24 November 2010

A Tale of Two Turkeys

So as mentioned before, we went to Central Market to pick up our heirloom turkey.  I was pretty sure that it was going to be about $6/lb.  I wasn't stoked about the price, but resolved to cook the hell out of it and make every bit count, from the pan drippings (gravy), to the bird itself (oh my, the leftover possibilities!) to making a really amazing turkey stock (stock!) to the rendered fat (perhaps the best part of all: schmaltz!).  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the turkey only cost about $25.

Fast forward to when we brought everything home and actually looked at the turkey, to find that it was actually a free range turkey and not the heritage turkey that I had been planning for months.  This made the price and the unexpected plumpness of the turkey make sense.  I called Central Market right away to find out how to swap it out and they graciously offered to bring the heritage turkey to my house since it was their mistake.  I expected them to charge me the difference between the two birds and then take back the free range bird because, you see, the heritage bird actually *is* $6/lb.

So the dude came, handed me the bird, and was about to leave and said that we could keep the turkey because they had a bunch extra.  So instead of charging us $62.30 for our 10.4 lb heritage turkey, they charged us $24.32 for both and now I have 22.62 lbs of amazing turkey in my fridge for the price of one large Butterball.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! :)

Thanksgiving menu for two.

I've been compulsively writing lists lately.  I think it's my coping mechanism for trying to get through life at the moment.  It's not just TO DO: lists, it's everything from stuff to get at the grocery store to imaginary playlists to amusing stuff I've been reading.  It seems only appropriate to share my favorite kind of list now (menu, duh. ;))

Thanksgiving menu

shallot and lemon green beans
mashed potatoes
sausage dressing
apple+cranberry sauce
heritage turkey
apple pie

Yes, I know we're lacking a pumpkin pie, but I've had a couple so far and I need to use up some of the apples we got as part of the CSA we joined.  We're also not actually making anything I've never made before.  Some of this is because I was too busy/lazy to figure out anything new and the other part is that it's just the two of us this year.  The only new aspect is the turkey.  I've read about heritage turkeys for the past couple of years and  I finally ordered one in time.  My plan is to not brine the turkey and then use the roasting method from Martha Stewart's Cooking School.  I'll post how it turns out.  And now we're out to battle the throngs of people at Central Market to go pick up the turkey.  Wish us luck!

22 November 2010

Stuff I'm doing that's not related to food.

Hey, so it's been awhile.  I've managed to come down with the sniffles, start a new blog, and lack a third interesting thing to mention. 

The congestion is pretty straightforward.  After having to administer late tests to a bunch of different undergrads that missed the test because of illness, I've seemed to have caught something.  Orrr I'm just having allergies.

The new blog is less interesting than the premise of a new blog sounds.  Basically, I'm using this as a notebook.  Most scientists keep some sort of notebook to remember what they've done or, in cases where people run experiments, document their work for posterity.  I can usually manage to take notes for about a week, two if I'm really motivated, but then I forget, or get lazy or something.  I've tried keeping them electronically, but the same happens.  I'm hoping that by keeping a blog, it'll be easier for me to keep up with them and then they're searchable.

In light of my missing third "interesting" thing, here are some links to stuff I find interesting that I've found from facebook, twitter, and random internet surfing.

Winter Squash Warts and All. (NY Times) This is more than you'd ever want to know about winter squash, but now I want to grow my own.

Gold and the Periodic Table of Elements. (NPR) Too cool!  As someone who deals with the periodic table on a daily basis, this is a neat (and different than neutron capture) take on why gold is so interesting.

America's Worst "Chinese Meals". (Angry Asian Man) As a food blogger and a pseudo-Asian, I found this hilarious.  But sometimes you just gotta have the orange chicken.

The United Plates. John Holcomb has a set of prints that represents each state with different food.  And of course I want the Michigan one.

How Smartphone Users See Each Other. (Android and Me) This is almost entirely accurate, but I see myself more as a Marie Curie type than an Albert Einstein. ;)

Lemonade, Detroit. You can buy a frame of Lemonade, Detroit for a dollar and become a producer.  This film is about the people who are in Detroit and working to turn it into something more than just abandoned buildings and the national mascot of the recession.

