animals talking in all caps, farmers market, going rustic, spinach

Rustic

WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT AN iPAD?

DAMN IT, CAROL, THAT’S NOT VERY RUSTIC. I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO BE TOTALLY RUSTIC IN 2012. WASN’T THAT THE DEAL? YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE FARMER’S MARKET BRINGING HOME HEIRLOOM TOMATOES WRAPPED CAREFULLY IN CHEESECLOTH, AND SPINACH WITH LITTLE BUGS IN IT. WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND AN APPLE STORE?

… MAYBE IF WE GLUE WOOD TO IT, LIKE A FRAME OR SOMETHING, WE CAN KEEP IT NEAR THE HEARTH SOMEWHERE.

Thank you, Vrylena, for introducing me to ‘ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS‘ last year. It brings me such joy.

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baking, baking while baked, getting to like foods, mallow cookies, mallows, marshmallows

Warming Up To Marshmallows

I was in the middle of making a batch of Mallow cookies when the realization kind of hit me.

I no longer loathe marshmallows.

For many, this wouldn’t be quite a significant moment. For me, it actually was.

Marshmallows and I had an understanding, you see. I would tolerate them enough to let them swim around in, and thicken up, my Swiss Miss but, otherwise, I didn’t want to see their weird cork shaped bodies. Peeps were given away, out of disgust, at Easter time and Fluffernutters were just not a part of my childhood. Rocky Road was never as appealing as Mint Chocolate Chip in the summer. I was so ambivalent about them that I would even wrinkle my nose at a perfectly toasted campfire marshmallow on a stick. My first S’mores, to my recollection, was had just a few years ago when my sister and nephews came to visit.

My aversion was always a combination of flavor (too sugary) and texture (too spongy). Outside of creating a sugar raft in my hot chocolate their only other purpose, I thought, was to bind together a batch of Rice Krispie treats. They were the bastard, underdeveloped cousin to my beloved nougat and I avoided them, or anything with them, whenever I could.

Then, sometime over the past 8 1/2 years of living in Maine, I stopped detesting them so much (That is not to say that I have openly accepted Peeps into my life, though, because I haven’t. That is one sugary confection I don’t quite get). I can’t quite say that I ever imagined that I would embrace them, let alone be standing in the kitchen pouring boiling, gelatinous simple syrup into a bowl of whipped egg whites. But, there’s something slightly satisfying when you realize that you’ve grown into liking foods that you had such a loathing of when you were younger.

So, here is to the marshmallow and our new understanding of one another.

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

For the Cookies:
3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together

For the marshmallows:
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) light corn syrup
3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 whole vanilla bean, split open and seeded

For the chocolate glaze:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Prepare the cookies:
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Prepare the marshmallows:
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla seeds and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Prepare the chocolate glaze:
Melt the chocolate and shortening together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

To assemble:
Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the warm chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

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bacon, bacon and corn griddle cakes, Breakfast and brunch, brunch everyday, fun things with bacon, lazy sundays

Sunday Morning Griddle Cakes

Sunday is, without question, my favorite day of the week. It is a predominantly lazy day in our house, with a mild dose of productivity (there is usually laundry and a bit of cleaning to do, which then turns into mindless tv watching sometime after 2pm). But, what truly makes it my favorite is the fact that it’s the one day off a week that The Missus and I have together. I cherish it. Depending on our moods, and our disposable income, we switch back and forth between going out to our usual haunts for brunch and me cooking up an indulgent meal at home. This week we stayed in and I cooked up a savory stack of pancakes that I came across on Pinterest. (Can we just acknowledge that Pinterest is going to make us all ridiculously fat? Because it is.)

Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes
from Recipe Girl

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.

2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick. If you’d like the griddle cakes to be slightly thinner than those pictured, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.

3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.

4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and a good dose of warm maple syrup.

I used buttermilk in place of the regular milk and some Dinosaur BBQ ‘Foreplay‘ spice mix instead of the cayenne. The cakes were wonderfully fluffy and filling, with sizable chunks of smokey Black Forest Bacon and sweet corn. I used Pineland Farms Salsa Jack cheese, which added a wee bit more flavor to the mix than the Monterey Jack that was called for. While I was dubious of the maple syrup that the recipe called for, but the balance of sweet and savory flavors definitely worked here. They were, dare I say, even better than the griddle cakes I had at Farmhouse Tap and Grill.

