January 3, 2010 Dinner and a Movie

I haven’t posted in quite a while and have been wondering how to get back in the swing of things.  I glanced down at my menu plan and decided that I would ease back into blogging by posting our menu for the week.    This week’s host is Manda at Asparagus Thin and the theme is dinner and a movie.  I have attempted to add any fitting movies as I go along.  Mostly they are related to the cuisine we are cooking that eve, at least regionally close or a comedy about a key ingredient.  They are linked from our Netflix account, so hopefully it works so that you can click on the link and see more about the movie.

I switched jobs the first week of November and now have less time to cook in the evenings, so am working on making our weeknight meals less complex and/or prepping items a night ahead.  It is super cold here in Michigan, resulting in a lot of cold weather, hearty foods this week, that and we keep our house at 63F, so it’s cold anyway.

Saturday: Jaeger Schnitzel with parsley buttered noodles, mushroom sauce and broccoli with lemon and red pepper flakes (East/West)

Sunday: Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc fried chicken (brined with lemon, garlic and thyme) and greens from the freezer cooked with one of our smoked hocks.  Using one of my brothers organic free range chickens.  Breaking down chickens is really not my favorite thing to do, but I am relying on this dish to make the effort worthwhile! Greens, pork and chicken all local. (Food, Inc.)

Monday: Chalupas/gorditas (masa boats) topped with chorizo and cheese, sides of chile de arbol tomato salsa and tomatillo salsa from Antojitos (a book on Mexican cooking)  and Rick Bayless’s Every day Mexican; maybe empanada de platanos if I didn’t over roast my plantains, they seem pretty dry.  Pintos too, into the crock pot they go on Sunday night. Pintos are from MI and the chorizo. (The Milagro Beanfield War)

Tuesday: Swiss style fondue and a big green salad with a lemon olive oil dressing.  We will be dipping toasted GF bread and potatoes (so more of a raclette really) and maybe I can sneak some carrots or zucchini in as dippers.  It is fricken cold here in Michigan, time to break out the fondue pot. Potatoes are from the farm, but that’s it for this meal.  Fondue from Trader Joes. (no movie but the winter Olympics will do here, it’s always cold there and this is a great apres ski meal)

Wednesday:  Inside out stuffed poblano peppers. I love stuffed peppers, but Eby doesn’t like peppers unless they are chopped up small, so inside out is the compromise.  Rice, local grass fed ground beef,  our canned tomatoes, garlic from the farm, poblano peppers, Michigan onions, cilantro and cheese.  Comfort food baby! (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes )

Thursday: Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert:  slow cooked pork with sage, mustard and tomatoes.  Will be using our pork, our sage and our tomatoes, mustard, not local.  This will be converted to a crock pot dish, prepped on Wed eve, into the crock on Thursday morning. (Julie & Julia)

Friday: Cabernet braised short ribs with gorgonzola polenta and herb gremolata.  I find I have zero motivation to cook on Friday nights after working all week (I have to use my brain a lot more these days) so this will be ready when I get home thanks again to the crockpot. (Volver , I couldn’t find an Italian movie with the humor I wanted, so you get a Spanish one).

Pretty much the majority of our proteins (chicken, pork, beef, eggs and dry beans) are all local, even our tofu is local on occasion.  I see that fish is missing from the menu this week, we will fix that next week.  Some of the fish we buy is from MI, perch, blue gill, whitefish, salmon in season but other than that we don’t have a choice if we want some variety.  We are lucky enough to have a freshwater shrimp farm about 1/2 hour away and they are reasonably priced.  What this all means is, I am working on redefining and refocusing my blog to capture more of the locavore-ness of our lives.  I am gluten free and everything we cook is gluten free and I even gave up eating spelt a year ago.  I am really bad at posting recipes (but am happy to tell you how I made something, I just never measure), so I won’t say I will post more recipes, but I will give you great food ideas, great photos of food (new camera), garden and nature and the occasional recipe.  Our getaways are typically food oriented, so you will get a bit of that here and there as we try to focus on what is local where ever we are.

it feels good to be back

i’m out

Menu of the Week Jan 19th: (One year of menus) lentils and dal

dal curry with yogurt and cilantro

This week marks one year of posting menus, posting them every week but a couple that we were on vacation or out of town for work. Wow! I keeping thinking I should just go back and recook the same menus, but there are so many more things to experiment with, so many new flavors to try, that I can’t. I have tried not to repeat much in the last year. If we did, it was usually on the off menu day (like a Saturday) or with a slight variation.
You have no reason to be, but I am proud of myself. I might be a little too organized these days. Someone says, hey let’s go out on Friday and I think, no, I already have that meal planned and posted and was looking forward to it. I typically just go out to lunch.
I digress.
This week’s ingredient highlights are lentils and dals and this week’s host is Sea over at Book of Yum. She has a great blog and is always posting wonderful looking international delights that even I can’t pronounce. Make sure you check out her menu as well as the many others that will be posting their menus. I love dals and have a variety of lentils in the house right now. Unfortunately my sweetie won’t even look at them, so I will be eating them alone. Since I have Monday off, I have decided to make an Aloo Dal for my lunch. Added to that, we are going out for Brunch (today/Sunday) to our favorite local Indian restaurant, Sindu’s, where I can typically eat everything that is not naan or deep fried. On Sundays they have dosas! I love dosas! And I love an occasion to go out to brunch, my friend Patty’s birthday. There will be dal there too and plenty of other lentil dishes and I plan to indulge.

