the kitchen catch-all: a new weekly series on FOOD

While we’re not currently involved in a CSA season, which fueled most of my cooking-related blogging recently, I’m still doing a lot of playing around in the kitchen.  I spend a lot of time reading about food, thinking about food, making food, and eating food, and thought it might be fun to do weekly roundups of what I’ve done in the area of food each week.  I think I’ll do each post on Sundays, and post them at the beginning of each new week.  This week is a short one, as we were out of town for half of it.

Eating In (things I cooked):

  • Zucchini Bread. Immediately upon returning home from vacation, I felt the urge to get in my kitchen and make “real food.”  Back during the height of the CSA season, I froze shredded zucchini in 3 cup increments to use in this recipe.  If you would like to make some zucchini bread for yourself, here’s my mama’s recipe (copied straight off a handwritten piece of notebook paper, just for you):

    Mix in large bowl:

    • 3 eggs
    • 2 c brown sugar
    • 3 tsp vanilla
    • 1 c veg. oil

    To these add:

    • 3 c shredded zucchini
    • 3 c flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 T cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 c chopped nuts (I tend to go with walnuts)

    Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 1 hour at 325.

  • Beer Bread.  I found this recipe via Honest Fare.  For any of you afraid baking bread will cost you your hopes and ambitions (sorry, I’m gonna beat that joke to death), this could really not be a simpler way to get homemade bread fast. Because it contains no yeast, there’s no waiting for it to rise.  You just throw all the ingredients together, put the batter in a loaf pan, bake 35 minutes, and then you have tasty bread warm from the oven.  I think my next attempt will involve less sugar and perhaps a darker beer.  My first try was with a Sam Adams Winter brew, and it came out a little sweet and light for my taste, though it was still delicious.  I will probably also cook it a bit longer than specified, as it was a little doughy in the middle.
  • Chicken Pot Pie.  It was a rainy Friday, I wasn’t working, and so, rather than making like a normal person with a craving for pot pie who grabs a Marie Callenders and nukes it, I decided to really go homemade on this thing.  This involved roasting an organic, free-range bird, and then following Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of an Ina Garten recipe.  After reading a few comments that were less than stellar, I jazzed mine up with the addition of some thyme, sage, and herbes de provence, and thought this was a truly flavorful, amazing dish.  I wasn’t happy with the way my crust turned out, so I chucked it and decided to make it the way my mama always does: with a biscuit crust.  Turns out this was rather hip of me, as Bittman wrote about biscuit-topped pot pie this week.  Here’s an admission for you: I made Bisquick biscuit for the topping, not the real buttermilk kind.  It’s still yummy.  I’ll also note that this turned out way more filling than the 4 bowls worth SK says it makes.  I filled up a large rectangular casserole and a smaller square one. (I’m not enough of a cook to be able to tell you the measurements of my dishes.)
  • Hominy Grill’s Buttermilk Pie.  Sunday was Pi Day (3.14, geddit?), so I wanted to bake a pie.  Not in the mood to chop a bunch of apples for my favorite Apple Pie with Gruyere Crust, I decided to go with a local favorite.  You can check out the recipe here (pdf).

Eating Out (places I ate):

  • Bushido.  When Food Network’s Man vs. Food came to town, the host took on local Japanese restaurant Bushido’s Spicy Tuna Roll Challenge.  You can read more about the challenge and MVF’s visit at the Charleston City Paper.  Basically there are 10 levels of spicy tuna hand rolls, with level 5 being a jalapeno, and level 10 being something called the Vietnamese Ghost Pepper.  If you eat all ten levels, not necessarily in one visit, you are given a special headband, you get your picture on the wall, and you get free appetizers for life.  I am not one to tolerate extreme levels of spice, so I was at the restaurant to cheer on friends taking on the challenge, and to eat delicious sushi.  After watching one friend consume level 8, with extreme face redness, sweating, swollen eyes, and even later, some parking lot vomiting, I can say that I am simply not up to the challenge.  The sushi was delicious, though.
  • Sweatman’s BBQ.  South Carolina is a mecca of good BBQ, and there are many choices close to my home worth checking out, including Fiery Ron’s Home Team.  However, once I saw Sweatman’s featured on Anthony Bourdain’s South Carolina episode of No Reservations, I knew immediately: “I want to go to there.”  (Though I have some issues with that episode, like why he hung out eating oysters and drinking champagne out of mason jars with the Twee Lee Bros. instead of going to the more authentic and local Bowen’s Island, it’s a good ep.) So we recruited friends, drove for an hour into rural SC, and sampled the wonder that is Sweatman’s.  They’re only open two days a week, they don’t take cash, and they don’t cook with gas. It’s that simple.  Sweatman’s does wood-fired whole hog BBQ, and they do it well.  It turns out they also do banana pudding quite well too.  Get there early, because otherwise, they can’t guarantee to have ribs or skins (they have several signs to this effect), and you’ll want to try both.  In fact you’ll probably want to try everything.  After plunking down $9.95 for the all you can eat buffet, one of my companions asked the good-ole-boy cashier what he recommends.  “All’ve it,” he said. “Ya paid for all’ve it, didn’tcha?” Indeed.  I’m already planning a similar trip sometime soon to Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway.

Food for Thought (worth a read):

  • Ending Africa’s Hunger“, by Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez, and Annie Shattuck, in The Nation.  Yeah, I just found the Nation’s food issue from last September.  Still, this article hasn’t gone out of date and is worth a read if you’re concerned about global hunger.  Money:

    Nnimmo Bassey, director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, suggests, “If the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations wish to extend the hand of fellowship to the African continent, they should move away from strategies that favor monoculture, lead to land grabs and tie local farmers to the shop doors of biotech seed monopolies.”

So, do you like this new weekly post idea? Have any suggestions? Tried anything delicious this week? Let me know!

One Reply to “the kitchen catch-all: a new weekly series on FOOD”

  1. Love the post idea!

    Alas, all I’ve cooked since I got back was peanut chicken and rice on Saturday and some bbq beans yesterday. And the only place I’ve eaten is the camp cafeteria. I did enjoy making no food choices and doing no dishes for a couple weeks, though. That part was a vacation.


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