My friend Moxie has two upcoming shows at galleries here in Seattle. Moxie makes needle felted creations that always make me laugh and be a little bit more amazed at the amount of work and detail that go into them. Tonight (Thursday, June 11th, 6-8 p.m.) at Bluebottle Art Gallery the show Tiny Repetetive Motions has it’s reception. There will be drinks and snacks, and you can gaze at her creations as well as those of Dan Robson. On Friday she has a show going up at Schmancy called Fiber Arctic, sharing the space with artist Kate Greiner. Both galleries are fantastic fun, and you can do a little shopping while you’re out.
This is another in the series of foods I make in bulk and freeze. This recipe came from Oprah Magazine (I have lost track of which issue), and while there are a gazillion bolognese recipes out there this is the one that ended up in my routine. I have altered the instructions a bit. Note: It takes a few hours of simmering so make it on a day when you want to be hanging out at home.
1 medium onion [for some reason I find the gnarly yellow onions sold at my nearby hippie market to make the best sauce]
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 to 3 stalks celery
1 pound ground beef (not lean)
1 ounce pancetta, very finely chopped [I freeze it a bit first, helps to keep it from sliding around as it's chopped]
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine [I always end up with Hogue Fume Blanc, probably because it's the only one at the hippie market that clearly states "dry white wine" on the label]
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juice [I usually use the fake San Marzano kind with the pretty label even though Cook's Illustrated proved they actually don't taste the best.]
1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni [I like the oversized chiocciole made by Bionaturae]
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating
1. Finely chop onion, carrot and celery. [Right, I did that the first time, now I just run each through my food processor.] In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat, cook pancetta until all fat it rendered and pancetta is just beginning to brown. Add chopped vegetables, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft.
2. [Don't forget to crack open some windows in the house, this is going to be simmering all day the smell, as good as it will be, will be strange when it's lingering in the tv room. Good job, why not crack open that wine and have a glass now that all the bits of cooking that involve sharp knives are done with?]
3. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, 1/4 tsp. (to start) salt, plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown. [Experience has proven to me that I don't need to obsessively break the meat into smaller and smaller pieces, though I do run a knife through it crosswise before it goes into the pot.]
4. Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until milk has mostly boiled away, about 30 minutes. [Experience has told me to add about 15 minutes to this and the next step. Am I not simmering the same way everybody else is?] Add white wine [you still have enough, right?] and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice, bring to a simmer. [I obsessively crush the tomato bits in the pot at this point, I bet it would be fine if you don't do that.] Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. [I swear there is a point where you check the sauce and suddenly it just tastes like everything came together, it's magical.] Season to taste with remaining salt.
5. Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously, and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce, then serve with remaining sauce on top with lots of grated Parmigiano cheese.
Makes 4 cups sauce. [Unless you double or triple the recipe. I cannot quite fit a tripled recipe into my 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven, clearly I need to buy a larger one.]
I allow the sauce to cool, then spoon into freezer bags, squeeze them flat, and freeze them on a cookie sheet until they are solid enough to be stacked on their own. When you are ready to eat you can pull one out of the freezer and run the bag under hot water to thaw. This is the easiest way to do it when you, like me, don’t own a microwave.
In order to make the sorting and keeping of links a bit easier I’m (finally) getting around to keeping them in Delicious. I have two options for having WordPress publish links from my Delicious account to this here site automatically, and neither of them are ideal, meaning I cannot keep the links grouped by category the way I have been doing up until now.
I could have each link in it’s own post, in which case the post would retain a tag (aka food, shopping, crafts) or I could have all the links I gather publish all together once a day or so, in which case they wouldn’t be tagged or categorized.
There are a few standard meals I like to make in bulk and freeze. I can get three or four meals out of each pot so between the times I make it I file the recipe away, uh, somewhere and often find myself searching through piles of paper looking for it. I’ve been meaning to put the recipes here so I can find them, and first up is a thai-ish green curry made using the meat from a grocery store rotissery chicken (shut up, you know it’s darn convenient).
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced then cut into quarters
2 cans light coconut milk
1 T. green curry paste
1 c. frozen peas
1 small can bamboo shoots (julienned)
note: If you are making this to divide and freeze without eating any right away just barely cook everything, the rest of the cooking will take place when you thaw and heat it up.
