Saturday, November 28, 2009
I really enjoy the Sprecher root beer served at neighborhood bar and burger joint, Mother's.
This Thanksgiving, though I skipped the Diet Root Beer in the cooler, I got a chance to try two more Sprecher flavors - Orange Dream and Cream Soda.
The cream soda was my favorite of the two, as it was both smooth and strong, but the orange had a definite je ne sais quoi, tightly orange and creamy-dreamy at the same time. These two are perhaps not as classic as the root beer, but they're clearly important steeds in Sprecher's stable.
I'm not suggesting that Parmesan & Garlic Cheez-Its would be anywhere near as good as my favorite Hot & Spicy Green Tabasco flavor, but I was intrigued by this display.
I'd never seen or heard of the Parmesan & Garlic variety before (these were spotted at a Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, PA). Has anyone tried them?
At long last -- they're back in my life.
Just like last year, I caught a ride to Target from my in-laws while in Pittsburgh, PA and located Tim Tams on the shelves there. I hope this becomes a family tradition.
- They are still 2 for $5. I bought six packages so that I could hoard 4 and share 2 as an after-the-Thanksgiving-feast treat.
- This year, the store I visited was stocking two flavors -- caramel (like last year) and chocolate cream (which I'd never tried).
- Just as I suspected, chocolate cream is better for Slamming with hot beverages.
- Both flavors remain thrillingly delicious.
And now, I have an admission to make. I got a little goofy after Thanksgiving dinner (and not because I was tipsy; I hadn't even finished one glass of white wine). Some of the guests were drinking an Australian red called Jim Jim. I tried to get Dan to do a Tim Tam Slam with the room temperature Jim Jim -- just to see if it would work.
He wouldn't do it, so I did. It worked and it was gross (I do not blame the wine). But I remain simultaneously embarrassed and proud of my Jim Jim Tim Tam Slam. I'm all for breaking new ground in snacking.
[photo by Dan. This photo doesn't need to be any bigger, but I also cannot deny its existence.]
p.s. To my family: that I now have four packages does not mean I don't still want Tim Tams for Christmas. I need a stockpile!
n.b. Everyone else who was new to the cookie (and I, eventually) tried the Slam with hot coffee or tea, at my recommendation (cocoa or steamed milk work, too). I didn't want to spoil Tim Tams for anyone eating them for the first time. But I just couldn't resist this Australian pairing!
I have never hosted a big holiday meal, and have certainly never been in charge of the turkey for Thanksgiving (it's actually a dish I wouldn't miss, were it to disappear from the holiday's celebration), but I understand that some people are quite passionate about the bird at the center of many American tables on a certain Thursday in late November.
"Cook your turkey on a Weber Grill!" certain Grill-The-Turkey cult members proclaim. This year, we did.
The end result was tasty enough, and the preparation seemed to be low-fuss from where I was sitting.
What's your favorite method of whole turkey prep?
Friday, November 27, 2009
For the second time in my life (and the past year), I have visited a "real" Chick-fil-A. Both times have been in Pennsylvania, as the only C-f-A in New York State is an "express" with limited selections (just original sandwich, nuggets, and fries).
My in-laws, who are not particularly fond of fast food restaurants, agreed to lunch with me at a standalone Pittsburgh Chick-fil-A during our visit. I was overjoyed. Should I be embarassed that I found myself chanting "Chick-fil-A, Chick-fil-A, Chick-fil-A!" in the parking lot while clapping my hands? Granted, I chanted this quietly, but I did chant.
I chose a Deluxe sandwich (like the original, but with the addition of fresh-tasting lettuce and tomato) with Buffalo and Chick-fil-A sauce, a slice of lemon meringue pie (topped with 'Nilla Wafers), and an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea).
It's still my favorite fast food chicken sandwich; that's for sure. The bun seemed especially buttery, as if to greet me. The chicken was moist and the lettuce crisp. The pie's meringue was light and its filling sweet. My beverage suited perfectly.
As a bonus, Dan and his parents seemed to enjoy their meals, too. This was their very first C-f-A experience and I was happy to hear them speak positively of it later. Dan even went back for a second sandwich, so I think he's in my corner. Frankly, I would have accepted "tolerable" as a reaction. I just don't want my family and my best friend in fast food to be in a fight.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Appetizers: Assorted olives, sweet baby pickles, shrimp and spread, 2 sorts of crackers, pita chips, scallion hummus, dumplings, 4 kinds of cheese (white cheddar, blue, mustard, and I forget), cranberry cinnamon Boursin, and fresh baguettes.
