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Archive for the ‘Things Gastronomical’ Category

2009

Happy 2009! I hope your holidays were full of love and good cheer and delicious food. I know mine were. They have also been blessedly peaceful weeks, slow weeks, full of days that revolved around meal-planning and sharing food with family and friends whom I care deeply about. We break bread and pass the serving dishes and laugh and eat and reminisce and ask for seconds and talk about what we’ll be eating at the next meal. We are connected by a love of good food, thoughtfully prepared; we share a meal, and we are drawn closer together. It is a wondrous thing, that we sit at the table and eat together and are nourished and fortified in so many ways.

I find myself approaching 2009 with an aspect of gratitude for these moments, but also for (among other things) the gastro-community I am so lucky to be a part of in Ann Arbor — for the people whose food I buy, and for the people with whom I share meals and cooking ideas. Since I am fed, literally and figuratively, by so many of you, I want to begin this blog-year by taking a moment to reflect and appreciate.

Thank you to Tantre Farms for the plenitude of your harvest, which I have enjoyed this year and last as a member of your CSA. I look forward to what 2009 will bring.

Thank you to Ann Arbor’s sundry food entrepreneurs, who are striving to improve the gastronomical quality of life in Ann Arbor: Everyday Wines, John Roos, Shannon Brines and the lot of merchants at the AA Farmer’s Market, A Knife’s Work, Locavorious, Bob Sparrow, Mike Monahan, T.R. Durham, the Zingmerman’s businesses, Jean Henry, Morgan & York, the People’s Food Co-Op, and many, many more.

Thank you to Eve Aranoff, whose drive and determination inspires me–both in the kitchen and in life.

Thank you to the many food bloggers in southeast Michigan who contribute so much to the conversation about food and life in our area.

Thank you to the readers of this blog, for your comments and your assuring presence.

Thank you to Anne and Maria, my co-bloggers and kitchen-muses, who have made my life richer in ways that are too numerous to count.

Thank you to Eric, for sharing a table with me, praising my cooking to anyone who will listen, and doing the dishes with nary a complaint.

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One of my favorite procrastination techniques is to start on another, preferably food-related project, in order to put off whatever it is I’m really supposed to be doing. This weekend, I should really be focused on my own holiday gift shopping. Instead, I’m hanging out at my friend’s place, eating leftover noodle kugel, drinking coffee, reading stuff on the Internets. Soon, I’m told, there will be Bloody Mary’s. So, hmmm, maybe shopping can just wait a bit longer.

But perhaps you’re more disciplined than I am and are already half-way through your shopping list. Maybe you’re wondering what to get the food-obsessed friend or sweetie or family member on your list. And here’s where my food-related diversion project comes in: amidst sips of coffee and bites of kugel, we’ve been brainstorming about good gift ideas from the Zingerman’s Mail Order Catalog, which is where my friend works. (Read: we’re fantasizing about what kinds of things we’d love to receive. Hi, mom!) And what better way to assuage my guilt about putting off my holiday preparations than sharing some ideas with you all — or, better yet, sharing my Zingerman’s friend’s picks. To make it even a bit sweeter, they’re sharing a 20% discount offer for friends & family with readers of this here little blog. Sometimes, procrastination pays off.

Here’s the skinny: check out the online catalog–that is, if you don’t have a paper copy handy–or browse our picks below. If you find something to your liking, enter the code word PARSNIP when prompted for a discount code.

Here’s the fine print:

  • Ship anywhere in the USA, or pick up at Mail Order
  • Only good at Zingerman’s Mail Order — cannot be used at any other Zingerman’s businesses
  • Last date to order for standard shipping rates in 12/17.
  • You can order after, but S/H might be more expensive.
  • Last date to order for pick up on 12/24 is 12/22.
  • Expires 12/31/08.

With all of those formalities out of the way, here are our picks in various categories and price points. Enjoy browsing, and enjoy the discount!

