January 10, 2012 § 26 Comments
I am always on the lookout for things to do with ground beef. I’ve expounded before on how much we love our meat farm share, how cool farmer Kim is, how wonderful it is to know where your meat comes from. Because, seriously, it really is. And overall, I don’t mind not being able to choose specific cuts of meat, for we generally receive a remarkable variety. We do wind up with a lot of ground beef, though. Not as much as my parents, who buy a substantial portion of a cow every year, but a lot nonetheless.
So, we have a regular rotation of spaghetti bolognese, chili, beef tacos, and back to spaghetti, like a song on repeat. At least it’s a pretty good song (I used to dread spaghetti when I was little because I felt like we had it so often. Now I understand why, and I welcome it almost weekly as a satisfying respite from thinking about the age old question of what’s for dinner).
Then there’s the occasional meatball or hamburger thrown in, depending on the season. Meatloaf has shown up a couple of times too. I welcome it in and try to give it something like a homemade apple barbecue sauce to make it feel at home. It makes awfully good leftover sandwiches, however awkward I feel about meat in a loaf form.
June 7, 2011 § 78 Comments
Shananana, yeah. Shananana! For some reason I feel like singing everything right now. So, just pretend that this has a melody. I’ve always felt life would be more fun if it were a musical. Don’t you?
Actually, last week Joel and I went out for ice cream and our scooper (is that what you call the people who scoop your ice cream?) sang “what can I get for you?” So, we sang our orders back, and he was so excited (apparently no one else was responding to him in song) that he gave us our ice cream for free – after an extended operatic interlude in which we discussed sizes and toppings and I tried to insist on paying. We got a lot of stares from the other people in the ice cream store.
And, now I’m in a singing mood again. I’ve been feeling very chipper ever since I did yoga in our backyard yesterday. Yoga outside appears to be like a happy drug. Who knew?!
April 14, 2011 § 14 Comments
Okay, so I’m sick of these April showers already and would be quite happy if we could just get on with the May flowers. How about it? Not that I can complain that much. We had a beautiful spring weekend last weekend, and the flowers are, in fact, coming up. In the arboretum where I go running, there are happy little crocuses nosing their way up under the oaks, and some of the hillsides are so covered with bluebells it looks like the sky accidentally tripped and fell down there. But, nasty weather has descended upon us again, and therefore I feel it is necessary to whine immaturely. Whine, and get to roasting and stewing things. (Oh, of course now since starting this post yesterday, the rain has moved off and it’s beautiful again. Well, I’ll take it!).
Which brings me to another, only very tangentially related, point. Why are so many of the world’s most delicious things brown and lumpy and generally unphotogenic? Sure most vegetables and fruits and berries are beautiful and colorful, but all the stews, and roasts, and curries, and sauces, and many soups out there, well, they’re not exactly getting phone calls from scouting agencies looking for beautiful food models. And yet, they taste amazing! You don’t care what they look like because their deep, full fragrance and flavors wallop you over the head (the good kind of wallop), and you stop looking and just eat. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 29, 2010 § 7 Comments
My mother treated me to a facial while I was in Duluth. And who am I to say “no” if she wants to spoil me?! As I was getting the heck squeezed out of my face (that would be the less pleasant than the part where you get massaged with lavender oil part of a facial), I found myself deep in conversation with Christal, the skin care specialist, about her chickens. You see, she owns the day spa and treatment center I was at, but she’s only there a few days a week, the rest of the time she and her husband operate a small, sustainable farm bursting with a wonderful embarrassment of unusual heirloom vegetables and heritage breed animals.
Hearing her talk about her flocks of chickens and turkeys that roam the fields, and spunkily prefer to fly and roost in trees rather than in hen houses almost made me cry for joy (no, it wasn’t just the stuff that had run into my eye). These days commercially bred chickens and turkeys are raised to have such huge breasts (because people want their boneless-skinless chicken/turkey breasts), they can barely stay standing, let alone fly into trees as they ought to be able. To hear about these animals, living healthfully and true to their natures, and then being harvested in great thankfulness and dignity (it actually can be done) was so moving to me. By the end of the conversation, I was this close to completely pitching city/university life and going back to the land! Can we have a Homesteading Act part deux? « Read the rest of this entry »
October 1, 2009 § Leave a comment
Indian food (more specifically Punjabi, I suppose, since that is what is usually served in restaurants around here) is one of my absolute favorite styles of cuisine. The complex flavors and creamy sauces always seem festive and special to me. I actually remember the first time I came to the realization that, for many years there have been people in India who eat this food every day, not just as a special treat! That definitely took some time for me to wrap my brain around. (I suppose they, in turn, may be amazed to learn that some people grow up eating fish and potatoes and meat and gravy every day)
Now, I think cooking Indian food well may require having at least some genetic ties to South Asia. Even if you follow a recipe to the letter, the curries and tikka masalas and kormas just never seem to come out the way they do in a good Indian restaurant. I think I’ve only ever made two curries that turned out to my liking (on the other hand, I perennially add a tsp. of curry powder to the mayonnaise that I put in tuna or chicken salad, and that turns out well every time! Though, it turns out curry powder isn’t even really technically Indian.)
Probably the secrets of true Indian cooking have to be learned in person from your grandmother, or determined through lots of trial and error – which, if nothing else, is usually/hopefully pretty tasty error. However, whether or not I ever master the art of Indian cooking, I have found some of the techniques and spicing extremely useful in everyday cooking. For example, Indian dishes frequently call for you to add the spices to the pan early with the onions and garlic, to toast them and release extra depth of flavor before you add any other ingredients. This technique can work wonders with all the typically South Asian, and Middle Eastern, spices. The “c” spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne (ground red pepper), curry powder; and also turmeric, mustard seeds, and Indian spice blends like garam masala. Which brings me to another quick and simple method of cooking random greens. My friend Erik told me recently that this is the way he almost always prepares his leafies; it sounds like he and his fiancée Hillary have been making their way through bushels of kale this summer and have yet to get sick of it. « Read the rest of this entry »