The weather has not been very summer-like this week, rainy, windy and 65 degrees. This is hardly a surprise, as almost exactly two years ago, just a few short days before our wedding, my then-fiance and I woke up to a gentle dusting of snow in our backyard (and promptly freaked out).
So, we’ve found ourselves back in hibernation mode, craving things with tons of meat and carbs and basically anything not involving vegetables or a salad. There was boxed macaroni and cheese the other night. I know. Continue reading
Sometimes, I think I should rename this blog, “Things I tried to feed my husband.” It’s a long list, and each item on it has been received with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Kil’t kale, for example, was immediately embraced and adapted to work with the metric crap-ton of chard I grew in our garden this summer. The white bean, ham and leek soup has been in regular rotation since the first time I made it, because it’s so easy, inexpensive, and hard not to like.
But a lot of other things I’ve made over the past few months since posting have utterly failed. I made a zucchini rice gratin from Smitten Kitchen that was delicious, but immediately rejected. I bought some amazing kielbasa at a farmer’s market only to realize that apparently the man I married has no Polish blood in his veins. None. (Who is this man?!)
All this is by way of halfway explaining why I haven’t been posting, because I have been assuming that if my husband doesn’t like something, you won’t, either. But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Mostly because I fell in love with this soup, while he pretty much refused to eat it. Lentils, apparently, not being an acceptable source of protein. Continue reading
March and April are apparently “the hunger season,” when most of the cold storage crops are gone and nothing fresh has come out of the ground yet. It’s also the period in my life when I generally start feeling gloomy and sad, wanting it to either snow and be pretty again like December, or warm up and get sunny like spring and summer are supposed to be.
Really the only thing for this uncomfortable time is to make soup. Soup can make you forget how gross and gloomy it is outside, help you feel better about curling up inside with a book, and make you so happy to be using up the beans stored in your pantry that you almost forget how angry you are to not be wearing your favorite new spring flats. Continue reading
Like a lot of my favorite recipes, these crispy salami chips are a copycat recipe from one of my favorite places in the Wood River Valley.
I make up recipes sometimes, sure. And sometimes I just go out to eat and then try to copy the ideas of more talented chefs than I. It’s a sickness. But it also results in a ton of delicious recipes, like this Konditorei Salad from Sun Valley Resort, this beet salad inspired by a dinner at Trail Creek Cabin with my mother-in-law. Oh yeah, and this butternut squash and kale salad (and this one), inspired by one at my favorite sandwich place, Bigwood Bread.
I enjoyed these salami chips at a wine bar in my new town called diVine, which is more famous for their delicious wine and indulgent fondue. Continue reading
To understand my affection for barbecue, you must first understand three things. One, my husband is from Texas, which he feels gives him authority when it comes to all things smoked. Two, my dog has a Twitter account. And three, my dog was recently followed by the Twitter account for Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a barbecue franchise chain started in Dallas that clearly hired an amazing social media director. They have even replied to her pleas for smoked sausage. It’s sweet, and a great example of customer engagement.
So I have this abiding affection for anything barbecue-related, even though I am definitely from Up North. One of the downsides of living in a small Idaho ski town is that the only barbecue restaurant in the valley shut its doors about three years ago (after a wonderful, but short and ill-fated, run). The closest barbecue is, in fact, a Dickey’s franchise in Twin Falls.
This means that I have to do it myself, and without the benefits of a smoker or even a grill, for that matter. I’ve successfully made brisket in the oven before, with decent results. This time, I wanted — nay, needed — to make pulled pork. And it needed to be served with coleslaw and pickles and barbecue sauce.
I got this recipe from a co-worker and modified it to fit exactly what I wanted.The miracle worker of this recipe is the slow cooker. It allows the pork shoulder to get super-tender and shred-able without drying out. The garlic and onions add a little flavor, the rub adds more, and the hard cider also helps keep everything nice and tender. Don’t worry about trimming the fat off first — leave it on, where some of it will melt into the pan juices and you can pick out the rest when you’re shredding.
Serve with coleslaw, pickles and the best barbecue sauce you can find — heck, even with macaroni and cheese and some fried okra, if you can scrounge it up. There’s nothing better.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
A delicious gluten-free pulled pork made in the slow cooker.
