Noshing

22 Feb

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On a daily basis, my family uses Yiddish words. My mother grew up in an area where she heard the slang-phrases, thus making it common in our family, even though we technically have no cultural nor religious ties to the language. When Jenn and I would hype up the dog to where he was running all over the house like a wild-ass animal, we’d hear: “Stop it! You’re making him mashugana!” The groan following too much fried food preceded, “Ehg, the ajada.” “Jill! You’ve got schmutz all over your face!” was the typical retort after an ice cream splurge.

When Rob first heard some of this language during our dating times, he would quietly ask for a translation, but now he uses the phrases just as much. So our conversations go something like this:

Rob (horrified): “Your mother is cutting the fat off the bacon with scissors.”
Me: “Yeah. Thinking about eating all that bacon fat makes her verklempt.”

Another word often used, especially in my household, is “noshing.” Google-ly it’s defined as: verb, informal, to eat food enthusiastically or greedily. My definition is: eating enough popcorn, peanuts, and wasabi peas between the 3:00-6:00 hours to turn me into a human pub mix. I don’t go as far to be binge-worthy and unhealthy, but it’s not the best habit to have (and Rob doesn’t exactly share in it).

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So feeling the urge to nosh, but not having any of my noshing goods in the pantry, it inspired me to create something else – something a little bit fancy, a little bit booshy, a dish I would like to order as an appetizer with a glass of bubbles. Nordically inspired, I’m super into pickling and marinating, and my mind (as it often does), turned to cheese. The light in my fridge divinely directed me to the creamy, fresh ball of mozzarella, just pleading for its makeover. In 5 minutes, Marinated Mozerella was born: the cheese was thickly sliced and soaking in a bowl of 1 diced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 1:1 ratio of white balsamic vinegar to rice wine vinegar, all the basil I could manage (about 1 tbsp, chopped, but more would have been dandy), a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a sprinkling season of s&p. Making sure all the slices were submerged, my lovely cheese had a quick 30-minute marinade. Placing a handful of baby spinach on a plate, I then used two slices of the cheese – with its marinade – and finished the dish with a drizzle of amazingly thick extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt. Is there a Yiddish phrase for holy cow?

Any way prepared, this little gem of a loosely-termed “salad” is perfect for a fancy entertaining evening, or simply for your afternoon nosh. Discussing the flexibility of this delicious dish with my mom, we thought it would be fantastic slightly warmed over green veg like beans and asparagus. Or maybe, it would be succulent atop tender, slow-roasted, sweet Roma tomatoes. I suggested placed on top of bread for a crostini. Mom’s response: “I would call that pizza – even in Yiddish.”

Enjoy!

Mr. Rogers’ Tweets

6 Feb

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It’s no question that Mr. Fred Rogers was an icon for children.  For that matter, he was probably an icon for many adults, too.  And it’s a strange wonder to think about what Mr. Rogers would post if he were a part of today’s technology addicted world.  Would Mr. Rogers “like” things?  Would he “retweet?”  What would be Mr. Roger’s answer to cyber bullying?  If only we could ask him.

Despite the fact that I used to do web design for a Fortune 500 company (this was many moons ago, folks; we’re talking Front Page fun), I am what many would call, “Old School” when it comes to modern day technology.  Facebook was purposefully not on my radar.  Twitter, Instagram?  Hardly!  Once, I had a Bluetooth.  That lasted about 5 ½ days.  My husband, on the other hand, is very technologically sound and has been able to hook up our HDish-something television to Netflicks, and connect Pandora through our internal and external house speakers, all through his phone.  It’s a quiet house when he deploys, for sure.

When I was little, my mom would let me watch certain shows on TV, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood being one of them.  She recalls how I would giggle and shy-up when Mr. Rogers asked, “Would you like to be my neighbor?” like he was talking to only me through that electronic box.  I was infatuated with the guy; his quiet nature, slow talking cadence, and always-caring demeanor naturally drew me in, as it still does today.  Now, after teaching for 10 years, and seeing such a drastic change – not only in education, but generally in kids these days – there’s a need for Mr. Rogers and his wisdom.

