Monday, July 14, 2008

Figs coming in

I know, I know ... it's been a long time since I last posted ..

What excuse do I have? None .. slackness .. evil wow

But on to other things.

The year before last I received a fig tree for fathers day from the boys. We planted it out back and there it grew .. slowly .. not making friends with the Lemons or the Satusma. I'd watch it and for the past two years there would be a few figs and they'd always disappear rapidly before I could get to them.

Yesterday I was mowing and as I circled the fig tree I could see some ripe figs. Purple brown bags of yumminess. Being the geek that I am I went inside after finishing the mow and looked up how to tell when figs are ripe.

Turns out when they hang vertically they are ready. They'll be colorful and look 'full' . So I went back out to the little bush and sure enough there were four that were ready to be eaten. Now, to be honest with you, this was my first experience eating a fresh fig. I've just never had the opportunity. I have eaten plenty of fig preserves, dried figs and whatnot. But never an honest to goodness fresh fig.

So, I decided to take advantage of being the one that picked them and tried one right there behind the bush, in the sun. The heat of the day just starting to build up.

It was wonderful, what a flavor, unique ... There was a light sweetness, like a honey, then a 'summer' sort of flavor, like a watermelon almost.

Sitting here now, writing this post a day later, I can feel the sun on my shoulders and taste the fruit in my mouth.

I'll be watching this bush everyday for the next few weeks as the rest of th fruit ripens. Will Pamela and the boys enjoy them? Maybe .. if they make it to the house.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Easy Spring-Loaded Chopsticks

Cub loves Sushi; it's his favorite food in the world. He will sit down and eat it until he's like a beached whale. Then he'll run around a bit outside the restaurant and by the time we get home he's hungry again.

One of his favorite treats is stopping by the Sushi counter at Publix when he goes grocery shopping with Pamela. I think he might even prefer to get sushi over getting ice cream.

He doesn't quite have the hang of chopsticks yet though. These might just do the trick.

When I get home tonight we'll be trying a pair, and running down the road to pick up some Sushi.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies

Pamela made some deeelicious cookies this weekend.
Cub and I tried to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible just so we wouldn't eat the cookie dough before they were baked.

Preheat oven 350

Cream together ---
1 1/4 cups Peanut Butter (Sesame/Cashew ... whatever)
1/2 cup Butter

Then add ---
1 cup Brown sugar
1 cup plain sugar

Once this is all incorporated, stick your finger in and taste ... mmm , maybe we should just stop here and get out the spoons ... nonono .. must continue.

Ok , add ---
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

In a separate container mix ---
1 cup WW pastry flour (dont have it? Me neither, use AP flour instead)
1/4 cup Wheat Germ (it's in the back of your fridge, behind the milk)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 cups oats (regular, quick, just not instant)

Pour the dry into the wet and stir for a few secs. Get everything wet. Roll into balls (a bit smaller than Ping-Pong Balls), put on the tray and impress with a fork.

Bake for about 10 minutes.

Be sure to send the kids outside before the first batch comes out. Eat those quickly, with a glass of milk hunched over the hot tray ... Hey! It's only fair! You baked! All the kids did was eat the dough and try to pour all the vanilla in.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fridge Curry

It's a lazy Saturday afternoon and I am tired of watching the weather channel for updates on Hurricane Dean...And I am hungry.

I go scrounging in the fridge, and I see the package of sausage I had pulled for breakfast in the morning. It's not going to last. I pull it, two heads of broccoli, some Greek yogurt, one half of an onion left over from earlier in the week and the last of the diced garlic.

Off the produce counter get that paper bag that may or may not have good potatoes in it. (close your eyes, say a little prayer to your kitchen gods .... peek in the bag .. yes! still good!) Get about six good sized Yukon golds out and grab a green apple. Peel all of the above, leave the taters whole, dice the apple into big chunks and cut the broccoli into florets (make sure to cut the stem up also .. lots of yummy goodness there as well).

I fill a pot with water, salted to sea like and put my trusty cast iron skillet on the burner , both of them set to high. Drizzle some olive oil in the skillet and when its hot drop the sausage in. When the sausage is nice and brown add your rough chopped onion and the last of the pre-chopped garlic. (Yes, I buy the big jugs of pre-chopped garlic, it makes life easier.)

Turn the heat down a bit, add some salt and pepper, rummage above the stove in your spice cabinet. Pull down some red curry, yellow curry, a cardamom pod or two and some cumin. When the onions have started to brown and wilt pour in two shots of bourbon to de-glaze and then add the spices. To this add about three-quarters of a cup of water and a can of diced tomatoes to help make the sauce.

By now the water should be close to boiling, add the whole potatoes and let them start. Keep the water boiling for about twelve minutes. When the potatoes are almost done drop the broccoli in for a quick blanch. We hate soggy broccoli.

As you add the potatoes to the water be sure to add the apples to the sauce so they can have a bit of time to tenderize.

OK, the potatoes are done, cut them into chunks, and then its time to plate. Take the sauce off the heat and right before pouring some over your potatoes and broccoli mix in some of that Greek Yogurt. It'll brighten the the sauce with the tartness of the yogurt and give it some body.

I recommend a nice cold Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout for yourself, and a big glass of homemade lemonade for the kids.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mango-Banana Bread

So, It's vacation, and you promise to yourself that you'll get to the beach with all the intentions of eating good. You bring bananas and mangos and somehow on the trip from Tallahassee to St. George Island the fruit goes from beautiful specimens to Quasimodo.