- 4-6 lb pork shoulder (may also be called Boston butt)
- 1/4 cup liquid smoke
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 1/2 cups hard apple cider (that’s about a bottle)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- Place onions and garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker, then pour apple cider over. Sprinkle the liquid smoke all over the surface of your pork shoulder.
- Mix together sugar and spices in a small bowl. Rub all over the surface of the pork shoulder, then place meat in the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic and cider.
- Cover, and cook until the meat falls off the blade bone or begins to fall apart. This will take six to 10 hours on low (mine took about 8 — a little more time is not a catastrophe here).
- When done, remove shoulder from the slow cooker, using a slotted spoon if necessary and if it begins to pull apart. Place the meat in a 9×13 baking pan and shred using two forks, removing large chunks of fat as necessary.
- Serve with heated barbecue sauce, coleslaw, pickles, or whatever else makes your barbecue complete.
Some days, you just want to come home from work and eat cereal out of the box. I know that feeling. Of course, every time I try to make cereal my dinner, I end up on the couch with a bag of chocolate chips around 9 p.m., suddenly realizing I’ve eaten the whole thing by myself. Woman cannot live on cereal alone, apparently.
I end up wishing I had just taken 10 minutes and made this meal instead. It uses fully cooked, gluten-free, and Paleo Aidell’s andouille sausage, sweet potatoes, and a little red pepper, all sauteed in one pan. It even feeds two if you stretch it with a salad…even if you don’t, as this is an incredibly hearty portion.
Have you ever had A Day?
I have, and recently. Actually, I had more like A Week that involved a failed baking project, a lot of personal and professional angst, a fight with my fiance over our wedding guestbook (I know, I know) and a dog who spent the entire week freaking out about the vole that was building a nest just off our back porch.
Plus, it was snowing. An honest-to-goodness snowstorm the likes of which we would have excitedly welcomed during our enormous drought earlier this year, but which in April just seems like a cruel joke.
The only thing that would fix my life this week was to cook something that would warm me to the bone, dispel the goosebumps that seemed to be taking up permanent residence and make my fiance happy — presumably to make up for the guestbook debacle.
This is one of those dishes that probably should be eaten alone. That way, there’s no one around to judge you for sticking your entire face into the biggest bowl of kale known to man.
Kale is extraordinarily good for you. According to NPR, kale scores a perfect 1,000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which measures the amount of nutrients per calorie. Full of vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium, kale is one of those food that should always be in your fridge.
Some would argue that it doesn’t taste good. That’s fine. It doesn’t, in raw form. Why do you think people have been making chips out of it instead? You can’t snack on kale like you might a carrot or an apple. This leafy green needs some TLC in order to shine.
I have a really hard time using my slow cooker. Typically I leave work, run to the grocery store, get what I need, cook like mad for an hour, snap some photos, and then eat before frantically cleaning up the dishes and finally collapsing onto the couch for about 15 minutes before the dog goes for a walk and I go to bed.
So you can see how my eyes glaze over when a recipe calls for cooking something over low heat for eight to 10 hours. While in theory, this “set it and forget it” option should work for busy people, I am not about to let a crock pot sit at home alone and possibly start some sort of electrical fire. I also can barely find coffee in the morning, let alone chop vegetables, brown meat, or do whatever it is that the recipe calls for.
But on the weekends, when I typically have a lot of other around-the-house projects going on, the slow cooker can make its way out of storage.
I’ve taken to calling these “Bacon Dates” in my head instead of the more accurate “Almond-Stuffed Dates with Bacon,” and here’s why: eating one of these is like being on a date with a piece of bacon with a sweet, sensitive personality.
Maybe that got a little weird right there. But I think you know what I mean. In this recipe — which is crazy easy, by the way — strong, salty, crunchy bacon envelopes a soft, caramelized date with a toasty almond center. It is like a flavor explosion in your mouth. I have been on actual dates that have had much less going on.
They are the perfect appetizer to share with friends during the upcoming holidays. Serve either fresh out of the oven or wrap in foil. They travel well, and no one can say no to something wrapped in bacon.
Well, a vegan might, but that just means more bacon for you.
- 20 medjool dates, whole and pitted
- 40 whole almonds, toasted if you prefer
- 10 slices of center-cut bacon, cut in half
- It’s simple: Take date. Insert two almonds, one on each end. Wrap stuffed date in bacon. Place on cooling rack that has been placed on top of a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Devour like your life depends on it.