Friday, May 30, 2008

That's a tasty Hoe!

Have a good weekend ya'll. It's going to be the lowest of low key weekends for me. Relax. Enjoy a cold beer, glass of wine, cold soda pop, fresh delicious food...whatever your fancy.

Hoegaarden-the original Belgium wheat beer. This is one of my favorite beers. Light. Refreshing. Wheat, without feeling like you've eaten a bag of grain. Hint of citrus. A perfect summer beer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How does your garden grow

Wanted to share some updates on our gardening efforts.

On May 18 we purchased several varieties of shade loving plants at Benkes. 4 Hostas and 2 Heucheras.

We planted them on the north side of the house, getting mostly shade.

From front to back: So Sweet Hosta, Midnight Rose Heuchera, Francee Hosta, Mahogany Heuchera, Patriot Hosta and August Moon Hosta

This pale pink flowering shrub is growing in the front, along the sidewalk. No idea what it is.

Here's our little green tomatoes!

The clematis is in full bloom.

The yellow iris is on it's last round of sweet blooms

Here's a full grown shot of the crazy plant we have no idea what it is. Some type of lily. It's over 7 feet tall at this point. We tied them back to keep them from tipping over.

The giant blue/elephant ear hosta. I don't know the real name on this one, but these leaves are GIANT! I love how they filled in the whole area they had been planted in. See how they came in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cookie Book

My book arrived from Martha Stewart!!!
I am very excited and honored by my win.

I guess I have to keep the episode on Tivo when Martha announced me as one of the winners of her favorite cookie contest; as the prize, the signed book, is very generic. I'm sure she has to sign tons of books, but I'm a little surprised there was no personalization. No cover letter or note was included in the packaging. I'm not ungrateful, just curious and surprised.

NOW...I have to decide what cookies to make from my new book!!! And the book is gorgeous! Check-it-out.

Weekend Bounty

Here's a little wrap-up from my weekend at the Cheverly Community Market.

My little table all set up. I had plenty of visitors. Most just saying hi. Some stopping by to congratulate me on my Martha Stewart win. I gave most everyone copies of the featured recipe and some wanted to talk about the books (some mine, some borrowed) that I brought out for reference.

I don't even know all we have here. All local items: tortilla chips, brioche, asparagus, spring onions, eggs, strawberries, peas, lettuce and greens, jam, meats, broccoli.

My eggs.

Strawberries! Beautiful, delicious strawberries.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's a Christmas Miracle!

I made broccoli and I liked it! What The? Yep, me...the broccoli hater!

This weekend at the Market, we bought a head of broccoli. That's the first golden point there! Farm fresh veggies.


Spicy Stir Fried Broccoli with Garlic

When I cooked it tonight, I started by blanching the veg for 2 minutes in boiling water, followed by a plunge in an ice bath. Drain. When we were ready to have dinner, I put 3 TB of olive oil in a very hot pan. Add 1/2 a tsp of red pepper flakes, stir. Add 6-8 cloves of minced garlic, stir quickly and until fragrant. Add the drained broccoli and toss to coat with the oil, garlic, red pepper and until heated through. About one minute. Season with salt & pepper. Serve immediately!

WOW. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go out of my way to eat this green veg, but for the first time in ages, I thought it was good and not a tasteless, nasty mess. Thanks farmers market.


I served the broccoli with Chicken Thighs Braised in white wine and spring onions. Very tasty, but horrible to look at in pictures. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, sear the chicken in olive oil until browned. If the skin is still on, remove it after you sear it. This will allow the skin to leave some brown bits in the pan and render some tasty fat. If you braise the chicken with the skin, it will become flabby and nasty. So, remove the skin. And remove the chicken from the pan. Add about 1 cup of diced spring onions (or green onions/scallions, or shallots, or 1/2 cup diced yellow onion). When softened, add 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced. When you smell the garlic, add the 1 cup of dry white wine. Scrape up any bits from the pan and reduce by half. Add 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan. The chicken should be covered half way. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes. Done. Serve hot and spoon some remaining braising liquid over the chicken.

