Monday, December 27, 2010

mr. turkey, mr. turkey

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey, Run away, run away...

A Thanksgiving song, but this post involves the ultimate demise of my Thanksgiving turkeys which I hope may give you ideas for the remains of your Christmas feast. After the meal is over and the best pieces gone to turkey sandwiches the bones are left for stock. (Note: I don't get people who complain about leftovers, I could eat turkey sandwiches for days. But with my family I rarely get more than two before the turkey's gone, not matter how big of a bird we have.) I made the first batch of stock after my family's Thanksgiving roughly following the Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Stock recipe (because that was on my mother's shelf) excluding the parsnips. Instead of 3 5 pound chickens, I used a 14 pound turkey. Stock is great because you can really use whatever you have. Below is the second stock I made, using the turkey from my apartment's holiday party. I used fresh scallions, carrots and celery from the farmer's market
and a package of 'roast chicken herbs' that I think had rosemary, thyme and dill. I tossed in peppercorns and garlic and left in the lemons the turkey was originally roasted in.

[Stock simmering]

When the stock is done (3-4 hours of simmering) take out all the solids (throw out anything unless it's usable turkey meat) and set in the refrigerator overnight. Or do what my grandmother does in the winter and use your garage as a fridge. The next day, skim off the fat and the stock is ready to use.

The first batch of stock I made a soup with about 2 cups of leftover turkey (dark meat is great in soup), a pound of Italian sausage, 2 cups cauliflower, 1 cup carrots, 1 can corn, and 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies.

The second batch I wanted to do something similar, but with the addition of orzo. I used turkey and turkey sausage, 4-5 carrots, a bag fresh spinach, a can of white beans. Then, I dumped in one box of orzo. With all the stock, I felt like there wasn't enough pasta so I immediately added another. This was a mistake. For the first part of cooking, it seemed great. The orzo was al dente so I covered the soup up and waited for my roommates to get home.

[The soup, pre-orzo]

[The soup, as the orzo cooks]

[The end result]

In the end, we had less of a 'soup' and more of a warm pasta dish. The orzo absorbed all the stock, so was very flavorful. In the future, I'll definitely use only one box of pasta per stockpot of soup, unless I want to recreate this dish... which I definitely will want to do someday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

holiday potluck

When I moved in with my current roommates, they informed me they do an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for friends the week before Thanksgiving. We didn't get to it in time this year, so instead had a general Holiday Potluck. We decorated with Christmas lights, Hannukah lights and random orange lights. Not the most cohesive but the important thing was that we cooked- and ate- well.

[Our turkey, stuffed with carrots and onion]

To continue wrapping all the winter time holidays together, my roommate Julia made latkes using a recipe from her Dad (aka the one from Epicurious or that you get if you google latke recipe.) It is very good. We made far too many but they were all eaten.

[This is what 5 pounds of potatoes looks like once it's been shredded. Check out the sweet cupcakes in the background to celebrate of the UofR women's rugby team.]

My house supplied the turkey and asked everyone to bring side dishes. Not content to sit on the sidelines, I decided to make appetizers. Originally planning on keeping it simple, I made Sage and Brown Butter Cashews and bought brie and fruit. I decided to turn the berries into a Blackberry and Raspberry Compote, making up the recipe as I went. I've posted what I did below.

[Sage and Brown Butter Cashews]

A highlight was the candied bacon, which was a last minute addition. TheKitchn wrote that not eating it all immediately would be very tough. This proved true as the first batch was consumed while half the party guests were out picking up the last few items on the list. Lesson learned: thin center cut bacon is better than thick but cook it on a drying rack or something that drains. Coat heavily with brown sugar.

[Candied bacon]

Blackberry Raspberry Compote
1.5 cups blackberries
1 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 of a lemon (eyeballed)

Put in a sauce pan and heat on low-medium heat. Mash the berries up a bit and once there is a decent amount of juice in the pan, bring to a low boil. Let simmer 10-15 minutes. Pour over brie.

[Super bad picture. Super yummy brie.]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I had not seen my college roommate (of all four years!) since graduating a year and a half ago, so last weekend I went up to New York/New Jersey to visit. The week before I discovered a new blog to love, The Man Repeller. This was fortunitous timing for many reasons. First, because roommate L and I often were items that would have graced the pages of The Man Repeller. They had names like Boxer Dress and Sailor Suit. Secondly, because we had already stated that no men should attempt to talk to us during our weekend of girl time. So we swore to each other to do our manrepelling best and I took the following photos to document the weekend. Many of my piece repeat as I took the smallest luggage possible for the long weekend.

