potluck goodies – 7.4.12 – blueberry cherry clafoutis

Yes, this post about the 4th of July is long overdue.

But, like I said, July’s been busy. So I hope you’ll forgive me. 🙂

Three and a half weeks ago, we enjoyed a pretty awesome Independence Day celebration.

Jessica and Brent had us over for a cookout at their house, which is in the middle of nowhere. But, strangely enough, the little rural fire department just down the road from their neighborhood hosts an impressive fireworks show every July 4th, and this year, we were invited to set up our tailgate chairs in Jessica and Brent’s front yard, sip a cold beer or three, and enjoy the festivities!

The party itself was fantastic. Great company, of course (much of the same bunch we hung out with at the wedding a few months ago), but also, great food!

Brent made a spicy and delicious low country boil. We stuffed ourselves with salads and sausage balls, red-white-and-blue Rice Krispie treats and a crazy chocolaty layered dessert in a trifle dish, a loaf of my very first sourdough, and the blueberry cherry clafoutis that you see here:

full o’ fruit!

I was going for a red, white, and blue dessert with the cherries, blueberries, and custardy cake, but as you can see my dish turned out to be a little more like deep purple and warm, golden brown. Not that I’m complaining. 🙂

This sweet treat was inspired in part by an abundance of fruit in my refrigerator, but I doubt I would’ve thought of it on my own without some help from my blogging friends.

Daisy over at coolcookstyle posted her Cherry Clafoutis recipe (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1) just a couple of weeks after Putney Farm posted their Cherry Clafoutis recipe (adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook).

Unable to decide which recipe to follow, I combined the two.

Not willy-nilly, either–I actually made myself a little chart to compare techniques and quantities of ingredients between the two recipes, then merged them into one. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

I loved that Putney Farm spiced their clafoutis up with lemon and cinnamon, but Daisy’s recipe proved easier to execute because it didn’t involve individual ramekins or cooking the cherries first.

And, of course, I made a few changes of my own, subbing blueberries for half of the cherries and Greek yogurt plus 2% milk for the whole milk/heavy cream.

Having not made or eaten a clafoutis before, I can’t tell you if mine turned out to be technically correct, but I can describe it for you: imagine a dessert that’s part-cake, part-custard, and bursting with fresh fruit–without being super-sweet. That’s exactly my kind of dessert, and if that strikes your fancy, I’ll bet you’d like a clafoutis, too!

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting and/or vanilla ice cream for topping (both are optional but highly recommended :))

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″x13″ baking dish. (You could probably use a smaller dish instead for a thicker clafoutis, but you’ll probably want to adjust the baking time and/or temperature if you do.)
  • Spread the cherries and blueberries out evenly over the buttered pan.
  • In your blender, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the powdered sugar and blend for about 1 minute. Or, mix in a bowl with a stick blender, an electric hand mixer, or a whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the batter over the fruit. (Be gentle so you don’t shove the berries around too much in the dish.)
  • Bake for about 1 hour or until your clafoutis is puffy and golden brown. (Daisy notes in her recipe that the cake will sink a little, like a souffle or a frittata, after you take it out of the oven. So when this happens, don’t worry! It’s supposed to do that.)
  • After allowing your clafoutis to cool for 5 or 10 minutes, feel free to dust it with powdered sugar before cutting yourself a big wedge, which you are then welcome to top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Now that I’ve made my first clafoutis, I’m interested in trying other variations.

First, I think next time I might reduce the amount of flour just a bit (and maybe also reduce the baking time or temperature) to see if I can achieve a more custardy, less cakey result.

And while clafoutis is traditionally made with cherries (which I adore), they’re not really suited to hot, humid Southern summers, so next time I’ll probably experiment with some local and seasonal fruits like figs or peaches, which grow all over around here (even in my yard, when the pesky squirrels don’t get them first!).

Of course, Wikipedia informs me that once you vary from cherries, your dessert is now properly called a flaugnarde…but please forgive me if I fudge a little and call mine clafoutis anyway. It sounds prettier. 🙂

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quick lunch – 7.2.12 – a bowl of Southern summer goodness

Summer in the South is a magical time.

