nigella notes.

On Thursday evening, we made a rare venture into Philadelphia to see Nigella Lawson at the Kimmel Center. We don’t often go into Philadelphia these days, as it is somewhat of hot mess. And yes we saw that last night, and the sidewalk was actually torn up right in front of the Kimmel Center.

An Evening with Nigella Lawson was originally scheduled for November 10th at the Miller Theater, and was moved to the Perelman Theater inside the Kimmel. The Miller (formerly the Merriam) is under renovation. I am actually glad they moved it to the Kimmel, and the space is gorgeous and so clean! And my friend and food blogger Marilyn was two rows behind us!! Marilyn is the genius behind Philly Grub.

It was an amazing experience and some very amusing people watching. In front of us to the left was a woman who literally massaged the top of her companion or husband’s head the entire time. In front of my friend to the left of her there was a person who took off their socks and shoes and put their bare feet up on the seat in front of them!

Overall, it was not a bad audience at all, and we had super nice people immediately around us.

Nigella Lawson is warm and personable. Friendly, funny, self deprecating in the most amusing and human way. I have seen other personalities whom I admire “live”, and seriously I walked away thinking how truly nice I think she is. Of course part of it is I am sure is the fact I am an Anglophile.

I took notes while Nigella was speaking. I wish it had been recorded! She is as lovely in person as we see on our television screens. And I don’t mean just beautiful, because she is drop dead gorgeous. I also mean lovely as in the nice person you meet whom you want to have over to your house for dinner.

To follow are the notes I took as she was speaking. You will note her program wasn’t a cooking demonstration, it was also the woman outside the kitchen. And she is not a classically trained chef, like Ina Garten whom I also admire and follow, she’s one of us just elevated. She’s a home cook.

Michael Klein from The Philadelphia Inquirer was the moderator. He was excellent. He and Nigella had terrific chemistry and rapport. Michael’s manner also helped make this a memorable event. Not that any of us should be surprised if you have followed his columns for years.

So here are my Nigella Notes:

When she was 9 she wrote a play on the meaning of existence. Terrapins were the characters.

At 10 she penned a self-described “very bad” murder mystery.

Originally Nigella thought she would be a novelist.

She spoke about finding her voice in writing. Nigella’s voice evolved from writing about food. I guess that goes along with something that one of my friends and writing mentors who is a retired journalist has always has said to me which is “write what you know.“

Writing – find your own voice. Nigella touched on that again. She also noted her experience when writing about food that people are more connected, almost nicer. As a blogger I can appreciate that, because when I post a recipe everybody loves it and no one complains. But if I write about a politician or politics/political issues, the keyboard warriors salute (and charge.)

Funny little Nigella notes include how she feels about fruit bowls- she doesn’t mix her fruit. Every kind of fruit has their own bowl.

Regarding her first book How to Eat– wasn’t sure at first if she would have recipes. She wasn’t sure she knew how to write about food.

“Life is full of unexpected turns.”

Nigella remarked how inspiration comes to us in odd ways, as we “lurch” through life.

She found it fortunate in her work as a journalist to live through her words.

Nigella started with TV at 38 or 40. She had two small kids, a husband who had cancer. His name was John Diamond, and he was also a journalist. He was 47 when he died. On a rather personal note, this resonated with me because my sister became a widow at 43, when my brother in law, then 49, died of a swift moving cancer. So I respect what Nigella went through and was dealing with back then.

Nigella spoke about what her terms were back then in order to do TV. If she could do TV, she wanted to do it from home but unscripted. Wanted to speak naturally. And with two small children and an ill spouse, it was an early work from home arrangement, and good for her for getting that.

I always have loved Nigella programs because she is relaxed and has fun in her kitchen. Her own dishes and pans, and not everything is perfect, much like our own kitchens. And one of my favorite parts of her shows is when she would go into her kitchen late at night for a snack. It’s so human and real.

Oh did I mention her pink boots?? Seriously an important note, they were truly fabulous!

When asked about writing her books, she prefers to do her books as they evolve, not as a “churning out machine.”

This: a cookbook from the ingredients she loved that was an essay, reflecting on ideas, then recipes to follow.

Home cooking because of COVID seems to have inspired this book in part.

This book, Cook Eat, Repeat are essays with recipes, like a companion piece to How to Eat. For that reason, on my own book shelves, these books are together.

On making or creating a book with food- the feeling of creating something.

