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Posts Tagged ‘sweet grilling peppers’

Well, this was quite a week.

Most of the U.S. is starting to recuperate after we learned an adult will be in charge come January. (One joke says, ‘That’s why he’s called Sleepy Joe: Because we can finally sleep!’) The relief is indescribable — a huge burden off our backs that we knew we were carrying, but until it was taken off, we never knew how heavy it was.

Of course, we’re negotiating a lot until he gets there, and by negotiating, I mean mostly trying not to end up in a Covid ward.

(How about this post, huh? Knee-slapping fun so far? Don’t worry — you guys know I don’t stay poopy for too long.)

I’ve been keeping the wheels turning. Yesterday I made an apple pie that was almost savory: a variety of apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg inside, and a crust and crumbly topping made with extra-sharp cheddar cheese. No extra sugar. These days, people like pie a la mode (i.e., with a scoop of ice cream on top). But did you know a century or so ago, people ate apple pie with a wedge of cheese on top? I ran with that old notion: cheesy apple pie.

My freezer is almost full. Your little brunette squirrel has been tucking away produce since March so she doesn’t have to pay store prices (and so she doesn’t have to rely on shoppers to choose it. She’s picky.). Last week, after two days of rain, the farm was about to turn under their broccoli crop. If the florets get waterlogged and ooshy, they’re not fit to eat. But the bases stay intact and are delicious. I asked if I could have those, and the folks there tipped their hats to me. Free broccoli! So I cut 20 heads (not a typo), cut off the tops, and brought them home. Peeled of their fibrous outer layer, the yield amounted about six cups to the freezer. So grateful. I want to dig some more carrots, but aside from that, my freezer will be ready for winter. Every fruit and vegetable in there is something I either harvested at the farm or found in the wild.

Along with managing the aforementioned ooshiness, this year I squinted as I gathered beach plums at dusk, picked sweet grilling peppers in mud and driving rain, and risked ticks to collect wineberries in an overgrown abandoned lot. When I was a long way from home and felt blisters starting on my heels, I stuffed maple leaves in my boots and kept going. And I climbed fences to reach Concord grapes, far off the road.

By the luck of the draw, I am not a princess. And in a year like this, it has served me well. I hope it continues.

I also made the pie above. The top layer is butternut squash from the farm and the dark purply layer underneath is made with those beach plums. Smooth and mellow paired with sharp and tart. It’s a good metaphor for the dichotomy that is November 2020.

Stay safe, everybody.

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No preliminaries from Little Miss Chatterbox this time. Let’s go:

1) Be skeptical of any dessert served with an amorphous heap on top—whipped cream, raspberry sauce, spark plugs, whatever. It usually means the kitchen is trying to distract you. Remember: if the dessert could stand on its own, it would.

2) Smile at your restaurant server even if he or she doesn’t smile back.

3) If you loved your meal, send your thanks to the kitchen. It’s not pretentious or old-fashioned; expressing appreciation will never be thus.

4) If your Filipino friend invites you to an authentic Filipino meal made by her mom, say yes.

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Lumpiang shanghai—homemade spring rolls filled with ground pork, carrots, and onions. Piping hot and crisp. I couldn’t stop eating them, which was rude because my hosts and friends kept trying to engage me in conversation, but I got a little delirious with these.

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This is is monggo, and lovely comfort food. Beans, broth, shrimp, and vegetables. Again, I needed to exercise better portion control and likely didn’t.

5) If a friend who grew up in Wisconsin tells you that a local ice cream place is fantastic, go.

6) Never refuse a cookie made from scratch.

7) When in a burger joint or chain restaurant, don’t order the pasta. Doesn’t matter if the place has an Italian-sounding name.

8) It’s okay to hate marshmallow Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs. Get in line with me. We’ll hang out.

9) Always pull over to buy lemonade from kids selling it in front of their houses.

10) When trying an exotic dish for the first time, make sure the people preparing it know it like they know how to inhale and exhale.

11) Own a copy of The Joy of Cooking. Every single standard dish is in there, and it’s plainly written.

12) Eat fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and you’ll find out how they’re really supposed to taste. Watermelon delivered to New Jersey in March is, for example, a disgrace. In August, purchased locally, it’s celestial.

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Organic Sugar Baby.

13) Shop at farmers’ markets. Ask questions. The guy behind the fold-out table most likely grew those sweet grilling peppers himself and loves talking about them.

14) Recognize that your tastes can change. Something you used to hate might taste very differently to you today—or you simply might learn that you hate broccoli when roasted, but love it when steamed.

15) Put your hands in soft bread dough at least once. Making bread is easy. Really really.

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Babka dough…on the rise.

16) Just because a recipe looks difficult to make doesn’t mean it is, or that you won’t enjoy every second of making it.

17) When traveling, eat where the locals eat for the best value and flavor. If you want fancy, ask a local butcher where to eat; he or she will know which restaurants buy the best cuts. If you want simple and hearty, ask a policeman where to eat.

18) Along the same lines, try foods that the place is known for. Taste an artichoke in Rome, heather honey in Scotland, flying fish on Barbados, sharp white cheddar in Vermont.

19) Go strawberry picking. Go anything picking. Wear decent shoes. Flip flops aren’t.

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20) Own a proper set of knives. They should be weighted evenly, with the metal running straight through the handle. I firmly maintain that if you own cooking equipment that you don’t have to fight, you’ll enjoy cooking far more.

21) On the other hand, don’t spend much for ordinary things. An aluminum muffin tin has a design that’s hard to foul up. I bought a few sets for something like $7 at an ex-boyfriend’s sister’s garage sale in 2006. I also bought a hand mixer for five bucks. Both were at least 10 years old when I got them and they’re still chugging along fine.

22) Try different ingredients together, different textures together. If you don’t like it, so what? You can always chuck it if it doesn’t work out. Or you might come up with something wildly groovy.

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This was a weirdo idea I had for a breakfast sandwich: roasted local peaches with my fresh ricotta, basil leaves, and a drizzle of honey. It was too sweet. Next time I’m going to try balsamic vinegar instead of the honey.

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My honeysuckle syrup. One to one with plain vodka over ice was OUT of this world.

23) Eat with your hands. Not at a posh spot with your district manager, but as often as you can. It will taste differently. It’s grounding.

24) Find out what’s growing wild in your backyard, research it, and be clear on it. I’d bet there’s something edible there you can throw into your salad.

25) Eat good-quality chocolate, pure maple syrup (Grade B!), fresh garlic. Spread Irish butter on your English muffin. (Sure, they’ll be fighting in spirit, but in your mouth it’ll be divine.)

26) Try making pumpkin muffins with fresh-baked pumpkin at least once.

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Above: Cinderella pumpkins; below, cheese pumpkins. Highly recommended.

27) When at a Jewish deli, order the hot pastrami sandwich.

28) If you ever come across a cold bottle of sarsaparilla, try it.

29) Ditto for homemade hot chocolate. Ix-nay on the blue packets.

30) Adding a little sprinkle of sea salt to the top of homemade brownies, truffles, chocolate-dipped figs, and peanut butter fudge gives them a happy little punch.

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