Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge November: Cinnamon

This month was a busy one for me - I didn't have time to develop a new recipe.  But I do want to share something I had written in the past - apple pie, made with vodka pie crust.  If you have pie crust phobia,  this crust is very forgiving.   It's the crust we make when I teach pie making class.  It's great for the holidays!  Enjoy....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Smoked Whitefish Pate

I am a huge fan of Bayport Fisheries up in Michigan's thumb...lately, they've been selling their catch at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.   I hope they are there all winter long.   I bought some whitefish that my husband smoked, but Bayport Fisheries makes a wonderful smoked whitefish if you aren't so inclined,  This recipe works well with any kind of smoked white fleshed fish.  You can find Smoked Whitefish Pate up north all over the place....I had to try my hand at making some myself.   It's great on crackers or toast rounds.

 Smoked Whitefish Pate

1-2 smoked whitefish fillets, broken into pieces.  (about 2 cups)
1 8 oz. brick cream cheese (at room temp)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large shallots, minced
2 T. capers, packed in brine, plus 2 T. brine
1/2 t. garlic powder
6 shake Tabasco sauce
Fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients and allow to chill overnight.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I am thankful for in Ann Arbor...

My friends at Damn Arbor inspired this post....there's lots to complain about in this town - what with it's snobby know-it-all intellectualism.   But that's been done before, let me tell you what I love about it.

1.  Zingerman's.   Yes, you heard me right....I said it....Zingerman's.  We locals are supposed to hate the place, but I don't.  It's my our tourist attraction, and rightly so.  Where else would you take out of town visitors?   The bottom line is this - their bread is really good....if you are looking for some obscure cheese, they have need 17 kinds of olive oil?  They've got it for you.   Plus their customer service is the tops.

2.  The college students.   Yes, I laugh at your beer pong and your walk of shame home with your T shirt on backwards and inside out early Saturday morning and your lame attempts at grocery shopping (i.e. are Spaghetti-os vegetarian?).  But I like your energy and as a parent I hope you are all getting a great education and will soon be gainfully employed.  Enough said!

3.'s how I spend every Friday morning.   It's uniquely A2.

4.  Bier Camp   Locally made sausage and smoked meat.  It's so good and I am glad I found it.

5.  Morgan & York.  The best wine store I have ever been into in my life.    And the cheese rocks, too.

6.  The Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.   It's open year round.  Seriously.  Year round.  Even in the dead of winter.  It's how I am going to totally rock the Dark Days Challenge

7. Dexter  My mailing address says Ann Arbor, but my heart lies in Dexter.  Remember the "Cheers" song?  Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name?  Well,  everyone knows my name in Dexter.   It's where I shop, I go to church, where the kids go to school, where my parents are buried and it's 8 miles west of Ann Arbor and it's really where my heart is.   If you're from Dexter, you know me.  As a girl from a big city.  I like that....a  lot.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My pantry

Isn't this a lovely pantry?  Unfortunately,  it's not mine.  It's a picture I found on the internet.  I really should take a picture of mine, but it's not really photogenic.  You see, I live in a 1970s bilevel.  Think of it as the "Very Brady" house....complete with the stairway right at the front foyer, which means you go up or downstairs right away.  There is no basement.  The kitchen didn't have a pantry at first - we added one where there was a desk space complete with walnut stain and a wall to ceiling cork pegboard once was.   We put a pantry in that spot, and in it, we keep mostly storebought goods for immediate consumption.  You know, cereal, granola bars, soup, spaghetti sauce, etc.  

My real pantry is downstairs - next to what we would have called the "family room" in the 1970s.  It's the laundry room, and it's where our furnace and hot water heater is, in addition to my home canned goods and my vast collection of herbs and spices (I have a bit of a problem - I have a spice addiction).  On any given day, there's a couple crocks fermenting something or other.    Once fermentation is complete, my pickles go out to my "cold cellar" - our attached garage where you might find a bag of apples, a couple heads of cabbage, some hyacinths to force and my lime green Ford Fiesta.   Off in another corner is the chest freezer, filled with quarter of a local Tamworth hog, venison from the buck my son shot, and soon a quarter steer from another local farm.     Plus soup from our Michigan Lady Food Blogger's soup exchange, homemade pasties and some frozen french fries and pizza rolls.   So, the whole scene isn't really fetching....but just imagine the scene above when I describe my preservation highlights for this year:

McClure's Style Pickles - Brooklyn and Detroit natives will recognize McClure's pickles...they are delicious.  My take on them is one of my most popular canned good.   Andy and I canned them when both the kids were at camp this past summer and we were in the midst of a power outage.   I made well over 24 pints - we're down to 17 jars left.

