Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’

#Chopped. It’s what for dinner (adventures in cooking).

May 9, 2013

A few weeks ago, I spent a day helping a friend traitor to the cause pack her kitchen for her move to Austin.  Since I’m one winged, the most I could do was clean out her fridge.  We started talking about all those parts of/left over items that you use a few times and they get shoved to the back.  We both can, shop farmers markets and generally try to minimize our carbon foot print (her husband makes a wicked beer by the way).  Fast forward to a get well soon gift from a college friend who knows of my love of canning and quirky gifts.  The result ? 2 jars of beer jelly (you read that right, beer jelly) from a Brooklyn company called Anarchy In a Jar.  I have to admit, I was a bit perplexed.  I like beer, I like jam/jelly.  But along  the lines of I like chicken and I like peanut butter cups, I’m not seeing how they work together.

The only thing saving me at the moment is the Food Network.  I’m sick of daytime television as I am recovering from this Bankart repair.  On a whim In a moment of insanity, I decided to do my very own Chopped challenge.  Mostly to alleviate the fear of opening the jar of beer jelly.  For the record, beer jelly has a heavy beer taste with a sweet undercurrent along the lines of apple juice (which makes sense since they are the top 2 ingredients). I didn’t know any of this before deciding to use what was in my fridge to make dinner using the beer jelly as the gotcha.

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

So there are my mandatory items: all selected before the opening of the jelly (or reading the label).  Knowing that jelly can be a bit sweet, I went with something salty to try to balance it.  I prefer a bit of a kick so went with the horseradish sauce.  The meat is from the absolutely fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch  (really, if you are in their delivery area and don’t buy from them?).  The walnuts and spinach are from Wegman’s.  The horseradish was rescued from my friend. I used the gluten-free soy in my fridge but needed the smaller one for the pic.

I created a marinade of the jelly, 2 tablespoons of horseradish and a tad too much soy (I had to cut it with 2 tablespoons of local honey).  It probably should have been a jar of jelly and 2 tablespoons each of the horseradish and soy.  I had to use the honey to kill a bit of the salt.

I seared the pork on both sides on a very hot grill pan  turning 4 times (these were completely thawed boneless chops).  In what would cause the Chopped judges to take off points for creativity, I opted for a variation of a spinach salad.

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

With the meat resting, I chopped the egg and added it to the spinach and walnuts.  I cooked the pancetta (points off, it was a bit saltier than I expected).  Then deglazed the pan with the vinegar (around 2T and 1T of Dijon mustard).

Frying pancetta

Frying pancetta

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

I tossed the warm pancetta into the salad to get a bit of a wilt, tossed in the dressing platted  I’m sure I would have been axed (I forgot a starch; you know how those judges are).  But a ton of fun when trying to figure out how to use beer jelly.  And yup.  I contacted Anarchy in a Jar to see where I could get a few more bottles.  I’m really not in the mood to start making beer jelly.  But it is a great base for fun cooking.

May 012

Really glad I was kicked off before the dessert round.  :)

Advertisements

Soup that’s good for the SOLE

January 1, 2012

As usual, I goofed on the deadline for the publishing dates for the Dark Days Challenge (maybe I should use the calendar that I was given for Christmas?).  I was reading the re-caps of the others participating and came upon a fantastic article the at explains (for me anyway) one of the reasons the entire SOLE “trend” is very important.  Barbara at the Crowing Hen posted a wonderful article about the conditions in the meat industry in the US.  For me, it’s that PLUS the insane amount of energy we expend getting items from the farm to the grocery store.

