Menu of the week Sept 29th

This week’s ingredient is almonds and the menu swap is hosted by Kimberly at Living Free.  I was so busy yesterday that I didn’t have time to finish my blog for this week’s menu.  So I am a bit late to the party.  I will see if I can fit some almonds in somewhere.  I often have a bag of them in the car with me while traveling.

Here’s what we are having this week:

Monday: Fettuccine Alfredo with pancetta and chives – we had that Monday night and it is so rich and decadent that I can only justify it once a year.  Luckily it was cold and rainy.

Tuesday:Vietnamese chicken pho with homemade pho broth.

Wednesday: Pizza – I haven’t made pizza in months and am starting to crave it.  Good ole pepperoni mushroom and onion pizza, with artichokes of course.

Thursday: Yakhni Ma’a Loubia –  Lebanese Green been stew  with grass fed beef – I went to the farmers market and low and behold they had those nice flat Romano green beans.  The kind I tried to grow, except that I didn’t plant them when I found out I had ordered bush beans vs pole beans.  My local Mid Eastern restaurant down the road makes a great green bean stew and every once in a while I have a craving.  Loaded with green beans and tomatoes, it is healthy comfort food, esp with a side of Hashwi!

Friday: White pork chile – I have more pork than chicken and the new piggies will be in our freezer sooner than I think – I know, usually it is white chicken chile.  I will have to hold the beans back and serve them separately or my guy won’t eat the chile.  In fact, I probably have to just call it something else altogether, like pork stew with green chiles (but not green chile stew).

My bf brought home even more cookbooks and is reading through them looking for  interesting recipes.  So we should have a couple of weeks worth of plans soon.

i’m out

High Holy Food Magazine Day

That’s right, in terms of food and cooking magazines, it is the day I look forward to the most every year.

The Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue is here!  As many things as I dislike about Bon Appetit, the Thankgiving issue makes up for most of it.  This also means that within days, the Gourmet Thanksgiving issue will be arriving.

heritage turkeys

I will admit, it is only September, but already last week I started thinking about what we wanted to do for my favorite holiday, the one that honors tradition, history, food, friends and family – Thanksgiving.

In the face of tradition I was thinking of doing a pork loin on the grill, or something with pork to give thanks to our piggies – Speck and Parma.
parma and speck speck and parma
We hope to be butchering them around the middle of November.  I have also considered doing the turkey on the rotisserie grill.  Again this year, our turkey will be from my brother’s organically raised heratige turkeys.

heritage turkeys

I am also considering rice instead of potatoes – if I can get away with it. I do love my potatoes but a change of pace might be interesting.
So, let the planning begin!

i’m out

Moss, leaves and rotten tree trunks = kittens!

Well this is mostly a food blog and this story starts with food and ends with kittens.

kittens and food 013

I went to a potluck/picnic at a county park last Tuesday.  While we were there, a very hungry, actually starving, small cat/large kitten kept coming up to see if we dropped any food.  Soon we were tossing bits of pulled pork and chicken to her and she would run up and grab it and run away into the grass to eat the bite she snagged.  It took 3 hours to get her to come up to me and let me pet her head.  At this point I decided that if I could catch her, I would take her home and adopt her as winter was coming and she wasn’t’ going to survive.  At some point I picked her up and she was skin and bones and jumped out of my arms before I could react.  So, I started over and got her trust yet again.  I managed to get her into my arms again and started heading to the car and she successfully jumped out again.  I eventually gave up and went home and told my darling bf about it saying how guilty I felt that I had to walk away.  He said we could go look for her the next morning, much to my surprise.  Mind you – he is allergic to cats and we have 3, ages 14, 13 and 11.

So, the next morning I took some time off and we drove to the park to find her.  We looked and called and looked and called.  I drove around to every picnic area with food in hand to tempt.  No luck.  I looked for over an hour. (he eventually had to drive to Ann Arbor for work)  Feeling very defeated and sad, I headed home.  I almost went back on Thursday (this park is 1/2 hour away) and I almost went back on Friday.  By Saturday I accepted the fact that she had certainly moved on in search of food and shelter.

