Sipping mint juleps under a big hat.
Wouldn't it be lovely?
"Before tasting, insert a cocktail straw near the mint sprig. Inhale a deep breath, and slowly sip until someone says, "May I fix you another mint julep?"
There are many great reasons to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Being good for the environment, supporting a local farmer and eating fresh, organic produce at an affordable price, are just a few of the benefits.
When you join a CSA you are essentially making a financial commitment to a farm in exchange for a weekly box of fruits and vegetables. You share the risks of drought and crop failure, but the reward of healthy in-season food is well worth it.
Getting your weekly share feels a little bit like Christmas. Or it does if you had rhubarb and arugula on your wish list. We are splitting our box with another family and even though the pickings are slim during the first few weeks of summer, we have more than enough to make a few huge salads and a big batch of Spring Green Soup.
I have a feeling that there will be ups and downs and maybe some discipline in learning how to eat in-season food, but these veggies are sure to make me beautiful, smart and more interesting at cocktail parties.
We were at the Minnesota State Fair for six hours yesterday. Six hours of hot, greasy fun. Most of that time was spent eating, but unlike last year, Henry was more comfortable around the farm animals and wanted to go on all the kiddie rides, so it was a well-rounded adventure.
We were meant to go to the fair later this week, so the last minute trip meant going without doing any state fair food research. Can you imagine? I dislike not having a plan, however ,in the end there was little floundering.
My stand-out foods this year include:
These sugar-free Belgian waffles are dipped in dark chocolate and are my perfect way to start a day at the fair.
Sunflower Honey Ice Cream
You can find this delicious treat in the Agriculture Building. I tried a sample of the new Nitro Ice cream in the Food Building, but Sunflower Honey Ice Cream is just a tad more special.
Macaroni and Cheese on-a-stick
I'm not sure how I missed this last year. It was creamy, cheesy, fried yumminess and the only thing I contemplated ordering again for the bus ride home. Nick washed his down with a frozen Red Bull.
Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut
It's never easy to pick just one sausage, is it? The Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut stand, across from the DNR building, puts the best kraut on a deliciously, authentic brat.
Honorable mention goes to Sven and Ole's hotdish on-a-stick, which was improved from last year and grilled shrimp on-a-stick, with melted butter from Fish n' Chips
After all the food and the dirty, greasiness of the fair we stopped by Bar Lurcat to decompress with some tartare and wine.
Today Tomorrow I start a three-day raw foods diet. It's time to detox and get ready for fall.
On Nick's 30th birthday UPS delivered a box filled with cryovacced meat and a package of white beans. Nick was thrilled to the gills, but I was all, "uh, yay. A bunch of meat". As a gift, our friend Matt sent Nick his homemade prosciutto, sausage, smoked duck breast, duck confit, pork, some type of glace and three pages of instruction on how to put together a Cassoulet. Originally a peasant dish from Southwest France, this bean stew has a rich history and even a gastronomic law regulating the bean to meat ratio to protect authenticity. Apparently France takes its traditional dishes very seriously. Our Cassoulet was not up to code, but we tried to be authentic with the pate', cheeses and wine. (I'm not sure what peasants ate for appetizers, but I doubt they served them in Marc Jacobs, so I could only take the theme so far.)
Yesterday we finally took it out of the freezer and Nick spent all day preparing the Cassoulet. I think he only had to call Matt around 20 times to ask questions. In the end there was duck fat everywhere, one small fire and the house smelled of bacon. I whipped up an apple tart and invited some of our favorite peasants over for dinner.
After being underwhelmed by the Beef Bourguignon, I didn't have great expectations for our latest haute cuisine, but oh my goodness it was so delicious. Merci Matt! It's going to be a long time before I have the chance to eat something so special again.
Chilled Blueberry Soup Steak w/ Chimichurri Sauce
Bread & Tomato Salad Play-Doh
The hit of the night was my Chilled Blueberry Soup, or as Henry calls it, Purple Soup. Henry wouldn't go near it, as he prefers to snack on salty, delectable Play-Doh, but the other guests ate it up.