With rice if you like.

And yes, the spring onions came from the market!

Strata-ify Me

As promised, the step-by-step of the Brioche & Asparagus Strata. Get the story and recipe behind the strata here.


Assemble your ingredients. Brioche (locally baked), Ricotta (fresh, local goats milk ricotta), Asparagus (locally grown), Eggs (locally raised), Milk (not local) and Parmesan (not local).

Slice the bread. I ultimately used 6 slices for my strata (which was slightly more than halved). Look at that golden eggy color.

I used a round casserole. Tuck the bread in there nice and tight, without squishing the bread.


Eggs and milk.

Eggs, Milk, Parm, Ricotta

Pour the egg mixture over the bread.

Allow the dish to sit in the fridge for at least one hour. The bread will soak up all the good flavors.

Meanwhile, cut your fresh aspargus up into bite sized pieces.
After the hour long soak, toss the asparagus ontop of the bread mixture and then cover with more parmesan.

Bake for one hour at 375.

So pretty and perfect for company. And the aroma was so delightful. Rich and tangy from the Parm, slightly 'green' from the asparagus.

Let the strata rest for a minute, then scoop and enjoy.

Monday, May 26, 2008

We be jammin'

I just received an order of strawberries this afternoon. We actually bought a pint at the market this weekend, but ate them all! So another special order arrived this afternoon. Those became jam. All you need are strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Give it a shot. This time I did do one thing different...I added some used vanilla bean pods. The aroma is heavenly. Strawberries and Vanilla. I'm sure the flavor will be just as divine.

Quick Update

Hello! Happy Memorial Day. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday.

We've been a little busy, but have been enjoying some great food. As you know, Saturday was the Cheverly Community Market. We came home with lots of great food. Fruits & Veg. Baked goods and jams. Meats and dairy! Woot. Then we headed to spend the night with Lord, Lady and Baby B. More good food and great drink. Sunday we ate a dozen farm fresh eggs, then back home to BBQ some chicken for a mini potluck with C&S&K.

This morning we made the Brioche & Asparagus Strata. Stay tuned for some step by step photos. We have some more errands and fun stuff to do today.

This is my chicken on the grill on Sunday night. The chicken received a great dry rub full of all sorts of great herbs and spices. Then in the final 4 minutes, they were given a light coating of BBQ sauce. Really good!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Saturday is the Day

Come one Come all To the Greatest Show on Earth Well, at least in Chevelry!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008 is Opening Day for the Cheverly Community Market and yours truly will be there with bells on ready to talk food, share recipes and to be a general resource for our own Cheverlonians on the hunt for whole, local foods.

I will be at most of the Markets throughout the 2008 season. You can expect that each time I will be at the Market, I will have a recipes with a featured ingredient.

This weekend...EGGS!


The Incredible Edible Farm Fresh Egg!

I grew up in the city. And at the age of ten, my parents pulled up roots and moved us to the country. I hated every minute of it! I'm a city boy. I wanted the mall. The chlorinated swimming pool. Fast Food. I didn't want woods, open fields, cold spring water and animal poop.

After we spent a year changing our ways; our way of living, our way of shopping, our way of eating, we started to get a hang of things and I admit, I started to like parts of the new ways!

I liked being able to stuff my face with as much fresh corn on the cob as I wanted; we had two large gardens of just corn! I liked having my very own melon garden; which was WAY TOO small for the several vines I grew. And I liked the animals (but still didn't like cleaning their poop). We raised rabbits, ducks, geese, two pigs and dozens of chickens. My beloved Buff Orpingtons! And Hazel, our little bantam Rhode Island Red we kept in the house after Henry, her mate, was taken out while playing with our dog one day. Really! They played together, but the dog got a little carried away!!!

There is something amazing about having the mailman (mail delivery person) drive up to your house with a box full of holes and lots and lots of peeping sounds. Yes my friends, you can mail order your own little chicks. Its wonderful.

