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...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Simple Dishes

Huffington Post shared a link recently of the "Easiest, Fastest, Tastiest Meals You Never Make" from which I tried two last week. The first "Chicken with Apples and Carrots" I was able to prepare all in one skillet. And, with the exception of sour cream, I was able to prepare it with ingredients I had on hand. I did also substitute dried thyme leaves for the fresh thyme sprig. A winning fall recipe.

The other recipe Tomato and Chard Bake (the doughless pizza) should have been prepared all in one indispensable-cast-iron skillet but I forgot to bring such a skillet with me with we drove to our weekend "autumn house", so I had to use one skillet for the stove top, and then place everything into a cake pan when it was time to bake it. I used the remains two-day old baguette which I sliced and placed in the bottom of the pan with some olive oil and minced garlic. I did not have enough bread to place another layer on top of the tomatoes, mozzarella and chard, but it turned out fine anyway. I think I should have let it sit out a bit longer before serving, as I found the second helping to be better than the first. I think if I make it again I will also use a bit more olive oil and let the bread soak in it a bit longer.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Getting A Head in the Cabbage Game

When I arrived at Colchester Neighborhood Farm yesterday, the farm manager noticed my skeptical look at the huge red cabbages that were first in line for the weekly produce pickup.

Fortunately, CSA is not just about getting a good deal on local, organic vegetables. It is about being part of a community committed to good food. As regular readers of this blog know, sometimes enjoying what is local and good takes a little effort. Most of us have gotten so accustomed to foods that are easy, comfortable, and tasty in a very generic way. A subscription to a CSA puts us in touch with the rhythms of the land around us, and connects us to the foods that are best suited to each season. And it takes a little help to enjoy that sometimes.
Unfortunately, I did not slice across our cabbage to see if it had a spiral like this. It was, incidentally, a deeper purple than any red cabbage I had seen before.
In this case, manager Maryann was ready: she handed me a sheet of paper with three recipes, one of which was Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage. She was so confident that I would love it that we simply put it on the menu for tonight's dinner. It is now among our two favorite cabbage recipes (the overall list is quite short), the other being our famous lime slaw.

The recipe is simple -- simple enough that we were able to pull it off in a kitchen other than our own. Herewith, the details:

Heat 2 T oil, then add 1/2 diced onion and 1/2 diced apple (peeled and cored), sauteing until golden brown. (In reality, I used a whole onion and a whole apple -- we had cabbage to cover I mean enhance.)

Add four cups thinly sliced cabbage. Of course, I did not measure this; I was going to use all of this except the tough outer layers, and I was certainly not going to go buy more if I was a 1/2 cup short! I think slicing the cabbage thin was key, as was reducing the heat so that it did not cook too fast. I added 1/4 cup (or so) apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar. I actually added all the sugar we had in a little dish, and it was actually brown sugar. This was another key to the success of this dish, I'm sure.

I could not find any celery seed, so in place of 1/4 t of this, I added a liberal sprinkle of dried basil. I simmered for 10 minutes, mixing frequently and thoroughly. I then added 1/4 cup diced Canadian bacon. (Again, the measurement was imperfect -- it was one small package, minus a thick slice for the dog's dinner.)

I sauteed for just another couple minutes, until the bacon was heated through and the whole thing was nice and glazy. I have been careful not to overcook cabbage ever since I heard one of those food-chemistry discussions of how it can go quite quickly from raw to crisp to tender to sulfurous nasty mush.

Fortunately, this reached desired sweet-and-sourness as well as desired tender-crispness in less than a half hour start-to-finish, earning its honored place in our cabbage repertoire!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mulled Mead

To celebrate the first chill of autumn (and the fact that we'd been married 10,000 days!) James and I decided to try Mulled Mead using some of our own homemade Mead. We adapted this recipe we found online. 

We started by heating up the Mead in a saucepan, and then added two cinnamon sticks, a few whole cloves, a couple of whole peppercorns, a whole nutmeg (cut in half), a pinch of ground ginger, a dash of cardamom, and a splash of Triple Sec, we let the concoction boil, and then let it simmer for about 25 minutes. We removed the whole spices with a strainer and poured the Mead into two glasses along with a shot of Amaretto and a tablespoon of honey.

A great celebratory drink!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Muffins

I got out my jar of Almond Butter again to try another recipe from the 19 New Recipes to Make with a Jar of Almond Butter list I found a few months ago from which I made the Almond Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie. I'd been intrigued by the muffins, and with the weather getting a bit cooler I was prepared to do some baking. I also had a lot of time for baking over the past weekend, as we rented a beach house and since James didn't return from a trip to Brazil until Sunday I had Friday evening and all day Saturday for baking. I made a few changes to the recipe, so mine was not vegan. For starters I used a  real egg, rather than a flax seed substitute. I have tried flax seed as an alternative when baking, and it worked out well, but I just took what was easiest when I packed up food for the weekend, and I was already bringing eggs. I also used regular milk instead of almond milk. The recipe calls for oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, but since I noticed some unused almond flour in our cupboard when I was packing I decided to just try baking with that instead. I used allspice in place of cinnamon. The recipe was easy to follow, even given that I was in an unfamiliar kitchen, and I was working with some substitutions. The muffins were really tasty. The only sweetener, was 1/3 c. of brown sugar, so all the other flavors were evident, and the almond butter gave it a wonderful creamy texture, though they didn't rise as much they might have with a grain-based flour.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Turkey Reuben

One of James' favorite sandwiches is the Reuben - pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut,  and 1000 island dressing on rye. He orders it almost anytime we are in a restaurant that has it on the menu. Pam is not fond of pastrami, nor 'kraut and therefore does not share James's affinity for said sandwich. She does however enjoy a similar sandwich made with turkey and cole slaw (the Turkey Reuben, also known as the "Rachel"). We were invited to a cookout on Sunday and told the hosts on Friday that we would bring something made with ingredients from our farm box, which we would be picking up on Saturday. Saturday's bounty included a head of cabbage, so James made some of the tasty lime cole slaw he made for my birthday last year. We had some slaw left over after the cookout so Pam got a bee in her bonnet about making Rachel sandwiches. We seldom would have reason to eat 1000 island dressing, so we didn't want to buy a whole bottle to make the sandwiches. Fortunately it was pretty easy to make a small quantity using roughly equal parts mayonnaise, ketchup, and pickle relish.

To prepare the sandwiches Pam heated the indispensable cast-iron griddle, and melted some butter onto it. Meanwhile she spread some mayo on each of four slices of marble rye bread,and placed the slices mayo-side down onto the griddle. Next she spread a bit of the dressing onto two of the slices, and put a slice of Provolone cheese, and two slices of turkey onto the other slices. Once the cheese had melted a bit she put a spoonful of slaw on top of the slices with the dressing. The turkey/cheese slice was then paced on top of the dressing/slaw slice and the sandwich was removed from the griddle, sliced, and served. These were just as good as anything we've been served in a restaurant, especially when paired with some ice-cold home brew.