Grain Spelt and Pecan Raisin Bread (from Cityseed Market) - Mostly got munched on for breakfast this morning, but Evelyn really liked it dipped in her Mexican hot chocolate--and I agree.

Homemade Bread (courtesy of Fran) - I was going to make Cook’s Illustrated Best Drop Biscuits, but when Fran came through the door with her bread at the last hour, I was so happy I didn't have to. Since we have a beautiful long weekend and I bought the ingredients, I will be making them at some point.

Main Course
Heritage Bronze Good Eats Roast Turkey (Turkey from Woodbridge Farm) - Yum. Yes, I splashed brine everywhere when I turned the turkey halfway through, but it pot I used actually fit in my fridge, so it was okay in the end.

Chicken Enchiladas (Courtesy of Evelyn) - Good and spicy.

Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Pecans (Bacon from Woodbridge Farm) - Very good and sweet and really delicious. It actually surprised me.

Diaz Stuffing (Courtesy of Evelyn) - A ground beef based stuffing that I have Shepherd's Pie plans for. It was good on it's own, too, especially with gravy.

Pleasant Valley Mac 'n' Cheese (Pleasant Cow Cheese from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm) - This is my local mac 'n' cheese I blogged about recently and Jesse still loves it. It really is all about the cheese. Reheated on the stove with some cream it made yummy dins tonight.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Potatoes from Waldingfield Farm) - A standard that I had to make, but wouldn't have, given the choice. They were okay and will be turned into Shepherd's Pie.

Frijoles Enpuercados (Courtesy of Evelyn) - Refried beans with chorizo. And so good. Spicy and smoky, which is not exactly how they were meant to, but it was a happy accident. I can imagine that they're good with eggs in the morning.

Kielbasa Stuffed Onions (Kielbasa from Four Mile River Farm) - This was the experiment that went well. Really well. I talked about using the idea of stuffing onions earlier, and I was totally happy with it. Impressive looking and the forbidden rice has a great flavor. The stuffing was the black rice, the kielbasa, onions and celery. I had so much extra stuffing that I put the rest around the onions for a great presentation. I was really proud of these.

Candied Beets (Courtesy of Fran) - I'm not a beets person, but Lenny was very excited to eat this and was pleased with it.

Sauces included gravy (of course) and homemade cranberry sauce which is so easy that is makes no sense to use the canned stuff.

Apple Pie (Apples from Coulton’s Corner) - I used the Cook's Illustrated Fool Proof Pie Crust and we finally dug into it today, the day after Thanksgiving. People were too full for dessert, I think. The crust is great. I loved it. It really is flaky and I suppose the vodka in the crust really worked. It's an impossibly sticky dough to work with, but it's worth the pain in the butt aspect.

Pumpkin Pie in Gingerbread Crust (Pumpkin from Northfordy Farms) - This has remained untouched. We had way too much food and the dessert of choice was flan. But I did taste the filling and crust as I was making it and it seemed good.

Darlene's Flan (Eggs from Four Mile River Farm) - A royal pain to make, but my special present to myself. It was good. A little sweet, but good. I've been enjoying it today.

There you go...
posted by Rose @ 7:23 PM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #5: Prepwork
Thursday, November 22, 2007
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posted by Rose @ 2:44 AM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #4: I'm Getting Very Sleepy
It's 1:16am and I'm still up (and the neighbors are still tromping up and down their stairs).
  • The second shopping trip is done (which included the farmers market downtown--finding parking was h*ll--the liquor store and supermarket).
  • Flan is done (I managed not to burn myself).
  • Forbidden rice for stuffed onions is done (it has an amazing flavor and a sticky purple-ish sauce at the bottom which tastes delicious).
  • Pumpkin and apple pies are just about ready to hit the oven (the gingerbread crust on the pumpkin one is a pretty brown).
  • The turkey brine is done.
  • Stuffing bread is chopped up (going stale as I write).
  • Little sausages are in sauce.
  • Stuffed celery spread is done (this is going to make Lenny really happy).
  • Cranberry sauce is bubbling on the stove.
  • Unexpected guests have called to say they're coming (ooooh, long story).
  • Fridge has been rearranged a few times (at least).
  • Evelyn and I have done dishes at least once an hour for the last six hours.

And there's still so much to do!

But I'm loving on my Calphalon cookware and new IKEA table that became a work surface this evening.

