Blood, Bones & Butter

bloodbonesbutterHappy Halloween!

Fitting for today is a book recommendation from Ashley: Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.

Blood, Bones & Butter is a memoir of New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton, recounting her journey from childhood, through kitchens in France, Turkey, and Greece, to chef of the acclaimed restaurant, Prune.

Gabrielle grew up just down the road from Blue Moon Acres, in New Hope, PA. Her lyrical prose recalls the dinner parties her parents threw in the yard, guitar lessons in Lambertville, snapping peas in the kitchen.

Her kitchen, over thirty years ago, long before it was common, had a two-bin stainless steel restaurant sink and a six-burner Garland stove. Her burnt orange Le Creuset pots and casseroles, scuffed and blackened, were constantly at work on the back three burners cooking things with tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones—whatever was budgeted from our dad’s sporadic and mercurial artist’s income—that she was stewing and braising and simmering to feed our family of seven. Our kitchen table was a big round piece of butcher block where we both ate and prepared casual meals.

My mother knew how to get everything comestible from a shin or neck of some animal; how to use a knife, how to cure a cast iron pan. She taught us to articulate the “s” in Salade Nicoise and the soup Vichyssoise, so that we wouldn’t sound like other Americans who didn’t know that the vowel “e” after the consonant “s” in French means that you say the “s” out loud.

By | October 31st, 2014|News|0 Comments

7 Delicious Ways to Utilize Your Uncarved Pumpkin

Pumpkins are not just for breakfast anymore. Er, that is, they’re not just for decorating anymore. Or rather, after they’ve served their decorative purposes, you can use them in one or more of the following 7 delicious ways.  (Not previously-carved pumpkins, though. Those are best tossed into your compost pile.)

puree1. Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is to pumpkin cuisine what the Founding Fathers are to the United States. Well, sort of. It’s the cornerstone of all things pumpkin, is what I’m trying to say. You can use it in oh-so-many-ways, from pies to pancakes to mac ‘n cheese. After removing the seeds and guts, halve your pumpkin and bake for 90 minutes in a dish with a little water. Then, scoop out the flesh and puree. Whatever you don’t use right away can be frozen.

 

 

2. Pumpkin Candy

Move over, Reese’s. Pumpkin candy is natural, easy-to-make, and utterly delectable. Boil a pound or so of cubed pumpkin until soft, add sugar and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves), and continue boiling until sugar becomes syrupy. Let pumpkin cubes soak overnight in syrup, and then place on wire rack to dry. Your kids will LOVE you!

 

 

 

seeds3. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Nothing beats roasted pumpkin seeds. Not fame, not money, not sunflower seeds, not even kittens. They’re that good. After thoroughly cleaning pumpkin seeds, boil in salt water for 10 minutes, drain and dry, spread on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and spices, roast at 325 for 10 minutes, remove and stir, roast for another 8-10 minutes. And then get yourself a Roasted Pumpkin Seed Stand on your front lawn and watch the dollars roll in.

 

hummus4. Pumpkin Hummus

Most people don’t think pumpkin when they think hummus, which is why you’re better than most people. Only someone as staggeringly creative as you would think to incorporate a little pumpkin puree with your next batch of hummus, perhaps garnished with a few roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with your favorite veggies or fresh pita or as a spread on your next sandwich. And luxuriate in the awareness that you are a culinary genius.

 

bread5Pumpkin Bread

The other day I overheard someone complaining about banana bread. “I’m so SICK of banana bread,” this person said in a snooty tone. Well, pumpkin bread is NOT banana bread; it’s MUCH better. And it’s only really available once a year, so there’s no way you could ever get sick of it. Try this rockin’ vegan recipe. Or get fancy and make a pumpkin roll. And for god’s sake, quit complaining!

 

 

beer6. Homebrewed Pumpkin Beer

Look, you and I both know you’re never gonna brew your own pumpkin beer. It’s one of those things you’re always saying you’re gonna do—like canning or making pizza dough from scratch—but which always gets put off. But who knows, maybe things are different this time. Maybe—not this year of course—but next year, after you’ve honed your beer-brewing skills over the winter, you’ll get to it. Or maybe you’re better off making yourself an exfoliating pumpkin facial mask.

 

butter7. Pumpkin Butter

Just like apple butter but without the apples! Your friends will be all like, ‘Whoa, pumpkin butter!?’ Their eyes will sparkle with envy as they snap pictures of the bagels or toast or English muffins atop which they’ve lathered generous portions of your newest gastronomical creation. Those pictures will be uploaded to Instagram and Facebook, where they will be shared over and over, catching the attention of a Food Network talent scout who will offer you a lucrative 10-year contract hosting your very own cooking show.  The End.

 

By | October 24th, 2014|News|0 Comments

The Best Potato Recipe (Ever)

I still remember the way this dish tasted the first time I tried it. It was just so *good*. Nutty, flavorful larette fingerling potatoes, roasted garlic, lemons, herbs… a wonderful combination that really highlighted the main element of the dish, the potatoes.