Chilled Blueberry Soup
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Dash ground cinnamon
Dash ground cloves
2 Tbsp dry red wine
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup sour cream
Mint sprigs and additional sour cream for garnish
In blender, puree berries and water. Pour into small saucepan. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into medium bowl. Refrigerate until cool. Stir in wine, then yogurt, and sour cream until blended. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled.
To serve: ladle soup into serving bowls. Whisk extra sour cream until smooth. Using a pastry tube, pipe sour cream in a spiral pattern atop each bowl of soup. Using a wooden toothpick, gently swirl sour cream into lacy designs. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Yield: 5 servings
Recipe from: Victoria Magazine, June, 1993
Make it! You'll love it and it's good for your skin and maybe your kid will sleep well from the two tbsp of wine.
Henry has been adding so many words to his vocabulary in the past few weeks, I'm amazed, pleased and incredibly proud. One of those new words is "brrrrr".
It's painful to go outside and the cold air takes your breath away. Or maybe I'm just a big baby. I'm sure somewhere in the world it's much colder and if so, I never want to visit that place. When I go outside all I can think is, "Are you fucking kidding me?? This is ridiculous".
Cold weather makes me very cranky.
In an attempt to warm our bellies Nick made french peasant food for dinner.
Everyone else loved it, but Henry and I thought this stew should be left for the peasants.
Nick and I had a small dinner party this weekend and I was in charge of dessert. I bravely attempted making ice cream for the first time and went for gold with this Basil Ice Cream recipe inspired by JoJo's in Manhattan.
Served over warm, fudge brownies (out of a box) the ice cream was eaten up so quickly I didn't even get to take a picture of it.
Basil Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream
Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer; an ice cream maker
Bring milk, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan) and blend until basil is finely ground, about 1 minute.
Beat together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add milk mixture in a stream, beating until combined well. Pour mixture into reserved saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir until cold, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in cream and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.
One night in St. Barth's, many, many years ago (Five to be precise), Nick and I had just finished dinner and were strolling the quiet streets when a seemingly crazed man came running by shouting, "Le Beaujolais est arrive!!" He motioned for us to follow him, but we could barely keep up with his fast pace. As we ran after him Nick gave me a quick overview of Le Beaujolais Nouveau. We followed him around a few corners and arrived at a tiny wine store that was packed with french vacationers drinking the (free)immature wine. It was such a fun celebration.
And tonight, even though no one is running and shouting through the streets of Minneapolis, we'll be celebrating at our house. Happy 5th Anniversary Nick!
Want to celebrate with us? Here are some beaujolais thoughts from Minneapolis food critic extraordinaire, Andrew Zimmern.
Freshly Married in St. Barthelemy
Last night we roasted a squash for dinner, but didn't end up using it. This morning our house guest added it, along with some carrots, to the pancake mix and Henry got a hefty helping of hidden veggies. The pancakes were sweet, moist and totally delicious.
Carrot and Roasted Squash Pancakes
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2/3 cup pureed carrots
2/3 cup pureed squash
griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F
2. Stir all ingredients until blended. Pour 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle.
3. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until golden.
Serve with maple syrup
What now seems like eons ago, Nick and I had the pleasure of dining at Per Se with a group of friends, on a rainy afternoon in November of 2004.
It was, I believe, one of our first meals sans new baby and we called home a dozen times to find out how Henry and his babysitter Humphrey were faring. The lunch took nearly 4.5 hours and Nick left early, during the second dessert course, to rescue Humphrey from a particularly messy diaper situation.
The meal is described in fastidious detail over at Tastingmenu.com.
I found a picture of Nick and me taken at the restaurant and it looks like we both had not yet lost that baby fat.
Mock Duck. (That is, if you love it as much as I do.)
I'm no stranger to the oddly delicious combination of vegetable and chocolate and I was super excited to make these chocolate zucchini cupcakes. Like the author, I didn't bother with icing. The melty goodness of the chocolate chips and a little bit of cocoa sprinkled on top was yummy enough.
100% Henry approved and perfect for breakfast.