Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Like Grandma Used To Make

My grandmother didn't cook all that much. She was not really known for her cooking. I should correct that. She was known for her cooking, just not in the way one would hope. It's strange, actually. Directly descended from my grandmother are a a number of really good cooks.

As a child I heard stories of her cooking. She was fond of any vegetable as long as it came in a can. Like most cooks in the 1950's she took an overly cautious approach to cooking pork, charring it to a burnt cinder. I don't think she was alone in this approach. It makes me wonder why anyone even bothered with pork if they were so terrified of trichinosis in the first place.

About ten or fifteen years ago she started to take a real interest in cooking which shocked everyone. She would cook large quantities of food then give it away just for fun. She's ask me for pointers when I saw her and was always trying new things.

She got really good.

I remember going to visit her at what was one of the lower parts of my extremely lucky and privileged life. I struggled with running a business, was dirt poor, and lived in a beat up old apartment that was cheaper than just about anywhere else in America but I could still barely afford it. Gram was really excited about a turkey chili she'd made and, to my delight, she gave me a giant container to take home.

I ate the hell out of that turkey chili.

If you've ever been truly broke, truly in financial hardship then you know how amazing it is to get free food. Even someone giving you a loaf of Wonderbread makes you think, Thank God I can use this to eat and that is $1.99 less I have to put on my credit card.

Gram's turkey chili was really good. For some reason I always remembered that moment, that time where Gram was interested in cooking and she made this turkey chili that was really good. The fact that it was made my my grandmother (and in no small measure that it was free) made it all that more special.

Turkey Chili with Long Trail Triple Bag

Tonight I decided to make turkey chili. I don't really think I've ever made it before. I had a ton of leftover turkey but I didn't really have a lot of the other ingredients. I wasn't about to go out on this rainy late night so I simply browned some garlic and onion then finely chopped the cooked turkey, and added black beans, tomato paste, part of a leftover Triple Bag beer, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Turkey Chili with Rice, Sour Cream, and Shredded Cheddar

I served it over white rice with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar.

St. Bernardus Prior 9

To go with the chili I had this St. Bernardus Prior 8. My grandmother didn't serve beer with her chili. In fact, I don't know if she ever had a beer to my knowledge. However, she was quite religious so I figured she'd approve of the good saint.

Gram passed away last weekend. Jen and I went to see her the previous weekend. She hadn't been doing well for a while but she was happy to see us. My beard was quite a surprise to her even though I've had it for the majority of my life. She also took particular note of Jen's scarf, pointing at it. When Jen handed her the scarf she threw it onto the floor. Jen was very happy about this. Her greatest wish in life is that when she's an old lady like grandma she'll be able to do anything she wants and no one will be able to say anything to her.

My grandma was always a very sweet natured and kind woman. I don't really think she shared Jen's philosophy on what license an old lady has. I don't think that's the reason my grandma threw her scarf on the ground but I'd sure like to think it was.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stirrup Sunday and Milieu Monday

We were a week late. Last Sunday we should have stirred up all our ingredients for the overly-elaborate preparation of the fruit cake. Every three or four years we need to make a new batch as we've finally powered through the ten pounds in our freezer. Yesterday was our day to finally complete a batch of fruitcake that will likely get us through until the year portrayed in Back to the Future II -- otherwise known as the thing I've been looking forward to in life more than anything.

Fruitcake Preparation

By "our" time I, of course, mean Jen's time. Jen worked on all of this while I was work, stirring, measuring, and baking after a day of soaking up copious amounts of dried fruit and nuts in brandy. A few more weeks of brandy applications and the fruit cake will be almost ready for consumption.

After another year it will be perfect for consumption.

Stuffing Stuffed Bell Pepper with Melted Gruyere

The setting for the following courses is in an average American home after accumulating a large quantity of Thanksgiving leftovers.

After reading Mark Bittman's annual guide on how to use Thanksgiving leftovers I had a few ideas of what to do. I like his idea of using the stuffing with roasted peppers so I grilled these orange Bell peppers over an open flame, stuffed them with the leftover chestnut, leek, and apple stuffing, and topped them with shredded Gruyere. I browned them up under the broiler.

This is a winner. I'd highly recommend this if you have any leftover stuffing. It's dead easy and tasty too.

