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#1 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 04:15 AM

Good morning! I'll be your food blogger for the week. I seem to be unknown enough that the only thing you guys guessed correctly from my teaser photos was the city, so I hope you're not too disappointed.

My name is Jen, I do in fact live in the Kansas City, more specifically in Wesport. There's no where I'd rather live, and I'm really excited to show you guys my favorite food-related things.

I just had my usual breakfast (part 1), juice and a cigarette on the rooftop that serves as a porch for my apartment:
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Classy, I know. I need nicotine and a little sugar to bridge the gap between sleep and functionality. I'll eat an actual breakfast once I get to work. Which is where I have to go now, so, more in a little bit!
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#2 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 05:50 AM

I'm settled at work, eating breakfast at my desk. The area I live in is a few miles south of downtown Kansas City, and I work up north of the Missouri river, so I have about a 26 mile commute, the first part of which swings me right around downtown. This is nice on a cool morning, because downtown smells like roasted coffee from the Folgers roasting plant, and that's one of my favorite smells. I also get to drive by two airports and trains hauling interesting things, so all in all it's a good commute.

All right. About my teaser photos.

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This is my favorite kitchen store. I think I'm physically incable of going in and not buying something. I'll be taking you guys there this week, so you'll see.

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This is an early week of my CSA, when it was basically all leafy greens. I belong to Fair Share Farm. My farm has a work requirement in addition to what I pay for my share, and I'll be working out at the farm on Wednesday morning. This is my first experience with a CSA, and it's been wonderful. If you look at the newsletters on their website, you get a good sense of what I've been getting each week. I also took advantage of their partnership with Parker Farms to get meat and eggs once a month. More about my CSA experience later.
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#3 racheld

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 06:48 AM

What a bright green start to a sunny Monday!!! I'm looking forward to seeing all you've planned and what your fair city has to boast of. (The South-Girl part of me says BARBECUE!!!)

What a treat.
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#4 Kent Wang

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 07:51 AM

Will you be covering any barbecue?

#5 hummingbirdkiss

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 07:58 AM

Will you be covering any barbecue?

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I want to know this as well? it is the only state I have not gone food exploring in I would love to hear about your famous BBQ !

thanks for blogging these are so fun to read!

#6 LindsayAnn

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 08:07 AM

So so excited! I am a miswestern as well (well for the past 18 years - I lived in the Northeast for my first 8 years of life - New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut.)

So - I LOVE the Midwest and I have never ever been to Kansas City. Therefore - as I said I am psyched!
"One Hundred Years From Now It Will Not Matter What My Bank Account Was, What Kind of House I lived in, or What Kind of Car I Drove, But the World May Be A Better Place Because I Was Important in the Life of A Child."

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hmmm - as it appears if you are eating good food with the ones you love you will be living life to its fullest, surely laughing and smiling throughout!!!

#7 moosnsqrl

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 08:17 AM

This is great, Dividend, I had no idea you were going to do it. If you need any help eating, you know what to do :wink: Good idea including Pryde's too. It is a treasure and must be supported in the face of the big, bad competition. I once received a sauteuse as a gift from a mega-department store and could tell by the wrapping from whence it came. I slyly returned it, too the $$ and bought the same item from Pryde's.

And I am sitting 2 blocks from the Folger's plant as we "speak" - it's great but it does make me crave *real* coffee all day long.

Looking forward to your blog!
Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

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#8 Marigene

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 08:20 AM

Ahh, almost my back yard, or should I say my front yard, seeing I am about an hour south of you. Can't wait for your blog to get going!

#9 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 08:48 AM

Will you be covering any barbecue?

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That's an absolute requirement for a Kansas City blog, and I'm definately going to take you guys to two of my favorite places. Ask a dozen people around here where the best BBQ is and you'll get a dozen different emphatic answers, and I'm no less emphatic in my own preferences. On most topics I'm content to respect people's opinions, but I simply don't understand some people's preference for hyper-sweet BBQ sauce. I dislike the fact that sickeningly sweet sauces like KC Masterpeice are marketed nationwide because that's the opposite of the BBQ I love. Great BBQ sauce has got to have spice and tang at the forefront, with sweetness as a balancing background note.

