Saturday, February 28, 2009

Down Home Cooking

I promised some family members I would show them how to sign up and follow this blog. Don't have a Google account? It's easy! Create one. Then follow our blog!

This week was pretty busy. After several twelve hour work days (for both of us) we drove up to Rhode Island on Thursday after we had an unfortunate death in the family. After the funeral I decided to go out get some ingredients to make dinner for the family that was staying the night.

There was some nice Parrano cheese and Chilean grapes on sale so I picked them up along with some hazelnuts which I crushed on top of the salad with a little lemon and olive oil. The Parrano reminded me of this recipe I created a few years back in honor of an Italian gentleman that I worked with who was relocating. The salad featured some of his favorite ingredients and I made it in tribute to him. Seriously.

Everything that I just wrote is true but I didn't really realize how weird it was until I wrote it down.

I also roasted leg of lamb which I had stuffed with thyme sprigs and whole cloves of garlic. I also chopped up some fennel and roasted it alongside the lamb. I also roasted some butternut squash and steamed some broccoli crowns.

I also made some roasted red potatoes. For reasons unknown these potatoes took about 45 minutes longer than the lamb to cook. After two hours they had barely browned up. I've roasted quite few potatoes in my personal and professional cheffing career and I can think of no culinary explanation why these potatoes took so long to roast. It's a mystery for the ages.

For dessert I made a little whipped cream which I served with strawberries, blueberries, and angel food cake. My mother made brownies which we also enjoyed with coffee.

Tonight we got home around 8:00 after a hellish trip through White Plains. If you get the chance to visit White Plains, New York I would highly suggest passing on the opportunity. Maybe we're making snap decisions but that place sucks.

For a salad we had mixed greens, anchovies, capers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, balasmic vinegar, and olive oil. Why these particular ingredients?

Because we decided to have Pasta Puttanesca for dinner. Getting home as late as we did we didn't have time for much. Jen made the sauce while I looked for parking. The longer I drive in New York the better I am at detecting subtleties in a pedestrian's gait that allow me to determine they are walking towards a particular car. Then it's just a matter of waiting by their car while they take their sweet time vacating their parking spot and I'm in, baby!

Tomorrow there is snow and sleet in the mix and we aren't planning on leaving the house at all. I'm so tired right now I'm contemplating sleeping through until Monday.

Sundays are overrated.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting Our Shrove On

First off a couple of things:

1.) Follow our blog for cripes sake!

2.) There has been rumblings from two camps. One camp has no taste and does not recognize the visionary nature of my fantastic Science Fiction saga, Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars. That group clearly has no taste in fine hard science fiction in the tradition of Asimov, Heinlein and Kube-McDowell. The other group is far more intelligent and recognizes this tale as the modern mythology that it is. In order to satisfy both groups I have created a dedicated site for the story which will now be updated separately. Enjoy: Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars.

Now, on to the cooking.

Today was Shrove Tuesday (or so Jen tells me) so, in keeping with tradition, we had pancakes for dinner.

Along with the pancakes we made dueling bacon (American and Canadian -- we were unable to procure any Mexican bacon), and orange ginger skyr yogurt with fresh fruit.

That's the way we like to do it. Traditionally one is supposed to make crepes which evolved into pancakes which evolved into breakfast to dinner. By the time our grandchildren inherit this tradition it may have been bastardized into breakfast burritos.

And that will be the happiest Shrove Tuesday of all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Flanks For the Vegetable Memories

Why don't you be a sport and follow our blog. Only people that hate us do not follow our blog.

With quite a few late nights this work week there has been precious little time to use up the remainder of our final 2008-09 farm share veggies. Luckily for us the remainder of the vegetables are all of the root variety allowing for a long time left alone in our shabby fridge's crisper.

Tonight was the first night this week I got home before 8:00PM so I wanted to use this experience to actually do some cooking. Last night we were both home so late that we ended up ordering from Plum Pomidor. While it was annoying to not get a chance to cook I got over it quickly after a few forkfuls of Parpadelle with Bolognese.