Well, when you get your chicks, we got them into their round* pen with heat lamps. Dip their beaks in the water bowl and set them next to their feed bowls. In short order they were eating, drinking, pooping and growing, FAST.

*Do you know why it needs to be a round pen for the chicks? So they don't get stuck in a corner! They will pile ontop of each other until the bottom chicks are crushed and die!

I don't remember when we got our first eggs, but it was exhilarating. My mom and I were running around with it in the yard celebrating, as if we had THE POWERBALL lottery ticket. We raised our chicks and they gave us an EGG! I seem to remember we sat around looking at it for the rest of the day. OUR EGG! And it was only one that first day. And the next. But soon we had over two dozen a day. Helluva lot more eggs than we needed for our family of three.

It didn't take long for my mom to start trading a few dozen eggs for some bakery fresh bread from down the road. Mom was all about bartering. Once, she was giving her chiropractor sweet corn & tomatoes for a re-alignment!

But back to our eggs. When I was younger, I don't remember cooking with store bought eggs. I know I had them, but I never used them. These eggs, OUR EGGS, were the first that I cooked with. I guess I didn't notice a difference. The yolks were the richest, golden yellow, nearly day-glow orange. The whites were firm and clear as air. And there were the double yolked eggs! NICE! Twice the fun.

Well, after several years of egg fun, we all moved. I moved off to college. My parents sold everything off and moved to Florida. And I moved away from homecooked food. Flash forward a good number of years and I'm living in DC on my own and getting back to cooking.

Eggs...not MY eggs...even Whole Foods eggs...were lacking. The yolks were pale yellow. The whites were slightly clouded and very runny. Sad. A very sad state indeed. Eventually cage free, organic eggs started making their way into the grocery stores and into my fridge.

Mom came to visit and I opened up a carton of eggs and they were brown. She was all sorts of excited and thought I knew someone raising chickens. Nope. Just from the store, but brown and nicer than conventional white eggs.

Flash forward a little more and it's February and I move to Cheverly. Soon I'm getting involved in the community and put in my first order for Farm Fresh Eggs. As soon as the eggs arrived I had eat one right away. Heaven. It was all I remembered a fresh egg to be. Rich, delicious and oh so satisfying. The yolk was the color of a glorious sunday morning.

So my dear friends, please do yourself a favor and come to the Cheverly Community Market this Saturday and buy yourself a dozen farm fresh, locally raised, super delicious eggs! Fry them. Make omelettes. Bake! Or just admire the simplistic perfection that is a fresh egg.

Featured Recipe for Saturday, May 24, 2008
Brioche and Asparagus Strata

I'll be making this over the holiday weekend. Stay tuned for step by step photos and a short commentary on the final recipe. I hope you will give it a shot and come back and leave your feedback.

Additional Egg Recipes:
Pasta Frittata
Hollandaise Sauce

We're Having a Baby!

I'll get a better photo when i get home, but look! I have a little baby in my garden! SWEET. J-lo is home today and snapped this with his phone. This is very happy news, as we planted two tomato died. This was is obviously thriving. Yeah!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How Bazaar? How Bazaar!

Tonight was a late night at work and I wasn't sure I was up for making dinner when I got home. But a little advance planning made tonight's dinner a no-brainer.

Bazaar Couscous with Baharat Chicken!

The Bazaar Couscous is really a salad bowl of some of our favorite thing...things that can change based on what you have in your pantry, garden, fridge or what you can get at the markets. This has Middle Eastern Couscous, Carrots, Peppers, Onions, Golden Raisins, Dried Cherries, Pine Nuts and Pistachios. Throw in some herbs and spices with some olive oil and you're done! Divine. And it's really easy.

The chicken is flavored with a spice blend known as Baharat. I intended to grill chicken tonight, but the timing wasn't right, so I threw the chicken in a pan with some olive oil. It's spicy, but not hot and full of plenty of flavor. If you have a spice grinder, or a coffee grinder, make some of your own Baharat blend. You'll be very happy.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What do these have in common?

A) Birds of Prey

B) Beer

C) Peace

D) Cheverly Hot Noodle Concern

E) Pink Bubbles

A perfect day!

