Monday, December 27, 2010

Eating a Monster

My Dad is a hunter and while I often think "hunting" is code for "sitting in the woods for a little bit then drinking with your friends" he does on occasion bring something home. Although I've been making an effort to think more about where my food comes from, there is a line past which I don't really want to go. However, this year was a bit different, and I managed to listen to lots of dead deer stories and even peruse some pictures because my Dad scored a "once-in-a-lifetime" deer. A great, clean shot (i.e. the animal didn't suffer) and one big ass deer. So big, in fact, that some of the North Country locals have named it and while drinking beers after, Dad and friends had to chain it to the camp to prevent carcass theft. (Don't ask me, we're talking super North Country here...)

Anyway, the "Milebrook Monster" as it is known doffed ten points and weighed in at 240 pounds. Even a city-dweller like me knows that is, as I said before, a big ass deer. Said big ass deer provided us with A LOT of meat, which Dad kindly shared. For the longest time I swore I didn't like venison, but let me tell you, when cooked properly it is yummy yummy stuff.

We had some loin tonight. The meat was pre cut into thin steaks which Western One seasoned very simply with salt and pepper. A quick sear (I think he did a minute or so per side) in a hot cast iron skillet and the steaks were perfect. Medium-rare, juicy and not the least bit gamey. A simple black beans and rice dish on the side and he had a great meal. We still have some steaks, stew meat and sausage in the freezer so I'll have to figure out how to prepare some different cuts. While I don't see myself out field dressing a buck anytime soon, it was kind of nice to know, in no uncertain terms, exactly where my food came from.


My mom made a big turkey dinner for Christmas, so despite our non-turkey Thanksgiving, I was able to stuff myself with juicy bird, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and, most importantly, pie. I make an okay pie. I whipped up a couple of pumpkin pies this season but never got around to apple. I'm the first to admit I'm bad at crusts and currently don't even own a rolling pin (something that I hope will soon be remedied by my woodworking Uncle who has promised me a homemade french rolling pin) so my apple pies almost always have a crumb topping.
My mom, however, does make a good pie. And, more importantly, she always makes extra. One of my favorite rituals is pie for breakfast. It's no different than a sugary danish or cinnamon bun and is often tastier.

We were sent home with a selection of slices. I scarfed down one slice of mixed berry for breakfast the other day but hadn't touched the stuff in a day or so. We're leaving town tomorrow and it would be sin to let the pie go bad, so I grabbed the tin for a little dessert buffet. Clearly we have an elf in the house - I did not take a bite out of the remaining slice of berry, and Western One swears it wasn't him. I'll let you decide, but it looks like a fork scar to me...

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I've apparently been sucked into the end-of-year cliche musings about days past. It's a chilly Saturday morning, I should be braving either the mall or the office, likely both, but instead I've been bunkered under the covers organizing photos.

Can't you just taste the summer?

My digital photo collection, with the exception of our big road trip this summer, largely consists of pictures of food and pictures of wonderpup. There are a few of Western One scattered in there too, lest he feel unappreciated. I've deleted a TON of food pics and still they persist. There are pictures of successes, failures, images for spectacular blog posts that I never got around to writing.

Oven-dried tomatoes from my friend the Tomato King

I can't help but wonder how many of those pictures represent an idea I tried so I would have something interesting to write about here, or a meal I forced myself to stay at home and cook instead of ordering take-out. I went back and read my very first post, and was relieved to see that I'd predicted some pitfalls on my road to more thoughtful cooking and finding a general balance in life. From its start back in March, I do believe this is post number 117 here on Green Peccadilloes. Some months were more prolific than others, and some posts were downright cringeworthy, but I'm getting there and most importantly I'm having fun and learning a lot. Thanks to all of you for making that the case.

Here are some of the dredged up images that made me smile this morning. I'll see if I can get my butt in gear and resurrect some of those "lost posts" soon!

Just 'cuz the thought of cold beer
and cowboys made me smile

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Manufactured Leftovers

Since I've been unable to shake the real turkey sandwich craving after my bovine-based Thanksgiving, I finally decided to just give in. I grabbed a turkey breast at the store today, something that I really would never think to make for a dinner. Ah, but cold the next day, that's another story. There is a nice ziploc baggy of sliced up meat in the fridge, just crying out for salt, pepper, mayo and white bread. I think it also has a little date with the leftover bacon from this morning.

Now I know I could make something fancier with my "leftover" turkey. Some great sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado and greens. But that's not what I've been dying for. I want simple, bad for me mayo and white bread goodness.

This also helps me solve my lunch dilemma for a few days. I'm not a big cold cuts person so the easy sandwich is often out of reach. That is excepting PB&J, of course, but there are two problems with that for me: 1. I so enjoy a good PB&J that I usually can't wait until lunchtime to eat it and scarf it down at my desk around 10, thus defeating the purpose, and 2. Wonderpup is OBSESSED with peanut butter and until I actually remember to buy more, I just don't have the heart to slather the last of his favorite treat on bread for myself.