A time when tomatoes plump to their juiciest fullness, when squashes just grow and grow and grow, when sweet corn practically bursts from its husks, when a myriad of hot and sweet peppers are ripe for the picking, when okra pods stretch to that perfect two or three inches, when pungent onions and garlic just beg to be dug up and sauteed in a bit of butter to mellow out and flavor everything you eat.

A time when, goshdarnit, I just can’t get away from Athens Locally Grown or Daily Groceries without spending ungodly sums of money on all those gorgeous, flavorful local veggies.

And, since I’m a teacher, summer is also the time when I can cook at least two meals a day if I want–and that’s quite often the case, because heaven knows there’s not so much time for culinary tomfoolery once school starts back in August.

So when I surveyed the contents of our kitchen a few weeks ago after a particularly splurge-y spree at the market, looking for lunchtime inspiration, here’s what I found:

all that’s missing is one of those fancy wicker cornucopias

A most inspiring collection of colors and flavors, if I do say so myself.

So I set to slicing and dicing and sauteing and stirring, and here’s what I came up with:

bright, beautiful, delicious!

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet onion (or, in my case, 3 tiny ones), diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, quartered and sliced
  • 1 medium summer squash or zucchini (I used zephyr), quartered and sliced
  • 1 ear of corn, cut from the cob
  • 6 okra pods, thinly sliced (the smaller okra is, the sweeter and more tender it’ll be–look for pods that are 2-3″ long)
  • a big handful of cherry tomatoes (ours were sungolds)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a big handful of fresh basil, cut into slivers

Step-by-step:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the quinoa and toast it in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock/broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  • Cover the quinoa and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • While the quinoa cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts to look translucent.
  • Stir in the squash and corn. Saute for another 5-7 minutes or until the squash is almost tender.
  • Mix in the okra and tomatoes and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  • Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir just until the mixture is combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Divide your veggies and quinoa between two bowls and top with the fresh basil.
  • Eat up!

Our bowls of Southern summer goodness were enjoyed warm as a light but satisfying entree. For dinner, add your favorite protein for a heartier meal. (I’m betting shrimp would be amazing.) Or try this recipe as an excellent summer salad. Just chill it in the fridge for a few hours to serve cold alongside smoky burgers, crispy fried chicken, or your favorite grilled seafood.

And, of course, I whipped this meal up from a huge heap o’ veggies that I happened to have on hand, but you could easily adjust the recipe to match your own vegetable availability and tastes. As long as you use what’s fresh and in season, there’s really no way this quinoa veggie bowl could turn out anything less than fabulous. 🙂

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where have I been all this time?

Well, first, my brother got married! (7/14)

Then, Micah and I went to Oregon. Fabulous. (7/16-25)

Now, I’m back!

More coming soon…

In the meantime, I hope my absence made your hearts grow fonder. 🙂

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project in progress, 6.10.12 – Micah’s home-cured bacon, part 2

Shame on me.

Micah and I have been enjoying his home-cured bacon for a few weeks now, and I haven’t even updated you on the progress.

My most humble apologies!

Quick recap:

Micah cured a pork belly to make homemade bacon. When it was curing, it looked like this:

pork belly curing in salt, sugar, and lots of garden-grown rosemary

For this step, Micah for the most part referenced a very detailed article from Oregon Live. Other sources for the curing part of the process include this recipe from Saveur and Michael Ruhlman’s recipe (because Ruhlman, author of a book called Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, is pretty much The Man when it comes to curing meats).

No pink salt (Insta Cure No. 1/sodium nitrite) was used in our curing process because a) it was listed as “optional”; b) we didn’t have any; and c) added nitrates/nitrites are chemicals we try to mostly avoid.

Micah also left out the juniper berries because, well, where on earth do you buy juniper berries, anyway? So extra bay leaves and rosemary took the place of those.