Long Trail Triple Bag

To go with these Thanksgiving flavors I cracked open a bottle of Triple Bag by Long Trail Brewing Company. I've had the Double Bag. In fact, it's one of my favorites. When I saw the Triple Bag I passed it by subconsciously dismissing it as the Double Bag. That's when Jen asked me about it and I noticed that the label was different. It looked like Bessie the Riveter was calling me to enjoy Double Bag's older, less sophisticated sister.

It was a very good beer. It was malty, roasty, and pretty high in alcohol at 9.2%. That ass-kicking cow on the label is not to be messed with.

Yogurt Cranberry Parfait with Manuka Honey and Toasted Pistachios

For dessert I made this parfait with yogurt, leftover cranberry sauce, Manuka honey, and chopped toasted pistachios. It was a nice finish to the evening and a great way to use up some leftover cranberry sauce.

And that, my friends, is how we rock this milieu.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Left Over Right Under Your Nose

The thing about making Thanksgiving dinner for three people is that you have leftovers. A lot of leftovers. So many leftovers, in fact, that it's just a race against time before you find yourself throwing the last bits away. Each year for Thanksgiving I make it my goal to have 0% waste as I try to think of inventive (read: edible) ways to utilize our leftovers.

This kind of goes against all of the tradition of excess tied into this holiday but I've always been something of a rogue.

Sweet Rolls with Brie Rouzaire Nangis and Leftover Cranberry Sauce

I started last night by serving these toasts I made with Jen's sweet rolls, Brie Rouzaire Nangis, and cranberry sauce under the broiler. Jen was suspicious then surprised like with most of my cooking.

Pickled Herring and Mustard Pickle Salad

For a salad Jen just had some greens but I dressed mine with mustard pickles, pickled herring, and a little of the mustard pickle juice.

Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale

Since Jen's father had left early in the morning it was time to whip out the Thanksgiving/Fall themed beer that I knew it would be best not to serve in his presence: the Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale from Harpoon Brewery. The cranberry flavor was very subtle but still there in some noticeable amount. It was good but not something that I would want to have more than 1 or 2 bottles of in a season.

The proceeds from selling the beer goes to food banks so if you purchase this beer you at least will not be 100% filled with regret.

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

For dessert: more pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Jen had pondered making a second pie for dinner. I objected on the grounds that one pie for three people was probably enough. After Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there are about three servings left.

As we move into next week I'm going to be soliciting ideas to use up the rest of these leftovers before they hit the freezer and then get thrown away six months from now.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hot Turkey Sandwiches (Round 8)

We like to have hot turkey sandwiches. I'm starting to get it down to a science at this point. Each year we have hot turkey sandwiches the day after Canadian Thanksgiving and the day after American Thanksgiving. This marks the eighth blog post about the same dish, something I normally try to avoid. However, each year there is a slight spin on the hot turkey sandwich. Last year there was a Belgian theme, Two years ago Jen's father introduced naan into the mix.

This year was not that innovative.

Cheese Plate with Fourme D'Ambert, Cranberry Wensleydale, and Brie Rouzaire Nangis

We started off with this cheese plate which featured Fourme D'Ambert, Cranberry Wensleydale, and Brie Rouzaire Nangis. I have now managed to convince one more person that Fourme D'Ambert is the most delicious cheese of all time.

Regular and Sweet Potato Oven Fries

To accompany our sandwiches I made a mixture of regular oven fries and also some additional fries out of the aborted sweet potatoes Jen was going to make for Thanksgiving. Like an episode of Iron Chef she had run out of time to do all the courses she had intended to do and settled with a mere ten items.

Closed Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich (Jen) Open Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich (Nate)

Side-by-side you have here, juxtaposed, Jen's closed faced turkey sandwich with my open faced turkey sandwich. Jen also believes that certain things are intended for the side while I have no problem jamming a bunch of Brussels sprouts and roasted parsnips onto the top of my monstrous sandwich.

Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale

For beer I had this Phoenix Pale Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Company in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. I picked it up because I'd guessed that my father-in-law would like it. It turns out I was right! Also, it turns out that this was a great accompaniment to turkey dinner leftovers.

I'm always amazed when my random beer selections actually complement the meal. I assure you this is not intentional, I'm still sticking to my theory that any beer goes with any food. The same principle I have always upheld with wine pairing.

I will, however, admit that there is a small chance that some beers or wines may just happen to pair better with certain foods.

