Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I have officially not cooked anything since Christmas.

And I probably won't be cooking anything for a while, since as of Wednesday I'll be officially homeless and in the process of moving to Seattle.

But that's okay, because I'll have plenty of road adventures to write about. Friday I had a last lunch with a friend; it was my last chance to eat East Coast oysters, so I ate 37 of them (mostly Wellfleets), had two glasses of gruner veltliner, and finished off with a shot of Cynar. It was a good lunch.

Otherwise, I've been working all week. I'm working tonight, and all day tomorrow, and then Wednesday morning I'll get up and drive to DC. I'll spend the night there with friends, and continue on to my parents' house in Virginia on Thursday, where I'll be off the grid for a few days (no internet, no cell reception, no cable). I'll see my friends there, say goodbye to everyone, and then continue on to Missouri, where I'll finally be reunited with my husband.

So, in the meantime: Happy New Year! Eat some oysters.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner this year was an informal affair--just a few friends, some good food, and some wine. Here's what I made:

Roast chicken with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots
Butternut squash risotto with beet greens
Roasted beets
Kale caesar salad
Spinach gratin
Buttermilk cornbread
Brussel sprouts
Cranberry upside-down cake
Cranberry brownies

And someone brought sweet potato pie.

I also saw Django Unchained, the new Quentin Tarantino movie, on Christmas Day. I'd never seen a movie on Christmas before. It was a fun day off, but I missed my husband and my family way more than I thought I would (which was a lot). Fortunately, I'm on my last week of work, which means by this time next week I'll be reunited with my cats in Virginia, and a few days after that, with my husband in Missouri.

Which means a few days after that, we'll finally be on our way to Seattle!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cranberry brownies

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It's a white Christmas here in Boston. I'm getting a live stream of photos from my husband's Christmas in Missouri, and I really wish I were there right now.

Instead, I'm comforting myself with a warm batch of cranberry brownies. Rich, chocolatey, moist, with a pop of fun tart cranberry flavor. Delicious.

From Coconut & Lime:

3/4 cup butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 8x8 baking pan very thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add 3/4 cup chocolate chunks. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly. Chocolate should be thoroughly melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in flour and remaining chocolate chunks and stir until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the cranberries. Bake about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with just one or two sticky crumbs. Cool on wire rack before slicing and serving.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm done

For the last month, I've been in a holding pattern. Done with packing, stuff is gone, but still working. Still not quite to the driving-across-country-and-looking-for-jobs part. For a while, that felt right. I can't explain it, except to say that somehow I needed a buffer zone. I was partially excited about the prospect of Seattle, but also partially stunned by the idea of leaving a perfectly good job, one that I enjoy and do well.

Well, now I'm done. I'm ready to go.

Sometime last night, I turned a mental corner while at work, and I stopped in the middle of what I was doing and thought, "Okay, I'm done. Time to get this show on the road." I want to see my husband and cats again, I want to see some Western scenery (preferably without snow on the roads), I want to be in our new city. I've been a little afraid of getting there, of not finding a job or an affordable apartment or breaking down in a snowstorm in Idaho and having to eat the cats to survive, but now the stasis is worse than the unknown.

And isn't that always the tipping point in my life? When the stasis becomes worse than the unknown?

So, Merry Christmas, everyone. All I want for Christmas is to see my husband and cats again, and then a road sign that says, "Welcome to Seattle!"

Today I'll be relaxing. Tomorrow I'll be a cooking a mini-Christmas feast and drinking a lot of good wine, complete with a big post!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Giant beers, for the end of the world

The world didn't end yesterday. But is anyone surprised by that?

It made for a good excuse to drink a lot of beer, though. Thursday night, after work, my coworkers and I plowed through a collective 10 or 12 liters of fine Belgian beer. A six-liter bottle, a three-liter bottle, a magnum, and a few regular-size bottles.

Pouring an almost three-foot-tall bottle of beer is heavy, by the way.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pig head

The other night, I ate a pig head.

And it was one of the top 5 most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth.

A little backstory: Since I've got less than two weeks left there (eep!), I feel it's safe to disclose that I work at Craigie on Main, Boston's finest restaurant. One of their specialties is the pig head. Remember the pig head I had in Montreal? Naturally, I couldn't leave town without experiencing Craigie's fabled pig head.

I got some friends together and I went in on my night off. We got octopus, terrines, and pig tails to start; then the pig head and bone marrow; then the cheese plate and beignets for dessert. (We also had a lot of cocktails.)

Here's the thing about pig head: if you can get past the concept of digging your fork into a pig's face, it tastes amazing. It's fatty, meltingly tender, and the skin is super-crispy. Craigie serves it Peking duck-style, with pancakes, a boudin noir-hoisin sauce, and a spicy pumpkin sambal. The pancakes and sauces help cut the fat of the pork a little, which then means you can just shovel it into your face at a faster rate.

