Thanksgiving 2008 in Review

Wow, can you guys believe that it’s New Year’s Eve already? I never did get around to talking about Thanksgiving, and it seems as if the time since then has been an absolute blur where I’ve got nothing done. So before stuff that happened in 2008 ceases to be relevant, I’m going to give you guys the 4-1-1 on how we spent Thanksgiving.

Turkey Thanksgiving 2008

Since it’s a very picture intensive post, I’m putting it under a cut. Click on through if you’d like to see the dishes and the recipes.

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2008 Retrospective / A Look to 2009

As has become my tradition for the past two years, on the last day of the year I look back to the foodie resolutions I made a year ago, see how I did in keeping them, and put forth a whole new set for the new year. So, without further adieu, here are my foodie resolutions for 2008 and how well I adhered to them.

- I’d like to learn how to bake bread from scratch, kneading by hand. This also includes learning how to make sourdough bread, either from my own starter or one someone gives me.

I didn’t do too well with this one. I made more bread this year, but I used the bread maker.

- I’d like to learn how to make my own cheese and butter using local dairy products.

I did make butter using wonderful Snowville Creamery heavy cream, and it came out fantastic. Still haven’t made cheese.

- I’d like to try my hand at container and small scale gardening, using my deck and part of my back yard.

I did fairly well with this one – I grew tomatoes, peppers, and herbs on my deck, and broccoli, kohlrabi, and winter squash in my yard. I’ve already got hardneck garlic planted for next year.

- I’d like to make at least one 100% local meal per week. In similar spirit, I’d like to try to find as many local sources for food as possible.

I didn’t do as well as I wanted to with this one – in the beginning of the year, I was limited in what I could eat. I didn’t have any problem with eating local for the first part of the summer, but because of the costs of my surgery, nearing the end of the year we were in a budget pinch, and most of my food was from my pantry stores or from Aldi.

- When in town, I’d like to review at least one new restaurant per week.

Not sure if it came out to one a week, but between the posts I’ve already posted and the ones in my drafts folder, I came close.

- I’d like to uncover at least one new to me “hidden gem” in Columbus per month.

I found a few hidden gems, but not one per month.

- I’d like to host at least one dinner party and/or one potluck this year.

Did this, for the meetup group at the end of the summer. It was fun.

- I’d like to take at least one cooking class this year.

Sadly, I didn’t do this.

- I’d like to have at least one romantic picnic lunch/dinner in the park with my husband this year.

This was almost a go, until we realized that we couldn’t bring wine to a public park. I think we ended up doing this in our own backyard.

- I’d like to hit ALL of the local farmers markets (not just North Market, Clintonville, Worthington) at least once this summer.

While I did go to a few new ones this year (Grove City, Pearl Alley, Lancaster, Westerville), I by no means hit all of the locals.

- I’d like to put together a cookbook including my recipes and pictures to give to family and friends.

Still working on this one.

So, all in all, not as bad as I thought I did, but I fell quite short. So what are my plans for 2009?

- Be a lot more proactive about working on the blog. I’m so far behind right now (33 drafts in my folder right now, the events and menus haven’t been updated in like forever, etc) it’s not even funny. I need to devote as much time to the blog as if I were working.

- Take better food photos, and learn how to use a DSLR camera. To this end, I’m starting back at CSCC in a few days to learn photography from the ground up.

- Take a foodie road trip to a nearby city (somewhere within driving distance, like Cincy or Cleveland, western PA, somewhere in Indiana, Kentucky or West Virginia) to check out their food scene and blog about it.

- Learn how to pressure can.

- Cook at least one recipe from each of the cookbooks I own (who needs hundreds of cookbooks if you don’t use them?)

- Work harder at cutting sugar out of my diet. Even though I lost almost 100 lbs this year, I know I could lose more (and break this damn plateau) if I ate less refined carbs/more protein. I want to make my health a priority and lose at least 50 lbs. this year.

- Cover at least one local event per month for the blog.

- Learn how to eat well on a limited budget.

- This summer, visit a local farm for a tour and blog about it.

Well, that’s enough for now. :) What are your food resolutions for 2009?

