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snowangel

eG Foodblog: MelissaH and phaelon56 - Salt Potatoes and Onions, but n

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Introducing our tag team. Take it away, Melissa and Owen!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Thank you very much, Susan!

My name's Melissa, and I live in Oswego, NY. My home is about a ten-minute walk from the shore of Lake Ontario, and about 50 miles from the city of Syracuse. I share my home with my husband and two cats.

This week I'll be going through a fairly normal routine, with a couple of added twists. First of all, I have some errands to run in Syracuse. We generally make a trip down that way once every month or six weeks, to get things that are unavailable here. Since I need to head down to that area anyway, phaelon56 and I plan to get together for lunch one day this week. Second, the university where my husband teaches is giving the students Thursday off for Rosh Hashanah. We plan to celebrate the new year with friends by making that traditional round(ish) bread...pizza on the grill!

My week started the way most of my mornings do: with a little breakfast:

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The cereal changes depending on my mood, and what was on sale when I went shopping. In this case, breakfast was smaller than I'd normally want, because my husband made dinner last night and used all but about two tablespoons of my milk in the mashed potatoes. So I'll be going out to get some more later today.

It's shaping up to be a beautiful day: blue sky with only a few clouds, and a little breeze. If you want to follow along with the weather in Oswego, you can look at the meteorology department's weather station for current data. Pay special attention to the wind gauge: situated on the lake shore, we get some good gusts. (Currently, we have a 10-minute-average windspeed of 13 mph, with gusts maxing at 24 mph.) If it stays this nice later in the day, maybe I'll do today's errands on my bike.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Melissa it's going to be fun to follow along with your blog.

I'm curious about these salt potatoes. What are they? Are they going to be demonstrated in the blog?

This will be a great time of year to blog with all the ripening produce available. Fresh, fresh, fresh.

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I'm not a coffee drinker. I love the way coffee smells, and adore good coffee ice cream that's not too sweet. I don't mind a little coffee in with my chocolate; I've been known to add a splash from the coffee pot to my hot chocolate-from-an-envelope when I'm at meetings, to kill some of the sweetness from the cheap hot chocolate mix. I like the way Vietnamese and Thai restaurants do coffee, with ice cubes and sweetened condensed milk. I'll even drink a little coffee, with sugar and lots of milk, when I'm in New Orleans or Europe. I'm just not a big fan of bitter anything, and most coffee fits into that category for me.

But I love bubbly drinks. My current favorite is this:

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Dump a can of seltzer into a large glass. Fill the glass the rest of the way with prepared limeade. All the bubbles, half the sugar, no caffeine. Last week when it was hot, I went through an incredible amount of this elixir.

Just before preparing my beverage, I took care of some unfinished kitchen business: taking care of the leftovers from last night's dinner. We were doing a bit of food shopping yesterday, and I asked my husband what he wanted to eat. He said, "Something roasted, with gravy and mashed potatoes." My go-to roast is generally a roast chicken, so I went to look at the available birds. But the smallest chicken they had was a whopping 7 pounds, twice the size I'd normally want! We'll sometimes see turkey breasts or turkey halves (exactly what it sounds like: either a right half or a left half), but not yesterday.

So it was time for Plan B. And on sale this week was what the wrapper called a "boneless shoulder butt roast." These were more reasonably sized, so I got one. My husband cooked it last night, and we discovered that "roast" was a misnomer; if you roasted it, you wound up with something that required a very sharp knife and teeth to eat. (My husband roasted it on a bed of vegetables for a longer time than the package said. He then pureed the cooked veg into some broth to thicken the gravy, which went over the mashed potatoes that used up nearly all my milk.)

We agreed that the problem was not flavor, just toughness and texture. So after we ate, I chunked up what was left of the roast and put it in the crockpot. We added the gravy, turned it on low, and left it overnight. When I woke up this morning, I turned the crockpot off, and left it to cool for a little while. Then I opened it up, removed the better-cooked meat chunks with a spoon (they're now tender enough to fall apart) into one container, and then poured the liquid into another container. They're both in the fridge, and will probably make an appearance in this blog at some point.

Carrots were on sale this week, buy a pound, get a pound. So we have nearly two pounds of fresh carrots in the fridge. What do you like to do with lots of carrots?

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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. . .