[Chinatown bus in RVA]

[With our very adorable non-manrepelling friend at brunch. Romper=manrepeller]

[In Central Park. Fur coats=manrepeller.]

See more after the jump.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

pumkin overload

A few weeks ago my roommate and I made a trip to Farm to Family and purchased a large blue pumpkin. Yes, blue. It was a lovely shade of pale blue and we were told it was the best for cooking. We had no interest in carving this pumpkin. Instead, we precariously chopped it into sixths and roasted it. Since then, I've read recommendations to roast whole and then chop, but this was a large pumpkin so we chopped then roasted.

To roast the pumpkin, we rubbed the outside with olive oil and the inside with butter then roasted it for about an hour at 450 degrees. We ended up with about 12 cups of pumpkin puree. I've used some it, including this amazing Pumpkin Cake with Mexican Chocolate Icing that I made for my family's Thanksgiving (see below.) But what else should we make to use up the last 6 cups of pumpkin?

[Pureed pumpkin]

[Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake]

Monday, November 29, 2010

obession: reed's ginger candy

Made from ginger, sugar and tapioca starch. Amazingly chewy and incredibly gingery.
Get some.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall*

I started off my canning season with peaches, but all along I knew the one thing I absolutely absolutely had to make was applesauce. This recipe is from my grandmother. She is an amazing cook, family meals are always far more food than can be consumed by the numerous family members who surround the table each Christmas, Thanksgiving, some Easters, and random other times. Most of the holidays have standard dishes- one aunt makes corn pudding, one family members makes sweet potatoes, but one dish we have every holiday (and every meal if possible) is applesauce.

My grandmother uses tart Lodi apples for hers, which can be found in the Shenandoah Valley in July but I never saw any here in Richmond. I've used several types to make mine- including ones I picked at my roommate's family farm. Use your favorite variety, and if you aren't sure ask which ones are good for sauce or baking. Use a tart or semi-tart apple, or lower the amount of sugar.

[Picture is a little funky from being taken in my kitchen after dark, but some sort of
apple corer will be your best friend when dealing with this many apples.]

16-18 apples
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

Cut the apples into quarters or eighths, not peeled. Eighths cook faster.
Add about one-half cup water and cook on medium hear. Stir frequently or the apples stick to the bottom.
When they have cooked down so there are no lumps, take off the heat and add about 1/3 cup of sugar or more to taste and lots of nutmeg - again to taste. The type of apples will cause the amount of water you need to add to vary widely. Just start with 1/2 cup and add when it seems dry. You can also simmer extra water off.

* Yes, Julia gets credit for the name of this post. Though I did know the song before I knew Crooked Still. Check out Crooked Still for the perfect applesauce making soundtrack.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

recipe: elevator lady cookies

Growing up my favorite cookies weren't sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies or those awesome peanut butter ones with Hershey kisses. It was my grandmother's awesome spice cookies that we call 'elevator ladies.' Originally from Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook cookbook, Bracken gave her elevator operator a cookie to taste and the elevator lady said her spice cookies were much better. They were and Bracken published them. You can read more about Bracken and her Elevator Lady Spice Cookies here.

We eat them year round in my family, but they are an especially good fall and winter cookie with the clove scent filling your kitchen. Sorry I didn't take pics making them & they got gobbled up pretty quickly!


Mix together:

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1/4 cup molasses

Then sift together and stir in:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda (bakers above 5,000 feet might want to reduce this slightly)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Now mix it all together and form it into walnut-sized balls. Put them 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

quick pic: inlight

[Light art from Inlight Festival 2010]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

mystery bread

Walking down 17th Street to the Brunswick Stew Festival, I caught an unlikely scent of fresh baked bread. I looked up and noticed this sweet vintage sign. There was a smaller sign next to a door that said "retail/ sales" but all the doors were closed. No other hints could be found about this bakery.

I took to The Interwebs, but again my search came up mostly empty. Most reviews were company profiles which state Weiman's is "private company categorized under Bakery: Wholesale or Wholesale/Retail Combined... established in 1945... employs a staff of approximately 20 to 49." There are no Yelp reviews, though The Berkeley Hotel name drops Weiman's bread on their lunch menu.

Seems like it's all wholesale now, but a slice of thick bread would have been perfect with my Brunswick Stew.

