Better Late Than Never, and On the Menu

First, a wrap-up of the Weekend Cooler Challenge.  This should have happened a week ago, but I had huge writer’s block (I have no idea why, I just did). This is the really short version:

It was a total win. No crappy fast-food, a weekend without stress about “where are we going to eat and is it going to cost my life-savings to have decent food?” The slightly longer version is better told by Gaylin herself:

“What do I wish we’d really had time to make? Well, if I hadn’t gotten an emergency call from work that derailed the middle of my cooking efforts, both the scones and the Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon that we get from our fisherman, Montana Dan’s Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon. He sells at the local farmer’s market (as well as online). 
And how did it all fit in the cooler? With the exception of the wine, everything fit with more than enough room, for the time it spent there, including the ice used to keep it cool on the trip. Of course it didn’t stay in the cooler; it actually ended up in the hotel room’s bathtub once we arrived. But that’s another story. ” 
She later added: “Oh wait! I know what I forgot! The homemade nutella brownies. I wasn’t particularly pleased with those. I prefer fudge brownies, but they ended up more like cake brownies. They were good, to be sure, and disappeared almost as fast as the booze smoothies, but they’re a recipe I need to tweak a bit, I think. ” I’m putting this remark in this wrap-up, because I think it’s important to say that even those of us who cook a lot and do it well (and this wonderful woman makes me look like a talentless hack–she’s amazing) aren’t perfect. We have recipes that don’t turn out, we run out of time, we just plan give up some days. And that’s okay. It’s part of cooking, of learning to cook, of finding what works and what doesn’t.  You make a note that something needs to change, and you do it again.
People ask me a lot “where did you learn to cook,” and “How can I learn?” The answer is simple: practice. There’s no way to get good without mistakes. The more you cook, the less you’ll generally totally screw up, but you will still screw up. Generally, those “mistakes” come out less and less severe (I mean, do any of us really think that those homemade-nutella brownies would have been anything other than dreamy?), and sometimes will even result in wonderful new things.
And, with that, I’m going to remind you to visit Gaylin’s page regularly, because she’s awesome. And she admits her mistakes, as well as sharing her wonders (of which there are many). And that is the mark of a wonderful Chef!
This week is incredibly busy for us. For starters, I’ve got a bunch of blogg-y stuff to do, like updating my sample menus, which I’ve been promising to do forever.
Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna with homemade ciabatta bread.  The garden is coming in, and so is our neighbor’s. He planted squash. Lots of squash. I have something like 15lbs of it waiting for processing in my kitchen right now. I love this recipe because 1) it’s not a recipe, it’s more of an idea and 2) I haven’t met a vegetable that doesn’t work in it.  Fresh red sauce, basil and other herbs from the garden, squash, spinach, onions. I did not make my own cottage cheese, though I really need to get my rennet and get that started, nor did I make my own noodles (that’s just because I was lazy). Thadd, of course, did the baking.
Tuesday: BLTs. Tuesdays are always a hectic day here. I teach late, and Thadd works. So, generally this day needs quick meals. I have to admit, we’ve been waiting for this day for months: we’re eating our first garden-fresh tomato, from our own garden!
We’ll have it with our lettuce, and Thadd’s homemade bread. The bacon, unfortunately, isn’t local. There’s only one person at all even sort of local doing it, but it’s an hour drive to get it. So, this is hormone, nitrate, etc. free bacon.
Wednesday: Hoisin Tofu with Vegetables. We have some Twin Oaks tofu left in the freezer that needs to be used up. I’ll rub it with homemade hoisin sauce, skewer it, and toss it on the grill with (you guessed it) squash and grape tomatoes. The veggies will be rubbed in olive oil and sprinkled with Asian 5-spice. Since we’re using the grill and non-petroleum charcoal is expensive, we’ll be doing the other grill items for the week, too.
Thursday:  Grilled Rainbow Trout with Packet potatoes and vegetable. My nephew is a wonderful fisherman. It’s a shame he lives so far away from me, but I am really excited to finally bust out the fish he sent home with me on my last visit to MI. I love rainbow trout, and it’s a rare treat. We’ll grill it gently, and serve it with potatoes tossed in olive oil and whatever spices I feel like that day, and probably some kind of vegetable (we’ll see what’s in at the Wednesday market).
Friday:  Steak over Green Salad, with charred sweet potatoes. The grass-fed beef from Pannill’s Gate Farm is calling our name. We’ll do one steak on the grill Wednesday, then let it chill out in the refrigerator until we slice it up for the salad. It’s great cold. The sweet potatoes are an idea from some friends. When they’re put directly on the coals for about an hour, they get really creamy and lovely!
This weekend is up in the air for a variety of reasons, so no dinners for Sat or Sun.  Lunches, as usual, are leftovers. Breakfasts will be combinations of fresh fruit, yogurt, milk, eggs, bread, and leftovers (I am hoping we have some rainbow trout leftover!).
What are you eating this week?

