Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day on Tangier Island

I am getting married in November, and my fiance is from Tangier, Virginia. Tangier, Virginia is an island located in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. John Smith discovered it in 1608. People settled the island in 1686, and my fiance's family has been there since the 1800s. Most of the men that work and still live on Tangier work on the water as waterman catching crabs, oysters, clams, and fish.
Blue crab in a crab pot, which is what they use to catch the crabs.
This trip I went with a friend, and we ate lunch at the dock. One of their specials for the day was the soft crab sandwich with coleslaw:
Served on two slices of white bread.
They cut off the mouth and eyes, take the top shell off, and scoop out the guts before cooking them, so all you are eating is meat and fried soft shell. I like to add a little ketchup to mine, which is not pictured here.
There is a process for catching and keeping the soft crabs that I won't go into detail in this post, but I also was able to get some frozen soft crabs to cook later :). I was also able to get a pound of pure crab meat, which will be used for some delicious things as well.

We also went for the Memorial Day service they hold every year at 2pm on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Current and past members of the military from Tangier wear their uniforms, and two people read the names of the all of the people from Tangier who died in a war or who served in a war and have since died.
The ceremony takes place on the church grounds. Flags wave next to the graves.
As someone reads each name, the 7th-12th grade girls drop flower petals to honor each person.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tomato Salad

I currently have four store bought Roma tomatoes sitting on my counter, but I can't wait for my tomatoes to be ready to eat. In the mean time, I have been making a tomato salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh basil:
I also added cut up pieces of a mozzarella/prosciutto roll:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Memory Friday--Campfire Goodies

Last summer my sister got married, and my dad's side of the family reconvened after the wedding in Red Wing, Minnesota for a family reunion. Whenever we have these reunions, we rent some sort of vacation home that can accommodate 15-20 people. The house that we rented had a fire pit where we spent a few evenings roasting things:
In the picture above I am roasting a marshmallow for a s'more. I have found the secret to roasting marshmallows over an open flame is to take your time. I have made my fair share of burnt marshmallows that turn out to make delicious s'mores, but if you take your time to toast the marshmallow so that it almost falls off the roasting stick, it makes an ooey, gooey delicious treat. Once the marshmallow is toasted, the best way to get it off the stick is to use the chocolate to push the marshmallow off. Using the chocolate to push the marshmallow off onto the graham cracker also forces the chocolate in the middle of the marshmallow, which causes the chocolate to melt. Sooooo goooood.
In addition to the s'mores, my parents also brought campfire pie makers. In the picture above, the peanut butter, banana, and chocolate pie is shown a long with a s'more. The campfire pie may have beat out the s'more in taste :).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A portrait of a Pork Shoulder Picnic Roast

I recently decided I wanted to cook a pork should roast. My friend always talked about cooking a pork shoulder and using the meet for tacos. I found a recipe in Joy of Cooking and you can see more pictures of it and where to find the recipe in the cookbook itself here. My slow cooker ended up being too small for the almost 6lb roast that I purchased, so I had to improvise:
The lid appears to be on all the way, but it definitely is not, and all of the heat was escaping.
My solution to the problem: two sheets of aluminum foil and the lid to my roasting pan.
Here is the final result after I took the meat off the bone. I also poured the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. That may have been a bad idea because it seemed to lose some of the flavor. The reason I poured it through the sieve was to get out some of the fatty bits, but that was probably where all the flavor was. oops.
The recipe called to pour the sauce over buttered noodles with the meat. I decided I wanted roasted potatoes instead.
For the first round of leftovers, I decided to make mini quesadillas using corn tortillas, the meat, sauce, and some cheddar/Gruyere blend cheese.
For the second round of leftovers, I made enchiladas using the sauce, meat, and a pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese. The sauce had the consistency of jello at this point, but I knew that it would warm up and look more like sauce once it was baked:
This turned out to be one of the better uses of leftovers, and next time I won't strain out the extra stuff--it needed additional flavor.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Update 5/24

Well, almost all of the tomato plants have fruit of various shapes and sizes on them! Two of the plants are taller than the metal cages around them:
Tomato Jungle!
I thought these were Romas, but I actually labelled the ones below as Romas with the stake that came in the pot, and I think these are something else--either the grape tomatoes or the heirlooms. I thought the grape tomatoes were supposed to be small, but maybe I mislabeled the Romas.
Either Beefsteak, Early Girls, or the Heirloom kind (Cherokee Stripey?)
Next summer, I am definitely labeling each kind with stakes...