As the writers over at EmptyWheel noted regarding a complex cotton subsidy program:

“In WTO language, Brazil was allowed to suspend its obligations to  U.S. companies under the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property  Rights (TRIPS) agreement. This constituted a major threat to the profits  of U.S. agribusiness giants Monsanto and Pioneer, since Brazil is the  second largest grower of biotech crops in the world. Fifty percent of  Brazil’s corn harvest is engineered to produce the pesticide Bt, and  Monsanto’s YieldGard VT Pro is a popular product among Brazilian corn  farmers. By targeting the profits of major U.S. corporations, the  Brazilian government put the U.S. in a tough spot: either let the  subsidies stand and allow Brazilian farmers to plant Monsanto and  Pioneer seeds without paying royalties, or substantially reform the  cotton program. In essence, Brazil was pitting the interests of Big  Agribusiness against those of Big Cotton, and the U.S. government was  caught in the middle.

The two governments, however, managed to come up with a creative  solution. In a 2009 WTO “framework agreement,” the U.S. created the  Commodity Conservation Corporation (CCC), and Brazil created the  Brazilian Cotton Institute (BCI). Rather than eliminating or  substantially reforming cotton subsidies, the CCC pays the BCI $147  million dollars a year in “technical assistance,” which happens to be  the same amount the WTO authorized for trade retaliation specifically  for cotton payments. In essence, then, the U.S. government pays a  subsidy to Brazilian cotton farmers every year to protect the U.S.  cotton program—and the profits of companies like Monsanto and Pioneer.”

How many sustainable jobs would $147 million dollars create for local economies?  Yes, I live on a dry bones budget: there are 2 things I simply cannot avoid buying from big time producers: cat food and cat litter.  I have a 14-year-old cat: I’m not switching his brands, he’s too old.  Part of my resolution for this years is to buy as much as I can from SOLE providers, then local merchants and local chains last.  Will it do anything to help revive the economy of my community: doubtful.  Is it a teaspoon in bucket? Yes.

Any way, for my blogged about SOLE meal of the week, I made a huge pot of Cuban inspired black bean soup.

2 lb black beans from Baer’s Best Beans (soaked overnight, drained, rinsed)

2 quarts canned whole tomatoes from Old Nourse Farm (summer CSA), with juices

3 medium onions chopped from Shared Harvest

3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped (from Mass Local Food)

4 cloves garlic also from Shared harvest

2 quarts cold water (you may need to add more while cooking the beans).

For me, it was simple, dump everything into a big stock pot cook until beans are soft.  Blend with an immersion blender.  Add hot sauce/salt as needed.  I garnish with a local cheese.

 

Localized Gumbo

December 18, 2011

For various reasons, I missed my annual trip to New Orleans.  I love New Orleans (maybe not as much as Tim Tebow loves the church, but it’s probably pretty close).  Eating in New Orleans is like taking a cab ride in China. . . . it’s a culinary adventure being deathly allergic to shellfish and all.  Still, I’ve found ways to eat (and drink) across the Crescent City.  I laughed when a recipe for gumbo floated across the in-box this week.  Aside from the obvious miscues (roux and okra?), the processed food and urging people to buy pre-chopped goods to save time (hi, your making ROUX people. . . . you can chop celery.), I started re-formulating the recipe in my head to make a GF, shellfish free gumbo.

1 cup of olive oil or melted butter

2 1/2 cups of GF Flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1 lb of sausage

3 cloves garlic

1 quart of whole tomatoes/basil

1 tsp of thyme and basil (dried)

4 cups chopped onions

4 cups chopped celery

8  cups chicken stock

2 green onions, chopped.

meat of 1 chicken shredded

1 teaspoon gumbo file

Hot sauce to taste

Ok, making roux is a pain and lost art (check out Top Chef from a few weeks ago if you don’t believe me).  You have to heat the oil and gently stir in the flour.  Then cook without burning to your prefered shade of brown without burning.  Initially you have to stir it consistently and constantly but for the last hour (yes hour) you can stir every 5-10 minutes.  The trick is to get a deep brown color without burning; after about 40 minutes it should look like the color of peanut butter.  I bake the sausage in the oven at 400 until done while making the roux.