Tonight, howerver, I cooked.

I started off by making a beet salad with some Honeybell tangerines which have been delicious lately. I used the juice and some olive oil as a dressing and finished it off with a dollop of goat cheese.

For dinner tonight I boiled some of the farm potatoes, turnip, golden beets, white beets, and carrots. I served that with some roasted broccoflower, wilted beet greens, and a simply seared flank steak with carmelized onions. The whole reason I wanted to make flank steak tonight was to match the wine we opened yesterday:

Earth, Zin & Fire was s real winner. It was an extremely tasty zinfandel which justified the slightly higher price than I normally pay despite the enigmatic message on the bottom: "With Special Guest: Old Gnarly." What the hell does that mean?

After dinner we tended to our garden which, as you can see, has developed to the point that we are now using a nickel (instead of a dime) as a frame of reference. Any day now we may be able to herb rub a chicken. A tiny, four ounce chicken.

That's what I call progress.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Birthdays & Pinto Beans

Hey, Bub, be a chum and follow our blog, won'tcha?

We had precious few updates this weekend because we went to Rhode Island and totally surprised my dad for his 60th birthday! We thought that maybe we might not have surprised him but he's not the world's best actor so I think we were able to catch him by surprise.

As is often the case with trips home to see my parents I was regaled with stories of my father's delinquent youth, like the time he stole this sign from a bar -- a bar from a college he did not attend and should not have been allowed access to.

For dinner my mother made roast turkey, meat stuffing (a French Canadian favorite), roasted butternut squash, broccoli with cheese sauce, and mashed potatoes. It may strike you as odd that we would have a Thanksgivingesque dinner for a birthday but there was nothing odd about how delicious the meal was.

We got a cake from Wright's Dairy Farm. While I generally do not condone the use of inedible cake or food garnishes, this cake was delicious enough to let the weird streamers slide.

Jen was left home alone today while I worked which meant two things: 1) she spent a good deal of the day cooking and 2) she made a terrific mess of the kitchen. This is a pretty typical sink job a la Jen. Using her patented bowl-plate-bowl technique she is able to fill a sink with a great deal of speed. If there were an Olympic event for filling up a sink with the minimum number of objects I'm pretty sure Jen would not only proudly represent her country but would likely secure a podium finish.

Jen made a salad of avocado, herbed salad greens, and goat cheese. As is her signature she served the salad in a bowl. We have long had the debate over whether salad should be served on a plate or in a bowl. This debate remains unresolved so we just accept whatever serving vessel the salad preparer chooses. Marriage is all about compromise.

For dinner Jen used the pinto beans, onion, and garlic from the farm along with some sweet potato, tomato, and chipotle to make a vegan chili. Vegan before we added the sour cream. I guess we could have gone out and gotten some sort of sorry tofu-soy sour cream alternative but considering that neither of us are vegan (or even vegetarian) this didn't seem necessary.

We thought that Oprah might have enjoyed this chili:

We certainly did.

Jen also baked my favorite banana chocolate chip muffin recipe.

One of the muffins was this joyous little fella. I think it makes him happy to think about how much I am going to enjoy eating him very, very soon. Jen also made apple muffins. The apple muffins, however, did not assume a human form.

There's always next time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Root Root Root For The Home Team

Hey, vegetable fans! Want to do us a solid? Click here to follow this blog and bring the total number of followers skyrocketing to a larger number . . . LIKE FIVE!

For those of you that aren't interested in clicking on links there are always tales of salads:

Today the salad was simply greens and avocado and olive oil. The avocado reminded me of the time that Kintaur Rosenbaum was fighting that space crab . . .

Kintaur Rosenbaum had to act fast. The giant space crab had his ship, The Magnetar in its galactic pincers!