The practical can make you feel you achieved something- the dizzying feel of achieving from the blank page.

Cooking for one in book because of COVID but she’s done it before. But cooking for one is important- you can concentrate on process of cooking and learn.

Lockdown caused her to spend more time on Twitter. Also notes recipes for one are important. I agree. I have always cooked for myself, even when it was just me.

Nigella hates the term “guilty pleasures.” It “blinks to snobbery” as in liking the “right” things and being afraid to say that you like something.

Essentially she remarked the hell with you shouldn’t be eating something, just try it. Life is too short. Don’t be counterproductive. Guilty pleasures with food doesn’t really work. Feel grateful not guilty.

When asked about things that she can’t live without or would prefer not to live without, there was bread and butter. “Life would be poorer.” She says she definitely needs lemons and salt in life. She remarked about a chips sandwich and referred to it as an English delicacy. As near as I can grasp it, this would be a sandwich of french fries or chips in between two slices of bread with butter.

She loves English mustard. Coleman’s, specifically. I always have Coleman’s dry mustard in my spice rack, and when I can get the actual jarred mustard I do. It has a bite. I use Colemans mustard in deviled eggs along with curry powder.

Now she and Michael Klein chatted about “brown food.” She said she wants to write about not just bright food and color. Not everything has to be high octane in your face. Or Instagram worthy. There is a need in life for the quiet bits. Food might not always blow your mind, sometimes it has a quiet kind of dignity, comfort. Lasts longer. “ A stew doesn’t shout for you to come to the table, it whispers.” (I loved that description.)

Quiet food, comfort food, has equally rich rewards.

It’s not all about the “shouty look at me.” Not everyone needs to be the same. (Amen. I wasn’t destined to live in a beige, beige world for one.)

We evolve our ideas, but your cooking evolves the way your life currently is. “I bumble away” referring to being a home cook. The more you cook the more you know.

“If you can’t deal with a cracked cake in life, life is going to be more difficult.”

What do you want to eat ? People have different palettes.

Recipes express the nature of cooking. Recipes express the nature of the chef.

Then she and Michael took a few questions from the audience. We were all asked to write a question down and basically put it in a little wicker basket when we were checking into the event.

The event actually went over the time allotted, and I could have listened to her for a couple of hours more. It was delightful. It was such a nice change from the obnoxious world we’ve been living in recently.

This was a really cool experience, and well I didn’t particularly enjoy the City of Philadelphia because it’s just so dirty and the streets and the sidewalks are such a hot mess these days, but the Kimmel Center was really nice.

Thanks for stopping by.

it’s november, so of course we need soup…french onion mushroom soup….

I have a slight obsession with French Onion Soup. I’ve written about it before and my quest to find and develop a recipe I really liked and I think that was in 2015. I have been fiddling and fiddling with the way I make it, and I think this is the best batch so far.

My friend Karen‘s mother made the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It was even better than the H.A. Winston soup that we all loved growing up. But I’ve kind of developed my own now which isn’t bad if I do say so myself. But I definitely have a memory of being in Karen‘s mother’s kitchen when she had that soup cooking. The aroma and the fragrance of it just filled the room.

I start my soup the day before with roasting my beef bones in the oven for beef stock. Then I throw everything into a stockpot with wine, water, and a 32 oz. container of low salt beef broth. To that I had a couple of carrots, celery or Celeriac (celery root), onion, fresh herbs, and that’s how I make my beef broth. This time I made my beef bone broth with Celeriac, because that is what I had. I cook this for a few hours. I let it simmer and cook down and condense. If I do it in the instant pot it takes a lot less time for the broth component.

I prepare the beef bone broth the day before because I like to fish the bones out of the broth and dispose of them, and then put the broth in the refrigerator overnight because then as you can see from the photo I shared above, I can skim the fat off the top very easily. This bone broth I made this time was truly gorgeous. This morning it was totally gelatinous like a consommé. That’s what you want.

Also, people always ask me how many beef bones I use. Honestly? It varies and this time I had 10 beef bones.

I line a big sheet pan with aluminum foil. Then I sprinkle them with just a smidge of olive oil and add salt pepper, Herbes de Provence, and garlic. When I roast them I do it at a 375° oven. I just keep an eye on the oven I think they were roasted through in about 35 to 40 minutes. Then I just turned the oven off and let everything cool down a bit before I bring them out of the oven and throw them into the stockpot as indicated above.