8 responses to “Better Late Than Never, and On the Menu

  • BargainBinge

    One of my favorite and signature ways to use fresh zucchini is to make raw zucchini pasta with it using a spiral slicer or you can use a veggie peeler and make long fettucini like noodles with it. It is absolutely delicious tossed with raw hemp seeds and dulse seaweed… or avocado and mushrooms. You can use your fresh cherry tomatoes, some evoo, your basil and raw pinenuts too… keep it all raw too. I use to buy a high quality raw evoo and sometimes raw olives for all raw dishes. You will love this one if you haven’t tried it. Raw zucchini is so yummy. Raw hemp seeds though, a must. Ps. Your menu this week sounds so balanced and delicious!!! Trout, not sure if I’d ever had it – maybe as a kid fishing with grandpa but not as an adult. Sounds nice. What kind of flavor does it put off? is it very fishy or more mild?

  • shwankie

    We do the fresh veggie noodle, too. it’s so cool to read that someone else does these,because a lot of people look at me like I must be nuts to do something like this instead of just boiling up some pasta. (Worth noting: we do eat pasta, just not often).

    I love the raw hemp idea, I haven’t ever really used raw hemp seeds or had much of a call to, though I’ve eaten them before and they’re delicious! I’ll have to look for those next time I hit Charlottesville (I live in a town that is rather void of anything not “normal”). I’ve mixed the veg noodles with wakame and made Japanese-style seaweed salad, but never with dulse. I’ll grab some of that, too (actually, I’ll just rifle my “ethnic” cupboard–goodness knows I probably have some in there somewhere!)! Thanks so much for sharing, these sound delicious!

    In he vegetarian/vegan world, they’re often called New’dles! How cool is that? I just introduced a friend of mine who’s gluten-free to them, and now she’s hooked. I use a mandolin, an apple peeler (thanks, grams!), and a vegetable peeler depending on what kind of New’dles I am doing. I’ve done cold, raw salads, and the noodle also work for hot dishes like chicken masala, New’dle primavera, etc. For cream sauces, I actually tend to prefer spaghetti squash, but I will sometimes use the New’dles.

    Hm. This reminds me, I should do an eggplant-zucchini noodle lasanga soon!

    Re: the trout If it’s fresh, it’s fairly mild, and is one of the more sought-after freshwater fish for it’s excellent flavor. Stronger than, say, tilapia, but usually very clean tasting and mild-to-mid fishiness. This was frozen for me just after it was caught (thanks again to my rockin’ fisherman nephew!), and it was fabulous. I’ll be posting the recipe–with complete pics–early next week!

    • BargainBinge

      I will be very interested in the trout post. I am craving it now not even knowing what it taste like, lol, how bad is that? Fresh fish is the best though. I love a lightly seasoned fish so the natural taste is not masked. I’m huge on herbs too.

      I read on your menu list about a cocoa dusted beef dish and was so curious what this was. I know I can google for ideas but was wondering from Chef. Shawna herself if this is a signature dish and what’s involved? Closest I get to knowing about cocoa and meat is the idea of chicken mole.

  • shwankie

    You’ve got the right idea with mole sauce, BB! Dark, unsweetened cocoa is a great addition to a lot of savory dishes. It adds a rich depth that is a bit hard to describe. I use it in dry-rubs quite a bit, usually mixed with chili powder, smoked paprika, black sea salt, and garlic as a base (then I add whatever other spices are appropriate, such as oregano, rosemary, etc.). It’s good on chicken, but it’s fabulous on beef and pork.

    I’ve also been using it in my chili for years, and recently noticed some other chili recipes are now starting to call for it, too (not that I had anything to do with that, just that it seems to be becoming more widely known).


    • BargainBinge

      I will have to look into that, thank you for the info!

      Ps. One of my favorite ways to enjoy raw hemp is to make raw hemp milk. Best of the best:

      Water from 1 Thai young fresh coconut
      1/4 cup organic shelled raw hemp seeds
      Local raw honey

      Vitamix baybee!!!! Enjoy your weekend and those lovely tomatoes! The first of my sugar snap peas JUST came in, they are so cute!!!

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