Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fermenting: root vegetable kimchi

One of the things I miss the most about the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina is the restaurants. Now, I'm not really THAT sad because I did end up in another awesomely foodie town with too many good eateries to count, but there were a couple of standouts back in Cackalacky.

One of those standouts is Lantern. Chef-owner Andrea Reusing says her goal at Lantern is to "present simple, authentic Asian food using seasonal and local ingredients" ... and boy, does she ever succeed!

So I was thrilled to see Chef Reusing and Lantern featured prominently in the September issue of Food & Wine, which highlighted new Southern cooking -- not all that "new" to those of us who lived there, but I guess "new" to editors in New York who still think the South is just about shooting stuff, being quaintly polite and eating BBQ ... not that it's NOT about all that, mind you, but there's other stuff, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bag o' plants

This is not a joke. It was a rental-house-warming gift from my mom. The bag contains soil-less growing medium and seeds. I sowed the seeds, misted them and gave them a jaunty ziplock hat -- a bit like seed-starting, but...

Who thinks there's any chance this will work? Anyone? No? Yeah, me neither.

Or rather, I think it may partially work -- like those chia pets that just look like they have a bad case of mange.

Don't worry -- there will be progress reports.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade bread

I have never baked bread before in my life. I mean, I own a bread machine but that's not really baking bread with my own hands (although it's quite good and easy!). So I was intrigued by (and frankly, skeptical of) Jeffrey Hertzberg's and Zoe Francois' book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Verdict? There's some dough resting time beyond the 5 minutes, but that's nearly all it takes, folks. I'm a convert!

Honestly, it couldn't be easier. You mix flour, yeast, water and salt in a container (5 minutes), store it in the fridge and, for up to two weeks, you can pull off a hunk of the dough and shape it into a ball (2 minutes), let it sit (40 minutes), bake it (30 minutes) and -- voila! -- bread (or pizza dough!).

Want to see?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pickles? Yes we can

I made some dill pickles two weeks ago and promised a friend that I would share the recipe, once I had tasted them and ensured that they were not craptacular. They are not.

The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens which, quite arrogantly, calls them "Best-Ever Dill Pickles" -- frankly, I've had better but I was very jazzed that they hyphenated "best-ever" correctly so I gave them a try.
3 to 3-1/4 pounds small pickling cucumbers (Kirbys)
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup pickling salt
6 tablespoons dill seeds

Thoroughly rinse cucumbers. Remove stems and cut off a slice from each blossom end. Slice cucumbers into thick slices (the slices should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick). In a large stainless steel, enameled, or nonstick saucepan combine water, vinegar, sugar and pickling salt. Bring to boiling.

Pack cucumbers loosely into hot, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1 tablespoon dillseeds to each jar. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Discard any remaining hot vinegar mixture. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars; cool on racks. Let stand 1 week. Makes 6 pints.

[ For variations and additions, check out the full recipe ]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reading is fundamental

I couldn't agree more. What have you been reading lately?

(seen on our morning walk around Burlington)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fun with avocados

In the morning, in the evening, ain't we got fun? We do if we've got avocados on hand.

Lately my favorite quick breakfast consists of mashing up an avocado, seasoning it with kosher salt and slathering it on some toasted french bread -- heaven! At first I was grossed out by the idea of avocado for breakfast, but trust me ... salty, crunchy and filling. Go try it. Really. Go ... right ... now.

But wait, there's more!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A salad so hot...

... you might get a second-degree burn!

Well, maybe not you, but I did. Well, not quite from the salad but from the croutons. Well, not quite from the croutons but from an oven that offers a bad user experience. Generally, oven racks should not tip forward and dump their blisteringly hot contents onto your arms ... I'm just sayin', Dacor.

I know, I know -- "awesome salad" seems a little over the top but it really is that good. It's like bacon and eggs comfort food, with the benefit of spinach!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome ... and some book recommendations

Thanks for visiting. If you want to know more about why I've decided to blog, you can learn a bit more about me.

I've had quite a bit of time lately to read, which has always been my hobby. I used to think it was lame to call it a hobby -- skiing, rock-climbing, stamp collecting -- now those are hobbies. But, given not only how much enjoyment it gives me but also how often I do it (not to mention how much less aggravating it is than golf), I now think it officially counts as my hobby.

I'm currently hooked on the whole memoir-cum-cookbook genre -- start with Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life if you're interested.  I loved loved loved Kathleen Finn's The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: recently out-of-work IT-type decides to focus on her passion for food and cooking. Can you guess why I was drawn to it? ;-) I love the combination of ongoing story interspersed with mouth-watering recipes. Speaking of which, Finn's got a completely wicked recipe for a hearty, meaty bolognese sauce that I can't wait to try, once it gets a bit more snuggly outside.

My only dilemma with this genre has actually been where to keep these types of books -- living room book shelves, alongside John Irving and F. Scott Fitzgerald, or kitchen cabinets, next to The Joy of Cooking and umpteen copies of Cooking Light? The kitchen always wins.