Three Sisters

Corn, beans, and squash are the trinity of native American staple crops. The fact that they can be planted all together—beans climbing corn, squash crowding out weeds on the ground—only adds to their iconic appeal. This meal took shape around the happy presence of all three in the pantry, all in different states, and the result was quite satisfying.

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I Believe The Children Are The Future

For the December Chronogram I visited a class at Vassar College (where I almost went, but that’s another story) that teaches students the scientific principles behind everyday cooking processes.

Photo by . . . → Read More: I Believe The Children Are The Future

The Soft Parade

Enough time has elapsed since the beginning of my beautiful friendship with the local raw milk source for me to finally show the evolution of one of my more impressively successful DIY endeavors: Camembert. It could have aged a bit longer to reach its peak, but we had a special guest on Friday night and I needed to break it out to complete the meal (with homemade bread, of course).

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Mistah Cat–He Dead.

Our cat died Thursday night. It wasn’t sudden; he was fast approaching 19 years old. He had renal failure, which means that for the last couple of months, pursuant to sudden weight loss, we’d been giving him special food and subcutaneous fluids and extra helpings of affection. I met him when he was three, and within a matter of weeks he would greet me by rushing over to this one small area rug in Christine’s apartment and flopping down supine for some serious tummy rubbing. He was a big cat, and in his heyday could easily jump five feet in the air in pursuit of a laser pointer’s red dot. He loved to fight with me, getting all huffy and dilated with indignant cattitude at the temerity of my hand when it bopped him on the nose. He liked to eat raisins.  And he was a total whore for the tummy love.

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Use Your Head

I had such fine ideas for dinner, really. But as those of us in the reality-based community know, wishing does not make things so. Dinner ended up different than intended, but in a good way.

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Honest Goodness

The stock I used to make the pink soup (from the last post) was a mixture of roasted and stewed chicken bones plus raw T-bones and trimmings from two local, grass-fed steaks. Sometimes a big, juicy steak-on-a-plate is just what you need, while other times something a bit more refined is called for. In the latter case, I like to trim the meat off the bone, and then trim away anything that does not make for beautiful eating. I sliced the resulting steaks into thin slices and marinated them in sake and gochujang at room temperature for about an hour while I dealt with the other parts of the meal.

There were some bell pepper pieces left from a crudité sort of thing at Kindergarten, so I sliced them thin. I peeled and steamed some sweet potatoes, tossing the slices in yuzu juice and olive oil. I took a few bunches of frisée and spun them with cider vinegar, mustard, and garlic to make a sublimely gorgeous mash. And I took some leftover quinoa and tossed it with salt-kneaded cucumber, baby carrots sautéed with peas and guanciale, herbs, vinegar, and oil to make a pilaf type assembly.

We grilled the peppers and meat on the shichirin–charred and rare respectively– slathering it all with mash and mooing in appreciation at this amazing plate of food. When the spuds and peppers are our own, we’ll do this again; it was a big tortilla away from unbelievably high quality . . . → Read More: Honest Goodness

Wait! There’s Chreemps!

I had a pretty interesting meeting and interview today with the subject of my next article, and Jen (who was driving) kindly agreed to make a detour on the way home so we could pick up my fish order. It’s great that the fish is back, and we took excellent advantage of its return: wild salmon, scallops, and–most interestingly, because of a long hiatus–shrimp. We haven’t bought shrimp for a long time, because they’re mostly farmed in horribly destructive ways or wild-caught in horribly destructive ways. These, from Laughing Bird in Belize, are raised in inland ponds with filtered seawater and vegetarian feed. The company has received approval from the World Wildlife Fund.

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Bacon Sushi

Today I took a trip to Catskill Native Nursery to scope it out and get some information to help me fill in the picture for what I want to plant this year in the way of fruit and nuts in the field. It’s a beautiful drive, and the day could not have been nicer. I came home with lingonberry plants, and some flowers for the bed next to the driveway that needs some work. I spent the afternoon doing that work, and I’ll be posting pictures next week.

Tonight, in keeping with the recent theme of lighter, warm-weather food, a quick improvised 3-course feast that turned out pretty well. I was tired, but so were the others, and we were all hungry. To get something on the table asap, I decided to do it in stages. First up, super-fast wilted spinach with garlic and a splash of white wine. I threw out the seed packet for this spinach, which is a pity because it’s both beautiful and tasty. Since it bolted, this was the last of it.

Next, cubes of sweet potato steamed and then dressed with our old standard tahini-miso sauce. Those two things mixed with lemon juice and not much else (sometimes a little water) make for a pretty great anointment of most steamed vegetables.

Last up, a happy confluence of freezer and pantry in the form of Berkshire pork belly sushi. There was some black rice in a jar, and I hadn’t made it in ages, so I pulled it out. . . . → Read More: Bacon Sushi

Whine

I was in Vermont on Friday going through the cellar and giving at least half of it to someone from an auction house. On the plus side, it’s one of the few assets we own that has actually- and significantly- appreciated in value, so it’s going to make us some much-needed cash. On the minus side, I parted with some special bottles of Bordeaux, some of which I’ve had for 15 years. Back during the first semester of grad school in 1994, I found a little working color TV in the alley behind my first Chicago apartment. So I looked in the free weekly paper for moving sales to find a VCR (remember those?) that would make the little 13″ screen much more useful. By complete chance, the guy I called was also selling his wine collection; he was broker even than I, and had to move back to Austria in two weeks.

He had an excellent collection, and I bought everything I could from him. In retrospect, I should have bought more, even selling my car, since I could have flipped some of these bottles right away for a big profit. I bought a case of 1990 Mondavi unfiltered Cabernet for $7 a bottle, and some big-name Bordeaux for next to nothing. Four of those bottles- for which I paid about $30 each- are now worth about $800 each. So notwithstanding the many intervening years in which I have mulled over what occasion would prompt the opening of these precious bottles, . . . → Read More: Whine

Dear Deer

On a recent trip to a local market, and thanks in no small part to the random peregrinations through the store which the company of a small boy can engender, I happened upon a certain freezer compartment stuffed full of various exotic game meats- many of which are responsibly farm-raised in the vicinity. I was pretty excited, and loaded up our basket with several different cuts from several different beasts: venison, elk, bison, and quail- and for reasonable prices. They all went in the freezer upon our return, banked against future dinner-time time shortages, impromptu entertaining, or other such eventualities. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

And yet today, upon defrosting a hunk of deer in a bowl of water, I noticed that somehow I had unwittingly bought a 1 lb. piece of venison loin for $32. After a quick re-check, all the other cuts in the freezer were in the $10 per lb. range, but somehow the much pricier loin had slipped into the basket unnoticed back at the market (I am not someone who pays 32 bucks a pound for much of anything in this world.) And the resulting sticker chagrin got me all motivated to treat this piece of meat in a manner befitting its station.

So I took the loin and cut it apart into its component muscles, removing all the silverskin as I went. The result was a perfect tenderloin about an inch and a half around and six inches long, and, uh… the other part, . . . → Read More: Dear Deer

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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