So given my preference for thick, spicy sauce, and great burnt ends, I'm going to the original Arthur Bryant's on Wednesday. That would probably be my pick if I had to name a single favorite, and Calvin Trillin did call it the best restaurant in the world. I'm also going to Oklahoma Joe's at some point, for pork and sausage and best fries in the known universe. I don't eat at Gates very much anymore, although I salivate every night as I drive by the Main Street location (I love the great food smells I get on my drive to and from work), and their sauce is a staple in my fridge.

For further reading, Here's a discussion about Kansas City BBQ from the Heartland forum, and here's a thread specifically about sweet BBQ sauces.

So that should sort of give you an idea of why I subtitled this blog "My corner of the midwest." Because I'm not going to claim to show you THE BEST ______, just my favorite things.

Oh, and moosnsqrl, I might need someone to eat brunch at Bluestem on Sunday - know anyone who'd be interested?
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#10 Jaymes

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 09:06 AM

When is the KC Royal coming up? Is our own Joiei going to be judging? Is that any time soon?

#11 Jamie Lee

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 09:23 AM

Can you hit D'Bronx sometime? I loved living in KC (I was on the Plaza), and D'Bronx was the ONLY good deli sandwich in town.

I also miss the reasonable alcohol laws in MO - you could buy liquor in grocery stores! After growing up and doing undergrad in CA, I took that convenience for granted... Live for a while in silly states with insane "blue laws", and you'll know what I mean.

Arthur Bryant's rocks, but please show the order line... you better know what you want before you get to the front of the line!

Do you get to the Saturday Farmer's Market downtown.. I used to love it.
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#12 annarborfoodie

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 10:53 AM

When I saw that you live in Westport, my first thought was "OMG she lives by Pryde's!". I think I would be broke if I lived anywhere within 50 miles of that place. I just love exploring all of the nooks and crannies.

Kansas City is one of my favorite places - my husband's grandmother lives near Loose Park and most of the rest of his extended family is scattered around the city. I'm looking forward to your blog, and learning about new places I'll need to hit on my next trip. (and Oklahoma Joe's is one of my favorites too - we always go there for lunch on our first day in K.C.)

#13 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 11:49 AM

When is the KC Royal coming up?  Is our own Joiei going to be judging?  Is that any time soon?

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Here's your answer to that.

Can you hit D'Bronx sometime? I loved living in KC (I was on the Plaza), and D'Bronx was the ONLY good deli sandwich in town.

I also miss the reasonable alcohol laws in MO - you could buy liquor in grocery stores! After growing up and doing undergrad in CA, I took that convenience for granted... Live for a while in silly states with insane "blue laws", and you'll know what I mean.

Arthur Bryant's rocks, but please show the order line... you better know what you want before you get to the front of the line!

Do you get to the Saturday Farmer's Market downtown.. I used to love it.


I love D'Bronx! That whole area along 39th street is crammed full of good restaurants. I've started to hear commercials on the radio advertising that "corridor" as a destination district.

The Missouri alcohol laws are wonderful - liquor stores open until midnight, beer/wine/hard alcohol in the grocery store, bars open until 3AM (that gets me in trouble sometimes!) The laws in Kansas are actually alot more restrictive, which is just one of the many strange quirks about a city with a state line running through the middle of it.

I'm going to the City Market farmer's market on Saturday morning - that's one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. I don't buy produce so much, since I get an insane amount (for just one person) every Wednesday from my CSA, but I love driving down through downtown in the stillness of the morning, browsing, talking to farmers, soaking in the atmosphere. Gotta get there early or it's a mob scene. I'm hoping it's not to late to find some blueberries for jam. I think I might take this new boy I've started dating - enjoying doing that sort of thing is kind of a litmus test for a possible relationship.

When I saw that you live in Westport, my first thought was "OMG she lives by Pryde's!". I think I would be broke if I lived anywhere within 50 miles of that place. I just love exploring all of the nooks and crannies.


Yeah, I live about 50 yards from that place. It's bad. When I get around to kitchen pics, you'll see where all my money goes.

