Monday, October 31, 2011

Ode to Mrs P

My best friend in college was lucky enough to have a mom who was a home-ec teacher. Actually it turned out to be lucky for me too. On the weekends, we would make the 30 mile trek from Wellesley to Whitinsville.  Getting off the campus would have been good enough.  We were starving for family love and a home cooked meal. Mrs P. would feed us the way only a home-ec teacher can; like a domestic goddess who has made a career out of teaching others to provide comfort.  She is the kind of woman that you meet in your young adulthood who you can model your own motherhood after.

I'm grateful for many memories with Kim's family, not only food related. But being sisters in our Italian blood (and sarcasm, among other things), Kim and I shared that strong connection between food and family memories.

There are so many recipes that I could post from Mrs P.  But one that always sticks out in my mind is the sugar cookies. Everyone makes cut-out sugar cookies for Christmas, but Mrs P. made them all year round.  My strongest memory is in the above form: orange pumpkins. (The above were frosted by my children last night.) Sometimes we would enjoy them out at the house, and other times they were delivered to us in ziploc bags, like the drugs that other students had delivered.  We had cookies.  My priorities haven't changed much. 

These cookies are meant to be soft and frankly not that sweet.  Just enough to be called a cookie.  But then the frosting takes care of that. It's a perfect balance. 

In 2008, ten years after I had graduated, I emailed her for this recipe. She signed the letter 

          Have fun making the cookies and building fun memories.
                    Love, Mrs. P
Even though you don't have her smile and hugs to remember, you won't be disappointed by these. 

courtesy of Mrs P

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ½ cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp vanilla

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cream of tartar and soda in medium bowl. Add to creamed mixture and stir well. Batter will be stiff. Chill dough at least 3 hours or overnight. Work dough half at a time (leave other half in refrigerator) by rolling out to ¼” thick and cutting with cookie cutter. Bake on ungreased sheet in a 400* oven for 6-8 minutes, time will depend on size of cookies. Arrange similar size cookies on same sheet; do not bake large and small cookies on the same sheet as the small ones will burn before the large ones are done.


1 stick butter
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tbl milk (add more if necessary)

Mix until smooth.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

get smoked!

People of Ann Arbor,
We are luck to have such an establishment in our midst.  Get over there and show your support.  Artisan sausage and jerky at BIERCAMP on State Street in Ann Arbor (next to produce station).  Everything we've sampled has been fantastic, brisket, BBQ smoke sticks, hot dogs.   

 Follow them on Facebook to get an regular update on what's in the case waiting for you to pick it up.  Both hot and cold products are available. 

Here's today's example:
Just Made:
-Danish Sausage
-Polish Sausage
-Biercamp Classic Brats
-MI Asparagus Vidalia Onion Cheddar Brats
-Original & Cheddar Ring Bologna
· · · 9 hours ago · 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

a Mona Lisa smile

We have a new family member, due to a trip to the Manchester animal yard.  Her name is Mona Lisa, a Nubian dairy goat.  Because we don't really have the facilities, she's living over at Cornman Farms.

The vet think that she's needs to get pregnant to rejuvenate her milk production, so we're letting her dry up for now before we breed her.  In the spring we'll begin the experiment of making dairy products, yogurt, and cheese out of Mona Lisa's milk.  And you will be privy to the inside track.

our first milking of ML - still learning the moves.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what to do with 200 Cornman Farm sweet red peppers

A mayday call from Cornman ::
"We're pulling up pepper plants, and they're full of red ones! Come and get 'em!"
One week later, I finally get enough time to deal with them. 

just picked
steamed under foil and a cloth
whole, roasted & ready for the freezer

Thursday, October 06, 2011

for Andy

We're just a couple weeks out of tomato season.  If you HAD to, you could probably find a yummy one somewhere in town - maybe lingering in your garden.  It just might take some searching.

And sometimes you crave tomato dishes even if it's not tomato season.  For us Michiganders, that's about 11 months out of the year. 

Last weekend I had to bring a potluck dish to a party, and I had not left myself enough time for something wildly creative.  I did, however, have a few pounds of end-of-season tomatoes ripening on my kitchen counter.  So like a good Italian girl, I threw together a panzanella, or bread salad.  In the peak of tomato season, all you need is rustic italian bread, perfect tomatoes, olive oil and salt.

But because I knew my tomatoes were a little weak, I added a few other flavor punches.

End of Season Panzanella
Warm 1/4 cup olive oil in a large fry pan.  Toast both sides of six pieces of thick italian bread in pan until dark brown.  Dice bread into one inch cubes. Sprinkle toasted cubes liberally with kosher salt while still hot.   Set aside to cool.

Roughly chop 8-10 medium sized tomatoes that have been hulled.

Add the following to the tomatoes in a large bowl:
  • One half red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons salt-cured capers, rinsed
  • 4 thinly sliced radishes 
  • one cup of oil cured sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (add the oil in too!)
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned basil, spinach, or spring mix (use anything leafy and green you have in the fridge)
  • One large ball of mozzarella, diced
Add 3-4 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs balsamic vinegar to veg mixture.  Season with salt, to taste 1-2 teaspoons,  and one teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Taste.  Add more salt and pepper,  if desired. Toss gently until combined. 

Add cooled toasted bread cubes to vegetable mixture.  Depending on juices of tomatoes and other vegetables, more olive oil and vinegar might be needed.  Taste to determine whether you need more seasoning.

Monday, October 03, 2011

food politics shananigans

Chicken Industry Gets Bailout!
I have an idea. Let it crash and burn so we can start growing and eating healthy birds again.  Goverment subsidies of corrupt food industries make me lose my appetite.

To combat your frustration, try one of these healthy recipes
New York Times Recipes for Health

Sunday, October 02, 2011

bees for tots

Last week I participated in a Cornman farms presentation to school children about farming.  Funny to be known that day as the Bee lady, since it has only been the second year of my apiary hobby.

My station:

I had a blast teaching first graders about why bees are essential for farmers. Brought me back to my teaching days.   We covered general facts about bees, beekeeping, harvesting honey and beeswax. My bee station was one of five stops. The others were pigs, chickens, composting, gardening.  The first graders of Dexter got fifteen minutes at each of our stands.  Other schools, private and public, elementary, high and college, have participated in this program of Kelly and Alex Young out at Cornman farms.

What a joy to be part of this.  I'm so lucky to call these people my friends. Their passion for teaching the community about real food is so important to me and so obviously part of how they direct their lives.  It's wonderfully refreshing. 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

chili rellenos in pictures

For exact measurements, check out Rick Bayless's recipe for chili rellenos.  (skip to the bottom for cheese stuffed version)

saute one onion and one link crumbled chorizo for 10 minutes until onions begin to brown. add tomatoes and cinnamon. puree.
broil-roast poblano peppers that have been rubbed with olive oil and salt
stuff with mixed cheese
dip in batter made mostly of egg white, stabilized with yolks
deep fr

serve in sauce, with side of rice.
mucho delicioso.  way more than this picture shows.