Remove from heat allow to cool a bit.  Here is the fun part: whisk in the chicken broth quickly to minimize clumping.  I’ve found it’s easier to minimize lumps by putting the stock on the stove top and allow to warm via the heat from the oven.  Dump in the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for several hours.  I skipped the celery because I didn’t have any.

Easy after you get past the roux: it’s easy to see why this dish is one that was used to stretch food budgets.  Wikki has an interesting article on the history of and variations on gumbo.  Suffice to say, it’s a regionalized chilli cookoff. I wound up with enough for lunches this week and froze enough for almost a second week of lunches.

Meat: 8 O’clock ranch

Produce: Nourse Farms (peppers and tomatoes preserved from the summer)

Piccadilly Farms (onion, garlic)

Shaw’s Farm (butter)

King Arthur’s Flour (GF flour)

Best laid plans. . . .

December 12, 2011

There are a million reasons I could never be a parent.  Most of them involve my utter lack of ability to plan and execute to a “normal” level.  Take today for example.  ALL day I sat around thinking “potato soup”.  I completely obsessed about it: and came home to find out that I didn’t have any potatoes. Massive #fail!  Sigh.  Fortunately, I had some onion soup left over from when my mom visited: 100% local (except the cognac).  I mean, my mom whipped this up one afternoon when I was at work. WHO whips up onion soup? (aside from the obvious?).

Onion Soup

Oh winter soups . . . .

I was so glad to have this to come home to have as my Plan B!  I spent the weekend in Atlantic City: had a good time but realized how bland commercialized food can be.  Honestly, I found myself wondering how much junk I put into my body when traveling: I honestly would have flunked tell this salad from its companion apart.  The food wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t good.  I’ve become used to the freshness of food.  Somebody remind me of this come January when I’m looking for an avocado.

So, for the soup:

Broth based on veggies from Shared Harvest CSA and beef from 8 O’Clock Ranch.

Onions from Red Fire Farm

Cheese from Grasse River B Ranch (via 8 O’Clock Ranch).

Not local: Cognac.

 

Oh Monday. . . .

December 5, 2011

A complete and total Monday.  The good: I managed to trouble shoot an issue with my car (I know nothing about cars but understand basic circuitry and figured out the positive cable from the battery was loose causing the light to come on.  My plan was to open the hood and tighten it but hey, I don’t have the grip strength to do that so off to the mechanic I go on Wednesday. Joy.)  One of my co-workers called in sick so I tried to deal with double the normal work load while pretending that the pounding migraine might just go away before oh, Christmas.  (It did after a copious amount of caffeine infusion).

I finally received the package from Best Buy Worst Store Ever.  Still haven’t heard from them, don’t expect to but hey, my sister’s Christmas errand is complete (trust me, I’m grateful, even if it is on my kitchen table).  Today would have been the perfect day to grab takeout, hit a drive through (ok, I do admit to hitting the golden arches today during the quest for caffeine, I hadn’t had any in a few days and was suffering …. I’d say like heroin withdrawal but that might be an exaggeration: on which side, I’m not sure) or something else.  Instead I made it 2 for 2 in my I’m not buying prepared food, I’m eating only what is in my pantry/kitchen/ and as local as possible (I do have somethings that are not S.O.L.E sourced left over that I’m not going to just toss).  What can I say, I’m drawn to the Dark Days Challenge in the sense that it forces me to think in advance about what I’m going to eat and where my food came from (couple that with the fact I’m still shaking my head at McDonald’s being an Olympic sponsor for some reason) and who is ‘profiting’ from my purchases.  Hey, I’m all for people making money: I’d just prefer it to be small businesses.  Again, based on zero scientific evidence, I do have to wonder if the increase in allergies, migraines and other expensive but not deadly health conditions is related to fillers in our food (but I’m a history major with a masters in theology, I know how to ask questions …. lots of them).

