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, November 23, 2012


Those of us who, thankfully, do not have to work, and don't cotton to the shopping madness on the day after Thanksgiving (we call it Buy Nothing Day) enjoy a morning to sleep in, linger over our fresh brewed coffee in a real mug (not brown slop in a Styrofoam cup) and welcome the sun in the warmth of our own homes. I find it ironic that today's Boston Globe website uses the word "savvy" to describe those who wake up early (or don't go to bed at all) in order to wait outside in the dark and cold so they can spend money. Which is not to say the Globe is all bad. Last Sunday's Boston Globe magazine included some simple breakfast recipes to be made with the leftovers from Thursday's bounty. Since we only ate about half of our delicious homemade stuffing, I decided to try making Baked Eggs in Stuffing Cups. The directions begin by instructing the cook to preheat the over to 425, and  to "butter the the cups of a nonstick jumbo muffin tin". The preheating presented no problems, but my rust-stained muffin tin is not "jumbo" and if it was ever nonstick, it is not part of my memory bank, the problem was solved with paper liners, and the recipe does provide adjustments for non-jumbo tins. Once the muffin tin was lined I filled the cups about 2/3 up with stuffing, and then put them in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, took it out and cracked one egg into each cup. These went back into the oven for about 8 minutes, but the eggs were still too runny for my taste. The recipe says to cover loosely with tin foil for 5-10 minutes to firm up the yolks, but I did my usual egg-cooking trick of putting them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. I think I left them perhaps a bit too long, as the yolks were completely solidified when I took them out. They were very easy to remove from the tin, however, and the paper peeled off easily for serving, and turned out to be an easy and delicious way to prolong the Thanksgiving celebration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Food Thought

For generations of North Americans, knowledge about the sources of our food diminished even more rapidly than agricultural employment. Fortunately, a growing number of young  people are learning to cook, to farm, and to rebuild local food systems, and higher education is responding to the growing demand to learn more.

A recent graduate of my geography program -- who has experience on his family's organic farms -- shared a list of such programs, courtesy of the blog Sustainable Food Jobs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Beetloaf, Again?

Nov 18, 2012 FoxTrot by Bill Amend
Click to enlarge
Bill Amend is now this blog's straight man. As former beet skeptics, we have had a number of successes. Click on the beet search to scan all of our solutions for this misunderstood root vegetable. Warning: Bad puns ahead!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Completing Team Pancake

Pancake accomplishment is now part of the portfolio of all three cooks of Casa Hayes-Boh. James has tinkered for years with variations of Deborah Madison's buttermilk pancakes, making his yogurt-based version locally famous. Just last week, Pam delivered a scrumptious stack of maple-pecan pancakes to our table and this blog.

Photo: All Recipes
Paloma's pancakes looked
much better!
Today, Paloma rounded out Team Pancake with an incredibly fluffy stack of eggnog pancakes, using her smart phone for in-kitchen access to a popular recipe on All Recipes. We enjoyed the rich flavor of these cakes, which do not require toppings. Paloma did find them to be a bit "chunky," and might thin the batter with a bit more milk next time.

One tip: the recipe suggests pre-heating the griddle before starting to prepare the batter. This might be rushing things just a bit, though it is good to have the griddle hot before heating any cakes.

The griddle, by the way, is really key. We are very fortunate to have a cast-iron griddle and a fifth gas burner that makes it easy to heat it evenly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Local Endowment

Wikimedia image of butternut squash
We ended our farm box season with a few squash on hand, and turned to Jane Brody for guidance on something new to do with the butternut -- that large, sweet, vaguely obscene member. Of the squash family. In searching for an image, I learned the local geography of the butternut's most common variety, the Waltham butternut, which was developed in Stow, Massachusetts and then introduced at the Waltham Field Station.

Looking in Brody's Good Food Book, we found "winter squash stuffed with apples and cheese" on page 401 -- these were all good ingredients we had on hand. (See all of our Jane Brody posts.) The recipe calls for two small acorn or two small butternut squashes, but we had one large butternut that was enough to feed us both.

I split it in two (as in the photo above) and scooped out the seedy part. I lightly oiled a baking sheet and placed the halves on it, flesh side down, in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Then I sauteed a chopped apple and onion in butter. I then mixed these with ricotta cheese (replacing cottage cheese in the recipe) and some very good cheddar from Cabot. To this I added dried cranberries in place of raisins or currants. I pressed this filling into the pockets of the squash and baked another 20 minutes, flesh side up.

Pam liked this better than I did. I could see room for improvement. First, I did not cut the squash quite evenly, so taking the larger side meant that I took the somewhat half-baked side.More importantly, I do not think the ricotta cheese worked for me. It would have been better to use just the cheddar, or perhaps a mix of cheddar and Monterrey Jack. Most importantly, I used a red onion when I should have used yellow, and I should have cooked it a bit longer to caramelize and sweeten a bit.

I will definitely try this again -- either waiting for next year's harvest or perhaps with a store-bought squash. The meal fits in a good spot on the nutritious-delicious-easy-cheap trade-off matrix.

Maple Pecan Pancakes

I was tempted by this recipe  a few weeks ago when I saw it in the New York Times. The combination of nuts, cranberries, and maple syrup was just too much for me to resist, so I made it for my family for our Sunday breakfast. I had never used almond flour before, but when I discovered that it was simply ground up almonds, I figured I could make it myself using the "mix" feature on our blender. And I was right. The almond flour was combined with the whole wheat flour, baking power, baking soda and salt. Then I mixed the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. The contents of the two bowls were mixed together, then chopped pecans and dried cranberries were added.

I used plain yogurt rather than buttermilk, which made the pancakes very thick, and so they took a bit longer than usual to cook. James usually uses equal parts yogurt and plain milk when a recipe calls buttermilk. I may try that next time. Nevertheless, everyone found these very tasty.

Green Beans Simmered with Tomato

I made this recipe several weeks ago, but just never got around to writing the blog post.

Just before our first frost (about a month ago) I picked all the unripe tomatoes from my garden and wrapped them in paper to ripen in our basement. Over the past few weeks I have been able to "harvest" the ripe tomatoes little by little. I was happy to use some of them in this simple recipe, from the ever popular Deborah Madison. Sliced onions were sauteed in olive oil for about 5 minutes, to which I then added a pound of frozen green beans, 2 diced tomatoes, a minced garlic clove, and a bit of water. This was simmered until the beans were just cooked when I added some fresh sage and parsley. Everything was simmered a few minutes more and served as a savory side dish to the rather salty and completely vegetable-less frozen chicken pie we had as our main dish. We rarely eat commercial frozen food, and this was a good example as to why.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Even Better Leek & Potato Soup

A month ago, Pam made a leek and potato soup that we both enjoyed, though I enjoyed it more than she did. Even the cookbook author had deemed it "meager," and Pam agreed. We both decided that we would try it again "some time" and we had some ideas to, well, soup it up a bit.

To the sauteing leeks and potatoes at the early stage of the recipe, I added about half of a small, very hot pepper, finely minced (from Colchester Neighborhood Farm, as were the potatoes and leeks). For the liquid, I used three cups of commercial vegetable stock and four cups of local, organic, low-fat milk from Crescent Ridge.

These small changes made for a truly delicious and satisfying meal on this cool evening. The mildly piquant soup was perfectly paired with "liquid bread" in the form of home-brewed IPA.