Archive for November, 2008

Turkey Sandwiches….

My favorite post-Thanksgiving snack….sandwiches! Unfortunately, this one did not last long enough to take a picture.

Apple Sausage Stuffing (thanks, Mom!)
Cranberry Sauce
A touch of Mayo
Whole Wheat Bread

Resistance is futile.

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Ahhhh, Colorado. An exercise in contrasts.
Compare this morning with less than one week ago.

Sunny, nearly 80 degrees. Is this San Diego or Boulder?

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It’s not clear to me how any dual-income family, kids or no, functions without a crock pot. Ours is simply indispensable, and used so frequently, especially in cold months, that it ought to have a coveted “counter spot” in our kitchen. If I actually had counter space, it would.

Sunday’s dinner was a classic — Pot Roast. Classic in the sense that a large hunk of inexpensive meat was cooked in a slow cooker for ~11 hours with onions, potatoes, and carrots. While this roast was a mainstay of my youth, I have made some distinct changes from my mother’s classic (I’m sure she’ll correct me on this if need be).

First, I used a chuck roast from Rockin’ J Cattle, here in Colorado. Rockin’ J is located near Craig, CO, and takes great pride in raising their cattle the old fashioned way. On the pasture. Eating nothing but grass. No injections of man-made chemicals. It may take a little longer for these beeves to get to slaughter weight because they are not fattened up with Iowa corn, but the weight is worth the wait, so to speak.

Next, I used an inexpensive Merlot as the crock-pot braising liquid. I’ve tried making this roast using only water. It was good, but not great. This wine-infused roast, on the other hand, was pure perfection. And the gravy from the wine and beef drippings (with a touch of added Windsor Dairy yogurt) paired with the Mile High biscuits, well, perfectly!

Finally, tonight’s pot roast was paired with a not-so-inexpensive bottle of ’86 Bordeaux (Chateau Pichon Longueville), which happened to also pair (perfectly) with the Chocolate Toffee Cookies I made for breakfast this morning (seriously). In fact, the pairing with these cookies was so fine that Junior declared, upon tasting a wee sip of diluted wine after a bite of cookie, “That is TOO good!” That’s our boy.

So, don’t delay. Get yourself a slow cooker, some beef, and some wine, and have a ball!

— Gadget Girl

Classic Pot Roast

1 Chuck roast, 2 1/2 – 3 pounds
1/4 c. flour
1 large onion, wedged
1-2 stalks of celery, cut in 1″ pieces
4-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1-2 c. red wine
spices (I chose rosemary and thyme from the garden)
3-4 large carrots, cut in 1″ pieces
2-3 potatoes, cut in 1″ pieces

Season flour with pepper and dredge each side of the roast in the seasoned flour.
Brown all sides of the roast in a little Olive Oil, over medium-high heat
Place onions, celery, spices, and garlic under and around the roast in a small crock pot.
Pour enough wine to bring the liquid level to half way up the roast.
Cook on low for about 8 hours.
Add potatoes and carrots under and around the roast and cook for 2-3 more hours.

A tip from Rockin J – use a meat thermometer to be sure that your roast reaches an internal temperature of over 210 F for at least an hour before serving. This ensures that all of the connective tissue in the roast is broken down, leaving a beautifully tender piece of meat.

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We keep pretty traditional roles in this house — most things culinary are my domain (except for weekend breakfasts), and I maintain our social calendar (something that goes by the wayside too easily when you have kids). Car/house maintenance and finances are all Mark’s.

Occasionally, though, planning skills fail me, and I find myself working late when the phone call comes from home: “Ummmm…What’s for dinner?”. The answer this week was “hamburger”. Having supplied a sketchy listing of potential ingredients for what to do with said hamburger, I left the details to Mark. Not surprisingly, if you know Mark, he added store-bought sundried tomatoes — in addition to my prized tomato confit, and much to my dismay. I needn’t have worried

This week’s homemade version of “Hamburger Helper” was a hit all around!

1 lb grass fed/finished ground beef
2 leeks, sliced (white parts)
1 bunch bok choy (greens only)
dried onion
tomato confit (equivalent to 5 romas)
red wine
sundried tomato (I’d omit if you use the confit)
salt & pepper
cream 1/4 c.

Simply saute the beef until cooked nearly through. Drain, if necessary (I find that using a paper towel to sop up what little fat is produced by the grass-fed beef is sufficient), add and saute other ingredients except the cream. Add the cream just before serving. We ate this both on top of toast (no-knead bread), and over pasta.

I think I will let Mark cook more often! “Oops….I forgot to plan tonight’s dinner, honey!”

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I can’t imagine why Junior didn’t want to ride his bike to school Friday morning. It took a lot of convincing, but he eventually caved….and we had a lot of fun. As usual.
Lately we’ve been into “experiments” and “observing”. I think it might be genetic. During this snowy commute, we observed that some trees still had leaves even though it had snowed (wierd!), and that the snow was sticking only to the dirt and grass, and not to the street or sidewalks or bikepaths (warmth!), and that….bike commuting gives us much more time together in the morning than riding in the car!

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Blankets a’Plenty

Junior recently discovered a bin in his closet, filled with “Memere Blankets”, hand-knit blankets made by my mother in almost record speed when she found out I was pregnant. While Junior has always slept with his blue Memere Blanket, we though that one was probably enough. Not Junior. So….every night for the last week or so, he has asked for a new blanket from the bin.

We finally ran out of blankets. And Junior declared that every time he held a blanket, it was like touching Memere and that he knew she loved him.

Next up: the 6 or 8 knitted hats….the perfect size for his stuffies!

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Farmers Markets are closing, the garden is all but dead, chickens everywhere have started to lay fewer eggs, but our CSA is going strong with its Keeper Share, which will provide us with Fall Farm Bounty until early December. That means lots of pumpkins and squash. Which in turn means getting creative about how to use all of that pumpkin and squash.

Thankfully, there is Smitten Kitchen which has reliably tested (by a real cook, in a kitchen tinier than my own!) recipes like this one, via Martha Stewart, for Pumpkin Swirl Brownies.

Once again, Junior got into the act, from helping to clean out “pumpkin brains” to mixing (and eating) the batter! These brownies were truly “Made With Love”.

Get yourself on over to the smitten kitchen and have a look at this simple, yet delicious, recipe!

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