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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

At work the other day, a fellow food lover brought in his brick pizza oven. Only it wasn’t like any pizza oven I’ve ever seen before. It was a do-it-yourself brick pizza oven made out of an old barbecue grill. I think a picture here will be helpful (more pics available in the Flickr feed – click on the sidebar widget):

Do It Yourself Portable Brick Pizza Oven

Do It Yourself Portable Brick Pizza Oven

Basically, he took an old barbecue grill and outfitted it with a little metal shelf on which to place the bricks. The shelf gets the bricks up and away from the gas element in the bottom of the grill pan. Then he also put two more bricks on the upper warming tray of the grill.

This thing was totally awesome. It combined my nerdy technical side with my love-to-eat side. Yea!

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Once again, I’ve surprised myself by how long it’s taken me to post. I have been so busy I can hardly see straight. Somewhere in the chaos of daily life, I’ve come up with the menu for our second annual El Puerco de Julio Fiesta. Here ’tis:

  • Watermelon
  • Cole Slaw
  • Pulled Pork
  • The Man’s World Famous Gluten-free Mac and Cheese
  • Cornbread (gluten-free and maybe even a vegan version as well)
  • Ice Cream (coconut milk and agave based/gf vegan)

I’m still not sure about the ice cream flavor. We’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas, including just going vanilla and then providing fruit sauces such as peach, cherry (our trees are so weighted down with cherries at this point), lychee, and strawberry. I really like this idea, but honestly, it sounds like a lot of work, which is time I just don’t have right now. Other ideas are peach (using black-peach tea with peach chunks) and strawberry. I’m torn. Naturally, I want it to be perfect, so I’m having a hard time committing. I really need to kill my inner Martha!

Any ice cream flavor suggestions out there? What is traditional (since my menu is traditional) yet super yummy and maybe a little different too?

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Look, Look, LOOK at this!!!

Went to a garden party, sat around with my old friends...

Went to a garden party, sat around with my old friends...

It’s my first garden salad of the year! By that I mean that I grew everything in this bowl. Well, I didn’t grow it, I put the seeds in the ground and they grew themselves, like great little children. And now, I must eat them!

What we have here are: spinach, rouge d’hiver, salad bowl, Australian yellow, crinkly cress (man that stuff is spicy) rocket, flat leaf parsley, marjoram, and some other stuff. I tossed all of this in a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. It’s so fresh it’s still bleeding, so what more could it need?

I’m really, really pleased about this because this year I gave up on anything remotely fancy for my garden (ix-nay on the ucchini-zay, eets-bay, etc.) and just gave the garden what it most likes to grow, and that is LETTUCE. Et voila, gardening success! Finally!

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I have my home page set to Poetry Daily. It’s awesome to get a new poem every day and to learn about poets I’ve never heard of. But TODAY’S poem, “Elizabeth Sloughter’s Heart,” by Sarah Kennedy, really knocked me out! Why? Because it’s about food, history, and women, three of my favorite topics.  I’m off to order Kennedy’s book, Home Remedies, now.

This got me to thinking about my favorite food writers. I’ve taken turns through Ruth Reichl, Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Anthony Bourdain, and hmmm, who else? I always loved R.W. Apple Jr. and, of course, MFK Fisher. And I’m leaving Michael Pollan off that list because while he is writing about food, he is not often also writing about pleasure.

But I asked myself, who am I missing here? Why haven’t I yet read Edna Lewis or Elizabeth David? Here is a really excellent discussion on the topic of best food writers, from which I have built a new reading list for myself (I’m really terrible at follow-through, so don’t hold me to this). There are really just too many to choose from!

  • Edna Lewis, The Taste of Country Cooking
  • Elizabeth David, anything
  • Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
  • Jonathan Gold, Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles (I love listening to Gold when he’s on Good Food)

And here you were thinking: Oh how nice, a post about poetry. See, food isn’t the only thing this girl thinks about.

What about y’all? What are your favorite non-cookbook books about food? I’d love to know.