Kartoffelsalat mit Würstchen

Bookmarked Recipes Logo

If there’s one staple to the German diet, one dish that every German housewife makes, it would be potato salad and sausages. There are as many different recipes as there are housewives, but this one from East Meets West is the closest I’ve found to my Oma’s recipe. It has a wonderful flavor to it, nice and vinegary and salty from the bacon without being too sweet like many recipes for German potato salads are. My husband put it all together, and raved about what little touches like cooking the potatoes in beef broth did to the final flavor to the dish. We served it with some frankfurters from Thurn’s, to which we added a touch of butter to the pan at the end to enhance the browning and add a bit more of a crunch to the casing. Perfect combination of food, and a dish we hope to make again real soon. We kept the recipe mostly intact, the only difference we made was using double-smoked bacon from Thurn’s which we diced up before sauteeing it.

I’m submitting to this week’s Bookmarked Recipes event. Check Ruth’s site for the roundup!

Kartoffelsalat and Wurstchen

Kartoffelsalat mit Würstchen
recipe slightly modified from East Meets West

1 Kg Potatoes
Meat Stock (of which 200ml goes into the salad)
200g Bacon (we used slab double-smoked, which we diced)
1 Onion or 2 Shallots (half to be cooked and the other half used raw)
1 Tbsp Oil
3-4 Tbsp good quality White Wine Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1-2 Tsp Moutard de Dijon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Spring onions for garnishing

Peel the potatoes and boil them in the meat stock (I used 2 beef bones for it). Remove the cooked potatoes and cut them into cubes. Set aside 200ml of the meat stock for the salad.

In the wok fry the bacon till browned. Remove and drain on kitchen towels. Cut into smaller pieces.

Add some oil in the wok and brown half the onions or shallots. Add in the cooked potatoes and meat stock. Simmer a little and then pour in the oil-vinegar-mayo-mustard mixture, add salt and pepper and stir well. Turn off the heat, add in the remaining onions, bacon bits and spring onions and mix well.

Chill in the fridge (also great warm!!) and serve cold with boiled or grilled sausages.

Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding

I used to be crazy about prime rib. There was a grocery store locally, about a decade ago, that used to sell it in the prepared case, and I pretty much got it every time I saw it there. I had never even thought about making it on my own, didn’t even have any idea what cut of beef it was at that point, as this was back before I really ever branched out in cooking.

We had an unsuccessful run at making it ourselves a few years ago. I had bought a beautiful prime rib, cooked it to a perfect medium rare, and when I wasn’t looking, my husband put it back in the oven because it was “still raw”. When I got wind of what he had done, about 20 minutes later, it was already well done and totally inedible (the dogs ate very well that night, as even Paul agreed that well done prime rib is a crime against nature).

So when I saw these beautiful prime rib roasts in Carfagna’s the other day, I decided to bite the bullet and give it another try, making sure to tell Paul, “you WILL not touch it, I will put a temperature probe in it to alert me the second it hits 120, and it will be taken out of the oven at that very moment…or else”. With those conditions understood, I got a beautiful 4 lb. boneless roast. And this time around? It came out just as I imagined.

Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding, Horseradish Sour Cream Sauce and Au Jus

Perfect Prime Rib
recipe adapted from What’s Cooking America?

To make the prime rib, we rubbed it down with butter, and I sprinkled it with Canadian Chicken Seasoning (a mix of garlic, salt, pepper, and a few other spices – I got it at GFS for those of you interested). I put the roast onto a rack in a roasting pan, and I stuck a temperature probe into the center of the roast, and set the timer for 120 degrees. I preheated the oven to 450, and when it hit that temperature, I put the roast into the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I turned the temperature down to 325, and let it cook until it reached a center temperature of 120 – at that point, I took the roast out, covered it in foil, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes (it will continue cooking as it sits, the longer it sits, the more it cooks – expect about 5 degrees per 20 minutes).

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Every site I looked at said that prime rib is traditionally served with Yorkshire Pudding, something I’ve never had before. It’s a natural pairing, as it uses the drippings of the roast in the recipe. I decided to follow the rest of the menu from What’s Cooking America’s guide to Cooking Perfect Prime Rib.

The Yorkshire Puddings came out beautifully. I ended up doubling the recipe, starting the batter for it when I took out the roast to come to room temperature, about 2 hours before I put it in the oven. The four pound roast we made generated just enough drippings to make 12 individually sized puddings, so I’m adapting the recipe below to reflect that. I was amazed at the way they puffed up from when we put them into the oven. They kind of remind me of popovers, with a much denser texture that soaked up the au jus perfectly.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding
recipe adapted from What’s Cooking America?

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 c. milk, room temperature
1 c. pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef (beef juices and oil)

Preheat the oven to 450F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the flour/salt mixture just until incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours (for best results, refrigerate overnight).