The cucumbers are currently suffering from a case of both downy and powdery mildew, but there is still a tiny cucumber growing:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

The last time I went to Trader Joe's, I decided to get zucchini. I had a plan at the store for what I was going to do with them when I purchased the zucchini, but I was somewhat slow in executing the plan (I have since forgotten my original plan for use. oops.) Now, a few weeks later, I realized I needed to use the zucchini I bought before they go bad in my vegetable drawer. Luckily I found this recipe in my Cooking Light cookbook, and I also found it on their website here. It calls for applesauce in place of most of the oil that you would normally use, and I used unsweetened applesauce. I also used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips since that is what I had on hand:
Almost mixed--adding the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.
I only have these small loaf pans, otherwise it would normally make one large loaf.
Right out of the oven! There's a teaspoon of cinnamon in this, and the whole house smelled like cinnamon!
After the loaves cooled, and I cut into one. O. M. G. It was better than I expected. Not overwhelmingly sweet, just the right amount of chocolate, and delicious. I froze the second loaf, but I don't think it will be in the freezer very long ;).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Post Rapture Celebration

Well, the world didn't end on May 21, 2011, so to celebrate, my friends had a post-rapture party. To commemorate the world not ending, they made devil's food cake and deviled eggs:
The secret to this cake were these two delicious and devilish additions:
She made the cake from a boxed mix, but used some of each of the alcohols in place of some of the water. She also made the frosting from scratch using the alcohols for flavoring as well. The cake was so moist and sinful--perfect for celebrating the world not ending.

The secret to the deviled eggs was the curry powder to flavor the filling. I know he added other stuff to the filling, but I forgot to ask what else was in them:

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My friend was attending a conference in Washington D.C. at the end of October last year, and I took the train to meet her. I found a Belgian gastro pub in D.C. that specialized in mussels and fries (moules & frites). Here is what I ordered: 

Later the next week, I was telling my friend about the place, and she explained to me that mussels really aren't that hard to make and they're cheap at the grocery store. She described how to clean them and the best way to cook them, so the next time I was at the grocery store, I bought a pound. I found this recipe from Cooking Light, and I decided to give it a try. Here was my result:
The most important thing when preparing your mussels for cooking is removing the beard:
You also want to make sure that any damaged mussels are thrown away before cooking. If any of the mussels don't open after they are cooked, make sure to throw them away. I tried the Cooking Light recipe listed above with kale, but I preferred the spinach. This was my result with kale and the mussels after they were cooked and taken out of their shells:
If you like shellfish, give mussels a try!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Food Memory Friday--Family Reunion Pizza Party

I finally polished off the delicious leftovers from last Saturday's pizza party, and it reminded me of the pizza nights we have at our family reunions. My aunt is always in charge of the dough. On the day of the pizza night, she usually starts the dough that morning so it can double rise during the day. Since there will usually be around 15 people at these reunions, we usually make around 8 pizzas.
My aunt (foreground) and my sister (to the right of my aunt) spreading dough in pans.
Adding some toppings. We were in Pacifica, California (Summer 2007) at this particular reunion, so we were using a lot of locally grown produce for these particular pizzas. When my aunt is in charge, we usually don't add a lot of sauce, if any sauce to the pizzas, but I like it that way.
Pretty pesto pizza
Waiting for round one of eating to begin. As you can see, everyone already got into some beers and wine.