"Stormbot," Kintaur said, leaping up from the cockpit seat. "Activate the airlock sequence, and prepare my spacesuit!"


"That's right. I'm going to meet this crab head on."

After a few minutes Kintaur was buckling up the final straps on his space boot. He then raised his zap pistol to his helmet visor. "Alright. Open the hatch." He cocked his zap pistol. "It's time to fry some crab!"

Kintaur hooked up his safety line to airlock exterior then used his magna-gloves and magna-boots to climb across the exterior of the ship. He slowly took aim with his pistol until he had one of the crab's giant bulbous eyes in his sights. "In your eye, crabby!" He growled as he began to squeeze the trigger.

Suddenly one of the crab's pincers gripped Kintaur around the waist and he lost his grip on his zap pistol. The space crab lifted Kintaur towards its needle-like teeth. As Kintaur struggled to break free from the crab's grip he caught the distant reflective glint of light from his zap pistol as it hurtled into the vastness of space.

Will the crab win or will Kintaur win? Find out in the next exciting installment of: Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

For dinner we had chicken, raviolis, pan-roasted delicata squash and beets from the farm.

Our bag of vegetables is beginning to dwindle. When it is finished we will be faced with the harshness of winter. We do not have the ability to store or grow vegetables in our basement because it's actually made of concrete. And because the super lives there with his family. Damn pesky super. Maybe if I'm really nice he'll let me store a fifty pound bag of potatoes in his living room.

It can't hurt to ask.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An Apple A Day Keep The Scallops At Bay (or Sea)

Lately the apples from the farm share have been lackluster at best. However the apple I had for lunch today was quite tasty. Let it be known that in general I find an apple to be a rather unsatisfying snack. Apples in general don't usually entice me. Often times an apple has been recommended to me as a snack but usually when I have an apple as a snack it makes me feel like I'm still hungry but I have an apple-sized lump in my stomach.

I'm glad that today's apple didn't give me the same experience.

For a salad I sliced up another apple with some avocado and grated gruyere (which has gotten a lot of mileage at this point) with some honey dijon dressing that I whipped up.

For the main course I made the Swiss Chard with a little rendered bacon, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. I served it with some pan-seared sea scallops and a baked potato. The chard was good but after cooking down the giant bag of greens it was barely enough to split between two people. The scallops were tasty but I did a horrible job of pan searing them. Look at them! No color at all! As is often the case with my cooking, hunger and impatience often take precedence over proper technique.

Tomorrow I'll be out of town but on Thursday I will need to do some serious damage on the giant bag of root vegetables that remain. Also, the odd bag of pinto beans still leaves me more confused than inspired. Perhaps I can come up with some good ideas if I put my mind to it.

See you all on Thursday! Hey, maybe Kintaur Rosenbaum may even stop by in his hijacked Zzintar time machine to join us for salad.

Spoiler alert!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Leftovers and Hockey Fights

I'm having a hard time getting a handle on this week. I am working in an unusual situation which puts me in a difficult position for procuring groceries. Therefore it's really going to be all about how I can stretch what we have in the fridge. Making new meals out of my leftovers is one of my favorite tasks but there is a point where the challenge becomes nearly insurmountable. However, tonight it hadn't reached that point. Though I am wondering what the heck I'm going to do with all those pinto beans!

For the salad I used some of the leftover maple dijon salmon from last night with some beets and goat cheese over mixed greens.

Normally I would insert the latest chapter of Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars here but I fear the story is getting a little too difficult to follow. Perhaps I'll get it back up on a separate feed sometime soon!

For the main course I made some roasted artichoke, tomato, and marscapone raviolis that I had in the freezer. I topped them off with the remaining gruyere and a little olive oil.

We're watching the Rangers-Devils game and there is an awful lot of discussion about fighting in hockey. That got me to remembering some of Wayne Gretzky's fights. I thought I'd sign off with one of my all time favorites.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Maple Take Two

Tonight I set out to craft a new meal out of the leftovers from last night. Well, a newish meal.

