Friday, July 29, 2011


All righty, then. Here's what I'm going with as a sangria recipe tonight:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 750 ml. red Italian wine
  • 1/2 c. brandy
  • 1/2 c. triple sec
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 1/3 c. orange juice
  • 2 lemon rinds
  • 2 lime rinds
  • Lemon-lime soda, or soda water

  1. Combine sugar and water in a Pyrex container. Heat at high in a microwave for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine all remaining ingredients except the soda in a sealable pitcher. Place in refrigerator.
  3. When sugar water has cooled, add it to the pitcher. Refrigerate wine mixture overnight.
  4. To serve, pour 1 part soda to about 4 parts wine in a large glass. Add ice.

I'm winging it here, folks, but I think the results will be at least drinkable. Also, kudos to this recipe on upon which this experimental recipe was based. Dudes and dudettes... 1/4 cup triple sec? Gutsiest move I ever saw, man. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grasshoppers: Pickup Number 7

 In this week's basket:
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 4 Ancho peppers
  • 3 nectarines
  • 5 peaches
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 watermelon
  • 3.89 lbs. smoke-cured ham

Yikes! More sage! After a week, I still had no clue what to due with my previous batch of sage. The leaves were starting to darken, so I stripped them off the stalks and saved them divided into 5 ziploc bags, which I placed in a larger ziploc bag, and then put it all in the freezer. I had a vague notion that I would simmer some basil with tomatoes to make pasta sauce. But then a friend suggested pesto! Shoot, yeah! So that's definitely what I'm going to do with this current bunch of basil.

The Ancho peppers are destined to become Chiles Rellenos. I learned the hard way that it's easier to char the skin off the peppers by broiling them in the oven than it is by searing them in a skillet on top of the stove. If I only had a gas stove, I'd just have to turn the peppers directly over the flame. I feel lame and inadequate because I don't have a gas stove. Yeah... don't get me started. In any case, I know the Chiles Rellenos are going to be muy sabroso.

As for the nectarines and peaches, I learned (again, the hard way) that if you put such fruit in the refrigerator you interrupt the ripening process. With that in mind, I put the fruit in a large glass bowl in the open air. I intend to monitor them closely to avoid rot and snap them up at the peak of ripeness. I recall hearing Paula Poundstone complain about buying a melon at the grocery. She said she had to wake her kids up in the middle of the night because "the melon was ripe". And yeah, sometimes it seems about that bad. If they all ripen at once, I think I can pop them in the refrigerator so I don't have to consume them all within a few hour window. You can tell I'm not an expert fruit-haver.

The tomatoes are probably going to go into a salad. As for the eggplant, I'm thinking Eggplant Parmigiana. The very thought makes my mouth water. Eggplant is notorious for sucking up all available oil, so it can be a challenge to sauté. When it turns out right, it is well worth the effort. I'll serve it perhaps with some angel hair pasta. Oh! And toasted bread with some of my homemade basil pesto! Yum!

The watermelon is so cute. It's the size and shape of a small, toy football. If it were closer to Comic-Con, I'd poke a hole in it and pour in a pint or so of vodka. Always a good party treat. As it is, I'll probably cut it into fourths for light desserts or afternoon treats.

The ham... wow. It's all frozen in one large package. I'm thinking I could use part of it in a sinfully delicious casserole of cheddar cheese, sour cream, and potatoes or macaroni, with maybe a small amount of green pepper as a counterpoint. If I unthaw it, I unthaw it all. This means that, at some point, I'm going to be eating a lot of ham. (And why does "unthaw" mean the same as "thaw"?)

Again... so much food... so little time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grasshoppers: Pickup Number 6

In this week's basket:
  • 2 beets
  • 1 head lettuce (Butterhead?)
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch small carrots
  • 1 large bunch basil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 pieces short ribs
  • 3 steaks

For starters, the lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots went into a salad along with some supplementary lettuce, radishes, mushrooms, and a cucumber. The tomatoes are indeed very tasty--nothing like the styrofoam "fresh" tomatoes available at the grocery.

I'll use the beets in a recipe for Beets in Orange Sauce. The steaks will make me a couple of dinners along with sides. Garlic will always be used, as will the red onion.

The basil is giving me pause. I could buy some quality canned tomatoes and use some basil to make a nice spaghetti sauce. We're talking about a lot of basil here, though! Worst case, I'll freeze some in usable portions. Damn, this is a lot of basil!

Short ribs: They'll be oven-barbecued.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Approach To Social Media (Apologies In Advance)

My Twitter account is locked. I may be paranoid, but I prefer to have some degree of control as to who sees the ruthless truth that I tweet. From time to time I'll get a follow request from someone who is following 16,000+ people and is followed by a similar mob. Excuse me, potential follower, are you sure you're even remotely interested in anything I have to say? I think not, and I have no desire to be a bump for your statistics. BLOCK.

My philosophy of Facebook connections is even more restrictive. The only people I connect with on Facebook are a) people I know and b) proven MST3K fans. Other people are free to rifle through the White Pages to look for "friends".

