Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shanah Tovah!

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

Hooray for winter squash! Hooray for cooler temperatures! Hooray for the oven, that keeps the whole house cozy and warm!

There's no better way to warm up on a cool day than to bake--why not bake up some squash? A lovely acorn squash cut into wedges and de-seeded are the perfect canvas on which to paint with extra-virgin olive oil... then whatever you please!

After the oil, I drizzled these generously with maple syrup and dusted with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and just a touch of cayenne pepper. After about 30 minutes in a 350*F oven, they were deliciously soft. A perfect autumn lunch!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Squash Blossom Fritters

My love... I found you at last. Sweet, tender squash blossoms. How did I survive so long without you?

For years I've been reading the praises of squash blossoms all around the blogosphere and wanted to try them... but never finding them at the grocery store created a challenge.

You can imagine what an unexpected pleasure it was to find some at the farmer's market. Four dollars worth gave me an quart basket so overflowing it could have filled two!

When I got them home I was suddenly perplexed. Now what do I do? They were delicate, with firm bud-ends that were almost prickly with veggie-fur. I wasn't so sure I wanted to eat these, after all.

A little bit of research resulted in the following information:

  • The Seasonal Chef told me that there are two types of squash blossoms--male and female. The blossoms are also relatively short-lived and should be cooked up quickly.

  • The Gastronomical Three indicated that they are delicious stuffed and pan-fried.

  • The Inadvertant Gardener gave a hilarious review that the blossoms should contain neither bug nor stamen.

  • Simply everyone seems to suggest stuffing these little fellers before coating with flour and pan-frying.
I didn't. Stuff them, I mean. I didn't have the ingredients--my refrigerator was sadly missing cream cheese, or jack, or cheddar; with my blossoms on the verge of death at any moment, I felt that time was of the essence.

Enter Fritter Mode. When in doubt, batter it!

I spent quite a bit of time gently washing each and every blossom, removing stems (as mine were male) and fuzzy centers (stamens? pistils? I don't know... they were yellow, fluffy and sticky), as well as the errant bug or three.

As my newly washed boatload of blossoms dried carefully, I whipped up a thick batter and, one at a time, plunged the flowers inside for a good coat before plunking them into hot olive oil.

It was really, really easy after all. The batter coated a good dozen flowers, which were more than enough for a satisfying lunch for one. The fuzzy exterior of the blossoms melted into a tender mouth-feel that was just right. I can imagine that a lovely filling of, perhaps, herbed cream cheese, would have been delicious... but these were delightful just as they were.

As for the rest of my squash blossom bounty, I placed them gently in a paper towel-lined freezer bag in the fridge. They've been fine and perfectly edible for five more days. I plan to chop the remainder and saute them into a lovely frittata for lunch.

Don't be afraid of these little gems. Squash blossoms are a treat not to be missed.

Squash Blossom Fritters
makes about a dozen fritters

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup fine white cornmeal (I used Indian Head brand)
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
pinch salt
ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups milk

squash blossoms
vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, cheese, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl or cup, combine the egg and milk and pour into the dry mixture, whisking to incorporate. Don't worry if there are a few lumps. The batter should be thick.

One at a time, gently roll squash blossoms in the batter and into your waiting pan of hot oil. When the edges start to turn golden, flip fritters and fry on the other side. When both sides are lightly browned, drain on paper towels before devouring.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

12 Hours in...

Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet, started this new and very clever meme--what would you do with only 12 hours in your city, never to return?

I've had the experience of living away from the city where I grew up, so I know what it's like to only visit, and try to cram in those "must haves" before leaving again. Here's what I would do with only 12 Hours in...

I'd start my day with an early lunch at Big Daddy's. This is THE sub shop for me. The one I dreamed about everywhere else I've lived, and the one I visited every time I came home. And not just for any sandwich--their lovely, delicious, mysterious Reuben. I don't know exactly what they do to their sauerkraut to make it so darned delicious--but whatever it is, it's had me captivated for 30 years.

Take a drive to the Erie Canal Village. It's a far cry from what it once was, but this is more of a nostalgia visit for me. You see, I worked there as the village violinist and house interpreter as a teenager. Many fond memories there for me.

