Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tantre farm share, week 9

I say I want to make sauerkraut and the cabbage gods respond! Two small heads of cabbage appeared in this week's Tantre Farm Share:
Vaguely left to right: parsley, carrots, beets, two heads of garlic, yellow zucchini, leeks, 4 cucumbers, basil, 2 quarts of green beans, bag of broccoli, curly kale, 2 quarts of new potatoes, 2 small cabbages and 2 bunches of mixed Asian greens

I also picked up a dozen eggs and two quarts of Flaming Fury peaches (love the name). Michigan peaches are still in their early days -- not as amazing as the Redhaven's that will come in later this season -- but I plan to cook with these.

Menu plan:
  • As mentioned, the cabbage is going to be transformed into sauerkraut (I'll probably head down to the Saturday market and get more).
  • Roasted chicken thighs with peaches, ginger and basil served with rice and braised leeks
  • Cucumbers will go into a jumbo batch of cucumber feta salad with toasted pita chips--it's more like a dip than a salad exactly and incredibly addictive.
  • The carrots are amazing and I'll only eat them raw--anything else masks their delicate, almost minty flavor.
  • Turkish zucchini pancakes with yogurt garlic sauce
  • The broccoli, parsley and some garlic will go into this warm chickpea and broccoli salad.
  • Thanks to last week's suggestion from Librarymama, some of the green beans and potatoes will go into a salade Nicoise.
  • Blanched green beans and tofu will get mixed up with a SE Asian style dressing--lime, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, peanuts and copious quantities of basil, mint and cilantro.
  • The beets will be roasted (see below) and probably gobbled straight from the pan.
  • Brian is taking the kids to some train fest thingy this weekend so, I'll probably eat some of the vegetables he is less fond of while they are gone: the Asian greens in miso soup with tofu and the kale and beet tops in the basic garlic/hot pepper/lemon juice saute; I think the latter makes a terrific dinner with a hunk of crusty bread and some sort of strong cheese.
  • An upside down peach cake--the cake base will probably be a yogurt cake. Not sure what recipe I'll use yet.
Now, back to those beets. I've roasted beets many times, but always roasted them whole. Then Sarah directed me to the method described in this recipe in which the beets are treated like potatoes--peeled and cut up before roasting and tossed with a little olive oil and vinegar. This results in a much less slippery texture--they get caramelized and chewy around the edges and are so good that I ate them like popcorn and had to use all my self control to save some for Brian.
Yeah, that's all I left him, poor guy...

Roasted Cubed Beets
based on Melissa Clark's recipe

about 2 lbs of beets, peeled and cut into uniform-ish sized cubes
a good glug of olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
1-2 T red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 375.
Get out a sheet pan with sides, cover it in foil. Dump all your ingredients on it and toss until beets are nicely coated. Cover the pan with foil and roast 15-20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to roast until tender inside and getting a little crusty on the edges (about another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your beet cubes.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From behind the veil

I have a friend who has gone behind the veil. It is a meaty veil. And tasty too.

I have a confession: I love sausage. I know that it is horrible for you. I know that it contains more salt and fat than you should eat in a month much less in one go, but I still love the stuff. I can't think of a type of sausage I don't like: dried, smoked, blood, pork, lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, high-end charcuterie or low-end hot dog (OK, I prefer the better type of hot dog, like a Koegel's Vienna, but have been known to enjoy an Oscar Meyer too).

You can blame my love of this incredibly unhealthy meat on rebellion: my parents never allowed me to eat hot dogs when I was a kid--my dad would start quoting Upton Sinclair and talking about ground up fingers. They eat red meat only a couple of times a year, and usually only when I cook for them. So some part of me is still a kicking, screaming teenager inside and gets an extra thrill when my teeth snap through that casing and the hot sausage juice floods my mouth. I try to tell myself that I make up for this nutritional weakness with the abundant vegetal nature of the rest of my diet (yeah, yeah, I see you rolling your eyes...).