More research is needed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Never Make Granola with Chestnuts

Thanksgiving is usually a time of year that I don't give very much thanks. It's not that I'm not thankful but I just don't have the time. I'm so busy with work I barely have time to eat. In fact, yesterday, All I had for twelve hours before dinner was a single croissant. While it was good I was ready for dinner when I arrived at home.

Nate & Gary Ready for Dinner

As is a Thanksgiving tradition I did nothing but get home, slump down, and wait for dinner to be ready. It's the one meal a I have absolutely nothing to do with. Jen's father had arrived a few hours earlier and was a little grumpy about the fact that Jen had set him up to watch a Harry Potter movie. I guess he was not feeling the magic of J.K. Rowling.

Since Jen's father was here (a now bi-annual tradition) he helped keep me company and polish off a jar of pickled herring before the main course while Jen slaved away in the kitchen. I think we would both feel more guilty about supporting gender stereotypes this way if it weren't for the fact that both of us cook dinner just about every night between the two of us.

Roasted Chestnut Leek Stuffing

One of the items on this year's menu was the stuffing that Jen made with roasted chestnuts and leeks. The one part I had in this meal was in helping Jen decide between getting whole chestnuts and roasting them or getting them already prepared. Against my advice she decided to get them whole. She has been a bit suspicious of chestnuts ever since she made a granola with them and we both learned a valuable lesson: never make granola with chestnuts.

It starts off quite nice but since they are not actually nuts they slowly dry out over time until you end up with a granola that basically has small granola-colored rocks in it which will break all of your teeth.

If you learn nothing else from reading this blog, learn this: never make granola with chestnuts.

Never make granola with chestnuts.

Thanksgiving Plate

Jen's complete meal featured: roast turkey, gravy, mashed carrots and turnips, domino potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly, cranberry sauce, scalloped butternut, chestnut leek stuffing, roasted Brussels sprouts and parsnips, and Jen's sweet rolls. Like most years there were three or four additional dishes that Jen had planned but just didn't end up getting around to. Most people would probably agree that ten items for three people is plenty.

Sixpoint Sweet Action

And what beer did we have with this meal? Sweet Action from Sixpoint in Brooklyn, New York. I wanted to introduce Jen's father to a new beer local to our area. I also picked this because they come in sixteen ounce cans which is something that I figured would be a comfort to my father-in-law.

After some of Jen's best pumpkin pie to date we lounged around and foolishly had some coffee. Then I slept about two hours because I never have coffee later than 1:00 PM. Not my finest hour.

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot! Never make granola with chestnuts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Theory of Belgian Beer Websites

On our way back from Rhode Island this evening we decided to stop by the store and pick up some groceries. I've been in a Norwegian state of mind lately so I picked up a nice piece of Norwegian salmon, though I wasn't really sure what to do with it.

Pappardelle with Salmon Dill Cream Sauce

When I'm not really sure what to do with something I tend to lean towards pasta. It must be my Italian heritage.

I cut up some pasta sheets into pappardelle noodles and boileld them then added them to a sauce I made with olive oil, butter, shallots, salmon, dill, cream, milk, salt, and pepper. Over the top I sprinkled a little Old Bay.

St. Bernadus Pater 6

For beer I had this Pater 6 by St. Bernadus. It was not the natural accompaniment to a salmon cream sauce but it was delicious.

Over the years I've found that the quality of a Belgian beer is inversely proportionate to the quality of its website. If that is true then you can determine how good this beer is by clicking here.

St. Bernadus Website

Oh, yeah. That's some good beer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

In the Manner of Proper Gentlemen

After a mere three hours of sleep I spent most of today lounging about on the couch, attempting to nap, and just generally feeling miserable. It was a cold day so I put up the hoodie and grimaced like some sort of foul grumpy troll. By dinner time I was ready to snap out of this funk and get to work making something that would be delicious and hopefully not put me to sleep by 7:30 PM. I walked to the local butcher shop and picked up one of the largest duck breasts I've ever seen and a couple of Italian sausages.

I was a little leary of buying this duck because it bore a striking resemblance to the worst duck I ever had. The worst duck I ever had was in Paris, of all places, and it was enormous and tasted like beef. It wasn't disgusting. In fact it was perfectly edible. It just didn't taste anything like duck.

Also it was served with "five pippers." I'm still not sure what that meant.

Searing Duck Breast with Onion and Carrot

I sliced the duck skin all the way to the meat and seared it, skin side down, in a pan for a good 20-30 minutes to brown it up before tossing it into the oven with the sausages to cook. I seasoned it only with salt, pepper, and thyme. I had wanted a whole duck and some fresh herbs but since this duck breast was about the size of a normal whole duck I figured this would be enough.