Time for a 2nd lunch (have to make all the stops, you know) at Tony's Pizza. The one on Jay Street, not the Boulevard. My favorite pizza with mushrooms and peppers--the vegetables are mouth-watering served atop a tender crust. This is the pizza I craved in South Korea; the pizza I searched for in Key West; the pie I longed for in Atlanta.

I'd spend some time strolling the streets of my childhood. This could be any time of year, but I'm imagining a lovely autumn day, like today. The playground where I first dug in a sandbox. The deaf school, where friends and I would climb the fence just to ride the merry-go-round. You remember that ride, don't you? The one that push, running, running, running... and then jump on and hold for dear life. The site of the old high school, which is being torn down now. My elementary school. The old military base where... oh, dear. Let's just leave that a mystery, shall we?

I'd make an appointment with the Mayor. After all, if I'm going to leave the city and never return, I might as well pass along all of my opinions to someone who's in charge, right?

Time for shopping. I'd head over to pick up a generous supply of Turkey Joints, and to the new high school to pick up some logo clothing. I might run by some local restaurants for a few batches of really good pizza dough and cannoli filling to freeze. If I REALLY had a dream opportunity, I'd get a lesson in making pustis and good cannoli cream from a local pro.

On to dinner The Franklin Hotel for Greens, Beans and Sausage. The same soup that I started eating at 16 is just as delicious today. I'd follow that with one perfect cannoli. And maybe a chocolate pusti. And a slice of chocolate cannoli cake. Who cares if I look like a pig? I'll never see these people again, right?

Meeting friends for coffee at our local coffee shop. We don't have Starbucks here, and the only coffee lounge that we have offers a limited variety of sugar-free treats. So while I do like to go there, I can only enjoy limited drinks & snacks. Perhaps I would have some SF cookies and mini-cheesecakes to give them, with recipes, to offer other patrons like me.

Most importantly, however, I'd spend my final 12 hours with my family and friends wherever I went. There's something so special about living close and sharing day-to-day life with the people most important in your life. I'll admit that I'm not fond of snow, or the cold weather, or even the politics in the state where I live. It's the people--my biological family, as well as my chosen family--that drew me back, and keeps me here.

How would you spend a final 12 hours in your home city?

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Taste of Rome, NY

Saturday was the Taste of Rome festival in Rome, NY, and Mr.W and I stopped by for lunch. It was a perfect day, too--sunny, with a light breeze, and not too hot. The atmosphere was festive!

And they didn't forget the children--they had this bouncy house, and something that looked like a giant caterpillar.

And a clown. A scary, scary clown. (I don't know why people like clowns; I don't. Not one bit.) She offered free face painting and related entertainment; the line was long.

Rome, NY is an historic town right in the center of Revolutionary War country. Rome boasts the start of the Erie Canal--the man-made waterway connecting the Hudson River to the Great Lakes. Known as Clinton's Ditch, the first shovelful of dirt dug for this important waterway was turned in Rome. There's even a reconstructed fort--a national park--right in the middle of downtown.

More importantly--in my opinion, anyway--Rome is a community built from Italian, German, Irish and Polish immigrants. There are a number of delicious eateries in town, so I expected greatness from their Taste of Rome.

I have to say that I was a bit surprised. Somehow, in my mind, I expected $1 or $2 tasting portions at the food booths showcasing local and seasonal fare--you know, for a taste. But it was standard fair grub: hotdogs, hamburgers, funnel cakes and french fries. And pizza frittes (fried pizza dough sprinkled with sugar).

There were a few standouts, however.

A good cook need not spell correctly, I suppose; but making homemade pierogi and galumpki is an art.

At $5 a pop, I couldn't afford one of these--but these deep-fried onion blossoms flew out of the flyer. Isn't that term trademarked?

I really enjoyed this sweet italian sausage on a grinder roll topped by a mountain of green and red pepper strips. There was also spaghetti sauce on the side for topping. I took the photo before liberally dressing my sausage and eating the whole thing in three bites. Very filling for $4.

But the piece de resistance were these:

Fried Oreo cookies. These were fan-freaking-tastic. Dipped in funnel cake batter, these little suckers were gently deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugary goodness. I must have been close to sugar shock but I didn't care. I could have eaten a boatload of these--fortunately there were only 5 for $3, and I shared those with Mr.W.

Overall it was a nice enough diversion for a lovely Saturday afternoon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

96 More Days Until Christmas

Are you thinking about the holidays?

