Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Weekly Waterfowl (18!)


Duckducks are undeterred by snow, but irritated that it makes their food sink. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Probably Appropriated Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

Things that are a problem when you're a terrible photographer who also thinks it's a good idea to write a food blog:
  1. Foodgawker will reject most of your photos
  2. When they tell you why, you won't understand the critique (seriously, how is this underexposed? Isn't it too bright? Can someone explain this to me?)
  3. Sometimes, on the day you were planning on cooking during the daylight, it's slush-snowing and gray and disgusting outdoors.
All of that is an explanation for why the background on this photo is literal snow.

Not pictured: me in my puffiest coat, reconsidering all of my life choices.

Also on the list of life choices to reconsider? The weekend this fall when we canned 25lbs of plums, made what must have been a quart of chimmichurri, dehydrated 30 tomatoes and 20 red chilis and accidentally picked 73lbs of tomatillos. In the process, we had to peel 109 cloves of garlic and sliced enough jalapeƱos to give both my roommates a coughing fit. I ended this canning season with twenty-two jars of tomatillo salsa and am now down to eleven. Eleven! I mean, I did give away quite a few, but I've also made this soup twice, and I think you should too.

The basic concept- a broth hacked by dumping in an entire jar of tomatillo salsa, bulked up with hominy and tortilla chips- comes from a soup I used to buy in high school. When I went to recreate it, I tried to find some actual basis in Mexican cooking. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I came up short. I found a green pozole in Margarita Carrillo Arronte's "Mexico, the Cookbook", but it wasn't really related- it contained oxtongue, pork rinds and sorrel, and didn't have chips. (As a side note, I would like to eat that entire book). Meanwhile, none of the tortilla soup recipes I found had hominy. I even emailed the Chicano Eats guy hoping I could find precedent somewhere, but I think I'm on my own. 

So yes- I think way too much about food, and this soup is highly inauthentic. 

Regardless, it's perfect for winter. The actual soup takes half an hour and mostly involves opening cans, and the toppings can be adapted to whatever you've got hanging around, can find seasonally, or (as in my case) is cheap at your local overstock food store. The chips and avocados are essential, but besides that it's an open field- cilantro, chopped onion, extra limes, chopped green onion, sour cream, cheese, some other shredded greens... just make it fresh and crunchy, so you can pretend it's spring. 

(SIDE NOTE: Guys, I have a problem. I've gone from a total preservation novice to the kind of person who sees everything as a canning project. My farm-wife and I went to Zion over New Years, and our Airbnb had a pomegranate tree, and long story short I spent New Years Eve standing on a lawn chair thwacking pomegranates with a trekking pole.)

Probably Appropriated Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

2 cups prepared good quality tomatillo salsa 

1 25oz can hominy
1 15oz can pinto beans
8 cups broth of your choosing (I used Better Than Bouillon's veggie base!)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper. 

Dump the salsa, hominy, beans, broth and oregano into a large, heavy pot and stir. Bring to a simmer slowly, with the lid on- in my dutch oven over low heat, this took about half an hour, but if you're using a regular pot I'd suggest medium heat*. Regardless, you want to give it at least 30 minutes for the flavors to combine. Add salt, pepper and lime juice, but DO taste the soup first- since there's a wide variety of tomatillo salsas, the one you use might be very different than mine. I found it needed quite a bit of black pepper and almost two tablespoons of lime juice. 

Ladle into bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, cubed avocado, and whatever else you'd like. Pictured above: rough-chopped cilantro, red onion and thinly sliced radishes.

*Ok, recipe complaint- I always, ALWAYS have a hard time with the whole 'bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer' part of recipes. I find that once something's boiling, it's almost impossible for me to keep it on any heat at all without it coming back to a boil again. Is this just me? I always end up taking the whole thing off the heat for a little bit first. If you are less simmer-challenged, feel free to interpret those instructions as 'bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes". 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Weekly Waterfowl (17!)

Greetings! I spent Christmas in New England, eating all the fishes and not checking my email. It was quite lovely, ignoring my responsibilities so thoroughly, although now that I'm back my to-do list is kind of overwhelming. I'm pretty consistently barely hanging onto this real job/ activist shit / food blog / community thing I'm doing, and it piles up quickly when I take five days off. No words shall be said about the state of my other adult responsibilities, like laundry and budgeting and cleaning my room.

