Friday, November 19

Menu Shift

  • Smoked Turkey
  • [New] Spiced Cranberries (ala Russ Parsons)
  • Mom's Potato Salad
  • Green Bean Casserole (loosely based on Cook's Illustrated's lighter recipe and a nod to the American Classics recipe)
  • Stuffed Squash (ala Dorie Greenspan's Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good or here on Evan Kleiman's Sidedish podcast. This is similar to Ruth Reichl's stuffed pumpkin in Gourmet Today, which I made (and ate completely) last fall.) This will shift to Friday with leftovers, I think.
  • [New] Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Sweet Potatoes Topped with Thanksgiving Flavors
  • Homemade Crescent Rolls 
  • Pumkin Pie
  • Cranberry Upside Down Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
  • John Sedlar's Pumpkin Infused Mezcal

Thursday, November 18

The Turkey Has Landed

I'd like to say that the turkey flew in from Tyler, Texas but actually it arrived by UPS Ground. The box smelled good and it didn't take much encouragement from the folks at MTO for me to open it up.
Inside was a lightly insulated brown paper bag, inside that was a heavy plastic bag, inside that was a dark (almost black) turkey.  Nine pounds cooked weight. (I weighed it when I got home).  Greenbergs says it will serve 18 to 27.  I'm thinking that is the snack-size portion. But still it should feed our Thanksgiving Party of five with some leftovers and a smoky carcass.  Come back later for photos.

I was able to fit the bird sans box in my refrigerator.  Now every time I open the door a waft of smoky goodness hits me in the face.

Monday, November 15

A New Kind of Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks before the Thanksgiving, a story in the NY Times Dining section sparked an idea and a few days later, I ordered a nine pound smoked turkey from Greenberg Smoked Turkeys of Tyler, Texas. (Go on and click that link - if only for the sound effects.)
Because this is such an unusual Thanksgiving idea for our family, I decided to blog the experience.

Here is the menu I came up with (it's something like a Thanksgiving Picnic with sidedishes that can be made or prepped in advance):

Saturday, July 31

A Peachy Coincidence on a Summer Saturday

Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted a nectarine buckle recipe that got me out of bed this morning.
I've been spending a lot of time at my Mom's house in Lindsay since the end of June waiting for her alberta peaches to ripen.  But, I had to be in Denver on the weekend. Janet and I finally got up there to collect the dregs of the harvest -- thanks to pal Ginny Wilson, who stripped the tree and saved three flats for us! ( I am comforted by the fact that so many friends and neighbors picked peaches and raved about them.)
This morning, my last four peaches went into this recipe.  

I never had much interest in the "buckle" as a recipe - it just sounds so dry. But the coincidence of the recipe, Deb's excellent photos and the ready-to-go peaches brought it all together.
Of course, I tweaked the recipe, starting with making just a half batch in an 8 inch skillet instead of a 10 inch-er, substituting peaches for nectarines and cinnamon for allspice. I also skipped the parchment paper liner and turned the cake out without any trouble. The crumb is tender and moist, the fruit is soft but not too melty-mushy. The lemon juice keeps the sugary streusel in check.  It is delicious!

Sunday, April 4

New Garden in my Future

Janet and John have been scheming a new backyard garden. It includes much needed repairs to the fence and a new architectural Gate ala Albuquerque. I'm telling you this because yesterday, on Easter Eve, I was helping John, digging postholes and slinging bricks. That's me (above) preparing the holes for the Gate.

See that smile? I'm smiling because on the eve of Christmas Eve, I had surgery to fix my broken left wrist and yesterday I was handling serious tools. Besides the posthole-digger, there was a wrench to disassemble the fence, a saw to break down the old lattice, a lopper to sever old ficus roots, a masonry trowel to clean the bricks and a shovel for scooping dirt and lifting the old thatch of lawn.  No pain (beyond the typical 53-year-old arthritis in my thumbs), no blood, no cast, no brace. Three ibuprofen tablets and a nice hot shower set me up right. Easter morning I was ready to cook.
I could only achieve this recovery because of my excellent orthopedic surgeon Dr. Annette Billings and my spectacular physical therapist Sandy Canout. What a team they make!

Mom was out there observing the work, She was smiling because she wasn't digging, scraping and slinging bricks. She kept an eye on me and John to be sure we didn't lose any tools or step in the holes.
We were all remembering Dad, who worked with John to build and install the old gate (below). When he worked the posthole-digger, he pulled up a plug of dirt the size and shape of a one-pound coffee can. He turned over an awful lot of San Fernando Valley soil before they moved to Lindsay.

Tuesday, March 30

Under the Spring Moon

This Spring full moon is spying through the east window, watching over my Mom asleep in my bed. I am so glad to have her here with us on Cashio Street.
I am blessed to have a sister who would fetch Mom from the convalescent home, shepherd her through myriad appointments, errands and visits and then pack the car to make an Okie proud and carry her south, where we can help - maybe speed - her recovery. It has been just over a month since a low-blood-pressure episode put her in the hospital and then the convalscent home.
It was a fretful month for us siblings. But we saw our Mom roll with the flow of close quarters, wheelchairs and walkers, a cardiac diet, physical therapy, fluorescent lighting, interrupted sleep and the general surrealism of institutional care.
With that month behind us, I look forward to Easter and her April birthday, stamina-building walks in the neighborhood and adventures around the city, visits with friends and family, cooking and stories. It should be a good visit.