Carrots were on sale this week, buy a pound, get a pound. So we have nearly two pounds of fresh carrots in the fridge. What do you like to do with lots of carrots?

MelissaH

Carrot soup

Alton Brown's carrot slaw

Glazed carrots - many different glazes come to mind

Roasted carrots

Simple raw carrot sticks

Pureed carrots and mashed potatoes combined

I LOVE CARROTS!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Melissa it's going to be fun to follow along with your blog.

I'm curious about these salt potatoes.  What are they?  Are they going to be demonstrated in the blog?

This will be a great time of year to blog with all the ripening produce available.  Fresh, fresh, fresh.

Salt potatoes are something I'd never heard of before we moved to Central New York. And they're a big thing around here. They're sold in a bag, exactly as they look in the teaser photo: a mess of potatoes with a bag of salt.

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The potatoes themselves are maybe a little larger than a golf ball. Around here, small potatoes that might be sold elsewhere as "new potatoes" are labeled as "salt size." I believe they came about because the city of Syracuse is built on top of a large salt reserve, so salt was readily available. To prepare salt potatoes, you put the contents of the bag of salt into a pot of water, essentially making a saturated solution. You then boil the potatoes in the brine till they're done. When the potatoes are cooked, they get drained and then slathered in melted butter. If you want to go really upscale, you can then add some snipped herb of your choice. If you go to a food festival, potluck, or BBQ chicken dinner, salt potatoes are usually on the menu.

Truth be told, they're generally a little too salty for me, if the package directions are followed verbatim. The package directions for the "low salt" version tell you to use either half the salt or twice the water. That's more in line with my taste. But all things being equal, my favorite treatment for salt potatoes is to boil them up, and then smash them a bit while they're still hot, let them cool, drizzle with olive oil, and reheat and crisp them in the oven. I got that treatment last year from a Fine Cooking article.

This is a great time of year, not just for potatoes but all the other produce that's grown in the area. I don't know if we'll make Thursday night's farmer's market downtown, but we might be able to catch the Saturday morning market in the town ten miles south of here.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Salt potatoes are something I'd never heard of before we moved to Central New York. And they're a big thing around here. They're sold in a bag, exactly as they look in the teaser photo: a mess of potatoes with a bag of salt.

gallery_6263_3_34545.jpg

The potatoes themselves are maybe a little larger than a golf ball. Around here, small potatoes that might be sold elsewhere as "new potatoes" are labeled as "salt size." I believe they came about because the city of Syracuse is built on top of a large salt reserve, so salt was readily available. To prepare salt potatoes, you put the contents of the bag of salt into a pot of water, essentially making a saturated solution. You then boil the potatoes in the brine till they're done. When the potatoes are cooked, they get drained and then slathered in melted butter. If you want to go really upscale, you can then add some snipped herb of your choice. If you go to a food festival, potluck, or BBQ chicken dinner, salt potatoes are usually on the menu.

Truth be told, they're generally a little too salty for me, if the package directions are followed verbatim. The package directions for the "low salt" version tell you to use either half the salt or twice the water. That's more in line with my taste. But all things being equal, my favorite treatment for salt potatoes is to boil them up, and then smash them a bit while they're still hot, let them cool, drizzle with olive oil, and reheat and crisp them in the oven. I got that treatment last year from a Fine Cooking article.

MelissaH

I sort of expected something more exciting than just boiling the potatoes in really, really salty water. Ah well. Is it iodized salt?

But aren't those smashed potatoes from Fine Cooking the best? AnnaN turned me on to them. The only improvment I could find to make to them was to crisp them with duck fat instead of olive oil!

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How exciting for me! I grew up in Fulton* and get back to the area a couple of times a year since my family is still there. Looking forward to seeing some familiar places and things. Salt potatoes are a good start! And Byrne Dairy milk too! Do they still sell it in glass bottles?

*FYI for those not from the area - Fulton is 10 minutes south of Oswego and about 20-40 minutes from Syracuse (depending on what part of Syracuse you are going to). You basically have to go through our sleepy little town to get to from one to the other.


I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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Hello All...

Phaelon56 aka Owen O'Neill here. I'm presently based in Syracuse NY - also my hometown - at what most consider to be the geographic center or crossroads of the state. It's a classic Rust Belt city with declining and aging population (at about 150,000 with another 200,000 in the suburbs - down from our peak of nearly 200,000 back in the 1960's).