These bones were actually a surprise I did not know I still had in the bottom of our chest freezer they had come with a meat order from our local butcher, Worrell’s. Truthfully, you really do have to go to a local farmers market meat purveyor, or a local butcher shop to get good bones. And ask before you want to make the soup, because it’s not like the good old days and they don’t always have the bones.

The next day I start with caramelizing my onions, and today’s onions are the last I will ever get at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown which makes me sad. I use a combination of red and white onions. I add a little salt, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pot. You do want to caramelize your onions, but pay attention or they will burn. I almost killed them today because I was on the phone when I was doing this.

I also add mushrooms now to my recipe and that is pretty much because my husband loves mushrooms. The mushrooms, Cremini, came from Pete’s as well. I am so going to miss the produce and that store because these mushrooms were the prettiest I’ve had all year to cook with. But I have to admit that adding mushrooms especially this kind to soup add another layer of flavor that is just wonderful.

When I’m putting it all together after the onions have cooked down and caramelized, if I feel there is not enough liquid, then I will use a little additional bone broth or Better Than Bouillon to help it along. And you also cannot forget your healthy dash of Flavor Master’s Gravy Master. Why? Because that is something they put in the H.A. Winston soup when they were making it.

Today I did add an 8 ounce container additionally of bone broth. I also added a good half a bottle of wine

I wish I had a more exact and proportionate recipe written down, but I don’t a lot of times I cook things by the way I think they feel.

I will serve my French onion soup in a few minutes with a little shredded Gruyère on top but I don’t do the whole thing with the big hunk of bread and put it in the broiler. That’s too much work for me. The soup is work enough on its own. Besides it’s something I always eat around French onion soup when I get it at a restaurant, anyway.

We are also having an arugula and spinach salad with elite seasoning tomato and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Bon appétit 👩‍🍳

an old pot cleaning hack that is still the best

I am making soup. And I had to start at one step of the soup which involved caramelizing onions, and the phone rang. It was someone I hadn’t spoken with in a while and I moved to the next room to take the call and forgot about what I was cooking on the stove.

I am sorry I forgot to take a picture of what it looked like when I returned to the kitchen and almost had a stroke. I removed the onions that were caramelized and not utterly destroyed and put them in a mixing bowl.

But then I was looking at the bottom of the pan and I’m thinking to myself I am never going get this clean. And it’s one of my favorite pots (by Great Jones– I am a fan of their cookware.)

So I’m standing there wondering what I’m going to do and I remembered what my mother’s mother, my maternal grandmother taught us to do. She used to make a paste out of baking soda let it sit for a minute, then add water and basically boil it on the stove. The burnt on bits literally float to the top of the water surface which is what you see in the first photo.

Next you allow the pan to cool down and it’s an easy cleanup with not a lot of scrubbing. Basically I used one of those safe scrub sponges with Dawn dish soap on it and cleaned the rest up.

I don’t know if anyone else does this or knows about it. But I’m glad I remembered it this morning because the second photo you will see as what the pan looks like now.

I will now go back and start this step of my recipe over.

Sometimes old hacks are the best, and I was reminded not to leave my pans unattended when I’m cooking!

Have a great day!

cod in red curry over rice

Hi there! It’s me your friendly neighborhood kitchen sink cook here. I am really making a concerted effort because of inflation vis-à-vis food costs to cook with what I have on hand, and not go out of my way for extra special items.

I had some beautiful cod fillets in the freezer, we get seafood every few months from Wild Alaskan Seafood Company. We only buy sustainable fish, and generally speaking, it’s a lot of “white” fish.

And one of the things I like in the winter is cod stew. I have actually written about it here before. But I don’t feel like the winter heaviness so I decided to go it slightly different.

In my cupboard I had an unopened jar of red curry paste. So I decided a red curry sauce it was. I sliced up two onions thin and halved – like semi-circles. To that I added four diced cloves of garlic, a little extra-virgin olive oil, a little salt. I needed a little moisture there while I was cooking the onions down so I added a couple dashes of this German red wine vinegar I have.

Once the onions were cooked, I added a 15 ounce can of these little Mutti tomatoes. They literally look like miniature plum tomatoes. I also added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and fresh basil. I smashed the little tomatoes before adding them to the pan to release all their juices. Once that started to come together in the pan on a low to medium flame watching it so it didn’t boil, I added about 3 1/2 tablespoons of red curry paste. I use the Thai Kitchen curry paste if you’re interested.

