Day 254

I spend a lot of time (maybe even an unhealthy amount) thinking creatively about food. I'm constantly researching, experimenting, reading, writing, eating, searching...
Anyway, I often find my brain too taxed and fatigued to be creative for home meals, especially for lunch, in the midst of a homeschool day (Or football Saturday!). This does not mean, however, that I don't want something tasty for us to eat while reading about the Crimean War. It becomes that much more important, then, to make sure we have some great simple products on hand to throw together for a quick meal:
DLM flatbread crackers, local summer sausage, herbed goat cheese, and cantaloupe. 

Day 253: Grilled Supper

After completing a rather long (for me) bike ride, I somehow had enough juice left to throw together some supper.  It's always a delight when a seemingly humble combination of ingredients can come together and create a wholesome, satisfying, and tasty dish:
 Grilled white sweet potato, broccoli, and Smoking Goose Meatery "Kitchen Sink" sausage over whole-wheat couscous. Not bad for a wearily constructed meal.

Day 252: Home-crafted Breakfast

Coffee roasted by my brother, bacon, cheese, and sun-dried tomato biscuit slathered with home-preserved tomato jam.  Delicious, gratifying, satisfying.

Day 251: Produce Drawer Supper

In an effort to avoid produce waste, I threw together a quick "mess" of a supper the other night: Rainbow chard, kale, carrots, and rice cooked down in sun-dried tomato water.  Tasty and quite wholesome to boot.

Day 250: Biscuits, Incorporated

Biscuits, like any seemingly simple dish, are anything but.  I love me some biscuits, and I have been on a quest to perfect them for quite a while.
I made this version with Snowville Creamery plain yogurt, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, and grated Gruyere cheese.  I used half of them for supper and froze the rest for quick breakfasts.  They're good, but in my perfectionist's eye, they're still not quite there.  


Day 249: (Not) So Simple Pleasures

A simple ice cream cone. Not really.  Jeni's Brambleberry Crisp ice cream, layered with hidden pockets of American Spoon Foods caramel. I know how complicated and carefully made each of these fine products is. I tried to eat it in an appreciative manner, but darn it if this little bit of happiness didn't disappear in a hasty manner.  

Day 248: Fallness

We are quickly approaching Fall, or Autumn, if you prefer to speak highly. A few days ago we found ourselves in the midst of a fall preview: a chilled morning stroll through orchards of ripening apples.

I love this time of year.  I would love it even more if it didn't lead to the dull, grey emptiness that is the Southern Ohio winter...

Day 247: Polish Yums

We found ourselves at the Columbus North Market recently, famished and needing a meal. We were going to opt for pho, but the line was ridiculously long (We were there on a Saturday, which means, hordes of people, not to mention the added cluster from the microbrew fest and farmer's market.), so we searched elsewhere. Enter our next choice: Hubert's Polish Kitchen. Now, I have passed this spot on numerous occasion, and I must admit, my eye is rarely caught by food from the eastern regions of Western Europe. My mistake. Sure, we were hungry, so most anything would prove satiating at this point. But even in my weakened state, I still wanted a tasty meal. 

Thank you Hubert, for filling our bellies in such tasty fashion. I had the chicken "croquette" (which has a Polish name I can't readily recall), a gut-buster stuffed with chicken, sauerkraut, cheese, etc., and smothered with spicy sausage stew. Quite tasty, although the cheese needed to melt more. 

I was, however, enamored with my daughter's choice, which I failed to photograph as her meal was being gobbled down in a greedy manner by the three of us.  A stewed chicken leg and mashed potatoes. So simple, and so easy to screw up. Usually dry and bland. I was skeptical of her simple choice in meal, but I was happily proven wrong. The chicken was still moist, and the flavor was wonderfully chicken-y, as only a well-raised yardbird can be.  The mashed potatoes were just as pleasing.  

So if you find yourself famished, or simply hungry, at the North Market, give the Polish guy a try. And don't forget to honor his request for feedback.  Stop by and tell him how good his food is.  He really will appreciate the gesture.


Day 246: Dirty Nacho!

No, I was not insulting you.  Dirty nacho was one of the flavors of soft pretzel on offer at the Sugarcreek Farmer's market by vendor The Pretzel Smith. Loaded with black beans, olives, grits, cheese, and other bits, they were almost a meal themselves:

Day 245:

What' better than a cement truck at the farmer's market to a young girl? A pink cement truck at the farmer's market! Blech.

