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Funday: A Nudge for the Neophyte

November 21, 2014

Sometimes all it takes is just a gentle push. Othertimes it takes a bit of hand holding. Everyone’s path into cooking is different. I got tired of washing dishes, so I decided to start contributing to meals by making dessert.

These days, I believe in cooking. I think more people should do it. Yes, it can seem like a burden. But it doesn’t have to be.

One of the very first posts on the FLB was entitled Make Your Own Damn Sauce. I still believe that homemade pasta sauce is the gateway drug of home cooking. And that is one of the big reasons why I’m excited to be hosting this Sell Out Funday giveaway provided by Tuttorosso.

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Return to Rolf’s

November 20, 2014

Elementary school is largely awful for teaching kids about food. Candy is given out as rewards, the students were encouraged by their teacher to buy Sunny D, and in music class they learned the fast food song.

And that’s without even stepping foot in the cafeteria. Let’s not even go there today.

When I was in grade school I had to do a project on Greece. Actually, I was on a team with my oldest friend ADS. Part of the project involved making a food from the country. Maybe my mom will remember how two fifth grade boys came up with Greek salad. I don’t. What I do remember was ADS wanting to shred the lettuce into itsy bitsy pieces like they did in Disney World.

We shredded that lettuce with our fingernails. By the time of the presentation, the salad was a disgusting mess. Our wooden bowl, filled with browning torn bits of lettuce, reeking of feta, and swimming in dressing was placed in the school refrigerator. Before we could present it to the class, some public-health minded janitor, threw the whole thing (bowl and all) into the dumpster.

Today, Young Master Fussy has an international culture project of his own. And just like any normal parent, I’ve taken it upon myself to use this opportunity to rewrite the wrongs of the past.

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The Last CSA Haul of 2014

November 19, 2014

Calendars be damned. As far as I’m concerned today is the first day of winter. It’s not because of the snow in Buffalo, or even the big fat flakes I saw falling outside my Albany window yesterday morning.

Technically we still have over a month of fall before winter kicks in. And usually, I’m all about holding these kinds of lines. People tend to rush fall with the early arrival of pumpkin beers while it’s still summer. But who in their right minds would rush winter?

I’m in no rush. I’m just compelled to call them as I see them. All the leaves have fallen from the trees. I’ve cleaned out the gutters, and have done my final rake. There’s nothing left to fall. And yesterday was the last pickup from the Roxbury Farm CSA for the year. All they’ve got left are winter storage vegetables. The harvest is over. Winter is here.

Just for fun, let’s talk about the last crops that were pulled from the ground in Kinderhook.

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Rocking Breakfast – Recipe #2

November 18, 2014

Last month I was lucky and got to go to Josh Coletto’s Rock & Roll Brunch. It’s only once a month, and that day I had signed up to volunteer for something important. Anyhow, by some kind of freak accident, the volunteer assignments got shuffled around and I found myself free to enjoy some local grassfed chicken fried steak with gravy, a biscuit and an egg.

Man, it had been a long time since I had chicken fried steak. It’s a good thing I got to The Low Beat early because the steak was the first thing to sell out later that day.

If you don’t know, Josh changes up the menu for these brunches every time. The only thing that stays the same are the biscuits and gravy (either sausage or vegetarian friendly mushroom). Seriously, if my schedule were more relenting I’d be at these every month. On Sunday, when the Rock & Roll Brunch is happening, I’m going to be in Providence. There’s good breakfast there too, but I’d love to try Josh’s wild hive grits with blackened tempeh. I’m sure the shrimp version is good too, but I find the vegetarian option to be intriguing.

Anyhow, Josh and I have worked out a little deal. He’s agreed to share some of his recipes with readers of the FLB, and I’ve agreed to remind people to check out his monthly labor of love. This month’s recipe may be the best thing from the best dish of last month’s brunch.

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Fussy Fast Food

November 17, 2014

One of the best perks of a flexible schedule is the ability to prepare lunch in your home kitchen. Among my fondest memories of those early days in California is making my favorite Italian sausage sandwiches for lunch. I’d saute the onions and peppers, brown the sausage, and deglaze the pan with a bit of tomato sauce. It was heaven.

Man, I wish I had the metabolism I enjoyed in my twenties.

My tastes have changed, and I’ve been enjoying more than my fair share of kimchi fried rice lunches. Perhaps it’s foolish to imagine these lunches as more healthful, but except for a little fish in the kimchi, the meal is largely vegetarian. And I’m using brown rice to boot.

I’ve said before that I’m no monk. I don’t pretend to live some kind of perfect clean-food lifestyle. And there are days when I’m running around without time for a proper lunch. Like most people, sometimes I’m compelled to seek out quick and filling convenience foods. That said, my convenience foods aren’t the typical drive-thru fare. Not that they are any more healthy, but I’d argue they are substantially more delicious.

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Think of the Drink

November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving is coming. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we have a family tradition. It’s really something that I almost take for granted. But if I were to stop and think about it, I would realize that it’s not going to last forever. Our annual family gathering has survived marriages, break-ups, births, deaths, and kitchen renovations.

Cousin S. and I always try to bring some ridiculously tasty cured meats and cheeses. It’s the most delicious family competition you have ever seen. And thanks to the help of Eric at The Cheese Traveler and the gang at Adventures in Food Trading, I’ve been able to come up with some pretty good stuff over the years.

Aunt N. always struggles about whether to replace one of her classic dishes and put something new on the table. Everyone has their favorite. Mine is the stuffing, but those creamed onions are pretty special too. Others really like the roasted sweet potatoes with pears. Young Master Fussy looks forward to the mashed potatoes and gravy all year.

The only thing I actually prepare over the course of the meal is the whipped cream at dessert time. I make sure that it’s glossy, smooth, and holds soft peaks. It’s a thing of beauty, let me assure you. But I’m not going to be much help if you want to know the best way to roast a turkey or which technique you should use to make fluffy mashed potatoes. That’s some other blog.

One thing that many people really stress over is what to drink. So let’s think.

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The Snob List

November 13, 2014
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Religion is awesome. One of the things I love about this ancient form of social control is that it shows those things that human beings have wanted to do for thousands of years.

We’ve always fought with our neighbors. We have always gossiped. We love to eat pigs.

This is just one reason why religious law and doctrine compel people to love your neighbor, shun gossiping, and vilify pork. The major world religions only command us not to do the things that otherwise we would do.

People have been coveting their neighbors’ possessions for thousands of years. Maybe, just maybe, these behaviors aren’t moral or ethical flaws. Perhaps they go deeper than that, and somehow are a part of our DNA. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t try to manage our base impulses. But I do find it comforting to recognize that these seem to be part of the human condition.

Like for instance the classic biblical dictate, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Because I’m sure it’s no surprise to any of you that sometimes… I get just a wee bit judgy.

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