dave's blog

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Dinner in a snow storm

Going a little stir crazy while snowbound calls for some comfort food. Thankfully we had all the fixins necessary for a big ol' turkey pot pie. The turkey was left over from Thanksgiving, and most everything else was from the garden or the farmer's market. We made so much filling that there wasn't going to be room in the pie plate, so it had to go into a casserole dish. Other than using turkey instead of chicken, the biggest difference form my chicken pot pie recipe was the use of goat butter instead of margarine or shortening.

Some advantages to a bad economy

It seems like every day, either my email or snail mail, I get some sort of coupon for a store that sells cooking stuff. The retailers are getting desperate to move some merchandise, and I'm quite willing to help them out for the right offer.

Too close to Thanksgiving

I did it again. I waited too long to put in an order with one of the local heritage turkey farms. Even though more farms are raising more turkey this year than they have in the last half century, demand as far outstripped supply.

This time, I'm putting my name in right now for next year's bird.

The first frost is coming tonight

With the wet summer, most of the garden got a slow start this year, but August and September provided us with a lot of fresh produce. The cherry tomatoes have been going gangbusters, loads of chiles set, but few turned their mature color. Tonight is supposed to bring the first frost of the year, so after school, both me and Laurie spent a lot of time out in the garden picking just about everything that is frost sensitive. There just isn't room in the garage this year to pull and hang the tomato plants, so we picked every tomato that has even a little bit of color and put them in paper bags. Laurie picked our last couple pounds of pole beans, and I picked about 10 pounds of tomatillos.

New BBQ grill

Our little tabletop propane grill finally rusted out too bad to continue using, so we broke down and bought a larger upright model. I'm not a big fan of those oversized status-symbol grills that suck down the propane. I just need something that can cook up enough food for a small party, but isn't too big for one person to heat up a burger.

We went with a 3-burner grill, with a side burner, from Sears. It met my primary requirements of having a cast iron grate for good searing, and having a side burner. Stainless would have been nice, but it will be kept under cover, so rust shouldn't be an issue. It was on sale, which brought it under the $200 price we were willing to pay.

No fancy test food tonight though. Just a country sausage burger for me, and a turkey burger for Laurie.

First fresh salsa of the year

With the cool wet summer we've been having here in the Pacific Northwest, it took till late August to start getting ripe tomatoes that we would usually get in late June. When we finally got enough picked in one day to make my fresh summer salsa, I whipped it up with one little twist. I decided to try it with the fleur de sel salt that I generally keep on the table for adding to soups right before eating.

To quote Laurie when she took her first bite "Oh MY God! This is the perfect salsa!"

It seems that the extra minerals in the expensive sea salt really added the same extra bit of flavor to the salsa that it adds to soups. I agree with her, it made that salsa absolutely perfect!

A new favorite

The other night we offered to go over to one of Laurie's co-workers house to attempt to help them get their wireless working right. In exchange they offered to feed us dinner and made the most incredible Moroccan stew. The spice mix was just perfect, and it was so filling that I could have sworn that it had meat in it. As soon as I get the recipe and test it out, I'll be posting it. It was perfect for a stormy winter night.

Thanksgiving cooking day

Ever since Laurie and I got together, Thanksgiving is our holiday. Our parents can lay claim to Easter and Christmas, but Thanksgiving is for us. The tradition is to either go backpacking or car camping out to the coast, which makes it hard to get very fancy with the cooking, so we cook everything ahead of time and heat it up in a skillet when we get there.

School potlucks

I'm in the Ecological Agriculture which has a weekly potluck for lunch every Tuesday. This is a bit of a challenge for me because the the morning lecture goes from 9:00 till noon, and they want the food ready within a few minutes after noon.

A busy day in the kitchen

It was supposed to be a real rainy day today (it hit last night instead) so I planned to spend the day in the kitchen. I canned up a batch of tomato sauce, made a batch each of blackberry jam and Oregon grape/salal jelly, and finished things off with a nice juicy garlicburger. And in the midst of all that I was out trying to replace the thermostat in my car, which is a lot more complicated than it was in my cars from the 70s.

