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eG Foodblog: Nina C. - Around the World in Just One Borough


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Is any foodblog really honest? Do people really do a full mise en place every night, cook four course meals, and eat it by a setting sun? You know they clean out the fridge right before taking pictures, and maybe even hide the marshmallow fluff where no one can see it. Some of those adorable children and pets might even be rented. Think about it.

Well, I'm not a highly organized perfectionist kind of cook. To put things plainly, I'm more an "Oh Sh*t" cook. I want to set up a mise, but then the water is boiling or the oil is smoking and I start throwing things in. I plan a meal, change course midway through, and end up with something that tastes good, even if it wasn't exactly what I intended. And did I mention I burn myself?

Phew. Now I feel better. I don't have to make up any stories about my camera eating the pictures of perfect ¼" diced vegetables, or try to pretend that what I made was an old family recipe.

Tonight's dinner was a lamb stew. I don't know what on earth possessed me to make lamb right before I'm about to post pictures of adorable lambs at farms. But that's what I purchased, and raw meat waits for no sad hearts.

I don't think you'll find this rocket science. I browned the meat. I cut up an onion, some ginger, and a few cloves of garlic and let them soften. Then I added a few tablespoons of flour, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, garam masala, and probably a few other spices. A few seconds later, I added a couple cups of chicken stock, brought it to a simmer, added the meat back and covered it, lowering the heat. In the meantime, I peeled and cut up two sweet potatoes, and searched the freezer for some frozen peas. They were not to be found, so instead I pulled out some frozen asparagus.. The vegetables got seasoned and steamed until they were tender, then set aside. At the end, it all went in the pot, along with some milk and more salt and pepper. gallery_37101_5335_857.jpg

Oh, and at some point along the way I made popovers. These come together very easily. You just stir together an egg, ½ cup of milk, ½ cup flour and a pinch of salt until smooth. Let it sit 30 minutes, then pour into popover tins and bake at 450 for 20 minutes and at 350 until done. Voila. Popover Magic.

The end result: gallery_37101_5335_444031.jpg

I'm falling asleep at the computer, so it's time to say goodnight and do the rest of my work tomorrow.

Edited by Nina C. (log)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Nina, your blog is not only about where I used to live, but also my current backyard! :cool:

Hi Nina--I too relate both to your current hometown and your travel location. I made numerous trips with my family to visit my mother's sister and her brood, who lived not too far from the Kings Plaza shopping center. And during all the years I lived in Boston I made my share of visits to the beauteous Pioneer Valley. :wub:

Looking forward to what-all else you plan to show us this week. Blog on! :smile:

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First up, breakfast.

gallery_37101_5335_32357.jpg

I like these little containers because when there's a huge jar of nutella in the house, I find myself asleep on the couch, the ending credits of a movie running, chocolate smeared all over my face, and the jar completely empty. No idea how it happens! I blame the gremlins.

or perhaps I should blame my cats. I can't believe you all have let me get this far in a foodblog without requesting the standard pets/fridge shots.

Here are Alice

gallery_37101_5335_854.jpg

and Jackson

gallery_37101_5335_43468.jpg

Alice is firmly MY cat, and follows me around the house. She sits as close as possible to me - currently I'm on the couch and she's wrapped around my head on the pillow behind me purring. When it gets to be around 11:30, she wants to get in bed, and so starts mewing "bedtime!" not stopping until I get in bed too. Usually she knows her name and will come when I call her. Jackson's a big love - You probably can't tell here but he's about twice the size of Alice. He's more Mickey's cat, and especially likes to sit and watch baseball games with him. (How does the cat know it's a baseball game? He looks at the tv, silly.) Their food habits are not that interesting - except that Jackson will eat human food while Alice generally won't.

And the fridge: gallery_37101_5333_26052.jpg

It's more full than it looks. Condiments/jarred goods on the left, dairy on the right.

Condiments used to live on the bottom shelf, but I recently moved them to eye level so we'll stop buying so many! I have way too many kinds of jam in there, as well as a few kinds of pickles, and some beers. The all important siracha is front and center, easily accesible.