Sunday:  lunch: Sindus with friends; dinner: Polpettone Ripieno, with Glutino spaghetti, homemade marinara and arugula salad

Monday MLK Day off:  lunch: aloo dal; dinner: Jagerschnitzel (with our pork) with rotkohl and maybe, maybe some spaetzle too, although I have a tough time making decent gf spaetzle – but I do have gf gnocchi in the freezer and that would be a great substitute.  If make them I will add dill as I am still in a dilly mood.

Tuesday: Singapore noodles with chicken and spring rolls – using brown rice vermicelli for this dish

Wednesday: Corned beef and cabbage, pulling from the freezer stock and I need to use it before it
goes on sale in March again.

Thursday: On the road for work

Friday: Grilled herbed cod, grilled asparagus and grilled polenta

grilled asparagus and grilled polenta

Unfortunately I have no pictures of any of the dals I have made in the past, so you get grilled polenta instead. Thought I would post a pic since I just made it for lunch and it is tasty!
i’m out

Menu of the week: Oregano!

Herbs.  Herbs are a vital part of my cooking experience.  I just can’t cook without them.  It is always hard when I go up North for a weekend or to someone’s cottage and they don’t have the same stock of herbs as I do.  I love to cook wherever I go, so I have learned to snip a variety of herbs from the garden and bring them along with me.

Oregano.  I have two types growing in large pots in the potted garden.  Greek and regular.  I would like to get my hands on some Mexican oregano plants.  I keep them in pots as I learned long ago that both oregano and mint will overtake anything else growing in it’s path over the years. I use oregano a lot, both dried in rubs and soups and fresh in everything.
Below is a picture of my portable garden. Oregano is in the giant green pot and Greek oregano in the sky blue pot.  Keeping it in containers allows me to bring the pots in for the winter and use them all winter long.

the portable herb garden

Menu.  This week’s menu swap is hosted by Karen of Gluten Free Sox Fan and you may have figured out that oregano is the ingredient of the week already (the title of the post being the first clue).  Make sure you check out her blog and what everyone else is cooking, I always do!

Saturday: Smoke

Smoked pulled pork butt  with black pepper vinegar sauce (we still have our friend’s smoker) over hickory smoke.  This recipe is courtesy of Bobbie Flay – who makes great rubs (this rub has oregano).  I first noticed this recipe when I was looking for slaw recipes a long time ago.  My slaw will be different as I did a little experiment last week (I was out of town most of the week and didn’t bother with a menu – I felt lost the rest of the week) .  I used this recipe from Epicurious.com except I didn’t grill the cabbage (and just used purple and half the sugar), I smoked it for about 15 minutes.  Incredible!  It was addictively smokey, tangy and crunchy.  I throw in some fresh green onion at the end for a bit of bite.

Sunday: Italianish

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella casserole from Elise and of course there will be oregano in the sauce.  Garden salad with fresh herbs mixed in.  I am really ready for a tomato or cucumber in my salad, but am trying to stand strong and wait for the garden to bring them in.  I am adding shallots and fresh oregano to the polenta for extra flavor.

Monday: East Coast

Crab Cakes with aioli.  I still need a side dish for this one.  Garden salad with fresh herbs for zing.

Tuesday: Flat bread of the week

Jim Lahey’s potato pizza altered to be GF and adding, creme fraiche, chives and bacon – that is as long as it isn’t 90F outside.  So I guess the only resemblance will be thinly sliced potatoes and onion to the original.  I suppose I could sprinkle some fresh oregano and rosemary on the flatbread after baking, in keeping with the theme.

Wednesday:  on the road for work

Perhaps I will make a wrap for the road, I guess as long as I am making a flatbread the night before I might as well, eh?  A corned beef wrap sounds interesting – Reuben in a wrap.  Probably not the best thing cold.

Thursday: Thai

Spicy chicken and basil fried rice or kao pad gkai gkaprow .  Really what I am trying to do is replicate my local Thai hole in the walls’ kau pad ped – but every recipe site spells Thai words differently.  This recipe looked closest to what one of my friends ordered.  Some sort of Asian themed salad to go along with this and of course, fried GF spring rolls.

Friday: Indian

I still have to flesh this one out, but I am in the mood for dosas (of course), a potato curry of some sort (perhaps South Indian) and a kofta curry made with our grass fed beef.

So, who’s coming over for dinner what night?

i’m out

Menu of the Week: Strawberries…. a fruity memory

Bardenhagen Berries

I love strawberries!

