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ninetofive

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Posts posted by ninetofive

  1. Good morning!

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    I was up at 5:05 a.m. and by 5:20, was backing out of the driveway.

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    By the time I arrived home 45 minutes later, the sun was starting to come up. Here's a view of our side yard. Where the lawn meets the treeline is where you'll find my elderflower bushes and rhubarb patch in the spring. I also grow tomatoes down there, and it's a great place to find edible mushrooms.

    Here's the view from our dining room. Such a lovely sunrise!

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    I have to admit: I woke up feeling pretty crappy this a.m. It took monumental effort to get my shoes on and go to the gym, although almost every day is like that, which is why I actually wear my gym clothes to bed. :laugh: If I don't, I can talk myself out of going when the alarm goes off: "Oh, I don't want to put cold clothes on," yada yada yada. My lizard brain is a mighty opponent, let me tell you. Exercise is a lot like writing for me: it always feels best after it's done.

    But today, I was drained, which makes me wonder if I'm coming down with something. I even felt too tired to eat breakfast, so I camped on the couch and snoozed through some PBS cooking shows:

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    Andreas Viestad is so cute. Today he was cooking something with potatoes, cream, and butter. Isn't that one of the holy trinities? My maternal grandfather was Norwegian/Danish and my husband and I spent two weeks in Norway 10 years ago -- I do like a great many Scandinavian foods! (More on my family background TK!)

    At 8:00 it was time to drag my butt off the couch and get Oliver ready for school. I was still feeling rather unwell, but this helped:

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    Oliver has the rest of the week off from school (student conferences/teacher training), so you'll be seeing more of him later this week. He permitted a photograph on the way to school, though, so I could show you all what he looks like:

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    That's his school. We're the next town over from Lowell, an old mill town. Many of these mills now house offices, stores, and yes, even schools. He's in a Montessori program, which he's been in since age 2 1/2. This school goes up to third grade; after that, we'll have to move him to a Montessori school in nearby Littleton, which goes up to eighth grade.

    After dropping him off, I went for an appointment, then stopped here:

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    Last night I realized I had one EFA pill left. Of course, I walked out of the store with much more than a container of fish oil pills:

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    The strawberries are for the ice cream I'll be making this afternoon. The multi-grain pilaf looked like an interesting starch for Oliver and Christiane's dinner. And then the rest was for the pantry.

    I snacked on this on the drive home. It wasn't very good:

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    I'm still feeling a bit droopy -- I hope I'll perk up later today. In the meantime, I've got some work to do. Later this spring, I'm heading to India for two weeks, and my travel companion and I are working to get our tickets booked and final details settled. Plus, I need to start pitching some stories to make this trip work financially.

  2. Ingredients for tonight's dinner:

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    I purchased several chickens about six weeks ago last time I was at Mayflower Poultry in Cambridge. I may be back there this week, so I'll take a picture of the sign hanging out front.

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    The Belgian endives got a toss in some browned butter, before they were bathed in lemon juice and salt and sent to a 325 degree oven for a two-hour braise.

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    Some say I make a damn good biscuit, despite that I was born far north of the Mason/Dixon line. Not trying to start another war, here -- just telling you what I've been told. :raz: Here you'll see the butter cut in in nice big chunks.

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    My favorite pastry blender. It has sturdy tines that don't bend against the cold butter.

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    Yankee ingenuity in action. The biscuits chill while the chicken bakes.

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    Your basic roasted chicken, a staple meal around here in the winter. This one I rubbed with butter and rosemary, then drizzled with half a lemon. The rest of the lemon got stuck in the chicken cavity with a handful of parsley. A good dose of salt and pepper to finish. Roasted at 450 for 15 minutes, then turned oven to 375 and gave it another 45 minutes. (I braised the endives on the stovetop so the oven was free for the chix.)

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    The finished biscuits. Nice loft, but I forgot the timer and they got an extra minute in the oven. Oh well, nothing a little glaze of melted butter can't fix.