Will your six year old eat a banana with more blemishes on it than a Daughters of the Confederacy meeting has liver spots? Not bloody likely ....

So what are you going to do with all that mangled fruit? Sweet bread of course.

Turn your oven on to 350 degrees, and grease your favorite loaf pan.

Dry ingredients -

2 cups of AP flour
2 tblsp Cardamom
1 tblsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Wet ingredients -
1 1/2 cups mashed fruit
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar (or honey for a moist cake)
1/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice mixed in)

Mix the dry, mix the wet, combine the two, pour into the pan

Bake for an hour or so , until the tothpick comes out clean.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Beach Style Tunafish

Cub and I came in after playing hard out in the pool at the beach house. Both of us were starving and so Cub decided he wanted tunafish.

We got out the makings and worked together to create our masterpiece.

1 can of tuna
2 tablespoons of sweet relish
2 tablespoons of mayo
1 chopped hard boiled egg

Mix all together thoroughly and crunch up a few saltines into the bowl.

Let the boy eat it directly out of the bowl, getting it finished before he even gets to the table.

Whats the difference between this and everyday tunafish? .... We are at the beach, thats the difference.


Pork Curry

Easter dinner was one of my favorites, pork medallions with sage and ham.

I was in charge of dinner this year and we were expecting a big crowd so I ended up slicing up about 3 tenderloins worth of medallions. With the slices I ended up with about 6 inches on each tenderloin that wasn't really big enough to slice. These I ended up cutting into chunks sprinkling with sea salt and stowing in the fridge for a day to two.

The Wednesday after Easter it was time to put those chunks to use. I quickly pan-fried the pork pieces until they were juuuuust done, brown marks on the outside but still pink on the inside. I transferred them to a covered bowl and went on with the rest of the meal.

A quarter cup of bourbon went into the pan to deglaze. Along with that went half an onion, two stalks celery and a pinch of salt to draw out the water. Once that had begun to brown and the liquids began reducing I added two tbsp of chopped garlic and 3 tomatoes cut into quarters from our freezer.

These tomatoes were from our crop last year, I am finally getting close to finishing off all the freezer stock. This year I am really thinking about learning to can them instead just to save freezer room.

Once the tomatoes broke down and released their summery liquids I fished out the skins and stuck an immersion blender in the mix. A few seconds later I had blended up the onions, celery, garlic and tomato into something a bit more like a sauce. It still had quite a few chunks but looked to homogenized.

I dropped a bay leaf in and 2 tablespoons of Yellow Curry powder. I also added half a teaspoon of Garam Masala and a shake or two of white pepper. I mixed all the spices in and then put a two pats of unsalted butter on top and the pork cubes back in to finish cooking and heat back up. Put a lid on the pot (I use my cast Iron 13" skillet for this dish) and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

While the sauce was being prepared I had a pot of vegetables boiling, I had a couple of chopped carrots and probably 2 pounds of red potatoes. The size of the potatoes and carrots were approximately the size of something you'd want on your plate. Cut them the way you feel comfortable. If you want carrots cut on the bias, then by all means cut on the bias.

Once the carrots and potatoes are fork tender drain them and then put them back in the pot over the heat for a few seconds shaking constantly to dry them out a bit.

Unlid the curry and add a cup of frozen green peas into the golden yellow curry. Let that sauce warm the peas through and then you are ready to eat.

Put the vegetables on the plate, pour sauce over and then add a dollop of Greek Style yogurt (or strained yogurt or sour cream).

Variations include added cashews and raisins at the table to the curry. You could also substitute brown rice or couscous instead of the vegetables.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ice Cream MADNESS!

We made the first Ice Cream of the season last night. Cub declared it 'the best ice cream ever!'.

It's a pretty simple recipe -

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

The original recipe called for heavy cream, but I am getting old I don't need that extra fat. I wouldn't suggest going down to 2% or Skim milk, it just won't have that mouth feel.

That's it .. for the base. Now you add what you want for flavoring and chunks.

I decided to raid the secret stash of Thin mint cookies in the freezer. We used a whole sleeve but I think you could cut back if you wanted to (YEA RIGHT!). I put them in the blender and ground them up for a second or two, it left some chunks and pulverized a bit.Of course there were a few cookies a piece that we had to 'test' for freshness. They were A-OK.

So make your base, and put it in the fridge and let it cool down. I recommend making it the night before. The colder the mix is the quicker and thicker the ice cream will be initially. It will look and feel like Ice Cream and not frozen milk right out of the mixer.

Really that's what it is all about,that first taste you get right out of the mixer. Standing around the island scooping some into the bowls, some into the container, more into the bowls, less into the container .. so on and so forth.

Our directions on our ice cream maker indicate to start the machine and then add the mix, please be sure to consult your instructions to get the highest satisfaction. Cub and I let it run for about 15 minutes and then added the crumbled thin mints. Let this go for another 5 minutes or so.

Use this time wisely. Get your bowls out, your favorite ice cream spoons, and a container to use for the rest of the ice cream. This one will need to be a freezer proof container. Try to make sure that it wont be too big for the remainders. When you put the ice cream in that container take a piece of plastic wrap and push it down on top. That will help guard against freezer burn and those ugly freezer smells.

I think next time we are going to try a sorbet, or my favorite ... sherbet!