The bottom shelf and the one above it are almost empty, waiting for pies.

The bottom shelf has some bags of nuts - pistachio and marcona almond I believe, some miso paste, and a chicken.

The fridge door:

gallery_37101_5333_9218.jpg

More condiments. You'll see that we have two open jars of ketchup, which is indicitive of the reasons we have so many condiments.

Peeking out from the lower door shelf are ready-to-go packs of jello. My sweetie is a pudding/jello freak and he likes having these handy for low-cal snacks. I generally don't touch them as they taste like chemicals to me, but there are those moments of weakness.

Edited by Nina C. (log)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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The nutella reminded me that I forgot to post my "dessert" from last night.

This is my chocolate stash box:

gallery_37101_5335_1156.jpg

The Max Brenner stuff was press swag, whose convenient box I use to keep my chocolates in.

There are some Dolfin squares, a Chocolove ginger bar, a Spanish chocolate almond turron called ludomar, a scharfenberger little nibby bar, and a scharffenberger Kumasi Sambirano - a limited edition 68% cacao. It's got a nice light citrusy touch to the chocolate which I like.

I had some of the ludomar: gallery_37101_5335_299404.jpg

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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You can sample the four grades of syrup....

Wow, as a chronic maple syrup addict, I'm wondering: was there a huge flavor difference between grades (assuming you did some sampling)?

I'm not Nina C., but I did grow up in NH and we made our own syrup. Yes, there is a big difference in grades. "Grade A Fancy" or "Grade A Light Amber" is usually what you will find available for sale at most retail outlets and it is usually the highest priced. There are a few other grades of "A" but for my money, the best taste is in the "Grade B". Unfortunately, it is hard to find a retail supplier of Grade B (although if you can find it, it is usually less expensive than the same amount of "Grade A").

Grade B has a much more assertive maple taste and it is much darker in color. If you like maple syrup, by all means see if you can locate some Grade B. It makes the best sugar on snow!

I'm looking forward to hearing more about the cheese trail!

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You can sample the four grades of syrup....

Wow, as a chronic maple syrup addict, I'm wondering: was there a huge flavor difference between grades (assuming you did some sampling)?

I'm not Nina C., but I did grow up in NH and we made our own syrup. Yes, there is a big difference in grades. "Grade A Fancy" or "Grade A Light Amber" is usually what you will find available for sale at most retail outlets and it is usually the highest priced. There are a few other grades of "A" but for my money, the best taste is in the "Grade B". Unfortunately, it is hard to find a retail supplier of Grade B (although if you can find it, it is usually less expensive than the same amount of "Grade A").

Grade B has a much more assertive maple taste and it is much darker in color. If you like maple syrup, by all means see if you can locate some Grade B. It makes the best sugar on snow!

I'm looking forward to hearing more about the cheese trail!

Oops - Sorry I missed this question. Yes, as I understood it, the lighter syrups come out at the beginning of the sugaring process, and have less caramel flavor. I like the grade B best also. The cynic in me wonders if term "fancy" was originally added as a marketing swindle to sell the not-as-good stuff. They were selling all 4 grades for the same price. Apparently there is also a grade C that is used in commercial cooking applications.

There's no difference in thickness or clarity of the grades. The only differences are color and flavor.

More on the cheese trail is coming. First though I have to go on one of my promised adventures!

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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You can sample the four grades of syrup....

Wow, as a chronic maple syrup addict, I'm wondering: was there a huge flavor difference between grades (assuming you did some sampling)?

I'm not Nina C., but I did grow up in NH and we made our own syrup. Yes, there is a big difference in grades. "Grade A Fancy" or "Grade A Light Amber" is usually what you will find available for sale at most retail outlets and it is usually the highest priced. There are a few other grades of "A" but for my money, the best taste is in the "Grade B". Unfortunately, it is hard to find a retail supplier of Grade B (although if you can find it, it is usually less expensive than the same amount of "Grade A").