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography. (video!) This is super fun to watch.  The words are from Stephen Fry on language.

15 November 2010

Savory squash bread

I was invited to a potluck dinner party on Sunday and was asked to bring bread to accompany dinner. I settled on pao de queijo and "zucchini" bread. I wanted to make something savory to go along with some of the soups and chili that other people brought, but all the recipes I'd ever seen for zucchini bread were sweet. We had some summer squash from the CSA left, so a quick google search of "savory zucchini bread recipe" led me here, and an idea was formed. I added in some extras, like a jalapeno from my garden as well as subbing in the summer squash for the zucchini and everyone seemed to enjoy it, though we almost didn't make it.

Our puppy had some sort of terrible allergic reaction to *something*. She got all these bumps on her face and body that became quite swollen. One trip to the emergency vet and $165 later, Kimchi was less swollen, but we're still not sure what it was. Colby gave her an oatmeal bath to help with the redness and the itchiness. How dedicated!

Squash bread

3 c AP flour
1 t salt
4 t baking powder*
1/2 T dried dill
1 T dried parsley
1 c grated yellow (summer) squash or zucchini
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 c green onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c buttermilk (or 4 T cultured buttermilk powder with 1 c water)

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt, herbs, baking powder, and buttermilk powder if using.

Toss in squash, 3/4 of the cheese, jalapeno, and green onion until all are coated and evenly distributed.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat together eggs, olive oil, and buttermilk (or water).

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones gently until combined. Don't overmix. It'll be kind of like a really wet dough.

Place dough in a well greased loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes and then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and then cleanly removed from the center.

*The recipe in the link also includes 1/2t baking soda, but I didn't so that's not an accidental omission.

11 November 2010

Foolishness Teeth

Dear my wisdom teeth,

Right now, when I'm in the middle of writing my first paper, is NOT the time for you to decide to come in some more. I have neither the time, nor the resources available to deal with all four of you. Please quit it.



10 November 2010

CSA bounties

At some point in October, I convinced myself that Colby and I wouldn't go out to eat for the month of November. This lasted all of one day because I forgot to bring a lunch on November 2nd. Then, I decided that we wouldn't go out to eat for *dinner* during all of November. This lasted until last Saturday, because there was a pizza place that I just *had* to try. (It was good, not great, but I prefer Chicago-style pizza to thin crust.) Yesterday we resumed our Central-Market-Cafe-dinner-with-grocery-shopping-Sunday ritual and I disabused myself of all notions that this "no eating out in November" thing had any traction left.

Part of the reason I even wanted to try this was because we joined a community supported agriculture (CSA) and it seemed like a really great way to support local farms, eat fresh foods, and try new foods that we never even thought about buying at the grocery store. The first delivery included green beans, green peppers, spring mix, cabbage, zucchini, green onions, butternut squash, sweet corn, turnip greens, oranges, and a grapefruit that looked like the Freakonomics apple/orange.

The first meal we ate with the CSA goodies was grilled steak with sauteed turnip greens, mashed butternut squash, and roasted corn. It was terribly delicious and everything was super fresh. I've never cooked turnip greens, but found them to be incredibly bitter. I sauteed them in bacon drippings, with spring onions, garlic, and some tomato and those helped to cut the bitterness, though not completetly. The corn was great and the butternut squash was awesome. I'm definitely looking forward to future CSA bushels. The head of napa cabbage we got was so green that I didn't recognize it as such, so I treated it like normal green cabbage and cooked up a really awesome side dish for dinner last night.

Really Awesome Cabbage Side Dish for Dinner Last Night
1 head napa cabbage, washed of all grit and roughly chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1/2 small onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil (or some other fat, I actually used chicken schmaltz)
s+p, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to boil in a large stock pot. Boil cabbage leaves for ~6 minutes or so and then drain cabbage.

In a sauté pan, heat up evoo (or whatever fat you're using), add a pinch of salt and cook the onion and jalapeño until the onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant, careful not to burn.

Add in the cabbage and stock and cook until most of the liquid has boiled away.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

This is awesome and garlicky and even better the second day. I think it'd be really good served atop polenta.