I may just get three hours of sleep.
posted by Rose @ 1:17 AM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #3: Adaptation - Kielbasa Stuffed Onions
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
In my blog reading, I ended up at Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Roasted Stuffed Onions, which was taken from November 2002's Gourmet Magazine. I decided I needed to use this, to highlight the sausage I had from Four Mile River Farm, which was going to get schlepped into a sweet and sour sauce, but that didn't feel right. When I saw this recipe, I decided that I was going to skip the bread stuffing mixture (I'm already pretty committed to the Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Pecans at Serious Eats and someone else is making another stuffing, so it'd be too much bread) and replace it with a sausage-featuring stuffing.

These are notes in adapting the recipe, in green. The bits I'm keeping from the recipe will be orange colored. I'll let you know how it goes.


The only thing I'm keeping for sure from this recipe's ingredient list is using the onions to stuff. All the other ingredients I'm scrapping and starting over.

10 medium red and yellow onions (4 lb)
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (14 cups)
1 (9-inch) round loaf country-style bread (1 1/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups), lightly toasted
2 cups salted roasted cashews (10 oz), coarsely chopped
1 stick (1/2cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock

I'm going to use my sausage, but I can't decide about an additional filler. Rice is a promising option, mostly because I've used it in stuffing peppers with ground beef. I think cheese needs to factor into this as well.

In looking for other recipes I could riff off, I also just discovered Google's fantastic recipe search as part of their Base Beta--you can search by ingredients, meal type, calories (!). Very cool.

Anyway, a search of sausage and onion turned up some ideas. Cabbage may be an option, but it's too reminiscent of cabbage rolls. Cheese is perhaps a better option. In fact, in thinking what goes with sausage and onion (correction, it's actually kielbasa, I keep forgetting), I thought of peppers. A cheesy, rice, peppers and kielbasa stuffed onion. Perhaps. I want a farm cheese here, though. A cheddar type or a hard cheese to grate in like Parmesan. That might work really well.

I have to keep the following step. This might be the tricky part, scooping out onion insides. This part can be done ahead, and I think I will, mostly because if I screw it up, I can just scrap the idea and use the onions. Obviously I'd use the insides of the onions to flavor something that's going back inside, but it's a lot of onion, so some of it will probably end up in the cornbread stuffing.

Make onion shells: Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice from tops of onions, discarding tops, and trim just enough from bottoms for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each using a small ice cream scoop or spoon (don’t worry if you make a hole in the bottom), reserving scooped-out onion and onion shells separately.

Don't need these steps, but rather, will replace them!

Make stuffing: Coarsely chop enough scooped-out onion to measure 3 cups. Cook bacon in 2 batches in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, about 10 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving about 1/3 cup fat in skillet.

Chop up a bunch of the onion and caramelize it until golden and reduced. Cook the sausage with the onions. Some spices will go in here, and I'm contemplating using that sumac I got at the farmers market a few weeks ago. I'm sure I'll add garlic, as well. From there I couldn't tell you. Probably some celery, too, some thyme and rosemary, too.

Add chopped onion, celery, salt, and pepper to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in spinach, bread, cashews, butter, 1 cup stock, and bacon, then cool completely.

These steps are a definite keep.

Roast onions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then add 1/2cup water and cover pan tightly with foil. Roast onions in middle of oven until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.

Stuff and bake onions: Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Transfer shells to a work surface and pour off water in pan. Fill shells with stuffing, mounding it, and return to pan. Reserve 5 to 7 cups stuffing for turkey cavity, then put remaining stuffing in a buttered shallow 3 1/2-quart baking dish and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup stock. Bake stuffed onions and stuffing in dish in middle of oven, uncovered, until heated through, about 25 minutes.

So we'll see. It's my one real experiment for this meal, aside from brining the turkey. Although Alton Brown has never let me down and I'm using his process for it, so I'm not too concerned. Although he'll have to be satisfied with powdered allspice, because I haven't found allspice berries yet.

I'll be posting photos throughout the next couple of days, as well.
posted by Rose @ 8:29 PM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #2: Crumbs (Garlic and Herb)
This is a duplicate post for today, 11/20, from my Starry Saltwater blog, detailing the journey to Thanksgiving Day 2007:

Thanksgiving Tasks Completed

Yesterday (11/19)
  • First shopping trip (which involved a drive to Wallingford, due to a water main breaking on Rt. 80, near the Walmart Supercenter I wanted to go to)
  • Lenny and Tom assembled my kitchen table (and I am completely charmed by its delicious clean lines and all the walking space in the kitchen--it makes me absurdly happy, so there might be something to this feng shui thing)

Thanksgiving Tasks To Do Today

Today (11/20)
  • Make something for work potluck
  • Make cornbread to go stale
  • 2nd shopping trip
  • Roast pumpkin
  • What about plates? I hate paper plates, but don't have enough nice ones...
  • Plus lots more I haven't figured out yet

Trickle, Trickle, Drop, Drop

No fire in my oven! My neighbors had be thoroughly OCD'ed out when I mentioned I cleaned my oven, swearing I had to clean every crevice to get all the oven cleaner out, or I'd have a fire. Sheesh. Don't they know?

