Monday, March 30, 2009

Butter Lettuce and Kielbasa Salad

Whew!  The crazyness of moot court is finally over (for me and my partner at least; we made it pretty far, but posted our final L this weekend), and it's amazing what else is in the world when you get your head out of statutes.  Like... crisp spring greens, for example!  Remember how I was saying how I was craving fresh things?  Van Cheeseman heard my cry, along with the cries of other similarly-greens-deprived Memphians, and came to our rescue with all manners of crunchy lettuces.  (He's also been growing shiitakes on logs, and I hope to get my hands on some before the harvest is gone!)

Anyway, this is a simple, celebratory lunch.  The salad dressing is my grandma's recipe and reminds me of home.

Butter Lettuce and Kielbasa Salad

Half a head of butter lettuce (very mild and tender) or however much you want to eat
1 fresh beef kielbasa link (mine is from West Wind Farms)

Salad Dressing
1 large clove garlic, grated (I used a finely-chopped shallot)
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vinegar (my grandma uses sherry, if I remember right; I used red wine)
4 tablespoons oil (she uses "salad oil" AKA canola; I used half canola, half extra virgin olive)
(These measurements make a good deal of dressing; just use enough to lightly coat your lettuce and save the rest)

Wash up your lettuce.

Cook up your kiel.

Mash up your garlic with the sugar, salt, and pepper.

Mix up the garlic with the vinegar/oil.

Tear up your lettuce.

Toss lightly with dressing and top with cut-up kiel.  So.  Easy.  And crunchy/mellow.  Oh yeah, Spring, you are here.

In other domestic news:

We have sprouts!!

Feed me, Seymour...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I May Be Lazy, But I Am Not Wasteful: Spaghetti Squash Bake

Okay, March is hard for local food, yall.  I have plenty of stuff still in the freezer (peas, pork loin, tomato sauce, etc...) and even a few squashes yet.  It's just... well, I dream of asparagus.  Fresh things.  

Between the scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel blues and moot court, it has not been particularly fancy around here.  Like yesterday, for example, when I ate, um, scones and barbecue chicken nachos.  In my defense, they were very good scones and nachos.  Just not so much with the blogworthy.

Part of the deal with forcing myself to pay attention to what is around me, to what is growing now, though, means not turning my nose up at what I have.  It may not be show-stoppingly exciting in my kitchen right now, but I've been able to see myself through the winter with food put away from last summer/autumn and minimal grocery purchases---just dried beans, flour, sugar, and spices.  Throw in a knapsack full of hardtack* and plunk me down on the Oregon Trail.

So I had some leftover roasted spaghetti squash that needed to be Eaten.  

Unfortunately, it's a squash shrouded in mystique.  Everything I'd read recommends scraping out the insides and eating it with tomato sauce like, well, spaghetti.  Which doesn't really do much for me because the essential squashiness of it isn't going away. 

But, another thing that isn't going away is my general unwillingness to throw out good food.  So I made it easy on myself:

(you've seen this picture before...)
Step 1:  Chop up a medium onion; saute in olive oil with salt, pepper and sage. 

Step 2:  Toss the squash strands and the onion together, slather the top with breadcrumbs.  Throw it into a 350 degree oven for, oh, 20-25 minutes.  

Eat, in a practical state of mind.  Maybe read something practical while you are at it, too.  Like blog reviews of Joss Whedon's new oeuvre (to all the naysayers, all I have to say to you is this:  First season of Buffy; i.e. Joss Knows Things That We Don't)

Anyway, so nothing wrong with making do with what you've got, and I've still got quite a bit.  Market season will be here before long, and fresh greens will abound!

But still, any ideas for making spaghetti squash more interesting?  Should it make next year's squashstravaganza?

Oh, yes, and:

the point of growing a garden not shaded ridiculous colors is...?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Saving Time FTW, Everyone

Non-food related, but...

"Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful.  I'm nuts." -- Barbara Kingsolver

And while my enthusiasm for sunlight maybe doesn't quite reach Barbara's ecstasy, I am so happy to welcome another spring!

Okay, food-related!  Blessed event:  Opening Day of the MFM: April 18th.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Steak and Snow

My, my.  What can't Westlaw points buy you?

Fancy cookware is mine!  Also, it is not exactly outside-grilling weather yet.  Y'all, last Friday, the garden looked like this:

And Sunday?  Well, there was this:

And, on the way to Cafe Eclectic, there was this:

4+ inches!

Clearly, a time for comforting, hearty... meat.

I found this recipe on Mark Bittman's NY Times blog.  It's a blog that I especially enjoy reading after finding out that, much like myself, Mark copes with a relatively small kitchen.  His column is testament to the fact that you're really only limited by your creativity (and how many times you're willing to wipe down the counter to do a new task!)  Throw in some sirloin (or ribeye) steak from Neola Farms and wine picked up from Joe's Wines in Midtown, and you've got yourself a great, local meal.

Really Old-Fashioned Marinated Sirloin Steak

1/2 bottle rich, full-bodied red wine, preferably Amarone (**see my note below)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 8-to 12-ounce sirloin steak, about 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper

***RE: Amarone.  I asked the staff at Joe's about this wine.  Turns out, it can be yours, starting at the $60ish mark.  Right, so, student-budget wasn't having this, so they recommended a merlot-cabernet blend from Washington state that was mighty tasty!  (I think the word terroir was bandied about).  I can always count on the guys at Joe's for the best wine recommendation, every. single. time.

Combine wine and sugar and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 10 minutes

Stir in cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and remove from heat to cool.

Put steak in a large baking dish and pour marinade over.  Marinate steak in fridge for at least several hours and up to three days.  I marinated mine for, um, five.  Didn't seem to affect it adversely!

Take steak out of the marinade, season with salt and pepper, and cook on a very hot, fancy new grill, about 2 minutes each side for medium rare. (You can pan-fry or broil them if you prefer.) Slice the meat about 1/4-inch thick and serve.

I had mine over some Windemere Farms sweet potatoes that I mashed with lots of butter and chopped scallions.  Don't be afraid to mix sweet with sweet!  The steak tastes Christmas-ey, like mulled wine, and the sweet potatoes were plenty tempered by the sting of the scallions.  It was an interesting, unexpected combo!

Hmm not sure what is going on with the font in this post, but appellate brief > technical issues at the moment...