Today, my friend Shawn spontaneously stopped by.  Shawn lives in Chicago, but is from the town of Holt, were the park is, and drove into town yesterday just for a long time friend gathering .  He mentioned ,as he dropped a new key to his house off, that he had been at a park and I said, oh yeah, I was at this great park near your house last Tuesday.  That is when he said, it’s the same park he had been at the day before.

I immediately asked if he had seen a kitten running around, one who was starving and sort of afraid of people but too hungry to care.  He said there was.  He kept asking his group if the cat belonged to anyone and no one responded.  So, my BF and I hopped in the car, loaded with a can of tuna, some half and half, some cat food, greenies and a cat carrier and drove the 1/2 hour to the park.  We walked around, through the woods, over the grass to a couple of pavilions, on the way back down the hill, I saw the kitty off in the distance bee lineing it for the woods, so we followed.  We followed and finally caught up with her.  She stopped in front of several rotten fallen down logs and jumped into the space between them.  There I saw my first glimpse of a little orange kitten head.  She had kittens!  We could see two.

kittens and food 015

Then the work began.  Getting her to come to me and get the food I had, tossing her bits of tuna and cream laden cat food.  This probably took an hour of me squatting down on the log and reaching my hand out.  Eventually I had my opportunity and I scooped her up, put her into the cat carrier and proceeded to find those kittens.  They were deep in the crevice of the arm of the tree, a rotten tree that fell apart every time I touched it.  It was hard to reach my hand into a dark woodland hole and see what I found, but I did.  I felt three kittens and moved the log around and pulled the bark away and lifted them out.  I felt back in there, one more furry body.  I managed to get that one out too, he was deep in there hiding against a large rock.  I felt around again and could feel no more hiding spots and no more kittens.  Then we lifted the dead logs to make triple sure there were no more.  We had the lot.  Into the car and home we went.  All 5 of them and two of us.

So we have the kitty family sequestered in our office and they are hiding under the futon and under the bookcase. I guess they are not quite ready for open spaces and being indoors.

We are now the proud owners (until we find homes for some of them) of 4 kittens about 3 5 and 7 (see update below) weeks old and the momma kitten who can’t be more than 5 8 months old herself.

So, anyone want a kitten in about 5 2  weeks? After one night inside, they are already litter trained!
It is nice to have the youth of a kitten back in the house, even if they are still hiding, it keeps us all young and happy! The kittens still smell like moss from the dead tree they lived under.

UPDATE:  The kittens are two different ages, the two girls are about 5 weeks and the two boys are about 7 weeks – Lily (as we have named her) adopted two of these kittens when they needed her.  After taking the whole gang to the vet, they are all healthy and on their way to being flea free.  Kitten chow is going down fast!  The kittens are eating it and nursing and Lily is getting it too for the extra nutrition she needs.  The vet said that Lily is probably under 8 months old – so still a kitten in my book. The names so far are Truffle and Poppy – the girls and Marmalade and Brutus – the boys.  Momma Lily is getting used to our kitties and is starting to relax and the kittens are having a great time not living under a log and are playing all the time now.

i’m out

Menu of the week Sept 22: Apples!

apple orchard

This week’s menu swap is hosted by M-Elle of Cooking and UNcooking and she has chosen Apples as the ingredient of the week.  I just ate a nice ripe Ginger Gold apple from the farm.  I tend to really only eat apples in season and store the rest and when I (or the farm) run out, then no more apples.  I think I am so spoiled by fresh local apples that I can’t stand the thought of one of those tasteless Washington red delicious apples that they ship over here.  I am sure all the good Washington apples are eaten up by the Washington locals.  Michigan is a fairly large producer of apples, for the fresh market, juice and processed apples.  My favorite is the Honey Crisp and thankfully my Dad raises lots of them and they are ripe right about now.  I will load up on my next trip to Leelanau.

