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Back in the kitchen

We just wrapped up selling our previous house, which was somewhat of an ordeal. We never listed it — the offer was unsolicited — so we didn’t ever go through the push to get it cleaned up and ready to sell. That push happened over the last couple of weeks; the sale closed on the 21st and then we rented the place back for a week to finish it up.

We spent 9 nights there total in the last two weeks, but the kitchen was all packed up pretty early in the process so we mostly relied on friends and restaurants for our meals.

I was so tired and stressed by the whole thing that I was afraid that once I got back to our more-or-less functional sort-of kitchen in the trailer, I’d be totally stalled on meals and cooking and eating.

But no! Thankfully not true! I worked from home today and all day I just thought of different things I could cook and/or eat. I’ll thaw a chicken! I’ll make some pork or chicken liver pâté! I’ll cure a pork jowl and make guanciale! I’ll bake an Anna Cake with rhubarb! Green onion pancakes! Gnocchi and creamed nettles from my favorite restaurant’s recipe! Crisps and cobblers! Homemade yogurt and/or granola! All the things!!! … oh right, it’s 90º in here, AND I’m supposed to be doing day-job work.

I did, however, end up boiling a dozen eggs (which contributed to the heat, unfortunately, but will also help keep my crankiness in check when I have them as snacks); cooking up a breakfast-to-go of kale with a bit of bacon; reviving my water kefir grains; preparing our dinner of sausages, grilled radishes, and salad; making rhubarb ginger sauce for ice cream; and planning for Friday dinner with our neighbors at Four Elements Farm (pork chops with rhubarb bbq sauce? farro salad? rhubarb cake?).

Hooray for not being in a kitchen rut.

Stuff I learned and ate this week

On Saturday we did the farm‘s first CSA delivery of pork and chicken to Seattle and Bainbridge Island. We spent the night on the island and had some happy hour snacks at Hitchcock, then we went back to the house and cooked up some frozen Beecher’s mac & smoked cheese.

On Saturday I was reminded that I like to talk to customers, and I learned about what it’s like to work at a market booth that’s in the front yard of a house in Wallingford. (It was fun.)

On Sunday we slaughtered a few turkeys for Thanksgiving, with neighbor Jeremy and farm friend Tony’s help. I re-learned about doing turkeys, which is a lesson I have to learn every year. They are shaped differently than chickens.

For dinner on Sunday I butterflied and roasted one of our chickens in a cast iron pan, and we ate about 1/4 of it with boiled potatoes with rosemary and tasty chicken fat, and some sautéed kale.

That chicken’s spine and various trimmings, plus the onion, leek, carrot, and celery trimmings that we’ve been accruing in the freezer, went into a stock pot and simmered throughout the evening.

On Monday I picked the meat off a thigh and a drumstick of Sunday’s chicken, destined for soup. Starting with two very small onions, diced, I also added some diced carrot and celery, then sliced garlic, then some diced turnips — they keep coming in our veg box — and then yesterday’s stock and the chicken were added. When the turnips were more or less cooked through, I added some finely-shredded kale and let it simmer until the kale was soft.
When we left the island on Sunday morning, we had stopped at Blackbird for coffee and I grabbed a day-old bag of garlic sage scones. As we were discussing what starch to have in/with the soup, I said “well we have these scones” and so no potatoes, rice, or dumplings were put into the soup; rather, we dunked these super tasty savory scones and were very happy.

Onions and garlic from Laughing Crow on Bainbridge; carrot, celery, turnips, and kale from Tahoma, down the street; chicken grown by us (grown on Bainbridge though).

I am pretty sure I learned something on Monday but I don’t remember what it was.

On Tuesday I learned that if you arrive at the front door of your office building at the same time as Sherman Alexie, and he’s going to the radio station on the floor above your office suite, and he calls up to them to be buzzed in, but at the same time you swipe in and then recognize him so you try to hold the door open for him as he waits to be buzzed in, he will decline, and he will say he will follow buzzer-door protocol, leaving you to go up the stairs alone such that you do not get a chance to say “hi Mr. Alexie; I think you’re great!”

On Tuesday I had did-not-get-to-say-hi-to-Sherman-Alexie leftover soup for dinner.

