‘Eating’ Category

Enter: Berry Season

Posted on June 25th, 2012 by Tonia No Comments

Strawberries are in season here on the peninsula! Today we went with our good friends Ellie and Alex to the nearest organic pick-your-own orchard and filled a couple flats up. The sun felt so good on our backs and the berries burst with warm juice.

I loooove fresh berries and fruit- it’s one of my most favorite things about summer. And I can’t believe this was almost a whole year ago already!

We made an arugula, strawberry, walnut and feta salad tonight for dinner and it was so good; nutty, peppery, sweet and tangy. I see several strawberry milkshakes in our near future as well.

Sunday Dinner

Posted on June 24th, 2012 by Tonia 14 Comments

{Alternate Title: One Chicken Down}

Dear Vegetarian and vegan readers, please proceed with caution…

The meat chickens are big enough to eat, and Sunday seemed like as good a time as any. We invited Jen and Trevor over to taste our first home-raised bird.

Mike did the honors.

He strung the bird up by the feet and waited for it to relax {the blood rushing to its head causes it to stop flapping around}, and cut its head off with one clean stroke. The heart pumped the blood out of the body through the neck, leaving a clean carcass. He then dipped the bird in a pot of boiling water and rinsed it in cold, to loosen the feathers before plucking. Once plucked, the bird looks just like a store-bought chicken. Except, this one had been walking around ten mins prior…

Mike gutted the bird and cut the feet off, and threw the discards to Jack. He had a smile on his face for days {chicken feet are a delicacy for dogs.}

Ready for cookin’! We brought it inside, rinsed and dried it off and seasoned it with salt and pepper. We don’t have a scale, but we estimated it was 6 lbs.

This chicken made three meals, plus three mason jars of chicken stock! We made French Potted Chicken {Cook’s Illustrated} the first night, BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches the second night, and chicken chili the third night. I used the bones and leftover scraps to make the stock.

It’s very simple: You place the chicken bones in a crock pot and add enough water to cover the bones. Cook on “low” overnight or for at least 6 hours. Skim any fat that rises to the surface if you wish. The next morning, add any chopped vegetables that you want {I had carrots, celery and onion in the house so that’s what I used} and salt/pepper to taste {I kept mine fairly bland, because I prefer to be able to season whatever it is I am cooking with the stock rather than have the stock already seasoned.} Cook for another few hours to infuse the flavors of the vegetables and then strain out the chunks and pour the liquid into jars. Freeze or can with a pressure canner {I froze these}.

Here’s the thing….it wasn’t easy for me to watch Mike kill the chicken. And it wasn’t easy for Mike to do it. But after I saw how every part of that animal went to use {nothing was wasted…unless you consider feeding your dog the intestines and feet a waste}, I felt better. That animal’s energy became our energy, and we’re using that energy to contribute to the world. We fed our friends and ourselves three meals. And- what makes me feel good about the whole thing above all else- that chicken had a very nice life right up until the moment she was hung upside down.

I forced myself to watch the whole thing because I wanted to feel and internalize what it really means to be a meat-eater. It’s so easy to just buy a frozen piece of meat at the grocery store and never have to think about what that animal’s life was like, or what is really involved from when that animal was born to when it sits on our table at dinner. And then it’s so easy to push our plates away and say “I’m full” and scrape our leftovers into the garbage without a second thought to the animal that gave up its life in order to provide us with the energy that we’re so frivolously throwing away.

There was no way I was going to let any part of that chicken be wasted because I had fed, watered and cleaned its home every day since it was two days old, and I had watched it die so that I could eat.

Phew. What an experience! I’m so grateful that we can go through this and try living this way. It feels right.  It feels like the way things should be. But I can’t even begin to think about killing my sweet turkeys. :(

Soul Food

Posted on May 2nd, 2012 by Tonia 1 Comment

Since the play has taken over my life for the past couple weeks, I haven’t been very good at fulfilling my usual role in the family as Cooker of Delicious Dinners. Mike is understandably upset about this, since he was the main benefactor in that arrangement.