Since there was so much duck fat that rendered from the skin I tossed in some assorted carrots and onions that were in the crisper because what is better than vegetables roasted in duck fat?

After throwing the crisped duck breast into the oven with the vegetables and sausages I made a quick creamy polenta with corn meal, turkey stock, cream, salt, pepper, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Roasted Duck Breast, Sausage, and Vegetables on Creamy Polenta

I poured the polenta onto a wooden cutting board and put the sliced roasted duck and sausage on top with some of the vegetables, juices, and a salad I tossed together with Jen's amazing salad dressing.

It turns out that this duck tasted a lot like the duck from France. My suspicions were confirmed: large duck breasts just taste like beef. Next time I think I'll save myself the aggravation (and money) and just make a beef roast.

Allagash Victor

To accompany this lovely little meal I popped open this bottle of Victor from Allagash that I picked up in Maine last month.

Victor is a Belgian strong ale brewed with red grapes and, in the manner of proper gentlemen, wears a top hat. I'd be lying if I said I bought this beer for any reason other than the fact that there was a top hat on the label. When looking at a whole wall of Allagash beers this was one of the clear winners. That being said, it turned out to be quite tasty too! It actually tasted a lot like a sparkling white wine, fruity and delicious, but not sweet.

And now, given that it's almost 8:00 PM, I can fall asleep with little regret.

Little regret other than the kicks I'll receive from the other side of the couch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Aborted Gravlax

The other day I started to make gravlax. I had a shabby idea for a Nordic-themed dinner. Unfortunately I was following a traditional recipe that requires 4-5 days planning and after starting the process my work schedule changed and would no longer allow me to stay on course for this dinner.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Gravlax Preparation

On Monday I had seasoned up a nice piece of Norwegian salmon with salt, dill, and sugar, and placed it in the refrigerator to cure.

Then the unthinkable happened: I didn't want to make gravlax anymore!

Gravlax en Croute with Garlic Green Beans and Sour Cream Dill Potatoes

Thinking quick I wrapped the partially cured gravlax in some puff pastry with whole grain mustard and baked it in the oven. I made some boiled potatoes with sour cream and dill and some green beans with garlic to accompany the dish for a makeshift dinner.

Dogfish Head Namaste

For a drink I served up this Namaste from Dogfish Head. I figured since it's actually been in the 60's it would be nice to have a refreshing summer-type beer to accompany this dinner. Well, eventually it was refreshing.

Dogfish Head Namaste (Lots of Head)

You see, I poured about a tablespoon of the beer into each glass and they exploded with foam. At first I thought that maybe the bottle had been sabotaged by some wiseacre. After drinking the beer, I did at least live long enough to write this. So, at the very least, the beer was not poisoned.

Sadly there aren't any videos on the Dogfish Head website about how the founder watched a dinosaur movie but even that withstanding it was still a very enjoyable beer.

There is this video, though, which is about 9 minutes long but, sadly, features very little in the way of talking about dinosaurs.

Coconut Rice Pudding with Chopped Pistachios

For dessert I cooked up some rice and made this pudding with leftover coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and chopped pistachios.

I was inspired to make this pudding because I was reading about all the depressing wars going on so I decided to watch a dinosaur movie. In the movie I saw a palm tree that dinosaurs knocked coconuts out of to eat. I thought that would be a great basis for a rice pudding.

True story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beer and Ravioli

I had a pretty good idea for dinner tonight. Then this happened instead.

Pear Salad with Feta and Pistachios

I got home just in time to throw a pot of water on the stove to boil, and start cooking some sausages. While that was happening I made a salad using Jen's leftover dressing from the other night, feta cheese, sliced pear, and toasted pistachios.

Pumpkin Ravioli in Sausage Ricotta Cream Sauce with Fried Sage

For the main course I took a number of elements from the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and turned them into pumpkin ravioli with sweet Italian sausage, ricotta, and fried sage leaves. I also added a little grated nutmeg to the top. The result was far better than I'd anticipated given the cobble-together nature of the meal and the fact that I'd only had about twenty minutes to put it together.

Ommegang BPA

I didn't really have anything that I thought would go well with this meal so I put the perfect beer in the fridge. After five minutes everything was ready and I took an educated guess that that beer was probably not quite chilled enough to serve. So I went with my second choice, this BPA (Belgian Pale Ale) from Ommegang.

