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Everything posted by phlawless

  1. That's pretty much the strategy I have as well. Even though I am cooking more, things are a lot simpler then the used to be. I depend on leftovers for M and mine's lunch for a few days, and Chuck thankfully doesn't like to eat early. Needless to say our cassoulet/fresh tortellini/homemade sausage days are over for a bit.
  2. For some reason, today has been especially crazy, and I don't think it has to do with any of the cooking/challenge/blog. M is really testy; she's starting to exhibit real toddler behavior and I am not prepared for this much personality just yet. We had coffee/breakfast outside this morning since the humidity wasn't as stiffling as usual: M and I went to the Durham FM this morning which we do pretty much every Saturday it's open and we are in town. Right now it takes place in the parking lot of the old Durham Bulls Park, but next year it will move to it's own spot just down the street. I'm sure the vendors will be quite happy about the new venue. We didn't get a lot today: eggs from Fickle Creek Farms, tomatillos form Lyon Farms, smoked mozz from Chapel Hill Creamery and some cut flowers. I had a couple of extra errands this morning and couldn't browse like I usually do. Once we got home, I got started on the prep for tonights dinner at Varmints. I don't have any photos of the pork, but it is lovely, and I would rather you all see it plated. But I do have shots of dessert in progress: This is the corn steeping in the custard that will become Silver Queen corn and buttermilk ice cream. It sat overnight and I churned it this morning. First I roasted and skinned local peanuts to make blondies: The batter for these looked pretty iffy: because I used fresh ground nuts in place of commercial peanut butter, it never homogenized. I wasn't sure if it was going to work or not. Keep in mind I haven't tasted it yet... You'll see the rest from the photos tonight. M and I took a break and she had a snack outside: Chuck and I had a light lunch so we can stuff ourselves tonight. This is the recipe from the article in the NYT this past Wednesday for shirred eggs done by Anne Quatrano. The cherokee purple tomatoes I got from the market this morning, and they were roasted with garlic and rosemary sprigs. The eggs are baked in ramekins with a bit of seasoned heavy cream. We sopped up the yummy oil and juices with the last of the rosemary bread. (apologies for the fuzziness) I just have a few more things to do for the dessert and then I can maybe fit in a snooze (yea!) before we leave for dinner. (edited to say that I cheated with M's snack above, I broke down and gave her some crackers, that I didn't make, with her blueberries and cheese)
  3. This all sounds fantastic, V... I'm very excited about that appetizer.
  4. The dinner with Varmint tomorrow night is on, so I'm sure there will be beaucoup photos from prep on into the wee hours, if it's like any of the other times I've been to V's house. I really do appreciate all of the kind words everyone has piped in the past few days. Documenting one's life like this is a nice way to step back and notice the details of daily life. It's amazing what you start to take for granted.
  5. Tonight dinner was simplified: there was some drama with M, nothing serious although a band aid was needed- her first, and I didn't have the energy to go crazy with the cookin'. I never did manage to get to those snacks like I intended, maybe next week. I went with tagliatelle alla carbonara using the leftover pasta from the other night. I don't think I've posted one of these yet, which I usually have a couple times a day now: This is the first time I've had a dishwasher, and before we got this house we always said we wouldn't bother with putting one in... rather put our money in other things in the kitchen... blahblahblah. We'll I have firmly planted foot in mouth cause that machine is amazing. What used to be a half hour ordeal is now about 10 minutes. I do still enjoy washing a sink full every now and then.(It works well as an intermezzo before dessert.) I also have fond memories of playing outside after dinner when I was a kid and hearing my mom wash dishes through the window above the kitchen sink.
  6. Not a big food day, I actually spent a good portion of it fiddling in the garden. I put one in late this year so nothing will be ready for the blog, a few okra later in the month maybe. tomatopalooza okra canteloupe The only exciting thing today worth noting was my first tomato sandwich of the year. The tomatoes are from peregrine farms, I used my rosemary bread from the other day, and I couldn't NOT use Duke's, which is made in Richmond. It wasn't a lean-over-the-sink kind of good, but I still enjoyed it. M wasn't disappointed either:
  7. I don't understand what issues people would have with concrete, other than aesthetic...
  8. That is one of Nigella Lawson's pieces, it's a salt cellar and I adore it too. She has a line of gorgeous bowls, cup/spoon measures, flour containers, etc and I covet them all.