Gah! I know... although I'm not quite ready to accept that Christmas is coming soon (and with that, snow), I've started some knitting projects for gifts. It's something I like to do every autumn... start the scarves, wraps and hats.

But Thanksgiving is a mere 69 days away, and I know I'm starting to think about a menu!

What are you doing now to prepare for the holidays you celebrate in the coming months?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Giveaway at Joy of Desserts

Edited note: Contest is now closed.

Joy of Desserts is giving away five (5) copies of The Flavor Bible. See her review, and take a look at what Amazon reviewers have to say about this oh-so-much-more-than-a-cookbook for foodies.

I'm particularly drooling over this book and am adding it to my own holiday wish list this year! If this is anything that you're interested in--for yourself or a loved one--head on over to this post at Joy of Desserts. A simple comment enters you to win.

Strawberry Crumble with Teff-Oat Crust

It's the time of year for cobblers, crisps and crumbles and other such oven-baked fruit desserts with luscious, luscious toppings. And there's really no need for those of us with sugar issues to avoid these wonderful creations.

Apples are certainly a traditional fruit for these, but I choose lower glycemic index strawberries for this crumble, and a non-wheat topping. The result: a delicious dessert that no one could tell wasn't packed with brown sugar!

Strawberry Crumble with Teff-Oat Crust
(crust may also be used as a pie crust; see note below)
serves 8-10

about 4 cups frozen strawberries, or enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan
1/4 cup sugar or substitute*

2 cups whole-grain teff flour
1/2 cup oat bran cereal
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar or substitute*
several scrapes nutmeg
pinch salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk

In a lightly buttered 9x13 pan, place frozen strawberries and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute.

In a separate bowl, combine teff flour, oat bran cereal, oats, sugar or substitute, nutmeg and salt. Mix to combine. Using hands, rub in softened butter. Stir in milk just until combined.

Drop teff mixture over strawberries and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes, or until topping browns lightly and strawberry liquid bubbles visibly. Cool; serve warm, at room temperature or cold, as desired.

NOTE: Teff mixture may also be used as a pie crust by pressing into a pie plate and pricking all over with a fork; bake at 350*F for 10 minutes; cool thoroughly before filling. I used this recipe for a pumpkin pie with great results, though it isn't sturdy enough for a decorative crust. That suited me fine, though--I just needed a container for my delicious pie.

*I used Whey Low Type D granular

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fried Oatmeal

Fried... what?

That's right. Oatmeal. This is walking on the wild side, people, so prepare yourselves.

It's not creamy, no. Instead, this is a yummy, yummy breakfast of clumpy clusters. Think muffin hunks, or a cross between a pancake and regular oatmeal. It's for people who don't like the texture of porridge, or for wierdos like me.

Made from a simple batter, let rest for 5 minutes, and fried up just like scrambled eggs. Whatever it is, I call it delicious, fast, easy, and an inexpensive breakfast for a cold day.

Fried Oatmeal

1/2 cup oat bran cereal (find it near the oatmeal and cream of wheat)
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used substitute)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Combine all ingredients and let rest 5 minutes. Butter a large, hot skillet and add batter. Stir around regularly, as you would scramble eggs, until mixture starts to clump and is no longer liquid.

Serve hot with a pat of butter, along with a drizzle of maple syrup and dollop of milk, if desired.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dulce de Leche

As you know, I'm a sweet-tooth-havin' diabetic. That means that most sweet treats featured here are sugar-free (though can be made with regular sugar). But once in a while I make something sugar-FULL. This is one of those times.

Dulce de leche is a latin-american caramel-milk sweet that can be a sauce or a firm candy, and often found as an ingredient in various cakes, candies and other sweet treats. And while it's so two years ago, I made this at home for the first time this weekend.

I was first introduced to dulce de leche while living in south Florida. It is what it is, and cannot be compared to anything else. You just have to try it. It can be found in cans already prepared, but it's so easy to make at home that there's really no need to buy a lesser product in a can.

Most latin-american recipes require the boiling of an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk, and while it's been safely done for years and years by many a home cook, the idea scares me just a little bit. Smitten Kitchen's recipe is a good one to review, as is David Lebovitz's. I took a different route, however. Here's how I did it.