Anyway, today I wanted meatballs. Not a heavy pasta dish with meatballs.  Just meatballs (don’t ask me why).  For some reason, I had taken out some sausage from 8 O’clock Ranch this morning, grabbed an onion,  opened a jar of whole tomatoes from my CSA share at Nourse Farm I canned over the summer and mixed in some dried rosemary from my mom’s garden and mixed it with some GF bread crumbs.  I wound up freezing 1/2 into a meatloaf for later this winter and cooking the rest.  I made a sauce with some Fromage Blanc from Foxboro Cheese, half and half from Shaw’s Farm and a few leafs of spinach stirred in from the Somerville Winter’s Market.

I’m sure, oh, mid-January, I’m going to be screaming for the love of an avocado but right now, my past 2 attempts have been tasty.  The 2 items out of the radius, the meat and the rosemary.  If I make this again, I’ll add a pinch of salt: it needed a bit to offset the acid.

Meatballs and Spinach

Comfort food for a Monday

The First Week is Always the Easiest: Dark Days Challenge

December 4, 2011
Dark Days: Week One

Local: It's what's for dinner

 

We’ve been having an insanely mild start to winter in New England.  I’m not going to complain.  We had Snoctober/the Halloween No’easter/Occpy Snow but other than that it has been insanely mild.  Put it this way, I still haven’t done the where are my gloves dance at 4:30 am yet.  I’m going to guess this is going to be hard for the farmers: we haven’t had a hard sustaining freeze and the warm temps probably cause havoc on the winter crops (she says like she knows what she is talking about).  Anyway, anytime after 12/28 (when I get back home from the holidays) winter can start.

I spent some time with the fantastic writer of Vegparadise who is also participating in this challenge and we both have a lot “in stock”: canned jams/butters, root veggies, frozen/canned items from the bountiful summer.  And, it turns the same stumbling blocks: dairy.  Finding a local dairy, in 150 miles that is oh, convenient to metro Boston was confounding.    Enter the fantastic Shaws Farm and the Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market (which, I wish had its own website … but it does have a FB page).  Score.  Local creamers, butter and *bliss* ice cream that you can order to pick up at the farmer’s market.

Anyway, part of the first week is the listing of any exceptions to the 150 mile radius (aside from seasonings which area ‘given’).  My two exceptions: gluten-free flour (which I get from King Arthur Flour which is in the radius but not all items are sourced within 150 miles) and my meat which is from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch (which is just outside of the 150 miles but I am member of their CSA).  Yes, I could purchase a more “local” source of meat: however, I have been extremely happy with my current CSA and was unwilling to change for the challenge.

So, for dinner this week (above):

Pan fried cube steak from 8 O’clock Ranch and roasted root veggies (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes).

My CSA ends on 12/17. Ack. That’s when it will get interesting for me!

Why I shop local, can and all those other things.

November 27, 2011

My friend the author of Vegaparadise, posted a link on a recent article that appeared in the Washington Post regarding the increase in of ‘urban gardening’, canning and other activities that seem to be taking hold with members of GenX and GenY . The article which you can also find floating around FB, raises a few interesting thoughts.  Are those who are participating taking a step back for “feminist ideals” (note, yes, that was a gagging sound you heard coming from me) or empowering.  Ok, how about something that isn’t a simple cliché answer.  Maybe we are the generations that aren’t interested in chasing the a 24×7 lifestyle? Maybe after a hard look at the rampant consumerism which lead to an economic collapse, we’ve decided to try to be as local as possible (let’s face it, most of us would be pretty hard pressed to live a 100% locally sourced life – especially if we take any medicine).  I’m not going to rant on the evils of processed foods (I like them … and I know they are bad for me.  Some days, really, all I want is a donut) but maybe part of the resurgence of canning/cooking/scaling down is a recognition of just trying to minimize the chaos.