  9. Perhaps it is not too long of a longshot in NC since there may still be some sawmills, but the only way that I can see getting a decent flat surface on something as thick as your big butcher block would be to take off the legs and load it like a log into a travelling bandsaw mill. Then you could saw the top down flat (or even saw it into multiple flat pieces. After that, the sanding would be pretty easy and all it would need is a healthy drink of mineral oil and some good heavy knife work to get the patina back. Ask around if there are any boutique hardwood companies or companies that are still getting submerged logs up from the bottoms of rivers. They may have a machine big enough. Would be worth a drive to make such a nice piece usable again. All other normal woodshop equipment would not be large enough to handle the piece. And using a handplaner on something like that would scare me. ← We have searched for a mill in the past, and not really sure what we ended up finding out. Honestly, I don't really appreciate the style of a big piece of wood like that, so I think I would rather cut it up into smaller slabs and make a larger table out of it. It's so damn heavy though...with this monster and the range and the countertops, Chuck was getting nervous about all that weight on 60 year old floors. He ended up putting up supports under the kitchen just in case and every couple of months checks for slopes and sinking.
  10. Day 5 and all is well. No photos this morning, more of coffee/grits/yogurt/berries. I am going to try to stock up on some snacks for the week end later today, then check out the Red & White that bandregg mentioned for seafood. Varmint and I are trying to work out a dinner for tomorrow night, not sure if it's a go yet; toddler's tend to put a kink in planning things like this. M's sleep schedule is going through a bit of change now, and it's messed up our lovely little routine we've had for a few months. She's napping now, so I'll pitter around in the garden til she wakes, then we can get started with the day. I put our veggie garden in late this year (we had some major yard demo done earlier in the summer) and our loot won't be ready til August or September. I'll get some photos up soon.
  11. Dinner was simple tonight. I got a chicken from Fickle Creek Farms and was planning on grilling, but the rain wouldn't allow it. I cleaned and butchered (don't know if you can tell from the photo, but look how small the pieces are!) and seared with olive oil, rosemary, lemon slices, and garlic, then deglazed with chicken stock and white wine and finished it in the oven. I served it with roasted russian banana potatoes and okra from the Raleigh FM...not too shabby! Since I've gotten the hang of sourcing, this effort isn't all that hard anymore. It also makes me realize how seasonal and local we have been eating all along. This chicken wasn't as tasty as the organic smart chickens I've been getting at Harris Teeter though, and it was nearly twice the price.
  12. Thanks Susan, I had a great experience working there. Both Ben and Karen are pretty incredible and I can't tell you how much I learned from them. We've been meaning to get back for dinner; I'm trying to plan it for when Ben has his portugese tomato soup with the poached egg- amazing!
  13. Don't...I think you'd be surprised by how much you'd like it. The gamey/tang is pretty great.
  14. Couldn't you just sand it down until it's level? For us to sand by hand would take forever, it needs to be sawed off. We've thought about going ahead and cutting say 2-3 inch cross sections and making another large table, but that won't work in this kitchen. We might just wait until we move to another house. I am in awe of your skills--and Chuck's when it comes to your beautiful kitchen. The entire dinner from last night was gorgeous. Is your visitor Devotay? ← Thanks, Pontormo. I really enjoy making pasta... actually, I enjoy working with all types of dough. For a little while I really got into bread, I thought about concentrating exclusively on artisinal doughs/methods, but I wasn't sure how far I wanted to take that skill. And no, my visitor isn't Devotay, it's Matt Steigerwald, owner of Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He and I worked together at a couple of places, most recently the Magnolia Grill here in Durham. I have been thinking this exact same thing, bandregg, and not only pertaining to food. Remember when you were a kid and you could run around your neighborhood during the summer all day cause there was usually one parent from each house actually there? The definition of neighborhoods, and neighbors for that matter, have really changed. People keep their windows and doors closed and their blinds down so as to have as little interaction with their community as possible...people are way too concerned with the notion of privacy. Don't get my wrong, I'm no nosy-nelly, but I like driving down my street and seeing or hearing activity from my neighbors houses...it makes me feel safe. I know a guy here in Durham, quite the foodie, who built a wood fired oven behind his house along with a structure that acts as a storage/guest accomodations/shared space kind of thing. He also sold off small parcels of his property (this is within the city limits) to people who wanted to have access to this oven/space, and they built homes on that land. Kind of a mini co-op community idea.
  15. Today I'm having lunch in Raleigh with a good friend who's in town for a few days. For anyone who lives in or might be traveling to/thru Iowa, he owns this restaurant...it's reallyreally good. I might hit the FM since I'll be close. Other than that, a pretty mellow albeit rainy day.
  16. I absolutely love the concrete, nothing about it bugs me at all. Basically how you do it: -Build a mold to hold the slab. I can get the details on materials used from Chuck later. -Mix your 'crete. Again, more details later. You do need some sort of big long vibrator thingey so that all the bubbles are released. This is why Chuck isn't happy with one of the slabs, he didn't use the thingey and there are a few pits on the surface that can't be filled. -Allow to cure for about a month. We did this in our basement. -Coat with a food grade sealer. You can also stain once cured or even color the mix before you pour. This is a table and birdbath that he made that are stained: As for the cost, it's pretty darn cheap, Chuck would know exactly. The installation was pretty scary, there were four of us moving the pieces, and it was so incredibly heavy...maybe 250-300 pounds for each slab. Other than that, I have no reservations in recommending them, I love the look.
