Thursday, October 24, 2013

Whole Roasted Artichokes

My father was a huge fan of pickled artichoke hearts. As a kid, they were too much for me, too much vinegar, too much... flavor. Even though I can eat them today, remembering my childhood aversion to them still makes my esophagus... uncomfortable. (I'm not going to say the thought makes me gag... but it comes close.) Unfortunately, this meant that until my mid-20s, whenever anyone said "artichoke," I thought of those floppy, briny veggies that I always avoided on the salad bar.

Over time, like most of my childhood food preferences, my aversion to this particular vegetable melted away as I was introduced to various other treatments of this divine thistle. Artichoke pizza, artichoke soup, spinach-artichoke dip... they've all contributed to the rise of the artichoke on my favorite veggies list.

So, every time I walked through the produce section I was drawn to these beautiful giant green flower buds.
I've always been intimidated as well. Everything that I've read says that whole fresh artichokes are way too much hassle for the small amount of reward. So much inedible, fibrous greenery with just a tiny little nugget of tasty yumminess.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Football Memories

I'm sitting here, on a Monday afternoon, watching ESPN's esteemed football roundup, "NFL Primetime."

I am sad.

Most Sundays throughout football season, my father would sit in his chair, watching his favorite team (Buffalo) play his favorite game. The supremely comforting aroma of my mother's spaghetti sauce permeated every room. Every once in a while, an excited yelp would emanate from my father and you would then hear my mother's response, "Did we score!?!?!"

Sometimes we would eat dinner in the kitchen. Sometimes we would eat in the living room, bowls of pasta balanced on tv trays. It didn't matter. We were all excited for Sunday evening television.

While I'm sure my sisters were excited for The Simpsons (okay okay, we all were) we also were looking forward to the best hour of football news anywhere. With the afternoon games still fresh in my mind, we would watch Chris Berman and Tom Jackson (with others including John Saunders, Pete Axthelm and Robin Roberts) break down every game.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Accidental Grandpa's Chicken #1

I wasn't going to blog about this. In fact, I should apologize to my family in advance. I may make historical errors in this post. I am working entirely from memory. Feel free to add to the story in the comments section!

It was late, about 8 o'clock. I had a large chicken breast thawed. I was considering my options, thinking maybe I'd caramelize it like the pork from the other day. I then decided that I wanted to use up the last package of instant potatoes and that can of sweet corn that I had in the pantry. The caramelized version wasn't saucy enough for that. I wanted a sauce to pour over the corn and potatoes, so I decided to cook down a lot of onion and garlic and make a basic pan sauce. I didn't start taking pictures until it was almost done. (It's hard to get good pictures in this house with no natural light. The fluorescents just don't work as well.)
My grandmother taught me to mix my vegetables with my potatoes. This works with peas, beans, carrots. etc.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Avocado Tuna Salad

Ever since I was little, I've loved tuna salad sandwiches. Particularly grilled tuna salad sandwiches with gooey, melty cheese. Through college, my most-ordered lunch at the grille in Tarble was a tuna melt. In the 10+ intervening years I have reworked and refined my own personal tuna salad recipe.

The first addition was a teaspoon of soy sauce. Because, well, duh.
Then I started adding a pinch of dried dill.
When I had it on hand, a small clove of raw, minced garlic entered the fold.
Over time, I kept reducing and reducing the amount of mayo until I had a moist, flavorful cheap sandwich that I could make in minutes.

Then, a couple of days ago something happened.

I purchased an avocado.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork

I pulled two lean loin chops out of the freezer yesterday morning. In my normal fashion, I spent the afternoon at work pondering what to do with them. When I got home, I went through my pantry and started sketching out ideas. Eventually I looked down at what was a pretty solid plan, and realized that it was pork with a mustard-dill pan sauce. This is not to say that I don't freaking love that mustard-dill pan sauce.  It's just that I've been using this kitchen for about two months now and I'm ALREADY in a rut.  Luckily, at about the time I would have been starting to make dinner, I found out that a housemate of mine made a big pot of new england fish chowder. So I left the pork in the fridge, scrapped my plans, ate some soup and started rethinking the possibilities.

Sifting through recipes online can get freakin' daunting.

First, there's that one recipe that is re-posted 800,000 times (say it out loud... "eight-hundred thousand times," it rolls so nicely, don't you think?) And then there are those intriguing but insanely complicated, expensive, ridiculous recipes. Screw. That.

However, if you're persistent and you take your time, you will find the occasional jewel, like this one.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013





So seriously... holy crapola.  That was easy... and delicious. That is all that needs to be said.

Here's how I did it.  (Since I used a large loaf pan, after 60 minutes the center was still very underdone, so I popped it back in for another 15 minutes.  When you pull it out of the water bath it will be very jiggly. Let it cool completely in the fridge before unmolding.)

Update: After purchasing an oven thermometer, I realized that my oven wasn't coming to temp as fast as it thought it was. I made this last night at my sister's house, and this time it only took 1 hour, and could probably have been pulled out after 50-55 minutes.