It turns out that this ended up being an excellent accompaniment to pumpkin ravioli in cream sauce. It had a fizzy citrus taste that seemed to pair well with the cream sauce. The carbonation and acidity lifted the fat right off the tongue.

Sorry, I've been ready a lot of overwritten books about beer lately.

And I'm a ponce.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Like Some Shepherds

Tonight we defied all odds and started dinner at the earliest time we've had it all year: 6:00 PM. By all calculations this is the earliest a dinner has ever been consumed in the United States of America.

Baguette with Ricotta and Manuka Honey

We started off with some leftover ricotta from last night's dinner out and baguette. I drizzled a little olive oil over the ricotta, cracked some black pepper on top, and served with Manuka honey.

Salad with Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette in Jar

Jen made a great vinaigrette with Dijob mustard, balsamic, garlic, and olive oil to go with mixed baby greens. One of the telltale signs of Jen making dinner is her love for putting salad dressing in a jar with a lid. It may be one of her favorite things in the world to do.

Shepherd's Pie

Jen also made a fantastic shepherd's pie. We both grew up eating shepherd's pies in different ways. Mine was a French Canadian/Italian amalgamation which my father called pâté chinois and my mother called shepherd's pie. Both thought the other was crazy when they talked about the dish until they found out it was the same thing. There were a number of problems with either nomentlature. In Rhode Island, apparently, lamb did not exist until the late 1990's therefore this dish was made with 100% beef. This doesn't make any sense as far as being called shepherd's pie.

Pâté chinois doesn't make any more sense. This literally translates as Chinese pie. I won't bore you with going into the details of why this makes even less sense.

Shepherd's Pie

Jen made her family's version of the dish which is made with 50% lamb and 50% beef. Apparently in Canada they had only discovered lamb half way.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

We're getting a little predictable with our Dogfish Head beers lately but I figured that the Indian Brown Ale would be one of the better accompaniments to this dish. It turns out I was right! Even though Jen doesn't normally go for this type of beer she enjoyed it quite a bit.

We topped off the evening by watching Beauty and the Beast on Jen's request. I figured that she's endured enough episodes of The Wonder Years in the last week to make this only fair. The movie wasn't bad but it could have been helped by some classic rock tunes and pithy voice overs.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recreating What We're Used To

Our go-to place to eat is a seafood restaurant right around the corner. Since we've been there so often we almost always order the special and almost always have the same drink. We've pretty much had everything on the menu so we've fallen into a nice routine.

I decided, today, that instead of going to the restaurant for dinner we'd recreate a typical experience here at home and we'd by having linguine with clam sauce. I purchased everything I needed yesterday but I forgot to buy linguine and clams. Apparently I've never been shopping before so this morning I went out to buy the missing ingredients.

When I came home I found that I'd gotten clams but forgotten to buy linguine. How, you ask, could I forget to buy one item from a two item list? Well, I'm really very dumb.

Linguine (Actually Ciriole) and Clam Sauce with Hoegaarden

After going out, again, I was able to get some linguine and get to work. Not that it's much work to make linguine with clam sauce. Jen is always delighted to have pasta with clam sauce. Since my mom is Italian we used to have this about once a week growing up. It was one of my favorites. Jen thinks that is crazy because she never had this until she left home.

Hoegaarden Clam Sauce

It couldn't be easier to make. I made a slight variation to the traditional recipe by using beer (Hoegaarden) instead of white wine. I simply used garlic, butter, olive oil, clam juice, clams, red pepper flakes, and a little beer. I cooked it down then added the cooked linguine at the end.

Well, I actually used ciriole instead of linguine because they didn't have any linguine at the store. That's right. You heard me correctly. They had ciriole (a pasta I'd previously not heard of) but not not linquine at the store.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

For beer we had the same beer we always have at the restaurant: Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA. We've had this beer a lot in the last few months. I've actually come to think of it as the natural accompaniment to any seafood dish.

I only had the 60 Minute IPA recently but the 90 Minute is a very interesting beer indeed. Even as someone who's not all that crazy about IPAs I am a huge fan of the 90 Minute.

Halfway through the meal Jen said, "This tastes better at the restaurant." I admitted that the clam sauce was not my finest but then she revealed that she was talking about the beer.

I guess the charm of the restaurant must lend a lot to her enjoyment of the beer. Our living room is, admittedly, a little less charming.