Our slab of pork belly cured in the salt/sugar/seasoning mixture for about a week, during which time it was flipped and rotated occasionally and released a fair amount of moisture. Then, Micah cleaned off the cure and it was time for smoking.

Micah wanted to cold-smoke the bacon rather than hot-smoking it (which would have cooked it instead of leaving it raw). Of course, we don’t own any kind of fancy smoking appliances, so (as usual) we improvised:

Micah’s DIY cold smoker, constructed from everyday household items

Micah got the idea for this from the LA Weekly blog and (again, for the most part) followed their instructions, subbing an aluminum beer can for the tin can that they suggested.

To make your own cold smoker, you need….

  • a soldering iron (preferably one that’s never been soldered with before–we picked up a cheapie from the hardware store for about $15)
  • a large roasting pan
  • a wire rack
  • a tin or aluminum can, with the top almost completely removed so it makes kind of a flip-top lid
  • wood chips
  • ice packs
  • foil

You can see in the picture basically how all this is put together. The wood chips are inside the PBR can, and the soldering iron rests inside of that where it heats the wood to create smoke, but no fire–pretty cool! Once you’ve got your roasting pan smoker set up, you just put whatever food item you would like to smoke onto the rack, turn on the soldering iron, and cover the whole rig with aluminum foil to keep the smoke in.

The day Micah smoked his bacon, he had the smoker going pretty much all day, changing the woodchips out about every hour or two. Our whole house and porch and yard were enveloped in an intoxicating aura of porky smoke, which was fabulous. Even our hair and our clothes smelled like bacon. And I have to admit, while I always find Micah attractive, somehow he’s extra sexy when he’s bacon-scented. 🙂

When the bacon was done smoking late that evening, it looked like this:

just look at that smoky golden glow….

And it smelled incredible.

Since the whole slab was about three pounds, Micah cut it into six 8-ounce hunks, and we froze all but one of them.

Then, finally, it was time to try the bacon!

Micah sliced it nice and thick.  This is what it looked like raw:

nice ‘n’ streaky

And then we cooked it up good and crispy in a cast-iron skillet:

<insert drool here>

The verdict?

Amazing.

This bacon tastes like bacon squared, perfectly smoky and porky and delicious. The only change Micah said he will make next time (oh, yes, there will be a next time!) is to cure the bacon for a slightly shorter amount of time, maybe 4-5 days instead of a week, as this batch is almost, but not quite, on the verge of being too salty.

I think we’ve devoured half of this batch of bacon in just a few short weeks, enjoying it on burgers and sandwiches, with eggs and toast for breakfast, and crumbled over a bed of tangy, spicy collard greens:

served with black-eyed peas, summer squash, and cornbread, naturally

Not only has this project sold us on curing our own bacon from now on, but it has also inspired us to branch out into other curing and smoking experiments–I am itching to try making our own smoked salmon!

In the meantime, we’ve still got a pound and a half of beautiful home-cured, home-smoked pork belly in our freezer, and I can’t imagine it will last much longer.

After all, everything’s better with bacon. 🙂

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forgetfulness, plus a perfect parsley pistachio pesto

We needed fresh parsley the other day.

I knew we needed it, because it’s not something we usually keep around.

We needed fresh parsley–I knew we did, was absolutely sure we did–so I picked some up at the store…

…only to return home and discover that we already had a slightly wilted and forgotten bunch of fresh parsley in the fridge, leftover from another night.

The older bunch of herbs was certainly no longer in its prime, not perky enough to garnish the fancy dinner Micah was making for me, but certainly not yucky enough just yet to toss in the compost pile.

So there I was a few mornings later, brainstorming lunch ideas and faced with not one but two bunches of floppy parsley, not to mention a whole-heck-of-a-big loaf of fresh sourdough.

But what about all that parsley?

A saggy parsley salad with sourdough croutons didn’t strike my fancy. Neither did wilted parsley sandwiches. Even bacon wouldn’t save those.

Then, my brainstorm struck a little lightning.

Pesto lightning.