Unless you're including my goldfish (who love me dearly and miss me when I'm gone) I live alone and cook far less, especially these days, than Melissa does.

Before we proceed - just a word about salt potatoes. They're not exciting - they're tradition. They really are as simple as they sound and the original recipe calls for two quarts of water, five pounds of new potatoes and one pound of salt. The "low salt" version uses only 12 oz of salt but, unlike Melissa, I like 'em salty. Apart from corn on the cob it's one of the few foods that I enjoy with a liberal dose of salt.

And, although my Irish ancestors did not work in the salt yards - it is a part of my cultural heritage. In the 1800's Syracuse produced 90% of all the salt consumed in the United States. Enormous brine reservoirs and limestone bedrock are underneath much or our area (or were back then). The brine, which had about a pound of salt per gallon of water, was pumped into large flat containers and through a combination of sunlight and heat from fires (mostly fires as the sun doesn't shine much in these parts from October through March. The Irish salt yard workers brought buckets of potatoes to work as their lunch and cooked them in the boiling briny water - which had probably been reduced by half at that point - thus the 1 pound to 2 quarts ratio.

The leading "brand" is Hinerwadel's - marketed by a local family whose "grove" has been the site of large clambakes for generations. If I recall the numbers correctly they sell between 1 and 2 million five pound bags per year - just in this general area as the seemingly ubiquitous salt potato is little known once one gets more than fifty miles from Syracuse.

By the way - the salt was transported to a variety of markets by way of the Erie Canal - and the building in Saturday's Teaser Photos is the Weighlock Building which now serves as the canal museum. It had a set of locks on both sides and was used to assess weights and collect tolls for goods transported on the canal. Fairly mundane stuff but it was a big deal back then and this is the only building of it's kind remaining int he world.

I'll cook a few meals at home this week, head out for some good evening meals at, among others, a spectacularly good Polish restaurant and a conveyor style sushi restaurant, and perhaps throw in a trip to our newest local Italian import specialty grocer. And Melissa will join me for lunch later this week when we check out the first ever reasonably authentic taqueria this town has ever seen (run by gringos!).

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I went to Ithaca yesterday for a rainy day visit to the Ithaca Farmers Market

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Very slow day due to heavy rain and we arrived late - just before the market closed. Neither of the cheesemakers I buy from were there (major bummer and I may try again next Saturday). Vendors are required to have grown, processed or packaged their goods within a 50 mile radius of Ithaca. And although there are a handful of exceptions most of the products sold are organic (and pricey but often worth it).

Work constraints will have most of my posting done in the evening hours but for those of you with fond memories of late night beer swilling and greasy carb loading back when you were Cornell undergrads.... I give you.... Chapter House and "truck". Some things really never change.

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How fun, another tag team blog.

Melissa, I went back and read your kitchen reno blog a few times since we're right in the middle of ours( well, the demolition hasnt started yet, but soon)

And Owen, I read your thread on Charlotte, NC when I was planning a visit there last year. So I feel like I *know* you both.

I also dont drink coffee( but like coffee ice cream and the smell of coffee) and LOVE fizzy drinks!!

I'm almost bummed ( not really) that we're going to San Francisco tomorrow so I probably wont be reading the blog in real time!!


Edited by CaliPoutine (log)

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How exciting for me!  I grew up in Fulton* and get back to the area a couple of times a year since my family is still there.  Looking forward to seeing some familiar places and things.  Salt potatoes are a good start!  And Byrne Dairy milk too!  Do they still sell it in glass bottles? 

Yup, Byrne still sells milk in glass bottles. You buy the milk and pay a deposit on the bottle, and then you return the rinsed-out bottle and get your deposit back...or just swap the bottle for a full one. I did their milk in glass bottles for a while, but it seems to last better for me in a paper carton. I think it has to do with light getting to the milk. Paper cartons are also less prone to spilling and lighter, important considerations if you're hauling milk on a bike.

Now, off to...Byrne Dairy!

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I'm looking forward to the two of you blogging. I think we'll all get quite an education about New York, especially the area you live. Phaelon, I'm really looking forward to your Polish meal. Are there other big Polish communities outside of Buffalo? I grew up in Philly were there is one, and now no longer live there. I sometimes order pierogies from www.buffalofoods.com, because they carry Nowinski's brand.

