Day 212: Nerds

We picked up Dewey's Pizza for dinner: Dr. Dre and the seasonal prosciutto and arugula with lemon aioli.  And, being the history nerds we are, we ate our "Italian" meal whilst watching the next installment of Empires:The Medici.  Just seemed like the thing to do...

Day 211

Our eggplants are finally starting to produce!  I picked this first one the other day.  It's a little bigger than I usually let them go, but I am excited about cooking it!


Day 210: Fer Me Ma

Yesterday we surprised my mom with a shout-out at the Dragon's game, followed by supper at our house.

Eggs and Bacon Crostini

Trout en Papillote with lemon and garden herbs

 Watermelon Sangria

Tomato Salad

Sauté of Wax, Green, and Northeastern Beans

Jam Tarts: Royal Ann Cherry and Rhubarb, Blueberry-Gooseberry
Happy Birthday Mom!

Day 209: Jam! Tarts! Jam Tarts!

People often wonder (Ok, I am speculating, because I wonder, and offer unsolicited advice on the matter as I'm trying to sell my wares!) what else can be done with fruit preserves besides adding a dollop to morning toast or the ubiquitous PB&J.  Here I'm using two of my current varieties to make jam tarts for my mom's birthday: cherry rhubarb and blueberry-gooseberry.  

Day 208: Holy Beans, Batman!

I know some people use lack of space as an excuse to not grow things, but to those people I say. "I live in the city.  With a postage stamp yard."  Here is a small sampling of the beans we have growing this year! Northeasterns, haricot verts,  wax beans, green beans.  We also have butter beans and at least one more that I'm forgetting...

Day 207: Pastries

Working on some new pastries to sell this year.  Here we have a sour cherry galette.  Pretty tasty, but not quite there...

Day 206: Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me!

Ok, not quite millions, but homegrown peaches are finally, slowly, making an appearance, and I recently bought my first round of them!

Day 205: My Life

My life is full of many things, but the major players are cooking, baking, and canning, gardening, homeschooling, singing, and all the responsibilities wrapped up in parenting and running a household.  This "short" list is in no particular order, as all overlap, take precedent over others, or fall by the wayside for a time.

While working on lessons the other morning, I drew diagrams to help explain the "3/5 Compromise" during history.  I reached for the first piece of paper to make that made itself handy, not realizing it was a recipe.  I discovered the overlap a few days later while baking in preparation for the weekend farmer's markets:


History Lesson


Day 204: Cool Things

We were at Kettering Recreation Complex recently and needed to top off our water bottles before riding home.  Our search for a drinking fountain was rewarded with this cool contraption: a filtered drinking fountain with a sensor for water bottles!  The things they come up with these days...

Day 203

The Dark Side is strong with this egg.


Day 202: Farmer's Market: A Complete Meal!

This is the first Monday we've had at home since mid-May, owing to track practice every Monday night.  So, I decided to make a full meal of it, combining all the beautiful products I'd picked up lately from the markets, and from our own garden.  Alas, a family meal wasn't meant to be, as Gary has rushed off to the doctor with what we think is another case of diverticulitis!  Please be praying!
Roasted chicken, broccoli, bacon, and onion salad, sweet corn fritters.

Plum galette with fresh whipped cream.

Day 201: Farmer's Market...

I posted about these beautiful little plums a few days ago, and needed to do something with them before they went bad.

So, I made them into a galette, which is like a free-form pie. Or a pie for someone who wants fruit and pastry but doesn't wan to to all the work for a pie.
  Pâte brisée, or shortcrust pastry dough, is used for pies, tarts, etc.  I made in short order in the food processor, chilled it in the freezer, rolled it out, coated it with scratch-made plum jam, and added the sliced little plums tossed with a little flour and sugar. Before baking, I brushed the outside with a little heavy cream (to help with browning) and sprinkled raw sugar over for texture.

Day 200: Farmer's Market, Part III

Being currently out of Innisfree chicken, I was forced to buy from another farmer.  I feel so guilty!
Whole quartered chicken from Stubb's Family Farm, which operates a farm stand right down from our house.  The women there are always friendly and helpful.  On our last trip, we rode our bikes and it had to be at least 95 degree out.  They gave us popsicles!  That's my kind of service!

I slathered each piece with some Hartzler butter infused with lemon zest, and scattered some homegrown herbs about.  Roasted at 400 degrees for about 1 hour, this chicken turned out juicy and chicken-y just like a real chicken should!

Day 199: Farmer's Market Glut, continued...

A few days ago I bought some really tasty bicolor sweet corn from a stand on Wilmington Pike.  I'm not sure what farm it is....I should probably ask...  I cut it all off the cob and froze most of it, but it was too darn tasty not to use some of it right away:

Fresh sweet corn  and candy onion fritters with local honey.  Can't wait to have the extras for breakfast!  Maybe with some maple syrup...
I know conventional wisdom tells us we can't reheat fried food, but I've had decent success rewarming in the oven at 350.  Don't ever try to microwave, that'll definitely disappoint!

