Thanksgiving week Menu Swap: sweet potatoes

heritage turkeys

Sea of Book of Yum is hosting the swap this week and has chosen sweet potatoes as the ingredient.  It took me a long time to realize that sweet potatoes are great.  As a kid they were always coated in marshmallows and brown sugar, not having a sweet tooth and not liking marshmallows much, the dish was never for me.  I really like sweet potatoes in a more savory dish.  Or in sweet potato fries.  Speaking of fries, that reminds me that soon we will start a new post series called Deep Fry Fridays, although I seem to deep fry more on Thursdays for the record.  Friday rhymes better.  Since we celiacs typically can’t eat any deep fried foods in restaurants because of cross contamination, I thought I would push our limits and have a deep fry fest month.  I am thinking January might do.  That gets us safely behind the busy holiday season, albeit everyone seems to diet in January.  Deep frying doesn’t have to be super fattening.  Sauteeing can be just as bad.  So stay tuned for some great ideas to dip into your fryer.  Send your suggestions this way too.  We will do a menu round up and see what is frying around the country.

Saturday: Porchetta, leftover from the freezer, ancho chile, cilantro new potatoes, roasted broccoli

Sunday: Szechuan beef (using our grass fed beef) and broccoli stir fry

Monday:  Pizza!!  I will be trying out Whole Foods 365 GF pizza crust mix.

Tuesday: Chicken ala Veracruzana from one of Rick Bayless’s books, arepas (chicken raised by my brother)

Wednesday:Grilled salmon, ethnicity to be determined, sides to be determined.  Leaving this one up in the air for now.  Maybe an Indian theme.

Thursday:  Thanksgiving!  Our menu this year is mostly based on Gourmet’s Come Together menu, very modern Mexican/New Mexican.

Apps: shrimp cocktail with cilantro and lime, chipotle meatballs, guacamole, chips and fresh salsa using my canned tomatoes and adding fresh cilantro, onion and serranos.

Salad: Clementine Jicama Salad

Main course and sides:mango salsa with pomegranate, spiced roasted sweet potatoes, adobo turkey with red-chile gravy (brined and charcoal grilled), corn-bread and chorizo stuffing, poblano potato gratin, green beans with a brown butter shallot sauce, center cut pork loin with rib on the rotisserie (with my homemade Mexican rub), rice (to go with the gravy),  and cranberry sauce (you have to have it)

Desserts:lattice apple pie with mexican brown sugar (although GF it probably won’t be latticed), chocolate cinnamon cream pie, with Pamela’s chocolate cookies used as the crust vs graham crackers, Haagen Daz Swiss Vanilla Rum ice cream

No, I am not cooking all of it, a good friend of mine and her hubby are bringing the meatballs, the stuffing and apple pie and making them all GF, another set of good friends (my aunt and uncle) are bringing sweet potatoes to roast and cranberries.  Both are bringing lots of wine. Both are coming from far away to join us.

Localvore part: We are using our ground pork in the meatballs, skipping the veal, the heritage turkey raised by my brother, the pork loin that we helped raise and butcher, tomatoes that I raised and canned, apples from the farm, potatoes from the farm and all garlic used is from my brother and sister in law.  The tortilla chips are made localy in Ann Arbor and are addictive. Oh, and our bubbly and several wines are local from LMawby Vineyards and 45, a new winery in Suttons Bay, both with great winemakers.

Friday : Brunch with the house guests: Sausage and Egg Casserole with slow roasted tomatoes and mozzarella (using pomodori al forno tomatoes instead of sundried) – this is naturally GF and I made it years ago and finally found the recipe again, recovery bloody marys, home roasted coffee.

Dinner:  Pork Pozole Party: our good friend Dan is in town (as well as our Thanksgiving guests) and we are hosting a party for him so that he has a chance to see everyone.  Pozole sounded like a tasty crowd pleaser and is comfort food for me when it is cold out and it is already cold cold cold out.  Radishes, shredded cabbage and onion for toppings.  We will use our pork for the pozole and red chiles from NM.  Margaritas will flow.

So, a wonderful week is on it’s way and once again, we have a lot to be thankful for!  Happy Thankgiving to all of you!

pigs and apples Ginger with her sides of porkour thanksgiving turkeyheritage turkeys purple potatoes in the gardenripe ready to can tomatoes garden fingerling potatoes apples apples

i’m out

Menu of the Week Nov 17th: Rutabagas and several stories.

I am a bit behind on this post.  This always happens when I am gone for the weekend, get back late and then Monday night I had to attend a “Arbonne” party.  If you want to know what that is, I will be happy to hook you up with my friend who is just getting started.  She loves a good road trip.