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As I said on the teaser thread, I'm so happy that you two are blogging this week! I grew up in the University neighborhood of Syracuse, right off of Euclid Ave. Then I went back for grad school. But now I'm in Delaware, where I've been since the late 80's, only going back upstate for visits, and I miss the area very much.

I'm so glad that Byrne Dairy is still around with glass bottled milk, no less. Now I've got their jingle stuck in my head! Do they still play it on the radio? The one that goes:

Byrne Dairy milk is mighty fine

Product of the hometown line

every drop is bottled here

for dairy farm freshness...etc.

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I grew up in the University neighborhood of Syracuse, right off of Euclid Ave.

I actually grew up on Euclid Ave - on the hill between Westmoreland and Cumberland. And many of my school friends lived on the side streets off Euclid closer to campus - Dorset, Stratford, Ostrom, Berkeley Drive, Sumner, Ackerman etc.. Still a nice area but the remaining families on some of the streets close to campus are struggling to keep it from turning into a student ghetto.

I'm so glad that Byrne Dairy is still around with glass bottled milk, no less.  Now I've got their jingle stuck in my head!  Do they still play it on the radio? 

They don't seem to advertise much anymore but with a fairly large number of retail dairy outlets that also serve as neighborhood convenience stores they seem to do well.

I drink about one quart of milk per week and it's not on my travel path thus i don't shop there. But it's worth noting that they were one of the first local dairies to offer non bgh (bovine growth hormone) milk when that became an issue of concern.

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Carrots were on sale this week, buy a pound, get a pound. So we have nearly two pounds of fresh carrots in the fridge. What do you like to do with lots of carrots?

Make a carrot salad! We used to eat it a lot more when I was younger. My dad would shred lots of carrots, and crush lots of garlic, and put just enough mayonnaise to combat any dryness and have it bind somewhat. Add some salt and pepper, and voila! Simple and tasty.

Well, of course, I don't know how much you'll be able to eat. :biggrin:

And Byrne Dairy milk too!  Do they still sell it in glass bottles?

Around sophomore year (3 years ago?) I went to Abundance Co-op in Rochester a bit (cheap tofu! but hard to get to without a bike or car) and I think they were selling Byrne Dairy milk in glass bottles, but that was the only place I ever saw it. Their website doesn't have any glass bottles in the picture either.


"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

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I grew up in the University neighborhood of Syracuse, right off of Euclid Ave.

I actually grew up on Euclid Ave - on the hill between Westmoreland and Cumberland.

You grew up about a half a block away from where I lived. I PM'ed you with the specifics. Small world indeed!!

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This should be a fun week! Owen's blog was one of the first I ever read, way back in 2004. I could be wrong but weren't you seriously into coffee back then? Are you still roasting your own?

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This should be a fun week! Owen's blog was one of the first I ever read, way back in 2004. I could be wrong but weren't you seriously into coffee back then? Are you still roasting your own?

I roast about 800 pounds per week for a local cafe that has four retail stores and a handful of wholesale customers. I'll be doing a roasting venture of my own in the not-too-distant future but some family circumstances and a delay in my capital funds slowed that project down for awhile.

You'll definitely see more about coffee in this blog - and not just mine.

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I'm back from my errands today.

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Since I was only going a couple of miles downtown, and I didn't have anything huge to carry, I rode my bike. It's a 1992 Bridgestone MB-3, with most of the original components still on it. The rear rack is by Blackburn, and the panniers are my original set of Maddens, purchased at the Madden factory outlet in Boulder. Back when a bike was my only mode of wheeled transporation, I'd do all my grocery shopping like this. Between the two panniers, my backpack, and a bungee cord over the rack to handle the oversized but light stuff like TP, I could easily carry enough to get me through a week of eating. I'd always load my own bags, because I wanted to make sure I got the two panniers weighted evenly.

This trip, I was headed first to my local yarn store, North Wind Yarns and Weaving. I needed to get some yarn to knit a hat. Mission accomplished, I headed back up the hill to the dairy, where I replenished my milk supply.