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container garden, growing veggies, indigo rose tomato

Setting Sights on Spring

It’s 44 degrees out right now. A group of preschoolers are playing in the park across the way. Sophie the Cat spent time on the deck earlier, stalking unsuspecting overweight squirrels in the trees. Then she laid down and basked in the warm sun. It’s mid-February still, right? I know that we’ve been spoiled with a pleasantly warm and, mostly, snow free winter thus far and I can’t help but have thoughts of what to grow on the deck this year in my army of bright orange Home Depot buckets.

Not all has survived the Pleasant Street deck. The fennel proved to be all frond and no bulb. Garlic rotted off in the spring. Those bastard squirrels attacked my cucumbers, leaving giant bite marks in ones large enough to harvest. Peas and peppers seemed to die off just beyond the seedling stage and what the Aphids didn’t decimate in my lettuces, the natural pesticide did. There has been one constant success in the garden, though: Tomatoes.

So, this year, outside of the usual herbs like thyme, basil, oregano and lemon grass (which does surprisingly well in our Maine climate), I think I’ll be putting out a few buckets of tomatoes. One variety, a new one on the organic seed scene, is the ‘Indigo Rose Tomato,’ developed at Oregon State University.

(photo from OSU)

It’s being dubbed the first ‘true’ purple tomato and my logic is, if it can grow and thrive in Oregon, than it’ll hopefully survive on my deck. Obviously the color is the first thing that struck me, but I am curious as to how it actually tastes. If I can coax it through the seedling stage and we have a warm spring and summer, I’ll be letting you know some time around August.

The flavor profile is said to have “a good balance of sugars and acids,” according to one of the people at OSU. High Mowing Seeds, where I purchased my packet from, describes it as “great, strongly acidic,” and that it looks like a plum when it’s cut into. But, again, time will tell. Hopefully the warm, drier winter doesn’t make for a wet and damp summer like we had a few years ago. I would hate to see another round of blight hit regional tomato crops as I’m sure everyone would.

As the growing season starts up, and I try to get these seeds from germination to transplantation, I’ll update their progress here and we’ll see if this new tomato lives up to the hype.

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eating in portland maine, fried pickles, gluttony, hooters fried pickles, maine shrimp, maine shrimp dip, real italians, silly's restaurant

Edible Obsession: Fried Pickles



Silly’s, on Washington Ave., gave me my first pickle. Coated and deep fried ones, of course. I liked pickles just fine and well before these came into my life several years ago, but I do have to confess to having constant, insatiable cravings for these quite often. That craving struck last week while I was scratching my noggin over what to make for our Super Bowl meal. But, I didn’t want to deal with running out there and, one down side to Silly’s fried pickles is that they tend to be extremely greasy and don’t reheat well in the oven. So, I kind of just pushed the craving to the side. Then, of course, I realized that I could just make my own at home.

So, that’s what I did, using a recipe from everyone’s favorite bar with boobies, Hooters.

Hooters Fried Pickles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika**
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper**
  • 1 11 ounce jar hamburger dill pickle slices (I used Vlasic and half of a jar of Trader Joes Kosher Sandwich slices).
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat 8 cups of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large pot. Drain dill pickles in a colander and then place into a medium sized bowl with the 2 cups of buttermilk. Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Take about a handful of the pickles out of the buttermilk and dredge into the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour, and place battered pickles into hot grease. Be careful not to place too many pickles into the hot grease or the pickles won’t fry up crisp. Fry pickle slices until golden brown. Continue cooking pickles until all are done. Now you can make appetizers just like Hooters with this fried pickle recipe.

**I actually used a couple of tablespoons of Crazy Dick’s Cajun Spice Seasoning, instead of just the paprika and cayenne. I would recommend using any hot spice blend that you have at home to flavor up the flour.

Now, Silly’s spicy dipping sauce is half of the appeal of ordering the fried pickles, so I–with a tip from The Missus’ coworker–tried a hand at making that, too. It was good, but I still think I could have added a bit more spice and because I don’t really measure, these are the estimates.

It wasn’t exactly like Silly’s, but it more than did the trick.

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