Monday, November 8, 2010

dining locally at sprout

In honor of the Groupon for Sprout today, I wanted to post these pictures. The adorable little cafe sources locally and used many repurposed materials in renovating the restaurant. I went for the 'Grand Opening' a few months back (maybe June?) but then hadn't stopped by again. A few weeks ago I went in for lunch and had the best grilled cheese ever. And a pretty soup. But the best grilled cheese ever. I seriously regretted doing a half sandwich/ half soup combo because I wanted about 3 more sandwiches. (The soup was something with chicken and potatoes, and was very good.)

The sandwich was so good I let the owner talk me into ordering the last slice of the apple raspberry cheesecake. It was very good, there was a cheesecake layer, and some sort of apple compote layer, along with whipped cream and raspberry sauce.

I may use my Groupon solely on grilled cheese. Well, maybe one piece of cheesecake.

[Dried flowers in old soda bottles? Hand drawing signs? In love.]

[Cheesecake? In love.]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

food on the road: charlottesville

My apologies for being away for so long. Work has kept me busy and on the road frequently so both posting and having something to post about has been difficult. But I have gotten to try some new restaurants, and revisit some of my favorite out of town spots. I was in Charlottesville at least once a week this month so here are some of my top picks for Charlottesville. They are mostly around campus and/or downtown, since that's where I was working and staying, and typically quick/cheap eats to get on the go. And because I compare everything Charlottesville to Ithaca, my comparisons are below as well. (Try it: Downtown Mall= The Commons; The Corner= Collegetown; Jefferson Theater= State Theater; UVA < Cornell.)

Bodo's Bagels. My hosts insisted we brunch at Bodos, which resulted in a dozen bagels coming back to my house. So fresh they refuse to toast them, every New Yorker I know who has eaten these agrees they rank among NYC's finest. Assemble your own cheap sandwich, just be ready to order when it's your turn in line. Three locations, including the Corner.
Bodo's Bagels= CTB minus beer.

Revolutionary Soup. Perfect soup/sandwich/salad place that places heavy emphasis on local sourcing. One exception is if you order the "Student Special" ($6) which is a choice of three soups with a grilled cheese sandwich. Your soup and bread may be local, but your cheese is classic Kraft slices. You can get the 'Gourmet Grilled Cheese' which delicious cheese options. I have fallen in love with their Rosemary Potato Soup and am determined to recreate it. There are locations downtown and on the Corner.
Rev Soup= ABC (RIP ABC.)

Zazu's. Zazu's does most of its options one of two ways- as a wrap, or as a 'bowl' over rice. I've only been by once as it's near campus but not quite walking distance (especially when I'm working.) The Thai bowl won me over due to copious amounts of fresh chopped basil on top and a peanut sauce with a touch of spice. I'm definitely hoping to be back by in the future.
This seems like a place that would be Ithaca, but I'm not sure there is an apt comparison.

Semolina: Gourmet pizza bakers, I ended up here on a Monday night. Located on the Corner, The downstairs pizza pickup was somewhat busy but the upstairs fine dining area was dead. I hadn't expected it to be quite so fancy but it had a good vibe, and the staff was nice enough to give me the wireless password so I could work and enjoy pizza at the same time. I ordered the wild boar sausage with pistachio, an amazing combinations of flavors.
My Ithaca comparison fails here, as this is nothing like The Nines.

Splendoras/ Chaps: There are two creamy frozen dessert options on the mall and like to frequent both. Splendoras offers gelato while Chaps is pure American ice cream. Both are made in store using fresh ingredients but the results are very different. Some of the gourmet flavors overlap (I've recently had pumpkin at both) but only at Splendoras will you find salted caramel, Stracciatella, or grapefruit. Splendoras also serves excellent coffee and espresso. Chaps serves food but I've never sampled it.
Chaps= Purity

Other Charlottesville favorites?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

quick pic: street graffiti

[At 10th and Main]
Not sure what they are doing to the street but the spray paint markings brightened up my day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

weekend review: long weekend

This past weekend was a long weekend officially thanks to my DC-based nonprofit's policy of following federal holidays (including the Fourth of July and Inauguration.) I made it even longer by spending Thursday night at my neighbor across the street, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. On Thursdays the museum is open late and they have music and dancing. I joined several wonderful friends for salsa among the art. I see the museum every day but the light at 6:45 Thursday was beautiful so I took a few pictures.

Having seen some amazing art, Friday night one of my roommates and I went to figure drawing class at the Visual Arts Center. Having access to places like the VMFA (for free!) and Visual Arts is one of my favorite things about Richmond. Before class I grabbed dinner from Lamplighter.