Garden goodies

We've had another cool summer here in the northwest, which means that the garden just started offering up its bounty within the last few weeks, and now it's kicking into gear big time!

Looking for dried orange peel

The last time I was down visiting my mom, we went to a Chinese restaurant and she ordered the best orange chicken that I had ever tasted. It turns out that they make it the way they do in China, using dried orange peel (zest) instead of using orange juice like most places in America. They said using fresh is better than using orange juice, but the dried peel is even better. The great thing about it was the great orange oil flavor without all the sickly sweetness that you usually find these days.

Shredded potato quiche crust

A while back I saw some TV program where they made a quiche crust using shredded potato and precooking it in the pie pan. I thought it was an interesting idea and tucked it away in the back of my mind.

I tried it out today, with just the shredded potato, and it has a lot of potential. The flavor goes a lot better with the eggs and fillings than the standard pie crust, but it could really use something more.

A week of bachelor food

Laurie is off at a conference in Wisconsin this week, so it's time for meat and cheese dishes. Last night it started with Italian sausage sandwiches, and this afternoon, I'm making my latest incarnation of the garlic burger. I think I'll do a Mongolian beef or lamb tonight.

Not that I don't love the food that Laurie and I share when she's around, but sometimes I just need to revert to the old unhealth food.

A mess of ravioli

When I put in an Amazon order for my summer quarter textbooks, I added a pasta rack and the ravioli attachment for my pasta machine to the order. It arrived yesterday afternoon, so I had to make a mess of ravioli, and it really was a mess.

Just like all the other mechanical kitchen gadgets, the instructions always make it sound so easy, but the fact of the matter is that it takes practice.

I made up a batch of spelt pasta, which hung wonderfully on the new pasta rack, and came up with a quick mushroom, onion, garlic filling since Laurie can't do dairy.

I need to get a pasta rack

Last night was one of those times when I had no idea what I wanted to eat. Nothing sounded all that good. So I decided to make some homemade spelt/semolina noodles and see what I finally ended up with. While I was messing around with making the noodles, Laurie decided to whip up a meat and veggie sauce with a jar of the commercial spaghetti sauce from Costco. I'm not sure exactly what she put in it, and she probably doesn't remember either, but it came out perfect for those homemade noodles. Isn't it amazing how once you start cooking, your mind starts wanting what you're making?

Dry cured bacon at Costco

I made the monthly pilgrimage to Costco yesterday and was surprised to find that they are now carrying Fletcher's Dry Cured Bacon! For those of you that don't know, dry curing is the way that bacon is supposed to be made. If you look at a package of bacon in the supermarket, the second ingredient, after "pork", is "water". The only reason for processors to add water is because it is easier and cheaper for them. Who wants watered down bacon?

A meat and potatoes Grooms Cake

You gotta love someone that can come up with a a real men's cake for a wedding. Check out this groom's cake made out of meatloaf with mashed potatoes for the icing.

A foodie day

I started my day yesterday with a nice big breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs and English muffins. Nothing too fancy, not even home made English muffins, but it sure was tasty.

For lunch I put together a picnic with a couple of sammiches (a smoked turkey and a salami) and some left over mac and cheese, and headed down to school. The Evergreen State College campus is over two square miles of mostly forested land with its own beach on Cooper's Point. I wandered the trails for a little while and settled on a nice log on the beach for lunch.

Spring break is finally here!

That was my toughest quarter of college yet. Taking two writing intensive courses at the same time was not the most brilliant move I've ever made.

Now that Spring Break is here, and I put Laurie on the plane to the library conference in DC, it's time to play with cooking all the fun meals that I've missed out on over the last month. I'm thinking of making some Mongolian Beef, and maybe a lasagna with homemade noodles and sauce to start off the week, and I'll see where I go from there.

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