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2012 in review

17 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Seven Days of Slow Cooking Part 2

23 Oct

I like to use my crock pot year round. It comes in very handy in warmer weather when you don’t feel like standing over a hot stove or heating up the house with the oven. Perhaps the most rewarding time to use the crock pot, however, is in the cooler months. What’s more comforting than coming home to the delicious smell of dinner waiting for you? Stews, soups, and roasts are just a few of the things that versatile machine can churn out. Here’s a look back at last years slow cooking line up: Tortilla Soup, Asian-Spiced Chicken & More, Minestrone Soup, Spiced Beef Stew, Beef & Bean Chili, Tangy Chicken Thighs, and Beefy Short Ribs. What’s your favorite crock pot recipe?

In Season: Autumn

30 Sep

I go to our local farmers market, Detroit’s Eastern Market, usually once a week. There, I can usually just peruse and see what the farmers are offering and get a good idea of what’s in season at the time. It’s a real treat to eat and prepare fresh, seasonal produce and to be able to purchase it from those who grew it. I wanted to have a reference guide so I put together this list of what is in season in the Autumn in Michigan.

The Belle Isle Bridge and field across from our loft circa 2010 (pre-construction).

Through September: 

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Green Onions
  • Melons: Watermelons, Cantaloupes
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Peppers (Sweet)
  • Raspberries

Try one of these former posts and make the most of the last day of September:

Pasta Lemon Cream Sauce with Salmon (arugula, leeks, zucchini) and Roasted Potato Leek Soup (arugula, leeks, thyme).

Through October:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (Various)
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce (Various)
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Shelling Beans
  • Spinach
  • Squash (Summer)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

There is lots to look forward to this time of year! Halloween is nearing, as is our annual costume party. Let’s not forget all the lovely fall produce coming in. Check out these former posts for some ideas on what to do with it all:

Italian Wedding Soup (broccoli, leeks, kale), Pumpkin Pancakes with Cran-Pom Maple Syrup and Sirloin w/Teriyaki Broth (sweet potatoes, leeks, Daikon radish)

Through November:

  • Apples
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac/Celery Root
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Greens (Various)
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabaga
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Squash (Winter)
  • Turnips

A couple previous posts for your enjoyment:

Grammy’s Chicken Pot Pie (apple, carrots, celery) and Good Luck Chow Mein (cabbage, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas).

Find out what’s in season in your area by visiting the Sustainable Table website.

Ducks hanging in the creek at Franklin Cider Mill in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

“Peach Pie” Heirloom Peaches

2 Aug

On a recent trip to Sam’s Club, I found something most unique in their produce department. They smelled fragrant and delicious and looked so different from any peaches I’d ever seen before so I had to take them home. I’m so glad that I did.

We are big peach fans in this house and have enjoyed several varieties. Now we can add another to our list. These are considered “donut peaches” due to their shape.

From what little information I was able to find, most donut peaches are very sweet and have white flesh. Not these little guys. The flavor was sweet, but not overly so, and the color was just lovely.

I would certainly recommend these peaches and look forward to having them again myself. I sure hope Sam’s Club still has them the next time I get out there.

Italian Food

10 May

Italian Food, by Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

Me too! And if that wasn’t enough to choose from, check out some of my other Italian-inspired recipes: Spinach Ricotta Gnudi, Italian Wedding Soup, Pesto Chicken & Vegetable Pasta and stay tuned for my next post.

A Couple of Updates & Ideas

7 May

I wanted to add a few features to this blog, aside from sharing my own recipes.

  • I’d like to begin each week with my menu plan, and would be pleased as punch if you shared yours with me.
  • I would also like to share my eating adventures with you, and again would be glad to learn of yours!
  • Lastly, I’d love to discuss my cooking goals, and look forward to hearing yours as well.

All feedback is welcome. I look forward to sharing more with you!

Laissez les bons temps rouler: Mardi Gras is here!

18 Feb

Fat Tuesday is just 3 days away! How do you plan to celebrate? A lot of people think of Mardi Gras as the wild spring-break-like, girls-gone-wild scene mostly acted out on Bourbon Street. There is so much more to it than that.

The origins of the Mardi Gras may be found long before Europeans ever set food in the New World. According to the East Jefferson Parish website, in mid February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom.

Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Mardi Gras had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages, where it was a major holiday. Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, from where he launched an expedition up the Mississippi River. On March 3 of 1699, Iberville had set up a camp on the west bank of the river about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. This was the day Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France. In honor of this important day, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras.

You may find more about traditional celebrations of Mardi Gras and how they evolved over the years at the website linked above. To me, as one who lived in New Orleans for a stint and grew up going at least once a year, Mardi Gras is about family and friends. And food, of course! As with many traditions from that region, food plays a huge roll in celebrating Mardi Gras.

In honor of this celebratory time, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite Cajun, Creole, and Southern dishes. A bit of me wishes I could be in New Orleans this weekend and attend some of the wonderful parades, balls, and parties. But, I’ll bake up a King Cake and fix one of our favorite dishes and call it good. I bought February’s issue of Louisiana Cookin’ because I was feeling so nostalgic. I hope you enjoy!