  17. Good Morning! I finally feel like I have some time to really post. The majority of my shopping is done, the laundry/house/child are all in a state I feel comfortable letting be for a bit, and I can reflect a little on how the week so far is turning out. I thought it would be a good time to give you guys the requisite tour of our kitchen/dining area. But first a little background info... We bought this house, our first, almost two years ago, right when we found out I was pregnant. Understand that we never would have taken on both of those endeavors at the same time willingly, cause the house required A LOT of work. Chuck and a few generous friends gutted what remained of the kitchen (it had no appliances, a few clunky cabinets, and remnants of 30 year old cracked, vinyl flooring) and took down the wall that originally separated the kitchen and dining room. We had someone do the floor, but everything else Chuck did himself. Chuck made the BB table on the left of the range a few years ago, as well as the open shelving on either side of the hood. The BB on the right was my mother's and is actually pretty useless: it has a significant dip in the center that makes knifework frustrating and a bit dangerous. Anyone have any ideas on how to reuse this great big block of wood? Chuck also poured the concrete countertops along this wall. There are two, and he wants to replace (HA!) one cause he isn't happy with the way it turned out. Our dining room with my cookbook collection in the back. I have had this table since I was in college, and am REALLY ready to get a grown up one. After a few tries, this is the clearest shot of the fridge I could get. It's actually pretty clean now, usually there are significant smudges of buttercream along the shelves and walls from when I am doing big cakes.
  18. There are a few different definitions of fool,. Some have it as an actual cake, while I have always made it like you said: sweetened berries with whipped cream. I added a bit of creme fraiche to tighten and allow it to hold for a bit.
  19. So we did do dessert: bluberry pecan financier with blueberry fool and blueberry sauce...and I've still got a lot of berries left!
  20. Dinner: M had the homemade pasta with olive oil and fresh mozz: this is her offering her dad a bite. While she ate, we snacked on the rosemary bread-I can't believe how good this came out- with evoo, CHC fresh mozz, peregrine farms tomatoes and a lovely rioja rose: Instead of using the Brinkley Farms bacon, I opted for the Neese's sausage. I know, I know, this is kind of bullsh*t; when I was at the Carrboro market Elysian Farms had sausage, and I didn't buy it (dummy!), but I like clams and sausage better than clams and bacon. Anyway, with the sausage I added some chicken stock that was made from a combo of organic smart chicken and local chicken carcasses, lemon, and smoked paprika with lots of parsley. Chuck thought it was a tad heavy on the salt, I thought it was pretty great. (Maybe I've held on to that smoker's palate after all!) noodle money shot: We haven't gotten to dessert yet, and it's late, and we're full. We might...we'll see.
  21. Honestly, I haven't...and I don't really have a reason why. Does yours run during the cooler months?
  22. Food for thought: Doesn't that go some way toward defeating the purpose, since you have to subtract the environmental benefits of not purchasing food from far away with the environmental damages from all the exhaust you're expending to drive all over the place? ← This is very true...on Monday we were out for a good 4 hours hunting everything down. I'm a bit more organized today, and it is getting easier...I am figuring out how to be more efficient with my time and my driving so as not to waste too much of either just sourcing what I need. After we got home from our morning run and errands, M went down for a nap and I got busy with dinner prep: Actually, I started this rosemary bread yesterday and finished it this afternoon. Though I love it, I'm getting kinda tired of southern-ish food, so we're going to have some pasta tonight: I cut it by hand cause i find it to be much faster with no waste. Plus I like the rustic look of it. I plan on serving it with some farmed little neck clams I got at Whole Foods and the Brinkley Farms bacon. I also started dessert: a blueberry-pecan financier that will be served with blueberry fool. After M woke up we had lunch: she: more butterbeans with NC hoop cheese; the cheese is pretty bland, but she likes it. me: leftover rice and fieldpeas from the other night with herbs from the garden. Then we headed over to Chapel Hill/Carrboro. First we stopped at 3 Cups, a coffee shop owned by Lex Alexander who started the Wellsprings here in the area that eventually were sold to Whole Foods. They roast their own beans on the darker side like I like em, plus I got an iced coffee to refresh me while I hit the Carrboro FM: This is the Elysian Farm stall where I got a pork shoulder roast for later in the week (that's it on the right). I also picked up a snack: I got the one on the top left, key lime, which was fantastic. The one on the right is peach something and the bottom is basically a take on a hostess cupcake.
  23. I used a base recipe from Magnolia Grill, though simplified.
  24. Is this place better than Capital Fish Market on University?
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