06 November 2010

Apple Bread

Last Christmas we stole a juicer from Colby's mom. They never used it and I really wanted one, so it was a win-win situation. We made a bunch of different juices, most of them revolving around apples and pears, but I never knew what to do with the remaining pulp. We don't compost (yes, I know, this makes me a bad person but I can't convince Colby to do it), so we mostly just threw it away.

Since it's fall and there is an abundance of really good apples shipped across the country, I've been craving apple cider. No, not the alcoholic kind, the stuff that's made from pressing apples into, quite possibly, the most delicious beverage ever. I've posted about making apple cider at home before, but Colby wasn't so much a happy camper about the large amounts of work and extended amounts of clean up required. Enter the Jack LaLanne Juicer. We used some odd combination of apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Empire, crabapple, Margil, King David, and Pinata), which resulted in a really sweet, drinkable cider. I was a bit disappointed that it lacked sharpness, but next time I'll tweak the combination. I should also note that for whatever reason, this doesn't taste exactly the same as pressed cider, but it was a lot easier than doing it by hand.

This left me with a whole lot of apple pulp (or pomace), so I decided to make maple apple bread.

1 c rolled oats (not instant)
2 c AP flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
1 c vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
2 c maple syrup (the real deal)
3 large eggs
2 1/2-3 c apple pomace
1 c chopped walnuts (optional, but encouraged!)

Preheat oven to 350 and generously grease two loaf pans. In a large bowl whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl whisk the syrup, oil, eggs, and apple pomace (and walnuts if you're adding them) until well mixed. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in. Pour into the loaf pans and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until you can cleanly remove a toothpick from the center.

02 November 2010


They liked my proposal! Yay! I'm officially a doctoral candidate now, so to celebrate, here's a recipe for the best roasted chicken ever.

1 2 1/2-3ish lb brined* whole chicken
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt+pepper
2-3 ribs celery, chopped into 1 in pieces
inner celery leaves
3 carrots, chopped into 1 in pieces
1 smediumish yellow onion, cut in eighths
1 small lemon, quartered
optional: fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary do well)
1 stick butter, melted

Heat oven to 375. In a small roasting pan or a 13x9 in cake pan (guess which one I used... yeah, that'd be the cake pan because our roasting pan is stupidly large) place the chopped celery, most of the chopped carrots save a few pieces, 6 pieces of the onion, and then chunks of bread on top of the vegetables. I used hoagie rolls, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 2x2x1 pieces.

Rub olive oil over the outside of the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

In the cavity of the chicken place lemons, celery leaves, a couple pieces of carrots, a couple pieces of onion and herbs if you want. If there's not enough room in the cavity for all the vegetables, just toss them in the roasting pan.

Set the chicken atop the vegetables and place in the oven for ~30-35 minutes, basting with butter every 10 minutes and then using the drippings once they're available.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 and place a probe thermometer in the breast.

Once the breast reaches 170 F, remove the chicken from the oven, tip the accumulated juices out of the cavity and take out the stuffed vegetables and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

In the roasting pan, take out the bread and either toss it or eat it with the chicken. The bread will be toasty on one side, buttery, and full of pan dripping goodness. It might be the best part. om nom nom.

Remove vegetables from the pan as well and set aside for stock. You can use the drippings as the base for gravy, if you're into that sort of thing. :)

Once the chicken is carved and eaten (save the bones!), place the carcass+bones and reserved veggies into a stockpot, cover with water, and turn on overnight. In the middle of the night, when you're in the fridge for leftover chicken, move the lid of the crockpot to allow it to vent and enjoy your tasty midnight snack.

In the morning, remove from the crockpot, strain and refrigerate. Take off the layer of fat at the top and save it to roast vegetables in.

*To brine

1/2 c uniodized table salt (or 3/4 c kosher salt)
1/2 c brown sugar
1 quart hot water
2 1/2 c cold water
1 cup ice

In a sauce pan, mix hot water with the salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve. If you're impatient place the pan over low heat until all is dissolved. Add in cold water and ice. Pour this into a gallon sized ziplock bag and slide in the chicken. Put in the fridge for at least a 30 minutes and up to ~2 hours. If it's less, it's not so effective and if it's more, the chicken is too salty. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.