...
So 9/10 days, I pack my lunch for work. I spent all day yesterday at World's of Fun (a big amusement park), walking for miles, drinking beer, and eating funnel cake, so by the time I got home I just collapsed into bed without packing a lunch. Up north where I work is sort of a culinary wasteland. Very few non-chain or non-fast food restaurants. We have an Aramark cafeteria whose only redeeming feature most of the time is Arby-esque curly fries. This rather bleak dining situation is brightened by a Chipotle :wub: and a Winstead's, which I was planning on showing you guys anyway.
Turns out that this is a guest chef week in our cafeteria. They brought in Marwan Chebaro, who used to be the chef at the now-closed Cafe Rumi on 39th street. He cooks fabulous middle eastern food, and if he's met you once, he'll greet you with a hug the next time. So gyros and hummus it is! I'm excited because they only get him to come about twice a year. Winstead's can wait until Friday.
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#14 MarketStEl

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 02:04 PM

Whaddaya know...two (three?) people divided by common barbecue!


Will you be covering any barbecue?

View Post


That's an absolute requirement for a Kansas City blog, and I'm definately going to take you guys to two of my favorite places. Ask a dozen people around here where the best BBQ is and you'll get a dozen different emphatic answers, and I'm no less emphatic in my own preferences. On most topics I'm content to respect people's opinions, but I simply don't understand some people's preference for hyper-sweet BBQ sauce. I dislike the fact that sickeningly sweet sauces like KC Masterpeice are marketed nationwide because that's the opposite of the BBQ I love. Great BBQ sauce has got to have spice and tang at the forefront, with sweetness as a balancing background note.

So given my preference for thick, spicy sauce, and great burnt ends, I'm going to the original Arthur Bryant's on Wednesday. That would probably be my pick if I had to name a single favorite, and Calvin Trillin did call it the best restaurant in the world. I'm also going to Oklahoma Joe's at some point, for pork and sausage and best fries in the known universe. I don't eat at Gates very much anymore, although I salivate every night as I drive by the Main Street location (I love the great food smells I get on my drive to and from work), and their sauce is a staple in my fridge.

For further reading, Here's a discussion about Kansas City BBQ from the Heartland forum, and here's a thread specifically about sweet BBQ sauces.

So that should sort of give you an idea of why I subtitled this blog "My corner of the midwest." Because I'm not going to claim to show you THE BEST ______, just my favorite things.

Oh, and moosnsqrl, I might need someone to eat brunch at Bluestem on Sunday - know anyone who'd be interested?

View Post


As a participant in one of those two barbecue threads and the initiator of the other, I cannot begin to describe the ecstasy I experienced as I read the opening post of this foodblog. I really must read the teaser thread more frequently!

Since I now live in an apartment with no outdoor space of any kind, I am seriously grill-deprived -- I am going to resort to borrowing a friend's rear terrace and Weber kettle sometime in September so that I can reassure myself that my barbecue chops haven't gotten all rusty. In the meantime, I can live vicariously through this blog and maybe keep the wolf at bay for a little while by heading up to a place in the Northeast called Sweet Lucy's, which everyone assures me has the best 'cue in Philly -- which may be okay, but remember, I do live in the Great Barbecue Desert, even though there are Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned cook-offs in the area.

Since I made my own preferences crystal clear in the opening post of that sauce discussion, I won't repeat them here except to assert again that Rich Davis has indeed trashed the KC barbecue sauce tradition with his creation.

However, I expect a full and gorgeously illustrated report on your repast at Bluestem. The New York Times' writeup on off-the-beaten-path culinary scenes did right by ChefCAG, and I've made a mental note to check the place out on my next trip Back Home. As I think I've also said in a couple of discussions on the Heartland forum, this isn't the same Kansas City I grew up in, of which it was said by one wag, "The best meals I've ever eaten out were in the homes of Kansas Citians." And yet that sentence may hold a clue as to why the city has developed a robust dining scene that outstrips those of other cities its size and even a few larger ones, such as the city on the opposite end of the state. After all, if people know how to cook well, I'd think they'd expect no less in the way of quality when they're paying someone else to cook for them. Of which speaking, I trust we will experience some of your own cooking in the course of the week?