Main Dishes/Sides: Grapefruit, avocado, spinach, and greens salad with citrus dressing; mattar paneer with coconut rice; shredded beets and carrots with garlic and orange juice; turkey (Weber Grilled); Mama Stamberg's horseradish cranberry dressing; orange and cranberry relish; turkey gravy; mashed sweet potatoes with buttermilk; cold green bean salad with soy-glazed almonds; and chestnut and mushroom dressing.
Potables: Wine, cider, cream soda, orange dream, diet root beer, seltzer, water, coffee, and tea.
Desserts: Pear tarte tatin, two pumpkin pies, apple pie, Tim Tams, chocolate peppermint pretzels, and freshly whipped cream.
Speaking of Dan, I went with him to visit his new studio space at lunchtime the other day. We stopped at a local deli on the way. I've forgotten the name of the place (it was the same as the guy who runs it)*, but Dan got a Philly Cheesesteak and rosemary chips.
I'd already eaten, so I had a San Pellegrino Limonata and a nap. I am a lucky girl.
*Update: Dan thinks it was Frankie's.
[Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you're able to be with loved ones today or not, I hope you get to enjoy a favorite beverage and a lovely nap!]
A week ago, I was able to attend Dan's first public talk and demonstration, In Print | In Process: Dan Funderburgh. The event was held at the Museum of Arts & Design here in NYC, in conjunction with American Craft magazine (there's an article on Dan in the latest issue). I'm biased, but I'm also insightful, and I say he presented with integrity and wit to the overflowing house.
The talk and demonstration were fun (and informative!), but I especially enjoyed our overpriced dinner and drinks at Ace Hotel NY afterward. Friends gathered in the hotel bar and lobby both to congratulate Dan and to celebrate tall-and-talented-drink-of-water Brock's birthday.
The hotel's atmosphere was jovial -- and not, as I'd feared, snooty -- but my grilled cheese and ham sandwich was the shining star. It was splendiferous (of course, at $16, it should have been) -- hot and crunchy and melted cheesy, served with a few incredible cornichons and a fab spicy mustard for dipping. Cheese, pickles, and mustard are three of my favorite things, individually or together.
The only dark spots on the evening?
- Dan's (chicken?) sandwich was a little less exciting than mine (but I liked mine too much to go halvsies).
- The waitress said she couldn't make me a white Russian. (You're a trendy hotel with a kitchen and full bar. You don't have milk or cream back there somewhere?)
- Our sandwiches and drinks came to $80-something. (We were only there an hour or two.)
Congratulations again, Dan! I can't wait for my next opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments with terrific food.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
So, I know this other Jenny. Other Jenny is pretty smart. She's awful crafty and nice and lovely. She knits and sews and cooks and takes photos and lives in my neighborhood. And she brings presents some evenings when she and Melissa and I knit and watch Twin Peaks together.
Last week, the Other Jenny brought pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting from a place named Billy's. I've never been to Billy's, but the cupcake I ate was delicious.
I think Agent Cooper would have enjoyed eating one of these moist, pumpkin-y, cup-shaped cakes. He'd probably like the Other Jenny, too. I know I do.
p.s. There is a Billy's cupcake recipe here.
I almost always prefer soft cookies to hard or crispy ones. I most love those varieties which come out of the oven soft and stay that way. I'm not above storing homemade cookies (once cooled) with a slice of bread to keep them as tender and chewy as possible.
The cookie pictured above was given to me by Ian, whose fiance Christa made a batch of nice, soft ginger cookies. I believe Ian told me she substituted ginger for the candied lemon peel suggested in her recipe. And if you're not into softies, the crunchy sugar crystals still gave it some snap.
'Tis the season for cheese grits and vitamins (multi-, calcium, and fish oil) and cranberry juice and Martha Stewart Living's holiday issue.
I once made cheese grits myself, with a recipe from Paula Deen, but she calls for so much cheese (24 oz) that I discovered I actually have a limit to how much cheese I can eat in a dish. I wouldn't have guessed it, but her mixture is super-saturated and then some. "Too much cheese," I was surprised to hear myself shout.