I think I might just start listing my menu, but not by day, as sometimes I swap a Tuesday for Thursday depending on what is thawed and the time I have.  We are still making our way through at least a dozen cook books and it’s what is inspiring us again this week.

chipped apples waiting to be pressed

This week we are having:

French: Pork Medallions with a dijon green peppercorn cream sauce

Indian: Batata Vada and Methi Murgh.  Batata Vada’s look to be the same thing as samosas, but with a besan/chickpea batter on them instead of pastry.  Since I adore samosas and don’t want to make a Gluten free pastry for samosas, I think this option sounds great! Murgh is chicken and methi is fenugreek leaves – which are so tasty!

Thai: Green curry with chicken, basil and  bamboo shoots, fried spring rolls with pork and crab (from the freezer stock)

Potluck (Tuesday night work gathering):  crock pot pulled pork with a mid Carolina mustard mop

Chinese:  Cilantro Chicken with cabbage (instead of bean sprouts) from Martin Yan’s quick and tasty book

Mexican:  Pulled pork tamale casserole (from Rick Bayless) (pulled from the crock pot prior to “mopping” it)

Italian: Risotto with grilled halibut (or a grass fed beef steak, depending on mood – both are in the freezer) marinated with garlic, lime zest and parsley, broccoli with lemon

Baked good:  Apple Crisp of course!

To do:  Harvest and roast all the green chiles and smoke the jalapenos.  My tomato harvest is finished, due to chilly weather and blight.

apples apple semi with 96 boxes of apples apples

i’m out

Menu of the week September 15th – Plantains!

I can happily say, I am porked out.  We co hosted a going away party for a friend who is moving to Virginia and I made porchetta.  That’s right, porchetta, one of the most delicious pork items on earth.  I didn’t have a deboned suckling pig handy, so I asked my butcher to debone two fresh picnic hams with the skin on for me.  The porchetta deserves a post all on it’s own, so expect that soon and hold me to it.  Two 10 pound legs.  I figured I was cooking for 45 and there was going to be pulled pork too.  One porchetta would have been just fine as it turns out.  The other one is now comfortably in our freezer awaiting a special event or a need to make about 40 pork sandwiches (thank goodness we bought a slicer last winter).  At any rate, I could go on, but I did promise a solo post didn’t I?

This week’s key ingredient is plantains.    Manda of Asparagus Thin is hosting and always has a nice international menu that is loaded with Indian and Cajun dishes – two of my favorites.  Since I am on the road for most of the week and have already done the early week shopping, I don’t think I will be able to fit plantains into the menu mix, but I do love them and look forward to seeing everyone else’s recipes and menus.

Sunday:  Mexican – the Michigan weather is rain, rain, rain for 3 days straight and we want a hearty soup because fall is definitely here, along with Ike:

Albondigas Soup by Elise at Simply Recipes, one of my favorite blogs.

Monday: Mexican again: Chicken Flautas (didn’t have time or desire last week, I was too tired from traveling) with chipotle crema and fresh salsa

Tuesday: Beer club Brat Fest, bring a dish to pass featuring broccoli ( I have loads of it at the moment) or if I skip it (because I still need to pack for 5 days away), spaghetti and meatballs (from the pantry and freezer)

Wednesday – Friday morning:  On the road for work for the next two days to Marquette MI on Lake Superior, then off to a family cottage on Lake Michigan for a relaxing weekend of beach time in the upper peninsula.

Friday:  Cooking at the cottage : Basque: Potato, kale and chorizo stew, roasted broccoli with garlic

Saturday: Cooking at the cottage

Lunch: cheese, barrel aged pickles and salami platter with GF crackers and apples on the beach

Dinner: Fresh local fish (whitefish) on the grill, farm market findings for a side dish (I will bring fresh herbs with me from the garden)

Sunday: Cooking at the cottage

Brunch: Alsatian bacon and onion tart, fresh roasted coffee – or go out to eat along Highway 2

Dinner:  home again, something quick and easy – maybe burgers and tater tots with a salad

For the workshops that I will be holding, I was able at least to order GF meals for my lunches.  One advantage of being in charge.  We have workshops on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, then it is fun time.  Three workshops in three locations with 6 different speakers.  It is a lot of work to pull that together with zero funding and I will be ready for a break.

i’m out