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ninetofive

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Everything posted by ninetofive

  1. My epiphany was a side dish of lentils my mother-in-law made several years ago. They were so amazingly delicious that I had a hard time believing the only ingredients were lentils, water, and salt. When she came to visit us here in MA a few months later, she gave me her secret: puy lentils and a good quality sea salt in spring water, along with slow, gentle cooking. I've followed her directions since then and have been able to replicate them with no problems. I make lentil soups now and freeze them. Or I jazz up the plain lentils with tiny cubes of celery, carrots and/or onion. The lentil epiphany led me to branch out into beans, thanks to my pressure cooker. Last summer I made a warm bean salad out of flageolots with garlic- and rosemary-infused olive oil that was out of this world. I literally sat down and plowed through a bowl of those beans just as I would plow through dessert. I never disliked beans -- I guess I just never appreciated them much because they've always come out of cans or have been merely a vehicle for some kind of sauce. Now I enjoy beans in a starring role.
  2. Spring fever indeed. We just got our application for this year's CSA. We're months away from a photo like that.
  3. Mine's more mundane: emptying the dishwasher. Unfortunately, this is something I have to do at least 1x/day.
  4. I bought the 14-cup Cuisinart food processor, and I rue the day I purchased it. Every time I use it, I end up muttering to myself, "I should have bought the Kitchen Aid." First, there's a slight gap between the lid and the bowl, even in the locked position -- it's enough of a space so that flour and liquids regularly shoot out all over the place. The second thing that bugs me is it cannot handle bread dough at all, one of the mail reasons why I purchased the thing ... the dough balls up under the blade and pushes it up, stopping the machine. It can't handle frozen foods for the same reason. I tried to puree slightly frozen mango chunks last weekend, and it totally quit on me after five seconds. I had a cheap "Le Machine" food processor that easily handled these tasks for over 10 years. To add insult to injury, there was supposed to be a rebate/free gift with this machine, which they never sent. Moreover, they never responded to my letters asking where it was. OK, more information than you needed, but that's how I feel about late-model Cuisinarts.
  5. Added to the bookshelves since December: Mangoes and Curry Leaves, Alford/Duguis Dinner at Buckingham Palace, Charles Oliver True Tuscan, Cesare Casella From My Chateau Kitchen, Anne Willan Bittersweet, Alice Medrich The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver Nigella Bites, Lawson Celebrating With Friends, Trish Deseine Good Cooking, Jill Dupleix (The last four scored today in the remainder section of a department store!)
  6. I bought the vacuum packed ones as Laurie did -- definitely peeled.
  7. I enjoyed the buffalo milk mozzarella they sold over the summer at my local TJs. Whenever I've purchased from Whole Foods, the cheese had a disagreeable sour taste in the middle -- and it was twice the price. However, the TJ version has always been very clean and pleasant on the palate. I just purchased two packages of vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts, which I plan to use in a chocolate/chestnut cake next week. My four-year-old son loves the Best-in-Show hot dogs -- i love them because they're free of additives. They spoil quickly, though, so once I open a package I have to freeze the rest in snack-size baggies. For quick meals, I like the curry simmer sauce, which I jazz up with vegetables and frozen shrimp. I also cheat by buying the frozen 1# packages of exotic mushrooms and using them in cream-based pasta sauces. We've also been pleased with the quality of frozen fruit; my husband goes through several bags of the frozen peaches each week for his smoothies. My recent addictions: the dried dragon fruit. I can sit down and eat a package in one sitting. Our local TJs also has the best clementines -- very sweet, juicy, and virtually seedless. I've been gorging for weeks.
  8. I don't think I've ever seen a consomme that clear. Lovely!
  9. I thought that too, WHS. Blood is a family name ... very fitting for the business.
  10. I mentioned Roche Brothers in a post above. I have shopped the meat counter at the Acton store several times and they've been very helpful. I seem to recall they cut a nice looking flank steak down to size for me, without complaint. Another time the butcher recommended a cut of meat for a particular dish (can't remember what cut or what I was making) and he was dead-on -- the meat was delish.
  11. I happened to be in Newton today so I stopped by John Dewar's -- small shop, smelled nice (sometimes butcher shops smell so feral). As soon as I started looking over the meats, someone came right over. The prices were reasonable -- I noticed some nice-looking flank steaks around $7/#. Beef tenderloin was something like $24/#, though I think it was marked Prime. There was another case on the other side of the shop where they had some game. A woman was asking about venison, and the salesperson really did a good job telling her how it was raised and should be cooked, etc. By the end of her spiel I wanted to buy a couple pounds myself, but then she said it was $17.99/# so I skeddaddled out of there with my charge card. I ended up consoling myself with a free-range chicken and some lamb at Trader Joe's.