After the sauce came together, I took my next step. I opened one can of classic coconut milk unsweetened. It is either a 15 ounce can or maybe it’s a 14 ounce can, I forget. I gently incorporated all of the coconut milk into the tomato onion basil sauce, and added a few more leaves of basil and turned the sauce to low.

Next I took my cod fillets out of the refrigerator and put them onto a plate. I added a little salt and pepper to both sides and let them sit for a minute. Now they have been added in to the red curry sauce and everybody’s cooking nicely on a lowish flame.

I am making rice with saffron to go with it. It’s very simple, it was so easy to make, yes the recipe came out of my head, and finally the sauce tastes amazing!

Bon appétit!

why is radnor township like a nancy drew mystery that needs to be solved?

In December of 2013, The Radnor Township Board of Commissioners agreed to buy 71 acres of original Ardrossan land. It was well-documented in the media, right?

To quote Radnor Patch back then:

To cover the $11.6 million cost, Radnor plans to use a $10 million bond issue (previously approved by Radnor voters) as well as supplementary grant funding requested from DCNR, Delaware County and private fundraising, according to the township document.

“The bond payments would be largely funded by revenue from our Open Space Fund, which comes from the real estate transfer tax, rather than from property taxes. However, for an 11 year period (2015 to 2026) the projected payments will exceed the amount available in that fund and we would need a millage increase to make up the difference,” reads a township document on the acquisition.

The document continues, “The millage increase would be structured to sunset in 2026. The millage increase required would be .15 mills. The median home assessment in Radnor is $264,710. That landowner would pay $39.71 a year with such an increase. Further, 67% of the properties in Radnor are assessed under $344,682 and those taxpayers would pay an average of $29.34, with the highest in that range paying $51.70.”

“Board President Elaine Schaefer said the community has had a ‘long-standing desire’ to preserve Ardrossan as open space. She pointed to a 2006 referendum that allowed the board to sell up to $20 million in bonds to pay for open space that was approved by 80 percent of the residents,” reports Main Line Media News.

“Also, in the four recent hearings held to discuss the purchase where “scores of people spoke,” residents supported the plan 3 to 1, she said. While Schaefer said that she understands the financial concerns of ‘the minority,’ Schaefer, who was just reelected, said that Radnor was a democracy,” the newspaper reports. According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”

~ Radnor Patch 12/19/2013

OK, let this sink in again for a minute “According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”

I have to ask, are their proper trails back there yet and has all of that mentioned years ago happened? Or just cows grazing up against McMansions, so McMansions get tax breaks and the farmer grows his cow’s food and no one seems to wish to actually release a comprehensive report since he signed off on his original lease and Radnor developed the ordinance to produce the lease or whatever?

Not to be picky, but from said document of 2015:

And here, the entire document signed by Bill Spingler in 2015:

So in theory, the chemicals would have to be human, domestic animal and wildlife friendly, right? Also in theory, chemicals used could not pose an actual or potential threat to natural water sources, right?

So if the list of chemicals used by said farmer as part of the lease agreement is supposed to be provided, are they regularly and PUBLICLY available (as in always posted on township website as exhibits in the form in which they arrived with only personal email addresses and phone numbers redacted?) ??? At this point why can’t the issue be discussed at Radnor meetings whenever and why can’t the public seem to ever quite know the truth? I still don’t understand what the big deal in Radnor Township’s mind is since that agreement lays out disclosing of chemicals, etc?

So Radnor what about the chemicals? Has that creek been tested regularly and by whom and where are the test results? Why are no outside environmental groups involved or are they involved and if so who? Does Trout Unlimited know for example? What does Delaware County say or a state thing like the PA DEP?

OK now let’s think about the folks who think the lease agreement is ridiculous and come on where else can someone get a deal of renting gobs of land at a $1 and they keep all the lovely moola they make off of the land as well? That my friends, is a farmer’s dream. I can’t blame a farmer for wanting a great deal because farming is brutally hard work and ungodly expensive. However, there is an original ordinance and lease and lease agreement correct? So what happens if the farmer isn’t keeping with the agreement? Has the lease been changed in any way since it’s original issuance?

So yes, to those who wanted the lease overturned in 2021, did you ever think another way to invalidate a lease is if the terms of the lease weren’t being adhered to? And wouldn’t super nasty chemicals be a lease issue?