Yesterday I had a day off from the play {which Mike has taken to calling “Dorklahoma”}, so I told him I would make whatever his hungry little heart desired. He pointed to this recipe in this cook book.

There’s nothing like soul food to give you the strength to perform the heck out of “Oklahoma” for the second week {and to give your husband the strength to tolerate it.} This meal is exactly what the doctor ordered.

And it was made even better because it was shared with great friends and paired with tangy home-brewed beer and lots of immature jokes, which the doctor also ordered.

And a nutty Maple Layer Cake to top it off {recipe note: I used cinnamon instead of ground ginger and was very happy with the change. I also used waaaay less frosting than Martha suggests, because the cake was already plenty sweet.}

I feel rejuvenated and ready to give the second week of performances my all! And Mike has about a week’s worth of leftover fried chicken to work away at in the ‘fridge, so he’s a happy camper. Oh, the wonders of a good meal. Yeow!

How to Make Pasta from Scratch Even if You’re Half Irish.

Posted on April 17th, 2012 by Tonia 2 Comments

It has been a while since I have shared a recipe on the blog, so it’s very convenient that last night I had a dream that I was a rosy, round, jolly old Nonna {much like my own Nonna}, standing behind a kitchen island with a huge smile on my face, kneading a ball of perfectly smooth, yellow pasta dough.

This is hopefully exactly what will be happening in about 50 years when I am in fact a jolly old Nonna. It was a cute dream, but I woke up needing to eat pasta immediately. Only, the stupid pantry was void of store-bought pasta. NOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!

Ok, it’s fine, I can do this, right? The ability to make amazing homemade pasta from scratch is one of the perks of having Italian blood. It’s part of my genetic code. It’s the trade-off for having to share the race with Snooki. We have to put up with her, but we’re really awesome at cooking so it’s fair.

But…..I’m also half Irish, and everyone knows that Irish people think that cabbage and potatoes boiled in a pot of water is a delicious, flavorful soup that can be eaten every day forever without ever getting sick of it. Also they love capers on everything.

What ARE capers? Beans? Peas? Bugs? Tiny round green things that taste so awful that they need to be pickled and salted the hell out of in order to be edible? Bingo. {Don’t be mad, fellow Irishman. We have lots of great qualities that make everyone who’s not Irish envy us. But our food isn’t one of them. Besides Irish Creme. Good job there.}

So I get a little nervous every time I cook, because you never know which side of my genetic inheritance is going to surface that day. There’s a 50/50 chance this pasta is going to taste like the Blarney Stone.

I decided it would be wise to follow instructions instead of resting solely on my magical Italian powers unreliable cooking skillz.

Here are the steps:

Measure out 3/4 cup flour + 1 egg for each person that’s going to eat. I like to use 1/2 semolina flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour.

Spoon the flour on your work surface, form a well in the middle, and crack the eggs into the well. Add a drop of olive oil.

Use a fork to break the yolks and gently pull in the flour until the eggs are mixed in.

Scrape your work surface clean or move your ball of dough to a new surface that is lightly sprinkled with flour. Start kneading the dough with your hands, adding water if it’s too dry, or more flour if it’s too sticky. Knead until soft and pliable {about 7-10 min.}

If the dough springs right back after you poke it, it’s ready. It should look smooth and pillowy. Pat the dough into a ball and place a bowl over it. Let the dough rest under the bowl for 30 min {a good time to prepare a sauce to go with the pasta!}

Roll out or shape your pasta however you want, either using a pasta-maker or by hand. I went the easy route and rolled my pasta into a half-inch thick snake, sliced it like a banana, and pressed my thumb into each slice to form little “ear” shapes.

Toss the pasta with flour as soon as you shape it. Otherwise, the pasta will start drying and stick together, and will cook in a big yucky clump. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer pasta for 3 minutes. Test. Cook more if needed.

Drain and toss with whatever sauce you cooked up {fellow Irishmen: do NOT put capers on this pasta! Back away from the capers!}