Saturday, July 31, 2010

on the bookshelf

This summer I've gotten into taking cookbooks out from the local library. There are so many good reasons for this. First off, I'm there once a week for the kids anyway.  I do it for novels; why not cookbooks?  Secondly, renewals make the books almost as good as mine. That is until one of you reads this and requests for me to have to return one of these.

Also, I've been known to buy a cookbook only to find one or two good recipes in it.  Often, I just get the feeling of a book and am able to recreate the general idea for a recipe or series of dishes.  It's not that I have a photographic memory and am making the exact recipe. The exposure to the photographs and the descriptive text leaves me with enough of a sense of what the author is going for.  It's not that I never follow an exact recipe.  I just tend to cook emotionally, not mathematically.  This is why I particularly enjoyed Michael Ruhlman's RATIO.  With the base of these formulas, your creativity can go wild. 

The mother in me suggests that you check out your local library to see if they have any of these in stock.  Your tax dollars at work. Otherwise peruse your local bookstore.  Or if you have to, I find Amazon to be the easiest way to get books into my house.  I've linked my blog with Amazon so that you can add them directly to your Amazon cart. Creepily easy. (The formatting for these book images won't align correctly, despite looking fine in the blog preview.) 

Below are a few of this summer's choices.  Keep tuned for this segment to return. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

a poultry photo essay

vegetarians beware.

(borrowing and driving a friend's pickup= my favorite part)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BLT with a kick

Thank you, Tori, for the inspiration. An unopened container of Zingerman's pimento cheese was sitting in the fridge. Fresh luscious tomatoes from Tantre Farm graced the counter top. Bacon waiting in the freezer from The Pork Shop in Indiana. Zingerman's bakehouse white - sliced and ready to go. Dinner was already in my kitchen. Simply unassembled.

BLT (with pimento cheese instead of mayo)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I forgive you, garden.

I've been cursing my garden's lackluster performance this season. It seemed fine in the beginning, but just didn't take off the way I'd hoped and planned for. Even though I hear that other local amateur gardeners are suffering from the same blight, I was not satisfied. When I spend hours upon hours nursing tiny seeds in the basement in the middle of March, I expect a phenomenal bounty.

But this...
was my garden's peace offering this morning. And now, I forgive you, dear garden. Twas a lovely breakfast.

Looks like I'll have plenty of tomatoes, fennel, jalepenos, and potatoes. And there's always cucumbers. They're like the weeds of the vegetable garden. The plant just keeps giving even though you'd probably get sick if you ate that many.




Monday, July 26, 2010

Found in A2 :: Great Plains Burger Company

If you find yourself over on the east side of A2, you should definitely check out Great Plains Burger Co. on Plymouth road.
Food is quick and yummy. Good honest burgers, real fries, and Guernsey milk shakes.

(I'm a sucker for the boxes of fresh potatoes in the hallway.)

The meat tasted great - which is not something you can say about every fast burger. The website claims to procure beef from naturally raised Michigan cows. You're also given the option of turkey or black bean burger option, which people before and after me were also ordering. Everything is served on Zingerman's buns.
(options I chose this afternoon: blue cheese, sauteed onions and sauteed mushrooms)

If you've got a fussy kid, they have the hot dog and grilled cheese option. But with burgers like this, I'd push them to try the special.

--Posting From My iPhone

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

found in A2 :: zingerman's warehouse summer sale

Ann Arborites ::Zingerman'swarehouse has a summer sale during their slow season. I'm sorry I didn't report this earlier because there are only two weeks left. Every Friday you can head down to the location on 640 Phoenix Drive in Ann Arbor for the summer sale.

View Larger Map

Last week I got a great deal on iced coffee, bacon, comte, and olive oil that was nearly half off. The prices definitely make the drive worthwhile.

