Archive for September, 2008

h1

Butternut Squash Soup + Unnecessary Pretty Kitchen things…

September 30, 2008

As yesterday was the first blustery day of fall, I was feeling the need for some autumnal healing. I somehow find myself incapable of avoiding the deli on my days off, and it just so happened that I had a meeting with HR about health insurance anyway (I’m insured, this means my adulthood is official) So I was already wandering around in Kerrytown with a cup of coffee and a few minutes leftover on my parking meter.

I walked in to the People’s Food Co-op and bought a few redskin potatoes and a butternut squash.

I’ve noticed that since I started working at Zingerman’s my style of grocery shopping has completely changed. I no longer go to Meijer’s with a page of groceries. I have pantry stocked with a few necessities from trader joe’s, and a few really nice ingredients that I use in just about everything (Katz apple cider vinegar, heather honey, 8 yr. Balsamic). When I decide to make something, I think about it all day, and on my way home from work pick up the things I don’t have. Meat from Sparrows – and veggies from the farmers market or PFC. It feels like a very sexy – almost a European – style of shopping. And I find that it means I spend less money and waste less food.

When I got home I found “butternut squash” in my Flavor Bible, and decided on a squash soup with bacon (I had a stub of mystery bacon that I had obtained for super cheap at work) cream and nutmeg.

I made the soup by rendering the bacon fat and using it to oven roast the cubed squash and potatoes. Once they were soft I pureed them in Grammy’s old Cuisinart, and added a quart of chicken stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon. I finished off the soup with a drizzle of cream, and for presentation, some fruity olive oil, parmigiana (although next time I’m trying goat cheese), and ground pepper.

Success! It was yummy.

And now, a few completely unnecessary kitchen things that have caught my eye.

Its a salt pig! It holds salt above your cooking area to keep good salt readily accessible during all stages of cooking. It keeps the salt in a cool-dark-dry place. Totally unnecessary – but absolutely adorable and I want one.

Next on the list of silly kitchen gadgets – an immersion blender. Something I meditated on while I was making soup yesterday. It would be nice to puree a soup without having to transfer it to the Cuisinart, while getting two other bowls dirty in the process. On the downside – it really does top the list on unitaskers, and its pretty rare that I find myself needing to puree a soup while its still in the pot. Being lactose intolerant, the glamor of making milkshakes in the glass isn’t quite as thrilling as it is for some.

In other exciting news. I’ll soon be moving to dry goods, which is super exciting. I’ll get to be the one of the olive oil / vinegar / exciting things in jars experts I always respected and admired before I started working in the deli. Moreover, my job will be talking to people about cooking. I can’t wait!

Ciao, Sweatergirl

h1

Hats and Toast!

September 26, 2008

So yesterday I opened my blog stats only to find that I had a huge spike in readership due to fellow blogger’s link of my table before and after project in her “Before and After Extravaganza” post. That was hugely exciting.

But even MORE exciting – I’ve finished two hats to wear to work.

The pattern is from Stitch n’ Bitch Nation, the yarn is Berrocco Comfort. I absolutely love wearing it to work and bragging that I made it. The only downside, is that I now have promised to knit two more for two of my work buddies.

This is the Koolhaus hat designed by Jared of Brooklyn Tweed. I just finished it about 20 minutes ago, and I was so excited to show it off that it spurred this posting. This is the first yellow anything that I own, and the color is perfect! Its knit in a handspun silk wool blend.

Finally – This was my dinner last night.

Seared tomatoes with PX Sherry Vinegar from work, parmigiana, and olive oil. Yumm.

Peace, Sweatergirl

h1

Reasons I love my job #684: Homework = Making dinner with my little sister.

September 23, 2008

Working in the food world means that you don’t get weekends off. I’m over it – because it means that while everyone else is working, I get to have a my days off entirely to myself. And on these days off – I inevitably wander back to my place of employment. So yesterday after having getting tea with Ji Hye, I went to Shaman Drum to pick up “The Flavor Bible”, my new encyclopedia for all things food related.