Unless I do something with frozen strawberries, like make a margarita with them to make room in the freezer for this year’s batch, I will be passing on using any fresh ones. Why when I love them so? Because in Michigan, strawberries won’t be ripe for another month at the earliest. The strawberries in the store here are all from FL and CA and taste like cardboard.

My cousin and uncle have a strawberry farm in Leelanau and I spent many years working the strawberry packing season at 7 am. I even hoed all 10 acres three times one summer instead of waiting tables. I am used to eating my fill of strawberries all morning long, fresh from the field, unwashed, dew still attached. But now I don’t live as close, so I don’t eat as many. I miss them and look forward to them every year.

Packing strawberries involves taking the berries that have been picked into little wooden quarts from the field carrier and putting them into cardboard boxes that hold 8 quarts. These flats are delivered every morning to the local stores and restaurants.

My cousin doesn’t do a u pick. He has migrant families that arrive every year, eager for the season to start. He also has a top of the line migrant camp where they live for 4-5 months (they work the cherry and apple harvest too). These are ranch style houses with a long covered porch. The farm provides them with housing, water and electricity and work. I love walking by the camp when it is full of families. Loud Tejano music playing, terrific cooking smells wafting about, fresh tortillas everywhere, the kids are playing and people are laughing. Kinda like walking down a small street in Mexico. Most of these families have been coming back to the farm for years and are from Texas.

As you can see, strawberries hold quite a memory for me. Without the migrant labor, this farm would not function. I am thankful for them and the lives they lead. And thankful for strawberries. I really ate at least a quart a day for 3 weeks. Then when cherry season started, I ate a lot of those. I wouldn’t trade the life I had growing up for anything. Growing up on a farm gave me so many experiences that I will always tap into and cherish. At the time though, I would have loved to move back to the city, if you asked me when I was 12 after a day on the potato harvester in the hot dusty sun on a Saturday when ever one else was playing.

collage of fruit

Well now. After all of that, I guess I am going to go downstairs to the freezer and find a frozen bag of last year’s berries and whip them up with some rum or tequila. I owe them that. Often I pay them with freezer burn. Not really a fair exchange.

This week is a crazy one for me. We have our Michigan Envirothon state competition event in the upper Peninsula and I will be up there most of the week helping. The university hosting it already told me that they have some celiac students and are happy to provide me with gluten free options in their cafeteria. I perked right up with that one as I was not looking forward to working 12 -16 hour days and eating out of my cooler in the hotel.

Terri of the Faking it Gluten Free Style blog is hosting this week’s menu swap, so pop on over to her site and check out all the menus and ideas!

Saturday: Italian

Homemade frozen spinach and ricotta ravioli with marinara. Freezing your ravioli’s works great, unless you let them thaw slightly before tossing in boiling water. Then you have one giant ravioli dumpling as they are all stuck together.

Sunday: Korean take out

Yuk gae jang soup from the local Korean restaurant down the road. Homemade beef broth, strips of tender beef, green onions, zuc, mung bean noodles, onion and chile! This soup is comfort food to me, brothy and spicy hot. Survivor Finale night – popcorn for a snack.

Monday: Wing cook off. Why not? Everyone needs to do this once in a while. We will make some Buffalo style along with a homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing and some Asian style with a lemon grass chile garlic coconut sauce. Maybe some spicy peanut dipping sauce. Tonight might be the right night for a frozen strawberry bevy.

Tuesday: Grilled fish (what ever looks good) with kumquat chutney/sauce (I still have to create this one), grilled polenta and grilled asparagus. Edited to change to blackened red snapper Caesar salad with grilled polenta croutons.  Kumquats will have to wait. I love me some kumquats!

Wednesday – Friday: Sault Ste Marie MI, no cooking for me!

Bardenhagen Berries!

i’m out

Menu of the Week March 31st: Lemons!

Gluten Free Menu Swap Monday - Lemons
This week’s menu swap is hosted by Gluten Free Mommy and the ingredient is lemon! The ironic thing is I used about a dozen lemons in last week’s menu. I was in a lemon mood and ate most of the 8×8 pan of double lemon bars myself over the week.

Sunday: Wales, home of the leek

Leek Potato soup with tarragon

Monday: Alsatian

Trout Choucroute from March Gourmet mag – perhaps. I will be subbing Artic Char. I am not sure about fish and sauerkraut. Sides will be broccoli, maybe in casserole form, and polenta. Edited to add – this is definitely a dish that we will not, repeat not be making again.  The fish itself was tasty, but the rest of the dish was a sour flop.  Even my polenta experiment didn’t work the way I planned.  Oh well.

Tuesday: Indian

Boti Gosht with grass fed beef and lemon rice, dal (maybe), bajji (onion fritters with chickpeas) and green mango salad

Wednesday: New Mexican

Tamales with red chile sauce

Thursday: All American

Mac and cheese with a green salad

Friday: Southwest fusion

White Chicken Chili loaded with green chiles and creamy cornbread. Since my bf won’t eat beans, I will be pureeing them in a known attempt to disguise them and he will see if he can get over his psychological bean burden. Wish me luck!

Happy eating!

i’m out