Shred chicken and set aside for the moment. Saute shallot and onion in equal parts butter and oil (enough to coat bottom of your pan) until translucent. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add about a teaspoon of salt and enough pepper so that you can see it freckling the onion-y stuff. Add broccoli florets, eggplant and red pepper and cook for a brief moment. Add curry paste and stir until everything is coated, then add coconut milk and stir until combined. If your green curry paste doesn’t have enough heat, stir in some crushed red pepper. Don’t boil, just simmer until broccoli are getting brighter green (just a couple of minutes at most). Add chicken, peas and bamboo shoots and heat through. Serve over brown basmati rice (I like the kind from Trader Joe’s), or cool and and divide to freeze. I like to freeze flat in gallon freezer zip top bags, it’s easier to thaw for reheating later on. We can get three or four meals out of this.
attending a good old Midwest style cookout in a friend’s yard (this one stings the most)
going to the rock show Saturday, 8 p.m., at the Comet for the film True Adolescents that here showing with SIFF. The film has it’s last showing Saturday at 1:30 and I encourage you to see it, it’s set here in the PNW and Seattle and was funny and touching and filled with excellent Seattle music. It was made by Craig Johnson whom I had the pleasure to meet at a meetup with Adam (Amateur Gourmet) when they were in Seattle a few years back.
Earlier this week I made a whole wheat version of no-knead bread using some of the vital wheat gluten powder I had in the house. It turned out heavy and dense, but delicious and filled with evidence that, though they were small, the yeast did it’s thing.
I’m not sure if lack of big craggy holes is the fault of the yeast being tired (it was freshly purchased), the unexpected heat that day, or my own fault for pouring the yeast into the wet mixture of water, vinegar and beer which might have killed most of the little guys off before I could mix it with the dry ingredients properly. The bread still tasted great, so I’m going to make another loaf to compare.
I’d like to thank my third sponsor, Delight.com. Delight is a shopping site that picks out wonderful things and puts a new one up for sale each 24 hours at a very nice price. They also keep a shop of some of the favorites and organize them most conveniently into categories for recipients (like graduation, hostess, the traveler, newborns), as well as by price, guest editor picks and staff favorites. And of course, Tracey’s picks are always wonderful. I’m constantly charmed by what they have to offer. In particular I love their selection of eco-friendly bags, water bottles and cleaning products. Delight carries the lines of my two favorite types of reusable shopping bags, Envirosax and RuMe, both of which I use every day and suspect I’ve talked about a bit too much on this site.
One of the newest lines that Delight is offering is the Alice Supply Co. line of bright and cheerful home goods including a dustpan and brush, plunger and these cute and functional tool boxes, I really dig the wood grain and the bright stripes. If I had one of those I might be able to keep my tools in someplace more visible than the closet underneath our stairs.
To celebrate being a sponsor Delight.com would like to hold a giveaway for three lucky readers, thank you Delight! They are giving away three Lappers, multi-functional dining trays. From the site: “Lappers are made of a very durable melamine, have indentations for the dishes that are fitted with anti slip silicone mats, both the tray and mats are completely dishwasher safe, they nest into each other, and have large comfortable handles for guys or gals. You can even use the silicone mats as trivets, hot pads, even jar openers!” These sound perfect for what I like to think of as the Let’s Go Outside And Eat Dinner On The Deck season. And, I’ll admit it, when Scott is away for the evening and I’m dining alone I usually do plop myself down in the couch in front of the tv, this tray would make getting there a bit more stylish.
If you’d like to win a Lapper tray simply leave a comment with this post, and so you have something to say mention which style you’d like if you win (Green Trellis, Basketweave, Black & White, Chocolate & Turquoise, and Super Dots) and what you would use the tray for (breakfast in bed perhaps?). You have until Wednesday morning, June 10th at 10 a.m. PST. The winners will be chosen by the cold, unfeeling Random Number Generator, and the usual fine print applies.
I ended up with a bag of vital wheat gluten. It says on the bag: “Added to bread dough, it helps retain the gas and steam from baking and gives more volume to the baked bread. It can be especially helpful for baking breads made with coarse, whole grain flours.” So I decided to use it to make an entirely whole wheat no-knead bread, which is currently doing it’s long rise on the top of my refrigerator. I used the tips from Cook’s Illustrated No-Knead Bread 2.0, and here is the recipe I’m using:
1/4 teaspoon instant (aka Rapid Rise, QuickRise, Instant Active Dry, Perfect Rise, or Bread Machine Yeast) yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten (a recipe on the bag called for 2 T. for a loaf using 4 1/2 C flour so I guessed on my amount)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons beer (an American style lager is best, say Bud Light, though all I could find was Fosters at our local market)
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add wet ingredients and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. (I needed to add a teeny bit more water.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. I put it on top of my fridge, today it’s supposed to be in the 80s here so I’ll probably move it to the landing on the stairs.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Put down a square of parchment paper and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. I lift it into a mixing bowl, cover with a cotton towel or plastic wrap again and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 4 to 6 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. I put in the lid as well, but next to the pot instead of on the pot. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Lift the parchment with the dough on it from the mixing bowl into the hot pot, be careful. Shake pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 [10 or 15] minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Know of kick ass audio book readers? When I was listening to a few audio books a week I developed a list of favorite readers. I have meant to write a list of books I suspect I wouldn’t have liked to read but really enjoyed listening to, including the Alex Rider teenage James Bond series and Artemis Fowl books.