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Archive for the ‘Glorious Food’ Category

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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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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Most of the recipes I post here are pretty good. But these crackers are REALLY good! In fact, I have to stop making them because they are really TOO good (i.e., addictive). The problem is that they are crunchy, which is something one sorely lacks when one is not eating grains. These are a riff off of the cheddar cracker recipe posted here.

Crunchy Cheese Crackers

1/4 lb grated cheddar

1 cup hazelnut flour (or other nut flour)

1/2 t salt

1/2 t dried sage

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t red pepper flakes

1/4 c oil

3 T cold water

1/3 c sesame seeds

  1. Mix everything together and form into a ball. Refrigerate for a half hour (or overnight) until firm.

    Chill out, crackerball

    Chill out, cracker-ball

  2. Roll out to 1/4 inch. I recommend using parchment both above and below the cracker-ball (not as shown in this pic). Trust me on this one. However, if you don’t have a rolling pin, you can always use an empty wine bottle.rolloutcracker
  3. Bake 15-18 mins in 350 oven, depending on how much crunch you like. Remove from baking sheet with a metal spatula and cut into squares, triangles, or shapes of your choice. I like trapezoids.crackers
  4. Serve with oxtail pate and cukes. Pate recipe coming soon.

    My new favorite meal...breakfast, lunch, or dinner

    My new favorite meal...breakfast, lunch, or dinner

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Seems like I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, though I have been working on several. Here’s a photo of the very scientific way in which recipes are developed at AFFFG:

Recipe post-its covering fridge

Recipe post-its covering fridge

This lime ice cream was created as a result of the heap of key limes we had leftover after the keylime cheesecake experiment (which went very well, recipe soon).

Lime Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk

1/3 c lime juice

1/3 c agave syrup

8 oz pkg of cream cheese (omit if you’re vegan)

dash of salt

4-6 drops of green food coloring (optional)

  1. Place all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Mange!

I should probably somehow archive all my ice cream recipes together on this site somewhere. If you know how to do that, let me know.

Eat me now!

Eat me now!

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Kitchen Gratitude

My Okie father has a saying for when things go wrong, which is, “Things could be a lot worse.” I think this is the Okie way of saying, “Count your blessings,” “Practice gratitude,” etc. So I’m sitting here this Sunday morning practicing Kitchen Gratitude, which goes something like this:

I’m grateful for:

  • Key limes, which are amazingly photogenic. These will be the victims of today’s egg-free key lime cheesecake experiment.

keylimes

  • Inexpensive cuts of meat that make me learn new things, such as today’s tongue. Here it is simmering before being put into the oven for eight hours.
    tongueinpot
  • A cupboard filled with kitchen stuff.

cupboard

  • A cup of tea, which is kind of an obsession too. I was reading up on tea bush/trees yesterday and wondering if I could actually grow one here.

cuptea

  • And to go with my tea, my Sunday breakfast of red Mexican bananas sauteed in butter with cream, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, and honey.

sundaybfast

My dad celebrated his birthday last week. He’s a pretty positive guy, in general, but in particular when things go wrong (not in an annoying way). Life happens: your health goes south, you get a pay cut like everyone else in this crapper economy, and rats invade the compost pile.

But, things really could be a lot worse. And I’m grateful it’s just rats in the compost pile that I’m dealing with today.

So, thanks, Dad, for all the hard-knock lessons you’ve taught me. And happy birthday!

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