Archive | March, 2011

Fancy Ranch Water

17 Mar

Hi Everyone,

Once in a while I come across a recipe that sends me directly to the kitchen to give it a whirl. I came across one such recipe recently from 101 Cookbooks here. I had to sub honey for cane sugar and we have grapefruit and oranges a plenty, so I made due with what was in the kitchen. The results were crowd-pleasing to say the very least and when I added Republic Tequila and a little Topo Chico, it became my very favorite after 5PM drink for the spring. It takes very little time and is so worth it. We are on our third batch of the juice and I suspect it won’t be our last…

Fancy Ranch Water

3 T honey

2 T ginger, grated

1 c water

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and let it go for 5 minutes. Strain it, then stick in the fridge or freezer to let cool off.

1 orange, juiced

3 grapefruits, juiced

Once the syrup is cooled down, mix in the juice. At this point you can serve it to your kids OR do this… Put ice in some glasses, add a shot of Republic Tequila to each glass, pour a two shots worth of the juice in and top it off with Topo Chico. It is scary good.

The Republic Tequila folks are a Texas-based company and have a green and organic product that is completely delicious. Owners, Tom and Ken, took time out of their insane schedules to teach a really inspiring session at the RISE program that I was smart enough to attend. They are energetic, charismatic and wise in the business way and it was an honor to get to soak up a little of that wisdom. Not to mention I ran right to the store for a bottle of the tequila, so they are pretty good salesmen too! So, big ups to them!

If you aren’t familiar with Topo Chico, it is the Mexican fizzy water that dreams are made of and I think you should run out and get some right now.

And one more thing. I met Tiffany of Trailer Food Diaries fame and found out that she has a cookbook coming out. You can get it at a discount right now.  We have that sucker pre-ordered. Soon we will be able to satisfy our trailer food cravings in the comfort of our own home, and you can bet that there are some trailer food cravings up in this house!

All of that said, have a great weekend and enjoy whatever it is you are up to!

Not That Martha

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Broccoli Rabe and Giant Macaronis

15 Mar

judgement waits...

Hello All,

Well, its been a great weekend. We competed in The Pork Experiment yesterday and sure had a great time! I felt very supported by family and friends and put out some hella good food! I am totally proud of our first competitive effort and had a blast with Jo as my sous chef. Congrats to my fellow competitors! And a big shout out to our friend Ben, of the Wildly Natural One, for taking home an honorable mention. You all should go to the store and buy this spice blend right now. It is award winning good.

I can feel SXSW all over Austin these days and I love it, for now. By next weekend I will be ready to get this sleepy(ish) town back and traverse it without all the extra folk. It is no wonder everyone that visits falls in love with this place. We have perfect weather this time of year.  We have glorious tacos and kick-butt BBQ.  We are a friendly people with warm smiles and dang good music. As a matter of fact, a huge bonus to our year of not eating out is that we don’t have to battle the visitors for coffee or counter space. This might actually be my favorite SXSW based on that alone. I can get a little bratty when I go to my regular spots and have to wait extra time or fight for shoulder space and by the last weekend I usually have to leave town just to escape the crowd, so I don’t start screaming at every hipster in legging jeans that looks like they need a shower to go back to where they came from, so we will see if this no restaurant thing helps.

In preparation for the cook-off, I tested many a batch of pulled pork shoulder, and I am officially so sick of pork. I am bringing on the veggies in full force! Its going to be a while before I can let pulled pork pass these lips again. So, on to the veggies! This is one of my very favorite preparations of pasta. It works great to sub with just about any veggie that is in season. I got my hands on this broccoli rabb from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and have been waiting all weekend to turn it into this pasta dish. They have a really cool deal going on right now where you can buy plant starts from them, so that is worth checking out.

Broccoli Rabe and Giant Macaronis

1 box big macaronis or your favorite short pasta

1-2 T olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 big handfuls broccoli rabb and leaves, coursly chopped

2 cups of pasta cooking liquid reserved

2 oz parmesan, grated

2 oz romano, grated

salt and pepper

Bring water to boil, cook pasta to desired doneness. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add crushed red pepper and black pepper and let them toast for a minute or two. This brings a really toasty pepper depth to the dish. Add garlic and let cook for a minute. Add broccoli rabb and leaves and saute until they are tender. I take a coffee cup and scoop out some of the pasta water. The pasta water has some of the gluten and really helps to thicken the sauce and incoroporate the cheese into the dish without making it all clumpy and gross. Drain the pasta, add to the pan with the broccoli rabb and toss. Alternate adding cheese and a little water until the cheese is smoothly blended, you may not need to use all of the water, and it looks like you can’t wait to eat it. Then serve it up and eat it down!