Evenly split the drippings between 12 regular-sized muffin tins. Put the pan in the oven and get the drippings smoking hot (about 5 minutes). Carefully take the pan out of the oven.

Remove cold batter from the refrigerator. Whisk the batter thoroughly to break down any lumps and add some more air. Quickly pour the batter into the pan on top of the hot drippings.

Put the pan back into the oven and cook until puffed and dry, approximately 15-20 minutes. Note: Do not open the door during baking. Remove from oven and serve hot with your prime rib roast. Makes approximately 12 individual popovers.

In addition to Yorkshire Pudding, we also made an au jus with the browned bits in the roasting pan, which I put on two burners, deglazed with a bit of red wine and some beef broth, and added a touch of salt to. Tasty and quick.

And because horseradish is typically served with this meal, I made the Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce that was also listed with this menu. Easy peasy, took literally one minute to throw together and complemented the roast well.

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce
recipe courtesy What’s Cooking America?

1/4 to 1/2 c. prepared horseradish (we used a little over 1/4 c.)
1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. salt

In a medium sized bowl, combine horseradish, sour cream, lemon juice and salt; thoroughly mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: Can be made 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, pass the horseradish sauce on the side. Makes approximately 2 1/2 c.

I cannot believe how easy and elegant this meal was. There was literally almost no prep time involved. Each dish built on the other, and timing everything to be done at the same time was a breeze. I think from now on, this dish will be a Christmas-time tradition in our family.

Where Can You Find Me Online?

I’m still working on getting caught up with my blogging, but in the meantime, stop by and visit me at the other places I hang out online (click on the usernames to get a link to it).

Twitter: columbusfoodie
Myspace: Swampkittie
Flickr: swampkitty
Facebook: Becke Boyer
Columbus Underground: swampkitty
Foodbuzz: Columbus Foodie
Tumblr: columbusfoodie
Livejournal: columbus-foodie
Yelp: Becke B.
Meetup.com: Becke Boyer

Will add more as I go along – but if you are on any of these social networking sites, look me up or friend me. :)

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 12/13/08

Well, not a lot of produce to be had at this past weekends’ Winter Markets, but what else do you expect for the middle of December?

Let me just start by saying that like last year, I’m absolutely thrilled that there are farmers markets in the winter – I absolutely live for going to the farmers markets each weekend during growing season, and the opportunity to go during the off months and see some of my favorite farmers? Bonus.

We got to Worthington right about 10am when it opened, and let me tell you, folks – it was beyond crowded. Which would be OK if everyone behaved all civilized-like, and had some manners, but worked my last nerve about the 5th time I got pushed out of the way or cut in front of in line, or almost hit in the parking lot so someone could jump ahead of the orderly line waiting to turn out and cut in front of everybody. For the most part, though – people were rude, rude, rude. But I don’t think it’s just a Worthington Market thing, I’ve been noticing that people have been more rude than usual all over town for weeks now. But I digress.

Back to the market. Not a lot of produce to be had. I saw a little bit here and there, but most of it was exactly what you’d expect to get in mid-winter, and as I’ve already got a lot of that type of stuff (potatoes, onions, squash) in storage, really didn’t need any. I was thrilled to see Dawn from Mockingbird Meadows, and disappointed that they didn’t find a way to squeeze in Denise from 2Silos like last year.

Sage Honey

H-W Organics by far had the most produce, like these green beans:

Green Beans

I saw lots of garlic. I love garlic (remind me to update you all on the progress of the garlic I planted a couple of months ago come spring – I figured I’d find a way to make the dirt work for me this winter, LOL).

Garlic

I did manage to pick up a little something, some cheddar curds and some feta (who knew they made feta? you’ve all been holding out on me!) from Blue Jacket Cheese.

Blue Jacket Creamery Cheese

I was sorely tempted by a shiitake log from one of the farmers, but Paul reminded me that we really don’t have anywhere to put it. Oh, how I miss my locally grown shiitake mushrooms. So anyway, we managed to make it through by like 10:15, and it was off to the races.

Or rather, to the new winter market this year, which is held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Clintonville. It was a pretty big space, so I was surprised that they didn’t allow more farmers (this was another one that Denise had tried to get into, only to be told it was full). Not quite as much produce here (lots of arts & crafts), but it did have a few unique offerings.