It seemed like a good idea. After all, pesto is what you make when you’re overrun with fresh basil. Why not make it with parsley instead?

Of course, I didn’t have pine nuts, either. I could have subbed walnuts or pecans, both pine-nut-alternatives that I’ve seen in pesto recipes before.

But then I peeked in the pantry and spied the pistachios.

Pistachios are pretty much my favorite member of the nut family, and not just because they’re green (my favorite color). A perfectly roasted pistachio is crunchy, salty, and just a little bit creamy from all those good-for-you vegetable fats that live in nuts and avocados.

Thus, with the help of my handy dandy food processor, the perfect parsley pistachio pesto was created.

green + good for you!

This stuff was great on bacon tomato sandwiches, and it’s most likely on deck to dress some gnocchi later this week.

What’s in it:

  • 2 tightly packed cups chopped fresh parsley (about 1-1/2 bunches, wilted is okay :))
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Step by step:

  • Put the parsley, pistachios, garlic, and cheese in the bowl of your food processor and whir everything around a few times until it starts to come together and look more, well, pesto-y.
  • Add the vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Pulse the food processor a few more times until your pesto is the consistency you like. If you prefer your pesto smoother than my chunky stuff, just drizzle in a little more olive oil and mix a bit longer.

This recipe makes about 1 packed cup of pesto, which will now keep for a week or two in the refrigerator. Spread it on a sandwich, use it for pasta sauce, or just sneak spoonfuls of it straight from the jar like I’ve been doing all week.

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quick lunch extravaganza – when life gives you bread, make sandwiches

Our house has been infested.

With fleas, earlier in the summer, and lately with some very persistent ants.

But, mostly, with bread.

It started when I overbought buns for a cookout a few weeks ago. Micah was smoking a pork picnic roast and grilling burgers for almost 20 people, so I cleaned out the Daily Groceries bakery case and brought home enough buns for everyone to have two.

My calculations didn’t account for folks going bread-less, which many of them did (in order, I’m sure, to consume more of the delicious meats and veggies on the table).

So after the cookout, we still had about twenty buns leftover, but only enough uneaten burgers and barbecue for about half that.

Oops.

We would’ve frozen the extra bread, but our freezer was already getting out of hand.

Which meant that, after the extra pork and beef were gone, we still needed to eat eight more buns, because of course I just couldn’t bring myself to waste them.

Four buns became vehicles for our delicious berbere-spiced sloppy joes disorderly josephs.

A couple of onion rolls were transformed into savory French toast sandwiches with tarragon and some of Micah’s crispy home-cured bacon.

the roundest French toast I’ve ever made

Step-by step:

  • Cook a few slices of bacon and set it aside, but leave the grease in the pan.
  • Whisk together one egg with a little milk, salt, pepper, and dried tarragon.
  • Batter the buns in the egg mixture.
  • Cook in the bacon grease over medium heat until browned and crispy.
  • Layer on a plate with bacon and top with a drizzle of maple syrup.

This French toast was not only quick and easy, but also a tasty way to repurpose those extra onion rolls. They soaked up the egg-and-milk batter beautifully, creating a fluffy, moist French toast that paired perfectly with the salty crunch of the bacon.

And when we finally got down to the last two bits of our booming bounty of buns, we made these:

toasted sorta-caprese sandwich….gooey and melty….yum…

This sandwich was also laughably simple, but so tasty.

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Split two sandwich buns and brush the insides of both halves with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  • Add a few thick pieces of cheese (we used Edam) and some sliced tomatoes (we used a handful of halved sungold cherries).
  • Close the sandwiches and wrap them in foil.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the sandwiches are nice and warm and the cheese has melted.
  • Add a big handful of fresh basil to each sandwich and enjoy!

The same day that we ate these delicious sandwiches, my friend Jackie brought me a jar of her generations-old sourdough starter, with instructions to feed the starter the next day and then bake with it the day after that.