I got somewhat of a hard time at the dairy. They do not have anywhere for me to lock the bike, so just like in the past, I brought the bike inside and leaned it against the ice cream chest, just inside the door. In the past, it's never been a problem: I leave my bike there, I get my milk, I pay for the milk, and I leave. The bike's out in about two minutes, I've never seen anyone getting an ice cream cone inside, and my bike's cleaner than most people's shoes. But this time, one of the employees told me that bikes were not permitted inside. I replied, nicely, that I'd be happy to lock my bicycle up outside if they provided me with a rack to lock it to. She suggested I use one of their picnic tables, or one of the plastic chairs. I explained that those were not possible: a U-lock, the most secure form of bike lock and the one that I use, is incapable of fitting around a picnic table. Furthermore, if I locked my bike to their picnic table, it would not be possible for people to sit at that table until I moved the bike. And a plastic chair is not an acceptable bike rack either: even if there were a way to get the lock around the chair, it's too easy for someone to lift up the bike with the chair, plop both into the bed of a pickup truck, and drive off. We left it as a lose-lose situation: I won't be going back as long as they can't give me a proper parking place for my bike. The head office is also going to be hearing from me, because this should be a relatively easy problem to solve.

So, I got home, put the bike away, and made lunch. I started by toasting a whole wheat pita on one of my stove's burners, till the edges were just slightly charred and the whole round was pliable. Then I snipped it in half, and opened the pocket of each half. Inside went Jarlsberg cheese, some sliced turkey from the deli, and a bit of lettuce. This time of year, I prefer my tomato on the side, because they're so juicy and will turn the bread to mush. This tomato came from one of our local farmers. We travel enough during the summer that we don't grow our own.

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To drink: the last of my limeade, with seltzer.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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What a shame that the employee gave you a hard time about the bicycle. I wonder if it's a new person? or a new policy? Here's hoping the corporate office gives you a satisfactory resolution. They should be interested in helping encourage environmentally friendly modes of transport - not to mention, keeping a formerly-happy customer.

Melissa, I'd love to see the interior of the bowl without the potatoes. That looks like a pretty design. And I'm really looking forward to seeing some cookery in the new kitchen!

13 gusting to 24 is a common Lake Superior sort of wind, too. Is Lake Erie a giant refrigerator year-round, so you never know what sort of weather to expect, or does it warm up substantially during the summer? How does the lake affect local growing seasons?

Phaelon66, I'm a big-time coffee fan. I look forward to reading more about the roasting. Too bad the Internet doesn't support odors yet. We REALLY need AromaGullet.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I'm a big-time coffee fan.  I look forward to reading more about the roasting.  Too bad the Internet doesn't support odors yet.  We REALLY need AromaGullet.

Indeed. It's surprising to me how many people I know who love the smell of coffee roasting or brewing (which are radically different smells) but detest the taste. me? I love it all.

Are there other big Polish communities outside of Buffalo?

I can't speak for other cities but the Polish community here is much smaller than it was 20 or 30 years ago. In the days of the a thriving salt industry we had a large German community - some of whom came here as barrel makers and others as candle makers (Syracuse is still one of the United States largest producers of ecclesiastical or church candles).

We have a fair number of Polish and Ukranian families still here but as with the Italian community they have sort of been absorbed and migrated out into the general community and suburbs rather than living in ethnic enclaves. We do have a fairly large Cambodian and Vietnamese Hmong population. One of my favorite local restaurants is New Century - right next door to one of our many candle manufacturers! We'll visit them for a meal towards the end of the week.

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What a shame that the employee gave you a hard time about the bicycle.  I wonder if it's a new person? or a new policy?  Here's hoping the corporate office gives you a satisfactory resolution.  They should be interested in helping encourage environmentally friendly modes of transport - not to mention, keeping a formerly-happy customer.

Yeah, I'm working on crafting a letter that's not too grumpy-sounding. I suspect that'll get a better response.

Melissa, I'd love to see the interior of the bowl without the potatoes.  That looks like a pretty design.  And I'm really looking forward to seeing some cookery in the new kitchen!

Well, you'll have to let Owen handle all questions about that bowl, because that's one of his photos. I'd be happy to show you some new-kitchen pictures, but any action shots will likely have to wait till Casey gets home. I find it exceedingly difficult to photograph and cook at the same time.

