Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Cabbage, summer squash, zucchini, corn (not as much as usual but still I have a lot of corn), cubanelles, apples, tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers, potatoes, an eggplant(!), and several clusters of the cutest little grapes. They were so tiny and perfect. The clusters looked just the way you would expect a cluster of grapes to look!
I should have taken a real picture... but I ate all of the grapes already. They were so sweet!

Since I won't be able to cook most of my veggies right away, I'm working on getting them preserved in some fashion. The tomatoes went straight into the freezer, the potatoes and garlic will be fine until I return.

I did make zucchini and summer squash "noodles" for dinner last night (pic to follow).

Monday, September 28, 2009


My plans for the day were cancelled at the last minute, and the weather was dreary, so I was looking forward to a lazy Sunday at home. I happened to run across the November 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine at the gym. They had a nice article about Rancho Gordo, which reminded me that I had a package of Santa Maria pinquito beans in the cupboard. Since I had the afternoon free to cook, it seemed like the perfect time to try them out.

I soaked the beans for a few hours. According to the Rancho Gordo website, it isn't necessary, but it does speed up the cooking process. They absorbed a lot of water!

I started with Hatch chile butter from Whole Foods for the mirepoix (yes, that means there were carrots in my chili). I used 1/2 sweet onions and 1/2 shallots (leftover from CSA). I added the beans, along with the water that they were soaking in, and I added water until the beans were completely submerged.

While the beans were simmering, I smoked the steak tips. I started with a dry rub which has... a little bit of everything. It's the same dry rub that I used when I made brisket. 1.5 lbs of sirloin tips barely fits into the smoker - I'm glad that I have the larger smoker!

And while the beans were simmering, and the tips were smoking, I made jalapeno cornbread with buttermilk.

After the beans were cooked through, I added spices and tomatoes (a few fresh and one can of peeled whole tomatoes). As the skin peeled off of the fresh tomatoes I removed the skins. When the tips were finished smoking I chopped them up and added that to the mix.

The final product:

It was definitely much better than my usual quick-and-easy chili (ground beef and canned kidney beans). The texture of the beans was great, and the smoky flavor permeated throughout the chili, so it was well worth the time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


On Twitter, Rick Bayless suggested freezing tomatoes for future use in sauces. No cooking or blanching or peeling or anything, just freezing them whole. This sounds bizarre to me, but since I won't be home much this week, I might as well give it a try...

Monday, September 21, 2009


Did I mention that there were peaches in today's CSA delivery? At any rate - I added another jar of peach ginger jam to the cupboard, because the peaches were beyond ripe. The jam is tasty, but I really don't need more jam! I'm going to try using it on chicken or in baking. Maybe it will work as a substitute for applesauce?

CSA Monday

I know this was a rough year for the farmers... but today's CSA was very disappointing. Lettuce, corn on the cob, potatoes, zucchini, cucumber, shallots, grapes, a beefsteak tomato. Except for the grapes, that's all the usual stuff... but there was a lot less of it. If I didn't have so many plans this week, I would definitely need to supplement this week's delivery.

Dinner was smoked salmon with home fries (inspired by the smoked salmon hash at S&S, only less greasy), salad, washed down with Pretty Things Baby Tree (still love it!), followed by sesame candy and this peanut candy that I can't describe. Joe says it's like extra-peanutty halvah.

smoked salmon

Originally uploaded by stephykay
Well, it worked! And now the condo smells like a campsite. But the smoke alarm didn't go off (mine are very sensitive) and it tasted great. I will definitely have to play around with a few recipes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Here are a few things that caught my eye in the Wednesday food and dining sections...

Monday, September 14, 2009

corn soup

Originally uploaded by stephykay
I was thinking spicy corn chowder, but I decided I wanted sweet.

Started with a mirepoix (too many carrots, hence the orange specks), added raw corn kernels (which were of average sweetness), cooked that for a bit before adding milk and chicken stock (2:1 ratio), then finally peeled boiled potatoes. 30 minutes later I used the immersion blender.

1. I need to learn to cut corn off the cob without kernels flying around the kitchen.
2. The Le Creuset was too big for this dish, so it wasn't that deep... so the first time I used the immersion blender, it wasn't, well, immersed enough, so I made a bit of a mess.

Not too bad, but it still needs work. It's not sweet enough! Perhaps Vidalia onions could make up for the average corn? And too much carrot in my mirepoix. The orange specks do match the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale I was drinking while cooking. Yum!


Lettuce, potatoes (getting tired of potatoes), corn on the cob (getting tired of corn on the cob), a green bell pepper, tomatoes, lots of plums, peaches, and some green apples that look a lot like the ones in the yard next door. Now I'm dying to know if the apples lying in the yard are worth saving!

My first thought upon opening the crate: potatoes and corn again?! But I see that I have a couple of jalapenos - spicy corn chowder will make use of all of this.

