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Archive for March, 2007

The blog’s a little lonely right now. Anne’s in Puerto Rico and our jealousy is only lightened by her promise of food-detail-rich reports when she comes back. Shana’s obsessed with the hunt for an apartment that’s both aesthetically and economically pleasing (a tall order in AA, but that’s the subject of other blogs). Me, I don’t have many excuses, except that my step-daughter Naomi has been with us all week as has my Mom, so I’ve been spending a lot more time cooking food than writing about it. I vowed to do the full family dinner for five all week, all of us sitting down at the same table at the same time eating the same food. There were some exceptions for Nick who hasn’t yet mastered lettuce. Here’s how we’re faring so far: (more…)

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A home meal worth a mention. I had an idea of making irish stew and soda bread for friends on St. Patrick’s day but had to cancel because the host (John) was stuck in bad weather in NY and the hostess (me) had spent part of the morning throwing up (much to the consternation of young Nick — WHAT is Mama doing ??). So dinner that night was no-spice pad thai from No Thai. Surprisingly soothing. (Note to self: do NOT go near South U on St. Patrick’s Day ever again. Boorishness reigns). Several days later, I made the NYT version of soda bread with some house-made lamb sausage from Sparrow (very tasty, but be warned, the links pour out grease), some Irish cheddar and apples. Good food on a cool night. Washed down with a fine day old half-bottle of Charles Shaw Syrah. Recipe for the bread after the jump. I swapped in fennel seeds for caraway and went light on the raisins because there weren’t many in the house. (more…)

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Last Sunday I finally got my act together food-wise and made a dish from the July 2006 issue of Food and Wine. It was from an article about the healthy home eating habits of Cyril Renaud, the chef at Fleur de Sel in Manhattan (of course he and his wife are intelligent enough to live in Brooklyn). The recipe calls for a one-pound boneless lamb loin or leg roast, and if you follow the portions correctly and only eat 4 oz (which is hard if you make it right!), the meat supposedly only has about 4 grams of saturated fat. I’ve made this dish twice before, and I have to say every time it comes out a little different, probably because I vary techniques slightly (which pans I use, how long in oven, where I purchase the roast, what kind of mood I’m in. As usual, a high quality piece of meat, plus proper trimming, [and a good mood] are key.) The recipe says the active time is 1 hour and 15 minutes (plus you have to soak the beans overnight), and of course it took me about double that, but I was also multi-tasking at the time. I would suggest if you want to make this recipe (espec. the first time) you should read through carefully and do some of it early in the day or the day before. In any event, I seem to have been successful this time, because my husband said it was the best thing I’ve made in quite some time (actually I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing – but I’ll accept the complement!). I documented this pretty thoroughly with my new digital camera, but still working out how the settings work, so some photos are better than others. But the slide show (click on the photo below to view) will give you an idea of the process involved.

click image for slideshow

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Sometimes dinner needs to be uncomplicated. At these times, you might poach an egg or two, toast an english muffin, and maybe nibble on some cheese and fruit. Or you make a cheese quesadilla and smother it with store bought salsa, sour cream if you have it. Or perhaps you make those wonderful Indian “miracle package” dinners (as I referred to them earlier this morning–they’re really called “Indian Fare”) from Trader Joe’s that are really just as good as takeout but cheaper (2.99 apiece, I think), and have no artificial anything. These are dinners that will suffice, as few pots have been dirtied, little brain power has been exerted, and a few simple ingredients have come together to create something , if not delicious, then better than merely palatable.

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My weekend was so lacking in culinary imagination that it’s not even worth describing as Anne did in her memorable lost weekend post. Saturday night, taking advantage of my temporary live-in babysitter (aka Mom), John and I went with Mark and Claire on what we chose to call a pub crawl, which for old people like us meant that we went to two, count ’em, two, bars in one night. One of them twice. I came home smelling like cigarette smoke for the first time in years! Whoo hoo. But to the point. First we went to Leopold Brothers which was on the empty side at 7:30 and had nice-tasting Pisco margaritas and some nachos which tasted pretty much like nachos everywhere except maybe a little fresher and healthier. Leopold’s continues its sad tradition of no grill items, and we had a hamburger jones, so at 8:30 or so we did a cold hike up to Old Town for burgers

Now here’s the problem. With the really occasional exception (I don’t quite get John’s lust for apple fritters nor does he understand my sometime craving for Chuckles) , my husband and I have an almost perfect gastronomical meeting of the minds. We both have a healthy (healthy?) respect for the burgers at Grizzly Peak, and we enjoy a trip to Blimpy Burger every month or two. But on the subject of Old Town burgers (7 oz. of Knight’s beef — abandon all thoughts of cows bucolically grazing on grass) we cannot agree. I say moist, meaty and flavorful. John says greasy and dense. Perhaps after last week’s disaster of an ABC burger, my standards were low. So I must ask you — in a town that purportedly has good burgers, can someone help me define what good is and where it is to be found?

And just for the record, we went back to Leopold Brother’s and had more margaritas and were proud to be the oldest people in the bar.

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Just before we launched this blog a few months ago, I got together for a couple of beers at Old Town with an old friend to discuss the very problem of food and eating in Ann Arbor that is being discussed (dissected?) at length over at AAIO. I was nervous about starting a blog on the food scene here because I’m so frequently disappointed when I eat out in this town, and I didn’t want to create a forum for bellyaching. (I know, I know.) John, with his usual brilliance, said, “Don’t focus on the restaurants, then. The best cooking in this town happens at home.” The blog has ended up doing a bit of both, but I’ve yet to really explore this thread–resources for the home cook in A2. (more…)

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