The best topping combination my aunt has come up with is smoked salmon with cheese, cilantro and fresh sweet corn. My cousin and his family live in Alaska, and they usually bring smoked salmon that they catch and smoke themselves. Since my immediate family lives in Iowa, my dad will bring the sweet corn we use for the smoked salmon pizza. Just thinking about smoked salmon pizza has made me reconsider what I am cooking for dinner tonight...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The best salsa

Well, this is an unpaid plug for a salsa, but it is really is the best grocery store salsa around. It comes straight from New Mexico and the medium packs some heat:
I usually only buy the medium, and if I buy medium in any other brand, it never leaves me needing to cool my mouth down with milk. In this salsa, you get chunks of tomato and fire-roasted green chile. This salsa really is worth tracking down in your area.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Faux Banana Ice Cream

I recently ran across Iowa Girl Eats recipe for 1-ingredient banana custard. She came up with her custard from Gena at Choosing Raw. Ultimately, this isn't a custard and it isn't ice cream--but it tastes like ice cream and custard and all you have to do is throw a chopped up frozen banana into some sort of food processor:
Make sure you do cut up the banana prior to freezing. The first time I tried this, I used a banana that I had frozen in the freezer in the peel. It was kind of a pain to get the frozen peel and stringy bits off the banana prior to processing it.
Once you run the banana through the food processor, it will start to look like Dippin' Dots. This is the stage where my little food prep thing won't go any further. But I like the consistency and texture of Dippin' Dots, so I don't push my food prep thing further. If you are using a food processor, you will want to keep going because your frozen banana will achieve the texture of ice cream.
This really does taste like ice cream, and you don't add anything to it--it's just a frozen banana that you ran through a food processor. I added Hershey's chocolate syrup to it once, but it really does taste better plain.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday Night Pizza Party!

Saturday night, my lovely friends Vincent and Kevin invited me and my lovely friends Hannah and Craig over for pizza. They said to bring my favorite toppings and sauce, and they would have the dough. Kevin had been wanting to do something like this for a while, and it was a smashing success! The dough we used came from a local Italian restaurant, and it was soooo goooood:

Kevin's first job was at a pizza shop, and he was in charge of spreading the dough in the pans:
Then everyone got to work placing their toppings on their respective pizzas. The first two that went in were Vincent's garlic, olive oil, goat cheese and roasted red pepper pizza and my green pepper, kalamata olive, and mushroom pizza:
Hannah then made the roasted tomato and pancetta/mozzarella roll pizza:
We saved Kevin's showstopper for last: a Thai style pizza where it was first covered with a peanut/hot chili sauce, then topped with chicken, cheddar cheese, red onion, and broccoli:
This particular pizza was the default winner--not because Kevin was a host, but because it was soo goood. It was like eating peanut noodles, but in pizza form.

At this point we were all in a food coma, but we still had to make room for strawberry pie:
I made the pie from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (2010). The recipe was called jellied strawberry pie, and the description for it was as follows: "If you're serving this to friends, call it 'strawberry pie.' If to enemies, call it 'jellied pie,' which sounds revolting--but, thankfully, isn't." Even though I was food coma full once we got to pie, it was delightfully light and refreshing. Overall, a great night with great friends, and definitely worth repeating. I think next time we should start at 3pm, and make a pizza an hour ;).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Better than eggs and toast

I love a fried egg. The best fried egg is an egg in a hole:
Making one is just as easy as frying an egg. This is what you'll need:
To begin, use some sort of round cookie cutter or any shaped cutter that leaves a big enough hole to break your egg into. Then, heat a pan on medium to medium-high heat, and add a pat of butter to a 10-inch skillet. Once the butter starts to sizzle, add both the bread with the hole and the bread cut-out to the butter. Break your egg in the hole, and let it set. Flip the egg once most of the white starts to set. I like a runny yolk, so it usually takes me 2 minutes or less (approximately) to fry it. Once it's done, not only do you have a fried egg, but buttery toasted bread!