Also, one of our ducks broke her toenail.. and another one might have bumblefoot? It's been a bad couple days for duck feet. Here's Pearl, hanging out in a warm water and saline soak prior to toenail-bandaging. Luckily for me, my farmwife is a pretty prepared duck-nurse.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Plum Ketchup Barbecue Pizza

Sometimes, my community behaves exactly as expected. For instance, we're into the distribution season of jam-club, so we put out a quick google survey asking people what they wanted. Three different people forgot to include their names. Three! I probably shouldn't be surprised, considering half the community finds google calendar an insurmountable technical challenge, but still. Then, when we reminded folks that we really needed their names, we got an email from our resident Mormon Mansplainer which said, and I swear I'm not making this up, "If your survey is not working then it is a design flaw that you need to fix". To be fair, the email also came with the very useful suggestion that we make the name field mandatory... but I still think 'design flaw' is lexical overkill for a survey about jam. Also, when I tracked down another neighbor who hadn't filled out the survey, she told me she couldn't do it because her "computer doesn't get Google".

So yes, we're predictable.

On the other hand, despite declaring it "too spicy" last year, the majority of the community has come around to plum ketchup! I think a lot of the credit should go to this pizza, which my farmwife made for our jam-club tasting party and I have made twice since. It's barbecue pizza with sophistication, and takes a grand total of 10 minutes work, assuming you have some plum ketchup banging around.

Didn't you make some last month? What, you don't cook from my blog immediately? I expect better from my nonexistant fans.

Happy holidays! I'm headed to Boston tonight, and I haven't even started packing OR cleaned my bathroom. In other words, I'm functioning at my usual levels of 'not an adult'.

Plum Barbecue Pizza

1 storebought pizza dough (or be fancy, it's your life!)
1/2 a red onion, sliced in thin half moons
~4 small mushrooms, sliced thin
1/3 cup plum ketchup (or regular bbq sauce maybe?)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can while still fitting it on a sheet pan. Transfer the dough to a sheet pan, then spread plum ketchup across the whole surface with a spoon or a rubber spatula. Sprinkle cheddar cheese. Distribute onions, mushrooms and goat cheese. Crack some black pepper over the top, and drizzle with the olive oil.

Put the pizza in the oven and bake until the dough is cooked- timing will depend on how thick your dough is, but mine took about forty minutes.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Weekly Waterfowl (16!)

TBT, like, six months. But duck butts!!

I'm not sure how to feel about using TBT correctly. This feels like a betrayal of my cranky-old-man luddite status. On the other hand, this week I learned how to turn the lights on inside my car for the first time, and I got the car in June, so maybe I'm not in that much danger.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cranberry Sauce and Sriracha Grilled Cheese

Hello! Does the news make you want to cry right now? Because between the tax bill, net neutrality, public lands and everybody being fired for sexual harassment, this has not been an easy week to stay optimistic in America. The night the tax bill passed the Senate, a friend of mine texted me the words "ordinary life is a nightmare" and I can't even say it was hyperbolic. On Saturday, five thousand Utahns turned out to hear tribal leaders speak about protecting sacred lands, and just this morning we lost two million acres of  national monument.

(Also, I jogged for exactly 19 minutes last week and I think I'm still sore. This is not remotely important in reality, but my emotional response to it was dramatic.)

As an antidote to this madness, all I have to offer is a sandwich*. I was thinking I'd have to wait until next Thanksgiving to post it, but if I still have cranberry sauce in my fridge that means you could too. Also, I no longer have complete faith that there will necessarily BE a next Thanksgiving. Either way, it's a really good sandwich.

So here's my vegetarian answer to the next-day turkey sandwich that everyone claims is the best part of Thanksgiving. Full disclosure: I have made cranberry sauce in July just for this purpose. Also, I once put turkey in one once for my non-vegetarian sister, who also happens to be a fairly sophisticated eater, and she liked my version better. BAM!

*Actually, that's a lie... I also have a request. Please call your representatives this week- the tax bill still isn't a done deal and neither is net neutrality. Find their information here!

Cranberry Sauce and Sriracha Grilled Cheese

Note: I know most people don't really need a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich. If you're not a recipe follower, the instructions here are easy: make a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, cranberry sauce and sriracha. For longer instructions, keep reading.

For two sandwiches:

4 slices good bread (I like mild sourdough, but anything works!)
1/2 cup packed grated cheddar
~1/4 cup cranberry sauce
1-2 tsp sriracha

Figure out what is going to be the inside and outside of your sandwiches. Butter the outsides of the bread... I'm leaving the amount up to you (ALL THE BUTTER!). Spread about two tablespoons of cranberry sauce onto each of two slices of bread, and top with 1/4 cup of cheddar. Spread sriracha on the other slices of bread- half a teaspoon per sandwich will be pretty mild, and a full teaspoon will get you a good kick. I prefer more. Assemble sandwiches. 

Place sandwiches in a frying pan over medium-low heat and cook until the cheese is melted and the outsides are crispy.... I personally found this took about 10 minutes on each side, but watch it so your bread doesn't burn. Eat immediately!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Weekly Waterfowl (15!)


(This might be my favorite duck video ever? They just keep trying... and it's even funnier with the sound on).