Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grasshoppers Pickup Number 17

This week's basket contained:
  • 1 chicken
  • 2-1/2 large Daikon radishes
  • 2 butternut squash
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 bunch thyme

The chicken will give me another opportunity to practice my "cut up a whole chicken" technique. I'm not sure what I'll use it in, but I have dozens of awesome chicken recipes.

The Daikon radishes are a curve ball--I have no experience with these. I'm thinking I need to make a root vegetable stew, possibly with Indian spices. I still have 2 turnips and one acorn squash from previous pickups. I don't know if Daikon radishes would work well in such a recipe. Research is required.

The sweet potatoes could go into the root vegetable stew or I could make another sweet potato pie. Or I could bake one as a side dish in a meat-and-two dinner. I like sweet potatoes!

The cabbage really wants to be cooked with pork and served with cornbread. So much food... so little time.

The arugula should go into a salad. Therefore I add salad veggies to my grocery list. Maybe the one-half Daikon radish could go into the salad.

The thyme would ideally go into a chicken recipe, but I don't see myself using the chicken in the very near future. I'm not sure how long fresh thyme keeps. Second best is that it goes into my root vegetable stew, although it's likely to be overpowered by spices.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blog Visibility -- An Occasional Problem

Sometimes I feel like blogging about things that have occurred in my workplace. Uh... can't do it on because all of my blog entries are potentially viewable by anyone on the internet. This is not a bad thing when I'm blogging about, say, a recipe. When I'm blogging about an unpleasant disagreement with my boss... well, that's another thing. And if the date-time stamp indicates that I posted the entry in the middle of a work day? I don't do this habitually, but yes, it has happened on a slow day.

In the interest of stress-free blogging I will be looking into creating a second blog that I would prefer to be visible only to my known friends. I've come across some comments (which may be outdated) that suggest that such a scenario is possible on If I can make this work and if I can invite all my current followers, please don't get freaked out by an email inviting you to follow such-and-such a new blog.

Yeah. And Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Dinner 2011

I guess it's about time that I started getting serious about finalizing my menu for Christmas dinner. The entree, Coq au Vin, is set and I think I have all the necessary ingredients on hand, including a free-range chicken.

So, here's my proposed menu.
  • Appetizers (smoked salmon, cheese, crackers, Chilean Pinot Noir)
  • Green Salad (store-bought salad mix with Italian dressing)
  • Squash Soup
  • Shrimp Cocktail (simple: shrimp + cocktail sauce)
  • Coq au Vin (over new potatoes with crusty bread)
  • Lagniappe (tortilla chips & salsa)
  • Sweet Potato Pie

The word is: SLOW. As in "eat slowly". If I am to have any hope of making it through this menu I am going to have to refine the art of nibbling. Even so there's about an 80% chance that I will not be having a piece of Sweet Potato Pie at the end of this menu.

Food. I do love you so.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dangerous Kitchen Improvements: help?

 As background, I'll explain that my house is an ancient (circa 1972) pre-fab bi-level that I bought in (as I recall) 1978. The darned thing is paid off now. Huzzah!

The downside is that stuff is wearing out. I really should (at a minimum) have my bathroom and kitchen remodeled. The cost is not an impediment, but having to take time off work (like maybe lots of time) to babysit the work has been a roadblock.

This afternoon, the aerator in my kitchen faucet broke. I most definitely need to replace the faucet, but I thought, hey, this could be a good opportunity to also replace the sink (which is the original from sometime late in the previous century). And if I replaced the sink, what if I added a disposal?

I know I'm in the stone age, but I've never had a disposal unit and I've never had a dishwasher. My question is: Are disposal units a good thing to have? Are there any dangers if there are pets (cats) in the house?

TIA for your consideration.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Please note: This is not a "recipe" in the sense that I've made this dozens of times and I'm confident that the result is palatable. This is just a documentation of the food experiment that I'm making tonight.


  • 1 small/medium acorn squash, cut lengthwise and seeded.
  • 1/2 c. long grain rice, cooked
  • 1/4 c. olive and/or canola oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. cayenne


  1. Cook rice.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet. Heat and add carrots, onion, turnip, and rice.
  3. Cook vegetables over medium-high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until they are soft. Add a bit of water if the rice sticks to the skillet.
  4. Turn off heat and add spices to the vegetables. Mix well.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F.
  6. Place halved squash in a deep Corningware casserole dish. Fill each half with 1/2 of the stuffing mixture.
  7. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

Dudes and Dudettes, if this doesn't turn out good for ya, make a fix and post your improvement. Huzzah!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grasshoppers Pickup Number 16

This week's pickup consisted of:
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1 large head Napa cabbage
  • 1 small head Bibb lettuce
  • 2 smallish winter squash
  • 2 large and 1 tiny sweet potatoes
  • Ginger root
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 lamb ribs
  • 1 lb. ground lamb

I also ordered a few add-on items for Christmas time:
  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 2 lbs. coarse grits
  • 1 dozen eggs

The parsley, garlic, chicken, and part of the bacon are destined for my Christmas Dinner entree: Coq au Vin. I've not yet decided on a full menu for the dinner.