This book alphabetically lists over 600 foods, flavors, cuisines; it serves as a sort of cullinary bibliography of compatible flavors. Its written by the Zagats people, and took 11 years to compile. I am in awe of this book, and I’m not the only one – its been getting a ton of press in the food-nerd-blogosphere.

So after getting my hands on this wonderful book, I had to show it off to my coworkers. It turns out that we were playing a little game which entailed bringing home any half-used mysterious sample jar, under the pretense that you had to cook something awesome with it and share how you used it.

So I found a jar of Crystal peppers from Spain. Ari calls them the “Foie Gras of Peppers”. They can be eaten alone, or with bread. I wanted to make something really fun and unique.

So this was result of my brainstorming – “A Spaniard in Tuscany – Crystal Pepper Fettucine with Serrano Ham and shaved Manchego”.

Here is about 3 T. of crushed Crystal Peppers.

I kneaded the crushed peppers with 2 T. of Spanish olive oil, 1t. salt, and 2 C. flour

Here is the finished lump of dough – which was then wrapped in plastic and left to rest in the fridge for an hour.

I picked up Allie from band practice and she helped me make pasta.  I really don’t think its necessary to use a pasta roller – its pretty easy to roll it out by hand with a rolling pin.

The peppers turned the dough such a beautiful color!

The pasta only had to cook for a couple minutes.  After it was done we tossed it lightly with some olive oil, a couple ounces of shaved Manchego, chopped basil, and a few slices of chopped up Serrano ham.  It was delicious!

Here’s Allie Enjoying hers.

After dinner we used a few chunks of bread to sop up all the leftover bits of Manchego and Serrano.

All in all I give the meal 5 stars: its hard to beat cooking and eating with my little sister, bonus points for getting to count it as “homework”!

h1

At last! DIY Table – Before and After

September 23, 2008

Last summer upon being gainfully employed, I set out to claim my stake in adulthood.  A key component to becoming an “adult” is to own a dining room table set.  Unfortunately, with limited monetary resources, I was confined to either A) IKEA or B) Craigslist.

I went with option B.  After a couple of weeks of searching I found this –

A table set fixer-upper.  The legs and table-top were solid cherry.  The table would need to be stripped and refinished.  The chairs were unfortunately not cherry, and they needed to be re-glued, reupholstered, and one chair had to be completely rebuilt.  Workload aside, the price was definitely right.  And after talking to the nice owner, I decided to go see the table set first hand.

The table set had nothing but potential, and the owner told me that the set had been in her family since the great depression.  After years of being well loved, the set needed a face lift, and she was just happy to give it to someone who would enjoy it as much as her family had!

I think the most surprising feat was that I was able to fit the whole set into my Ford Taurus.  As soon as I got home I set up shop in my asbestos laden basement, and tucked in for a fun summer of inhaling paint stripper fumes.

Below is the table after being completely stripped of laquer –

And now – after 8 coats of polyurethane matte finish –

After finding out that the table wasn’t solid cherry, I decided that I would paint the chairs black and use black accents on the table to tie them together visually.

Once the table was finished, I was faced with a certain doom of finishing the chairs.  Outside of needing paint and varnish – the table was in practically perfect condition.  The chairs on the other hand, needed a lot of love.  Anybody can paint – furniture repair is another story.  My mom was awesome, and took the one completely broken chair to her boys at DeLeuw lumber, they fixed the chair up good as new.  The other three chairs needed to be completely disassembled, and re-glued with pressure straps so that they would keep their shape they glue dried.

At the end of the summer I took a week of vacation and vowed that I would finish the chairs.  At this point they had been re-glued, but they still needed to be sanded down, given two coats of paint, and reupholstered.  I picked up the upholstery fabric at IKEA; the paint is a Benjamen Moore matte acrylic for metal and wood.

After a lot of cursing, painting, and stapling, I finished the chairs 🙂

And now – the great reveal!

a closer look at the chair

After all the work – I couldn’t be happier with the finished project!

Cheers, Sweatergirl