Part of the “local movement” does come from my desire to support small businesses in my area. Why? It’s better for me.  Chances are a local business owner lives in the surrounding area.  Local businesses have to pay taxes to my town, county and state.  Big box retailers often receive tax abatement deals to come into a town: often with disastrous consequences for the local and state economies.  There are a series of studies that can be found here.   Maybe my decision to support local business, farmers markets and other  local initiatives is one way I can contribute back to my local economy in an easy manner.

Perhaps there is another lesson in this: maybe the GenX and GenY members, having lived through a more, more, more childhood and early adulthood started to settle down when the economy started to nosedive (pick a time), realized there was more to life than a McMansion with a pool and never thought of it is an oppressive act.  I know for me, there is a certain amount of self satisfaction in opening a jar that I canned.  I know what is in the jar.  I know the food is probably not going to be under a recall.  I know that I can pronounce every word.  When I make the decision to spend the extra $2 on fairly traded items, I know that the people involved will be compensated fairly.

Maybe for me, part of my decision to be a locavore is based on this: I can’t ship jobs out of the country.  But I can make sure that where I spend my money supports my local economy so I’m not shipping my money out-of-state or out of the country.  And another reason I like to can, for me anyway, there is something meditative about the process: about combining, mixing and creating.

But I’m 100% sure I’m not taking a step backwards for women: I’m pretty much doing it for me, for the fun and the adventure.  And it’s a small way I can help my local businesses.

Eating Local in Winter

November 19, 2011

For November . . . .

I stumbled upon the Shared Harvest CSA earlier this fall and found it to be a perfect addition to the summer canning madness (and it was madness, but I have to admit that even I find a bit of self-satisfaction with that pop of a jar I’ve canned. . . . ).  Yes, I found another slightly bat shit insane challenge to partake in (it keeps me creative in the kitchen and when you’re cooking for one …) during the winter.

Is buying 100% local the most economical: no.  Is it something I can realistically do.  No.  I’m not 100% committed to giving up citrus and avocados and those don’t grow IN New England.  Plus throw in the allergy to shellfish (only our most common protein) and a gluten-free diet, it’s not feasible.  I’m not going to rant (at least today) about the benefits of local economies, see the Occupy Wall Street stuff for that (although I could probably make a more coherent argument for the benefits of local foods, industry than some of that mess) debate.

There is a challenge floating about on the web, Dark Days of Winter Challenge, that is about one meal a week that is S.O.L.E (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical).  Will it be a challenge, yes, maybe? There are a few farmer’s markets in the winter (Wayland, Somerville, Winchester), plus the Mass Local Food Co-op.  The challenge will be finding the flavors, getting over my unrealistic fear of kale.  I’m going to try for 2 days a week for a few reasons.  First, I’m cooking for one so I don’t have to worry about kids and flavors.  Second, I did a ton of canning/freezing this summer.  Third, there is something inventive about cooking.  I cook on the fly.  While that will be possible, it will be a bit harder. And fourth, while we don’t have a long growing season here … we do have dairy.  Yup, I’ve already stalked out my local ice cream source.  Isn’t that all I really need to survive? It will be an adventure and I promise to try to post pics and recipes.

Up for tonight? Roasted potatoes, onions, carrots from the Shared Harvest CSA and round steak from my favorite place in the world, 8’Oclock Ranch  (seriously, if you are in their CSA delivery area? What are you waiting for? SIGN UP!).

And given the 3 bushels of apples?? Expect a few more canning adventure tales. . . .

Some times, you have to go back to the kitchen

October 6, 2011
Pork and Spicy Peach BBQ

Pork and Spicy Peach BBQ

I’ve had a lousy week.  Sunday night, I found out a long time family friend died of lung cancer.  She had a wonderful life just a not so happy ending.  I tried to find something poignant to put on the flowers I sent to my mom but came up with “some days just suck”.  At least my mom laughed: I know her friend would have had she received the flowers.  The day of the funeral I had to deal with my condo association and their inability to follow a procedure from point a to point b thus causing me to be inconvenienced.  My mom and her friend are both retired school teachers.  The one thing that entered my mind (because I couldn’t be 1/3 of the way across the country at the funeral like I wanted to be) was “Lack of planning on your part, doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part”.  The cliché of the poster pretty much sums up how I feel about my condo mis-management firm.  Always a fire drill.