I'm still working on my Google+ philosophy. Rest assured that it will not be "open to the world". I only post to people in my Circles. Sometimes I only post to "close friends". If there is any personal revelation in my post, I disable re-sharing.

The uncomfortable side of Google+ is when an innocent, unknown person adds me to their Circles. I refuse to blindly add to my Circles anyone who adds me to their Circles. Just because someone is nice enough to add me to their Circles doesn't mean that I will now consent to sharing my personal life with them. It's rather tame in these early days, but once the Marketers suss out the cracks, we G+ folk are going to be bombarded with spam. I trust that Google will find a solution to this future problem. For now, on Google+, I add no one to my Circles unless I truly know them. So, apologies to all you nice folks that I don't know at present and who decide to add me to your Circles on G+. Once Google+ is a more mature product, there may be a way for me to acknowledge your graciousness.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Google+: Tapping The Brakes

I don't think there is anyone on earth who wants Google+ to succeed more than I do. I'm quite sick of Zuckerberg's secretive dissemination of my personal information to his advertising clients. If Google+ succeeds, it will be because they respect users' privacy in a way that seems genetically impossible for Zuckerberg. I believe that Google does want to be non-evil (which is in direct opposition to Zuckerberg's apparent and gleefully satanic "Subjugate-the-World-and-Drink-Your-Blood" business model).

I would love to abandon ZuckFace and play only on G+, but I have some concerns.

First and foremost: Who can see the content I post on Google+?

I know that, when I post on G+, I can specify a precise list of contacts with whom I want to share the content. If I +mention someone in my post, that person automatically has permission to view the content. I don't really have a problem with that. Maybe Google is thinking, if I post a statement about Paris Hilton, then Paris Hilton should have the right to see what I'm saying about her.

Where the strategy breaks down, however, is that anyone who comments on my original material and +mentions someone else effectively changes my original permission settings to include the +mentioned individual.

To boil this down: Anything you post on Google+ is potentially viewable by anyone on the web.

As fast and loose as ZuckFace plays with your privacy, you are still (as of 10:41 PM EST 2011-07-10) able to know who will see what you post. Likewise with Twitter if you've locked down your account.

I've sent feedback to Google today expressing my concerns about this matter. Until and unless they allow me to specify who sees my posts, I can't participate fully and freely in Google+.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

This is how I used my blueberries from last week's CSA pickup. I use my hand mixer maybe once or twice a year--baking is not something I do very often. I have a bread machine that I use frequently for whole wheat bread and I'm not all that into cakes, pies, or cookies. Still, this will be great with my morning coffee at work next week.

  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 c. white flour
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. light butter
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 pint blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until well mixed (I usually wind up kneading with my hands). Set aside 3/4 c. of this mixture for topping.
  3. Add baking powder, milk, and egg yolks. Blend until smooth with a hand mixer.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the batter.
  5. Turn out batter into a greased 9" x 13" cake pan. Top with blueberries and reserved flour-sugar-butter mixture.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes until top is browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Italian Stewed Cabbage

This is a delicious side dish that goes well with a pork chop and one other side, such as sauteed squash.

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 medium sweet onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 T. chopped garlic
  • 1 large head Emiko cabbage or 2 medium heads Napa cabbage, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, preferably Italian style
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1.  Heat olive oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onions, celery, and garlic. Stir to coat evenly with oil.
  3. Cover and cook the vegetables until they are soft and slightly browned--about 10 minutes--stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomatoes, cabbage, herbs, and spices. Mix well, cover, and reduce heat to medium low.
  5. Continue to cook for about 40 minutes. Ideally, the cabbage should be cooked, but the stalks should still be just a tad crunchy, as in a stir fry.
  6. Serve hot, or serve leftovers cold or at room temperature. Top with some grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Yield: 4-6 servings

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grasshoppers: Pickup Number 5

In this week's basket:
  • 2 heads Emiko cabbage
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 summer squash
  • 1 pt. blueberries
  • 6 green Lodi apples
  • 1 chicken

Emiko cabbage looks a lot like collard greens. I'll probably chop it coarsely and cook it as a side dish. The squash will make a second side. That means I need to come up with a main dish of some kind for Saturday night. Maybe Mac-and-Cheese. I need to find a good recipe for homemade Mac-and-Cheese. The last time I tried, it was kind of blah. Or maybe fish. We'll see.

I think I'll save the chicken for next week since I have some bratwurst in the fridge that needs to be used. I found a nice-looking cast iron Dutch oven on Amazon that allegedly has a smooth bottom that should work on my ceramic top stove. I haven't ordered it yet, but I'm tempted. I'd like to use the chicken to make Coq Au Vin, and I'd really rather do that in cast iron than stainless steel. I hate to keep buying things for the kitchen, though. I need to get rid of some stuff that I don't use any more. The yard sale at the animal shelter near my house has already had its yard sale recently, though. And I'm drifting way off topic.

Okay, blueberries. I'm not sure what to do with these. I could make blueberry muffins. I could make banana-blueberry bread. Or I could just use them on cereal. More research is needed.

The apples are for snacks. I'm not a huge apple fan, however. These apples are crisp and tart and much better than the flavorless apples I've gotten at the grocery.