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eG Foodblog: phlawless - La Vida Local


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So we did do dessert:

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bluberry pecan financier with blueberry fool and blueberry sauce...and I've still got a lot of berries left!

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Lovely, lovely meal. And the berry dessert! Is a fool a mixture of sweetened berries and whipped cream? Or is it meringue? Or? My memory tells me it is an "old-fashioned" quickie fruit dessert.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Lovely, lovely meal.  And the berry dessert!  Is a fool a mixture of sweetened berries and whipped cream? Or is it meringue?  Or?  My memory tells me it is an "old-fashioned" quickie fruit dessert.

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.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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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.

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I just noticed M peeking out at you from behind that chair! She has this ultra-cute, "Where the heck are you going Mommy? You'd better not be leaving me here alone!" look on her face!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Oh, please tell more about concrete countertops -- what you love, hate, and how it was done. I long for a kitchen remodel and this idea is intriguing to me because I understand it is inexpensive and durable. I want personal anecdotes, though.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Oh, please tell more about concrete countertops -- what you love, hate, and how it was done.  I long for a kitchen remodel and this idea is intriguing to me because I understand it is inexpensive and durable.  I want personal anecdotes, though.

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:

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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.

Edited by phlawless (log)

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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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.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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I am loving seeing the wonderful "real" food you prepare for you and your husband and in particular your little doll. She is very lucky to have a Mom who cares enough to work with her hands to feed her, and hopefully she will carry on this tradition when she grows up. I believe food habits are set at a really young age, and I cringe when I see the lifeless foods that so many kids are being fed.

I also applaud your commitment to cooking only from local ingredients. I am committed to feeding myself and my family foods that are made from my hands (and heart) but haven't gone that extra step to live solely from the region. I'm not sure I could do it - thank you for giving me something to contemplate.

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Phlawless, do you find the quality of products at the Raleigh FM the same all week? Here in Charlotte, most of the local purveyors only appear on Saturdays. During the rest of the week, the big sellers are produce distributors and many of the items (grapes? bananas?) are shipped from CA and other places.

I just got a call that the 5 lbs of grass fed beef I ordered from a farm just north of Charlotte will be ready for pick up this weekend, so there's something local to look forward to!

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Anyone have any ideas on how to reuse this great big block of wood?

Couldn't you just sand it down until it's level?

I love the concrete too. That stained table is beautiful. Good to know it was so easy and inexpensive.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Wow... I have been enjoying this thread immensely.. You guys are really so talented, creative and self sufficient.. From making your own breads and bird baths to redoing your kitchen.. So impressive.. Thanks for sharing your wonderful life and talents with us..

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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 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?

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I've been thinking about the problem of sourcing ingredients for this project and the amount of time and energy (human and fuel) that go into it. The solution that I propose, and it's a solution that I propose for all of the rest of us too, is to start shopping and cooking cooperatively. There was a time when one would regularly pop over to their neighbors and say, "I'm going to the store. Need anything?" And I don't mean cooking cooperatively in any kind of free spirit, hippie-dippy way. I mean, I'm going to smoke a a big piece of pork this weekend, do you want some or do you want to throw one in with mine. For people who live within certain distances of eath other sharing trips to other towns and sharing food produced in prodigous amounts are great ways to cut down on the fuel and time costs.

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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gallery_8173_3208_12254.jpg

Anyone have any ideas on how to reuse this great big block of wood?

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.

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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 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've been thinking about the problem of sourcing ingredients for this project and the amount of time and energy (human and fuel) that go into it. The solution that I propose, and it's a solution that I propose for all of the rest of us too, is to start shopping and cooking cooperatively. There was a time when one would regularly pop over to their neighbors and say, "I'm going to the store. Need anything?" And I don't mean cooking cooperatively in any kind of free spirit, hippie-dippy way. I mean, I'm going to smoke a a big piece of pork this weekend, do you want some or do you want to throw one in with mine. For people who live within certain distances of eath other sharing trips to other towns and sharing food produced in prodigous amounts are great ways to cut down on the fuel and time costs.

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.

Edited by phlawless (log)

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Thanks for taking us to Wilber's. I love that place! When I was on a project in Raleigh, we would take a very long lunch break and head over there. I wish we could get Carolina BBQ in Seattle.

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.......He and I worked together at a couple of places, most recently the Magnolia Grill here in Durham.

I think that's the first time I saw a mention from you specifically that you worked at Magnolia Grill. That is impressive. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the U.S., and they are so well known for their desserts and pastries. Kudos to you!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Phlawless is incredibly talented. Here's a dessert she came up with for a Mexican-themed dinner we had a couple years ago:

Pumpkin fritters rolled in cinnamon sugar, served with goat cheese ice cream, cajeta and candied, spicy pepitas.

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One of the best desserts I've ever had in my life.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Pumpkin fritters rolled in cinnamon sugar, served with goat cheese ice cream, cajeta and candied, spicy pepitas.

i1286.jpg

One of the best desserts I've ever had in my life.

Damn. That sounds awesome. Though I admit to being a little afraid of the goat cheese ice cream.

As for the local eat/shop with your neighbors, we just had a neighbor like that move away :sad: . Our family's shared meals at least every few weeks -- not in the entertaining sort of way but in the come-share-this-big-pot-of-soup kind of way. Luckily she was a foodie too. Our kitchens faced one another, and with the windows open we coudl guess at what was cooking in each one based on the aromas floating across the property line. The new neighbors haven't moved in, but I doubt we'll have the same kind of relationship. I guess part of the problem is that so few people really cook at home.

But back to the local sourcing thing. I think to really eat locally, you have to sort of give up a certain amount of control of your menu and go with the season. Especially with a CSA box. You don't really know what you're going to get, so you can't plan too precisely until you get the box. Reading my own words now I think how obvious that must sound, but it was a sea change for me to cook greens several times a week. I used to plan menus around proteins. Now I plan them around my veggies.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Damn.  That sounds awesome.  Though I admit to being a little afraid of the goat cheese ice cream.

Don't...I think you'd be surprised by how much you'd like it. The gamey/tang is pretty great.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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gallery_8173_3208_12254.jpg

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?

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.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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I think that's the first time I saw a mention from you specifically that you worked at Magnolia Grill.  That is impressive.  It's one of my favorite restaurants in the U.S., and they are so well known for their desserts and pastries.  Kudos to you!

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!

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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