Sunday, July 22, 2012

Southern Unami

Green Tomatoes3

The culinary world identifies five basic flavors, salty, savory, sweet, sour and unami.  We generally understand the first four but the fifth is a little more difficult to explain....for some folks.  However if you enjoy Southern food, the unami experience begins with a green tomato.

Green Tomatoes1

The drought of 2012 has hit the midwest hard.  Farmers are plowing under dead and dying crops.  Backyard gardens struggle without decent rainfall.  Watering is fine but there are nutrients in rainwater you just can't get from your faucet.  A friend had to pull out some of his tomato plants due to disease to the foliage.  But what to do with the tiny, little green tomatoes?  Don't waste them, email the fried green tomato freak to COME AND GET'EM!!

Green Tomatoes2

Fried green tomatoes are simplicity.  Fill a plastic bag with equal parts flour and cornmeal.  Slice your  tomatoes roughly the same thickness so that they fry evenly.  Place the slices in the plastic bag with your flour/cornmeal mixture and shake so that your slices are evenly coated.  Heat oil in a cast iron skillet.  I use a mixture of bacon grease, canola oil and lard but you can use straight  canola or peanut oil.  Once the oil is hot, carefully add the tomato slices.

Green Tomatoes4

Fry until golden on  both sides and drain on a rack.  Salt and consume immediately.

Green Tomatoes5

I know the French have their fries but give me fried green tomatoes all day long.  It's that flavor explosion of not just salt but the combination of tomato's distinct hot summer flavor on the back of the tongue fried to crunchy tender goodness.

Green Tomatoes6

Meet your hot Southern bar snack.  Bet they'd taste oh so good with an icy cold barley pop.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ten Pounds of Winning

Pretty much goes without saying.  From one of my favs, Charlie Podrebarac.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Williams Sonoma, where the chicken roosts

Not satisfied with kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, Williams Sonoma expands into the agrarian marketplace.  Cha-Ching!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Heat

Well hello blog, how ya been.  What a summer I'm having, how about you?  Despite fighting the good fight, the company I have worked for quite a while is calling it quits.  Slowly co-workers faded away into new lives.  My last day came and with it new duties to occupy my time.  Applying for unemployment, trying to find affordable health insurance and of course, looking for a new job.  My home computer decided that it had also had enough and fired me also.  Oy.  So while I'm trying to figure what I want to do with the rest of my life, I keep myself busy with Projects.


I'm not quite ready to reveal what exactly this involves but I will say that here in the Midwest we've been experiencing triple digit heat and drought.  In late June.  My poor little garden is still kicking but it's definitely confused by the earlier than normal heat and humidity.  The peas were the first victim of mother nature.  I'm scared to think what August will bring.  It could be worse for me.  I have the good fortune to have two towering oak trees in my front yard that provide the most wonderful sunscreen for my house.  My HVAC system is eternally grateful.  So it hasn't been all doom and gloom.  Action Jackson got to go to work with me the last few weeks since I really didn't want to be the only person in the office and now he gets quite a bit of human time while I transition.  This is a good thing because we're going to attempt to pass a pre-certification test to be a Pets For Life team. I think we'll be good as long as no one is wearing a live squirrel necklace.

I can't say I've been cooking too much.  Attempting to do strenuous outside projects while it's 104 degrees does not lend itself to put too much energy or thought into dinner.  Mostly it involved tomato sandwiches on some wonderful whole grain bread and good mayo.  However I was lured out of my Project Zone by a new butcher in town. The Local Pig.  You know I'd have to check this out.  They supply fresh antibiotic, hormone and steroid free locally sourced meat.  Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, goat, duck and rabbit.  They make their own sausages, franks and chorizo.  And not just the typical brat-like sausages.  Curry and eggplant or Thai peanut.  There's pâté and foie gras.  There's bacon, eggs and stock.  (Be still my heart, duck stock)  There are in house tamales and Farm to Market Pretzel Rolls.  There's honey.  There's even dog bones.  So I made a little trip and spent a little money.  Because here's the other thing, I have some fantastic mustard that deserves some excellent tube meat to slather on.

French Maille mustard1
I houes sit for some folks who travel to wonderful places.  Red Rocks Arizona, Ireland, Paris.  When asked if I wanted anything from Paris, I drew a blank.  I've been to Paris but I knew that these particular good people are chocolate fiends.  Asking for chocolate is just asking to get an empty french box.  But then I called on my go-to Answer Chef, Virginia Willis.  She's spent quite a bit of time in France.  A quick email and she provided the perfect answer.  "Maille mustard shop at place du Madeleine. They have a mustard keg, like  beer. Tell them to get that, not what's already jarred. It's amazing."  Oh hells yes.  I love mustard and good people that they are they went to the mustard shop and brought me back a jar of Moutarde en grains à l'Ancienne au Chardonnay.  So I grilled up some Local Pig beer bratwurst with cheddar and slathered on this wonderfully grainy and complex mustard.  And it was good.

French Maille mustard2

The brat is full of beery flavor and the tang of melted cheddar.  The mustard seeds pop and crunch with hot spiciness.  Even though the mustard is French the combination calls to my long lost German heritage.

So there you have it.  Anyone out there with a job opening feel free to keep me in mind.  Girl's gotta eat.