I am using Christine’s meme as an excuse to talk about food. I know, it’s a total departure from my bookishness, but I wanted to have a little discussion about culinary delights. I’m not a foodie by any means, but ever since we remodeled our kitchen, I have become more adventurous in my cooking and trying new recipes. And summer offers opportunities to play with fresh produce, so here are a few things I wanted to share…
- I have a very limited space to grow things myself. I’m limited to two planters on my balcony and this year we grew cherry tomatoes and strawberries. The strawberry plant (on the left) thrived, but didn’t produce fruit, but I understand that’s not uncommon. So hopefully next year it will come back blazing. My tomato plant is looking pretty sorry, but it’s still producing fruit, so I am not going to cut it down just yet (thank you mild weather!).
- My goal this summer was to patronize farmers markets as often as possible to support local farmers and take advantage of fresh produce. Earlier in the summer, I frequented the one nearest my work, but it was rather small, and in August it was discontinued. One Friday I had the day off so I finally checked out Shaumburg’s farmers market and got lots of goodies. This past week, I ventured out to Federal Plaza in the city, about 6 blocks from my office, and hit the jackpot. I got a tomato, lettuce, corn, 4 different herbs, and radishes for $15.
- So it took me forever to break down all the herbs for freezing, but I did it (and in doing so turned my nails green). I chopped up all of the parsley, oregano, rosemary, and basil, put them in ice-cube trays with water, and froze them for future use.
- With fruits, I have been making the most amazing cocktails. I blended strawberries/peaches/blueberries in my smoothie blender (the kind with a spout at the bottom) with ice, simple syrup, and vodka to make deliciously fresh daiquiris.
- Ever since The Hubs and I acquired a cast iron pan, we swore we would never cook a filet mignon using any other method. After brushing with vegetable oil and seasoning, we sear the steaks for about two minutes a side, then put the whole pan in the oven with a pat of butter on each filet for 4-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Let rest.
- Even better, I discovered an amazing way to amp up the plain steak. Before searing and cooking, I coated each filet in diced garlic and rosemary. Once we took the steaks out of the oven and set them on a plate to rest, I deglazed the pan with red wine, scraped up all the bits of buttery meaty herbs, and created the most amazing reduction to accompany the steak. I used Apothic Red (a blend) and after the alcohol cooked out, the chocolate/coffee undertones in the wine were a perfect pairing with the red meat.
- I’m going to try something new with dinner tonight. In an effort to utilize every bit of the veggies I got, I’m going to try cooking radish greens. I had added some into a green salad the other night, and they added a nice peppery flavor. But I want to try sauteing them like spinach to see how they turn out. A coworker recommended using bacon fat. You know, because EVERYTHING is better with bacon. So I saved some of the bacon goo from my BLT lunch today, and I’m going to use that to cook the greens in with some garlic.
- Speaking of garlic, I have been eating so much of it lately, I imagine that the scent is radiating from my pores.
- The two drawbacks of spending so much time cooking in the kitchen are: a) the porcelain tile we had put in is not easy on the feet/back. It’s one of the hardest materials to stand on, but damn, it’s pretty. b) I’m doing dishes so much more often. Wooden cutting boards, cast iron, and my Rachel Ray pots and pans all require hand washing. It seems like I’m running my dishwasher every other day (for two people!).
- I finally tried quinoa for the first time. It was interesting, but a restaurant I occasionally get lunch from has a really good little quinoa pot with edemame, peas, smoked salmon, arugula, hard boiled egg, tomato, and lemon. It’s not something I would ever make at home, but it is something I would eat again.
Have you had any foodie adventures or discoveries lately?