Wednesday, October 27, 2010

pot roast, you ask? well, well, well...that handsom chunk of beef transformed into a fork tender, flavorfull morsel of meat. i was giddy with the end results. i added roasted butternut squash, cannellini beans, onions, chilis, and tomatoes to the beef to create a hearty chili. garnished with ripe avocados and fresh cilantro, the dinner party was awesome! i will never doubt the powers of a crock pot again.

to completely change the story, i have to tell you about this great caesar salad i just ate. i have had caesar salad on my brain for a few days, and so i needed to make one. having no romaine on hand, i switched up the greens. i used spinach, thinly sliced kale, and a few torn leaves of red leaf lettuce all tossed with some croutons, grated parmesan, lemon juice, and caesar dressing. it was great. what have i been doing sauteing my kale? geez-o! give it a whirl with the last stands of greens you're harvesting from your gardens!

Friday, October 15, 2010

before the sunrise this beautiful morning, i was a surly bundle of energy. i was eagerly engaged in searing a chuck roast, dicing onions, toasting spices, and .....utilizing a crock- pot for the first time in my life. now growing up in the midwest, i am more than familiar with the crock- pot. i have eaten multiple calico bean hot dishes, bbq meatballs, and pot roast served out of the crock -pot. still, i have always been one to stick to the old school methods of doing things. when i make a pot roast, i like to go through all of the steps of braising the meat. i like dwadling next to the oven, adding herbs and wine to the pan as the meat slowly roasts and becomes amazingly tender. i'm a hands on kinda gal. i like to be involved with my food. i like to mettle with my food. so the idea of throwing a few ingredients in a crock -pot, turning it on low, and not thinking about them again until i return home from work just seems wrong. i feel like a negligent food parent. what will happen today as i'm at work? will the meat become succulent and wonderful, or will it be chewy, or dry, or will it jump out and run away? no one knows. it's a mystery. i am left to worry the day away, until the moment when i enter my home. i have high hopes. i have doubts. the ultimate outcome with be tender, tasty meat which will be the base of a large vat of roasted butternut squash and braised beef chili. i plan on making a great salad and homemade toasted corn soda bread, so if i'm let down by the crock- pot, i have back- ups. anyway, thanks to the readers for letting me use this blog today as an outlet for my worry. i will keep you up to date with the outcome....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

okay. some of you may be familiar with my obsession over bacon. i try not to let myself obsess over much, but i have given myself leeway with bacon. last night i made a wonderful version of ribolitta, an italian soup made of mostly black kale, white kidney beans, and is thickened with day old bread. i made a few adjustments to fit my mood and the end result was quickly devoured by my roomies...
here's a recipe. feel free to add more veggies & herbs from your garden!

1 lb bacon, sliced
brown the bacon, remove the bacon from the pan, and pour off half of the fat. use the remaining fat to saute the vegetables...

1 large onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
saute the veggies in the bacon fat until tender, then add:

1 can diced tomatoes/ or 2 large tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 glass of red wine
1 container of chicken stock ( i used the pacific natural foods brand- 32 oz free range chicken

allow to simmer and meld together-about 20 minutes. then add:

1 lb of fresh kale or chard, sliced thin, almost chiffinade
4 cups cooked white kidney beans

bring back to a simmer, wilting the kale and warming the beans. when it is all warm and wonderful, give it a taste, and add salt and chili flakes to your desired taste. i served this soup over some chunks of old crusty bread with some shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. it will warm your gullet! belly up!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

the golden hue of the leaves waving at me during my morning commute, seem to match the color of my 'check engine' light that gleams at me from my dashboard. in the distance of all this colorful fauna, lay various islands anchored in lake superior. a few weeks ago, i was on one such island- isle royale. it was a wonderful time spent hiking and lusting over our surroundings. i have been meaning to write about the trip, but have been dragging my feet...trying to connect food with thoughts...

there was one night on that island that was unforgettable. sharing a campfire with several fellow backpackers, we all watched as a boat docked, and we all shared thoughts about how exciting it would be if that boat were bringing us a warm cooked dinner and maybe a beer or two. minutes later a crew member of the boat came to shore and asked if they could share our fire. in return for the sharing of the fire, they would bring us some fish (they had caught more than they could eat), and some beers (they seemed to have packed too much). dumbfounded that our daydreams had transpired, we all quickly grew with excitement as smells of grilled fish wafted towards us.

the first side of fish that was brought to us was a freshly caught lake trout, which had been slathered with lemons and herbs , grilled, and was the size of a small child. next came sauted mushrooms, followed by venison steaks fried with bacon and onions. we all ate like hierarchy, with our fists full of wonderful eats, and our thirsts quenched by beers. the dessert was the other half of the previously mentioned lake trout, but this time it had been lightly dusted with mediterannian spices. hints of cinnamon and chili lingered in our mouths after eat bite. it was this dish that has stuck with me. what a great idea! it worked perfectly with the fresh fish. cinnamon, dried chilis, cumin, maybe some smoked paprika...these flavors of the spice trade are so remarkable, and so exciting to experiment with. familiarize your palette with these flavors. you'll find yourself slowly incorperating them into your cooking more and more.....