Bringing it full circle to today, is that why Radnor doesn’t seem to want to release all of the information the public is entitled to see because it is public land?

Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? But sadly, hasn’t Radnor Township had transparency issues in the past? Sunshine doesn’t just help the crops grow, yo’.

Here are links to articles relevant to the farmer and the original lease. I looked for stuff on the trails that were part of this idea and purchase and subsequent leases or changes in lease verbiage, but…. ???? Does this stuff exist?

Radnor official says cattle are part of a tax dodge at the former Ardrossan estate
Richard Booker’s motion would end Fern Valley Farm’s $1-a-year lease for land that the township paid almost $12 million for in 2013.

by Jacob Adelman
Published Nov 12, 2021

An elected official in Radnor is pushing for the township to cancel its lease with a cattle rancher on publicly owned land that had once been part of the sprawling Ardrossan estate, saying the deal helps wealthy landowners on other sections of the former estate take unfair advantage of tax breaks for agriculture.

Richard Booker’s motion, which he plans to introduce at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 22, would end the agreement that lets rancher Richard Billheim’s Fern Valley Farm use 71 acres of township-owned property for its beef cow operation in exchange for $1 a year.

Booker said in a memo with his motion that he decided to take action on the lease after reading an article published earlier this year by The Inquirer about the tax breaks at the former estate enabled by statewide agricultural-conservation programs under Act 319 — better known as “Clean and Green” — and Act 515.

The programs tax land for what it is worth as a working farm and not what its value would be if sold on the open market for housing, strip malls, or offices. Under Act 319, by far the most commonly used of the programs at Ardrossan and elsewhere, the land must produce $2,000 a year in farm goods.

At least two dozen parcels on more than 260 acres are successfully enrolled in the programs, accounting for more than 40% of the former Ardrossan estate’s acreage sold over the last quarter-century, according to an Inquirer analysis of Delaware County records.

» READ MORE: Ardrossan homeowners qualify for local reductions, too — courtesy of programs to save farms

Properties covered by the tax breaks include homes of a leader at a major real estate firm, members of the family that cofounded the Apple Vacations tour business, and the top-ranking member of the County Council for surrounding Delaware County.

The only known agricultural products coming from the enrolled land are the corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay grown there to feed Fern Valley’s cows. While cows do graze on a portion of that land, most of their grass-munching is done on the township-owned property. To Booker, that means Radnor is helping private property owners get their tax breaks because those cows wouldn’t be there absent the generous lease.

Radnor officials defeat measure to cancel ranch lease seen as aiding Ardrossan tax reductions
The decision leaves in place an agreement that Fern Valley Farm has said was vital to its 10-person operation
.

by Jacob Adelman
Published Nov 23, 2021

Officials in Radnor have defeated a measure to cancel a lease on township land for a cattle operation that also helps residents on parts of the former Ardrossan estate save hundreds of thousands each year on their taxes.

In a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the township’s Board of Commissioners on Monday rejected member Richard Booker’s motion to terminate Fern Valley Farm’s $1-a-year lease to use 71 acres of publicly owned property for its 60-head Black Angus beef business.

Booker said at the sometimes combative hearing on Monday evening that this was not a good use of the land that Radnor paid $11.7 million to purchase in 2013 and now costs the township $600,000 a year in debt service payments.

“I don’t want anyone to lose their job or for the farm to go away,” said Booker, who is one of two Republicans on the seven-member panel. “What I do want is to get the township out of … the business of farmland-assessment reductions it has been in for the last seven years…….”However, commissioner Lisa Borowski, a Democrat whose ward includes part of the former Ardrossan estate, said residents are benefiting from the deal…..

Borowski also said that the farmland-preservation programs give Ardrossan landowners an incentive not to subdivide and develop their large properties, which they could opt to do. This does not appear to be accurate, since all of the privately held properties enrolled in such programs are also covered by deals known as conservation easements that prohibit them from being further developed in perpetuity, according to an analysis of property records by The Inquirer.

When the former estate was first broken up, buyers of those properties qualified for federal tax breaks for land conservation thanks to those easements, as The Inquirer has reported.

Asked in an interview Tuesday about which properties she was referring to in her public remarks, Borowski referred the question to Township Solicitor John Rice. Rice said he had not performed an analysis that would identify such properties.

Oh and don’t forget, Lisa Borowski is running for State Rep in the 168th against Chris Quinn, right? So maybe it would benefit State Rep Chris Quinn to inquire as to the chemicals used on the fields, etc,. right?