Day 244

We found ourselves in Lebanon, OH the other day and needed a quick lunch. We stopped into Seeger's Meats and Deli, and were pleasantly surprised by the decent beer and wine selection available for sale.

 While our lunch was mediocre at best (think institutional ), the atmosphere was relaxed and I was able to pick up a few items to relax our evening as well:

 Breckenridge Regal Double Pils, Angry Orchard Cinnfully Apple, Dogfish Noble Rot.  


Day 243: S'mores, Sort of

Another make-shift sweet ending:
Scratch-made Graham crackers and marshmallow fluff with chocolate squares, heated briefly in the microwave.  Open-faced s'mores, FTW.

Day 242: Waffles!

I get cravings for waffles often.  I don't always want them the same way, or the same flavor, and what goes with them usually corresponds with what we have hanging out in the fridge.
This rendition is a yogurt and oat waffle with Ohio maple syrup. crumbled breakfast sausage, and Innisfree egg.  A complete meal, stacked.  Delicious.

Day 241: Sweet Endings

At the end of a meal, I usually crave something sweet. Maybe it's my taste buds trying to balance themselves out after a savory meal, or maybe it's my brain trying to balance out my aged bitterness and cynicism (ha ha), but I need to end the day on a sweet note.
Not too sweet, though.  I can't stand anything cloying or saccharin.  The other night I put this little number together: sea salt brownie cup with American Spoon Foods caramel sauce and tiny raspberries from our garden.  Just enough.

Day 240: Reality

Oh yes, starting a small food business out of your house is so exciting and fun!  Hehehe.  The reality is, you just added another responsibility to your plate, it's a serious amount of hard work, you will lose money for quite a while, and your dining room table, which previously only had to double as the homeschool desk, is now also moonlighting as a preserve holding station and bearer of small kitchen appliances.  Yep.  


Day 239

I am so busy in the kitchen these days that I don't have time to cook. I'm hoping that with the coming of colder months I can take a brief reprieve from canning madness and get some solid cooking done again.

In the meantime, in these waning moments of summer and the first touches of fall, I am processing fruits like crazy, knowing it will be a long while before I'll see them again.  When your stirring a big cauldron of angry spitting jam, you can't really take a pause and say, throw some pasta in a pot. So I call on one of my quick go-to meals for busy nights:

Not a bad spread, and we all have full bellies.  Now to clean the sticky spots of the floor...

Day 238: Treasures from Vacation

When I was a kid and we would vacation in Michigan, one of our favorite places to visit was Petoskey (Although I dreaded the drive. It made ma horribly carsick.). I love the beautiful quaintness of the town; it always seemed too colorful and picturesque for reality.  It was home to some great little shops and cafes, and two of my favorite stops were the toy store and American Spoon Foods.

American Spoon Foods represents the epitome of high-end spreadable fruit stuffs and other delightful toppings.  You could easily spend a mortgage payment in a few moments time in the shop, but your taste buds would be well rewarded.

My parents recently returned from a quick trip up north, and thoughtfully brought us back a jar of this fascinating caramel.  It's a milk caramel made with local milk and sugar, and mahlab, a spice made from cherry stones I need to get my hands on a jar of mahlab.  I could do some cool things with it, I think!).  The result is a barely sweet flavorful sauce that we poured over warmed fudgy sea salt brownies.  A wonderfully decadent end to the evening!

Day 237: Peel Me a Grape!

Well, I didn't have anyone to peel mine, so I did it myself.

Nine pounds of 'em, with gloves, because Concord grapes make my skin itch something fierce. I remember eating backyard vine grapes as a young kid and my lips would start to itching...

 Grape innards

Grape outards 

When making Concord grape preserves, and you are not one of those blessed perservers who have somehow managed to locate local seedless grapes, the jam-making process becomes much more labor intensive. Pinch of skins, briefly cook innards to separate fruit from seeds, run fruit through food mill to remove seeds, cook skins first to soften, and then you can finally combine the whole mess to make a jam.  Hard work it is. 

Day 236: 1001 Uses for Jam

So, I make a lot of jam, and there's just not enough toast to put it on.  Nor do I eat toast that often. I do get asked quite a bit what other uses preserves may have, and this is one of my quick everyday ideas:

Perfectly tangy yogurt from Snowville Creamery paired with Maple Bourbon Peach Butter.  Great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.