Really!!!! J-lo and I spent the day with Joyous and many of our newest neighbors at Cheverly Day! We had a great time celebrating out new community and I can't thank everyone we met enough. I have to apologize in advance. I met so many wonderfully generous people today that I know I'm not going to remember everyone the next time I see you. Besides, there were many servings of beer and later we opened a bottle of pink bubbles when we got home...really...I won't remember. J-lo might!

We brought home some heirloom seeds, we ate some great food (Kobe Beef Hotdogs) and we had $2 beer (Yuengling) from the beer truck and good music. Bravo Cheverly!

Vanilla Sugar

It's a good thing.

I don't know how many of you use whole vanilla beans on a regular basis, but when you do, you just don't want to get rid of those beautifully scented and flavored beans once they've been split. I find the easiest thing to do is just to throw then in sugar bowl and let the sugar extract the remaining flavor. Now I have heavenly scented vanilla sugar for coffee or to sprinkle on some fresh fruit if I want. You can use it in baking if you like. Or I'm sure you can make into a bath product as well. And as you keep using vanilla beans, you can keep adding them to the sugar.

Whoa, That's Deep

For dinner last night I made my Deep Dish Pizza.

Still very delicious, but still the same problem as last time. The sauce is too watery. Oh, and I over-cooked it a bit. The crust was dry and tough. But overall, still a great pizza. I have some ideas for next time. I used a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes that I crushed and added some of the liquid from the can. The flavor is incredibly rich and fresh. But as we see, very watery. Next time, I will still do the whole tomatoes that I crush up, I will let them drain. I will then add a small can of sauce, which is thicker than the liquid in the canned whole tomatoes. I suspect that will help out the watery issue, but I'm also worried it will alter the flavor some, as the canned sauce is more processed than the whole tomatoes. But I'll have to try it to see!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Busy Week

It has been a really busy week and I want to thank you all for your kind words after my exciting win! To celebrate I threw together a double batch of the Whoopie Pies to bring to work and spread around. I got a few "You are out of control." A couple "These are just too much!" And more than one "I need some time to myself, thank you."

Here are the whoopie cakes cooling after a few minutes in the oven.


Last night I was craving a comfort meal. Something filling, satisfying and a little old school.
So I made Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I don't really have a recipe, I threw these together from memory of past meatballs that worked and didn't work.

1 lb ground meat/meat loaf mix
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 TB finely minced parsley or 1 TB dried parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 egg
1 1/2 slices sandwich bread soaked in milk, squeeze out most of the excess milk, but not all, break into small pieces
salt & pepper (be liberal with the salt)
a heavy pinch of garlic powder

First...saute the onions and parsley in a little olive oil, just for a few minutes to start to cook out the raw flavor. I think I cooked for about five minutes over medium high heat. Let cool for a minute.

Mix all ingredients until blended. Make teaspoon sized balls. Fry in olive oil until golden brown. Don't worry about cooking through. Remove to a baking dish. Cover with homemade tomato sauce. Bake for 30 minutes with a sheet of foil over the dish, but not sealing the dish (the sauce will spit and sputter, and you want the steam to go away).

Serve with pasta.

These were the best meatballs I've made. I'm very happy with the outcome and I have to say the secret was cooking the onions a bit and the milk moistened bread.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

As Seen On TV

Really, I should say "As Seen On The Martha Stewart Show."


OMG! I'm a winner of Martha's Favorite Cookie Contest!!!!

Martha announced the ten winners in today's show. Martha made a comment about how unusually these cookies were...I think she didn't get that they were uncapped, because I didn't put the tops on yet!!!!

As soon as I have links from Martha's website, I will put them on here and you can watch for yourself!!!


Probably for today only (it changes daily), you can click in, then mid-way, towards the top of the page is a blue link for Tuesday, May 13. Click there.

Then you’ll see on the right side a link for Cookie Contest. There will be a short advertisement video, then the segment will start. Martha begins announcing the cookies at the 3:15 mark. My photo is announced at the 4:30 mark.