Grade B has a much more assertive maple taste and it is much darker in color. If you like maple syrup, by all means see if you can locate some Grade B. It makes the best sugar on snow!

I'm looking forward to hearing more about the cheese trail!

Quite true. One of my friends from Vermont, and a couple from Eastern Canada, always said, "buy grade B. We only produce grade A for the tourists."

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Quite true.  One of my friends from Vermont, and a couple from Eastern Canada, always said, "buy grade B.  We only produce grade A for the tourists."

That's very funny! And it sounds just like what a smart Yankee would do.

BTW, I've never heard of Grade C. But I sure would like to try some! :raz:

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I was told that the grades actually relate to what's closest to refined cane sugar. So the less maple color and flavor it has, the "better" the grade. So Grade A has far less maple essence than Grade B.

Trader Joe's is a great source for Grade B maple syrup at a reasonable price.

This is a great blog Nina -- cute cats and I admire the depth of your condiment creep! We also have two ketchups open right now. I wish I knew how that happened.

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You're not really 100 years old are you?

I was trying to figure out what you meant by this! I finally realized that when filling out my profile I had simply filled in month and date, without the year. I fixed it now.

I didn't mean to be so cryptic, sorry Nina C. Love the fridge shots! And I am quite sure you have not rented the cats, they kinda look like they run the place.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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This is my chocolate stash box:

gallery_37101_5335_1156.jpg

The Max Brenner stuff was press swag, whose convenient box I use to keep my chocolates in.

Heh--I seem to have managed to miss the "Max Brenner" phenomenon until now. Seeing this photo sent me off to Google to investigate, so I am now aware of the fact that there is no individual named Max Brenner behind the enterprise. However, one of the founders did have Brenner as a last name, prompting me to wonder if I could flash my ID at one of their stores and get some freebies. :laugh:

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I'm still dealing with this virus, and to top it off, Mickey just came in to tell me that someone stole the seats off our bikes last night.

Hopefully I'll be back and running soon, and can keep this foodblog going. Sorry, all.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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I have just spoken with Nina, and her 'puter is one sick puppy. But, she will be back. Reminder that during blogs, disasters happen (for me, they involved flooded basement, dead camera, sick child, a grilling and smoking blog during which it did nothing but rain, etc.). Nina may not be back for a few days; I knew there was a reason that I left next week open!

Let's wish her well, and hope that she eats well while the 'puter is in the shop!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Condiments used to live on the bottom shelf, but I recently moved them to eye level so we'll stop buying so many! I have way too many kinds of jam in there, as well as a few kinds of pickles, and some beers. The all important siracha is front and center, easily accesible.

[...]

The fridge door:

gallery_37101_5333_9218.jpg

More condiments. You'll see that we have two open jars of ketchup, which is indicitive of the reasons we have so many condiments.

Surprised you didn't check in when I conducted a census on this board back in the summer. You look like you could easily top my count, though you'd probably be hard pressed to outdo nonblonde007.

I have just spoken with Nina, and her 'puter is one sick puppy.  But, she will be back.  Reminder that during blogs, disasters happen (for me, they involved flooded basement, dead camera, sick child, a grilling and smoking blog during which it did nothing but rain, etc.).  Nina may not be back for a few days; I knew there was a reason that I left next week open!

Let's wish her well, and hope that she eats well while the 'puter is in the shop!

Hear, hear! And when your computer comes back to life, Nina, be sure to install good anti-virus/anti-spy software on it. If you are lucky, your ISP may offer a security suite free of charge to its customers (Verizon does, for instance); most of these are more than adequate to protect your computer and updated continually.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Yikes! That sucks! Just as I was warming up to your condiment collection. You have me beat on pickles, but my mustard could take yours out easily (it's at least half a shelf). I have two open jars of capers in there too, and I was totally relating to your need to keep them visible.

I really hope it doesn't affect your work! Maybe you could post from Ozzie's down on 5th Ave. in the Slope...or somewhere equally cozy...access is free from the Mac stores in Manhattan, but oy, what a zoo. Good luck!!!