The cheese grits pictured above are a better balance 'tween cheese and "grit." I picked them up from Whole Foods in Union Square, where they have returned as a selection on the breakfast bar (they were missing for a time). A little salt and pepper make them quite good.
If that Whole Foods would just reinstall their smoothie counter, this store and I might become close friends again. Still, these creamy, mild cheese grits are a kind gesture.
[photo by Dan]
I hope you haven't been standing around for too long,waiting for my return.
Well, hi there!
In the interest of paying our rent (my paycheck goes to supporting my snacking habits)*, Dan took an on-site job last week and borrowed my laptop for several days. This did not make it impossible for me to blog, but it made it much less comfortable and somewhat less convenient. Consequently, I did not manage to write any posts during that time period (and a few days on either side, when things were feeling busy).
Rest assured, if you can, that I thought about you all constantly. Also, I did not stop eating or taking photos during this period. I cannot abandon the cause. We've made our way into serious eating territory now, by my calendar. Onward!
* Just kidding!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I (1) roasted garlic for homemade pizza, using Mark Bittman's whole head method because I don't like the ones where you have to cut any part of the garlic off -- and it couldn't be simpler: peel as much of the paper off as you can without breaking up the head, put 1-2 heads in an oven-safe dish with 1/4 c. water, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, cover (with foil or a lid), and bake at 375 F for about an hour (until a knife will pierce it easily), remembering to baste it with the water in the dish after 30 minutes;
(2) Dried some wool in the sun (from my fiber farm cormo/mohair share in 2008) after soaking it in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften it, as Shepherd Susan Gibb from Juniper Moon Farm (formerly Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm) suggested;
and (3) drank a Norwegian Emmi Caffe Latte Mocha, which tasted like coffee-flavored chocolate milk.
I did some other stuff, too, but you get the picture. It was the last day of a luxurious 10-day vacation (in which I was only away from home for two days). I'm not giving up my leisure time, but it's going back to "limited" status as of this morning.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Last year, when I was visiting my in-laws for Thanksgiving, I learned that Pepperidge Farm had dropped a limited edition supply of Australia's famous Tim Tams into Target stores across the US. Though I had never eaten Tim Tams, I was convinced by the internet buzz that they would change my life. I ran out and bought several packages (the only variety I saw was caramel), shared a few, tasted my life changing, and then hoarded the remainder.
I ate them sparingly in the following months, usually as part of a Tim Tam Slam with hot tea or cocoa, and treasured every bite, knowing that they were no longer on the shelves at Target and that Pepperidge Farm had not committed to producing any more Tim Tams in the US. I wanted to introduce more friends to the glory of Tim Tams, but I couldn't spare the cookies. I needed them to last. I'm sorry, friends.
Nearly a year later, I have eaten my final Tim Tam from that batch. Last night, I "Slammed" two with some vanilla jasmine tea and then ate the last one dry. Slowly, sadly, the world of Tim Tam slipped away from me. There are but poor substitutes.
But I live in New York City. Surely, in this beautiful land of expats and foreign markets, there is a supplier of real, Australian, Arnott's (for they should not have been Pepperidge Farm's at all) Tim Tams. I want to try the double coat! I want to have a party and force my friends to slam!
According to Wikipedia (and this was news to me, as I researched while writing this post), P.F.'s US Tim Tams will be released roughly October through March each year. They should be in Targets again now, but I doubt the supply is sufficient. Has anyone seen them? I don't live very near a Target store, but I will attempt to get to one this month to check on their availability. They are supposed to be in "other supermarkets," too. Where are you, Tim Tams?
I know I seem obsessed, but if you've had them you should understand. This "Tim Tam season" scheme is evil. Pepperidge Farm, this will not do. Don't be stingy; flood the market, sirs and madams in charge! I need these cookies in my life every month.
Bottom line: Let me know if you see seasonal Tim Tams out and about (at Target or elsewhere). And if you know of a year-round Tim Tam purveyor or Australian grocery in NYC, please leave a comment. In return, I will let you know if I find any, though I will be ever so tempted to keep their location to myself.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This is it, everyone. My "CSA Adventure" was sweet as pie, but I've used up all of the farm share produce in the house and the season is at its close.