I started out with the beets, some avocado, gruyere, and pecans over mixed greens with a drizzle of olive oil. Funny, the drizzle of olive oil reminds me of part four of a little story I like to call . . . Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

The water drizzled out of the faucet and Kintaur Rosenbaum cupped his hands together, collecting some water and splashing his face. He looked up into the lavatory mirror at his stubbled, yet ruggedly handsome face.

"Kintaur Rosenbaum machine," he said to himself. "Zero defects."

Exiting the lavatory he was greeted by Stormbot, his faithful (yet robotic) sidekick. "Lord Calcitron beckons you on the milli-wave transmitter," Stormbot said.

Kintaur grinned roguishly. "I wonder what he wants," he jested.

A moment later Kintaur was sinking into the padded seat in his cockpit. "Lord Calcitron," he said in greeting to the evil insect face on his communication screen. "What an honor."

"Cut the smooth talk, Kintaur," Lord Calcitron hissed. "I know about what you did to my men. You are going to pay me back for their ships and their lives."

"Ha! You'll have to catch me first, Lord Calcitron! And it doesn't look like your men are very good at that."

A devilish look came over Lord Calcitron's face. "Well, we'll just see about that. Lord Calcitron out."

Kintaur leaned forward in his seat. "That's odd," he said.

"Look!" Shouted Stormbot from his mouth speakers.

Ahead of them through the viewport appeared an orange and white six-legged monstrosity which seemed to be snapping and clicking in the vastness of the space beyond their cockpit.

"Space crab!" They shouted together in perfect unison.

Will Kintaur and Stormbot escape the giant space crab? Will they foil Lord Calcitron's evil plot. Will Stormbot explain the origin of his mouth speakers? Find out in the next exciting installment of Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

For the main course I marinated some salmon in dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I seared it, tossed in the remaining vegetables from last night and then mixed up some maple syrup with the remaining dijon marinade and drizzled it over the salmon (much like last night). Then I quickly wilted the tatsoi and spinach from the farm and served that on the side.

For dessert we had a Zzang! Bar which is probably the most delicious candy bar I've ever had. Along with an unwatched episode of The Office it went down smooth. Funny how after not watching the show for a year I don't feel like we missed anything at all.

See you suckers tomorrow night (maybe). Keep the love, and the vegetables, alive!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Final Farm Share

Late yesterday and early today Jen and I were all about supporting local restaurants, in a fridge-clearing preparation to receive our latest (and last) winter farm share this morning.

Last night we ate at Friend of a Farmer, a spot we've dined at several times but not recently. If they are friends of farmers then we must be farmers because the meal was delicious! We met our good friend Joe there who enjoyed his first real meal (shepherd's pie) after a bad bout of food poisoning. Jen had the chicken pot pie and I had the angel hair with vegetables and garlic oil. It was delicious but I think I've spent the last 24 hours sweating the garlic out so I think I may need a break from my little Italian friend for a few days. I also enjoyed a Coney Island Lager which was delicious but a little too plentiful in its 22 ounce bottle. Combined with the fact that I'd eaten little in the hours proceeding dinner that made me feel like a prize lightweight.

This morning we went up to Fort Tryon Park and picked up our final winter share delivery. In this pickup we got: red, orange, and white beets; a bag of pinto beans; one rather soft potato; some softish turnips; empire and ida red apples; carrots; celeriac; spinach; tatsoi; and Swiss chard.

After that we drove on down to meet a group of friends at Sarabeth's. As a rule I do not like brunch. To me, brunch is a meal best reserved for hipsters and old ladies. Hipsters and old ladies who love to wait in line for an hour before eating! However, since I've managed to weasel my way out of this meal for the past four years I was overdue. When I am cornered into a brunch I always use the opportunity to enjoy some smoked salmon. That's what we in the business call taking lemons and turning them into lemonade. Salmon lemonade.