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

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Trader Joe's is a great source for Grade B maple syrup at a reasonable price.

Great blog, Nina.. Hope you can get your 'puter fixed...

Just to corraborate Catew's info:

gallery_51818_5222_618798.jpg

I've only tasted it on my finger - but YUM - and it is darker than it appears. Hmmm pancakes? french toast? (no snow) but maple ice?

Nina, come back soon - your blog was rockin'!

Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I guess the small silver lining in this very dark cloud is that I'm not as late to the party as I'd feared. This is a fine blog so far, Nina! Lovely cats, and thanks for the condiment creep shot!

Do you usually do your own photography for your writing ventures?

I bought a huge bottle of sriracha on some trip, when I discovered its lovely sweet fire, and it still sits unopened in my cupboard. What do you use it for? Would it, for instance, help the uber-bland pea soup my DH so adores? I hesitate to open yet another bottle of anything, given the cluttered state of our refrigerator. Advice and ideas will be appreciated, when you get back and catch your breath.

Our local shops carry maple syrple in grades A, B, and possibly even C. Some of my friends have used them to come up with great meat glazes.

Thanks for coming clean on the cooking process, too! Gives me hope! :laugh:

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 hope your machine is up and running soon, cause I LOVE this!!! (Our catastrophe of the week when I blogged last Thanksgiving was that Chris had a three-day hospitalization with a kidney stone. I wanted to be there all the time, but felt I had to be HERE some of the time---he's his usual cheerful self now).

I'd always wanted (and asked for) someone to show some big-city grocery stores. I have only movies and TV for my reference of your area, but it seems that the streets are too full of storefronts to accommodate one of the free-standing stadium-size markets like we have here. I just have visions of all of you shopping like movie people, every day after work, with a tiny basket over your arm as you buy a chicken, three potatoes, one roll of toilet paper, and a bunch of carrots (tops included to hang over the top of the bag as you fumble for your keys to get in the door to answer the phone). I lead a sheltered life.

I love your cats---those sparkly green eyes. And our new GrandDaughter was almost named Brooklyn :wub: .

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am guessing that:

--Nina C.'s computer has passed the point of no return, and

--it being past the warranty period, cannot be replaced without shelling out major bucks, and

--said major bucks are either in short supply or needed for other purposes right now.

At least I hope that's why this blog has yet to resume.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I hope the blog will be recontinued. Some of you know that I live in Manhattan but work in Brooklyn 4 days a week. I like the borough and am eager to get more tips on interesting, worthwhile eateries I might be able to go to after work in Downtown Brooklyn, Flatbush/Midwood, or places reasonably accessible from those two neighborhoods.

Nina, did you get to try carbonated maple sap when you were in Vermont? I got little bottles of it at small roadside supermarkets (really, just markets, I guess) on I think Route 100 the last time I was in that beautiful state (1996). I loved it! Maple sap is 97% water and only 3% sugar, so when it's carbonated, it's like seltzer with a wonderful maple-syrup overtaste. And for my money, there's no sugar that's as good as maple sugar. At its best, palm sugar comes close, and sorghum is also nicely fragrant, but maple is #1!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hi all -

I am so so sorry that this happened to my poor little blog. My computer was indeed fried. This virus apparently gets in your computer, attacks your antivirus software putting in new definitions so that it can't detect the virus, then starts systematically downloading things and eating the guts.

I think of myself as pretty computer savvy and careful, but my work requires me to answer questions from the general public. Which means I can't ignore emails that look slightly suspect.

I have many pictures that I continued to take during my blogging week, around dealing with the computer and trying to beg/borrow/computer time so I could finish an assignment. I am now back online, and gearing up for pieathon

(I'm making a ton of pies! my fridge is full of 17 lbs of butter, 46 quarts of heavy cream, and many other things.)

I'll defer to Susan as to when/if to continue this poor crippled blog. She had suggested last week, but my computer was still in the shop.

Thanks for understanding everyone.

Nina

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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