Last Friday, it was rainy, cold, and all around dreary.  The kids were, what teachers would say, “Done.”  Being one that does not normally turn on the tube in class, I surprised my students with a streaming episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  With just the first few jingly notes of his intro, the kids were hooked.  When he asked, “Will you be my neighbor?” Almost every student in the class responded in a quiet, genuine, “Yes.”  When he slowly yet deliberately asked, “Are you growing up?” Again the class, mesmerized, responded.  Just like when I was young, my 5-year old students thought Mr. Rogers was talking to them personally.

To top the cake, at the end of the program, one little girl breathed a huge sigh, and telling no one in particular commented, “Wow.  He is such a helpful guy.”

Yes, he is.

So that got me wondering.  Stepping out of the wonderfully simple, old, syndicated television world into a comparatively loud and crazy one, what would Mr. Rogers do with today’s technology?  What would Mr. Rogers tweet?  Which of his Instagram pictures would get “likes?” How many Facebook “friends” would he have?  I know I would certainly “follow” Mr. Rogers, but would he “follow” me?

This is all too much!  But, for better or worse, it’s a reality that won’t go away.  So rather than fight it, I am slowly deciding to join the social media world with a Mr. Rogers-esque viewpoint:

Share with care, like what’s nice, and always tweet upbeat. 

With that being said (and with its arguably too-long prologue), here’s the point: A friend asked me to publicize my public domains and hashtags, so here they are:

  • Pinterest: 42 Potatoes Entertains @42potatoestable
  • Twitter: 42potatoes @TweetsTheTable
  • Instagram: @42potatoesblog
  • Popular Hashtags: #eatgoodfood, #yum, #vegetarian, #healthyfood, #eatingacrossAmerica #42potatoes

On these sites, you’ll find all cheerful, cheeky, fun, inspiring (if you like to cook), *mostly* healthy pictures, recipes, and personal anecdotes of, and related to, food.  Please visit, please comment, and I hope you, as always, enjoy.

Not knowing if Mr. Rogers cooked, or enjoyed cooking, or dabbled in any culinary arts, I’m sure he would have appreciated any valiant, positive effort.  So here’s my latest, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Chocolate Strawberry Muffins!  These were a hit at our latest work potluck.  They are super simple (and quick) to make, have all the comfort of a muffin, and the indulgence of a chocolate dipped strawberry.  Disclaimer: Strawberries are currently in season here in Florida (weird, I know), so I completely understand that this recipe would be better suited for May-July in most parts of the U.S.  But, hey – something to look forward to!

For the dry ingredients, whisk 1¾ c all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ salt until combined.  For the wet ingredients, cream 6 tbsp room temp butter with ¾ c brown sugar, and then add 1 room temp egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Also add 1 pint of hulled strawberries that have been smushed, smashed, crushed, and almost liquefied – but not liquified – by a fork.  When mixed, add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches.  Fold in ½ c mini bittersweet chocolate chips until combined.  Then scoop into a cupcake-lined muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and a tiny pinch of sea salt.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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These muffins are what baking is all about– simple, sweet, comforting, and hitting that special place that brings about a smile.  Kind of like what Mr. Rogers does.  In fact, if Mr. Rogers was still around, maybe just maybe, this would be his tweet: Chocolate Strawberry Muffins: enjoy and bring to a neighbor! #yum #BeNice #SnappyToday

Enjoy!

Happy 2015

27 Jan

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Did anyone else have a whirlwind of a holiday season? Even now, mostly through January, I’m just now getting to writing. After Thanksgiving, Christmas was just a hop, skip, and jump away. After Christmas, Rob and I traveled up North visiting Boston, Maine, and Connecticut. Two weeks later, we took a road trip to visit my sister and friends in New Orleans. Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the overall holiday/New Year season with family and friends was more than wonderful, it was truly a blessing.

But so was all the amazing food.