Day 198: Farmers Market Glut

There seems to finally be an abundance of produce and products at the farmer's markets, everything having been delayed by our cool and rainy late spring/early summer.  And, true to my form, I can't control myself at the stalls, or in planting my own garden, and so our kitchen counter-tops, as well as our dining room table, are constantly covered by local goods.

Of course, this year I can rationalize: I need these things you see, to make my own products for the farmer's markets where I am selling...

So, now I am spending lots of (mostly) happy time in the kitchen dreaming up ways to creatively and tastily use all this stuff. My next few posts will be showcasing before and after pics of products I bought, in their raw form, and what I made them into.  First up, this lovely broccoli I picked up at the Centerville market.  I don't really see homegrown broccoli often at the markets, so of course I snapped it up!

Broccoli, bacon, and candy onion salad with Dijon vinaigrette.
Tip: always blanch vegetables like broccoli before using in a salad, and don't throw away the stems!  I simply sliced them thinly on the bias and blanched them as well, in salted boiling water, and then "shock" the broccoli in ice water to stop the cooking.  Blanching takes the raw, chlorophyll-y edge off the veggies while still leaving them crisp.  You're welcome.


Day 197: First Batch!

First batch of kosher dills this week, made with cukes from our garden.  We'll see how they turn out!


Day 196

We stopped by the Centerville Farmer' Market, one of the few local markets we had yet to check out.  They had a few different vendors there, one of which had these beautiful little plums.  They size of cherries, they are about the cutest plums I have ever seen.  And pretty tasty too!


Day 195: Southern Flavors

Southern-inspired supper: braised collards with Benton's ham ends, topped with a little sweet corn and hot sauce, over basmati rice, to soak up the pot likker.  Delish. 

Day 194: Happy Tasty Things

Our weekend trip to Zingerman's brought us tasty things to enjoy at home.  I was so thankful to have this little smorgasbord on hand, since we didn't get home from the track until almost 9 o'clock and it is way too hot to use any heat.

 Plate of Happiness: Kentucky Country Ham, Montreal Smoked Meat, Rosette de Lyon salami, Landjaeger sausage, Great Lakes Cheshire cheese, Raspberry Bella Vitano cheese (made with raspberry tart ale), rhubarb grahams, chocolate cherry bread, garden tomatoes and blackberries, blueberries from Jackson's Farm.  
 A close up of the happy goodness.  The Montreal Smoked Meat and country ham were my faves.

Check out this amazing bread!  Full of cocoa, pockets of dark chocolate, and dried cherries.  So, so good!


Day 193

We tried a new place in Ann Arbor for brunch yesterday, and it did not disappoint.  Grange Kitchen and Bar is located downtown, a pretty cool area but a pain in the neck to park in as there are always lots of people and the entire city is under construction.  (It is Ann Arbor, so I guess I should expect it to be a pain in the neck.  HA!) 
This restaurant prides itself in sourcing from area producers, so the hippie food tyrant (I've been called worse.) in me was satisfied.  Really, I'm just as tired as everyone else of all the "buzzwords", but if we hadn't screwed up our food system so badly, we wouldn't have to worry about where our food came from, and we could all just relax and eat.  Ok, I'm done.  For now.

 Duck fat fries with aoili.  Some of the best potatoes I've had in a long time.  They disappeared in short order.

 Duck confit poutine with eggs.  Delicious, but a little skimpy on the cheese.  Also, I attribute my decision to order more potatoes to my extreme level of fatigue at the time.  Oof.

Brioche French toast with maple syrup and rhubarb compote.  Hannah decided she didn't like rhubarb (Crazy!), but she liked the toast.  And her side of sausage.  I happily ate her rhubarb for her.

A tasty meal, all washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and accompanied by good service.  Next time I'm in the area, I will definitely eat here again.  But I might hire a driver...

Day 192: All that Glitters is not a Medal...

As many of you already know, we headed up to Olivet College in MI to the regional Junior Olympics championships for track and field this weekend.  It's been a crazy and frenetic road here...

Hannah joined the Miami Valley Track Club this year, and this was her first year doing any organized track and field.  The learning curve was steep, and we all climbed it very quickly.  Over a short couple of months' time, she switched from sprinting to distance, improved by a few feet in long jump, and several feet in javelin.

A few weeks ago, Hannah competed at the regional meet at Cedarville University.  She had to place 6th or better at this meet to qualify for a spot in MI.  We had zero expectations, but should have known better, as she placed 4th in javelin and narrowly missed qualifying in long jump!  Watching someone so young soak in so much knowledge in such a short time has been dizzying, and we are amazed but her quick improvement.  Even so, I have to remind myself that she still is quite young, and we need to be careful not to expect too much.  