Look, I love open space and I will admit it, I love cows and those cows are awesome and special. BUT chemicals are a big deal and look at all of the things in the news about glyphosate and paraquat-based herbicides? And what about the pesticides they warn about that can harm bees and other beneficial insects? I totally get that not all farmers can go completely organic BUT where this land is being farmed should be part of a more organic plan if not a completely organic conversation, correct?

So time to show ALL of the cards on this, Radnor. At a minimum if you like and respect your farmer, don’t you want him to be able to farm in peace? And farm safely to protect humans, domestic animals, natural water sources, nature in general, etc, etc?

Happy Saturday, and moo.

a september soup tale

Soup. It’s just one of those things that once in a while you just want. There’s no rhyme or reason. Today was one of those days. This is a soup tale, not necessarily a traditional soup recipe, because I just made it up and you’ll have to follow along.

I save leftover chicken and actually bones and carcasses from roast chickens and freeze them to make bone broth . I also freeze necks and giblet that come inside a roast chicken when you purchase it from the store.

Today I also had acorn squash left over from a farm box, some fresh onions, garlic, a couple of hot peppers from my garden, and a big container of beautiful local mushrooms. So to me it said “don’t let anything go bad, make soup.”

First I got out my small instant pot and I added all my chicken bits. Then I added a sprinkle or two of kosher salt, fresh sage rosemary and thyme, a healthy dose of Lebanese Za’atar spice blend, Shawarma spice blend, and Persian Advieh.

I know, I know I have a weakness for exotic spice blends and different kinds of paprika. Paprika however was not in this recipe.

So I hit the broth setting on my instant pot after covering up my chicken parts and spices with water, leaving a gap of about an inch to an inch and a half at the top inside. After I cooked it all on the broth setting which is about 40 minutes, I added an extra five.

Meanwhile, I took out a cookie sheet pan and made a large tinfoil pouch and put inside of the pouch the acorn squash quartered, four medium to small size carrots cut into little circles, one large fresh onion chunked, and finally I added a small head of garlic, cloves peeled. I drizzled olive oil on top, tossed in a little bit of salt, folded everything up into a package and put it into a 400° oven for about 40 minutes. When the vegetables were done I turned off the oven and set it on the stove top as I waited for the broth to cool down.

When the vegetables were cool enough to handle, I scooped the squash from its skin and put it and the other roasted vegetables into a soup pot with fresh sage, thyme, rosemary. Not a lot just a little bit more, and a couple of dashes of Sherry vinegar.

After the broth had cooled down enough, I drained the broth through a strainer into my soup pot. I put the chicken parts and bits that I had used to create the broth in a metal mixing bowl to cool further. I used a hand blender and emulsified everything, adding to that believe it or not, 2/3 of a cup of creamy peanut butter.

I know peanut butter sounds odd, but when I was a kid and we first went to Historic Williamsburg one of the historic taverns in Williamsburg served a peanut soup, and it was a chicken stock base with peanut butter and it was amazing. It’s a flavor profile that I like. It doesn’t taste like a Reesie’s cup or anything like that but you do have that undertone of peanut butter flavor. Of course, if you’re allergic to nuts you can’t do this.

So what was my next step? I turned the stove on low underneath the soup. I added back the chicken I picked off the bones of the chicken I used to make the broth with. Then I sliced up all the beautiful mushrooms (baby Bella) I had, and tossed them into the soup pot, followed by two additional carrots and one apple grated. Finally, I had about a half a cup of Minnesota wild rice left over from last year, and since it only has a shelf life of so long, into the pot it went!

I have pretty much pre-cooked the soup and I will turn it off and just let it cook away in the pot with the lid on. I will let it come to room temperature and by that time it will be close to dinner, and I can then heat it up. And allowing this soup to sit hot like this will also help the wild rice cook because if you’ve ever cooked with wild rice you know it takes literally twice as long as any other kind of rice. I prefer wild rice in soup because it holds up very well.

For a made up soup of leftovers essentially, it is not bad. Sometimes I am like the kitchen sink cook, and it’s whatever is around goes in something. In this case it has worked out really well and I have to tell you the flavor profile of the soup is wonderful and emulsifying the vegetables and the broth with the peanut butter gives it a creamy texture without adding any dairy products.