[Woven BLT]

Saturday was the October Bizarre Market, hosted by Lamplighter. After I came home to cook dinner with two of my roommates- london broil, argula salad with raspberries and pine nuts, and roasted sweet potatoes.

[I like my steak rare.]

Followed by a night out on the town. Chalkboard paint has been all the rage on the design blogs for a year so I guess new restaurant/bar Friend of Pho got the memo. We left some artwork to commemorate the night.

[Love you Pip!]

shopping spree: jcrew warehouse

To continue the weekend review, on Monday I woke up with plan of being lazy until a massage at 4 and yet a desire for adventure. I lay in bed picking out the perfect outfit for the day. A few weeks ago when in DC, I picked up a dress from the Tucker for Target collection. Between work and the weather, I hadn't gotten a chance to wear it. I paired with my newest thrifted purse, a necklace I made, a navy H&M cardigan and brown ballet flats. Below are some pictures taken in my basement cave-room.

So what was I to do looking so adorable? I ended up going to brunch at Shafer (yes, the VCU dining hall), then delivering lunch to a friend in the West End. I realized between where I currently was and my scheduled massage was the JCrew Regional Warehouse sale. There goes my savings for the month! I bought a basic black blazer ($50), a black Sophia dress ($25), and two pieces below. A great gray work dress ($25) that can be dressed a lot of ways and a sparkly silver and white blazer ($50.) I also bought 5 bathing suit parts that can be combined in a couple of different ways. They were supposed to be $3 a piece but I was charged for child's suits so it was $5 total.

What do you think? Worth blowing my shopping budget on four items? I'm pretty happy with them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

one, two, three, four, five

Recently I was in Urban Outfitters and saw this sweet glass hand for $14. I immediately thought of how cool my rings would look displayed on the hand but I figured I could find an authentic one without too much work. Discovering one in a thrift shop seemed like a pretty chance encounter however. After all, I'm still kicking myself for not buying a male mannequin torso at Diversity Thrift a few months back and hoping to someday find an affordable dress form. So I took to The Internets. Etsy, specifically. And with only a 10 minutes of perusing options, I found a baller glove form in this shop. For $15. Though I did pay shipping, it ultimately was only $5 more than the UO hand and has much more character. Now it's in the mail and sadly won't arrive for tomorrow's Bizarre Market at Lamplighter (12-5pm) but come November I'll have the sickest table around.

weekend review: ruggers gonna rug

This weekend was full of many of my favorite things- art, hosting parties, music, puppies playing outside and sports. And yes, it's Friday and I'm finally getting around to posting this. There's been a lot of work. In fact, the aforementioned music was work- work that includes going to see LCD Soundsystem for free. Yes, I do love my job.

Friday night I joined a friend in my old neighborhood for First Fridays. We made it to most of the galleries and saw several great exhibits. I loved Vadis Turner's "The Last Dowry" exhibit at Quirk. Body parts made out of costume jewelry, though the stomach does slightly resemble a rooster.

[The Last Dowry]

[Lantern making for the Inlight Festival]
The Inlight Festival is one of the many Richmond events I missed out in my first year here. It's an art exhibition that includes a lantern parade. Before the festival, there are many chances to make lanterns including at First Fridays. We saw several other groups carrying around lanterns and were constantly being asked where we made them. I really enjoyed carrying our paper lanterns into one bar for dinner and other for drinks. We brought the ambiance with us.

Another neat exhibit was a collection of skateboards, many of which had some serious artwork on them. Of all the galleries, this exhibit had the youngest and most diverse crowd. My favorite part was the ability to actually made art at the exhibit.

[Love the participation of this exhibit]

[Congress on a skateboard]

Sunday was RUGBY DAY and the pups had a great time watching my roommate's team play. After we hosted a party that was a little less classy than our previous event, but somehow the rugby party had less bloodshed than Best Friends Day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

one potato, two potato, three bags of potato chips

Everyone knows kettle chips are the best kind of potato chip. They actually taste like they are made from potatoes and have such a satisfying crunch. What most people don't know is how amazing totally fresh kettle chips from the Route 11 chip factory truly are. You can find Route 11 chips around the area in their fancy bags, but if you are driving along I-81 (or, you know, actually on route 11) near Mt. Jackson, stop off at the factory to get them fresh.

[My two favorites, other than the lightly salted.]

[You can buy them in fancy gift tins...]

[But you should just get them in plastic bags. Super cheap and so delicious!]