13 gusting to 24 is a common Lake Superior sort of wind, too. Is Lake Erie a giant refrigerator year-round, so you never know what sort of weather to expect, or does it warm up substantially during the summer?  How does the lake affect local growing seasons?

Lake Erie, which we lived near in Ohio, wasn't quite the same refrigerator that Lake Ontario is here. The difference: Lake Erie is quite shallow, so it changes temperature much more readily. During the summer, Lake Erie heats up, so you don't see as much temperature swing. And during the winter, Lake Erie will freeze over sometimes, and once that happens, there's no more moisture available to create lake effect snow. And as we all know from the news last February, Lake Ontario generates snow all through the winter!

But this time of year, it's quite nice to live lakefront. Here in Oswego, we can be ten degrees cooler than Owen in Syracuse. It's rare for us to get to 90 degrees F. And we always, always, always have a breeze. Because we're so close to the lake, we have a delayed frost in the winter. Last year, my next-door neighbor was able to get mint, chives, and sage from her garden until the week before Thanksgiving. (She's got a very green thumb, and is kind enough to let us use her herb patches, so this time of year I also have as much mint, chives, and sage as I can use.)

The downside is that it takes us quite a while to warm up in the springtime. While Owen in Syracuse might be comfortable in shirtsleeves, we're still wearing hats and coats. We might not hit the extremes in temperature either way, but our changes happen more slowly. I remember thinking, when we visited Duluth back in March, that it was maybe a little colder but the weather was about what we'd left back at home.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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So it was time for Plan B. And on sale this week was what the wrapper called a "boneless shoulder butt roast." These were more reasonably sized, so I got one. My husband cooked it last night, and we discovered that "roast" was a misnomer; if you roasted it, you wound up with something that required a very sharp knife and teeth to eat.

Melissa,

The only thing to do with that is to smoke it. Done on your WSM it will be perfect, but you are more than right, a roast it ain't. Smoked or not, that hunk of meat needs a a long slow cook.

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I'm going to cheat - just a little bit - on this first day. I had company for the weekend and we cooked dinner last night. In light of the fact that I may not cook and won't eat much of interest this evening let's just pretend that last night's dinner is happening today - shall we? I knew you'd say yes :wink:

Appetizer:

Halloumi - the amazing cheese from Cyprus. It's not bad just eaten by a slice - a bit dense and very salty with a feta like flavor. But it is transformed by grilling or frying.

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Tomatoes from my very own garden along with cukes from the grocery store, purple garlic from the Ithaca Farmers Market, red onion, fresh lime juice, white pepper, rice salad vinegar, Asian fish sauce (the one with the fat baby on the label) and a bit of nice fruity Sicilian olive oil. I'll use the same sauce - sans garlic - later this week for a very colorful salad of a different type.

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For the main course we had a nice looking piece of fresh hake to be baked under foil with red and yellow pepper slices, lime juice, olive oil and a bit of sweet rice wine vinegar. I didn't have any fresh herbs handy so - my intention being good - I soaked some dried Herbes de Provence in the oil and vinegar before slathering it on.

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The fish cooked up perfectly and proved to be possibly the blandest least flavorful piece of fish I have ever eaten. It made farm raised tilapia taste exciting by comparison. Is all hake that bland or were we just unlucky?

The fried cheese and the tomato-cuke salad were both terrific but the real star was the sweet corn. We were leaving the Farmers market and a vendor reeled us in at the exit insisting that we had to sample his sweet corn. I took a bit straight from a raw ear and it was unquestionably the best and sweetest corn I have ever tasted. Had to have it.

My no fail always works cooking method:

Chop off the ends of the ears and cook as is un-husked in a microwave from 2 to 3 minutes per ear depending on the freshness and the age of the ears (i.e. at what point of ripeness they were picked).

Get a couple of cloth towels or a pair of clean cloth gloves. Hold the cooked ears over the trash receptacle and peel back the husk. The silk magically pulls off more or less in one fell swoop with the husk. Brush the ear with the cloth or glove to get the few remaining strands of silk off and you're done. The only sweet corn cooking technique I've yet to see that beats this is roasting but it's messier and I'm usually in too much of a hurry to roast corn.

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All thing considered (last minute planning... a gloomy rainy day... a bland piece of fish...) it was a good meal.

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