I’ve been slack about the “On the Town” portion of this blog because I keep forgetting to bring my camera to and/or take pictures at relevant places, but I finally managed one!
Menotomy Beer & Wine (for those of you who might have raised an eyebrow at the location) is the first store licensed to sell alcohol in the town of Arlington, MA since Prohibition. For those of you who’ve never lived anywhere near Massachusetts (or Utah), let me assure you that I Am Not Making This Up. For more context on Arlington, the Red Line ends at Alewife because back when it was extended, Arlington refused to slum it by allowing a stop within their hallowed borders. But I love Arlington. Living just a few blocks from the line, my walks often range into their territory and I’ve frolicked in Spy Pond more times than I count. And I love Menotomy Beer & Wine (hard liquor sale are still verboten), and the fact that I can walk there easily.
Walking there is key because they host a weekly Beer Tasting (Friday) and Wine Tasting (Saturday), and I’m a lightweight. Last week’s were lovely, offering five beers and seven wines, respectively. I love these events because they offer the opportunity to try and learn about varieties that I would not likely be expose to otherwise, and there is usually at least one that I put on my list of things I should have more of. Details and more photos can be found behind the cut.
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In the past couple of years, I’ve made my first attempts at yeasted breads and they’ve all turned out pretty well. It’s been mostly pizza dough with the occasional sweets such as cinnamon rolls and king cake. This summer, I started to think about bread more. The “problem” with bread is that not only is it pretty cheap to buy (even good bread), but making it also requires planning. The combination of these two issues has definitely been a challenge for me, but I’m working through it. And of course, there’s the other issue of just not having much of a clue, but luckily, there are books and the web.
This recipe is from Ultimate Bread by Treuille & Ferrigno. I’ve found this book useful both for its breadth of recipes as well as detailed instructions concerning all the steps of the process. It was also already in the house, and thus won on convenience. I’d still like a copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (and Crust & Crumb) but this will have to do until there is more discretionary income.
Pide is a Turkish seeded bread. I did not have the seeds the recipe called for (nigella), so I used white sesame seeds on one and zaatar on other. This is a delicious, simple, and versatile bread, which worked great not only for eating alone, but also in strips alongside soup or dip or spread with Spiked avocado or even split the long way as a base for toaster oven pizza using assorted leftovers. It was just like French bread pizza.
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These corn muffins represent the first recipe ever I tried from the good folks at The Post Punk Kitchen. Isa’s recipe is fabulous, though too sweet for my tastes so I cut down the sugar and make other minor mods like adding whole kernel corn. I like the added texture of the corn and also use it as a garnish. These are always a big hit at potluck events, so for a hot foods party, I made a spicy version with the addition of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. Then I made a batch of each for a tasting party. The chipotle provides a nice smoky hotness that doesn’t sting, but really builds with each bite. Mini-muffins, which are wonderful in any context, are especially nice for a potluck when a full-sized muffin might be more than one person wants to eat. But everyone can eat a mini!
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Over Labor Day weekend, my roommate and I hosted a barbecue, and since everyone knows I can’t host an event without some sort of schtick, I rented a tank of liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, and thus was born the Ice Cream Barbecue. Many of my friends are familiar with this method of freezing because of a long-running annual event that features the stuff, but I was unable to attend this year due to a theater gig, so this was my alternative. By the time the tank was gone, a total of 24 flavors had been made, and half of them were vegan! Which was, of course, awesome.
One of the flavors I made after the crowds were gone was this maple praline pecan. I found the praline recipe as part of another ice cream recipe and just winged it for the base. Don’t be fooled by how embarrassingly easy it is! Even cow’s milk folks loved this stuff and many assumed it was dairy even knowing I’d made it.
In addition to the recipe, I’ve also included a (very) brief run-down of various ways to freeze ice cream.
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Some years back, DD’s mother passed along a recipe for Passover “rootkes”, aka latkes but with assorted root vegetables other than potato (more recently, I ran across a similar recipe on PPK). Since I’d already shredded a boatload of farm share beets, rootkes seemed the obvious choice, especially since I also had the share potatoes, carrots, and onions. The original recipe called for sweet potato, but I found it worked quite well with the regular kind, too. I used flour instead of matzah meal (and cornstarch instead of potato starch) because, well, it’s not Pesach, and it was just easier this way.
I also tested two cooking methods: frying and baking. Fried was somewhat tastier (no surprise there), but baking was also quite yummy and had the advantages of using less oil and not needing to tend to a pan in front of a hot stove in the summer. These were so full of yummy that I’m ashamed to admit how many I ate in the name of testing.
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Last weekend, my friend John gave me some peaches out of the bushel or so he’d picked from a friend’s trees. The were quite delicious, but too many to eat before they turned (especially with more peaches coming in my farm share). Being a traditional Southern gal, my thoughts immediately went to peach cobbler. Okay, that’s a lie, but I do sometimes out a jaunty twang in my voice.
I’d made a delicious (backyard) blackberry cobbler a couple of weeks prior with a recipe I found online, so I modified it a bit for the peaches. It turned out delicious. I’ve made many many pies in my time, but I’ve also become quite a fan of cobblers (and crisps) for their fruity yumminess with much less effort. Watching the batter rise up through the fruit is a lot of fun, too. The result is a very light cake-like concoction spread through with peachy yumminess.
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This is one of my staple dishes. It’s easy to make and works with any number of veggies, so it’s great for using up whatever might be around in a simple, healthy way. The only things I pretty much *always* include are onions and garlic. It’s gone over very well at potlucks and barbecues, too. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how easy it is given how well it’s been received.
Seasoning can always be adjusted as desired, but Spike is always a good bet.
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I’ve been getting eggplant in my farm share (ir)regularly and though I’d take a shot at baba. I recall enjoying the dish when I was a kid, but on my second trip to Israel, when I worked as a volunteer, we were fed eggplant (usually roasted and mashed in some baba variant) just about EVERY meal EVERY day. After my return, I found myself unable to touch the stuff for years. I gradually worked my way back, starting with roasted, fried, and various curries, finally got to the point where I could eat baba, but it took quite a while before I could actually enjoy it. This represent the final milestone achieved: I actually made my own baba and enjoyed it. Only took me 15 years.
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For a few weeks, I was receiving tons of beets with my farm share. One day I decided to shred a dozen or so, which sent me from wondering what to do with beets to wondering what to do with shredded beets. Inspiration came from pondering other available produce, which included farm share spring onions and carrots as well as a couple of apples. I love the shredding disc on my food processor. And I love caramelized onions. The whole thing came together beautifully with a splash of balsamic vinegar. My friend Jay was over rah-rah-ing the whole way, which also helped. We ate the lovely and yummy salad sitting out on the porch. The balance of the various sweet, sour, and tart flavors worked out just right.
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On a beautiful summer day, I wanted some freshly baked bread so decided it was time to take my first shot at focaccia. I searched many recipes and ended up combining aspects of several of them. The result was not quite the texture I was aiming for, but it was still light, flavorful, and delicious. I incorporated rosemary from my home garden (the top of the plant is visible to the right of the olive oil) in the dough as well as on top and also topped it with onions made from my farm share caramelized with some maple syrup and red wine.
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