Friday, August 29, 2008
Yesterday was my birthday! My golden birthday, actually; I was 28 on the 28th. I took the day off from the blog and didn't photograph or document anything. It was nice. I don't have much to tell you about food, but we did spend an awesome day at the beach.
When it got overcast and started to rain, we went back to our hotel room, played games and drank beer.
More on food later.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Last night, Ira and I met up with Emily and Jason, and kicked our vacation off right, with a trip to the New Holland Brewery. Specialists of "Art in the Fermented form", New Holland is most famous around the Midwest for their Mad Hatter IPA. Of course, we had to had a sampler flight of all their many beers and hard ciders. We drank the shit out of that art! My favorite beers, pictured above were a specialty Cream Ale, and the Black Tulip, the two pictured on the right. On the left, the Poet and a Apricot Wheat. We paired our beer flight with the High Gravity Meat and Cheese Platter from the appetizer menu. So many cheeses, beers, meats...what else is there?
Well, there's pizza of course. We had to try the BBQ chicken pizza, which was not only delicious last night, but this morning as well!
Beside brewing beer, they also make their own spirits. Jason and I sampled the homemade vodka (distilled like a brandy; drinks like a vodka). We had a bit of an adventure when Jason ordered the "Classic Martini" which was described as how you would imagine the recipe to be, gin or vodka, vermouth, and olives. However, when Jason got his drink, it tasted mysteriously like Chardonnay. We thought, hum, perhaps their vodka distills like a brandy and drinks like a brandy... When we asked our waitress about the wine flavors and she replied the Chardonnay flavor is probably from the Chardonnay. We asked what drink we got, and she replied "the Classic". Who puts a splash of Chardonnay in a Martini? We asked for Martinis, extra dry and extra dirty, hold on the Chardonnay. The second round of drinks were great. OK, no more whining about the wine. We left New Holland Brewery well fed and watered.
Today...Michigan Adventure. Water slides!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Ira and I are on vacation! We started out by taking a trip to his parents house for a wonderful weekend in the country. His parents live up near Prairie Farm,, a small town of about 500 people in northwestern Wisconsin. They live on 80 wooded acres, nestled in the rolling Wisconsin hills, surrounded by bucolic pastures and farmland.
I spent the weekend, wandering around their garden full of ripe produce and beautiful flowers! It was so nice and relaxing. We took Gertie for walks without a leash all over the property. She had her first Wisconsin adventure complete with a walk in the woods! She loved sniffing the flowers as much as I did. It's so nice to get away from the city for a nice weekend.
Today, we're taking the train into Michigan, where we will meet up with my sister, Emily, and her husband, Jason, to tour the west coast of Michigan on the Lake Michigan shore line! I'll keep you updated on the beer and food we indulge in along the way!
For now, lets relax and take a stroll through a beautiful Wisconsin flower garden in the country!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
fresh whipped cream
Originally posted on Flickr by Fotomele
For a sweet summer snack, nothing eases the fruit down the gullet better then some freshly whipped cream! Its quick and simple to make, as well as easy to customize depending on what flavors you want to accentuate. A standard favorite is to mix vanilla and sugar in with the cream, but you have the option of many different flavored liqueurs to give an added twist, creme de'menthe for a bit of minty mystique, amaretto for some almond allure, or bourban for the burly bite!
To make your own whip cream, just take heavy cream and whip it! I use my KitchenAid mixer, but you can use a hand mixer as well. If you have neither, don't despair; you just need to get creative. For more details, here is my Instructable for homemade whipped cream along with a bunch of great suggestions from fellow readers.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Originally uploaded by Bien Stephenson
I love raspberries. They've got to be my favorite fruit. Growing up, we had a huge raspberry patch in our back yard which I used to lay under gorging myself with the plump red juicy berries until I was sick. Picking them by the gallons, my mom would make multiple raspberry pies every summer, along with jams, and still have trays and trays of frozen berries for the winter.
I get so sad every time I go to the store, and see that a pint costs $5.00 0r more. Why! I scream at the berry overlords. To make a raspberry pie, it would cost me like $30.00. Ugh. As much as I love you, I just can't afford you. So for the sake of economy, (without sacrficing too much in taste) I dilute the raspberries with peaches and thus: Peach Melba Pie!
Peach Melba was invented in 1892 or 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London to honor the Australian soprano, Dame Nellie Melba (1861 - 1931). So you can feel nice and historical as you dine on this divalicious dessert!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Photo published by Bon Appetit blogger Bridgett Maloney
Although I say, "come on, pie dough is easy", everyone is going to have failure now and then. I love this blog post titled "My Spectacular Pie Crust Failure" from Bon Appetit's Project Recipe, where blogger Bridgett details her crust, which quickly turned from problem to "disastrophe". She doesn't give up though, as she works with what she's got, to resurrect the pie, and live to blog about it.
