chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

Jonamac apples
Green beans
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes (that is, two different types)
Different types of heirloom tomatoes
Sweet onions
Mixed-milk morbier cheese (with ash)

One of the tomatoes had split by the time I got them home, so I ate it for lunch with some shredded string cheese and basil left from last week.

I should have bought more basil because this batch is kaput.

chomiji: Part of a box of fancy chocolates (chocolates)

As I strode past Neuhaus Belgian Chocolates in Union Station on my lunch break, I was feeling smugly virtuous about taking a walk (inside, around the mall, because Heat and Humidity outside) and not going in and buying chocolates.

And at that moment, a shop clerk appeared in the doorway with a platter of samples in her hands.


Of course I took one (milk chocolate with coconut, but their milk chocolate with coconut is better than a lot of people's dark chocolate).

chomiji: Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach in his Hollow form, with the caption Surprise! (ichigo hollow-surprise!)

So I was reheating some cold polenta (cornmeal mush - that is, maize meal) in the microwave. And a second or so after it started, there were HUGE bright flashes of light, burning smell, microwave making ominous sound ... !

I stopped it, of course. There were faint burn marks on some of the edges. (The polenta was very uneven in texture and thickness: it was home made, not one of those very compact, sausage-like commercial polenta logs.)

At my husband's request, I tried it again. Cue the fireworks and melodrama. The remaining polenta blob was pitched into the food waste pail (we have food waste recycling in our town).

The only thing we can figure out is that maybe this batch of stoneground cornmeal had a really good mineral content. One site notes that stoneground cornmeal can supply about 25% of your daily magnesium needs. And magnesium is very flammable. And other vegetable products can smoke and flame in the microwave, including fresh veggies that are thin, irregular, and contain lots of iron, such as spinach and kale (link to NPR article).

To end this on a fitting note: create plasma in your microwave with a grape!

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)
  • Lots of sweet potatoes - because that's one of the things my sister asked me to bring for Thanksgiving
  • Half a dozen apples, Goldrush and Stayman, to cook with the sweet potatoes
  • 4 chicken legs from Cabin Creek pasture-raised chickens (we still have plenty of other meat)
  • Kalettes (link goes to Wikipedia)
  • A small head of green cabbage
  • 3 Bartlett pears
  • 4 parsnips (for soup-making at some point in the near future)
  • Flat-leaf (Italian-type) parsley

This is the last weekend for a number of the fruit/vegetable stands. They will be back in the mid-spring.

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

1½ lbs apples (to make a little applesauce)
1 pint cider (ditto, although the Mr. might also drink some)
chicken thighs
red and yellow cherry tomatoes
green beans
2 heads garlic
Bartlett pears
½ lb. farmhouse cheddar cheese

I also pulled a package of CSA lamb stew meat out of the freezer when I got home: not to make stew, but kebabs instead. It's still too hot to make stew. Ditto winter squash, although one of the booths had some lovely Red Kuri.

So grocery store run should only be non-food items, skim milk, Siggi's yogurts for me, some breakfast cereals, long pasta (spag, linguine), Flackers flax seed crackers, and parmesan cheese. Maybe a few oranges too.

ETA: And berries! how can I forget those? They're in the icon ... .

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

Mixture of large tomatoes (red, pink, yellow, yellow/red Tie Dye)
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes
Green beans
Yellow onions
Late yellow peaches
Bartlett pears
Fresh basil
Chicken thighs
Pork chops

chomiji: A ceramic dish of chocolate mouse, with a spoon and some raspberries (Mousse)

So the Mr. stopped by Snyder's (quirky local non-chain grocery) on the way home to lay in a supply of cottage cheese (he's picky—he only wants Axelrod's and Snyder's is the only place that has it). This is also where he gets me my vanilla Silk soymilk because Whole Paycheck has decided they only need to stock their own yucky chalky soymilk.

He usually gets his frozen treats there too: Haagen Dazs dark chocolate ice cream bars and perhaps a pint of local Moorenko's bittersweet chocolate ice cream. But this time he came home with a new Moorenko's flavor, so new that it's not on their website: Oh Snap!

