Archive for April, 2012

April 29, 2012

Great Gumbo

starts with a roux, and a husband dedicated to the making of said roux! My darling husband is expert on food preparation that requires steps, and attention to texture and color. I prefer straightforward and simple. I stay away from anything that requires a good sense of timing or texture. But my DH is talented in those matters – and so, on nights when he decides that he wants to make a meal like gumbo, I pull out the camera and stay out of the way.

For this gumbo, he started with a recipe from allrecipes.com, Big Charlie’s Gumbo … and modified away.  We didn’t have any beef or crabmeat, and okra’s not in season, so his gumbo featured asparagus as the green vegetable, and did not include either beef or crabmeat.

To begin, he prepared

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound of asparagus, chopped
And then sauteed them in 2 tablespoons of butter.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry already.

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April 22, 2012

Signs of Spring – Happy Earth Day All!

Earth Day is cool and wet, but the day before Earth Day dawned sunny and warm. Signs of spring were everywhere.

1. The farmer’s market is filling out – no crepes yet, but our favorite produce vendors are back.

2. The colors of the market are changing. Now we see brilliant red,

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April 18, 2012

Soup Solutions

When all of your family turns to you at the dinner table and asks, “Is there more?”, you know you’ve hit on a meal solution that works. This has happened not only once, but twice, with soups I’ve made over the past two weeks. Let me start with the most recent…

Tortellini in Lamb Broth

I have become obsessed with making broth from the dribs and drabs of meals. What started with turkey and chicken carcasses has progressed to any bones that happen to be in the house and any vegetable or herb ends that are in my “soup” bag in the freezer. This obsession has meant that I always have what I need to start a soup in my freezer. So tonight I walked home from the subway and thought about how chilly and damp it was – how happy I was for the veggies growing in our garden – and how it would be a great night for soup.

After engaging in a spirited conversation about which wizard would win in a battle (Gandalf vs. Yoda vs. Dumbledore), I asked how my assembled crew would feel about tortellini in lamb broth. To my surprise, they all, including the Picky Eater, responded enthusiastically. That is all I needed to move into the kitchen, and put the broth on to boil.

As the broth defrosted, I pulled out some frozen meatballs and 2 packages of tortellini (not local or homemade – just on sale and in my freezer), added some salt and seasonings to the broth, and cut up about 5 spears of asparagus from the farmer’s market.

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April 18, 2012

Why Eat Local?

Why Eat Local?.  A perspective from our soon-to-be opened farmer’s market that we can walk to from our house!! The Family Foodie is pretty jazzed about it.

April 5, 2012

My Poultry Problem Is Our Poultry Problem

Chicken is my problem. If you read Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning in the Times, you’ll see that it is our problem too. Or pop in Food, Inc for an eye-opening journey through poultry production. As you know, we humans eat a lot of chicken. And the price of chicken has gone down drastically over the past decades because of changes in the means of production. Chickens bred for roasting often are confined and can’t move because their breasts are too heavy for them to move. They are fed feed filled with antibiotics. And these changes mean that you can buy a roasting chicken at the local grocery store for 49 cents a pound when they are on sale. Trying to feed a family of five on a budget, it can be very hard to turn away from these rock bottom deals. Especially when the organic chicken of the same size is about 5 times as expensive. Or sometimes even more if you get it from the farm directly.

Fascinatingly, at least for me, I don’t find it difficult to rationalize grass-fed local beef — because we don’t eat steak that much, and ground beef from the butcher is comparable in cost. Bacon isn’t a problem either, but again, when you have bacon from the farmer’s market, taste is extraordinary, and cost, while greater, is not so different that it makes me pause. We don’t eat bacon everyday.  But chicken is different. It is the foundation of many of our meals.  And it has been really hard to rationalize the increased costs for organic or farmer’s market chicken. But what I have been reading and learning about and most recently eating, is really affecting how I approach my chicken consumption. And I am trying hard to change how I think about and purchase chicken for the Family Foodie.

So several weeks ago, we ordered a chicken from South Mountain Creamery, our dairy that delivers happy milk and eggs to us once a week. And in our cooler, we received a nearly 6 pound bird. Plump and sweet smelling. Seriously. Farmer direct chicken smells sweet. Nothing like chicken from the grocery store.

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April 4, 2012

Local Breakfast Take 2

I decided to give a local breakfast for the Dark Days Challenge one more try. I had a package of lovely blueberries in the freezer from the farmer’s market that I thought would make a nice cornerstone of breakfast. After spending a few minutes on Epicurious, I decided that a Blueberry Pudding Cake would make a lovely Spring break treat for breakfast. The recipe originates from Gourmet, 2005, but I adapted it a bit to make it more local.  Honey from West Virginia took the place of sugar, and I used King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat flour for the batter. And the only local butter I had was salted, so I used it and didn’t add the salt listed in the ingredients list.  Below is the list from the recipe itself.

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April 3, 2012

If I Ever Need To Cook A Wolf….

…I want Tamar Adler to be with me. Not only would she be able to provide me with excellent advice about the best techniques to use, I know she would write a wonderful book about it.

But if you can’t wait for me to find a wolf to cook…and it might take a very long time for that to happen in the DC ‘burbs (although we just got visual confirmation that coyotes are wandering around in Arlington…), I recommed that you pick up a copy of Adler’s new book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.

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