Strawberry Jam with Natural Pectin - my second most popular blog post of all time - well over 6,000 page views just this year.  My family eats strawberry jam by the gross.  I currently have 12 half pints and some various and sundry jelly jars full left.  This jam was the subject of several farmer's market demos this past summer.

Grape Jam - haven't blogged about this yet so I can't post a link, but my sister in law sent my husband home with a grocery bag full of Concord grapes so I tried the grape jam recipe from Linda Ziedrich's great book about sweet preserves.  Have you seen her blog?  It rocks.

Salsa #5 - this salsa recipe is the best home canned salsa recipe I have ever made.   We ate so much of it already that I had to call a farmer friend in October to see if she had any tomatoes left so I could make some more.  Luckily, our mild autumn gave me a reprieve....I got some more put up and right now I have 24 pints left and a few extra quarts.  This recipe was also the subject of a farmer's market demo. 

Cherry Berry Spoon Fruit - I adore American Spoon Foods,  a northern Michigan purveyor of all sorts of wonderful fruit preserves. This is my take on their Cherry Berry Spoon Fruit, which is a no sugar added fruit spread they make specially for our hometown Ann Arbor Zingerman's Deli.   I made just 4 pints of this treat this year, because I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it worked out very well.  I'll make more spoon fruit next year.

Cherry Preserves - I had to fix my first attempt, but my 5 half pints came out fantastic!  They will be great holiday gifts

Peaches - My friend Ellen and I canned these one Friday night in August.   I have 6 quarts total left to get us through the winter.

Stewed Rhubarb -  It's what I do every May at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.  Can't wait to make a crisp in January.  Rhubarb tastes like spring to me, and tonight on my way home it was all snow squalls.  I will need rhubarb in January.

Pickled Green Beans - My friend Martha and I made these beauties early in the season.  I have only one jar left. 

Sauerkraut and Jalapeno peppers - I wild fermented both of these, and the currently reside in our garage.  I will make some kapusta for Thanksgiving and I have already made several batches of pickled eggs with the peppers.

So, what have you preserved so far this year?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Michigan, My Michigan

Like many Michiganders, I often find myself taking our fair state for granted.  We're always on the top ten list for something bad, i.e. we're obese (#10), we're unemployed (#5), we're victims of violent crime (#10), etc.  I want to start writing more about the good stuff we have here.  To start, I'm featuring some Michigan blogs I like:

Absolute Michigan  is "All Michigan, All the Time" - a collection of links, features, news and information about the state of Michigan made better every day by real folks.  I really enjoy the great photography of the many contributors.   How else would I have known about this tribute to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?

Damn Arbor describes itself as a blog about life, Ann Arbor, and life in Ann Arbor, written by "grad students, townies, and derelicts".  I enjoy it's local bent written from a tgwentysomething's point of view, like this post about catcalls from a young woman's point of view.

Mittenlit is about Michigan books and authors.  I have found many of my favorite Michigan reads here.   It inspired me to finally read "Anatomy of a Murder" and learn more about famed Michigan author John Voelker.

The Henry Ford blog  Readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of the Henry Ford, it's right across the street from my office, and so I visit it several times a week on my lunch hour for a quick getaway.     I always learn something new reading this blog.   Check out the Michigan focused recipes.

Jalopnik edited by Michigander Ray Wert,  Jalopnik features daily automobile news and gossip for those obsessed with the cult of cars.  It's like People Magazine for us automotive engineers.   Where else would you go to find the top ten nerdiest ways to modify your car.

Look for more posts in the future about good things Michigan!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge October Round Up: Mace

dog hill kitchen

Maggie really went through a lot of effort for this month's post with her autumnberry ketchup.   One year, a friend and I made autumn olive (the more familiar name of autumnberry) jam and it takes a LOT of berries to yield the puree, since an autumn olive is mostly all pit.  Sounds great!

prospect: the pantry

Apple Mace Muffins sound great for a for a fall Sunday breakfast....wish I had more time this morning, I'd make them today.

tracy's living cookbook

Mace scalloped potatoes au gratin look like a great side dish for tonight's pork roast.  

mother's kitchen

This month, I made Madeira pound cake.  It would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving groaning board.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it's well into November and I haven't posted this month's challenge spice. Here it is...TA DAA....

Cinnamon!  I'd love to hear of your exploits with this most famous holiday spice.  And I hope to hear from some of our long lost bloggers this month.   Surely you've got cinnamon in your spice rack....please post by November 30 and include the words "Spice Rack Challenge" so I can find your post in my reader.  Happy cooking!