On Wednesday, today, I worked from home and I am working on learning a lot of stuff but I haven’t quite figured out how to articulate it yet. But for dinner I am having cabbage and bacon from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food:

Slice 2 peeled cloves of garlic
Cut 2 medium carrots into matchsticks
Dice 4 oz bacon about 1/2 inch square (mine was chopped rashers, much smaller than 1/2″)
Shred ~1 lb Savoy or other cabbage leaves finely

Cook the bacon in a very large pan until it starts to brown.
Add garlic, carrots, and cabbage, and toss all to coat with bacon fat over medium heat.
Cook until your least-tender component — maybe carrots, maybe cabbage ribs — is tender but not soggy. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and about a tsp of whole caraway seeds.

In my case I had to add some liquid and let it braise briefly, because I used a thicker-ribbed cabbage, but it turned out super yummy. Because I am crazy for salt, I put in a couple forkfuls of homemade sauerkraut. I also added a dash of hot sauce, stirred, then eagerly nommed it all up with a spoon.

What I had for dinner on Wednesday, November 20

Oops, I forgot I was doing this.

We have a ton of tasty vegetables coming in our delivery box! I’ve been accruing root veggies for a while and today I realized I had quite an impressive variety.

I loosely followed Pioneer Woman’s roasted root veg plan. I chopped up a leek and diced up carrot, turnip, rutabaga, purple potato, golden beet, and sunchoke (all from Tahoma Farms, I think), tossed all with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted until delicious.

Tasty root veggies, pre-roasting.

I didn’t get the super crispy caramelization I was hoping for, since I wasn’t able to get just a single layer of veggie cubes because my tiny oven is too small even for my large saucepan, to say nothing of a sheet pan. But it still turned out super yummy. I added a glug of Rockridge Orchards balsamic vinegar (a super generous gift from farmer friend Tony!) to replace the sweetness and depth of flavor I was missing since I didn’t have the caramelization, then let that cook off before removing the pan from the oven.

I also seared-then-braised a homegrown pork tenderloin with Laughing Crow garlic, then served it with sautéed apple, after Simply Recipes’ pork tenderloin with apples. I used an Arkansas Black apple from a flat of apples I won at the Tilth Producers silent auction. Both pork and apple were delicious; I might get an Arkansas Black tree.

What I had for dinner on Saturday, November 2, 2013

The first of likely many iterations of ground beef and sauerkraut soup!

We had a bad (mean, misbehaved) cow who went to freezer camp, resulting in at least 100 lbs of ground beef, and I also accidentally made like 3 gallons of sauerkraut (from Laughing Crow cabbage and onions) this year. So this winter will be heavy on the ground beef and/or sauerkraut meals, and tonight’s was the first of many to come. It is even more delicious than I expected.

  1. Brown ground beef in your preferred oil.
  2. Once browned, remove beef from the pan. Return pan to heat and add more oil if needed, then chopped onion, carrot, and celery.
  3. When those are softened but not yet browned, add minced garlic.
  4. When that’s all cooked through, toss in a couple handfuls of diced or sliced potato and add stock and water to cover.
  5. When potatoes are cooked through (test with a fork), add several tongsful of sauerkraut. Heat the soup until just hot — you don’t want to cook the kraut.
  6. Eat it!

Make sure to taste it before you add much salt — the kraut is salty and flavorful.

Also, sauerkraut is super easy and cheap to make — just needs cabbage and salt, though yummies like onion, mustard seed, clove, allspice, and juniper make it even better. Sandor Katz’ recipe for sauerkraut is the one we always use. I highly recommend giving it a try.

(Carrots, celery, potatoes, and garlic from neighbors Tahoma Farms; onion a lovely welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift from neighbors Little Eorthe; chicken stock from our chicken and Tahoma and Little Eorthe veg trimmings; bad cow ground beef our own; sauerkraut from Laughing Crow veg and organic grocery store spices.)

What I had for dinner on November 1, 2013

A couple weeks ago we joined the CSA from Tahoma Farms, which is just down the street from our new house, and it’s already been great for our vegetable consumption, especially since I didn’t get a garden in at our new place for the winter.

We also have plenty of beef from a bad cow we had — she had to go to freezer camp, but we now have lots of ground beef and delicious tenderloins.

Anyway, we have had some starchy and/or meaty and/or rich meals lately (including a delicious dinner at Le Pichet last night), so tonight G. requested a pile of veg.