I've been washing my face with a washcloth and it is a very calming ritual.

I got homesick yesterday shopping. I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in years and I'd love to shove my mom out of the kitchen to "do it up" for them, although I suppose part of the fun is that everyone cooks together. All right, all right. I'd let them help.

And there I go, making light of an unpleasant feeling. I miss my family.

It's Tuesday and I'm making rice con salchichas for the Thanksgiving potluck at my youth program. One of the kids asked for "the rice with the little sausages in it." So I oblige. Plus, I figured I'd make an extra cornbread, since I made two to let get stale for stuffing. So there.

R, the cartoonist teaching my kids to draw comics, seems to like chatting with me and I see, in his eyes, the same hunger for another artist that might actually know what they're talking about.

I completely forgot to talk to Janeen about this video project thing.

Ooooh, my first video blog is coming up soon. Stay tuned!

I'm already on version 2 of my menu, and version 3 seems very close. Although I'll get to five drafts before the end of the day.

Gotta go...
posted by Rose @ 8:24 PM   0 comments
Thanks 07 Report #1: Sunday, Bloody Sunday
This is a duplicate post for Sunday, 11/18/07, from my Starry Saltwater blog, detailing the journey to Thanksgiving Day 2007:

Thanksgiving Tasks Completed

Yesterday (11/17)
  • Went to Farmers Market for eggs, milk, cream, eggnog, cheese, sausage, bread
  • Emailed Woodbridge Farm about the meager chance of turkey availability and got completely lucky that a turkey buyer had changed plans and one had become up for grabs; made arrangements for pick up on Sunday
Today (11/18)
  • Made toilet presentable for guests (and nearly gagged in the process, having found hidden disgustingness--and I thought I was so clean!)
  • Cleaned oven to the best of my ability
  • Moved my kitchen around a little to accommodate new furniture
  • Lenny went to IKEA and bought the Bjursta table
  • Swept the house (my cat lets loose so much hair!)
  • Mopped downstairs (the Pine-Sol smell made me a little tipsy)
  • Scrubbed up the kitchen for efficient cooking
  • Drove to Salem, CT to pick up turkey (a Heritage Bronze with a rich looking dark meat, almost like duck), pork shoulder and 2 lbs of bacon (and dropped an amazing amount of money); added bonus: Evelyn and I got to see Kim (more below)

The Turkey Adventure
Honestly, I usually plan everything, but I was pretty discouraged about finding a turkey that was local, organic, small farm raised--I didn't do the research and work. On a lark I thought I'd give it a shot--so I did a little online searching and the only place that turned up not sold out was Woodbridge Farm, the biodynamic farm that my friend Kim moved away to apprentice at. I figured it was still a long shot--but I emailed anyway and managed to snag a bird that someone else didn't want anymore.

So I made plans to pick it up, bringing Evelyn with me, both because I needed a navigator and she wanted to see Kim, too. I waited for Ev to get out of work and we set out just as the sun started going down--around 4:30pm now in these Daylights Savings weeks (augh--let me just say that we should just get rid of it). The drive up the 95 was fine, but once we left the highway for back roads, the darkness was definitely a little overwhelming, then normalized, as I realized it wasn't all that different from home.

We pulled in and wandered into a garage where we heard voices and there was Kim, talking to Priyanka and Kathy who had also come for a visit. David (I assume) was parceling out proteins. I was lustful at this point, because not only did I snag one of the only heritage turkeys left in the state, I was also picking up bacon and Winter Solstice's pork shoulder.

I was not disappointed. I promise to post a pic of the turkey, because it was beautiful. I only got an 11 pound bird, mostly because I'm only feeding 7-8 people and the sucker was $5 a pound. Yes, let's not discuss the pricing please. Because the earth put this turkey in my path and I am grateful for both being able to serve and eat a bird that I know was well taken care of, even if it was going to be eaten. It's especially special that it comes from the farm that Kim lives and works on. The dark meat on the drumsticks is a color I just find incredibly rich. I was really excited.

The pork shoulder has that layer of skin and fat that makes it a perfect pernil (pork shoulder roasted Puerto Rican style). It's only six pounds, but I'll live with it.