Sweets and Beautiful Gifts

$12
Askinosie Bars from Missouri

$14
Antonio Mattei Biscotti

$16
Fruit Jellies from Northern Italy

$24
Hot Cocoa Coffeecake

$25
Preserved Figs from Calabria

$30
Béquet Caramels from Montana

$45
Candied Chestnuts

$50
Cunesi Rum Truffles

$55
Robert Lambert’s Rare Citrus Fruit Cake

Meat

$60
Finocchiona Salami

Spice

$12
Urfa Red Pepper Flakes

Marash Red Pepper Flakes

$30
Wild Fennel Pollen

Oil

$25
Roi Olive Oil

$25
Marina Colonna’s Citrus Oils

$29
Zingerman’s Peranzana Olive Oil

Vinegar

$19
Vecchia Dispensa’s 6 Year Aged Balsamic

$28
Agrodolce White Balsamic Vinegar

$75
PX Sherry Vinegar

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Well, we made it: a post everyday in November. I was skeptical, but we did it. [Raise glasses, *clink*!] Thanks to my fellow bloggers and to you all who checked in on our progress. Even though challenges such as NaBloPoMo are a bit of a contrivance, I have found that they do put into place a necessary structure and shape for blog posts. In order to ride this wave of blogging productivity, and to capitalize on the current obsession with all things related to the economy, I’ve been planning a series of posts this month about cooking, eating out, and entertaining on a budget, focused mostly (though not exclusively) on the Ann Arbor area. If there is something you’d like to know about on this topic–where to find the best selection of local products, who has good deals on sparkling wine, etc.–feel free to send us an e-mail at gastronomical3@gmail.com, or leave a note in the comments and we’ll do our best to track down some answers. We look forward to hearing from you.

To kick us off, let me share a note from our friends at Everyday Wines, apprising us of new offerings and services, as well as upcoming deals and events.

75 years ago, on December 5th, the collective consciousness of this country heaved a sigh of relief and reached for its corkscrew. Yes, Prohibition was repealed and we are celebrating that glorious moment this Dec 5. We will be open till 10pm (yes, it’s Midnight Madness around town, we know) and we will give you 15% off all the wine accessories in the shop.

In the immortal words of the Home Shopping Network: But wait! There’s more! All through the month of December, our loyal everyday-wines bag-toting customers will also get 15% off case purchases (that’s 12 bottles to a case). What’s that, you walked here and can’t carry a case home? We’ll deliver it for you. You want all the whites chilled before we drop it off? We can do that too, talk to us.

We have flowers now. Yes! Fair trade roses from Ecuador, Amaryllis and Ranunculus (totes, dude!), all manners of bouquets. All of this from Lisa Waud of Pot & Box. Come in, take a look, a sniff, a rose. Until you do, go visit her at htp://www.potandbox.com
.

And a big thank you from A Knife’s Work to all you for your support, feedback and encouragement. They are now featuring weekly desserts, along with the soups, sides and entrees. And, for the month of
December, you get 50% off your second entree Sundays and Mondays. Check their weekly menu at http://www.aknifeswork.com.

Of course, there’s always something new and interesting (like a Champagne taste-off coming up) that slips between the email cracks, so do visit us and say hello.

p.s., You might notice a couple of new items in the right sidebar. Gastronomical Three has been listed in Alltop’s Food listings, as well as on the Delightful Blogs directory. They are both great ways to find out about other blogs, so if you’re hungry for new blogs, check them out.

p.s.s. Not all posts this month will follow this theme — just be on the lookout for a collection of such posts on these pages!

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Here are some things that are inspiring me this weekend:

  • Enjoying reading the special food issue of the New Yorker (11/24/2008) and Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook
  • Making and eating these molasses-chocolate-ginger cookies
  • Gearing up to make Texas Beef Brisket Chili
  • I can’t seem to stop listening to this song as I work in the kitchen lately (and really wishing I could dance like that. These folks have figured it out.)
  • Doing a bit of food-geeking-out on Cookstr
  • Exploring new (to me) Michigan food blogs, like fast grow the weeds
  • Reminiscing about the summer market:
    The way things were

    The way things were

  • Marveling at the seasonal bounty from our Thanksgiving share (many dozens of pounds worth), and at what was on view at the market this morning
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What has been inspiring you?

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In the nearly thirteen years I’ve lived in Big 10 university towns, I believe I have attended three, count ’em three, college football games. One of my father’s favorite jokes is to call me up on days that Penn State and Michigan play each other and chide me about how difficult it must be for me — who will I root for?

It’s true: I don’t give give a hoot about college ball. But I can get into the rivalry when good wine is at stake. This Sunday night, our friend Julie invited the G3 to a Michigan vs. Ohio wine-judging event at Vinology. She lined up some expert judges to do the real evaluations and we amateurs followed along with our own score sheets. Had I known what was ahead of me, I would have trained–or at least eaten more than eggs and toast that day.

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From the press release:

Ahead of the legendary gridiron clash, wine lovers in Michigan and Ohio assembled to determine whose wines would triumph in a head-to-head clash. The Slow Food chapters of Columbus and Huron Valley are pleased to congratulate the winners:

Sparkling Wine: Shady Lane Cellars Blanc de Blancs 2000 (MI)

Aromatic White: Ferrante “Golden Bunches”Riesling 2007 (OH)

White Wine: Black Star Farms “Arcturos” Chardonnay sur lie 2006 (MI)

Pinot Noir: Black Star Farms “Arcturos” Pinot Noir 2006 (MI)

Red Wine: Kinkead Ridge Revelation 2006 (OH)

Michigan took 3 of 5 categories–go blue!