We had to rush back home to meet the cable guy and play some Rock Band with our good friend Heather. After getting home we were in the mood for something sweet so I ran out to Carrot Top Pastries and grabbed some carrot, raspberry, and chocolate rugelach to have while we got ready to Rock. This eventually devolved into a Wii bowling rematch to try to avenge the ass-kicking Heather gave to us last summer.

I put Heather in her place.

Then Jen continued with a solid ass-kicking!

Then Jen and Heather both made me feel like a little girl.

For salad I made some boiled beets and tossed them with some cut up apples, dijon mustard, honey, almond, lemon, and olive oil. My intention was to serve them over the delicious beet greens I had in the fridge but our horrible, horrible fridge had other plans. Our fridge loves to freeze greens solid depending on the temperature outside, the positioning on the shelf, and the overall mood of the fridge in general. Sadly I had to dispose of a solid block of destroyed beet greens. The salad may have been better served as a side for the main course but I elected to serve it on its own anyway.

Now that I've told you about the salad, it's time to tell you the next galaxy-spinning chapter of my space adventure: Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

Kintaur Rosenbaum keyed in the coordinates on his navi-computer and pulled a lever which pivoted below a flashing red light on the ship's control panel. "Well, Stormbot, this is going to be a tight one."

Stormbot flashed his eye-sensors in agreement. "These insectazoids need to buzz off," he delivered in his robotic monotone.

Kintaur's ship, The Magnetar blasted ahead, six or seven smaller ships matching speed and lighting the space behind them with their thrusters.

"Alright, Stormbot. Time to squash some bugs!"

The Magnetar arced upward, twisting as it did so, and dropped a dozen space mines behind it into the narrowing gap to the pursuing ships.

There was a series of explosions that lit up Kintaur's sensors. From the light of the explosions came one lone pursuer. Suddenly there was a buzz on the control panel's communication sensor.

"Kintaur Rosenbaum here," Kintaur said. "I'm the captain of this vessel."

"I have alerted Lord Calcitron of your position! He will be sending one of his motherships in! I suggest you surrender now while you still have a chance to be taken alive."

Kintaur cursed between gritted teeth. He lifted his thumb from the communication cone. "Alright," he said, depressing the switch once again with his thumb. "I'm cutting my engines. I will go peacefully."

"Excellent," the alien captain buzzed. "Lord Calcitron may show you mercy yet!"

As the boomerang-shaped alien ship slowed down behind Kintaur's ship, suddenly The Magnetar spun around and two round portholes shot open revealing a pair of pluon torpedoes aimed directly at the enemy ship.

"What!" Came the terrified alien voice over Kintaur's commincator.

"Tell Lord Calcitron that Kintaur Rosenbaum doesn't bargain with insect scum!" Kintaur nodded and Stormbot pushed the button to launch the torpedoes. The alien ship erupted into a ball of flame that melted away into blackness just as fast.

"Great shot, Stormbot!" Kintaur pumped his fist in triumph. "Let's set a course for the Duplin system. I think there'll be a swarm of bugs here any minute!"

Will the bugs find Kintaur again? Will Kintaur escape the bugs again? If the bugs find Kintaur and Stormbot again will Kintaur address them in a condescending manner? Find the answers to all of this in the next exciting chapter of Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

For dinner I roasted some garlic, onion, turnip, celeriac, white beets, apples, and carrots. I also pan seared some bone-in pork chops and then roasted them along with the vegetables. I finished it all with a drizzle of maple syrup that I let carmelize in the pan for the last few minutes of cooking.

The pork was local, from the Winkler family farm. I tried doing a search to find information about the farm but Google came up blank. They tell me it's local to New Jersey but perhaps the chops just came in frozen from China and they just made up the story. Either way, the image of Henry Winkler in a straw hat, herding hogs, was well worth the price of the meat.

For dessert we had some of the chocolate covered chocolate mousse cake from Carrot Top. Overall it was a fantastic cap to a fun-filled day.