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    Lazy woman's gravy. I basically whisked the drippings together, gave them a quick strain, and we were good to go. This was quite tasty, slightly lemony but with plenty of chicken flavor.

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    The braised endives were soft and buttery -- but very bitter. I didn't bother serving any to Oliver or my hubby. Christiane took one small bite and passed. Even for me they were too bitter, but I ate them anyway.

    Then I went to the gym and worked my fanny off for awhile. Then I came home to this, my reward:

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    Cold vanilla pudding. Can you see the flecks of vanilla bean in there? I made it with vanilla sugar, plus I steeped a vanilla bean in hot milk for awhile. It's not much to look at in the picture, but the pudding was delicious, straight, no adornment.

    So I'm heading off to bed soon. I normally rise at 5:00a.m. and go to the gym. Today I slept in because of the storm, so tomorrow it's back to business.

  3. Dinner will be a little late tonight. Off to take a shower then finish things up in the kitchen. Will be back later with photos and more commentary.

    Thank you all for welcoming me today. I was very nervous about blogging here -- I think eGulleteers are such a sophisticated bunch, why on earth would they be interested in my strawberry jam, freezer full of pork -- oh, and the snow? Wow, who'da thunk the snow would land me some readers? :laugh:

  4. So, imagine this room filled with guns. Lots of guns:

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    We bought the house from two police officers. This is where they stored their "equipment." The moment I saw this space, I decided that it was the perfect place for my equipment. The room is unheated, and especially when I keep the door closed, it keeps everything around 50 degrees or so in winter. My husband and FIL put the shelves in for me; before, there were just little posts to hang handguns and nunchucks.

    I adore pantries. When I lived in Vermont, we had a large one in my grandmother's house. There were built-in drawers, a large counter underneath a window one could look out while kneading bread or rolling pastry, a couple bins you that tipped out and held 50-lb. bags of flour. Swoon. I have many happy memories of baking alongside my grandmother there, and I think there's a part of me always looking to get back to that room.

  5. Welcome, from another snowy place and another jammed pantry!  I'll be interested to see how you deal with Ol' Man Winter.

    I've always loved the King Arthur catalog.  I hope we get to see the real place this weekend!

    How much are you paying for pomegranates out your way, and what-all do you with them?  Are they easy for you to find?  Lately I've been fascinated by the cross-section, and I'm admiring the (unusual, in my experience) symmetry of the four-armed star in your photo.

    Huh, I didn't notice the design until you pointed it out, Smithy.

    I think I paid a couple dollars for the pomegranate -- it may have been on sale. We were coming back from CT late at night so I wasn't really paying attention.

    I don't eat many of them, truth be told, but when I do I like them squeezed over ice cream or yogurt.

  6. Ditto!  Thanks for the snow shot, Diana.  As a former New Englander myself, I'm really looking forward to this week.

    Is Oliver a good eater?  What's his favorite?  And does he like to take part in the cooking?

    Megan, Oliver's a fairly good eater. He used to be much better when he was younger -- around 5 it seems that a lot of kids develop some taste and texture issues, and he's got a few of those right now. He went through a long phase of insisting I cut his crusts off his bread, for example, but I noticed the other night he chowed down on a boule, crust and all.

    He's got his Dad's midwestern appreciation for a good steak, for sure. Actually any kind of meat. Chicken, pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, buffalo, ostrich -- he'll put it down. He's struggling with the concept of eating animals, though. We've always been very clear with him about where his food comes from. For example, our CSA raises and slaughters hogs; the kids spend a lot of time visiting and feeding them during the summer. We explain to him that, come fall, the bacon, pork roasts, ribs, etc. we pull from the freezer all came from those pigs.

    We've told him that it's okay to be a vegetarian (I was vegetarian for a number of years), but he's not quite ready to make that choice ... the steak is too good to give up.

    (Sorry if that offends anyone. I'll explain more about how we buy meat around here.)