Finally, I'm trying a new stock-making method - in the oven. It wasn't quite done when my bedtime/blog-drafting time came around, so Western One is in charge of wrapping it up. Let's see how that goes...

Monday, December 6, 2010


Ok, what the hell is this? Someone needs to teach me how to properly wrap a wrap. But hey, I actually made myself a healthy lunch today - veggies and hummus wrapped, er, folded up in a device that is supposed to be for wrapping, but apparently is not. I'd like to pretend this sad sandwich got smooshed in my bag, but it pretty much went in looking like this.

Now that it's frigid, getting outside for a walk at lunch is considerably less appealing. This is good because I really need to be better about bringing food to work. I try to pack up leftovers, but I'm so bad at eating the same meal twice in a row. I'm not a big lunchmeat person, what with all the crap loaded in cold cuts, so I'm trying to get creative. This wasn't too interesting, just cukes and red pepper with a healthy schmear of hummus, but it was tasty. Any easy lunch ideas, dear readers?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rosemary and Black Pepper Roasted Walnuts

I don't often post recipes here per se, because really, I rarely use them. Don't get me wrong, I'll bop around Epicuruous with the best of 'em, but usually just for inspiration or proportion guidance. I'm not going to pretend that my failure to use recipes is a result of my natural genius in the kitchen. It's more like I'm not good at making lists or following directions. I never seem to have everything just the way a recipe requires, so I improvise.

I made these rosemary roasted walnuts last year about this time and they were awesome. They are the reason I have a big terra cotta pot of rosemary in my house right now. (because a quarter cup is a lot of rosemary, who can afford to buy it at the grocery store?) I tried to make them again from memory and they were just lacking something. Maybe I didn't measure right (that'd be because I didn't measure...) and I totally forgot about the sugar. My outcome was ok, but certainly not what I'd remembered. I'll give it another go and actually follow the instructions this time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Giving Thanks for blue cheese, and goat cheese, and...

I'm finally getting around to the details of our turkey-free Thanksgiving. There were just four of us, which was spectacularly stress-free and wonderful. Western One took the lead with the steaks and made potato-leek-tarragon soup and a side dish of sauteed-grape tomatoes with basil. I played around with the apps and realized my vision of blue chees
e mashed potatoes. Yeah, I said blue cheese mashed potatoes. They were out of control decadent but oh so good.

I caramelized about 3 onions and set them aside. I always heat up my milk and butter before mixing in with the taters, so I just added chopped up blue cheese to the saucepan and let it all melt together. When the potatoes were cooked I mashed them up with the cheese-butter-cream/milk combo, folded in some finely chopped rosemary and the onions and seasoned w/ salt and pepper. The blue cheese flavor was subtle, but just right.

We put away a few nice bottles of red wine, munched on cheese, smoked salmon and other goodies. I am pretty proud of my lovely cheese board and goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto. I can't pretend I really did anything special to make the dates awesome, it's really pretty hard to screw up with goat cheese and prosciutto. One good tip though - wet hands are helpful when trying to manipulate goat cheese.

The steaks were perfect and all in all it was a lovely way to spend our first holiday entirely in our own home. I have to admit, I was a little wistful about not having cold turkey sandwiches or my mom's stuffing but I can always do a mocked up turkey day sometime soon.

So in addition to figuring out how to make great potatoes and learning that steak makes a fantastic substitute for turkey, I learned one other important lesson: drunken wii bowling with a rambunctious 60 pound pup is a potentially dangerous proposition!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm told I am in trouble. I've been a very negligent poster of late, a fact that I lamented a few weeks ago and promised to rectify. I'm really good at dropping the ball with respect to resolutions - this is why my gym loves me. Currently, I am suffering from some nasty professional writer's block and procrastination issues, so what better time to get back in the blogging saddle, right? Maybe fun writing will shake something loose...

So, speaking of the gym and love - I've got lots of the latter for Western One and am really going to need the former as a result. Another highlight from my much-drawn-out birthday series ....


In my defense, due to some shipping snafus the delivery was a good few weeks late so I haven't been sitting on this one for all that long. I'm showing really phenomenal restraint and have only opened the Salty Caramel so far, but I will be sure to report on some of the flavors I've never had like Wildberry Lavendar, Brown Butter Almond Brittle and Bangkok Peanut.

Getting an ice cream delivery from the mid-west is exciting on multiple fronts. There's the obvious, of course. But then you can pretend that you're really something special because you're having ICE CREAM SHIPPED to your door. I mean, it's not caviar straight from Russia, but who needs fish eggs when you have Salty Caramel? Finally, dry ice is always a fun toy...