I also miss the reasonable alcohol laws in MO - you could buy liquor in grocery stores!  After growing up and doing undergrad in CA, I took that convenience for granted... Live for a while in silly states with insane "blue laws", and you'll know what I mean.

View Post


Trust me, I know exactly what you mean. (Scroll down to the newspaper front pages in this post. Further elaboration of the silliness comes later in that foodblog.)

As for the bars closing at 3 am, I had understood that this closing time does not apply statewide. I had heard that this was a law that applied in "convention trade zones," said zones covering entire counties that chose to define themselves as such. IIRC, Jackson, Clay, Platte, St. Louis, and St. Louis City all promptly did so. I thought that the law was a creative approach to finessing the urban-rural divide and the cultural divide between the two big cities that is as evident in the state that I call home now as it is in the state of my birth.

Okay, I've rambled on enough. Carry on -- please, ma'am, I want more!
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
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#15 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 06:06 PM

Disclaimer - since I work for a credit card company, I am absolutely not allowed to have a camera at work. Hence any pictures I take at work are using my cell phone camera.

I ate my breakfast (part 2) at my desk:
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Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal, supplemented with cinnamon and raisins. I like this stuff for about the first half of the bowl, then I start to really feel like I am eating health food. But it does a good job staving off hunger for the five hours until lunch. I, like I imagine alot of you do, mentally break up my workday into chunks of time between meals.

After that, I needed a cup of coffee.
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The sheepishly awesome coffee mug almost makes up for the horrible industrial sludge that passes for coffee at my office. Redeeming quality? It's free. Can't beat that, especially at 8 AM, right?

So about noon I head down to the cafeteria, and, as expected when we have a guest chef, the line is out the door. Worth the wait though, to have Chef Chebaro put together a delicious gyro plate.
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Eaten, of course, back at my desk. In addition to the gyro, there was salad, pita with hummus and chili sauce, and saffron rice with garlic sauce. All for right around $7. Not bad for not having to leave the building.

So after work every day I go to my grandmother's house to water the tomatoes I planted behind her house. I forgot to take pictures today, so more about that tomorrow.

This year for my birthday, I asked my parents for a deep freeze. They're used to me asking for geeky/food-related items, so in April I lugged a 7.2 cubic foot freezer up the three flights of stairs to my attic apartment. This appliance has been absolutely wonderful for a single person, especially one who likes to cook as much as I do and owns a vacuum sealer. As you can see, it's about half full of homemade frozen food, and various different kinds of meat.
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Here's the inventory list that's pinned to the door, with bonus handwriting shot!
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I'll take the rest of the obligatory fridge and pantry shots tomorrow. Off to cook something from the freezer for dinner!
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#16 dividend

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 07:46 PM

So my dinner tonight comes almost entirely from my CSA share. Earlier in the summer when I had an overabundance of leeks, I made a bunch of individual chicken and leek pot pies and froze them. I defrosted one of them this morning, and cooked it up, along with some oven fries, since I have an abundance of new potatoes.
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I use a loosely modified version of the Cook's Illustrated for oven fries. You toss the potato wedges with olive oil, and cook them tightly covered with foil, then uncover them and cook them until they're crispy and browned. Very good, and easy. Also on the plate is some cumumber and white onions lightly marinated in rice wine vinegar and sugar.

I love having a stockpile of homecooked food in the freezer. It's perfect for CSA season because I can just supplement with fresh stuff and dinner is a ready in a snap.

My best friend called as I had the pot pie and potatoes in the oven and invited himself over for dinner. Since I was already cooking for one, he brought some Chipotle and we sat on the roof at my fabulous white iron bistro table. I'd been looking for a little table and chair set for some time, and happened across the perfect set at a giant antique store downtown. It's been nice to able to sit outside for dinner or a drink, and the line of trees at the edge of the property really hide the fact that I live in a semi shady neighborhood (at least to my suburb-dwelling parents' way of thinking).
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#17 moosnsqrl

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 09:01 PM

Oh, and moosnsqrl, I might need someone to eat brunch at Bluestem on Sunday - know anyone who'd be interested?