Photo published by Bon Appetit blogger Bridgett Maloney
Project Recipe, an exciting romp, accompanies two very different regular Jo's, as they cook their way through Bon Appetit's 100 top recipes. 24 year old Bridgett, the wonderfully self-depreciating writer/actress, is set off by the older, seemingly wiser Chris, a 47 year old book designer from Berkley California. The obvious differences between the two add to the sense of fun, as Bridgett slides into the role of dopey sidekick, who chronicles her kitchen foibles so Chris can step in, and give her (and us) very helpful tips on the best ways to go about different kitchen tasks. Although I say Bridgett may act the dopey sidekick, as you read through her posts, you can see she's no slouch in the kitchen either.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The authors of these Instructables will each receive a hardcover copy of The Pie and Pastry Bible and an Instructables Robot t-shirt.
Yours truly won the Judge's Choice award! Omg, Omg! Yay. Yah, Yah! (I am a bit out of breath from jumping around!) I am soooo excited. I will be receiving The Pie and Pastry Bible, 704 pages of pie pleasure. We're going to be making pies from now until forever. And, a robot t-shirt. Alright!
Congrats! Girl with a curl for your winning Vampie Entry!
OK enough about me. Lets talk about one of the 1st prize winners, a pie which will have you infected with deliciousness, at first bite! Its a Vampie! When I saw this, I along with everyone else had to vote for The Girl With A Curl's awesome entry. As she says, this is a pie "your guests would love to sink their fangs, er, teeth into. Fresh strawberries are the "bloody" base for this sinful sweet!" Along her clear and thorough instructions are nicely shot detailed pictures to help you along. So pull out your cape and coffin, but no garlic please!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I've heard people say that making pies intimidates them because of the crust. Listen, its not rocket science. I mean, I can do it; anyone can do it. I guess it just takes the right recipe. There are tons out there for every different taste and diet. My mom prefers my Grandma's recipe where the secret to its flakiness is lard (although she sometimes substitutes vegetable shortening). When Ira was a vegan, I relied on using his mother Janice's oil crust recipe, which is animal friendly and simple with three ingredients: flour, oil and water.
My favorite pie dough is a recipe I got out of Bon Appetit many years ago. It's a basic butter crust recipe, with an addition of a bit of sugar added to the dry ingredients and water spiked with just a splash of cider vinegar to give the dough a more tart flavor, which I think makes the crust so much more fun to eat. Of course, my Mom thinks I'm a cretin for abandoning the traditional family crust.
I know you want the complete recipes for the three pie crusts mentioned above.
Here are four useful tips I hope you will find helpful when working your dough.
- Use cold butter, either kept refrigerated until right before using, or placed in freezer for a short period before mixing into the dough.The hard cold butter will give a better texture to the dough, as you will have areas of chunky butter which, when baked, will make the crust more flaky.
- Use ice water to mix the dough. The cold helps bind the dough better and keeps the butter from melting when you are handling it.
- Use an old pillow case to knead your dough. This limits the handling, which will insure a more flaky crust as well as reduces the mess you have to clean up afterward. Don't over work the dough, a quick knead is all you kneed. Obviously you'll want to make sure the pillow case is clean and has all the lint picked out, because head grease and fuzzies aren't the best accents to your pie dough.
- Roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper. You can spin the parchment around to easily roll the dough from different angles. When moving the dough to the pie pan, I wrap the dough around the pin to give it support. By rolling on parchment paper, you easily lift the dough onto the rolling pin so you can avoid breaking or tearing.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
What better way to get the Forkable Pie Fest started then with my Blueberry and Apricot Pie, I mentioned yesterday. A pie in a cast iron skillet is always a crowd pleaser, giving the impression of being cooked on the campfire with good back country spirit. Top it with a lattice crust and you're pie's as unstoppable as bluegrass fiddler powered by corn whiskey.
A lush deep blueberry flavor paired with the sweet sumptuous taste of apricots and nectarines, lightened with a crisp splash of fresh lemon zest and underscored with the subtle rich flavors of the browned butter and amaretto. Serving this pie with fresh whipped cream or ice cream will bring smiles to everyone's faces. Click here for the full recipe and here for my Instructable.
Although I was totally working a gimmick to get attention in the Instructable Pie Contest, I can still totally vouch for the pie inside. I ate it and it was awesome! But don't take my word for it. Here was Eric's reaction.