So, I know you all have been waiting to see what the secret ingredient is (even though you may have glimpsed at the header – put that out of your mind).  Rutabaga, that is what we are experimenting with this week.  Now, the only time I really have eaten rutabaga, or swede as it appears to be called in the British Isles, is in pasties, a specialty (perhaps the only one aside from any deep fried vegetable and I mean any) of the UP or Upper Peninsula of Michigan as we Michiganders call it.  The part that borders both Lakes Superior and Michigan.  A really beautiful part of the state.  You should go there.  I think of moving there sometimes when I want to leave normal society.  At any rate, pasties are everywhere up there.  The miners used to take them for lunch.  They are a pocket pie filled with (typically) beef, onions, carrot, potato and rutabaga.  There seems to be only salt and pepper in there, no such thing as herbs in the UP a hundred years ago I guess.  They are often served with gravy (always from a jar I am sure) but the Yoopers (think UP-ers) insist on ketchup with theirs.  I have no love affair with ketchup.  None at all.  Ok, maybe occasionally with a tator tot that missed the buffalo sauce.  But really, that’s it.

At this point you are thinking… all this info and we haven’t gotten a menu yet and it is the day after menu day.  Well folks, that is what a long day on the road and a strong vodka cranberry juice does for you, well, me.  Ester at Lilac Kitchen is this week’s host and who we have to thank for my long pastie post!

So, on my way home this eve I stopped by the store for some much needed groceries and knew that it was rutabaga/swede week and found myself staring at not one, but a box full, in the fresh starches isle (near the tators).  I debated.  I walked away.  I walked back.  I picked one up and resolved to attempt a pasty.  I will attempt the best pastie ever.  One with herbs.  And garlic.  No ketchup.  Maybe gravy though as I am a sucker for a sauce.

So, now you know about pasties (pronounced paasties – like Pa in Little house in the Prairie).  You have to watch out when you say the name or you will get some thing that only women in strip joints wear.

Menu time now.

Ok, maybe not yet.  The reason we were back late on Sunday was because we were returning from our pig butchering weekend.  We have a pig share of sorts which I will blog on in a new post but have blogged on it here before.  This year’s piggies were named Speck and Parma.  We had the entire 3.5 hours back which was more like 4.5 hours due to black ice everywhere and many collisions along the way, to think about how we wanted to cook our first pork dinner.  By the time we got home it was late and we were hungry so we made ground pork in a miso sauce and fried rice.  We have a total of 1.5 pigs in our freezer now.  Seem a bit extreme?  It might be.  We aren’t sure yet.  The bacon is getting cured in Traverse City aside from a 5 lb piece that I cut off to try curing ourselves.  So by butcher, I mean butcher.  The pig was shot and gutted by our bee keeper Julius.  It then hung for a day until we arrived on a Saturday afternoon to start slicing.  He does have a ban saw, thank goodness, but we do all the trimming, tell him what cuts where and wrap and label it.  I cut the tenderloin out myself, three times.  It is very humbling.  I am extremely thankful for our good fortune to hook up with these great folks: A raspberry and sustainable everything farmer who works on cherry harvesting equipment, his wife and a cherry/apple farmer who is also a large bee keeper.  No the bees aren’t large, just his operation, rather the honey operation.  We bought some honey from him while we were there.  Thankfully I haven’t needed a hot toddy yet this year, but I am ready when I do.

Ok, now on to the menu.

Saturday:  I didn’t really cook all of this, but my brother (and friends) did for a dinner party while we were up there.  It is definitely blog worthy.  It was all wheat free.  It was all local, every bit of it, except the cheese and crackers, which I brought.  I always travel with cheese and crackers.


cheese and crackers

spicy pickled dilly beans

fresh pate made from our friends freshly butchered pig – I hate hate hate liver and loved this stuff.  Will find recipe soon.  I think the fact that it didn’t have much liver in it made all of the difference.

salad : local greens with balsamic dressing and slices of seared pheasant breast


local organic free range chicken breasts stuffed with pheasant and chestnut force meat – a meat stuffing of sorts – with a morel mushroom supreme sauce


sauteed brussel sprouts

leek tartin minus the crust to make it gluten free

roasted small potatoes with rosemary and garlic (i made this one)

roasted butternut squash


homemade spelt  pumpkin pie from scratch, local pumpkins and all (the spelt is grown and milled in MI too)

to drink

our friend’s hard and sweet cider – they just opened their hard cidery, Tandem Cider,  a month ago and have 5 varieties of hard cider as well as tasty sweet cider.