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to join a winter CSA (the pickup locations and times are less convenient), but I was upstate during the final pickup (Week 22) of my spring-summer-autumn 2009 CSA and missed out.
For me, it all ended with the following leftovers from the previous four weeks.
Weeks 18 and 19:
a little celery
1/2 lb peppers
Weeks 20 and 21:
1lb sweet potato
We got to all of it before anything went bad. So, what did that victory taste like?
1. Beets with Blue Cheese Sauce and Spiced Walnuts. Oh. Hello, gorgeous. You're going right into my "Best of the Season" recipe list. I didn't roast the beets for this recipe, as I'd already boiled some beets and had them waiting to be eaten in the fridge. I think roasting would have intensified the flavors and made it even more delicious, but the dish was still excellent.
2. Raw Peppers and celery with Hummus. The difference between these peppers and store-bought peppers was startling. They had so much more flavor and snap than anything I've gotten from a grocer.
3. Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie. I saw a link to this Lee Brothers' recipe in my RSS reader and thought it looked "special" enough for some CSA sweet potatoes. It does have a singular texture that is more like cheesecake, as promised. Lemon juice lends a surprising citrus angle to this pie, and I actually used half lemon and half lime juice (because I had a half of each sort of fruit in the refrigerator ready to go).
I topped each slice with a little unsweetened whipped cream when Dan and I ate the first and last slices at home, but it also traveled well (to Cold Spring and back) naked, where it pleased both sweet-tooth-people like me and not-so-sweet-tooth-people like Rachel.
My pie crust recipe came from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I made his version sweetened with a little sugar (as the pie filling is not very sweet) and enriched with an egg yolk (from a specially-bought CSA farm-fresh dozen eggs).
As soon as it was eaten, Dan asked me to make another. That spells success as far as I'm concerned.
4. Beet Roesti with Rosemary. An NPR web page offered up this recipe from Mark Bittman and Melissa Block. Easy to prepare and fun to cook, the beets turned an amazing burnt-red color in the pan. Eating it was an odd experience, though. The first few bites were delicious, but a bitter, rich flavor began to take over and eventually I found it slightly nauseating.
Dan enjoyed it more than me, but agreed that it was very strong. This is a dish better shared with a large group than eaten in its entirety by a couple. I also think it would have benefited from a sour cream garnish.
5. Kale Chips. I just don't want anything else anymore. They're. So. Good. I made these in Cold Spring (remember that trip upstate with the pie I just mentioned?) and they pleased half of the children and all of the adults in attendance. Young Max thought they were a bit peppery, and he was right, but at least I got the amount of salt right on this batch.
6. Final Stir Fry (of the season, not of my life). CSA Kohlrabi, celeriac, celery, and garlic with non-CSA sweet-potato (cooked chunks), mushrooms, onion, and rice. I used the scrummy lime, habanero, cilantro, and mint sauce from David Chang's awesome Brussels Sprouts recipe to finish the dish and tie all the flavors together. It was missing only peanuts. Mental note: buy peanuts!
Oh, sad. It's over.
Well, for my compatriots who did pick up Week 22's vegetables, I do want to offer the following links to recipes I would have liked to have tried with the final week's share:
1lb beets - Roasted Beet Risotto (use the greens, too, if you have them).
3 turnips - Baked Turnip and Sauerkraut Casserole
3 radish - Radish, Mint, and Feta Salad.
1lb greens - If it was kale -- and I always hope it's kale now -- I'd make more Kale Chips!
1lb carrots - Carrot and Lots of Garlic Soup.
2 garlic - [see soup, above]
1lb onions -I'd Caramelize them to eat on just about anything!
Happy seasonal eating, everyone. And thank you so much to Rachel T. and the staff and volunteers at Judson who made the CSA program run so well on their (and my) first try, offered recipes, and were friendly faces at pickup. I've really enjoyed myself and I can't think of anyone I'd rather have had handling my veg.
If you've enjoyed reading these CSA posts and would like me to continue posting in this same vein, please let me know. It might give me the encouragement I need to do a winter share. And of course, I hope you'll hang around for the snacking and baking (hello, Cookie Party prep!) that is to come. Also, I'll be posting soon with a list of my absolute favorite new recipes from this long adventure.
Otherwise, see you next spring!