I dutifully followed Jackie’s feeding instructions (minus the potato flakes/potato water), and that jar of yeasty goodness responded by giving me three large loaves of lovely bread:

fresh out of the oven, fluffy, and delicious

I’m very excited to have a sourdough starter and a fantastic recipe now–but dang, we ended up with so much bread! Fortunately, I was able to share this stuff with two of my best friends, so Micah and I only had one big loaf left to eat ourselves.

Next time (tomorrow!), I plan on tweaking the feeding and baking proportions of this recipe to yield just one or two loaves at a time, and I’m also excited to try using my sourdough starter to make other yummy baked goods like cinnamon rolls or pizza dough. If you want to make sourdough but don’t have any starter, ask around to some bakerly friends and you can probably find someone who has extra. Or, you can always make your own like my blogging buddy Stephanie did a while back. 🙂

Anyway, so right when Micah and I thought we’d found the light at the end of the starch tunnel, we now had another very large loaf of bread to eat.

So we did what any sane person would do in this situation.

We made more sandwiches.

bread + bacon + tomatoes + pesto

These sandwiches were salty and crunchy from the bacon, savory and spicy from the pesto, sweet and juicy from the tomatoes, and crispy and hearty from cooking in just a little bit of bacon grease. You could use your favorite pesto recipe or some store-bought pesto–or if you can hold out for one more post, you can use the parsley pistachio pesto we enjoyed (I’ll give you the recipe next time I write!).

Sourdough sandwiches, round two:

grilled cheese with pickled beets and fresh basil

The pickled beets and onions gave this tasty sandwich a fantastic tangy sweetness that played nicely with the spicy fresh basil, creamy Edam, and sharp cheddar.

We enjoyed crusty hunks of toasted bread with a few other meals throughout the week until finally, today, there was only one big two-sandwich hunk of bread left.

So today (no pictures of this one–sorry!), we sliced up that last hunk of bread and filled our sandwiches with pesto, bacon, and cheddar for a yummy concoction that went perfectly with the free potato salad we got with our weekly Earth Fare coupons on Sunday.

Why devote an entire blog post to this most humble of feasts, this I-don’t-know-what-to-eat-so-I-guess-I’m-stuck-with-sandwiches brown bag filler?

What’s so great about the lowly sandwich?

Sandwiches can be boring, can make you feel like you’re in a mindless, hopeless bread-filling rut.

But that’s not how I feel about sandwiches at all.

To me, a sandwich is a blank slate, a beautifully clean canvas.

If you stuff your sandwich bread with wilted iceberg lettuce and a sad, sad slice of processed ham, then of course it’s not going to be a masterpiece.

But if you let yourself think outside the lunchbox, you can turn plain old bread into a delicious work of art. 🙂

Categories: musings, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

a little patriotism for the 4th of July

how’s that for independence?

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date-night dinner – 6.29.12 – disorderly josephs

I have to hand it to my mom and dad. Statistically, there is no way they should’ve been good parents.

When my mom found out she was pregnant with me, she was fifteen and my dad was barely eighteen. They were party kids, recklessly making mischief in our tiny town where, honestly, there was little else to do besides skinny-dipping in the lake or getting sloshed on Boone’s Farm.

Mom and Dad could have given me up, could have stayed trouble-making teens for at least a few years longer before gradually easing into the responsibilities of adulthood.

Instead, they got married, got jobs, had my brother Dave (so I wouldn’t be an only child), bought a house, settled down.

They grew up.

I remember one evening when I was little, sitting on the sofa and watching my mother iron. I asked her how old she was. “Nineteen,” she said. And all I could think, at three and a half, was that my mom was so old.

Now that I’m pushing 30, my own nineteenth year a whole decade gone, I shudder to imagine what kind of mom I might have been at that age. I was so impulsive, so self-centered, so careless. Such a kid.

Could I have enforced bathtimes, naptimes, mealtimes, bedtimes? Could I have woken in the night, time and time again, to feed and comfort a wailing child? Could I have handled potty training, or changing the sheets and flipping the mattress when accidents happened?

My parents, young as they were, did all of these things and more.