Saturday, March 6

Showing off the Kitchen with Porchetta

I can't believe half of January and ALL of February got by me without a post! My excuse is that so much has been going on and not enough of it is blog-able.

On the cooking front, I've been testing the new kitchen and showing off the results with dinner parties and gatherings. The most memorable (maybe the most nerve-wracking) was a Sunday supper for my dear friends from Long Beach. They have hosted countless yummy meals that usually center around a big piece of meat and they seem to do it effortlessly! I wanted to make a special meal for them.
Just before the Superbowl, the New York Times published a recipe for porchetta at home, reminding me of Adam Roberts' post about porchetta and a visit Janet, Cullen and I made to the Ferry Building farmers market in San Francisco where we tried the porchetta rotisserie truck. A big juicy flavorful roast would be just the ticket to test my new oven's roasting probe and delight my friends.
So, I visited Jon of Huntington Meats in the old Farmers Market to get a pork shoulder. He set me up right. He butterflied the roast so that when I seasoned and rolled it there were lots of layers for yummy goodness. Here are the before-roasting pictures. I forgot to make after-roasting pictures until I made the plate of leftovers you see at the top.

With the porchetta, we had roasted fingerling potatoes, fennel, and onions, Smitten Kitchen's citrus salad with mint and feta, steamed asparagus and ciabattini rolls with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For dessert, we had lemon curd mousse dusted with shaved dark chocolate from Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today. That mousse had a wonderful flavor but something was oddly granular about the texture. I need to keep working on that one. The curd part was just fine so there was something about the cream and curd combination.
[Thanks to Tom for the Christmas gift of wine.  With dinner, we drank Chateau LaGrange Saint-Julien 1996, which is way too good a wine for my undiscriminating palate but my gests enjoyed it!]
For anyone wondering about the Bosch electric oven, it is great. The probe worked like a charm. The room-temperature roast went into a cold oven with the probe inserted deep inside from one end. I set the oven for convection roasting at 250 degrees and set the probe for an internal temperature of 155 degrees. The recipe said the roast would take about five hours. Even starting from a cold oven, the convection oven finished the job about 30 minute early. I double checked the internal temp with an instant-read thermometer and it was spot on.  The roast rested while we toured the remodel (with lots of oohs and ahs), then carved up juicy and tender.

You know that leftover plate up top? The next evening, I ate a puddle of polenta topped with garlic-sautéed greens and a slice of porchetta. When your leftovers are this delightful, you know you are living well.

Wednesday, January 13

Construction closure? Not quite yet.

Today the contractor and the inspector came for another pass at final inspection. Lights - check. Water heater vent - check. Electrical box behind the refirgerator - check. Emergency gas shut off valve - well, not yet.
My remodel is fully functional and very liveable. The kitchen counters went in beautifully, the plumbing followed right behind. How nice to have running water again and the sink is the perfect height for comfortable sudsing. 
The bathroom is deluxe. The shower is spacious and the shower drain is fast. I love my linen closet columns.
To be sure, there are still finishing jobs to be done, but they are little things like hanging a bathroom mirror and a toilet paper holder. I'm close to finding the perfect specimens of those fixtures. I still need to resolve the window treatments in the kitchen and diner. And I need new speakers for the kitchen stereo.
Those will come along with art on the walls.
But I am living it the space and love it to bits.  Can't wait to have two good hands again for some serious cooking!
I promise to post some finished pictures soon.


Just before I left the office this evening, I noticed a message from my friend Monica reminding me to post an update. I guess I kinda left you with a cliffhanger. A couple of them even. So tonight, here's the sitch.
Twelve days after surgery, I was liberated! Well, relatively liberated. Dr. Billings removed my heavy post-surgery cast (it fit into very few business-like sleeves), gave me a sexy black wrist brace (all velcro and laces) and sent me across the street to Sandy for physical therapy. Sandy said to wear the brace only when I need it for support but don't lift anything heavier than a toothbrush. And do this battery of exercises once an hour - 16 times a day. I walked back to my office and washed my left hand for the first time in 19 days and then gently scratched my puny wrist all over - ahhhh.
Now, I am stretching and flexing my stiff wrist every which way and doing my best not to apply pressure in the wrong direction or lift things heavier than a tooth brush. It does hurt and it does swell at the end of the day. I'm still taking tylenol and avoiding alcoholic beverages. But really, I'm not complaining because it is getting better.
I started with a rosey, ropey two-inch incision closed by eight blue stitches on the inside of my wrist and a tiny half inch slit of an incision closed by tape on the outside of my wrist. All these things are healing and I have faith that if I follow the instructions, someday my scars will not scare small children when I offer them a plate of cookies.