Thursday, June 30, 2011

Difficult and delicious ...

It was stormy outside when I asked the question. Kind of like today. I always seem to remember the weather. It was a difficult question for me to ask. I had been thinking about it, pondering its meaning for many months.

Can you help me to kill a pig? So that I understand what it means? I ask.

Sure, he says. When would you like to do it?

Just like that.

For a long time now dear readers, I have been thinking about my relationship with the land and sea creatures that I eat. The countless ducks, goats, lambs, boars, deer, cows, pigs, chickens, other birds, eggs, fish, crustaceans, mollusks and so on that have graced my table all my life. I have savored, salivated over and devoured each one of them in countless preparations, with gusto and delight. It is only recently (over the last four years or so) that the connection between the life and death involved in these delicious experiences has been on my mind (come to think of it, my inherited family's slightly freaky fondness of eating heads and everything in them may have had something to do with it - I still cannot have them on my plate). I mean, don't get me wrong, I always realized that I was eating an animal and in the back of my mind I knew that it was once a living thing, but I did not give it any more thought than that (until the heads...). It all changed for me when I started buying from the farm again. It had been a long time since my farm days in Romania. I had lost my connection for a while.

Now, you remember the king of pig don't you? Well, he's killed animals for food since his childhood days. The old fashioned way.  He speaks respectfully (as most hunters do) of the animals that have died for his consumption and his stories are told with wisdom and appreciation for the sacrifice and goodies that followed. Not a thing goes to waste. It is was with him and his wife (the queen of beans, they were seriously amazing) that I was to go and kill the pig for our pig roast. I wanted to really know what it means to eat meat. To take the responsibility. To feel it and see the animal so that I would never take it for granted. I was ready.

I didn't do it dear readers. I chickened out. 

I was too scared. Scared that it would torment me. I mean, I can't have heads on my plate and I'm going to help kill a pig? We are speaking of a 130 pound animal here. It was too much. All my bravado and noble intentions, out the door in the face of truth. I called Mr. King, confessed my fear, humbly apologized and suggested that perhaps I can start with a fish first. He understood, he knows it's not easy. He graciously obliged and promised to take us fishing this summer. I have never been.

I know this has not been the most tantalizing post leading up to what was an amazing experience and a spectacularly wonderful meal but it is real. I wanted to share the truth with you. It is how I came to attend this glorious pig roast and how it made me feel. It was difficult and delicious. Thank you pig.

Time to photo dish.

The pit ...hand built by Mr. King ...of pig ...
Of hoofs ...
And snouts ...
And heads ...
Oh my ...
The flip and nibble ...
Topsy ...
Difficult and simply delicious ...


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beans ...

Well, here I am. I can't believe it. About to type words that I never imagined would even enter my stream of consciousness, as I would (and vehemently do) curse anyone wishing upon us anything other than balmy beauty (see rant on inhumane cold here). I, dear readers, have been eagerly waiting for this day to come. This cold day. Sweater on, drinking pu'erh ginger tea, slightly uncomfortable but must be outside nails slightly blue kind of cold day. I swear. Can you believe it? I thought for sure I would "have to" wait to share this experience with you. Well, either that or bear the ridicule that surely follows an attempt to post about a Pig roast and a hot steamy Chili in 40 degree weather. Well, it was cold and rainy on Pig day (see below for a peek of tomorrow's Swine ... post) and cold and really rainy on Chili day. And, as the God's have it, cold (though not rainy) today for my post! Ha! Happy day.

So, first things first. The beans. I, have a Chili recipe. For very special nights. You know the ones. The early, just beginning, summer nights, when it's cool outside and you are curled up with windows open, listening to the heavy rain outside, feeling the breeze caress your skin, breathing in the earth that rides its current.

Time to dish.

Early summer night's Chili




Here is what you need:

  • 2 tbs of Olive Oil
  • Farmers onions - 3 large, diced
  • Garlic - 3cloves - finely minced
  • Celery - 7 stalks - sliced into 1/4 thick pieces 
  • Carrots - 5 - sliced like the celery
  • Mushrooms, lots, thickly sliced
  • Cumin, Fennel and Coriander seeds - 1 tbs each
  • Dried whole Ancho Negro chili -1
  • Dried whole Chipotle Grande chili - 1
  • Sugar - 2 tbs
  • Ginger powder - 1 tbs
  • Important: Smoked Paprika - Pimenton de la Vera "LA DALIA" (trust me) - oh and 3 tablespoons
  • Cider Vinegar  - a glug, aka 2 tbs
  • Soy sauce  - a big glug, aka 3 tbs
  • Canned tomatoes  - 1 can whole plum, 1 can pureed
  • Water - 4 cups
  • Black, baby white and red beans, lots (canned or dried - if dried, you know what to do)


