Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Barbados

A few things I learned about visiting Barbados:

1. You might see a monkey running free, or a humming bird, lizards, bull frogs, baseball-sized crabs on the beach, or a mongoose--though we never saw the latter.
2. Instant coffee really is an abomination. Next time, pack good coffee.
3. A huge fillet of fresh, grilled swordfish, in a tiny place on the side of the road...$7 (USD), as opposed to Whole Food's $7/lb.
4. Rum in Barbados is 43% alcohol, and watered down to 40% when sold in the US.
5. Putting bitters in rum punch....Interesting.
6. Add an extra day of vacay to both adjust to the heat, and to mentally power down from work-mode.
7. Put smart phones in waterproof bags when going out, in case there is no shelter during the daily 15-minute downpour.
8. Make early arrangements for Chris' job to pay for another trip to Barbados (the one time when work like this pays, literally).
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Monday, November 29, 2010


11/20/10.Chris' work trip, converted into a mini-vacation. Such a gift.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planting Garlic for Next June

Last week, I put the garden to bed and this weekend helped my friend Elizabeth do the same. For mine, I only had to pull out the bigger plants. I bunched up the empty containers a corner on the deck and will cover them with a tarp for the winter, so the weight of the snow doesn't compact the soil. For Elizabeth's plot at her community garden (see below), we pulled up anything that wasn't green, bagged it, and covered the bed with leaves.
But, before both gardens were put to bed, we planted garlic...the final experiment for the 2010 garden. Garlic takes quite a while to grow. Planting cloves in early November means I'll hopefully have full heads of garlic to harvest in June or July of next year. I saved the largest cloves from our last head of csa garlic and dried them out in a paper bag, for at least two months. I had been advised to plant at the end of October. We shall see.
Planting garlic, an Urban Chicken workshop at SCLT, and a trip to the batting cages. All outdoors this weekend, and such a great end to the growing season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Sweet Potato Fries

Deli Haus, a retro diner tucked underground in Boston's Fenway Square, introduced me to sweet potato fries. I remember it vividly. I had just moved to Boston and was about to turn 22. Back when Fenway Square had character, before it was devoured by Boston University-owned swanky hotels, the retro square had an old record store, a great coffee shop, and among other things, a downstairs restaurant/diner called Deli Haus. The diner had great food, an excess of coolness, walls saturated with smoke, and beer served until 1 or 2 am. If you were liked, you could stay past 3. Brilliant. And I can't seem to stay up past 10:30 most nights.
The cider reduction makes this more of a fancy pants dish, but a well-salted, simpler version is just as good. From our CSA last month comes another fittingly Fall meal. Inspired by some recipe somewhere, which I can no longer find...and my memory of Deli Haus.

Sweet Potato Fries with a Cider Reduction
(and a side of grilled white asparagus)

Add a cup or two of cider to a saucepan and set on a low boil for almost an hour, until reduced (by more than 3/4) to a thick glaze.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop sweet potatoes long-wise (I used 2 potatoes) into wedges and brush with olive oil and salt (not too much of either). Bake on a sheet for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft and browned. I salt them right out of the oven as well. Top with the cider reduction.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


1. First snow yesterday. It creates such a mood. Song share: Flakes by Mystery Jets.

2.Snow last winter:
3. Love this photo:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Late Halloween Photos

A few pumpkin pics from the Pumpkin Spooktacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo from 10/31/10 (phone

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Green Bean Casserole in a skillet

For our 2nd year with a CSA (this year with Four Friends Farms), I am once again very happy; buying a farm share was healthy, socially responsible, sustainable, and it challenged us to try new recipes and learn more about fresh food. We will be CSA-ing as long as we can afford it. This recipe, for example, was inspired by the fact that we had two big bags of fresh green beans...'fresh' as in 'picked a few days ago.' Alton Brown promised the "best recipe," so we gave it a try. Of course, with a few tweaks.

Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole: My notes: The green beans need to be cooked a minute or two longer and we used milk instead of cream, which means that it needed to be cooked down a bit longer once in the cast iron skillet, as well. Also, if the green beans are salted (you'll know when tasting them before blanching), don't over salt the mushrooms or the final dish.

For the topping:
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth (veggie broth - also can be salty)
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or milk)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. (beware of blackening) Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. (but taste them, they may need a minute or two longer, if they're large) Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. (If using milk reduce down longer)

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Heirloom Pumpkins

This year we picked up both a white pumpkin (below) up in Cumberland and a blue-gray pumpkin down in Westerly--both in Rhode Island. I love these more unusual squash and hopefully I'll be able to dry out a few seeds and grow them next year (especially if we have a giant backyard).
The gray pumpkin feels like marble -- the white one was more like a regular pumpkin. And since I wanted it to last, I couldn't carve it up. Thus the Martha Stewart blast of glitter: