Thursday, March 31, 2011

sunchoke soup

sunchoke soup with a drizzle of olive oil

It takes a really dedicated soul to make it to the farmers’ market these days. It’s not so much the cold – though it does take a kind of Spartan determination to be a greenmarket regular in winter months – it’s more the duration of the winter we’ve been dealt this year. The cold doesn’t seem to let up, and my hat, scarf and mittens are my constant and faithful companions.

Still, despite the blustery winds and the numbing morning chill, I go faithfully every Saturday, bundled up, with my reusable grocery bags in tow. I go partly because it’s a habit now, and partly because I like to support local farmers. It kicks off my weekend and it’s now part of my Saturday morning tradition.

Continue reading sunchoke soup.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

greasing a measuring spoon or cup

greasing measuring spoons or cups

It’s happened to all of us – a recipe calls for say a quarter cup of honey or maple syrup. Dutifully, we measure out the required amount, only to find that a notable part of our sticky liquid has remained stuck to the sides and bottom of either the measuring spoon or cup we’re using. It’s a frustrating experience and I found a way to work around it.

If you’re using measuring spoons, lightly coat them with cooking spray (lightly, is the key word here – you don’t want uber-greasy spoons!) and measure out your honey, maple syrup, molasses, what have you. You’ll be amazed how clean your spoons will look (read – no sticky residue) once you try to empty it.

For measuring cups, in case you don’t own a scale (which you totally should because it’s indispensable), I would recommend the following. Try to see if you need to use oil or melted butter in the recipe – and measure that out first and then, once empty, measure out the honey/maple syrup/molasses in the same measuring cup. The remnants of the oil should do the trick and your sweetener measurement will be accurate.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

kale and white bean soup

kale & white bean soup

The other day I got a call from a headhunter. She was checking-in to see what I was doing with myself, and if I was looking for work. I explained her that no, I wasn’t, and instead I was trying to make a leap to the world of food writing, recipe development, and more blogging. There was a notable and uncomfortable pause before she stiffly wished me luck. Another step away from my old life.

These days, I get a lot of questions what it’s like to be a freelancer, to take a leap from a desk job, away from something steady and predictable into the unknown, where you are the one responsible for setting your schedule and your income isn’t set in stone. Is it hard? Yes. Is it emotionally challenging? Definitely. Do I get anxious? All the time. Have I regretted making the switch? Not even for an instant.

Continue reading kale and white bean soup.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

roasted parsnips

roasted parsnips with cumin and honey

Parsnips will never win a beauty prize. They’ll never even place runner-up. And sadly, all too often they get passed up for a prettier-looking vegetable. Root vegetables have it rough, I tell ya.

Even Andrew wrinkled his nose in disappointment after finding out that I was planning on roasting parsnips for supper. “Wasn’t there anything else at the farmers’ market,” he grumbled.

Well, actually, no there wasn’t much more at my local market a few weeks ago, nor has the situation improved much last week. Which is why I kicked off my bimonthly “The Farm Stand” column over at Prospect Heights Patch, with something as homely and humble as a parsnip.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

flipping the bird

Flipping a Roasting Chicken

If you like to make roasted chicken as much as I do, here’s a handy tip for how to flip mid- that bird (get it? flip the bird? ha! crickets….) mid-roast quickly, efficiently, and best of all – easily! That way you get nicely browned top and bottom of the chicken.

No more two wooden spoon/spatula acrobatics, which in my opinion make the whole procedure cumbersome. Simply, take your sturdy tongs (if you don’t own a pair yet, you simply must get one – you’ll wonder how you’ve lived without one for so long), insert one end into the cavity of the chicken, clamp down with the other and lift the bird up, flipping it on the other side. Voila! It’s done. Put the bird back in the oven and enjoy the rest of the waiting time sipping a glass of wine, preparing a salad, or reading your favorite book.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

malted guinness chocolate ice cream

malted chocolate guinness ice cream

I like to joke how I was Irish in my past life. Something about that country has a constant pull on my heart. The literature, the poetry, the musical cadence of the speech, the whiskey, sad Irish songs, and of course, Guinness. They all feel as familiar and like-home to me as if I’d actually spent time there. It feels like all those things are in my bones, the way Russian things feel – like they’re second nature.

I first tried Guinness with my friend Alex, who came to the US by way of Moscow and now lives in the UK. Alex is a good egg, as one would put it. We go back all the way to fifth grade. And it’s amazing to look back and say you’ve been friends with someone for 22 years, continent divides and all.

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