Once, when Dave and I were very small–not even in school yet, if memory serves–Mom and Dad took us for a rare dinner out. To hear them tell it, Dave and I were holy terrors: loud, misbehaving, and embarrassing the heck out of our poor, young, helpless parents. Mom and Dad were mortified, ready to snatch us up by the ears and carry us out kicking and screaming.

At some point during this meal, another diner in the restaurant approached our table. I’m sure my mom and dad braced themselves for a well-deserved tirade at their incompetent parenting of us unruly brats. But instead of complaining, this woman paid my parents a compliment. Dave and I, she said, were two of the quietest, most well-mannered children she had ever seen.

Yes, Mom and Dad always had high expectations for our behavior.

Mealtimes, for example, were a ritual that no one questioned.

We always sat around the table together, whether Dad had grilled burgers or Mom had made up a Crock Pot of fifteen-bean soup. We sat around that table together even on those rare occasions when supper was a pepperoni pie from Pizza Hut or submarine sandwiches from our local (and now defunct) deli, Ol’ Haileys.

The table was always set with silverware and paper napkins.

Dave and I always drank milk with dinner–no sodas or sweet tea in our house–and we ate what Mom or Dad had made for us, no exceptions, no special orders. We were expected to try new foods before we decided we didn’t like them. And if there was dessert, we could enjoy that sweet treat only after we had finished our dinner.

I say that no one dared question this sacred ceremony of supper, but that’s not entirely true.

My mom and I reminisced the other day about one of our very favorite meals: sloppy joes (Manwich from a can, obviously) with macaroni and cheese (Kraft from a box, naturally). The messy meaty sandwiches perfectly complemented those creamy orange noodles, all washed down with a tall glass of milk (of course).

But one night, for some reason that I promise I would tell you if only I could remember it, I decided I was not–do you hear me? NOT!–going to eat sloppy joes.

The napkins, the silverware, the glasses of milk were already on the table. The sloppy joes were already assembled on our plates, the macaroni and cheese already heaped beside them.

And I said, “I don’t like sloppy joes.”

“Yes you do,” Mom said. “You’ve had them before.”

“Well, I don’t want sloppy joes,” I said.

“Fine,” Mom said.

Young as she was, she knew she couldn’t win a battle of wills with a four-year-old. But she had size and authority on her side, so when she said what she said next, I had no choice but to obey. “Go to your room,” she said.

And I did.

I stalked to my room, sulked in my room, eventually sobbed in my room because I really was hungry and I really did want sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese, and my room was closest to the dining room, so I could hear everyone else eating and enjoying their sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese–enjoying their suppers while I moped, miserable and hungry.

When Dad finally came to get me, much later, I walked with him back to the dinner table. There, right where I had left it, was my lonely, cold plate. Cold sloppy joe. Cold macaroni and cheese, almost solid from sitting out for so long.

My three-year-old brother, I’m fairly certain, was messily slurping on the fudgsicle he’d earned for cleaning his plate.

I remember all of this so well: the argument with my mother, the haze of the setting sun filtering through my bedroom curtains as I wallowed while they all ate, the anger I felt before it dissolved into pitiful, hungry shame.

But I have no idea whether I ate that cold sloppy joe or went back to bed without eating a thing.

Either way, my mom and dad won.

It took me at least one more tantrum to learn my lesson for good–but the egg salad incident is another story for another time.

You’d think sloppy joes might dredge up painful memories for me, that the very thought of messy meat on a bun might propel me into a rage or a fit of tears.

But actually, despite my traumatic experience with these saucy sandwiches, I love sloppy joes. They make me smile with child-of-the-80s nostalgia, the same way I smile when I think of my teenage aunt Missy’s asymmetrical perm or those matching Easter dresses my mom sewed for us with the flowers and the puffy sleeves.

So when Micah and I were brainstorming ways to use up a surplus of sandwich buns we had leftover from that Hudson family cookout we hosted two weeks ago, one of the first things we thought of was sloppy joes.