Dulce de Leche

Remove the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk. Do not open the can. Fill a slow cooker with water up to about 1 inch from the top. Plunk in the can and set cooker to low. Cook for about 12 hours for a syupy consistency, longer for a firmer dulce de leche. (I cooked mine for 13 hours and had a nicely pourable version.)

When the time is up, just turn off the cooker and leave the can in to cool with the water. (I let mine go all day, and then turned it off before bed, removing the can in the morning.) Place can on a paper towel or other cleanable surface before opening, because the dulce de leche will ooze out.

I consider this a safe method because the water never gets to the boiling point, thus reducing the possibility of an exploding can significantly. Plus the water never evaporates, just warms that can consistently for several hours. Not to mention there's practically no effort involved at all.

In the future, I'll make several cans at once--I can probably fit 4 cans in my crock pot. So easy, and so good--what a treat!

So what did I do with my new creation? Why a cake, of course!

This weekend was my mother's birthday, and I made a simple vanilla cake, but flavored the vanilla buttercream frosting with about 3 tablespoons dulce de leche, drizzled extra on top, and served more on the side.

People licked their plates clean.

Fortunately I was left with only about a tablespoon to gobble out of the glass when the festivities were over.

One of these days I'll try converting this sweet treat into a sugar-free one, but I'm not in too much of a hurry. I think if I had this around as a sugar-free treat, I might gain 100 pounds.

Ivan in NY, Geese, Thundercat, Flowers, and a Cookbook

Here in Central New York we had a bit of a reprieve from the cooler weather with an uncomfortably hot and humid weekend. Sunday night, however, brought the last of the Ivan weather system before it heads off into Canada with lots and lots of blustery wind that blew trash cans and tree limbs all over the neighborhood. A few folks here in town lost power, but all is certainly well compared to other parts of the US that continue to be devastated by hurricane damage.

Today I hear geese, which means they're on the move. Colder weather is coming before much longer.

With all the wind and bird activity around here, Thundercat is delighted.

In case you're wondering, that's her friend Calico Chicken next to her in the window.
After several hours of bird-watching this morning, now she's settled in for some mommy-watching.

I also want to show you a sweet gift I received last week. My friend Kathy sent these gorgeous irises. What a special treat!

These are the first fresh flowers I've had in the house since Thundercat came into our lives--and she was fascinated! Upon further consideration of that fact, I believe I need to remind Mr.W of his husbandly requirements of flowers. Hmm...

Also received last week was this fantastic cookbook from the lovely and talented Mary of Shazam in the Kitchen! She sent this to me as a prize for correctly guessing the reason for her needing to clear out space in her freezer: a shipment of lamb!
I'm so excited! Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue features yummy-licious recipes that I can't wait to try.
So that's what's been going on around here, in addition to various cooking escapades--don't worry, more foodie posts are coming!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baked Apples

Here in Central New York our summer was cut short. The rain and drizzle began in early August; September has brought cooler nights and afternoon highs in the 60s and 70s (*F).

Although I feel a bit cheated and not quite done with summer, I'm trying to make the best of it while embracing all things autumn.

That means apples.

I bought two big apples and, since yesterday was cool and rainy, I decided to bake them for a satisfying dessert. Because they were so big, I cut them in half; adding oatmeal to the filling really gave it extra substance, fiber and chewiness.

The last remaining half-apple was a yummy breakfast this morning drizzled with a little milk--yum!

Baked Apples
serves 4

2 large cored apples and cut in half, or 4 small cored apples
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used brown sugar substitute)
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup raisins
pinch salt
few scrapes fresh nutmeg

Place each apple (or half apple) on a foil square. Combine remaining ingredients and divide among the apples. Close foil around apples and bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45-60 minutes, or until soft.

Serve hot, with whipped cream, ice cream, or a drizzle of milk.

Hominy Chili

Here's an example of making the same old chili into a new dish.

Hominy Chili
serves 4

extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chili seasoning blend (recipe follows)
1 cup hominy (from a can, drained)
8 ounces tomato sauce
16 ounces water
15 ounces beans (I used red kidney beans)

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until transparent; add ground beef. Cook, stirring often, until browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover (use foil if you don't have a lid that fits) and cook 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to marry.

Serve piping hot in bowls.

Chili Seasoning Blend

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
pinch cinnamon

Monday, September 8, 2008

Food for Thought: Stretching, Stretching, Stretching!