It's impossible not to be overcome with a violent and expressive sense of VICTORY when eating this pie. Its skilletastic!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Through starting this blog, I have been actively trying to become more involved in the Internet food community. One website, which I have been more active with is Instructables.com, a wiki-site dedicated to creating a community of people showing people "how-to" do anything. By linking to my personal Instructables, I can cut down on the TMI, threatening to make my blog posts 15 pages long.
So when Instructables announced their pie contest, I knew I had to enter. Since there was no limit to entries, my obsessive compulsive disorder entered three! The competition ended today and the winner will be selected by the voting public over the next three days. Click here to view my pies. You have to be a member to vote, but it free to sign up, so if you feel inclined, I of course would appreciate any and all votes!
To celebrate this season of fresh fruity fun, Forkable will be doing a Pie in Your Face everyday, highlighting my pie instructables as well as the ones who win the competition, which will be announced on Friday. I don't expect to win, but my goal was to be one of the few selected by the editors to be "featured" on their home page.
I am happy to say Goal Achieved! Last night, my Blueberry and Apricot Pie in a Skillet (pictured above) was selected and now proudly bears the "featured" sash! I WIN!
So let them eat pie.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I soon discovered, my blog was taking up almost all of my time. I was hoping I would eventually fall into the swing of things, and as I got better at maneuvering through the blogosphere, I could get my posts done more efficiently. However, after weeks went by with no let up, I began to fear the worst. THIS BLOG IS TAKING OVER MY LIFE!!!
I've been spending sooo much time blogging, I haven't had time to cook. This seemed a bit counter productive. I mean the whole point of this is my cooking! What am I gonna post about if I don't make any food. I began feeling like a sham. After all, my blog was supposed be about making the time to cook great food on a short time budget. And that is exactly what I am not doing.
To add insult to injury, in reviewing my blog, I was beginning to feel like I'd lost my voice. I wanted to have a hip urban tone which reflects my lifestyle of someone in their twenties, living a full life in the city. I don't want to come off as a suburban housewife. However in reading back through the archives, I've realized I use the word "Yummy" in almost every post. AHHHHHHH!!! I never say yummy. In fact I almost hate Yummy.
So my yummy timepit of a blog is really stressing me out. I've come to the realization, I'm in a blog rut. And so soon! What to do? No time to cook, no time to clean the house, I'm all wound up. With this going on, how can I conquer the internet?
Ok, so there is my problem. I think I've been trying to do too much, and trying too hard. I can't expect to start a blog and immediately do everything perfectly. In trying too hard, I've been trying to cover everything I know in too short of a space. I am getting too bogged down in the details like how my voice is being read, that I've lost my voice!
I'm not always making awesome food from scratch and recently, I've been eating out too much. Oh, whatever. I have a Burger King down the street. My food blog has almost forced me into a whopper jr. of a lifestyle. I'm not some perfect little yummy homemaker with delicious treats for your tummy on the table every night after work. Not at all. But then again, who is expecting that?
I can get really crabby, spending so much time on something and then wondering if I am doing a good job. I just have to quit worrying about it. People have given me advice on how to streamline my operations and I'm working on my format to try and tighten down some sense of theme and become more consistent in following it; posting more often, utilizing more web based content. I just need to write the blog the way I want, and keep it fun. I want to do the above stated things, but if I don't implement them immediatly, that's ok. If I don't post every other day, it will be fine. I guess I just needed to come clean and confess my problems so I can move on. Although I am obviously not that good at the internet, I'm workin on it!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Why pay $4.00 for a bottle of vinaigrette when you can make your own for way less super fast! It's really easy. To pair with summer greens, a simple vinaigrette works best to bring out the fresh crisp flavors.
Find a jar with a lid. Mix together oil and vinegar in approximately a 1:1 ratio.
Here instead of vinegar I used freshly squeezed lemon juice for added freshness.
Use a strainer to keep the seeds out of the dressing.
Mix to emulsify the two together.
Here you have your basic base. To this you can add anything you want. I usually add a sweetener to balance the flavor of the vinegar or citrus juice and mustard to give it a little body.