Monday, May 12, 2008

An Expensive Habit

My expensive habit needed a fix this weekend. Sunday morning, we loaded in the car and drove around the Beltway to the Rockville Pike. Hello Penzeys.

Ouch! Nearly $100. I had a list and I got what was on my list. Problem with the store? I can sniff four types of cinnamon and decide that the one I wanted is great, but the one I really really want is twice the price. Oops. Vanilla? Sure I need the more expensive one!

When all was said and done I only bought three things that weren't on the list. The most satisfying: the dutch processed cocoa. Penzeys has jars that you can get a sniff of the herbs/spices/flavors. Well, this cocoa was unlike any cocoa I've bought in the past. I had to have it for some baking that was planned. Which is why you see two tubes of vanilla beans! Bought some more curry. A one pound bag of Tellicherry Black Pepper. A mid-sized jar of Garam Masala.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Today; On the French Chef! An Academy Award!

I'm getting so excited and I have a year left to wait!!!!

Tres, Trois, Three

It has been a busy week, but I can't let today go by without saying Happy Third Birthday to my little baby blog!

I love my personal birthday. I've embraced the fact that I'm getting wiser each and every year. I'm embracing my little crows feet. And I'm really embracing the random gray hairs I'm getting! But I don't often use my birthday as a time for reflection and deep thoughts. I just want to have fun.

For this blog I'm very proud of how far it's come. How I've managed to keep going at it for three long years. Sure I've had some slow times, but I still push through. There have been prolific times as well! We started three years ago with a few recipes, a few challenges and few new ideas. Some of the ideas have come and gone. Some of the challenges persist. The recipes range a little more than they used to, from full step by step version to throw a little of this and do a little of that and you might get something good types. We've added pictures. Some great pictures and some that have been downright embarassing and totally unappetizing.

I think in the next few months you might see some changes. As I said recently, I've volunteered to be an educational resource for our local farmer's market and I will be utilizing Eat With Me quite a bit. I hope the biggest change you will see will include lots of locally grown foods and seasonal menu ideas. You might see more topical news stories linked in. Perhaps some tips on making the most of your $1 as our economy continues to tank!

And yes, this is my blog, but I want it to be a tool that you can use. If you have an idea or want to know more about something, or instructions are not clear, please contact me and I'll see what I can do. If my writing is crap, let me know. If your hips are getting wider from eating good food you've prepared from a recipe on this site; I can't really help you, or myself for that matter.

Thank you so much for sticking with me for the past three years and I hope to give you another great year!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pantry Raid for Cinco de Mayo

I didn't go to the store over the weekend for our weekly shopping and wasn't in the mood to go on Monday night. So...Pantry Raid!!!!

To start, there were two boneless pork loin chops. Perfect start.

Next's a holiday, so let's go for something with a Mexican inspiration.

Take the chops and slice into thin strips and heavily season with a plethora of herbs and spices. Saute with some olive oil.

Saute 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a pepper in the pan with a little additional olive oil. Add a small bit of water or broth to deglaze the pan and start a seasoned sauce.

Add a can of diced tomatoes and the sliced pork back to the pan. Stir and simmer until heated through. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Serve up in tortillas.

Dress with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, guacomole...whatever you like.

This was actually really tasty. Highly seasoned, but not overly spicy! And I didn't have to go shopping!!!

Mexican Spiced Pork Tacos

2 boneless pork chops; sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 tsp chimayo chili pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
10 grinds black pepper
2 TB olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 lime, juiced

Mix the first 8 ingredients together. Let sit for an hour (in the fridge).

Saute the pork strips, in batches, in the olive oil. Remove to a plate.

While the pan is still hot, add the oinion, garlic, peppers. Cook until they start to sweat and soften. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze the pan, releasing the toasted spices in the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a minute. Add the tomatoes and the pork. Stir and cook until heated through. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Use as a filling for tacos, for a main dish with rice/beans on the side. This would work well with chicken and probably beef, maybe even a firm white fish. Tasty.