Given inflation, food prices, and the economy, perhaps being a kitchen sink home cook is not so bad? I literally bought nothing special for this recipe I used everything I had around the house or in the garden.

The kitchen smells really good right now. Thanks for stopping by.

the ship inn has sunk: a microbrewery coming next

Chef Robert Irvine tried to save The Ship Inn. But The Ship Inn has finally sunk:

Le sigh…. I wish the successors much luck but there are SO many brewery places in the area. Actual fine dining is lacking.

Screen shot from Internet – from Restaurant Impossible episode.

According to the Loop Net listing it is indeed under contract.

The new company going into the grand old colonial gal is called VK Brewing. Veteran owned.

Soooo…time will tell. I hope they honor the past of The Ship Inn. Of course I like others wonder what will happen with all of the memorabilia and historical bits?

Chef Robert Irvine tried to bring a horse to water but hey you can’t make him drink. I won’t miss the now former owner yelling at his employees on the dining room floor at the Ship Inn. Here’s hoping they keep him off of the dining room floor at Duling-Kurtz the other place he and his wife own.

Welcome to the area VK Brewing.

beat the heat with farm boy bbq

I’ve written several times about Chef Paul Marshall‘s Farm Boy Barbecue. We think it’s the best around and have since we first discovered it.

They were formerly in the spot at 29 and 30 in Malvern where the Three Crazy Ladies used to be at the gas station there. That was a good location I think for Paul initially as he was seeing how people would take to his barbecue and it took off and well, that was never supposed to be a permanent home, and he’s been looking for a while and where he’s ended up is he has taken over the old Friendly’s next to Public Storage at 43 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern, which is one block west of 29.

They are in the process of a building makeover, but they are still serving up the barbecue, weather permitting outside usually Thursday and Fridays, sometimes an occasional Saturday. They weren’t out yesterday because the heat was so brutal, but they were there today. The best thing to do, as they are rehabbing their space, is to check their Facebook page to find out if they’re going to be there. They are usually there like 11 AM to 2 PM on those days.

I was delighted to see that Paul and Julie were still out when I was coming by after being at my oncology appointment. I had not ordered ahead, which you can do on Toast Tab, so they were out of chicken and pork ribs but I got brisket (which is like a religious experience), pulled pork, and short ribs for everyone for the weekend. And when I was there I ran into our mutual friend Bob!

The building rehab is coming along and I took a peek at the plans and I think it’s going be really cool! It’s going to be a good size sit down restaurant and they are looking for a fall opening in this new location. But in the interim check for pop-ups at that location a couple of days a week, weather dependent. They also do catering if any of you are interested.

Anyway, #shopsmall #eatlocal

I am a very happy customer of this business I have not been compensated in any way shape or form for writing another post. It’s just the perfect solution for really stinking hot summer weather. Let Paul Marshall do your cooking because no one BBQs like him!

Stay cool and do a rain dance!

Thanks for stopping by!

summer salads: tabbouleh with a twist

One of the things I like about summer, are summer foods. One of my favorites is tabbouleh. Essentially tabbouleh at its core is a parsley salad flavored with bulgur, mint, scallions, tomatoes, and a bright lemony dressing. It’s quick, fresh, easy, and totally yummy.

Tabbouleh is something I’ve always made in the summer, but as an adult in my own house I essentially make it only for myself unless we’re having company because no one else seems to eat it. Another problem in my house is while I work for myself and can set my own hours, my husband has a corporate job, and corporate jobs seem to have expanded their hours since the onset of COVID19, and the days of traditional 9 to 5 hour days seem to no longer exist. So he works a lot. Often he comes home from the office and works hours more in our home office and eats later. I don’t like to eat late, so tabbouleh the way I make it that I’m sharing with you today, is something I can eat for a quick summer dinner . I don’t even necessarily need to make meat or chicken to accompany it, I can just eat that “as is.”

Yes, there is a young adult living with us, but he’s kind of allergic to vegetables most days and eating with the other people in his house, so he will grab dinner and go sit in front of his computer screen and play video games. Often I will make the two of them something to eat and just leave it on the stove. No it is not my favorite thing to do as I don’t like eating by myself but life is what it is. So I have decided that I’m going to make things that I enjoy more in the summer to have if I am going to be eating early and by myself.

