How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pseudo Shamrock Shake

One of the first people I met when I moved to Massachusetts was my friend Jenny. My daughter was about 3 weeks old, and Jenny was about 5 months pregnant with her first child. We became fast friends and discovered that, even beyond new parenthood, we had a lot in common. We both taught Spanish, we both loved the movie The Wizard of Oz, and we looked forward each year to the "limited time only" Shamrock Shakes at McDonald's. We started going together every year to get our treat, but discovered that some stores didn't have them, or perhaps we waited too long, and they were no longer available. A few years ago, rather than risk not getting our special dessert, we decided instead to go to a local dairy,and ice cream stand, Peaceful Meadows, who will make a shake out of any flavor of ice cream they have. So we each ordered a mint chocolate chip shake, which was made with actual ice cream, rather than an ice-cream-like substance. This year was especially busy for us and we could only find about an hour of time that we were both free, which was not enough time to get to Peaceful Meadows and back in time for Jenny to pick up her daughter from dance lessons, so I bought some mint chocolate chip ice cream and we made them ourselves. A pretty simple recipe with all measurements "eyeballed" - about 6 scoops of ice cream, and a glug and a half of milk, and a few drops of green food dye (the ice cream was "all natural" and therefore had not been pre-greened). Into the blender it all went, and mixed until smooth. Yum. I think Jenny and I have found a new twist on our old tradition.

Lucky You!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Date

We talked about making pie today, in fact, we talked about making two - one dinner pie, and one dessert pie, and then we completely forgot, even though James remembered that it was March 14 - pie (pi) day (3.14). I had already picked out a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and James had bought the ingredients, so I just went ahead and made the Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes. The dish was cooked, and served, in our indespensible cast-iron skillet, so at least it was pie-shaped. The name of the dish leaves little room for surprise as to the main ingredients (2 cans rinsed garbanzo beans, 3 red potatoes, and a cup of diced tomato) but there is a bit more to this tasty, high fiber meal. I started by chopping one onion to sautee. To this I added two peeled and diced carrots, and 3 peeled and diced red potatoes and cooked for about 10 minutes. I added some red pepper flakes and 1 very large minced garlic clove, and sprinkled in some dried cilantro. The tomatoes and chickpeas were added along with a dash or salt and a twist of pepper from my pepper mill. Just before covering to simmer, I added a few splashes of water. It took about 20-25 minutes of simmering before the potatoes were fully cooked. Fresh parsley was thrown on top at serving time. This was pleasing to look at, hot and spicy to the taste, as well as satisfying. We paired this with some of our rye homebrew - a fine choice.

To top off the evening we re-watched a movie we saw for the first time about 13 years ago: Pi -a creepy black and white film about obession, numbers, the Torah, and insanity.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here's to you, Izzy

Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother Isabelle Laurerman's (neĆ© Beanblossom, yes, Beanblossom) birth. She would have been 96. Today is the 17th anniversary of her death. Although she was quite ill, and medical professionals told our family she should have died weeks before, she steadfastly refused to give up the ghost until she turned 79. Then, I guess feeling it would put too much of a damper on the celebrations, waited until just after midnight the day following her birthday to breathe her last.

Grandma loved her Peppermint Schnapps. I am not really sure if she just drank it in shots, or made mixed cocktails, but I know she always expected to find a bottle of it in her Christmas stocking.  In her honor, I picked up a bottle yesterday and prepared this recipe for Peppermint Patties, a mixed drink of Peppermint Schnapps and Coffee liqueur (we used Kahlua). I must say it did taste just like a liquid version of a York Peppermint Pattie.

Almost-Favorite Lasagna/e

A Christmas tradition in our house is Pam's preparation of Everyone's Favorite Lasagne, entry #122 in our well-worn 365 Ways to Cook Pasta (see all of our entries from this book). Browsing last weekend as we planned the week's menu, I noticed that we already had several of the ingredients required for entry #121, Chicken and Broccoli Lasagne in Parmesan Custard. (I notice that the word can end in e or a -- this book prefers "lasagne," though I have always used "lasagna," which seems to be a slightly more common spelling.)

Lasagna is always dish-intensive, and this is perhaps more so: it requires a sauce pan, a mixing bowl, a cutting board (two boards or one that is washed during the preparation), a skillet, a stock pot, and a casserole -- plus half the utensils in the kitchen. The result is a blonde lasagna -- no tomatoes were harmed in this production -- that is sweet and savory.

Preparation begins with a custard of egg, milk, flour, butter, and Parmesan cheese, which is eventually poured under, within, and over the final dish -- becoming almost a matrix for the chicken, vegetables, and cheese that are layered between the noodles. The custard includes a pinch of nutmeg, which gave the final dish a mild sweetness. The recipe calls for ground red pepper; having only crushed red pepper, I substituted a pinch of cayenne. In retrospect, I was too cautious, and should have used a bit more to compete with the nutmeg.

We of course used real lasagna noodles. The existence of fake, no-boil noodles takes away our whining rights about the dishes, but I really cannot imagine doing all 80 percent of the work of a lasagna but leaving the noodles to chance.

Our filling was mostly organic -- chicken and carrots from the grocery store and broccoli and green beans frozen last summer from our Cochester CSA. The recipe calls for more than a pound of broccoli, of which we only had about half a pound. Cooking it together with some green beans worked out well. We were a bit short on mozzarella cheese -- about 2/3 of the called-for pound, but the end result was still quite delicious!