So based on our current CSA box, for dinner we had:

  • Delicata squash, sliced into rings about 1/2 inch thick (not skinned!) and tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika (or cumin, or whatever you’ve got), and baked at ~350º until tender;
  • One bunch Swiss chard, prepared as follows: stems removed, chopped, and sautéed in olive oil, then sliced garlic added, then chopped fresh hot pepper (because we are lucky to still have some on the plant) added, then finely chopped chard leaves added, with some water, and sautéed/steamed until delicious;
  • Two wee little tenderloins from a smallish Bad Cow, grilled.

We also have a turnip in this week’s CSA box, so advice is welcome.

What I had for dinner on Saturday, August 10, 2013

Local niçoise but without the salad!

Niçoise without the salade

A couple weeks ago my sister and I went to visit Anna et al., and Anna, as she generally does, prepared a lovely, simple, fresh, delicious meal — this time it was a niçoise-based salad, with arugula, boiled new potatoes, blanched green beans, hard-boiled eggs, the little black niçoise olives, and boquerones, anchovies marinated in oil and vinegar, Spanish-style. I think traditional niçoise has tuna, but the anchovies are so delicious and worked really well with the vinegar and oil on the green beans and potatoes.

My sister and I have been trying to recreate that meal since then.

Tonight I realized I had most of the things I needed for a niçoise, other than, well, the salad itself, and the olives — and most of them were hyper-local. I had some island-grown green beans from Butler Green Farms, island potatoes from Laughing Crow Farm, homegrown eggs, and boquerones caught in my hometown of Astoria, prepared by Coeur de la Mer. I threw it all together anyway even though I didn’t have the greens, and it was delicious all the same.

What I had for dinner on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Turkey club sandwich! Heyday turkey breast from last fall, roasted with homegrown herbs; homegrown, home-cured and -smoked bacon; Butler Green tomatoes (!); homegrown lettuce; homemade mayo from fresh homegrown egg; Udi’s white sandwich bread (we are doing a gluten-free experiment at our house).

Turkey club sandwich for dinner!

Also an artichoke! Which I grew! Served with more of the homemade mayo.

A martini! Shaken (lightly! don’t hate me!) in a mason jar shaker because I kickstarted them, of course.

Oh noes Max cat

Our poor little Max cat got a little smushed by a car on Thursday night. His pelvis is broken, which is not great.

Max cat loves me

The Friday morning vet said we were looking at $3500+ of surgery to realign and pin everything. Or, if we choose not to do surgery, but instead let it heal naturally, the vet implied a definite lifetime of arthritis and joint pain for poor Max.

But the second-opinion vet this morning said that broken pelvises totally can heal and cats can (but not necessarily *will*) live happily with little to no joint pain for years. She suggested 6-8 weeks of rest and we’ll re-evaluate his needs at that point.

From dealing with the various doctors at the clinic, we already liked her best, so we’re going with her assessment. Max cat is pretty pissed off in his crate right now, but he is getting pain meds so he’s high as a kite, but still purring when we pet him, so I’ll take it.

If he pulls through (which he still might not, realistically) he’ll be a housecat, not a mouser like he was supposed to be, but he is super sweet and cuddly so that’s OK with me.

Videos to watch

Here is one that is timely because the Supreme Court should go on ahead and not be jerks, and make things right. Thanks Macklemore.

Here is one I like to watch because it is about my city, and my bus system. I am pretty sure that I’ve posted The Blue Scholars‘ excellent song “Joe Metro” before (though I am too tired to check) but here it is again, because it is awesome.

ETA I do realize that the Supreme Court can’t just “not be jerks” and that they have to follow, like, rules, and laws, and stuff. I still think they should … do the right thing.

What I learned on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today I learned that pho restaurants can package your pho for takeout, with all the various things in different compartments, and even with little packets of hoisin and sriracha.

Actually I learned this in theory last Tuesday when I had lunch (pho, but we ate in) with friend Amy. I mentioned that I was sad about not being able to get takeout pho, because our local place is ~20 min away and everything would be sad and cold and slimy and goopy by then. But Amy told me that her local place does takeouts and does them smart! Hooray! So today I put it into practice and had G. pick some up for me while he was out doing errands. It was delicious and perfect.