  12. I will drive far for good meat so I hope to see some more recommendations here. I've been happy with some of my meat purchases from Donelan's, a small grocery chain with shops in Acton, Littleton, and Groton. A couple weeks ago we bought a chuck eye roast from them with an organic?/minimal processing? label that had this absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious meaty flavor. I went back to the Acton store to buy some more, and the butcher insisted I was mistaken about the cut from that label and tried to sell me a roast from the round. I've also been happy with the quality at Roche Brothers. The people at the meat counter have been very knowledgeable and helpful whenever I've stopped by. WHS, I'm going to check out those butchers in Bedford this weekend -- I'm heading up to Norwich, Vermont, to do some (ahem) Christmas shopping at King Arthur Flour. I hope to stop by Sausage Source in Henniker, NH, on the way -- I've done some mail order from them, so I'm eager to visit their retail shop. I'm happy to post a store report if anyone's interested in sausage/jerky making.
  13. I happened to find Blood Farm's price list (phone is 978-448-6669) and their address is 94 West Main St, West Groton, MA 01472. It's a pretty extensive list, but to give you an idea: whole chicken, $1.29/# beef flank steak, $5.49# beef tenderloin, $13.99/# 92 percent lean ground beef, $3.79 veal loin chops, $6.99/# lamb chops, $10.99/# lamb french cut rack, $18.99/# plus all sorts of variety meats including sweetbreads, brains, hearts, etc., as well as assorted game and smoked meats/charcuterie. I have no idea what grade the beef is, however -- but I do know Wolfe's Neck Farms, the organic meat company up in Maine, sends some of their cattle to Blood Farm for slaughtering. I've called and ordered some offbeat stuff and they've always come through for me. Just a warning: when you place the order, they sound very disorganized on the phone and you wonder if they'll ever call you back -- but they do. You just have to trust. And there's no direct way of getting there -- lots of back roads, but a very pretty drive.
  14. Sorry, I don't. Whenever I have to contact them, I do a Switchboard search for numbers. However, I believe The Crown Market and Savenor's have websites.
  15. I've shopped at Savenor's in Beacon Hill, but only to buy stuff like rabbit and oxtail so I can't speak of their butchering. But Julia Child reportedly shopped at the Cambridge location. I've also heard good things about John Dewar's in Newton/Wellesley. I'm about 30 miles northwest of Boston. I've been getting my special orders of veal bones and specialty meats at Blood Farm, a small slaughterhouse in West Groton, MA, with a small retail operation out front (no web site). They are very accommodating and the prices are good. A couple weeks ago I ordered 6 lbs. of veal bones for stock -- they ended up throwing in another four #s, and I paid a little over $5 for the whole bag. When I lived in West Hartford, CT, I bought my meat at Crown Market.
  16. When I checked out the Target enamel cast iron Dutch ovens last year, I noticed they were marked oven safe only to 350 degrees F. That's fine for braising -- but i have a few recipes where I go above 350 degrees F, so I passed. It looks like the plastic knob could be the problem. That said, they are attractive and look sturdy, and if I we're only going to use them around 300 degrees F, I'd buy one in each color.
  17. It doesn't say. But from the list of other ingredients, I'm guessing 4 to 6.
  18. Bumping this up ... I have an old recipe for braised oxtail that calls for 2 oxtails, jointed. The oxtails around here are already jointed so how much should I buy to equal two whole oxtails?
  19. On my list to try this fall/winter: Quince sorbet Concord grape sorbet (actually, I made this last week -- yummy!) Cranberry sorbet Vanilla ice cream with chunks of maple/pecan candy Espresso ice cream What about a prune-flavored ice cream? That would be sort of rich and delicious for the winter.
  20. I haven't yet counted my existing collection, but I just added in the last month: James Peterson's Glorious French Food ($6.99 at The Christmas Tree Shop) Classic Home Desserts, Richard Sax A Taste of Country Cooking, Edna Lewis Bread, Eric Treuille Iced Tea, Fred Thompson Preserves, Lindy Wildsmith
  21. Back in the 70s, there were a few Jack in the Box outlets in New England: one in Hyannis, MA and another in Danbury that I can remember. I have fond memories of eating three or four tacos at a sitting with my father, who was equally enamored of these deep-fried coronaries. Whenever we're in Texas visiting my inlaws or on the west coast, a stop at Jack in the Box is a must-do for some of those tacos, doused with extra hot sauce. My husband is grossed out by obsession, but considering I don't do any other kind of fast food, he patiently indulges me. (And I always bring a couple back for my dad.)
  22. My "up north" is Vermont, and what I'm thinking of is a cabin.
  23. I am so loving this blog. The photos are wonderful and I'm thinking how nice it would be to have a cabin up north ....
  24. This week in northeastern Massachusetts: -- baby beets -- corn -- beefsteak tomatoes -- red and orange cherry tomatoes -- green peppers -- kale -- pickling cucumbers, as well as regular cukes -- onions -- garlic -- zucchini squash -- brocolli -- collard greens (which I have grown to love) Our CSA was going to put out okra, but they didn't get it into the ground soon enough. With all the hot weather we had up here, I'm sure it would have been a good growing season for it.
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