I went home after trying this dish and thought about it all evening. I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth! (Which was a very good thing.) The next day I got the recipe and made three consecutive batches of these potatoes myself. It was a very good week.

fing

 

Lemon-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
adapted from recipe by Michael Symon, Bon Appétit, April 2011

The original recipe calls for dill instead of thyme; but I’m not a dill girl. Most herbs will work well here; I like the earthiness of thyme myself.

4 pounds unpeeled fingerling potatoes, rinsed, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
few sprigs of thyme or other herbs
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
24 garlic cloves, sliced

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°. Toss potatoes with 1/2 cup olive oil in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread potatoes in single layer on baking sheets, dividing equally. Roast 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk cup of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, herb, and lemon peel in small bowl to blend for dressing. Toss garlic and 2 tablespoons dressing in another small bowl. Divide garlic mixture between baking sheets with potatoes and toss; reverse baking sheets and continue to roast until potatoes are tender and brown around edges, about 15 minutes longer.
Toss roasted potatoes in large bowl with enough of remaining dressing to coat and serve.

By | October 17th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Native Farming

1-native-american-women-farming-1835-grangerIf you’re looking for the latest on progressive agricultural practices, you might want to look to the past. Specifically, to Native Americans. Long before the first Certified Organic logo appeared on a supermarket shelf, Natives were growing organically. Before Permaculture, Sustainability, and Localization became the cherished catchwords of hipsters and hippies, Natives were busy inventing them. Indeed, Native Americans were Going Green before Europeans created the need to Go Green.

Native Americans began farming in what is now present-day Illinois around 7,000 years ago. Corn, or maize, was one of their most important crops. Native women, who generally oversaw land-ownership and -cultivation, were responsible for selecting seeds for desirable traits, maintaining species purity by planting different seeds sufficiently far apart to prevent cross-pollination. Were it not for this assiduous effort, corn may well have remained but a weed.

Along with corn, beans and squash were often planted in a pattern the Iroquois called the ‘Three Sisters’. In this technique, corn stalks serve as a natural pole for beans to climb, the vines acting to stabilize the corn plants against gusty summer thunderstorms. Squash vines, which grow horizontally, act as a living mulch, preventing water-evaporation and weed build-up. By fixing nitrogen in the soil, beans provide an immeasurable benefit to the following year’s crop.

More Native American farming facts:

  • Natives could support roughly three times as many people per acre than ‘modern’ European farmers.
  • To discourage the transit of pests from one plant to another, Natives ‘segregated’ like vegetable species.
  • Because Natives did not use plows, their soils were healthier, more biologically diverse. (Plowing causes soil degradation).
  • Corn-farming Indians in the New York State region were more productive than their European wheat-farming counterparts.
  • Natives in the British Columbia regions practiced a sophisticated permaculture, using over 250 species of plants for food, tea, fuel, construction, fiber, canoes, dye and glue.

Some Native American farming practices, however, would be considered controversial by today’s standards. For instance, the Creek Indians, who occupied what is now present-day New York, were known to fertilize crops with diluted urine. Believe it or not, urine contains a host of minerals essential to plant-growth. A recent experiment using urine fertilizer produced 6’ tall tomato plants, 4’ collards and broccoli, and pumpkin and squash-vines that grew at a rate of 12 to 14 inches a day!

feature_amer_ind_agrModern agriculture has been a boon in many ways, but has also scarred the environment, depleted nonrenewable resources, and spawned new and debilitating diseases. The time has come to look to the past, to the gentle and intuitive farming methods of the Native Americans, to a way of living that sustained and nourished us for over seven millennia.

 

By | October 10th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Soup Weather

October has arrived, and in my book, that means we are securely into soup weather.

I like to make a big pot of soup on the weekends and then bring it to work for lunch during the week. If I’m really ahead of the game, I’ll first make a huge batch of Dr. Andrew Weil’s vegetable stock, freezing a few quarts and setting some aside for the soup I’m about to make. Zippered freezer bags work well to store it, but just beware that the corners may spring leaks when the stock is defrosting.

The lentil barley soup featured below is one of my all-time favorite soups. It’s incredibly flavorful, and takes well to extra handfuls of vegetables being added (I’ve added turnips and beets with great success). Make sure you pull out a large pot to make this one in.

 

lentilbarley

Lentil Barley Soup
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, 1/4 inch dice
3 cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes (peeled+chopped fresh also works)
10 oz fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup dried red lentils
1/2 cup dried green lentils
1/4 cup dried pearl barley
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, more for thinning
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

– heat oil in large pot on medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3-4 minutes, until shiny and translucent.
– Add carrots, celery, oregano, basil, thyme. Stir + cook 3 minutes.
– Add tomatoes and spinach; stir.
– Add red lentils, green lentils, and barley. Add stock.
– Cover pot and simmer over low heat 45 minutes. Thin with extra stock as needed.
(I like to let it sit overnight so that it really gets a great flavor)

Enjoy! Great as is, or topped with a shredded cheese. For a great finish garnish with a few sprigs of micro thyme or micro celery.

 

 

By | October 3rd, 2014|News|0 Comments

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