Here I used my homemade pomegranate jelly and a small amount of honey mustard. Shake it again, and your dressing is all ready to go.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Chipotle Lime Summer Salad
Originally uploaded by amber in norfolk
This week, I am on a summer salad kick. Who wants to heat up the kitchen when you don't have to. Plus salads are quick to make, they're healthy and they don't make you feel like you have a 10lb weight in your stomach after eating. I found this entry when searching Flickr for "fresh summer salads". Looks good enough to eat. Har har. Ok, anyway, this photo was posted by Amber, author of My Aim is True a great craft blog with lots of tips on cooking, sewing and living a crafty life. Click here for the Chipotle Lime Summer Salad recipe.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Originally uploaded by firexbrat
This picture from my friend Jenny's flickr account had me longing for fresh flavors with her spiraling composition of farm fresh tomatoes, cucumber slices, buffalo mozzarella, spicy basil and Italian basil drizzled with olio, balsamic and a sprinkle of salt.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Summer is all about fresh produce from the garden, BBQin' in the backyard and beer! All but the last is kind of hard to come by in the city, but Ira and I always believe in reaching out to our community for help and makin do with what we got. My Aunt, who lives across the park from us, gave us some fresh basil from her container garden and our friend Wendy sent over some of her fresh organic pear tomatoes. Ok, so that took care of the fresh produce. Now the yard. Humm this was a hard one. Our building goes from sidewalk to the alley. We made do with our gangway which is luckily larger then most at about 8ft wide. Next up. Beer. No problem. Eric supplied the Oberon Mini Keg from Bells Brewery.
We quickly chopped up some vegetables, marinated some chicken breast in teriyaki, and assembled some shish kabobs. We wrapped some asparagus tossed with fresh chopped garlic and olive oil in some aluminum foil to steam on the hot coals. A salad of Romaine lettuce and fresh basil with pear, blue cheese and a lime pomegranate vinaigrette made for a nice fresh flavor. I popped some brown rice in the rice cooker with some coconut milk, onions, raisins and some crab stock I had in the freezer to give us some fiber and stretch out the meal for a couple unexpected arrivals.
A relaxing Sunday afternoon: mission accomplished. BBQ, beer, friends, fun. Done. OK, now its time to go to sleep!
Here are more pictures of produce and cookin.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday night, I had made plans to go out. At the last minute, plans changed and 7 p.m. found me and my two friends hungry at my place. Growling stomachs demanded payment, quick. A trick I learned from my Mom is to keep small jars of pesto in the freezer just for this sort of night. Defrost the pesto for a minute or two in the microwave, heat up some pasta, do a quick saute of some fresh veggies with a splash of lime, and boom: a quickie for your tummy.
We had to get beer anyway, so Gertie and I, with friends in tow, led the way to our local market to purchase the necessary booze and some fresh broccoli, red peppers, green onions to go along with the Garlic I had at home. Once home dinner came together in about 20 minutes. For a quick garlic bread, I just brushed some fresh dinner rolls with melted butter, roughly chopped garlic and dried basil and finished them off with a quick toast under the broiler. I topped everything with Parmesan cheese, and the only groaning our stomachs were doing was from over consumption.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
This Sunday, a benefit breakfast of pancakes and huevos rancheros will be served to welcome Sasha Yurgionas back to the city and help raise money in support of her valiant cause, a 6 year medical program in Cuba to gain her MD degree so she can provide medical care to underprivileged US urban communities. 2 years in, Sasha needs all the help she can get. Click here read the invitation and get more information for Sasha's Benefit Breakfast. Although they are only formally asking $5 donation a plate, Forkable would like to suggest any of you who wish to attend the Logan Square event this Sunday, August 10, might consider a donation of $20 per person. Please all come out and support our local hero, who you may, in coming years, be calling to help you with all the ailments you have never had an MD check out due to lack of insurance!
Who is Sasha Yurgionas? Read on!
Monday, August 4, 2008
There are a million different ways to make this classic green dish. There are those who like it subtle, using it as more of a condiment, and others prefer it to kick ass like a solo zapatista. Some like to jazz up the flavor by adding exotic ingredients like mango and papaya, while others' priority is to protect the integrity of the avocado, a subtle flavor easily muddied. Whatever style you prefer, one absolute must ingredient which is usually the determining factor of good vs. evil in my guacamole guide is LIME!
Whenever I try a guacamole I don't like, it is usually because it lacks the lime. The Guacamole at Chipotle is a prime example. They make you pay something like $1 extra for a small side, and when you taste it, it basically tastes like nothing. Plain avocado tastes better. I don't know what they do to it, but it just stinks. However, if they were to amp up the lime, they could really boost themselves in my book (which is the last word in the matter, of course).
In my last post, I detailed how to peel an avocado. Click here for my Guacamole Recipe. Of course, I always make it a little differently, but I use this recipe for my basic structure.
If that isn't enough, and you need more fun, try this...
Ahh! Grinch sandwich.
Check out junkfoodblog.com for some more crazy guacamole ideas!