I tasted so many wines that night–more than 25–that I couldn’t quite keep them all straight. (Because there were so many, you see.) But I do remember digging the “Arcuturos” Pinot Noir, which one of the judges, Joel Goldberg of MichWine and of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Arbor Vinous column, pronounced a “hellaciousy good wine for 11 bucks.” I don’t know enough about wine to comment with authority about its body, texture, bouquet, and all that, but I did find the combination of thrift and local spirit quite appealing.

11/21/2008 update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle has written up a much more informative and thorough report than my little squib here. Check it out for all the juicy details.

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Thanksgiving is still a ways away, but my day was nonetheless occupied by the holiday. This morning had me vetting a “rough draft” of a menu I’m planning with my mom, and tonight saw us at the table of gracious hosts who prepared an amazing pre-Thanksgiving feast (because they will be traveling over the holiday). I offer a post in pictures, as a way to inspire your (and my) menu planning for this year’s holiday feast.

Bob & Liz’s Pre-Thanksgiving Feast Menu

Cocktail Hour:
Cranberry Mojitos
Goat Cheese, Spiced Hazelnut and Fig Preserves Crostini
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Cranberry Crostini
Orange-Pomegranate Salad with Chardonnay Vinaigrette
Grapefruit-Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Kale Stuffed Mushrooms

Feast:
Roasted Michigan Turkey
Cubed Bread Dressing
Mashed Michigan Potatoes
Classic Green Peas
Brussels Sprout Hash with Carmelized Shallots
Sweet Potato Salad with Orange Maple Dressing
Buttermilk Biscuits
Tangerine Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Gravy
White Bordeaux Table Wine

Save Room for Dessert:
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Pecan Squares
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Port, Dessert Wine and Liqeurs

Do they know how to put together a menu or what? A lovely blend of traditional and traditional-with-a-twist flavors.

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Cranberry Mojitos

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Crostini

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The Main Event

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An almost-full plate

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Stacked

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Choices, choices

How is your menu-planning coming? Are you going to try new recipes or stick to old favorites?

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We got a million of ’em.

So, we were tagged by Kate at Four Obsessions to tell all about five stupid things we regularly do in the kitchen, and since we vied for the title of stupidest in the kitchen, all three of us contributed.

Our dirty secrets?

Shana:

  1. I do not own a toaster, so I  burn a lot of bread under  the broiler while trying to make toast.
  2. I do not own potholders, so I  burn my arms and hands a  lot, sometimes while retrieving said burnt  toast.
  3. I think all the time about  buying a toaster or a  potholder, but never do. Due to laziness,  cheapness, or stubbornness, I’m not  sure. Probably all of the above.
  4. I can’t make coffee. I’m  serious.
  5. I waste more leftovers than I  care to  admit.

Maria takes a  lot of pride in not wasting too many leftovers. However, she says:

  1. A potholder theme! I do own potholders, but I do not use them.  I use the nearest dishtowel. This is both unsanitary and dangerous as it is  often wet, making it an excellent heat conducter.
  2. .I begin carefully separating eggs and then  casually toss a yolk in with the whites or white in with the  yolks.
  3. I confuse baking soda and baking  powder.
  4. I grate the skin off my knuckles while  grating cheese and then squint at the grated cheese to determine if there  are signs of blood.
  5. I am overconfident in judging container  sizes relative to amount ingredients and end up with extreme overflow as I  stubbornly try to pack too much into too small a  container.

And from Anne:

  1. I have a very nice collection of kitchen knives, which I store all piled on top of one another in a
    small drawer under the counter. They get used, but are not well cared for.
  2. For some reason I continue to think I can wear a white shirt when I cook, which invariably gets ruined. I have many aprons, but never remember to use them
  3. Our cat has very good taste in cheese/pate/pork fat,*  but we frequently leave the kitchen absent-mindedly only to find a $12 blockof cheese mauled and crumbled on the counter/floor.*(I was worried  he’d get sick when he recently ate all the trimmings from a pork shoulder, but
    he just went into a food coma for an hour or two and then he was back to normal)
  4. I love my clean shiny counters, but don’t always think about using a  ‘new/clean’ towel thereby having a lovely kitchen but poisoning my family by spreading germs all over
  5. When leftover food has been in the fridge for a while, I will ask my husband “can I get rid of this?” to which he always replies, “no don’t throw it out! I’ll eat it for lunch tomorrow.” This goes on for several days until the leftover food has taken on new colors, fuzziness, and very unpleasant odor.

So much for credibility in the cooking world. We’re a bunch of kitchen charlatans.

And who to tag?

From our local food world:

Food Snob on a Tuesday Night

John  Roos, Local coffee roaster extraordinaire

From next door in Detroit, just because we’d love to hear his hallmark smart ass sincerity addressing this topic:

Sweet Juniper

And from the world of famous food bloggers who no doubt have better things to write about but might be desperate because their blogging everyday in November and need a topic (and it’s a good one):

The Wednesday Chef

Smitten Kitchen

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