    As for his favorite foods ... I just asked him and he said, "Bananas, hot cocoa, and milk." Yes, he cooks a lot with me. He's in charge of measuring and stirring. He likes to pretend we're a restaurant kitchen, and he's my sous chef.

    Last year his teacher had to talk to him because he was screaming at some of his playmates in the playground. Oliver explained to her, "Oh, I wasn't really yelling at them ... we were playing restaurant and I was Gordon Ramsay." Ooops.

  7. Okay, story filed. Now I can play.

    Darn! I forgot to take a picture of my lunch, a delightful tossed green salad topped with these:

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    and these:

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    The sardines in tomato sauce are a new addiction. They have a nice mild taste, not too salty, and one can can get me through two lunches. Christiane gets fair warning before I unleash the fish from their tins, because they are just a bit stinky. The tomatoes get me through the winter. I hate buying tomatoes out of season, but these are really quite nice. They're called Campari and I buy them at Costco (another crack den for me).

    Today's salad also included 1 ounce of buffalo mozzarella, a tsp. of flaxseed oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a good sprinkling of smoked salt. Very yummy. Don't worry, you'll see plenty more salads this week. They're standard lunch fare for me.

  8. This will be fun! We also have a kindergartner in the house AND an au pair. Does your au pair cook much food for you guys? (ours has NEVER)

    Looking forward to Oliver's contributions. My Dylan is currently planning her first cooking vlog, so I can relate to his photography planning.  :biggrin:

    Oh good, so you can relate, Danielle! No, Christiane doesn't cook for the family. She makes sandwiches for Oliver's lunch, that sort of thing. Tomorrow she'll have to heat up the dinner I've prepared for them (I'm taking you all out to a very special dinner in Cambridge!).

    I actually think I'd hate having an au pair who liked to cook. I'm very territorial about my kitchen.

  9. Just out of curiosity, how much are you paying for your walnut oil? It's become a critical element in our cooking since moving to Europe, so of course I wanted to turn my parents on to it...but the same amount I buy over here for 2.50 was something like 9 dollars at a Fry's or Safeway (Phoenix-area chain megagrocers)...

    Oh dear, the price label came off, but I think I paid something like $2.79 at Trader Joe's for it. They're no longer selling it, however. Otherwise, it's about $7 at Whole Foods. I'll have to check for a more accurate price later on.

  10. This is going to be an interesting blog this week. Maybe I will glean enough information on how to clean my pantry out....instead of constantly adding to it.

    What type of items do you normally purchase at King Arthur?  When I go home to visit my family, we usually make a quick trip, less than 30 miles, so I can stock up and not have shipping charges. I love that place!

    We call it Mom's Crack Den around here. :raz: It's fabulous, isn't it, especially now that they've expanded?

    I usually have one or two things I "need" to buy when I visit. For example, sheet gelatin, which is impossible to find around here or those little cinnamon nuggets for scones ... I've never seen them anywhere else. Otherwise, it's simply a free-for-all with my credit card.

    The shipping charges seem pretty steep to me, so I usually make a trip up to Norwich three or four times a year and make a day of it. It's a little under two hours for us. As I mentioned, I grew up in Vermont and one of my favorite aunts, who happens to be an outstanding baker, lives not far from Norwich. We meet there, slobber over bakeware, and repair for lunch afterwards.

    OK, I've got a story due today, so I'm going to take a break for a few hours. More TK.

  11. It was hard to imagine what would sound like a good idea after last week's bounty, but that's the amazing thing about the foodblogs here, isn't it...there's always something unexpectedly fresh and undiscovered around the corner...

    BTW, if it's the book I'm thinking of, that German Cooking Today book on your bookshelf in the teaser pic has some of the most spectacularly unappetizing food photography I've ever seen! Am I thinking of the right book?

    ETA: here's hoping that it's not one of the cookbooks you've worked on....

    Haa! No, not my book (mine's the turquoise book next to Alton Brown and has nothing to do with food). I agree. The book is rather uninspiring ... I just had it up there to get it off the floor.