Anyway, back to the veil. Tonight I was lucky enough to eat this for dinner:
Focus on the tubes of beauty in the foreground and on the left side of the plate: I present to you Brian Pinkelman's first batch of homemade smoked sausage. Brian is a brave man! He screwed his courage (and stomach) to the sticking place and plunged behind that veil! He didn't just intellectually accept that this product is made of vast quantities of fat but he tracked down fatty-enough meat (which apparently is hard to come by and requires a special order), manhandled it, mixed it, stuffed it and smoked it. And then, bless him, he shared it!

I am much too scared to go behind the veil. There is a big difference between knowing that sausage is bad for you and being elbow deep in the fat that you intend eventually to ingest. I fear that I would be overwhelmed with the visceral sight of the ingredients and would be unable to enjoy sausage ever again. And that is just not a risk I'm able to take.

God it was good. So good that after I finished mine I got on the phone and offered to babysit for his (albeit cute and infinitely better behaved than my own) kids if he paid me in sausage.

Or maybe I can come up with a trade--I was thinking as I ate the blissful thing that I wished I had some sauerkraut to go with it. Some homemade sauerkraut, something I have wanted to make but never took the plunge. What with the possibility of more Brian-creations on my plate in the future, I feel like destiny is telling me to ferment my first cabbage!

And speaking of fermentation, I got to enjoy the marvelous tube of meat with my first taste of my Brian's new beer--a toasty, tasty Grand Cru.

For those of you who brew, here is what went into it:
5 lbs 2-row pale barley
3 lbs wheat
1 lb caravienne (toasted barley)
2 lbs Michigan wildflower honey
1 oz hallertauer (hops--flavoring)
1 oz strisselspalt (hops--aromatic)
Belgian Abbey Ale Yeast

How that becomes beer is a bit of a mystery to me, but I know it involves a weekend day's worth of hanging out on the deck with friends, a full cooler of the last batch of beer (you know, to keep the inspiration up) and a big cauldron of stuff simmering away on the turkey-fryer/propane thingy and fiddling around with digital thermometer and lots of buckets and tubing. As Brian quotes frequently from The Joy of Homebrewing essential to the process is the phrase "Relax! Have a homebrew!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crafty Question

I need some help here people. I discovered an amazing sausage throw rug on the internet that I can't afford and want to try and reproduce before October 7th, the date of Brian's birthday. Or if it was a really labor intensive process, it could be pushed back to Christmas.

Actually there are 4 different rugs. The Ham Sausage is pretty, but since I've never eaten Ham Sausage (Biershinken), it doesn't appeal quite so much as the others.
Aesthetically the Blood Sausage appeals to me most. (I've eaten British blood pudding sausage with big fried English breakfasts and liked it well enough, but I've never tried the German version):
Culinarily, I'm a Soprassata girl through and through (and I also think it is quite attractive):
I don't mind a taste of real Mortadella now and then but it doesn't strike me as "meaty" enough, though I do think this one is mighty pretty with its little floating bits of green pistachio and peppercorns:
So help me out, people. Is there anyway I could make one of these? I remember doing a rug-hook kit when I was about 9 years old (a hideous picture of an orange and brown mushroom on a lime green and yellow background--ah the colors of the 70s!), but I think that might look too fuzzy and fuzzy meat is not a good thing, I think. Maybe I could knit and felt something like this then sew it to a canvas backing? Actually what I think would probably work best is felted crochet (at which I suck, but hey this would be an inspiring way to get over my hangups). I saw this amazing crochet portrait in Craftzine and the technique looks adaptable to meat products.

I think I'll have to face down my crochet fears sooner or later because I'd really like to make Monster Crochet's awesome bacon scarf. You can knit it using intarsia, but the good thing about the crochet version is the back looks as good as the front, which cannot be said for a knit version.

In a more general note, crafty goodness has not been hovering around this household. In fact, I'm in a crafty funk. My knitting projects are not keeping my attention--I'm part way through two different items and have been ignoring both because I'm tempted to rip them out. I haven't started the Gathered Pullover even though I bought the pattern because of the color of my yarn--knitting with dark purple seems like it would be pleasant in, say, November. But the color turns me off in the middle of summer. About all I've done on the crafty front is a couple of lame beading projects with the girl critter. So I'm hoping some meaty craft project will get me going again.