Garnish:

  • Fresh Coriander, lots
  • Cheddar, lots
  • Butter, enough
  • Tortilla Chips, warmed through


Here is what to do:

  1. In a big beautiful pot, your favorite, sautee your onions and garlic until fragrant. Then add the carrots and celery and let them  get to know the onions and garlic, you know, for about 5 minutes. Then add your tomatoes, dried spices, chilies, seeds, vinegar, soy, sugar, smoked paprika and ginger powder...phfew...what a mouthful. Add the water for consistency. At this point let everybody simmer (on low heat) together for about an hour until they are all happy and blended. Stir occasionally.
  2. Once all the flavors and aromas have blended, add your beans and cook through for another twenty minutes.

To serve: Well, I had two versions. One for me which was garnished with coriander, cheddar cheese and a squeeze of lime. One for husband. In his I added a few knobs of butter and folded them in at the very end, placed the chili bowl under the broiler for a few minutes so the cheddar can get all bubbly. I also heated the tortilla chips. It was awesome.

A peek...

While I work through the pig roast shots for tomorrows post, here is a peek ...

A peek ...


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My plan is this ...

Two things happened this week dear readers (well, three if you count the F1, it was wet, we'll stick to two).

One, I got a badass new camera (thank you kickass family)! !!!!!! (feel divulgence of newly acquired badass new camera deserves exclamation points in their own right) and am super stoked about it (see copious exclamation points above for proof) and can't wait to take lots of pictures and to share them with you, dear readers!

Two, more rain. Seriously. I risk redundancy with this already but it is not stopping. My herbs and vegetables have that "droopy shoulder" look about them and my sprouts lean over with little green bodies toppled by the weight of big rain drops. I shake them off a little (some more gingerly than others) and try to perk them up with a "fist in the air come on you can do it" but there is only so much I can do. The little guys (and me) need sun (I may attempt sun dance later ...gotta look that up ...ahem ...).

More rain ...

The little guys need sun ...they are trying so hard to come out ...


My heart dear readers, dreams of Pugliese broad bean puree with boiled chicory and Fresh green pea soup with sardines and Zuppa di cece sedano (aka Fresh chickpea and celery soup) and Baby romaine Caesar salad with homemade organic egg yolk and anchovy dressing and Lemon and Feta dip and...well...lots of other fresh, beautiful spring/summer dishes.

My body, and the "freezing" 14 degree rainy, windy, blah (or cozy depending on the day dear readers, you know how it is) weather outside, however, have different dreams. They dream of Fennel soup with coppa and goat's cheese crust and Maccheroni alla chittara con ragu d'agnello (aka Guitar pasta with a lamb ragu) and Fettuccine with beetroot and nettle butter and Lamb orzo and Fontina, pecorino and leek soup.


So what does one do when hearts and bodies collide (has the makings of a dramatic love song yes?)? How will these conflicting sides unite? And what about you, you ask? You who have just been been reading tantalizing titles, some in foreign languages! What say you about that, you say?! I have a plan dear readers.

My plan is this:

Rainy week (aka this week), I am giving in to body; next week, to heart (they are calling for sunshine! they'd better be right..) As for you, dear readers, I am going to shower you with lovely recipes. Warming ones, cooling ones, all beautiful, elegant and super yummy. And when I am done with all of that, I am going to tell you a little secret about mushrooms.

Voila, le premier.

Time to dish.

Fontina, pecorino and leek soup






Here is what you need:

  • Butter, of course, 50 grams.
  • Olive oil, two tablespoons.
  • Garlic, four cloves, finely minced.
  • Dirty leeks, three of them, sliced.
  • Homemade chicken stock, four cups.
  • Thick slices of crusty old bread, four.
  • Fontina and Pecorino, sliced and grated, 160 grams each (I added blue cheese as well 'cause that's how I roll).
  • Fresh oregano (not droopy, hopefully there is sun where you are, eeesh)
  • Cracked pepper.

Here is what to do:
  1. Melt your butter and add your oil in a saucepan. Add the leeks and stir occasionally until lusciously soft and glistening in butter with juuust about to caramelize signs. Then add your minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Once that lovely garlic smell wafts your way, add your stock and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, grill your bread, both sides please. Rub a little with fresh garlic and drizzle with your best olive oil. Top with the Fontina (and blue) and Pecorino and grill until beautifully golden and bubbling.
  3. Now, presentation. Divide your lovely soup into even more lovely bowls (we must take pleasure from our vessels) top with beautifully golden, bubbling toasts. Add fresh oregano, cracked pepper. Cozy up and enjoy.