It's very tasty: a strong baked-ginger flavor, strong enough to tingle a spot on my tongue where a pepper from some leftover palak paneer had already sensitized things.

Have you had an interesting ice cream flavor recently? Tell me all about it.

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)

Over the winter, we got a "lamb share" CSA from one of the vendors (Cabin Creek Heritage Farm) at the Takoma Park Farmers Market. We liked it, but they don't have lamb over the summer. The Mr. is particular about his beef and doesn't want it to have been frozen, so we went for "mini pork share" this time.

Cut for CSA details and cooking description/rough recipe )
chomiji: Sue from CLAMP's Clover series, with the caption Growing (Sue - growing)

We have had beautiful weather this weekend, but I haven't taken that much advantage of it. We did walk out for gelato (the Mr.: dark chocolate and hazelnut) and sorbet (me: grapefruit) yesterday afternoon at the neighborhood place (Dolci Gelati), and today we walked to Busboys & Poets for brunch (which has become a near-weekly habit).

I have just finished making 6 quarts of chicken stock. I think this is the best I've made. I used more or less this recipe, which I have bookmarked for later. The main difference between this and what I have made previously is far more carrots (6 instead of 2 or 3) and peppercorns (2 teaspoons); also, leaving the skin on the halved onion, which has an effect on the color. And darn I should have known that (it's one of the common natural fabric dye ingredients, for a golden yellow), and in fact, I remember my late mother doing the same.

The chicken stock is for matzoh ball soup for second seder at my sister's place this coming Saturday. I am the official Matzoh Ball Maker on our side of the family. The first seder will be at our friends Michael and Sharon's. They have asked me to bring a fruit platter, which should be easy, except that I will be working most of Friday. I will try to pick up fresh fruit the night before, I think.

And the Mr. is upstairs doing the taxes, because yes, it's spring. *sigh*

chomiji: Hakkai and Gojyo form Saiyuki, with autumn leaves drifting down and the caption Falling (Gojyo and Hakkai - falling)

It was mostly low-key. We went to my sister's house for the actual holiday.

Cut for food pr0n )

Everyone else have a nice weekend?

chomiji: Two candy hearts.  One says Geek plus Geek ... . The other says It works for us! (Geeks in love)

Brunch and a matinee at the Kennedy Center:

Cut for Instagram photo montages )
chomiji: Kami-sama form Saiyuki with angel's wings and the caption, Angels we have heard on high ... (Kami-sama - angel)

The family are all a bit hungover today after our annual pilgrimage to the Mr.'s sister's place in western Maryland for a late Christmas celebration. It's a trip of 154 miles (248 km), which GoogleMaps thinks should take 2½ hours, but it took more like 3, with backups caused by roadwork outside of Frederick and a stop for restrooms and coffee near Sharpsburg (site of a famous Civil War battle, Antietam). We left home at 10:00 a.m. and were back around 12 hours later.

The weather was great for traveling, as clear and dry and open as I can remember its ever being for this trip. It can get very snowy in western Maryland, and there are ski resorts, despite the mountains' modest heights. Of those on the list at the link, we drove over Meadow Mountain, Big Savage Mountain, and others, including the titular Sideling Hill (site of a dramatic road cut that displays the local geology in a striking fashion). Savage Mountain is also the site of part of the Eastern Continental Divide: the watershed on one side drains into the Chesapeake Bay and thence to the Atlantic Ocean, while on the other side, it drains into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico.

We actually spent only about four or so hours hanging with the relatives, eating home-cooked (for the most part) food (roast lamb and ham, baked salmon, and lots of sides and desserts) and exchanging gifts. On the way back, the sky was so clear and the stars very bright, even from inside the car. We made an unplanned stop in Frederick and had a late supper at Dutch's Daughter, which was pretty good "traditional American" food (heavy on beef and seafood).

Today we are all stiff and spaced-out: too much driving and sitting.