    I'm going to show you all my cookbook collection. It's a little insane.

  12. Even in the deepest snows, Monday is milk delivery day:

    Most weeks we get the four 1/2 gals of skim milk and pint of heavy cream, but in the winters I'll often add a dozen organic eggs. (In the summers, we get eggs from the CSA.)

    My son and I are the big milk drinkers around here. We usually have to run out on Sunday for a 1/2 gallon of milk to get us through to Monday.

    What do you do with all that heavy cream? (especially now that it's not in your coffee)

    Good question! I make ice cream for Oliver and Christiane. This week it's Christiane's turn to pick, and I think we're going with strawberry. Oliver always picks chocolate -- the darker the chocolate the better. In the summers I can flavor the cream/milk with mint, which grows wild in our yard, but otherwise it's all chocolate, all the time with him. :wink:

  13. The fridge shots:

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    Our fridge is usually empty by the weekend; this is pretty much a week's worth of food for us. I cook a lot on the weekend, especially if it's going to be a busy week workwise.

    So on the top shelf, you've got the fresh milk, some buffalo mozzarella for my salads from Costco, my penultimate jar homemade jam, TJ Greek-style yogurt (mine), and Dannon whipped stuff for my husband and Christiane. There's a bin over on the far right that holds my husband's lunch meats.

    Next shelf is some homemade applesauce, maybe about 3 lbs. of butter, chocolate yogurt for son, some thawing pizza dough, and tonight's dessert in the pyrex bowl. :smile: Way back behind is some fruit I've had marinating in alcohol for over a year -- next year's fruitcake!

    Bottom shelf: this week's meat, including a thawing whole chicken, two dozen eggs, and some other odds and ends.

    The drawers are stuffed to the gills with veg. I eat a LOT of veggies! The pills in the cheese drawer are rennet tablets for home cheesemaking. Did I mention I also eat a lot of cheese?

    Then the fridge door: odd bits like brined green peppercorns and walnut oil (a new addiction, thanks to Lucy/Blaudauvergne, who I interviewed this summer for a Boston Globe article). In the little tub up top is my yeast. I bake all our breads ... more on that later. OJ is hubby's: both my son and I cannot drink any citrus juices. :sad: Other stuff in there: harissa, flax oil, maple syrup, some dressings, my son's catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and a couple hot/spicy chutneys. Oh, and three different kinds of mustard.

  14. Even in the deepest snows, Monday is milk delivery day:

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    There was an interesting article about Shaw Farm that appeared in the Boston Globe last week. Most weeks we get the four 1/2 gals of skim milk and pint of heavy cream, but in the winters I'll often add a dozen organic eggs. (In the summers, we get eggs from the CSA.)

    My son and I are the big milk drinkers around here. We usually have to run out on Sunday for a 1/2 gallon of milk to get us through to Monday.

  15. What German recipes did Christiane introduce to your family?

    Well, I guess I should explain this a little better. My husband's aunt married a German, and they live outside Munich. My husband and his siblings spent a lot of time with his German cousins with extended trips to Europe (and the cousins coming here for extended trips to the U.S.) After high school, my husband's uncle arranged for hubby to do a year-long engineering apprenticeship at a factory in Nurnberg, where it was sink-or-swim ... speak German or else. After his gap year, hubby entered MIT and lived in German House (Deutch Haus?). So you can see -- by the time I met him, my husband already had a lot of immersion in the language and culture, and he has his food favorites: leberkase, gelbwurst (which my son also loves), not to mention the rolls and breads.

    I have to admit: I'm not a huge fan of German food. I do like the breads and have a fondness for anything chocolate and haselnuss :wub: . We were in southern Germany this fall, and I found a new obsession: Flädlesuppe. Basically chicken broth with strips of thin pancakes floating on top. Sometimes there's a semolina dumpling in the broth; in Munich, I had a soup with a liver dumpling. At some point this winter, I'm going to get in the kitchen and see if I can recreate the soup. The best version I had was at a monastery (Andechs) near my aunt/uncle's home. I'll see if I can find a photo.