Instead of ground beef or turkey, we defrosted a pound of ground pork breakfast sausage from Moonshine Meats, because it was what we had a lot of in the freezer. And since we don’t keep Manwich around, we used some of this stuff to sauce our sandwiches:

Emily G’s Berbere Sauce

Emily G’s is a Georgia-based purveyor of jams, sauces, and seasonings, and this particular sauce was the food item in our wine club box from Shiraz last month. I was familiar with berbere because of that Ethiopian meal I cooked a couple months back, and I had a hunch that the smoky, spicy, sweet flavors of the sauce might make a perfect sloppy joe.

When I told my mom about this meal, she laughed. “Those are too fancy to call sloppy joes,” she said. “What you made were disorderly josephs.”

this is actually a leftover disorderly joseph that I ate for lunch yesterday
(the lighting was better, and I liked the looks of that blue plate)

There’s really no recipe for me to tell you, but here’s how we made them:

  • Wrap four sandwich buns in foil and heat in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, brown 1 pound of medium heat pork breakfast sausage in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Drain off some of the fat, then return the skillet to the heat.
  • Stir in 4-6 tablespoons of the berbere sauce or another tomato-based sauce (depending on how disorderly you want your josephs to be).
  • Cook until the sauce has heated through and thickened a bit. You can add a sprinkle of flour if you want to help this along.
  • Once the meat is done cooking, get your warm buns out of the oven, open them up, and fill each one with a scoop of messy, meaty goodness.
  • Eat and enjoy–with plenty of napkins. 🙂

The beauty of sloppy joes is that you can really sauce them with whatever you happen to have around. Barbecue sauce and ketchup are perfectly reasonable options, not to mention salsa or marinara. Or you could sloppify your joes with a homemade sauce of fresh or canned tomatoes and whatever seasonings you feel like throwing in. The possibilities are truly endless.

In the fuzzy foreground of the above photo, you can see what we ate on the side, but here they are again:

notice the white plate? this was the first time we ate this meal

Micah made these delicious oven-baked french fries from a recipe on Fork and Beans for Shira’s Spiced Potato Bakes. We didn’t change a thing about the potato recipe, which Shira did quite a nice job explaining in the original post, so I’ll let you go visit that.

We did change up the dipping sauce, though, mostly because we had an excess of fresh parsley and no fresh cilantro. So here’s what I put in ours:

  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all of this together in a small bowl and keep it cool in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat.

While sloppy joes disorderly josephs, oven-baked fries, and beer might not sound like much of a date-night dinner, I assure you that this lovely meal was perfectly suited for a happy Friday evening with my honey, just as it was perfectly suited for a lunch of leftovers yesterday.

And what if I make this supper for my kids some day and my own four-year-old daughter turns up her nose at one of my sloppy joes? Well, I would gobble up that poor, neglected sandwich in a heartbeat. 🙂

Categories: links, musings, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Texana's Kitchen

Are you, or do you know someone who is, one of those people who won’t eat leftovers, and would rather die than wear hand-me-down clothes?  Maybe they have the mindset that everything has to be new and fresh, or somehow someone is getting shortchanged?  I don’t get it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do have my limits.  Clearly, undergarments and swimwear, or anything that has ever touched someone else’s nether bits is off-limits.  Did I really even need to call that one out?  But I also have this thing about wearing someone else’s shoes—just can’t do it.  Not even if they are supposedly “sanitized”.  This is why renting bowling shoes, ice skates, or other such footwear is not in my repertoire.  I rank it right up there with eating eyeballs and parts of the digestive tract.  It just isn’t happening.

But in all other matters, I prefer old…

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know your food

I already posted this video with my other Red Clay writings last week, but I wanted it to also have its own link here because the message is pretty important to me. If you’ve already watched it, feel free to view again or not. If you haven’t, I would love for you to take a look and tell me what you think:

Click here for image credits.

I’m also sharing  my video with Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday for June 29th.

If you’re as interested as I am in slow food, local/sustainable foods, whole foods, etc., visit their site. I had never seen it until one of my friends from Red Clay mentioned it to me the other day, and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing.

Categories: links, musings | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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