It is, however, approximately $50.00 cheaper.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meat and Potatoes and Old Engine Oil

On my way to meet Jen last night I had an unfortunate incident with a pothole which ended up blowing out my tire and causing me to take a slow detour to a garage and getting it removed so I could put on my donut. There isn't a lot of space on the roads of Manhattan for changing a tire. Let me rephrase that: there's not a lot of space on the roads of Manhattan for changing a tire and not getting your legs run over.

Dinner plans, therefore, had to be slightly altered.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Ricotta Mashed Potatoes

I took a nice piece of skirt steak, pan seared it, and served it with some mashed potatoes. I figured this was about as basic as you could get. Since there was some ricotta in the fridge I added that to the potatoes. I'm not sure that was necessary but it did use up some leftover ricotta. Also, I made a salad of Boston lettuce, red onion, and tomato with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Harviestoun Brewery Old Engine Oil

For a drink I had this unique beer called Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland. I figured this was very fitting considering my car troubles. It was nice that it also happened to be a delicious chocolatey beer that was quite unique in taste and appearance. I'm glad that it tasted better than actual engine oil.

Unfortunately, at a mere 6.0% ABV, it was not nearly enough to make me forget the pain of having to take our new car to the garage already.

Perhaps a whiskey chaser is in order.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wonder Years and the Power of Dreams

I was always taught two things about dreams: 1.) If you die in your dream you die in real life, and 2.) Your dreams are just your mind trying to make sense of the things that happened to you over the course of the day. Or something like that.

I think that both of these things are bunk.

The Wonder Years

If the second statement is true then how do you explain the fact that I had a dream about the final episode of The Wonder Years last night after not having seen it since 1993? I haven't even thought about it at all since then. I've thought about the show in general, sure, but the final episode has been out of my mind for a while.

The dream moved me so much that I spent much of today thinking about that episode, and the show in general. In fact, I woke up at 5:00 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. Did it just take 18 years for the gravity of that episode to sink in? I was tempted to watch the episode all day but I thought that would be cheating. The right thing to do would be to start watching the show again from episode one and allow the episodes to sink in one-by-one until I reach the final episode.

Fruit Share Pickup

After about eleven hours I started to shake the Wonder Years haze I was in and went to pick up the bi-weekly fruit share. This week we got Golden Delicious Apples, Fuji Apples, Bosc Pears, Cameo Apples, and a jug of cider.

There was one problem . . .

Leftover Apples From Two Weeks Ago

. . . this is how much apples we still had left from two weeks ago.

Apple Sauce in the Making

I quickly got to work making a giant pot of apple sauce. Now there was another problem . . .

Apple Leftovers

. . . there was still this many apples left.

Perhaps, along with the pears, Jen can make some huge array of apple and pear desserts over the weekend to use them up. I'm running out of ideas.

Jiló (Brazilian Eggplant)

The other day we were bored so we drove to the local farmer's market just to see what they had where we picked up these cool-looking Jiló (Brazilian Eggplant). At first Jen selected some that were green which I quickly rejected and replaced with red ones after lecturing her about how the red ones were the best ones.

I got into a bit of trouble for that.

Roast Pumpkin with Bacon Sage Farro, Roasted Jiló , and Brussel Sprouts

We also picked up some little pumpkins so I roasted them in the oven along with the eggplant and filled them both with a farro risotto I made with butter, garlic, onion, bacon, and roasted brussel sprouts.

I call it a "risotto" just to drive purists crazy with rage.

Biere du Boucanier Dark from Brouwerij Van Steenberge

For beer I cracked open this Bière Du Boucanier Dark Brouwerij Van Steenberge in East Flanders, Belgium. I figured the pirate went well with the theme of this meal since pirates love pumpkins so much.

Oh, and Winnie Cooper loved pirates! I just love it when a theme comes together!

Apple Sauce with Caramel, Greek Yogurt, and Chocolate Sauce

As dessert I served up some of the warm apple sauce with a scoop of leftover Greek yogurt, some melted down caramel sauce from the apples, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

I also managed to convince Jen to watch the first episode of The Wonder Years which was quite a feat considering her hatred for watching pilot episodes. Jen's payment in return was that I review both our companies' medical plans for 2012 so we could make an informed decision for our future.

I challenge you to watch that opening credits sequence and tell me you aren't moved more than the last time you are when you compared deductibles.