In most parts of the country, autumn is a transitional season where summer slowly transitions into winter. Leaves turn colors, fields are harvested and turned for the next season, and our sleeves get longer.
Here in Central New York, autumn lasts about three weeks. September gets progressively colder, so much so that you think it is October already. By the time Halloween hits, parents debate whether snowsuits are necessary underneath the costume for trick or treating. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Kale-Quinoa Minestrone
Lime is not what one would expect to find on a list of soup ingredients. Soups usually evoke carrots, celery, and bay leaf from your flavor memory, not cilantro, chili peppers and lime.
This soup bears a striking resemblance to sopa de lima, or Yucatan lime soup. Budget Bytes, the website where I found this, took some short cuts away from authentic, but not enough to affect the integrity of the traditional sopa too greatly. Continue reading Wednesday Dinner: Sopa De Lima
Admittedly, it has been awhile since I have updated on the garden.
Admittedly, it has been awhile since there has been anything worth updating on.
In the 74 days since my last update, the garden has produced herbs. That’s it. Otherwise, this year’s endeavor has been an utter and complete failure.
Now, there is a school of thought that the damp, cool summer has held back the growth of Roma and San Marzano tomatoes. Fine. Whatever. I have one reddish tomato to show for it. The plants are otherwise bearing a bunch of green tomatoes and yellowish-brown leaves.
Even the bean plants that The Kid watered have been a loss.
So, the herbs from Delaney Farms were a winner. The tomatoes from Wylie Fox were stinkers. I’ll keep that in mind for next spring.
The Wife is a bit of a cheese fiend. It’s a food that she cannot control herself around, so we try not to keep a lot of it in the house. String cheese disappears quickly, as do those little Babybel cheeses that I no longer buy because the little net bag never lasts beyond Tuesday.
Not that I’m blameless here, but The Wife is the primary cheese culprit around here. She’s particularly fond of fresh mozzarella, which has to be guarded once the package is open. I can’t blame her. Fresh mozzarella is awesome. We once sat like dopey tourists at the Citarella in Bridgehampton and watched a guy make fresh mozzarella so we could buy and eat it immediately.
We’re weak people. Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: Caprese Stacks
While some were busy remembering and others were busy posting trite imagery to Facebook, we here at Al Dente HQ spent Memorial Day doing the spring task that we like least. Gardening itself is not that bad, but the cleanup is terrible.
Part of this is because of the jungle that occupies more than two-thirds of our lot’s frontage. It’s the mass of bushes, weeds, stones, weeds and perennials. And weeds. The Wife (pictured above planting some flowers) and I were talking about this earlier during our lunch break. It didn’t look too bad during the first summer, but unless you are willing to spend 2 to 3 hours a week in maintenance, it ends up overgrown and looking like shit.
And six years later, we have done nothing to remedy the shitness. We joke about dousing it in diesel and letting the fuel burn everything out. We’ve talked about renting one of those hourly pickups from The Home Depot and yanking the bushes. Our lawn guy guesses that ripping it out will cost at least $1,500 and that’s without taking a close look or replacing it with anything.
Continue reading Garden 2014: Memorial Day (Day 1)
“I want comfort food.”
The Wife makes this pronouncement frequently during the winter, a statement that typically results in my braising something. Short ribs. Pot roast. Chicken. Short ribs.
“I think I want Mexican.”
She took an interesting turn. Mexican comfort food usually results in Chipotle or a trip to The Mission. I wasn’t really interested making a messy enchilada or cooking all day to make a burrito. I thought maybe posole, a rich stew made with hominy, might work but time was going to be an issue and, from what I can tell, a good posole needs a solid six hours to simmer. I would have half that.
I came across this recipe at one of those aggregators that pop up at the top of the Google results when you search for something. Booze works for me, as does pork shoulder. I mean, you can never go wrong with pork shoulder.
Continue reading Saturday Dinner: Shot-And-A-Beer Pork
There are two ways to use your slow cooker. Ninety-eight percent of America uses it as a time-saving device. They are too busy to cook, so they careless toss things into it — chicken breasts, Good Seasons Italian dressing or Hidden Valley Ranch packets, jars of Ragu, chipmunks, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream — in an effort to prepare something called “dinner.” Us remainders, the civilized 2 percent, use it because braising a piece of meat in an unattended oven while at work is unsafe.
I’ve seen people take perfectly good pieces of beef and pork and render them an overcooked gray. I’ve seen recipes on Pinterest that brag about some cheesy chicken concoction that kids love to eat. Everything that comes out is a thoughtless mess of otherwise good food that has been forced to sit in one place together for too long. Dinner from a crockpot is what happens when you put food through jury duty. Continue reading Thursday Dinner: Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Pasta
We have done pasta e fagioli here before. The CHOW.com recipe that I adapted for that evening was good, though not my favorite. This offering by Yvonne Ruperti at Serious Eats is in the same category. I really liked it, but it’s not quite the versions made by my mother and father.
Each made them different. My mother’s was soupier. She would simmer some of the beans in tomatoes all day long, letting them break down and thicken the broth. At the end, she would add the beans and ditalini. My father’s is heartier. He would carve off a chunk of well-aged prosciutto and render it to cook his aromatics, then add the pasta and beans at the very end. (Side Note: Many, many years ago, I ordered pasta e fagioli at The Olive Garden. It had carrots in it. I sent it back and asked for more salad. Such a disaster. Such…heresy. Such garbage.)
Continue reading Meaty Monday: Chicken Pasta e Fagiole with Smoked Paprika