One such unique offerings were gingerbread tiles and springerle, which reminds me of some of the stuff my great-grandparents made when I was growing up. The detail on the springerle was amazing, and the gingerbread tiles? Yum. I got some of both to take home and share with my mother.

Ginger Tiles

And my favorite apple cider purveyor (Och’s) was there, so I got some apple cider (I think theirs has the best flavor locally) and some locally grown red potatoes. Another standout was new to me Osage Lane Creamery who had the most amazing goats milk feta I have ever tasted. While definitely not a bargain at $17.99/lb, it was worth every penny. Believe me, if you see it – get it.

And there was wonderful artisan bread to be had. I didn’t get any (didn’t have anything planned that crusty bread would go well with), but take a look:

Artisan Bread

Both markets are pretty much on hiatus until after the new year, after which they’ll pick up again – please take a moment to visit the sites for both (Columbus Winter Farmers’ Market and Olde Worthington Indoor Winter Farmers Market) , and I hope to see you there!

Chicken and Chorizo Rice

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. Sorry about that. We just haven’t been really motivated to cook lately, for some reason.

We went to Barcelona a few weeks ago, and Paul and I split this really awesome arroz con pollo dish that they have there. It’s a lot different than our usual recipe (more saucy, more Spanish rather than Latin American flavors), but it was so good that we wanted to reproduce it here at home. While not an exact replica, this one comes close.

Rice with Chicken and Chorizo

Chicken and Chorizo Rice
recipe courtesy Rouxbe

Step 1: Preparing the Mise en Place

* 2 ribs celery
* 2 large Onions
* 5 garlic cloves
* 1 can whole tomatoes with juice (28 oz)
* 2 cups tomato juice / chicken stock
* 3 single chicken breasts
* 3 links fresh Spanish chorizos
* 2 tsp saffron threads
* 2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/4 tsp chili flakes
* 1 tbsp Spanish paprika
* 2 tsp Kosher salt – can substitute with 1 tsp table salt
* 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 200° degrees Fahrenheit. Finely dice the celery and onions. Drain and roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and top it up with chicken stock to equal 2 cups. Cube the chicken and slice the chorizo into bite-size pieces. Before you start cooking, peel the garlic and measure out the saffron, oregano, chili flakes, paprika, salt and pepper.

Step 2: Cooking and Serving the Dish

* 3 tbsp olive oil
* 1 cup medium-grain rice
* 2 tsp Kosher salt – can substitute with 1 tsp table salt
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 1/2 cup white wine

To cook the paella, preheat a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, and add the oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the chorizo and cook for a few minutes. Stir and then add the chicken. Let the chicken cook for a few minutes, without stirring; then turn it over to cook the other side. Add a bit of pepper and salt then check the chicken. It shouldn’t be cooked all the way through. Transfer to a casserole dish and keep warm while you finish the dish.

With the heat still on high, cook the onions and celery until translucent. Crush the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds; then add the rice and sauté quickly, followed by the saffron, paprika, oregano and chili flakes. Deglaze with the white wine, making sure to scrape any bits off the bottom. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the tomato juice, along with the tomatoes, and stir everything together. Turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes…without peeking.

After 15 minutes, add the frozen peas and the warm chicken and chorizo. Don’t stir. Re-cover and let cook for another 10 minutes. To finish, fold everything together and turn off the heat. Let sit for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Forgive My Silence

I don’t know why, but there’s something about the gluttony of Thanksgiving that turns me off to food for a week or two afterward.

I know, I still need to wrap up Thanksgiving. I’ll get around to it, I promise. In the meantime, the past week has been using up the last few gift certificates I had (Handke’s review to come soon, the other places were far too dark to get good photographs – would you prefer I review without pictures or would you like me to wait until I visit again so I can get pictures? Let me know.)

So I’ve been subsisting on Thanksgiving leftovers (made sandwiches and tetrazzini), Candy Cane Jo-Jo’s, and these little yummy clementines:

Cute Little California Clementines

I’ll be back to posting regularly soon, I promise. December is difficult for me, because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I’m feeling a bit out of sorts – especially since my sleep schedule has been so screwed up that I’ve been sleeping during daylight hours (i.e. go to bed at 8am, wake up around 5 or so). I’ve just got to gather my thoughts, make up a meal schedule, and put my nose to the grindstone. So expect some sporadic older posts in the next week or so, followed by more new stuff.

BTW, Meetup folks: I’m still planning on scheduling a meetup for The Refectory’s bistro menu this month, I just have to wait until finances are a little better in a week or two. Keep an eye out.