    That was the long answer, I guess. The short answer is No, she hasn't introduced any favorites. She seems quite happy to eat our American food. She's a very good eater :biggrin: and her only dislike is fish and seafood. A bit disappointing, as I eat more fish/seafood than any other flesh protein, so we save those meals for the weekends when Christiane tends to go out.

  16. We are supposed to get 14 inches of snow today. Yippee! We all got snowshoes for Christmas and have gotten good use out of them, especially my son.

    We were just down in Connecticut last week. Once we drove over the Mass border, I noticed all the snow had disappeared. We've had snow on the ground since before Thanksgiving.

    Ok, I hope I'm not rubbing it in here. Usually our winters are gray and dreary. This has been one of the prettiest winters we've had in a long time. They remind me of my early years in Vermont ....

  17. Breakfast this a.m.:

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    It's a bowl of Bob's Red Mill 8-grain cereal topped with seeds from half a pomegranate. It's not very attractive, but it's delicious, especially with a drop of maple syrup stirred in. The coffee is French roast from Starbucks, a gift from my parents at Christmas. I like my coffee strong with lots of milk and two Splendas. Well really, I like it strong with cream and two sugars, but my butt doesn't like it, so I'm stuck with the milk and fake sugar. I'll eat the rest of the fruit later on this a.m., maybe with two eggs fried up in a nonstick pan.

    I loved reading last week's blog because I, too, watch what I eat very carefully. Later this spring, I will start actively training for two triathlons, but for now, my goal is to take some extra poundage off my frame and build muscle. I took off 10 lbs. last year by making some small changes to my diet, such as switching to skim milk in my coffee instead of full-fat, upping my veggie intake, dropping alcohol (not that I drink much), and cutting back on saturated fats (meat) by using it as a condiment, rather than a main course. I don’t eat a lot of junk: my “blessing” is that I actually prefer homemade food. If I’m going to eat ice cream, it’s ice cream I’ve made with cream, milk, and eggs from our local dairy, not some fake fat crap. But I’ll get out a scale and weigh out a and portion of 3 oz. and top it with lots of fruit. That sort of thing.

    So a little bit more about me. If you haven't figured it out, I'm in the Boston area, precisely 30 miles northwest of the city proper. Careerwise, I describe myself as a freelance writer, recipe developer, and author. Oh, and recently, contributing editor of Clean Eating magazine. I’ve been writing full-time since 1999 for magazines/newspapers ranging from Parenting and Family Circle, to Oxygen and the Boston Globe. In 2006 I decided to focus mostly on food writing/recipe development, and that decision was a good one for me: I’m back to that beginner mind where I still can’t believe I get paid to write about Brazilian grilling instead of Brazilian bikini waxes. :raz: Snowangel mentioned that I wrote a book: actually I’ve written three (well, co-authored two and written one by myself). If you’re interested in learning more, my website is below.

    As I’m freelance, I work from home. To make things more interesting, my husband runs several software companies from here, too, although he does have an office in North Andover, about 10 miles east. People always ask how we can stand the closeness, but we actually don’t see each other that much during the day. His office is upstairs at one end of the house, and mine is downstairs on the other end. Plus, we’re both workaholics, which helps cut down on water cooler talk. Or would that be kitchen counter klatches?

    We have a six-year-old son who’s in half-day Kindergarten. (Canceled today, so that throws a wrench into plans I had.) Oliver is very excited that we’re food blogging this week. Yes, that’s WE. He decided he wants to be part of this thing and actually spent all day Sunday practicing photographing his food. He even wrote a cookbook to share with you all.

    We also have an au pair who's living with us this year. Her name is Christiane and she’s from Germany, actually from the former East Germany (she was born shortly before the wall came down, which makes me feel really REALLY old.) She works with Oliver on his German when he comes home from school at noon, but also is a companion and friend to him. She will be here until October. She too seems excited that I'm blogging this week. My husband speaks German very well; I'd say fluently, but he's humble and insists not so fluently. I speak enough to order a coffee and pastry in Bavaria, and even then, with lots of hand gestures.