So, on this miserable rainy fall Tuesday night, I cooked.  A fresh ham (not smoked … really you could substitute a pork roast) from the fantastic 8’Oclock Ranch and some homemade peach bbq sauce that I made this summer.  The following is the recipe I used for the zesty peach bbq sauce:

6 cups finely chopped pitted peeled peaches (about 3 lb or 9 medium)
1 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
3 Tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 14 cloves)
1-1/4 cups honey
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tsp dry mustard

(It’s adapted from the ball canning book:  I skipped the salt and Worcester sauce).  And I somehow used the wrong kind of hot pepper flakes so mine as an extra layer of heat (suffice to say, cayenne pepper is a tad hotter than hot pepper flakes: oops).  This makes about 4 pints.

I preheated the oven to 380.  Dumped a pint of the sauce all over the roast and cooked until done (ok, so the cooking time depends ON the weight of the roast so that you have to look up. . . .).  I served it over rice.

Finally it’s fall . . . and I get to cook.  And enjoy the rewards of my hot summer nights in the kitchen

And I’ll just blame Wal-Mart . . . .

August 10, 2011

Yick, what a week! One of my friends on Saturday said something about Mercury being in retrograde; I’ll stick to something more simplistic.  I broke all rules of my life and stepped into Wal-Mart.  I should probably be a bit more specific: I transferred a prescription to the local scare-mart because they were open and I was desperate.  When I refilled it on Monday … yup, I forgot to transfer it back to my normal pharmacy.  Normally, I’d just kick myself but on this locavore challenge, I realized a few random things.  I DESPISE Wal-Mart (Look, it’s CHEAP! Yup. And the system of one stop shopping is wrecking havoc on local economies!)  – just entering into one out of oversight irked me.

My locavore challenge for the week wound up ok . . .not 100%.  The easy way out is to blame the 48 hour migraine.  Monday, I found myself ditching into a chain drive thru for breakfast. I felt horrific, the thought of cooking exhausted me and I knew I had to eat.  I picked the ease of a drive thru.  Everything became worse as for lunch, I grabbed something out of the cafeteria.  Ugh. After Monday, I manage to keep myself on track.

Lessons learned: sometimes, the convenance factor has to work.  I know that cooking when sick I a disaster for me.  What I need to do for next time? Make some “frozen” dinners to grab and go.  I also need to remember to stay hydrated during the weekend.  For some reason, I can do so at work … at home? Much harder.

The benefits of the week?  Found a local corn festival at Wilson Farm (a bushel of corn frozen!), grabbed TexMex at Three Amigos (normally, I would have hit a drive thru!) on my way to the opening of the new space for my favorite reflexology place, The Barefoot Dragonfly.  Normally after a morning at the office, followed by running errands and fun, I’d grab and go.  This weekend, I found myself being intentional.  It’s easy to hit a chain or a box store. It’s harder to find as local as possible food/establishments to find what I need.  I have found myself spending less money (probably less impulse purchases) but/and having to plan out what errands I need to run to minimize back tracking and needless time in the car (a pet peeve).  A side bonus? I’m not really missing my afternoon Kit-Kat bar.

The key for this challenge for me is planning (and a skill I lack in the getting myself together and out the door department).  Next week will be a challenge.  I’m headed to NoVa for the weekend so I’ve got to figure out what I can do for food next week since I’ll loose my cooking time.  I’ve suggested a few restaurants for the people I’m visiting to I can stay local inside the beltway.

Still, I’m blaming my slip-up on the fact I stepped into a Wal-Mart a few weeks ago.  I’ve already switched the prescription back!