Monday, October 22, 2007

Two great American loves together at last.

(this apple pie was made by my darling mother and happily consumed by her wonderful husband, three daughters, their loving husbands, and oldest grandson. So far the Sox have continued to listen to the pie. All is right in the world)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I've been long back from Portugal, and it did not disappoint, I'm lucky to have married a man that has roots in such a beautiful place, and a place that sure does know how to eat. I don't understand a lot of Portuguese, but i did understand it whenever a host would ask Marco "She doesn't like it?", because my appetite while moderate by American standards is nearly nonexistent by Portuguese standards (the Portuguese are some of the top calorie consumers in the world). I packed all vanity away for our trip and ate with abandon but I could not eat enough to make my hosts feel at ease. We ate pork of one kind or another at every meal, potatoes AND rice with every meal in the north,and pastries (mmm pasteis de Belem) and wine constantly. Both of us were converted from latte/drip coffee drinkers to espresso fans(I challenge anyone to try and find a poorly pulled espresso in Portugal). By the time it was over and we were home though, I was glad to be back. I missed American flavors, we had been missing some of the best by being gone in August, and I missed my own kitchen. So when we got home I knew what I wanted, what any good New England girl would crave in the late summer wind down; lobsters and corn.

Of course there's no mystery to the lobster. Any self respecting girl raised in Maine waters eats it one of two ways: steamed or on a roll (generally a buttered hot dog bun). Hubby and I were willing to get messy so we went with steamed. The corn we've been getting from our CSA has been amazing so I didn't want to waste a morsel of it.
A few days after we had our end of the summer lobstsers, I made a batch of our family summer staple, corn chowder. I make it the same way mother does, milk, onions, corn, potatoes, butter. It's one of those trancedant meals that teleports me to my mothers kitchen table (which is now my sister's dining room table) or to the beach house, which has the same table as always, but a very different kitchen surrounding it than it used to. The only surprise to my chowder was the potatoes I got in my CSA box were pink! The looked like ordinary red skinned potatoes on the outside, but had pink flesh and the color didn't diminish while cooking. I think the farm could make a bundle just selling pink potatoes to caterers for rich little girls birthday parties. What little princess wouldn't want beautiful pink whipped potatoes at her birthday meal?

So summer has officially left us, the signs are in the CSA boxes. Potatoes, squash, apples. But that's ok, i feel like I gave New England's summer a nice send off. Now I'm ready to drink cider and hold hubby's hand while walking in crunchy leaves. Marco has always said fall is the best time to have a sweetheart and I tend to agree.

Monday, July 30, 2007

This CSA thing sure has exceeded my expectations. Hubby and I thought it would be a great way to support a local farm, eat more veggies, and spur some culinary creativity. Look at that picture up there. Look at what I made. I made pickles. PICKLES! I love pickles. Vinegar and salt are two of my favorite food groups, it's shocking that I've never made them before. Perhaps it's the space constraints of the one bedroom apartment, I've always assumed canning/jarring/preserving would be too much of a headache, however I do know the break down of assume so I gave it a shot this time. After two weeks of various types of cucumbers coming in our box, I had quite a stash of pickling cukes in the fridge. I made a fairly simple solution of white vinegar, salt, red pepper, dill (not fresh, I know I know, I really didn't want to go to Stop and Shop), and about six cloves of garlic, and a dash of Chinese five spice in place of pickling spice. I put it all together in the vintage jars my mother and I thought we would use at my wedding (instead they've been parked in her basement for three years). I parked them in the fridge and now it's time to wait. The waiting I could do without, particularly because Hubby and I will be in Portugal when they are ready to eat, so sad. But because I can't wait until the end of the month to know how they came out I enlisted a dear friend to try them out while she's looking after our cats. Hopefully they will be delicious, but if not at the very least they take one hell of a picture.

UPDATE: We opened the pickles early, before our trip and they we're fabulous!

‘I want my food to be food. I want my medicine to be medicine. I don’t want my food to be medicine’

This was a quote from the New York Times business section today, an article called "I’ll Have the Fish Paste Sushi With the Green Tea Rice". It's an interesting article about the food industry and everyone that is involved in the antithesis of the slow/whole/local food movements. While I admit I'll drink a Vitamin Water the day after some over indulgence, I am all about food being food. Look at those blueberries, a perfect example! They lasted mere hours in the house and were amazing, no artificial flavors, colors, or nutrients necessary, just little black and blue bits of edible summer time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This my friends was the ending to a perfect day.
After a few rather fun/sorrow filled weeks, sweetie and I needed the kind of healing only the beach could bring. Instead of waking up as early as possible to drive to our favorite beach before the parking lots met maximum capacity, we opted to kick it old school, and ride the train to Manchester (by-the-Sea not to be confused with lesser Manchesters without a shoreline).
The ride was nice, the weather was perfect, and the water was less than excruciatingly cold. Perfect.
We had uncharacteristically planned ahead and our ride home was filled with anticipation for the yummy little critters in the crisper. I love mussels and I love how cheap they are, easily the most affordable seafood I'll put in my mouth. At the train station I asked Hubby if I should pick up a bottle of white wine for the broth, he said we probably didn't need it for a red sauce. While he wasn't entirely wrong, but I do regret listening to him.
We got home, and after a shower to wash off the saltiness I got chopping, onions, garlic, and ...drumroll ... fennel. I have never cooked with fennel before, it was a bit daunting. I have awful memories of blackjack gum as a kid so I've always stayed from anything even fainted anise scented, but this week I was feeling adventurous. I was late picking up or CSA box for one reason or another and by the time I made it down the hill the "supplemental items" tables was pretty picked over. There were some green beans, and more lettuce, and a few lonely fennel bulbs? plants? (how do you discus more than one unit of fennel). If i could get Hubby to like beets I could get myself to like fennel damn it, so I took it and didn't look back.
So I made my lovely broth with the onions and the garlic, fennel and diced tomatoes (really could have used a splash of wine) and it was fabulous. I loved the flavor the fennel added to the broth and the musells, it made for great sop. I even used the pretty little fronds for garnish. I went fennel crazy my first time out of the gate and I'll be honest I liked it.
Along with some oven fries and AMAZING corn on the cob our meal paired perfectly with our sun-drunkenness.