Let's see how long we can stretch this wonderful vegetable haul this time. My guess is that we won't make it until June when the next pick up will be.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dinner a la Lazy Man

With this weekend's final winter share pickup just around the corner combined with a busy work week I was forced to cut some corners this evening. I promise that the next three nights will be markedly more interesting culinarily.

But for now, let's phone it in!

For a salad I used some beet greens combined with our slowly dying mixed greens, some almonds, tomato, lemon, and olive oil.

So that was the salad. And you know what that means! Another episode of Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

When we last left our hero we had just learned his name, so he was still pretty new to us. Also, he hadn't really done anything yet that would identify him as a hero. So we'd better get around to that.

Calcitron, the evil ruler of the insectazoid Mentarillians, stroked his mandibles thoughtfully. "Zahr'ring'ih! Come to my throne and inform me of the goings on in the Trellingi Galaxy!"

An insectazoid toady gamboled horizontally over to High Lord Calcitron's throne which was made out of the skulls of people he'd conquered! "Yes, Lord Calcitron?" He bowed, then rubbed at one of his many segmented eyes.

"We have an enemy in the human resistance. His name is Kintaur Rosenbaum! We must find him and teach him that the Mentarillians are insectazoids that are not to be trifled with."

"Yes, master," Zahr'ring'ih said, rubbing two of his antennae together in a conniving manner. "Rosenbaum will feel the true rath of the Mentarillias and this Human-Zzintar Wars will tilt into our favor!"

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" They both said.

Tune in soon for the next exciting chapter of Space Phalanx: The Human-Zzintar Wars!

For the main course I purchase a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, some pre-cooked cornbread, boiled some of the beets, and baked a potato. There is something extra delicious about a chicken that someone else has cooked. It tastes like laziness.

The cornbread was particularly tasty. I will have to make up for it soon by actually making something. Still, all the groceries for dinner cost me less than $10.00. It's hard to top that.

Tonight either Time Warner or our crummy, lousy TiVo that I hate is broken so we only have about three channels accessible to us which means no hockey game. Instead we'll have to catch up on our previously recorded shows and/or movies. That, or play the recently released update for Fieldrunners.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yay! Football!

Yesterday we went to Brooklyn to visit Caolan and Paul. However, that was not before we discovered (courtesy of a nice Jamaican gentleman) that we had a flat tire. Then I got to lie down on the road in Manhattan and put my donut on the car.

Needless to say we got to Brooklyn quite late but when we got there we were greeted with copious amounts of tea. That more than made up for the awful experience with the car.

Caolan made some delicious vegetable chili which we enjoyed with numerous toppings out of extremely ornate, peacock-themed dishes.

I threw together a salad out of some romaine hearts with a cool yogurt dressing to temper the spicy chili. Caolan and Paul were divided on whether I should mention the salads in the blog or I should continue my science-fiction serial, Space Phalanx. We decided, as a group, that I should do both. I think that's an exciting new direction for the blog!

For dessert (and snacks throughout the day) we returned to the large amount of scones and cookies. It was a lot like visiting Jen's family in that respect: large amounts of tea and sweet pastries. So, basically, one of the best days you can imagine.

Today I came home from work and got to work on some fish tacos that I made with some nasty Mission tortillas (because I'm an idiot and forgot to buy good ones, then had to run out to Gristedes), hake, lime, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, baby greens and Gruyere cheese.

I also made some slaw out of jicama, red cabbage, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

This all wend down nicely with my favorite sport: football! I even got to watch Bruce Springsteen command me to step away from my guacamole and listen to him play his crummy songs. Sadly I had no guacamole left to eat defiantly. (I don't do anything The Boss tells me to do. While I had no chicken wings or guacamole to eat in protest I did talk about his crappy music. I also wondered where Clarence Clemens went. It looked as if he'd been replaced with an 8th level mage.)

Yay! Football!