    More on our crazy food eating habits -- got to drag my son out of bed!

  18. Good morning! What an auspicious day to begin my eGullet foodblog:

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    If you've checked the news or are living in the northeast, you know that the Boston area was hit this a.m. by a nor'easter. (Actually, I haven't yet checked the news this a.m. -- they were saying nor'easter last night.)

    The subhead of this week's blog is "Where the garden is bare, and the pantry bursts." Indeed, I'll be showing you pictures of my poor garden later this week and maybe you can imagine the glory it is come July. :raz:

    I’m not a power-poster on eGullet, thus why it was probably next-to-impossible to puzzle out my clues (more on those below). When I do post, it’s mostly on the New England forum. I spend huge amounts of time reading the forums, though, especially the food blogs. So last summer, I gingerly approached Snowangel about blogging. I had visions of sharing the bounty of a New England summer with you all – the bounty from my garden, the hauls from our local CSA, the flats of berries we lug back to the kitchen from local u-pick farms. Ah, but no, Susan had other ideas: how about blogging in January?

    January?!? Was she insane? This is my garden in January. I haven’t even received a bill for the first installment of my 2008 CSA season, never mind a tender handful of spring greens. (Those won’t come till June.) Moreover, those beautiful flats of berries were all transformed into jam, of which we have exactly one jar left.

    The idea grew on me, though. I keep a huge pantry. I spend a lot of time during the summer preparing food that will get us through April of the following year. Why not show my readers how all that work pays off in the winter?

    So I hope you'll pull up a cup of tea (or coffee; I do not discriminate) and visit my little corner of the world this week. I do have a weird, wonderful pantry to show off, as well as a special treat for restaurant foodies tomorrow, a possible trip to King Arthur's Baking Center in Vermont on Saturday, plus day trips around greater Boston, where I live. Not to mention you'll get to see how my crazy little household eats in a given week.

  19. I loathe having a dirty kitchen floor. We have nasty old linoleum flooring that, unfortunately, we can't afford to replace with the tile I'd like, so I have a system to keep it looking as good as it can:

    1. I vacuum the floor at least once, preferably twice, a day with an upright Shark vacuum that I keep tucked in a corner (cost, $25 with a 20 percent off coupon at Linens 'n Things.)

    2. Spills are wiped up as they happen. If I don't get to them quickly, they usually come up easily with a Magic Sponge or microfiber cloth.

    3. I keep two (cheap) nonskid throw rugs where I do most of my work; they get washed 2x week.

    4. Every night after dinner, I give the kitchen floor a wet mop with the Swiffer. I buy the jumbo packs of refills at Costco.

    5. Every two months or so, I take everything out of the kitchen and wash the floor and scrub corners with a solution of hot water, dish soap and vinegar -- just a couple drops of the two last ingredients. This is hands and knees work -- but the floor looks great afterwards.

    6. Then twice a year, I have my husband pull out the fridge and stove, and I clean out behind there.

    It's a little fastidious, but as I said, I hate cooking with dirt underfoot. And we have a very small kitchen, so it's not a huge amount of work.

  20. OK, here's my pitiful contribution to the fried clam thread. This taken this weekend at -- don't laugh -- Tee Off at Mel's in Litchfield, NH.

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    My grade: C- ... and I'm being generous. There were maybe four bellies in here -- my brother had some nice fat juicy bellies in his batch. The clams were mostly fat, chewy necks. The coating was good, but the fry oil could have used a change.

    This plus the french fries and small portions of tartar sauce and coleslaw (no lemon seg!) was $14.99.

    The main point of yesterday's adventure was go-kart racing, not fried clams, so I wasn't too disappointed. For go-karts, this place got a solid A. My brother and son had a blast!

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