Month: December 2012

Questionable Parenting & Crispy Smashed Taters

I’ve said it a million times… The powers that be knew what they were doing when they left me out of the procreating pool, I just wouldn’t make a very good parent. My insane phobia around children not withstanding, I would probably spend more time in family court than at work for my views on discipline and punishment, acceptable public behavior, and just things in general that I’d consider… fun. I mean, I’d have no qualms with spanking my child… taking a switch to them even. My parents did both to me and I didn’t come out the other side of childhood irreparably damaged. Hell, I’d even let you spank them… provided they did something bad. I’d insist they treat adults like adults and behave in a respectful manner. “Yes Sir” and “Yes Mam” wouldn’t be foreign concepts for their little minds, and they would have a firm grasp on the stark truth that they are not, in fact, miniature adults. There are rules… and there are consequences… and those consequences – can be a bitch. “You can’t have a BB gun, you’ll shoot your …

Baleful Bounty – Chopping Broccoli

Typically, the garden year for me ends with the chili – picking festival as I strip even the most minuscule nub of a pepper off the plants just before fall. Don’t get excited… there are no invites – and the peppers just barely fill a mason jar. It’s a little ritual. The plants are uprooted and dug under, the garden is tidied up, the bales are raked apart so the harsh winter can continue to break down the straw mulch to build the growing humus under-layer in the beds. Except this year. this fall I decided to try a late season experiment with broccoli. The cooler weather is ideal for growing brassicas (cabbage family vegetables), and should keep down the bugs that usually torment my leafy things. I didn’t get very stellar heads. While the plants did produce copious amounts of greenery, I only harvested 8 golf ball sized florets. I’ll get around to doing something with them over the holiday, but that still left me with all those greens. Some time ago I caught an episode of French Food at …

Bread Whore

I’ve just eaten my third loaf of no knead bread in  something under 2 weeks…. okay, it’s more like eight days… But, I’m a bread whore…. it’s what I do. No Knead breads? You’re right… they’re nothing new. All are based (or out-right stolen) from Jim Lahey’s four ingredient procedure. You can find his original recipe and procedures for it HERE. But, this is my show and you know I just can’t leave something alone. The real appeal of this type of bread is that you create a stupid simple, quality loaf with essentially ZERO effort. The secret is the long, slow fermentation and controlled heat, which results in an artisan style loaf that could grace any starred restaurant’s table. The crust is divine and the body has just the perfect chew and crumb. Although, to be honest, I find the resulting bread a little salty… which really is okay – especially if you’re going to slather it in butter – but I thought if I could add a little sweetness, it might be enough to offset …

Cat Heads and a road less traveled

“Cat Heads & Gravy / 5 Miles” The sign read. I used to travel a lot on my off days. Occasionally, when you could do such a thing and the airlines were more concerned with filling every seat, I would throw together a light packed bag and park myself in the airport – waiting for that thrilling last minute cheap seat to … where ever. It didn’t matter where, it was just away. I flew to Corpus Christi for $15 once; San Fran for $25; I even got to Bangor for $5… and a promise to bring back a lobster to the ticket agent. But as time passed the workload increased and the airlines became less amused with my patented ” I’ve got 25 bucks … where can I go”? … getting away for 3 to 4 days became more of a myth than a reality. I came to the decision one night that even though I would miss the mystery grab bag plane ride,  just getting away  for 2 days on a drive was enough to restart my …

Simple Dinner Sunday – Country Pork Ribs

Okay… a “Country-Style Rib” is really a misnomer – they really aren’t ribs … at all. While ribs come from ..well, the rib-ish  back and belly areas – Country Style ribs are actually from the shoulder roast (also known as a Boston Butt) area of the pig. And the little bits of bone? Shoulder blade. So, with that in mind – the “rib” is meatier and more tender since it’s coming from the shoulder end of the loin –  with none of the fibrous,  overly fatty and tough belly meat. Which – as it so happens – makes them a perfect candidate for marinating. Warning – a little local business plugging ahead…. Our local independent grocer here has recently undergone a renovation, name change and concept re-tooling. And while their original name (J&J) wasn’t exactly what you’d call a business driver… The new and improved store (Fresh & Frugal) peaked my interest… because I do love me some bargains when it comes to food.  It’s delightfully clean and sparkly (as most new-ish places are), the …

Weekday Meals – Down & Dirty Paella

In a perfect world, I could prioritize my time so there’d be enough time to rake the leaves, re-organize the studio, sweep, mop, dust, make 3 trips to the local home improvement (take all my money) mart,  design and trench out the drainage system for the summer rental –  with enough time left over to whip up a tasty paella… all before lunch. I don’t even live next-door to that world. I marvel.. yes, marvel at these do-it-all kind of people that home-school, soccer mom, carpool, volunteer at nine different charities, cook non-stop and still have enough time to be uber crafty and blog relentlessly about it… don’t they sleep? I mean… I’m up at 6:00 every day and I get my day started. But there are days when I just and it’s three in the afternoon…  and I’m still in pjs. I had a craving yesterday for paella. And, while I would have loved to have had time for this: … time just wasn’t my friend. I settled for a down and dirty quick paella. Quick, …