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Not off the top of my head but don't give up hope - as PT Barnum said "there's one born every minute." :cool:

I'm glad to see your meals improved steadily throughout the day. Woman does not live by V-8 and nicotine alone.

Good to see all of these midwesterners coming out of the woodwork, though. I'm sure everyone is finding a change of voice (from the usual Greek chorus) refreshing.

And I'm glad you found a good CSA, too. Tom and Rebecca are amazing and, for those who don't know, probably the closest thing to *real* 100-mile dieters as we have around here.
Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

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#18 Chufi

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 02:06 AM

  I, like I imagine alot of you do, mentally break up my workday into chunks of time between meals.

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that, and the chunks of time between checking on the current eG foodblog :wink:
I'm really enjoying this one, about a part of the US I know nothing about. Another great opportunity for armchair travelling!
So, what's Chipotle (besides the pepper?) I'm thinking beer?

#19 CaliPoutine

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:34 AM

So, what's Chipotle (besides the pepper?) I'm thinking beer?


I'm not Dividend, but I hope she'll allow me to answer. Chipotle is a "fast casual" chain. They serve overstuffed burrito's, taco's, burrito bol's( their spelling). They used to be owned by McDonald's.

On my way back from the Heartland Gathering, I picked up a giant chicken burrito, chucked it on ice and schlepped it back to Canada. My spouse just loves them( I do too) and sadly, they're not in Canada.

They use "all natural" poultry, pork, etc. For a fast food place, they're pretty good.

Edited by CaliPoutine, 24 July 2007 - 06:34 AM.


#20 dividend

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 09:24 AM

So all I have to do is mention that I'm showing off my favorite Kansas City BBQ, and whoever I'm talking to assumes it'll be their favorite.
My coworkers: "So you're going to Jack Stack's?"
My best friend: "Which day are you taking me to Wyandotte BBQ?"
The boy I'm dating: "You have to go eat at BB's!"

<Sigh> This is obviously an issue where I can't make everyone happy.

And then, driving to work today, I saw an appropriate billboard. It's for Sprint, so it's got the yellow logo, overlayed with a kettle grill made of neon lights. The text says "Coverage like sauce on ribs." I almost took a picture, but at highway speeds could've ended with me being the first person to die during an eGfoodblog. But it is nice to see a food-related billboard that isn't advertising "FOURTH MEAL!"

On a completely different note - yesterday I went and met with the pastor of my church, who I haven't had a chance to sit down with for a while. I adore this woman - she's a two time cancer survivor with enough enthusiasm and vigor for about six normal people, and one of the only people with whom I can discuss at length the spiritual aspects of gardening, local eating, and bread baking. This spring, during a six-part sermon series on the non-human aspects of creation, one her sermons included discussion of community supported agriculture and The Omnivore's Dilemma.

My church is located in a poorer area, and every summer we do a Healthy Kid's Camp for children in the neighborhood. They spend a week learning about things like excercise, nutrition, and safety, and meeting people like firemen and dentists. For the last two years I've taken a day and taught the kids about bread baking. I have three or four groups of kids for about an hour and a half each. So I start a few loaves of yeast bread in the morning and show each group a different stage of the process. Each group also makes a batch of corn muffins so they've accomplished something tangible, and the recipe to be able to recreate it at home. At the end of the day they come back to the kitchen and taste the bread that's been working all day. So I get a chance to teach them about the breadmaking process, show them pictures, exlpain some very simplified science, get them thinking about alternatives to Wonder bread, teach them what to look for on labels when they're with their parents in the supermarket, and they get the experience of participating in the creative process of baking. I love the pride they feel when they take a chunk of homemade bread and show it to their parents with a proud "I made this!" I feel like I'm able to make a small difference just by sharing something I love with them, and get them thinking about baking/cooking as something they can embrace.

Wow, I sound really cheesy talking about this. The camp is in two weeks and I can't wait.
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#21 MarketStEl

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:00 AM

And then, driving to work today, I saw an appropriate billboard.  It's for Sprint, so it's got the yellow logo, overlayed with a kettle grill made of neon lights.  The text says "Coverage like sauce on ribs."