The cabbage was a g-dsend. I may have mentioned that I've been accumulating my CSA meat in the freezer. I had decided that I would make an Irish Boiled Dinner this weekend with a rather large beef roast. I was going to buy a head of cabbage at Meijer this Saturday, but now I have a fresh, local head of Napa cabbage that will work out perfectly.

The lettuce will be added to a bag of salad that I made earlier this week.

I'm feeling pressured by winter squash! I have 4 small winter squash now and no firm plans for putting them to use. This is going to require some research. Roasted squash is good but I'm not a huge fan of sweet-tasting side dishes. It's like, if you add mass quantities of butter and brown sugar to a dish, it does not belong on the dinner plate. I could roast it, halved, as a dessert, but I rarely have room for dessert. And besides, I also got sweet potatoes!

I happen to have a spare pie shell in my fridge, so at least one of the sweet potatoes will be going into a pie. I'm cool with a roast sweet potato as a side dish with butter and pepper.

The ginger root would be great in a curry or a stir fry. With all the other cooking I'll be doing I don't know that I'll have room for another main dish. I'll have to research side dishes that use lots of ginger.

The lamb ribs have to be oven barbecued. I'm not sure what to do with a pound of ground lamb. I would definitely want to choose a dish that allows the lamb's own flavor to be prominent. So... more research.

The grits and eggs and part of the bacon will be used in some delicious Big Brunches over my Christmas vacation. I also have 8 or 9 eggs bought at Meijer that I need to use. Baking? Pound cake? I'm not sure.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts on Christmas Dinner

In recent years, I've made Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners designed to be served and eaten as maybe a half dozen dishes and side-dishes crowded onto one platter. This Christmas, I'm going to take a different approach. I intend for the meal to be a leisurely stroll through a number of courses, each of which will consist of a fairly small portion.

I've not decided on a menu, but I have decided that the entree will be Coq au Vin. I've ordered a free-range chicken and some locally produced bacon from my CSA.

As for the other courses, I'm thinking along the lines of salad, appetizer, soup, lagnappe, and desert. If everything works out, this will be much more enjoyable that the "one-plate" holiday meals I've known from tradition.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Offer To My Tweeps

(Note: If you're not one of my tweeps, please disregard this post.)

Several years ago, I became obsessed with reading Greek history. Specifically, I was interested in Herodotus, Thucydides, and I dabbled a bit in the age of Alexander the Great.

One consequence of this obsession was that I stopped reading "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine". I had a subscription to the 'zine and continued to receive issues for years. I may still be receiving them--I'm not sure.

I've moved on from Greek history (at least temporarily), but now I'm all excited about reading eBooks on my Kindle.

The upshot of all of this is that I have a large stack of unread IASFM issues just taking up space. If any of my tweeps would be interested in receiving a box of these magazines, please DM me on Twitter. Please understand that I will be biased in favor of my closest tweeps--it's not strictly first-come-first-served. I will gladly pay for postage. You'll be doing me a favor.

Thanks for your attention!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Grasshoppers Pickup Number 15

This week's basket contained:
  • 1 beef shoulder roast
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 acorn squash
  • Red mustard greens
  • 1 large head Chinese cabbage
  • Escarole
  • 2 green turnips
  • 1 bag of salad mix

With all the leafy greens in this basket, I'm going to have to be aggressive in making use of them--they won't keep for long.

I intend to braise the mustard greens with some bacon to make a side dish. (Big ole smile!)

The cabbage will be stewed with a few country-style pork ribs and served with cornbread. I thought about using the potatoes to make German potato salad, but I'd really need more than 2 potatoes. I might just bake the potatoes as 2 side dishes. They would be great as a side dish with the pork chops I've got in the freezer. but I'm not sure I'd get to those chops in time.

The escarole will go into salad. I may buy a few more ingredients (radishes, cherry tomatoes, etc.) to go into this.

The turnips and the acorn squash--I don't know. I might could use them in some sort of "root vegetable curry". They'll keep for a bit, so I have a little time to decide.

As usual, the meat is accumulating in my freezer. My first thought about the shoulder roast is slow-cooking it on top of the stove with potatoes, carrots, onions, and a few cups of water to make a cornstarch-thickened sauce. To be served with crusty French bread and a hearty red wine. Simple and delicious.