Friday, August 15, 2008

My super sweet dinner

Was delicious. That's mango-chicken sausage (sounds, how you might say with disdain, "interesting", but really, it is good. I was a skeptic myself, but it was the demo at work for all of fourth of July weekend, and one can only avoid the demo for so long... I became a believer) with sweet and hot mustard, the left over chickpea-beet-mess from last night, fresh ear of sweet corn, and a bottle of Tj's Bavarian Hefeweizen.
Two things I need to tell you about:
1. In case you don't drive down Packard in to Ypsi almost every day like I do, in the past week or so, a farm stand has popped up on the corner of Packard and Boston, between Hewitt and Golfside. It is a bizarre place for it, but I was pretty excited about it, A, because its real produce, and B, because working midnight shifts rarely allows for me to get up in time to get to the market, and these guys are there all afternoon. I finally remembered to stop today, on my way home from reading MFK Fisher's The Gastronomical Me (don't even get me started on her, she's another post in and of herself) at the lake all afternoon. Now I'm super excited about it, because the produce is obviously fresh, and real and you can tell, AND, I got 2 tomatoes, 2 yellow squash, 2 Zucchini, and an ear of corn for $4. That ear of corn was fresh, and juicy (yes! juicy!) and sweet, so sweet like a Michigan sunset through the trees, that is to say, exactly the way it should be.

2. The other thing I think you should know is that Trader Joe's beer is delicious. Now, I realize that I must sound like I'm paid to endorse TJ's products, but, I'm not. ( I wish). In fact, just to set the record straight, there a quite a few products I really don't like at all, outstanding among them: Green tea Mints (taste like chalk); Identity Crisis Chips (yes, thats really what they're called) which have a clearly moronic name and taste, well, confused and bland. I will not try and sell you a bottle of Charles Shaw, our cranberry tea tastes like your grandmother's prized perfume, and all of our pre-cooked meat is either dry or over salted or both.
Now then.
All of Trader Joe's brand beer is $5.99 a six pack. Other beer that I like is at least $8 (Bells, Dark Horse, Unibroue, Red Stripe, Blue Moon) (Oh, I guess I like PBR too. But I think Pabst can have its own category, as much as I love it, its more of a large cold shot than "beer".) Anyhow, its not just that they're cheap. It that they're really really good. I would recommend a lot of them-- Fat Weasel, BrouCzech Dark, Trader Jose's, but, when it comes right down to it, my favorite, by far is the Bavarian Hefeweizen. If you're not really sure what hefeweizen is, start here, because ours is one of the best I've had (I love Corner Brewery-- their Hef sucks.) A hefeweizen is a wheat beer, like Oberon, and thus often considered a summer beer (though I buy it all year round). The best I can do is to say that it's like Oberon, but more complex. As is traditional for Hef's, it has notes of not only citrus, but banana and clove, and all this without being sweet at all--Just light, fruity and delightful. And, while it can be intimidating to try beers you've never heard of with silly names (fat weasel? Jumping cow? Trader Jose's? What?) there's really no need to fret, because Trader Joe's lets you buy all beer by the bottle (make yr own sixer!) so you really have no excuse.

Produce and beer. So now you know.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So... I am so aware my last post was, like, maybe two hours ago. BUT. I got hungry. that casserole, that was hours ago, and before my soccer game. So, despite the fact that it's late enough at night to be morning, I'm hungry. I have a small craving for prosciutto. Aww, I'll spare you the gory train-of-thought details. this is what happened:

1 can chickpeas
a few strips of Abraham smoked prosciutto, diced-ish and separated
3 baby beets, roasted (in case you don't have fresh ones, Tj's has vacuum packed precooked ones in produce)
A couple tbsp crumbled Israeli feta

Drain, rinse, and dry the chickpeas. Sautee in a medium-hot pan (in olive oil. do i need to say that? not sure) until they start to crust. Salt and pepper gratuitously. Sneak at least three of them out of the pan, minding your fingers, and marvel at how creamy and melty a bean can be. Regain your senses, dice the beets and add to chickpeas. Warm them, but don't let them crust. Meanwhile, fight to separate the layers of prosciutto, and when you get too frustrated, start throwing it in in small hunks. Once everything is warm and coated, turn off the heat and crumble a good hunk of feta in the pan, tossing once or twice so everything gets a fair chance.

I know this is simple. I know it requires no herbs, no garlic and no spice. But I beg of you, just do it. The contrast in the simple textures and flavors... trust me on this one.
I am totally going to sleep now.

Thanks for listening.

oh, and p.s.-- I could see this being disappointing if you didn't use smoked prosciutto and super creamy feta packed in liquid. Fair warning.

I forgot Casserole was a food until tonight.

[Those are my morning glories. Not edible, but pretty.]

My dear over-vegetable-ed friends:
Went to the parents for dinner tonight. I arrived to my mom cursing at the rice cooker to work faster, THE big silver bowl (does everyone have one of these? the giant, silver bowl that is distinct, and almost exclusively used for mixing large quantities?) full of lightly sauteed veggies and Prosciutto on the counter and a shattered casserole dish on the floor.
Now, after a life time with my mom, I can usually walk in to a cooking situation and more or less deduce what's for dinner. Today, however, I was completely stumped. With a look of despair I had to ask just what the hell was going on here. The answer? The casserole dish had slid right out of the lazy Susan and shattered thin porcelain shaving all over the floor. Caserole. She was making a casserole, and I would have never guessed it. I forgot completely that casserole is a food, and that it doesn't have to contain canned tuna.
In case you were thinking of turning up your nose at the idea of a thing called casserole: this was delicious, easy way to use many veggies at once, with no tuna or Velveeta in sight.
I have been inspired. I see many a lovely vegetable casserole in my future, how about you? I will bother my mother for some form of recipe in the morning, I promise, but, I'm also pretty sure you don't need one. Rice, precooked veggies, perhaps some shredded chicken? maybe a little cheese? Don't forget breadcrumbs on top. Imperative. Oh, and don't drop the casserole dish.