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)

After blowing off our accustomed gourmet New Year's Eve experience (for very good reason, I might add), the Mr. felt well enough to go to Kat & Andrew's New Year's Day brunch, another two-decades+ fixture in our lives.

I wanted to make something to bring, and the main thing we had in the house besides pantry staples was apples. Several different kinds of apples. I found this recipe on Epicurious, which recommends using at least 4 different types of apples, so I made it. But it was intended for an 8-inch springform pan, and we have only a 10-inch one.

In a moment of rare mathematical thought, I realized that this is a volume problem, and that the shape involved is a (short, squat) cylinder. I found a handy calculator via Google and discovered that the volume ratios were 1 to 1.5. Well! The original recipe calls for 2 eggs, so this was easy-peasy. I did find some additional adjustments needed (our eggs were likely extra large rather than just large, so I needed to add more flour, and I had to extend the baking time, which I did in 10-minute increments, checking the cake for done-ness each cycle), and I also added a bit of cinnamon, because I like cinnamon.

The apples I used were a mixture of Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Gold Rush, and Gala.

Cut for recipe, with my notes where I made changes )

The cake had competition at the brunch: this was a big year for homemade cakes. Those I could identify include a chocolate swiss cake roll as a buche de Noel, my late mother's sour cream coffee cake (made by my sister, in this case), what appeared to be a pumpkin bread with currants, and our hosts' daughter's blueberry tea cake. We left about 1/3 of our cake when we departed the party, but there was still a group of 10 college- and grad-school-age party-goers playing Cards Against Humanity in the front parlor, so we may never see the remaining cake again!

chomiji: Miyazaki's Totoro, standing in the rain with an umbrella (Totoro - umbrella)

... Thank God!

On the other hand, now it is pouring rain and will continue to do so until Monday, when we will have wind instead. At least all the previously impacted spring flowers seems to appreciate the rain and milder temps, and are busting out all over.

Today we had the mass birthday party for the Mr. and his siblings and others (February-March is the big birthday season for that side of the family). The Young Lady and I made spring holiday/Easter-ish bags for everyone, with cosmetic stuff and little hardware store gadgets (eyeglass mending kits, mini flashlights and tape measures, etc.) and chocolate goodies. They looked delightful and went over very well with the recipients. We had a pot luck mid-day dinner: spaghetti with sauce, roast chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and a massive salad (my contribution) followed by chocolate cake, pumpkin ice cream pie, and fruit salad. A lot of it was store-bought because everyone has had a cruddy couple of weeks (one abdominal surgery, one oral surgery, one case of a very elderly parent who lives nearly 1000 miles away and had a fall, and horribly busy work and school schedules all around). But we all made it, and exchanged gifts, and talked.

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)

Various surpluses in the fridge and elsewhere in the kitchen – milk (a couple of small skim milks past pull date and part of an open carton of shelf-stable lowfat milk), 16 eggs, leftover mashed potatoes, bananas becoming over-ripe – got me to cooking this morning.

We've already eaten the mashed potato pancakes (I added chopped fresh parsley and scallion, then fried them in a bit of the bacon fat left over from the Mr.'s bacon and eggs). The banana bran muffins (I used part whole wheat flour) are just done, and cooling, and the maple cup custards (I messed with this a bit .. I usually make cup custard just from memory) are baking.

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

My only excuses are that I hadn't been for more than a month, and Waterpenny Farm is in the middle of their main tomato season:

Clockwise from upper left: Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, baby bok choy, struan and caraway rye breads, assorted tomatoes (including some heirloom types), mixed cherry tomatoes, green beans, small cucumbers, peaches and nectarines, satina potatoes, and assorted apples (Gala, Buckeye Gala, Ginger Gold, Jonamac).

(The piece of Vermeer cheese didn't make it into the picture, as i forgot it was in the bottom of the basket.)