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Now that's an "only in Kansas City" Sprint ad!

(I like the current neon-colored TV/print ad campaign.

(--Sandy, Sprint PCS customer)
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen
My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

#22 dividend

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 03:34 PM

Breakfast today was pretty much identical to yesterday, and I ate another lunch at my desk:
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This is roasted red pepper and tomato soup, mac and cheese, and more marinated cucumbers and onions. The soup is a very bastardized version of a recipe from The Naked Chef (which I think is a generally underrated cookbook). I make big batches for the freezer, ditto with the mac and cheese, which is Mom's old recipe and about as comfort food as you can get.

What's that that smells so good as I'm nearing the end of my drive home?
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Mmmmm... I'm not eating there tonight, but I am having BBQ for dinner with my grandmother!
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#23 Jensen

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 07:42 PM

I use a loosely modified version of the Cook's Illustrated for oven fries.  You toss the potato wedges with olive oil, and cook them tightly covered with foil, then uncover them and cook them until they're crispy and browned.  Very good, and easy. 

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Do you recall the reasoning behind the "cover with foil" stage? I love oven fries (when the outside temperatures aren't reaching baking levels) but I've never covered them.

Also, how long for each stage and at what temperature?

(Ta very much!)

#24 Jensen

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 07:45 PM

I love the pride they feel when they take a chunk of homemade bread and show it to their parents with a proud "I made this!"  I feel like I'm able to make a small difference just by sharing something I love with them, and get them thinking about baking/cooking as something they can embrace.   

Wow, I sound really cheesy talking about this.  The camp is in two weeks and I can't wait.

View Post



Not at all cheesy...passionate? Yes. Cheesy? No.

What a wonderful thing for you to do for those children and your community. I bet it's something that they'll remember for the rest of their lives.

#25 dividend

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 08:35 PM

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So here's the first BBQ of the week. Oklahoma Joe's looks like a gas station /
convenience store from the outside, tucked into the corner of a dive strip mall, across the street from a tiny used car dealership:
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And a convenience store on the inside:
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This place has ambiance in spades.
As you get to the order counter, you start to see signs that this is a place that takes BBQ seriously (besides the wonderful smells):
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Banners from the aforemention American Royal, which is the biggest annual BBQ event in Kansas City.
Here's a somewhat blured picture of the menu:
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I've tried just about everything on the menu, and have yet to eat anything I didn't like. I ordered my favorite, the Hog Heaven - pulled pork and sausage together on a bun. Plain beef sandwich for my grandmother, and one of their massive orders of fries.
Like I said, I think they make the best fries in town:
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Not too thick, crispy, piping hot, coated liberally with seasoned salt. In the three minutes it takes me to drive from there to my grandmother's house, I burn my fingers and mouth sneaking them out of the bag.
Our feast:
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About the sauce, which in my mind is probably the most important criteria on which to judge BBQ. OK Joe's includes it in containers on the side with the sandwiches. I find their sauce to be almost too sweet for my taste, but with enough background spicyness that I enjoy it. The sauces that I really love are assertive and peppery, with an afterthought of sweetness, and this is really the opposite - sweetness with an afterthought kick of spice. So, good sauce, great pulled pork, stellar fries, and the unique ambience make this one of my top two.

So after I stuffed myself on pork and sausage and fries, I turned my attention to the tomatoes.

My grandparents bought their house right around sixty years ago, when my grandfather got back from WW2. It doesn't have a backyard, so much as the driveway runs back to a double garage, leaving a strip of grass and dirt about eight feet wide running along the side. For as long as I can remember, my grandfather planted tomato plants in this patch of earth. Some of my earliest memories are of summer Sunday steak dinners that always included plates of fresh tomato slices, and running around with a cherry tomato in each hand. As I got older I remember my grandfather sitting in a lawn chair with his slingshot, vigilantly defending his plants against invading squirrels. My grandfather passed away thirteen years ago, and that piece of ground has been lying idle ever since.

Since I moved to Westport a few years ago, I live only a mile or so from the house. And since my apartment is a converted attic, I have no place to plant anything substantive of my own. So this year I decided to plant tomatoes behind my grandmother's house.