So tell me. How many of you are being extra-creative with meals these days to stretch your food budget? Until the last couple of months, it was still fairly easy for me--but lately it's been more of an effort.

I'm not one of those people who is comfortable with the same old thing. In our parents' and grandparents' days, it was typical to assign a particular meal to a day of the week.

Monday - Fried Bologna, Boiled Peas, Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday - Meat Loaf, Green Beans, Baked Potatoes
Wednesday - Tuna Casserole
Thursday - Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Friday - Chicken and Rice

Can you imagine? I remember my ex-husband telling me that he grew up just this way. I was horrified then and am equally horrified now. Not that there's anything wrong with this method, or any of these meals--not at all. It's the routine of it that would send me to an institution. I need variety. I need spice. I need excitement.

As the W household gets a bit leaner, I'm forced to be even more creative. With recent unhappy expenses this week, my budget was even tighter.

I've read a number of suggestions from various frugal living sources. Many suggest meatless days; others sing the virtues of TVP.*

Personally, I find that keeping a close inventory on pantry items and frozen products is a necessity; reviewing weekly ads then give me a guide toward planning a menu.

I plan our menu in two-week increments. I like to keep some flexibility, however--what if we just don't WANT chicken on Tuesday? So I like to move things around according to what my mouth wants, but with an eye toward using things like lettuce before it's ready for the bin.

I also plan in any additional food requirements--for example, a bring-a-dish at Mr.W's job, or a pot luck at church. I also try to work in some of those recipes I want to try, and I annotate any new dishes or meals that I can photograph and share with you.

There are also some items that I've had to drop. My morning affair with soy milk has ended, to be replaced by a morning latte made at home.** No more canisters of fancy prunes for snacking, either, though I've been pouring through recipes in search of snacks that I can make with groceries that I have on-hand.

What do you cook/eat during times like these? What are your grocery budget-maximizing strategies?

Edited Note: I got an email today from The Food Network with this link to some budget-friendly meal videos. I've seen two so far and they look good.

*TVP is Texturized Vegetable Protein, a soy product sold in dry form that, when rehydrated with water or broth has the texture of ground meat. TVP can be mixed into ground meat as a 'stretcher' without detection. I tried it for myself, using beef broth for rehydrating. It was indistinguishable from ground beef in the ragu I created. However I felt very guilty for sneaking this particular element into Mr.W's diet--somehow I felt that I'd gone too far.

**Hello, caffeine! I'm not a big fan of coffee, but a sweet cup of joe with lots of frothed milk is something that I previously enjoyed only occasionally. To froth milk at home, simply heat it in a high-sided container in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until it's hot--do not scald. (Timing depends on the amount you want to froth--for 1 cup whole milk I usually go 1-1/2 minutes.) Then use an immersion blender to froth up the milk. You can flavor your milk foam with vanilla extract, maple syrup, or drink syrups commonly found in the coffee aisle of the grocery store. It's also delicious blended with a strong cup of masala chai tea.

Friday, September 5, 2008

RIP Sandy, Pet and Friend, 1993-2008

I'm just not up to it. Today I said goodbye to my beloved Sandy.

Sandy came into my life in 1994. She was already a year old and owned by a family that I knew. I lived in South Korea, and her first family was moving back to the States and couldn't keep her. I was a teacher's aid back then, and their daughter was in my class.

So I adopted little Sandy. Normally I don't name animals human names, but she already had hers. She was crate- and paper-trained and very obedient--that is, unless you dropped a stick of butter. Then she would snatch it and dash back to her crate, refusing to give up the butter even when you demanded.

She came to the US when I returned, and learned about grass. You see, urban areas in South Korea rarely provide grass. Any areas that are not concrete are used for gardens. So here in the US Sandy found out about lawns and yards.

Sandy was my companion through a divorce, single life in Key West, and remarriage to her wonderful adopted father, Mr.W, a move to Atlanta and finally here to Central New York.

She was a spicy girl, prone to begging and "dancing like a bear." Playfully dubbed "Sandy Sue" or "Sandy Sue Pie" or even "The Numma," she was loved by my whole family.

Sandy left us this morning. She was a good friend.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicken and Provolone Sandwich

I had some leftover white bean-pesto spread in the freezer just screaming to be used, and I decided it would be nice in a sandwich. Here it is, with a pan-fried chicken breast and provolone cheese for dinner, with a side of sweet potato fries.

