food words

zuchinibreadI chose to use my box grater rather than my food processor. Lately it seems like the grating disc kind of purees my veggies instead of grating them, which goes badly in the end product. I feel like the little added effort of some manual labor paid off. But I love zucchini bread with cinnamon and pecans! I think you will too.

Now some people don’t like zucchini. He They say it is a texture thing. So s/he didn’t like this zucchini bread. (I don’t want to name any names.)

Preposterous!

Little children who scorn all vegetables love zucchini bread. It tastes nothing like zucchini. It does not have the texture of zucchini. If I had called it cinnamon-pecan bread (because it has both cinnamon and pecans in it) they would probably love it.

But I suppose word associations are powerful things. McDonald’s salads may be delicious and nutritious but they have the word “McDonald’s” attached so I won’t be eating any of them if I can help it. So..well….NAH it’s different.

easter bread 2013

easter-bread

This was not my favorite Easter bread to date. Of course it wasn’t only bread but also candied oranges….and then Rob accidentally stuck his finger in the risen loaf before I baked it.

To be fair the kitchen was a disaster because of course I was also trying to simultaneously compile a southern feast, complete with, from scratch, sweet potato pie.   Yes, marathon cooking on Easter Sunday. Rob did make some excellent pie dough and it was his first attempt ever: gold star.

…and we ate well, we ate very well.

easterdinner

Leftover Packer Party Food

ribscornbread

Green and Gold! See it? That was totally unplanned.

As I have mentioned before cooking for other people stresses me out so I tried to go for easy and good football food like things.

Ribs sounded like good football party food and I knew I could get good ones at the meat market down the street and I had the uber-easy Virginia Willis Coca-Cola-Glazed Baby Back Ribs recipe…make glaze, bake, glaze once in awhile.  This was my first attempt to make ribs. It went pretty well. They were kind of delicious. I didn’t find scotch bonnets so I used 2 habaneros. Use them both! The glaze is so sweet it can handle it and doesn’t have any burn, promise.  I did have to make a special trip to buy the Coca-Cola because I just felt that using Organic ‘Cola’ with pure cane sugar would be cheating and Whole Foods does not have organic all natural Coca Cola… really Coke? Get with the program.

The cornbread recipe was kind of disaster though and I didn’t notice till I was pretty far in and then had improvise how to fix it. 4 cups of flour with only 1 cups of buttermilk and 2 eggs is just not going to work. I added another cup of buttermilk. I thought it was edible. A little dry yet, but I melted butter onto it when I reheated it, and melted on some extra cheese. Everything is better with extra cheese.

for you CSA people out there…

Back in the day when I lived in VA, my roommate and I signed up for a CSA and they kept sending us collard greens, spring and fall, week after week after week. Perhaps you are having a similar experience. Neither of us had the slightest idea what to do with them and after an experiment or two with a big pot and a ham-hock we started giving up and many delicious bundles lived in the produce drawer for awhile and then were trashed…If only we had this Virginia Willis recipe then!!

First, please make this just so you have an excuse to buy the smoked salt! Not only is it delicious but you can get that smoked flavor without using meat. Genius! Second, I suggest that you take the time to make the hot pepper vinegar. I’m totally loving mine.  Both are going to get a lot of use in my kitchen this summer.

And yes.. that is another broiled chicken, this time Alton Brown’s recipe. Perhaps I have a need for juicy meat steeped in melted chicken fat and then how the skin gets crispy as the fat melts out of it into the meat and gets all brown. They are just so darn easy AND then I have so many options for making great things with the leftovers the rest of the week. This week: chicken tacos and arugula salads. Greatness…

John Ash’s Grandmother’s White Bean Soup

white bean soupThis was a bit of a disappointment. I made my own chicken stock. I got a big beautiful smoked ham-hock from Gene’s Sausage Shop. I soaked the beans! and it still ended up as an “ehhh” recipe.

I made chicken stock on Sunday evening with some chicken backs that I had in the freezer and a couple of wings. (simmered for 1.5 hours with celery, sweet onions, carrots, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns)

The next morning I put 2 cups of navy beans in water and soaked them all day while I was at work.

After yoga class I sauted 2 cups of sliced onions, 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, 1 cup each of diced carrots and celery.  I added 8 cups of the stock, 2 cups of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a 1.4 lb ham-hock, 2 teaspoons of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 2 large bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

After that simmered for 1 hour, I gave up on having really good beans and added the 2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes and 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley. I think the navy beans were old because they just didn’t ever get tender and the skins stayed chewy.

At this point it was almost 11pm and I was tired but it was really too hot to put in the refrigerator. It takes a long time for 10 cups of soup and a giant ham-hock to cool down, so I actually set my alarm to get up in a couple hours to put it in the fridge.

It was a little cooler when I staggered into the kitchen and groggily put it in the fridge at 1 am.

The next evening I put most of it in the freezer and heated some up for my dinner with shredded cabbage and some parm.

My suggestions for improvement: your chicken stock should include garlic and perhaps some salt, the Virginia Willis version, make sure your dried beans aren’t antique. I.e. buy the bagged Goya ones at your little local grocery which have a good turn around time. Not the bulk bin ones at Whole Foods, because apparently all anyone really gets from the bulk bins at Whole Foods is pre-made trail mix/granola.