For a quick run-down, starting from the week of Christmas at my mom’s house for hor’derves, ending with this week’s vegan inspired meals, here are our holiday dishes in Cliffs Notes: Foodie Volumes form.

NOTE: It’s ok to drool. No one will judge.

  • Dungeness crab cocktails and Mom’s dip (yep, my absolute fave straight from the waters of our former backyard)
  • Beef Wellington (Rob’s fave, and he only gets it once a year. Poor guy.)
  • Pork Loin Chili
  • Oysters from off the Massachusetts coast
  • Oysters from off the Maine coast
  • Oysters from 2 different river beds in Maine
  • Maine Lobster (in the best way: a simple roll in a local fisherman’s pub. Also had great coffee.)
  • New England Shrimp
  • Oxtail Tortellini (yes, I will be recreating this)
  • Scottish Salmon (Chinooks, you’re still No.1, but this beast of a fish takes a close second)
  • Lamb Shoulder Risotto
  • Lamb Leg
  • Lamb Rib (Lamb. Rib. OMG.)
  • Oh, and all those lambs were in one dish. Well, it probably was just one lamb…
  • Maine Finnan Haddock with Absinthe Cream (Absinthe cream, people!!)
  • Goat Meat Chili
  • Duck Confit Poutine. The real deal.
  • Fermented apple, cider beer. Kinda like kombucha, only better.
  • Truffled Venison
  • Wild Boar Pappardelle
  • Wedding Cake Latte (pumps of vanilla and almond syrups)
  • Jenn’s Bacon and Spinach Wrapped Chicken
  • Lemongrass Hot Wings
  • Etouffee French Fries
  • And finally…. Duck Sausage with Spicy Mustard and Cranberry Sauce (in hotdog form, mind you)

After finally taking yet another step into the social media world, I did document many of these on Instagram, #eatingacrossAmerica and #42potatoes. Needless to say, it’s been fun. And filling. But mostly fun.

So now it’s back to the real world; Rob is back flying and I am back teaching, and in four days I’ve given myself 7 paper cuts. One of which is in that little soft spot between my fingers (now, if that’s not cause for a choice word or two, I don’t know what is). However, reality doesn’t mean the food adventures have to stop. Oh no, my friends, it’s only just beginning.

I am taking a new approach to the new year. Like many resolutions, the oh-you-made-a-new-years-promise-to-eat-better-and-detox-but-after-three-days-of-quinoa-torture-you’ll-give-in-to-the-hidden-frozen-candy-bar resolutions obviously don’t work so well. I’ve learned not to make resolutions that will end up in failure, making me feel defeated and diving into plate(s) of nachos. So this year, there are no resolutions, just more fantastic eating.

We have an overabundance of beets from our farm, so I’ve been trying to be creative with them (plus, almost every restaurant we visited in New England had some sort of beet salad on the menu, so I’m inspired). Beets are an incredibly versatile veg, and after putting in the initial efforts to prepare them, having them ready to use in the fridge lends to infinite possibilities.

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To prepare roasted beets: cut off all the greens (if you have beets with their green tops – they are edible and delicious, by the way), then wash and dry the skin. Place the beets 3-4 at a time in a foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap the foil loosely around the beets making a little package. Pour in about ¼ c of water, and leave a little opening at the top for steam to vent. Place in a 400 degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half; until a paring knife slides easily in the beets. Remove, let cool, and peel the skin off using a paring knife, or just your fingers. NOTE: you will get beet-red stained hands, but it will fade with a few washes.

At this point, they beets are ready for whatever beety plan you have for them. I choose to lightly marinate them with rice wine vinegar, salt, lots of black pepper, and dill, and keep them in a glass jar for making salads, hashes, or pureeing with white beans and garlic for a delightful and healthy crostini topping. They are great for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch, chopped up finely as a relish on tacos, and fantastic paired with sweet, fatty fish.

In other parts of the country, beets tend to be the start of the spring season. Here in Northern Florida, they are a staple at the moment. So, whether you are able to use them now, or have to wait until April, hopefully some inspiration has sparked for a healthy new year. Enjoy!

 

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