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When I was a kid, my parents would often take my older sisters, brother, and I back to their small hometown in California’s Central Valley. Think cotton fields, dust, unbelievable heat, drive-in movie theaters, strawberry soda, and the smell of alfalfa everywhere. One of my uncles, whom I’ll call Floyd Owens, was a real character. Think bolo tie, cowboy boots and hat, thin lips, Texas accent, and a major leg-puller of small, gullible children. He used to call me “Melon-eye”, which now sounds to me like an exotic Hawaiian cocktail, but at the time was one of those mildly annoying things about Uncle Floyd (when you’re twelve, “Melon-eye” just doesn’t sound cool somehow).

As I mentioned in my last post, my market had a sale on galia melons. I got to thinking about aguas frescas and how much I love them. Then the Craving started, and I knew it would have to be satisfied. Hence, I bring you, The Melon-Eye. Improvise as you wish. Methinks it cries out for vodka, but you probably have better ideas (which you naturally should let me know about).

The Melon-Eye

serves 2

  1. Select a galia melon. I typically push in the bottom gently with my thumb and smell it. If it smells like melon and my thumb can push in just a bit, it’s ripe.
  2. Cut up the melon, discarding the seeds and peel.
  3. Place the melon pieces into a blender or food processor, pulsing until blended.
  4. Strain through a colander or sieve.
    MelonPulp
  5. Add agave syrup to taste. I use 1-2 T per glass.
  6. Add ice and serve.

Like I said, this just screams cocktail! and next time I make it, I’ll probably add some vodka and maybe a sugar or salted rim. I mean, it is summer after all, and one must make the most of it.

The Melon Eye

The Melon-Eye

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My apologies for taking so long to post once again. I got busy with moving NS and getting the chicken feet. The feet handoff went very smoothly and included freshly picked strawberries and a jalapeno plant from my sister’s garden. The strawberries were spectacular and may have inspired me to actually try planting some myself next year (however, not holding my breath as my garden intentions always outdo my garden realities).

Oxtails had been on my mind due to my recent economical meats kick. I saw them on a local menu a few weeks back as something like “braised oxtails with orange” and knew that was the next thing I’d tackle.

They’re pretty cheap, though not as cheap as I thought they would be. I got three-ish pounds for $18. Not exactly the price of pigs’ feet, but this dish made it plenty worth it.

I first looked at this recipe to get an idea of what to do, and then went off-roading from there.

Oxtail Pate

3 lbs oxtails

5 T butter

1 c red wine

2 T bacon fat (optional)

1 onion

1/4 c orange juice

2 t drained bottled green peppercorns

4 cloves, ground

2 t salt

  1. Melt 3 T butter in a dutch oven. Add 1 c red wine and the oxtails. Cover and roast in the oven for 3.5 hours at 300F.
  2. Remove from the oven and try not to eat them all because they are super delish at this stage. Remember, you’re going all the way and making pate.

    Sooooooo good

    Sooooooo good

  3. Let cool a bit and then remove the bones using your fingers. It’s much harder to do with a knife and you risk losing a finger. Bad times.

    Meat separated from bones

    Meat separated from bones

  4. Saute the chopped onion until golden in some leftover bacon fat that you have lying around, or 2 T of butter.
  5. Add to the bowl of your food processor: oxtail meat, sauteed onion, orange juice, peppercorns, cloves, and salt. Pulse until fairly well minced but not to the point of a fine grind.
  6. Pack into a loaf pan and refrigerate overnight or until well set.
  7. Loosen the sides by running a spatula around the edges and plop out onto a serving platter. Serve at room temp with some seriously good crackers. This makes enough for two people to last a week and is plenty for a dinner party.

The Man’s comment on this pate was that it was good enough to serve to “normal” people and was actually quite yummy. I thought of it more as a great holiday dish that I won’t have to make excuses for (i.e., “This is my allergy-friendly dish that only I will find tasty.”)

Please take me to a dinner party so I can make people happy!

Please take me to a dinner party so I can make people happy!

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It’s not every day that oldest my sister texts me with this message: “Do you like chicken feet?” Hmmm. Where could this question possibly be leading? I text back: “Maybe?”

Her text: “We are slaughtering chickens today. Do you want the feet?”

My text, following a mad Web scramble for chicken feet recipes: “Sure!”

So now we are on our way to San Francisco to move a friend to Portland. On the way back, we’ll rendezvous with my sister in Redding to get the chicken feet. Good times!

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