Ah, and two pounds of bacon, some of which will be Lenny's dinner tomorrow night, some of which will be Thanksgiving breakfast (served by French Toast made with Cityseed pecan raisin bread, soaked in Trinity Farms eggnog) and some which will hide out in the freezer until a right time comes along.

My freezer is now stocked with Cedar Meadow Farm chicken, Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm lamb, Four Mile River Farm steaks and sausage and Woodbridge Farm pork (or at least via that farm). I imagine we'll get through the winter.

Kim gave us a tour of the farm, at least what we could see at night. We saw cows (Devon Reds, I believe) that the farm has been raising since the 1700s (the farmhouse dates from back then, too). They had lovely auburn cots. We saw horses, a Peruvian breed. One was named Estrella and she was the mare "who keeps everyone in line," Kim explained.

The chicken coop was the best. A red light illuminated it and we peeked in. There was a whole social thing that Kim explained and they were lovely looking hens and roosters.

We went to Kim's house for tea and then had to head out, unfortunately, back into the gloom, then orangey streetlights of the city. It seemed impossible that we had been at Kim's, out in the country, examining cows, Peeping Tom the chickens, squishing through bloody grass near the day's poultry slaughtering site, seeing the best sky I've seen in a long time.

I may have come a bit late to understanding the whole small farm, local eating, seasonal creativity thing, but I'm glad I came. It connects me to the earth, the Goddess, and makes me a better Pagan, I think. I more spiritual one, anyway, conscious of how my beliefs have a practical application in the world, how I can connect magic to myself.

I leave you with my favorite bit of Woodbridge Farm lore, via Kim:
We take the horn [of the cows] and stuff it with cow manure and bury it for a year. Then we dig it up and make a tea out of it. It takes an hour. You stir it, create a vortex and then break it, then do it the other way. Then we spray it all over the fields, to enrich them.

Sounds like magic, wonderful magic, to me.
posted by Rose @ 8:20 PM   0 comments
Local Mac 'n' Cheese
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Amazing. It really is. I highly recommend giving this dish a go and exploring local artisan cheeses and dairies in the process. This one is obviously specific to Connecticut, and New Haven's Cityseed market particularly. The Pleasant Cow cheese I used is from Beaver Brook Farm and has become a staple in my fridge since I started going to the market. They describe it as "an aged Jersey cow's milk cheese with a smooth, mild flavor and a creamy texture." I think it has tiny hints of Gruyere, a cheddary smoothness and something that I can't name, but that just makes me happy. It's fantastic on a cheese board or in grilled cheese (oooh, on a sourdough boule from the market) and it makes amazing mac 'n' cheese. I also used Trinity Farms heavy cream, who are the only people we buy milk from now. I love the glass bottles! And Lenny inevitably drinks an entire quart in the first day.

1/2 lb of pasta (I like using pipette, shells or something else that can trap the cheesy goodness)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1-2 cups of heavy cream
White pepper
6 ounces of shredded (or chopped small) Pleasant Cow cheese

1. There's nothing too hard about this. You boil the pasta and set aside.

2. In a pot, melt the two tablespoons of butter at low heat. Add the flour and mix until you get a paste. Yes, we're making bechamel, so be nice and slow when doing the next step, or you'll end up with chunks of flour-butter.

3. Pour a tablespoon or so of cream and either whisk or stir (I only have a metal whisk, which is a big no-no in my new Calphalon cookware, so I just used a small silicone spatula). Once incorporated, add a little more, until you get a consistency you like. I prefer to err on the side of a bit thin, since the cheese is going to thicken the sauce up. Add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper.

4. Add the cheese, a bit at a time, stirring and letting it melt before adding more. This is mostly so that you can gauge how much cheese you actually need. No need to go overboard, since it has a strong flavor.

5. Add the pasta and stir into yummy goey-ness. Too thick? Add a little cream.

6. Serve warm with a side of garlic bread. Seriously.

Feel free to add just about anything--broccoli, a little spinach, sauteed mushrooms, crispy bacon or prosciutto, pan-fried bits of ham, veggie sausage, peas. Oh, and you can double the recipe. Just know that at $16 a pound, this dish is not a potluck or big dinner dish (unless you're just rolling in money), but it makes a wonderful side to any comfort-type meal. I wish I could ship everyone some of this cheese! It's phenomenal and melts beautifully.