I tell you, it was Thanksgiving.  Really.  Great friends, great food, all grown or raised by us or my dad.  I really can’t ask for more than that.  Honestly, it is the norm up there.  That is one reason we want to move back.  I am so making that pate and I have never said that before.

Sunday:  Ground pork in a miso sauce and Steamy Kitchen Jaden’s fried rice posted on Elise’s Simply Recipes.  Only we cheated.  We had no leftover rice – a big no no.  So I used Sushi rice and didn’t cook it all the way.  Sushi rice is so strong and sturdy that it worked just fine.  We used Martin Yan’s quick Chinese book for the pork.  It was really tasty!

Monday:  Mexican shredded pork stew (with ancho chiles, roasted garlic, chipotle and red chile) over rice with black beans (with green chile and garlic) and brussel sprouts ( I was craving brussel sprouts and decided to forgo the Mex theme for some extra green yummies.)

Tuesday: Corn, Crab and Potato chowder with a bit of bacon and mashed sweet potatoes as the thickener.  On the stove right now.  Whoops. I totally scourched it.  To the point of having to pray that it doesn’t taste burnt and moved all the non burnt items into a new pot.  That also comes with drinking a strong vodka cranberry and blogging.  Luckily the crab, cream and milk had yet to be added.  There is no burnt taste, soldiering on, will eat when the post is finished.

Wednesday:  Trader Joe Chicken Sausages with spinach sauteed in a pasta toss with asparagus, dried tomatoes, parmesan and pine nuts.

Thursday:  Moletes de papas y queso  (potato masa torpedoes) and fish enchiladas with tangy tomatillo sauce via Rick Bayless.  Will use the rest of Monday’s black beans with green chile and garlic too.  Or if enchiladas don’t strike me, we will grill the fish.

Friday:  Pasties!  My pasties will have grass fed beef (if I can get to the bottom of the freezer), and all the normal veggies plus herbs, lots of them.

i’m out

Menu of the week November 9th: Pomegranate!

It seems lately that all I do is post my menu every week.  I do have about 15 posts waiting, some since March – how pathetic!  The problem is, I go online and get distracted by bleading blogs, or twitter or facebook.  Before I started posting my menu, I used to post once or twice a week and post more recipes.  I need to get back there.  I need a new camera too, but we will take one step at a time.

Today we were supposed to be up in Leelanau butchering and packaging our piggies Speck and Parma, however, it has been to warm and our butcher was still busy making honey.  Ok, the bees make the honey, but he puts it in nice bottles and markets it.  Since it was moved to next weekend, we had no plans for the day and actually relaxed, did no chores, played with the kittens (and the kitties) and got caught up on many of our DVR’d cooking shows.  This week’s menu is inspired by what’s in the freezer (need to make space for lots of pork) and by American’s Test Kitchen, Tyler’s Ultimate, and Barefoot Contessa.

This week’s menu is hosted by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness and the ingredient is pomegranate.  I have pomegranate juice in the freezer, so I will whip that out to make some Pomegranate Cosmos on Tuesday.  I need to clean the freezer out anyway.  Fresh pomegranates were on sale yesterday and I walked right by – silly me.  Please check out all the other great recipes using pomegranate on the menu swap.

Saturday:  Homemade pork tamales with red chile sauce – from the freezer stock.

Sunday:  Chicken cordon bleu with chives, gruyere and prosciutto topped with a roasted chicken jus; braised brussel sprouts with fingerling potatoes (from our garden) bacon and red onion.  My brussel sprout plants didn’t produce this year.  Each sprout is as big as this o.  So I bought some.

Monday: Flank steak with Penzey’s Northwoods fire spice and twice baked stuffed potatoes with Boursin cheese.

Tuesday: Grilled salmon with Tacoma sauce (remind me to post this sauce) and fennel slaw.  Company in town (yippee!), so we may totally do something else.  Either pescatarian or vegetarian if we switch as she is both.  Also, it is Veterans/Armstice Day and I have it off – one thing to thank Unions for.  The real thanks of course goes to all our Veterans out there – thank you for all you have done for us!

Wednesday : Pork Stroganoff with dill on noodles, side TBD, but something with pomegranate – perhaps a salad.