Also if you request to get put on their mailing list, you will receive an email earlier in the week with what they have on sale that Friday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

recipe review

The Minimalist's parmesan crackers:
very tasty - but I didn't roll them thin enough so they could have and should have been crispier

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berries
awesome - perfect summer dessert

more later. summer with four kids and no babysitter makes for less blogging time, among other things.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

sushi at home

I would not call myself an expert on sushi by any standards. I enjoy it, but it's not something I've grew up eating. Every time I eat it, I enjoy it more and more. I guess you could say it's growing on me. But what I've discovered is that it is so simple to make at home. The kids love the hands-on experience, and we also each get to tailor make our favorite version. When making it at home, I haven't ventured into the raw fish category yet. Something about little hands playing with expensive raw fish makes me a little nervous. As you can see in the photos, we did have leftover cooked salmon that some chose to include. Others of us stuck to veggies alone.

As far as ingredients, you'll need nori, sticky rice (mixed with a few tablespoons of sushi rice vinegar). You can go traditional japanese, or american -- california (cucumber, avocado, crab), new york (salmon, cream cheese, capers). Or you can just let your imagination go crazy.

If you're interested in trying it at home, check out this website, There's a great section on rolling instructions. For us it seemed easier to put the nori on the outside, of course you can also flip it and put the rice outside. It's a fun family cooking night, and definitely not as hard as you think.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Pork Shop

A recent trip to visit my family prompted me to take the book Too Many Cooks off of my bookshelf even though I've already enjoyed it a few times. This book by Emily Franklin is subtitled "Kitchen Adventures with 1 mom, 4 kids, and 102 recipes"- so you can see, if you know me or have read my blog before, that the book would call out to me. The author and I could be best friends really, having many other similarities besides number of children. She resides outside of Boston where I've spent many of my years, before and after starting my family. She seems to treasure the individuality and creativity of her babies which you'd be surprised is not as common as you'd think. And little things like the fact that she makes trip specific music mixes for the car- family friendly but not dumbed down. Anecdotes from nursing fumbles show up throughout the book, like having to be told by her older kids that her milky breast is still exposed when about to go out of the house. This is real life with a big family. It's a funny read because she is able to see the humor in the mundane. Frankly this is the success to happy and fulfilling parenting. If this were a mothering blog, I'd wax on about that for paragraphs. But it's not. We're here for the food.

For two chapters of Too Many Cooks, Emily explains about a visit to Culver, Indiana. An uncanny similarity because I spend handfuls of weekends every year in that very town in the home of my in-laws.

After coming from the saturated food culture of the east coast, I'll admit that I was skeptic that the Midwest would be able to fill that big of a hole in my life. Turns out it has, plus some, but again it's all in what you make of it.

She provides a great example of that. When visiting friends in Culver, Emily and crew take the opportunity to seek out the local food gems of Marshall county. We often joke that our lakehouse is in the middle of nowhere, and in a lot of ways it is. I've learned that there is intrinsic value in that. But that does not mean that it is void of individual culture.
From the last bite :: main site

Hog growing is a good business around these parts - the land is plentiful and the terrior, rich. The Yankauskas family has been raising pigs for a generation, and you can see in the photos below from my visit that they are doing a thorough job of serving the community with fresh and local meat. After re-reading these chapters, I had to make a go of it myself.
From the last bite :: main site

Noticing this sign on a small country road, my mother-in-law and I drove down a long dirt driveway to The Pork Shop. It consists of a small room containing seven full sized freezers full to the brim of frozen processed pork - processed in a Indiana approved facility which actually has more stringent regulations than the USDA facility. Don't get me started about that bureaucratic nonsense.

Each freezer has a sheet of paper taped to the front listing the cuts available. Whatever we couldn't find ourselves, Mrs Yankauskas directs us to. She is exceedingly friendly and eager to tell us about her business when she sees that we are willing to hear her out. Not only that, but we are allowed to meet this little guy, only five days old.

We left with 100$ of pork which turned out to be almost 30 pounds! A bargain for sure, but that wasn't our goal. We were there for the local goods. So far we've tried the ground pork for Vietnamese pork balls (similar to this recipe) and grilled brats for lunch on the fourth. So far it's been wonderful. Definitely worth the excursion.