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?