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

Cantaloupe melon (in basket), caraway rye bread, spelt mini loaf (on top of a barely visible mini country white loaf), green beans, blueberries, blackberries, cider-washed tomme cheese, garlic, field-grown cucumbers, fingerling potatoes, field-grown cherry tomatoes, assorted summer squash, peaches.

chomiji: Boxes of sweet cherries, blackberries, and strawberries from our local farmers market, with the caption Real Food (Real food)

things from the local farmers market; read rest of post for details

Clockwise from upper left: country white bread, eggs, fresh basil, new yellow potatoes, blueberries, two kinds of tomatoes (still greenhouse-grown: local field tomatoes are only just setting their first fruit now), blackberries, sweet cherries, strawberries, more blueberries, and a miniature struan bread loaf.

There likely would have been a couple more things, but it started raining. So we decamped to Mark's Kitchen, where we were joined by our daughter for brunch.

(An odd thing: the icon here is displayed less effectively than it is on LJ. I've never noticed this phenomenon before, but that typeface, Pristina, has very distinct "thicks and thins," and the white-on-dark seems to have made the issue easier to spot as well. The type looks fuzzier here. WTF?)

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)

Clockwise from upper left: snow pea shoots, extra large brown eggs, asparagus, rye with caraway bread, struan bread, chicken empanadas (in bag), calverly cheese, poppy seed hamentaschen, strawberries, tomatoes (probably greenhouse-grown at this point), snap peas, Persian cucumbers.

chomiji: Chibi of Muramasa from Samurai Deeper Kyo, holding a steamer full of food, with the caption Let's Eat! (Muramasa-Let's eat!)

The review of the Peruvian place will have to wait, because right now I want to talk about the awesome Chinese meal we had last night.

Washingtonian magazine does two big sets of restaurant listings every year: 100 Best and Cheap Eats. The 100 Best just came out, One of the places they mentioned was Sichuan Jin River (formerly called Sichuan Pavilion). Szechuan is not generally our favorite (neither the Mr. nor I care for really spicy food, and I simply can't eat bell peppers), but the review this time was so enticing (and we usually agree about 85% of the time with these writeups) that we decided to give it a try.

Really, the only problem that we had was that the review's recommendations weren't necessarily easy to match up with items on the menu once we got there. But with the things that did match up, the waitress' advice about the specials, and [personal profile] smillaraaq's suggestions, we did really well.

We started off with lotus root salad. I had been wanting to try lotus roots for a while. The salad was light, tangy, and slightly spicy; the slices of lotus root are crunchy and a bit crisper than water chestnuts. There were some bell peppers (red and green) in it, but they were easy for me to avoid. Then we had a scallion pancake, something we also get at A&J: this one was even better, a little lighter and with more scallions.

The first main dish was flounder with black bean sauce, one of the specials. It came in a huge, shallow dish, with scallions, some minced fresh hot peppers, and the black beans scattered on top. The fish was excellent, bits of fillet that were very fresh in flavor, with a great texture, and not at all overcooked. The sauce was spicy but not too hot for me and the Mr. As we started to work our way through it, we discovered a treasure trove of beautifully cooked vegetables underneath the fish: snow peas, fresh bamboo shoots, and carrots. Then we had a beef hotpot with young taro: tender, moist, lightly flavored with five-spice and soy. I didn't know what to expect from the young taro chunks, but they were like fluffy mashed potato balls. Our vegetable dish was snow pea leaves with garlic: one of my favorites anytime and very well made here. It was tender, flavorful, and a beautiful bright green.

We packed up most of it (we had overordered, of course, with all those tempting dishes on the menu), and then we had dessert! They actually have a range of desserts: eight choices. We had hot sweet tofu in rice wine and then eight-treasure rice: molded steamed sticky rice with red bean jam filling, jujube chunks scattered throughout, and hot rosewater-scented syrup with sesame seeds poured over it. This was a complete sugar overload, obviously, but we loved it (and took home more leftovers).

We're going to have to go back with more people sometime soon, and we may also try using Sichuan Jin River as the carryout for dinner at our next tabletop RPG session.

April 2019

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