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Does anyone need another recipe for apple pie? Maybe. Hell, I’ve got three of them on this blog, each one a little different. Guess it depends on what you’re looking for but I think that there’s always room for another. I’ve covered the bases – classic, amped up with salted caramel and even fancy in a French inspired tart. But what about an apple pie that was completely packed with pure apple flavor, holding nothing back? Scoot over and make some room; there’s a new addition to the line up.

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Winter is coming. Seems obvious and though I’m having a hard time truly accepting this fact, I came face-to-face with the inevitable. It snowed on Halloween. Oh joy. It was a light dusting in the morning followed by that particularly awful mix of cold slightly frozen rain, huge traffic delays and everyone generally acting like an idiot. At the end of my two hour commute home I saw a few determined trick-or-treaters on the streets. Good for you kids, good for you. I hope you took home loads of treats for simply braving that mess.

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If you made anything besides the standard pumpkin pie last week, which neatly uses exactly one can of pumpkin puree, chances are good you opened your refrigerator this weekend to find a half full can of pumpkin.  You probably unearthed it as you removed containers, dishes, bags and bowls of Thanksgiving leftovers and wondered “what the hell am I supposed to do with that?”  If you’re like me, you probably shoved it right back in with an instantly forgotten mental note to deal with it later.  Well, if you haven’t already tossed it, now is the time.

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I have a difficult time getting excited about fall vegetables.  After the flashiness of those late September tomatoes has passed, the garden basil has gone brown and the multi-hued peppers have started to wane, what’s left?  Squash?  Wheeee.  Root vegetables?  Exciting for about 1 minute.  I had a conversation with a Twitter friend recently about how boring roasted root vegetbles can be – uninspired, plain, typically underseasoned and snooze worthy.  Roast them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a drizzle of balsamic vinegar but then, what’s next?  How can you take something simple, hearty and abundant and add some life?  Some excitement?  Well, I’ll tell you.  High heat and simple but delicious flavors: butter, of course, but also maple, that classic flavor of cold weather.  And bourbon.  Everything is simply better with bourbon.  It’s a fact.

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2012 was a crap year for Michigan fruit, particularly tree fruits, particularly apples.  An unseasonably warm spring coupled with a late frost dealt a crippling blow, knocking out by some estimates up to 80% of Michigan’s apple harvest for the year.  It was devastating and maybe you didn’t notice, satisfied with Washington apples or imported fruit, but those of us who frequent Midwest farmers markets noticed.

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Earlier this week, quickly in the waning sunlight and cold wind, I made the final call on my little community garden plot. There was a frost advisory and I wasn’t sure what remained would survive so I dug up and loaded my herb plants into a shopping bag, cut down all my chard and kale and stripped my glorious and hyper productive tomato plants of the last little orbs. It was downright cold and I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do with all this late season abundance, but I hurried home with my heavy bags knowing I’d figure it out.

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It’s entirely possible that I am the only person on the planet that is indifferent to a Bloody Mary.  I want to like them, I do, but for a person that doesn’t really care for tomato juice that’s a high hurdle to clear.  Too acid, too sweet, too thick.  Often they’re just not right and I’d rather drink something else.  I will admit that sometimes I’ll find a good one that catches me by surprise.  House-made mix with a good spicy kick and loaded with lots of “stuff”. A single sad celery spear doesn’t cut it. I want a fully loaded skewer of house-pickled hipster tidbits and one of those shorty Miller Hi Lifes on the side.  It’s often the kind of Bloody Mary that costs 15 bucks and is typically found in trendy weekend brunch joints with 2-hour waits.  What can I say?  I like a drink that 14 people have put a lot of thought into.  I can appreciate that.

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