The Challenge Update

All is well on the challenge front. We are having a change of season, so getting to wear some new clothes is SUPER refreshing. I have my flip flops back out and have even donned shorts. The sweaters I couldn’t stand for another second have been banished to the guest room closet until we bring them out next November. We have not planted our raised beds yet. The starts are living on our dining room table until the nights get consistantly warm enough to sustain their growth. The extra hour of daylight that we earned this weekend delights me and leaves much more time in the day for walks around the neighborhood and cooking outside. Spring is here, I hope you are enjoying SXSW or Spring Break or the extra daylight when you come home from work.

Thank you for reading,

Not That Martha

dream team

my extended team

Kale Risotto with Blue Cheese and Raised Beds!

9 Mar

Hi Everyone!

Now that I am a homeowner I am discovering that I have a whole new relationship with Spring. Every morning Jo and I tour our yard and celebrate the little buds that indicate another favorite plant survived the cold winter. I find myself more in tune with the needs of the plants too. What first seemed like a completely foreign and overwhelming garden that came with the house is starting to make sense to me. I see where the plants need cutting back, with guidance from Jo and my mom! I can tell which plants are weeds and have cuts all over hands and Home Depot refuse bags lined up to prove it. As a renter, I always thought spring was nice enough, but the yard was someone else’s problem. It was flip-flop weather that excited me. This gardening thing is a whole new bug!

To top if off, we have just built 100 square feet of raised beds that are just waiting for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and a whole lot of herbs that we got this weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. Furthermore, raised beds are springing up all over our sweet little corner of the world and we are conspiring with our neighbors what to plant when and leaning heavy on Jalene and Aaron down the street for guidance. They have done this before and they are good!  I woke up this morning and grabbed the seed catalogue to learn more about what these plants need and have played with the layout a million times on our kitchen table, where our starts sit, while we wait for the nights to get warm enough to plant them. I can hardly wait to eat the first tomato grown in our very own garden and I am sure I will tell you and anyone who will listen about it!

Now, for the food… I have chicken stock on right now and anytime I make stock, I make risotto. There is something very satisfying about putting some of that good stock to immediate use! So, in celebration of the last of the winter greens, I am adding kale to the dish today. There are few foods that I love more than a well made risotto. It can be an intimidating dish, but all it takes is time and a little patience, and it its well worth it. It is important to use the arborio rice. It is a short grain from Italy and the key to making creamy risotto. Enjoy!

Kale Risotto

1 T butter

onion, chopped fine

arborio rice

wine (white is typically used, but we had red on hand, so that is what I went with and it was a good move!)

chicken stock, warm

salt

pepper

kale, chopped fine

2 oz parmesan cheese, grated

thinly sliced Velhuizen Bosque Blue Cheese

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until they are translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the rice and stir constantly until the grains take on a pearly look (about 7 minutes). Add white wine and cook stirring constantly until it is mostly absorbed. I keep my chicken stock in a pot on warm and add to the rice with a ladle. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding chicken stock a ladle full at a time. And stir, stir, stir. The stirring causes the rice to release some of its starch, which is what makes risotto so creamy and delicious. Keep adding the heated stock and stir every few minutes. Once the risotto has reached the desired doneness, add chopped kale and it will wilt right into the dish. Stir in parmesan cheese. Serve in bowls and garnish with shaved blue cheese.

Update on the Challenge

We are still truckin’ along 6 months into the challenge. One happy thing that we have noticed is that the jeans we have been wearing since the beginning of the the challenge, are now baggy on us and that is pretty fun. I can’t believe that it has been half of a year since we stepped foot into an Austin restaurant. I am starting to feel pretty out of it as far as the new restaurants go. I can’t wait to try Haddingtons, Barley Swine, Foreign and Domestic and a handful of others. Readers, tell me what I am missing and what needs to be added to my list! This next 6 months will fly by and we will be back on the scene in before we know it. Jo’s first stop will be Tamale House.

The last couple of weeks,  cooking wise, have been devoted to perfecting my pork recipe for The Pork Experiment, put on by The Food Experiments and Brooklyn Brewry. The cook-off is this Sunday, March 13 and starts at 12. The stakes are high as there are a whole boat load of prizes and a trip to Brooklyn on the line. I am in it to win it and would love to see you all out there. There will be 20+ participants and the cost is $20 to attend. If you think about it, that is just a dollar for every taste of porky goodness. Sounds like a deal to me!

The raised beds are a new dimension of sustainability for us. The beds were really simple to build. Just untreated lumber with braces screwed in on the corners. The Natural Gardner delivered the dirt and we got a ton of plants last weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. I will keep you posted on the progress of growing our own food.

As always thanks for reading!

Not that Martha