Um, no photo because my friend Jesse and I ate it all. ALL.
posted by Rose @ 8:03 AM   0 comments
My First Bento
Monday, November 05, 2007
Happy Vegetable Bento
From left to right:
Roasted butternut squash, Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patty and queso blanco (255 cal);
Grilled tofu, tomatoes and olives over mesclun greens with Italian dressing (170 cal);
Cabbage cooked with garlic and vinegar (20 cal)

Beige and Lavender Snack Bento
From left to right:
Lovely pear from the farmers market, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey (130 cal);
Light and Fit Raspberry Yogurt (45 cal)


posted by Rose @ 8:26 AM   0 comments
From the Formica Top: I Tried Tofu (+ More)
Sunday, November 04, 2007
From the Formica Top #4
What's been going on around my kitchen lately

I Tried Tofu

In an effort to get some lean proteins into my body, I picked up some extra firm tofu, mostly because I planned on pan grilling it and not swirling it into something. The extra firm kind (after a lot of the moisture is gone) has a consistency like paneer or fresh cheese.

I just cubed it and cooked it in a pan, letting it brown, tossed it with vegetables and a store-bought red wine vinegarette. I really liked it. It'll taste like anything I make it taste like, which, while having a weirdness to it (I miss building on a basic flavor like pork, beef or chicken), is kinda cool. I actually like the texture.

I'm interested in using a softer variety to mimic ricotta cheese in Italian foods, such as ravioli (hey, a little in the butternut squash ravioli would make the dish much healthier) and lasagna (I'm dreaming of a funky fall lasagna with layers of butternut squash, a tofu mixed with some goat cheese and maybe herbs de Provence, roasted peppers...hmmm).

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure why I hadn't tried tofu, but maybe it was its guilty association with a heavy dose of activism. Also, I wasn't sure what to do with it. At this point, though, I was just figuring it's out there and I've seen enough recipes to kinda get the idea. You pretty much put it in place of meat where meat is not chopped, but kept whole or in cubes.

I imagine, though, that there's much more to it, because I've seen it used in ice cream. And I wonder...okay, I'll be posting tofu experiments here, I suppose.

A Week Away From Foodie Blogs
I just today caught up on Serious Eats, one of my favorite foodie blogs. I barely touched my Google Reader feeds the week before Citywide Open Studios (you can read about that experience at Starry Saltwater) and just got through everything. Holy cow. I wasn't so much surprised at the volume of posts I had to catch up on, but at my mild obsession with checking all of them and then getting lost in a maze of clicks.

In that maze, I found Just Bento, which has inspired...

Bento Experimentation
I spent a significant portion of today prepping things for availability in my bento construction all week. So the whole idea behind bento (or obento) is a lunch in a box (Bento #2 from Just Bento). Sometimes the box has dividers and is very fancy. There's a whole "cute bento" hobby out there, too, but that's not my line on this.

I was hopelessly bored with my lunches--they were repetitive and not suiting the maintenance part of my diet, nor my recent explorations into local and seasonal eating. I liked the idea behind Just Bento, that it was a way to have a yummy, healthy lunch with a little creativity and preparation.

So perhaps, like I labeled my posts about eating local (and I will continue to do so), I'll post a particularly good bento and label it that way. Why not?

So what did I make today to get me started on my bento making adventure? I roasted butternut squash, made parmesan arepas (a Goya thing, using a white corn flour), cooked cabbage down (the leftovers from making a small batch of cabbage rolls for Lenny) and tested a few ingredients. Havarti melts very nice. Morningstar Farms Spinach and Artichoke Bites and Garden Veggie Patties are excellent.

Some bento ideas:
Mexican Autumn - Butternut squash with Garden Veggie Patty and queso blanco, some cooked cabbage, salad of mesclun greens, tomatoes and roasted red peppers in Italian dressing

Breakfast for Lunch Bento - Havarti cheese and crispy turkey bacon (or lean salami or bologna) over a parmesan arepa, boiled egg with a light thick dressing (like fat free Miracle Whip) with baked apples

New England Bento - Crab cake, salmon and caper salad over Boston bib lettuce and shrimp bisque

And I'm completely charmed by this bento set on Ebay. Although I imagine I'll just end up being imaginative with Gladware.

Thanksgiving Is Coming...
I'm already bookmarking recipes and the such-like. We will have Thanksgiving at our house and collect anyone without a place to go. I like these types of holidays, because you sit around and relax and I still get to cook like a demon.

It's a marathon of cooking and I can't wait...
posted by Rose @ 8:14 PM   0 comments
About Me

Name: Starry Rose
Home: New Haven, CT

A writer, cook, book-addict, foodie and pagan

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