I tilled the soil and fertilized it with Epsom salts and Miracle Grow, just like he used to, and in May put twelve plants in the ground. I wasn't sure how they were going to fair, since I am something of an absentee landlord to them. I check on them and water them every day, but I can't sit with a slingshot and defend them against pests. My grandmother does bang on the window to scare squirrels away throughout the day, but she doesn't really go outside since she's on an oxygen machine. So far, we've lost three plants, but most of the rest of them are looking good (if a little leggy):
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Several of the plants have strong clusters of green tomatoes. I'm impatiently waiting for them to turn red. I don't know what to expect.
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I think that even if these plants fare poorly, it's a worthwhile thing to do. I have a reason to see my grandmother every day, and I feel connected to the memory of my grandfather. She talks about him some, and not just the sadness of him being gone. She tells stories I've never heard about their life together, and we've been planning eagerly to share the first perfect tomato in a BLT. The shared project of these plants has brought us closer.

Edited by dividend, 24 July 2007 - 08:43 PM.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#26 dividend

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 08:41 PM

Do you recall the reasoning behind the "cover with foil" stage? I love oven fries (when the outside temperatures aren't reaching baking levels) but I've never covered them.

Also, how long for each stage and at what temperature?

(Ta very much!)

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The reasoning is that the perfect oven fries have a crisp crust and soft, creamy exterior. Covering them with foil initially traps the natural moisture so they steam themselves in the oven. Then you take the foil off to crisp the outside.

OK, I dug out the issue of Cook's Illustrated. Cook covered at 475 degrees for 5 minutes, uncover and cook 15-20, turning once or twice until evenly browned. It also calls for soaking the wedges in hot tap water for 10 minutes and then patting them dry first. I think the result is a marginal improvement at best, so I normally skip it. But then again, CI recipes are by nature very fiddly, and I am not at all a fiddly cook, so YMMV.
"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)
My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

#27 snowangel

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 09:34 PM

What varieties of tomatoes? Had any ripe ones yet? I've had one "stray" ripe one up here, but the rest are green. I'm hoping that this heat wave will bring on the red!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#28 heidih

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:37 PM

" the spiritual aspects of gardening, local eating & bread baking" along with the tomatoes in the patch your Dad used to cultivate- you got me hooked. Love the BBQ aspects. Am also enjoying your connection to food including passing the passion to the youngsters with the bread baking. When my son was having issues with responsibility and self esteem around 6th grade I left for work and handed him Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2 with the bread recipe bookmarked and told him I was looking forward to bread when I got home. Well, toasted, buttered and ate first slice around 9 pm, but it was a big big deal. Blog on!

#29 moosnsqrl

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 06:05 AM

I think that even if these plants fare poorly, it's a worthwhile thing to do.  I have a reason to see my grandmother every day, and I feel connected to the memory of my grandfather.  She talks about him some, and not just the sadness of him being gone.  She tells stories I've never heard about their life together, and we've been planning eagerly to share the first perfect tomato in a BLT.  The shared project of these plants has brought us closer.

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That's funny . . . one of our neighbors came over on the 4th of July; we bought our house from his mother and he had helped her a lot after his father died. He walked over and saw all of our tomatoes in the raised beds that his dad built and he actually teared-up! He's not the kind of guy I expected to ever see demonstrate emotion like that, but homegrown tomatoes are powerful things. He said it made him happy to see someone growing them there again, since his mother never had a green thumb.

And every time I'm driving all over the backroads looking for that previously undiscovered old farmer with the sweetest, best old variety for canning (we don't end up with any surplus from our few plants), it's as if my grandmother were in the passenger seat spurring me on. It's a good thing gas wasn't as expensive when she was alive - her habit would have been financially ruinous!

We do oven fries a lot, too, but it never occurred to me to cover them either. I'll have to try that. I do cut mine with a crinkle to improve the crispiness.
Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

#30 moosnsqrl

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 09:20 AM

Oh, and moosnsqrl, I might need someone to eat brunch at Bluestem on Sunday - know anyone who'd be interested?

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Div,

I PMd you in reply to this; don't know if you check them regularly but . . .
Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher





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