The plums require a little more thought. I'm accustomed to black and red plums, not... green. They look like beach plums. I can make preserves of some sort, right? I wish I had paid more attention to the lady at Crane Beach who was picking them all.

my greatest hits

I brought baked goods to the Design Hive market yesterday. I picked a few of the recipes that have gone over well with my test subjects (namely, my coworkers). It went well, but - long story short - I won't be doing it again.

I had chocolate chip cookies - you need some kind of safe bet, right? - and lebkuchen, a German spice cookie with almond flour and candied oranges. I provided samples of the lebkuchen. It was gratifying to see the looks on people's faces as they tried them.

I also had an oatmeal honey apple cake. The chunky applesauce in the batter makes it low fat and very moist. The almonds are just on top, so a nut-free version would be easy (although I do like a bit of extra crunch).

I was surprised at the number of people who took a chance on the lemon lavender cupcakes without a sample. They smelled delicious, though, and at the end of the day I had one myself. Usually I can't taste the lavender in lavender foods, so I make mine extra lavender-y.

Overall, it was a really rewarding experience. If I had the chance to do it again, I can already think of a few other recipes (already coworker approved) that I would try.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Design Hive

I'm making jewelry and baked goods for the Design Hive market tomorrow... and I'm feeling a little stressed out! You can see a very limited amount of my jewelry at my etsy store, 2nd Bedroom Studio.

The Design Hive is 10 am to 5 pm, at the Baldwin School at 28 Sacramento Street, Cambridge. That's just a block off of Mass. Ave., right between Harvard and Porter Squares. If you're in the area, please stop by!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Dogfish Head Brewery's Chicha and The New York Times article covering it brought back a lot of memories for me.

Before I went to Peru in 2006, I asked my Peruvian friend for a list of must-try foods and beverages. Of course I expected to see Inca Kola and pisco sour on her list, but I had no idea what chicha was. I was determined to cross off as many items from her list as possible, so I went in search of this corn-based drink.

My friend had said that it was not common in Lima, so I waited until our arrival in Cusco before I asked. I asked the waiter at the Andes Grill Restaurant if they sold chicha. He looked horrified and told me that nice restaurants usually don't serve chicha. I later realized that this was something to be found in more rural areas. My Spanish is very poor, and my Quechua is nonexistent; I was beginning to doubt that I would get the chance to try chicha. So I was very happy when we stopped at a small roadside "bar" - a house which contained a guinea pig farm and a small room for drinking chicha. They even had a drinking game of sorts in the front yard!

I was able to sample a few different types - chicha is a pretty generic term which covers a wide variety of beverages. I remember a pale yellow drink, a pale pink drink, and a purple drink, all cloudy. We sampled them while eating a variety of roasted corn kernels. While I liked all the chichas, I enjoyed them more for the novelty factor than the actual taste.

And reading about the chewing process... well, now I'm not so surprised that our native tour guide was ill the next day!

For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on chicha. Coincidentally(?) today's Washington Post has a story about pisco. I guess it's a day for Peruvian drinks.

fig jam!

My fig jam was the Internet Food Association's Daily Food Porn for September 4th, 2009! Someone left some fig puns in the comments... was it you?

burger bar

Yesterday was burger bar day at work. It's never satisfying - the burgers themselves are tough and flavorless, and the toppings aren't that great. So last night I made my own burger bar for dinner. I made sliders, perfect for Iggy's mini brioche buns. The beauty of a mini burger is that you can try many different combinations.

Pictured: guacamole burger and pesto and mozzarella burger

Monday, September 7, 2009

curious cat

Originally uploaded by stephykay
This is Coco overseeing my review of our CSA delivery. It's a half-share from the Six Farms CSA from southeastern Massachusetts.


Originally uploaded by stephykay
Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake
Recipe: http://bit.ly/4ByUcA
2/3 black mission figs, 1/3 brown turkey figs

The figs were on the shy side of ripe, but the cake was still quite good. Not overly sweet. The cake itself was light but a bit spicy (in a good way) - I used a heavy hand when it came to the spices. It would have been nice if the cake itself had tasted of figs. Next time I will use less cake batter.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Cambridge doesn't allow it's residents to keep grills on their decks. So I have to go out when I'm craving barbeque. This is no replacement for a grill, but it will alleviate my pain:


For a few weeks, I have been curing a duck breast. I used the recipe from Tom Colicchio's "The Craft of Cooking". Since I couldn't properly hang the duck in the refrigerator, it dangled from a chopstick that rested across a pitcher. It took up a lot of space, and refrigerator real estate is not cheap.

I unwrapped my duck ham yesterday. It barely resembled duck or ham - it looked like duck jerky. And I was too afraid to eat it. Into the trash it went. Such is the nature of experiments!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I made a lazy gazpacho yesterday... it was more like CSA mélange. Tomatoes, onions, a green bell pepper, half a cucumber, a spicy pepper from a past CSA delivery, a little cilantro (not enough unfortunately), a dash of cumin, a dash of chipotle tabasco, a bit of garlic infused evoo, and Peruvian garlic sauce (aji). I just used the hand chopper because I was too lazy to get the immersion blender. Not too hard, not too bad for me, and a good way to make use of the not-so-pretty items from the CSA delivery.