Most important, she has enjoyed herself, and is slowly gaining confidence in a completely new arena.  As parents, we have learned a ton, and I look forward to the coming months when we can help her train and prepare for next season.

So, back to this photo.  You see the shirts, and the medal, but why is there a pastry?  After we were done with her event Saturday morning, we made the short drive to Ann Arbor (trying to ignore all those annoying big M's everywhere) so we could hit up Zingerman's, a must-stop for foodie-types in the greater OH-MI area.  Hannah proudly wore her uniform and medal all day, which served her well, impressing the young men working at the creamery and bakehouse.  So in addition to a 5th place medal, she was rewarded with gelato and pastry, which I believe pleased her almost as much as her medal.

Day 191: Animal Crackers!

Of all the experimentation I've been doing baking-wise, these little cuties are one of my favorites, and I plan to keep them in the rotation, so to speak.  They are whole-grain animal crackers, a cross between cracker and cookie, so they have just enough sweet to them.  And they are in adorable tiny farm animal shapes!  

Day 190: Burnt Things

Thursday was baking day for the weekend farmer's markets.  I burned my entire batch of wheat crackers!  I don't know how. I mean, I only had music going, was talking on the phone, and there were chain saws buzzing away in our neighbor's yard.  I don't know how I didn't hear the timer go off.  I had to start all over, which put me a few hours behind schedule.  Sigh...


Day 189

In an amidst the market prep frenzy, I do occasionally remember that we need to feed ourselves.  I took my first crack at making scratch-made hot dog buns today, and while they need more work before they are sell-able, they were by no means inedible.  So, hot dogs for dinner it was, garnished with home-made relish, with a pile of cukes from our garden, blueberries we picked last week, and some DLM potato chips, all washed down with a shandy.  Nothing glamorous here, but we did get fed.

Day 188: Companions

My closest companion as of late: a big, beautiful pale yellow tower of Hartzler unsalted butter.  We buy it in 2 pound rolls, and I can work my way through one in a day, easily.  Because I have been using butter so much lately, I have been able to observe its changing colors over the seasons, from off-white with just a hint of yellow to its current beautiful golden hue.  You can really taste the pasture in their butter, just as you can in their milk, which is the only milk we ever buy.  Try it sometime; you won't be sorry!


Day 187: I Am Forgetting How to Cook

I spend so much time now researching baking, thinking about baking, and um, actually baking that I feel I am  getting rusty on the whole cooking thing.  And if you know me, you will also know that this situation makes me none too happy.  My kitchen has been taken hostage by all manner of flours and measuring devices...

It's not all bad though.  I'm developing a certain level of skill, and while I won't be participating in any international pastry competitions anytime soon, I am learning.  And as I tell my daughter, we should always be learning.

I did manage to put supper on the table tonight though, and it was a hyper-local meal, which means I get to feel all urban-hippie and self-righteous:
Pork chop with rhubarb barbecue sauce glaze, smashed potatoes, pea and carrot salad.  Yeah me! 

Day 186: We Be Jammin'

I am prepping for another market weekend, so this is what my counter top will look like most days this week:
I am doing a lot with blueberries, as we picked a glut of them late last week.  Here we have Blueberry Mojito!


Day 185

Despite the lack of sun, our garden is slowly bringing us summer produce.  Here we have three varieties of cuckes, a lone tomato, and a solitary blackberry.  Hard to put together a meal from this, but I'm hopeful with a few days of sunshine we will see a lot more.  Or we could end up with a rain forest.  The jury's still out...

Day 184: Dayton Food Truck Rally

I know Dayton is trying.  I know people are becoming more food-aware, and that makes me happy.  A huge crowd showed up downtown Friday night for the food truck rally, and that is a great thing to see.  Even so, I must say that for the most part, I was disappointed in the quality and variety of foodstuffs being offered by the trucks.  There are certain things I look for in a food truck, just as I do with a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.  1.  Use the best quality ingredients you can afford and get your hands on.  Please do not use inferior chocolate in your baked goods and instant coffee in your meat rub.  2.  Use local products whenever possible.   3.  Be creative.  Think outside the burger and the pulled pork sandwich.  3.  Make as many things as you can from scratch.  Do not use a bottled sauce or pre-made, preservative laden foods.

Ok, I know we have to start somewhere, and I'm glad progress is being made and people are so enthusiastic.  Some of the trucks are really doing a great job in offering quality and thoughtful products.  So here's hoping for continued forward progress.

 Bacon, bacon jam grilled cheese.  It could have been really good, if quality products had been used.  Instead, it was just ok.  And I could taste the Folger's.
 Chowing on a fish taco.  These were good, but not remarkable.  
 Peanut butter, pickle, and Sririacha burger.  Pretty tasty, but too much peanut butter, and an inferior bun.  People always over look the bread quality, which drives me nuts.
 Jones cane soda (cola) in a can!  Who knew!

Ordering cupcakes all be herself.  They were ok, but lacked flavor depth.