You will note when I share my recipe that I don’t have tomatoes in it, and I added chickpeas. The reason I didn’t add tomatoes is I don’t have any in the house and the ones I am growing in my garden are just plants at this point. I’ve also discovered that the salad stays a little more fresh if I don’t store it with tomatoes added. So if I make this with tomatoes I will often dress the top of the bowl with tomatoes that are diced and I will remove the tomatoes off of the top to put away.

Another thing about tabbouleh is you can indeed make it with couscous if you don’t have bulgar wheat.

This is a great summer salad and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! To follow is the recipe.

1 3/4 cups bulgar wheat

Juice of 4 large lemons (maybe more – depends on you!)

A couple of dashes of apple cider vinegar

Olive oil

1 large bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley

1 bunch fresh parsley

Salt, pepper, dash of garlic powder, ground cumin

One large regular cucumber peeled, seeds removed, diced. Or one English hothouse cucumber peeled and diced.

1 sweet or red onion diced, or two bunches of scallions cut up small.

A 15 ounce can of chickpeas drained

Get out a large mixing bowl and to it add dry bulgar wheat, a little salt, a little pepper, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.

To that add about 1 1/2 cups boiling water, and toss. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and put to the side.

In another mixing bowl, add your chickpeas, onion or scallions, parsley and mint chopped fine, and the cucumber. Add salt to taste. Toss it together and if you think it needs more salt add a little more. I add the salt slowly because you don’t want to over salt this.

And a small bowl add your lemon juice, cumin, small dash of garlic powder, salt, eyeball the olive oil and whisk together briskly. Give it a taste and you may want to add a couple of dashes of apple cider vinegar as well.

Bulgar wheat takes nothing to reconstitute with a little hot water so by now you should be fine and remove the aluminum foil from the bowl and give it another stir to fluff.

Add the vegetables and chickpeas and mint and parsley to the large mixing bowl with the bulgar wheat in it. Give that all a mix together and then whisk the olive oil lemon juice and apple cider vinegar mixture again and pour it evenly over everything in the large mixing bowl and toss together.

At this point you can taste test to see if you want more salt or ground pepper. Cover the mixing bowl and put in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.

Leftovers are good for a few days. Keep refrigerated.

goat cheese, ham, and scallion frittata

I love a good frittata. True story is one of my frittatas is actually published in an Epicurious cookbook. It’s called The Kitchen Sink Frittata, and it was published in Epicurious Cookbook in 2012. Amusingly enough Nancy Fuller (Food Network personality) has an identically named recipe on Food Network’s website. My recipe I think is better.

But this? This is a new recipe and I thought of it this morning based upon what I was looking at in my refrigerator this morning.

So here it is and I hope you enjoy it!

Preheat oven to 400°

Take 4 tablespoons of butter and put in a baking dish. I use my vintage 12” French copper gratin pan.

Take eight eggs out of the refrigerator, one bunch of thin fresh scallions, about 6 to 7 ounces of deli ham, 1 4oz log of fresh goat cheese. The goat cheese I’m using today had bits of fig in it – it was what I had on hand.

Thinly slice the scallions and include some of the green tops. Maybe about 3 inches if they are in good shape. Chop up the ham. Also if you have it thinly slice one Roma tomato, also known as a plum tomato. But only use a fresh one.

If you’re using a pan like my gratin pan you can heat it up on the stove as well. I wouldn’t recommend using a glass baking dish, so please don’t . But you can also make a frittata in a cast-iron pan, for example. I also use a cast iron pan to make frittatas, and I have an oven safe fry pan from Great Jones cookware I also use.

When the butter is melted quickly sauté the scallions and the ham. Add to that the thinly sliced tomato. Don’t swish it around in the pan too much you don’t want things to break up. Next add a little freshly cracked pepper, and some dill weed. You can either chop up some fresh dill or use dried dill. Turn off the stove, and let that sit while you move onto whisking the eggs.

Briskly whisk eight eggs with a couple dashes of hot sauce, a little bit of salt not a lot, and about three or 4 tablespoons of buttermilk. Please remember not to use more than a little pinch of salt because you are cooking with ham which is already salty.

When the eggs are whisked up and frothy pour them slowly over the ham and vegetables in the pan evenly. Next crumble up your log of goat cheese and spread evenly over the top and add a couple of more dashes of fresh cracked pepper.

Place in your 400° oven and bake for about 35 minutes. Depending on your oven —-you need to keep an eye on it, so nothing burns. Take it out let it sit for a few minutes slice up and serve. It makes a wonderful weekend breakfast or brunch.