Thursday:  Baked potatoes topped with a white cheddar sauce, broccoli and bacon, and tossed salad

Friday:  On the road to Leelanau for the weekend.

i’m out

Tomatoes, slowly roasted in olive oil: Pomodori al Forno

pomodori - roasted tomatoes

I really think I could eat a cheese platter with some fresh fruit, olives, salamis, and crackers most days.  I love the variety and texture in it.  Recently I made a unbelievably satisfying roasted Roma tomato dish which is great smeared on a hearty cracker with a bit of cheese.  My hearty cracker of choice is now the EnerG Onion Crackers.  I think they need a new marketing or packaging guru as the only reason I tried their crackers is that they said onion.  Since then I have purchased 4 boxes.  I love them.  They remind me of the Toastable Onion crackers I used to eat.

Back to the reason you are reading:  A fellow food blogger, Molly wrote about this dish it in her September Bon Appetit article.  If you haven’t checked out her blog Orangette before now, you should do so.  For whatever reason, Bon Appetit hasn’t posted the Pomodori al Forno recipe which is a shame.  I will type it up for you as these tomatoes are not to be missed.  Here is a picture to tempt you.  Oh and it makes the house smell heady and comforty.

roasted tomatoes

I have now made two three batches.  They melt in your mouth.   Really what I wanted to tell you is that I have added the roasted tomatoes to my cheese platter requirements.  Now that the tomato season is over, I will have to try the recommendation of making these with canned Romas as I am already craving them again.

Pomodori al Forno adapted from Molly Wizenberg from Bon Appetit’s September 2008 issue

1 cup or more olive oil, divided
2 pounds plum or Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt – sea or kosher salt
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 tbs fresh Italian parsley finely minced
( I went slightly heavier on the garlic and parsley than the original recipe.)

Preheat oven to 250 F. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil into a 13x9x2 glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano, sugar and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn each tomato half over and bake another hour. Turn tomatoes over again and bake 45 min to one hour. I let mine bake until the edges of the tomatoes were slightly caramelized and dark red. About 15 minutes before you think you will be pulling the dish from the oven, toss the minced garlic onto the tomatoes to cook just slightly. I did this as I am paranoid about raw garlic and oil sitting together for too long and getting botulism. So, my garlic was a little baked. The original recipe says to: Layer tomatoes in a medium bowl (or in a pint jar as I did) and sprinkle garlic and parsley over each layer. I sprinkled the garlic in for the final baking 15 minutes and then, once out of the oven, sprinkled the parsley over the whole dish, let it cool for 2 hours and then loaded it into a pint jar and topped it off with the roasted olive oil. I ate more than half of the last batch before it even made it into the jar. Tomato candy. I then sealed the jar up and put it in the fridge. Bring the tomatoes (and oil) up to room temperature before serving. This will last in your fridge up to 5 days. If I think I won’t use it before then, I have been putting the pint jar in the freezer and that works pretty well. The tomatoes are a bit softer after a spell in the freezer, but the taste is still unbelievable!

slow roasted roma tomatoes in olive oil roasted tomatoes

Every once in a while you stumble across something and you don’t know how you lived without it, these tomatoes are that for me. Let me know how you like them and how you change the recipe.

slow roasted roma tomatoes in olive oil

i’m out

Decisions are made by those who show up: Election Week Menu!

In honor of Election week and all the nationalities that make up this nation, I bring you an election week menu with cuisine from around our nation.  I guess that really isn’t any different from what I normally do, is it?

This week’s menu swap host is Angela from Angela’s Kitchen, so pop over to her blog and see the cute Halloween photos and all the great menus.  The ingredient this week is greens.  It must be the Southern in me as I love greens!

Saturday: Country Italian: Pork braised in milk, rosemary and garlic

Sunday: All American: Pheasant and wild mushroom pot pie – my bro and fam are in town and he is whipping this one up, I am typing up my menu plan while he cooks.

Monday: American Italian:  Spaghetti and meat sauce, garlic bread and salad

Tuesday: Hungarian:  Chicken Paprikash (with loads of smoked paprika) with rice or spaetzle if I have time, and a side of collard greens cooked nice and slow with garlic – perfect timing on the ingredient of the week as I need to harvest the collard greens in the garden.

Wednesday: Mexican:  Fish tacos with guacamole and salsa, maybe some refried beans for me too.

Thursday: Chinese: Black and Szechuan pepper chicken with snow peas

Friday:  On the road up North for the weekend to assist in the butchering and packaging of our piggies Parma and Speck (see pics on flickr to the right).

Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!  Change is on the way!  Thanks goodness…….!!!!  I will be following all you facebookers and twitterers tomorrow night while the election results roll in.  Eventually I will get the twitter linked to my blog, when my darling tech guy remembers and has time.  Perhaps tomorrow while we wait in line to vote – if they have wifi that is.

i’m out