Not really a recipe, but certainly a good idea!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I found this delightful survey over at Sam's Antics of a Cycling Cook and just had to participate.

A Very Good Taste started this list as a way for foodbloggers everywhere to interact--and it's been hugely successful so far!

This list includes all sorts of various foods--some exotic, some not. Here are the rules if you want to participate:

- Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
- Bold all the items you've eaten.
- Cross out any items that you would never consider eating
- Optional extra: post a comment at linking to your results.

So here are Mrs.W's Omnivore's Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi - I've had unsalted mango lassi, does that count? I guess not...
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - I've had cognac, and I've had a fat cigar, only not together...
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine - I had a non-cheese version of poutine in Canada once...
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin - I have no idea what this is and the link provided at VGT didn't give me a clue; link has been removed
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - all of these!
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - is andouille sausage the same?
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu - I have, however, had russian vodka and korean soju, which are evidently similar but not the same
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I must say that there isn't anything on this list that I absolutely would not try (except maybe the roadkill--I think I would have to be in quite dire circumstances for that). I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater.

Results: 56/100. Not bad...

Huevos Rancheros

If you're like me, trying to make your food budget stretch (or perhaps even scream), you might be getting sick of having eggs this, tuna that. Y'all know what I'm talking about!

I recently watched an Ask Aida segment that featured these little babies, and I have to say they're really good. Well, my version is. I don't know about hers. I just took the idea and ran with it.

Here is the lineup.

First, I caramelized the onions. This is because I detest raw onions--you could simply add the onions to your salsa. But I wanted them cooked for that extra layer of yumminess. So they went into the frypan with a a wee bit of canola oil until they turned brown. I did sprinkle in a little chili powder for added flavor.

While the onions were cooking I chopped my plum tomato (I don't bother seeding) and tossed in some chopped cilantro, a pinch of salt, a splash each of lime juice and white vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce. (Actually it was a leftover taco bell packet.)

The cooked onions came out and were kept warm while I wiped out the pan to use again. I warmed two corn tortillas in the newly dry skillet and plated; added the cooked onions while I fried an egg in a little olive oil.

I like eggs cooked over medium for a cooked white and runny yolk. But this particular egg didn't cooperate--it broke in the pan just as I flipped it. But as my g'ma says, "It all eats the same." The yolk was still running and the white was cooked, so I plopped atop my onions and dressed the whole thing with my salsa.

Surprisingly delicious--so much so that I made it another day for Mr.W's supper. Even he pronounced it good!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

Now is the time of year to find lovely green tomatoes at the farmer's market.

I suppose everyone has heard of fried green tomatoes. Classic diner fare and a southern delicacy, fried green tomatoes are tart and acidic, perhaps something of an acquired taste, and oh, so satisfying.

They're also really, really easy to make. You just slice up your tomato.

Then crack an egg with a splash of milk in a dish; put a few handfuls of cornmeal in another dish (I used a lid) with some salt and pepper. I find it's best to be conservative here--you can always make more of this stuff if you need it.

Some people salt and pepper the tomato slices directly--this is your call. Now here's the fun part. It's just like making fried chicken, really. You dip the tomato slices in the egg mixture, then into the cornmeal, patting the meal in to adhere.

Now fry in vegetable oil preheated to about 375*F. Don't mess with the slices too much, and try to flip only once.

Drain your fried tomato slices on paper towels and enjoy.

I Didn't Mean to be Gone So Long

I really am sorry for my missing-in-action status over the last week. Somehow I became overwhelmed--from technical difficulties to helping a friend move out of her apartment combined with a flea problem has kept me away.

But the technical difficulties have been solved, my friend is moved and surrounded by boxes in her new home, and the dogs and cat have been flea bathed and dipped and the house bombed.

And now the cleanup has begun.

Dishes, dishes, dishes and more dishes. The pesticide boxes say you don't have to re-wash all your dishes that were in cupboards, but I'm not buying that one.

So the dishwasher is working overtime.

And I also have several boxes in my own house. My friend gave away all sorts of craft supplies that I snatched away for Sunday School use. She also passed along some great kitchen items. I got two very nice chafing dishes, a hand-crank pasta machine and some kind of dumpling press.

I am sorry for leaving you all. I hope you understand.

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