Here's the other thing about pig head: the whole thing is edible. The cheek, the eye, the snout, the ear. Everything. Cheek: fattiest part. Ear: like a great big pork rind. Eye: like a big gob of pork fat butter. I'm serious. I ate the eye and it was the best part of the whole thing. We stripped that thing down to the bone.

Not to discount the pig tails: like fattier ribs.

But I'm not used to eating so much rich, fatty food in one sitting, so yesterday I was suffering from a bit of a pork hangover (in addition to the regular kind of hangover). Which is why I didn't get around to blogging about it until today.

So, don't be scared. Eat the pig head. You'll be glad you did.

And feel free to use that as a metaphor for life, as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Not a whole lot going on in Broke Foodie land these days. I haven't cooked anything since a vat of soup on Monday (which I still haven't gotten all the way through, thanks to staff meal). My temporary roommate and I are going to have an Orphans' Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, for those people without familial obligations, but it won't be anything fancy. There'll be some amazing wine, but I doubt the food will get any more sophisticated than roast chicken. I realized that it couldn't get any more sophisticated, even if I had the energy to cook an eight-course extravaganza; I don't have any of my usual kitchen tools at my disposal (no food processor, mixer, ice cream maker, souffle pan, tart pan, ramekins, etc.).

Mostly I've been eating soup, with stale leftover bread from work, and wraps, with spinach and egg or cheese. Also some cookies, though not homemade.

Christmas will be an excuse to sit around and drink amazing wine for two days, but I'll let you know what gets cooked. In the meantime, hug your loved ones. My husband is very far away today, and after yesterday's events, I really really want to hug him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A new use for ginger beer

I keep Barritt's ginger beer around for Dark n' Stormys (and the occasional Moscow Mule), but last night I discovered another use for it.

Rye, ginger beer, lemon and mint.

Kind of like a Whiskey Smash, with carbonation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day-off cooking

For the first time in recent memory, I made a pot of soup and it lasted all week.

Between that soup, free staff meal at work, a pot of oatmeal, and the odd wrap, I fed myself all week long.

Is that exciting? I don't know. Not for you, since I haven't had any new recipes to post. It means my food bill will be miniscule this month.

Today I'm going to cook up a bunch of old favorites. Another pot of soup, with cranberry beans, butternut squash, venison, and maybe some green beans, as well. A batch of baked penne, with arugula and lots of cheese. Maybe some kale caesar salad, too.

Then I'll eat some of it, drink some wine, and curl up with a movie.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye, NYC

I spent yesterday saying goodbye to my friends in NYC.

We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of drinks, and laughed a lot more. I also purchased a couple of hard-to-find food items, saw an Olafur Eliasson exhibit, and frittered away part of the afternoon at Pastis, drinking wine and eating pate (and reading a book). There wasn't any haute cuisine, but that wasn't the point of the visit.

Food finds: whole vanilla beans, 3 for $5, purchased at a Middle Eastern bulk grocery on Atlantic Avenue. Pimente d'Esplette, a kind of intensely flavored AOC-designated French pepper, a cornerstone of Basque cuisine. A bottle of tiki bitters.

I still love the bustle of NYC, even though I haven't lived there in over three years. But I'm sure exploring Seattle will be equally exciting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Out with friends

Last night some friends and I went to a local charcuterie and cheese place. I realized about halfway through the evening that it would be a while before I'd get to enjoy that level of camaraderie again. All day yesterday, I had friends texting me--"Now that you're in the city, we can hang out!"--and eventually I overcame my day-off inertia and met them. When the restaurant found out we were all in the industry, they showered us with free food. We ate non-stop for four hours, plowed through three bottles of wine (between four people) and still only paid about $75 apiece for everything.

It was outstanding. The free food, of course, but also the company, the wine, the atmosphere. It will take a few weeks in Seattle to find a job and an apartment, to get settled, to make friends, to get to the point where I'll have people to go out with (and disposable income to spend), and even longer before other local restaurants start sending over freebies. Maybe this is the universe telling me, "Why are you staying at home this month, when you have no husband and are sleeping on an air mattress? Seize the day! Go out with your friends while you still can!"

And on Thursday, I'll get to do that in NYC. One last time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Veal and potato soup

Occasionally, the restaurant where I work will make veal for two. A big double veal chop, plus sweetbreads. The double veal chop is truly a joy to behold: brontosaurus-sized, glistening with butter and fat, enough to make any vegetarian reconsider (IMHO). But it's a lot of meat, and sometimes, people don't take the leftovers home.

The other night, two tables forgot to take the rest of their boxed-up veal leftovers with them--a few slices of the chop, plus the bones. I salvaged the two boxes, took them home, and threw them into the fridge, thinking to use the bones for veal stock.

Today, when I opened the boxes, I realized there were some good slices of veal meat in there, too. So I'm using them in a veal and potato soup.

Since the veal is already cooked, I'm just making a plain potato soup, without the cheese, with the veal bones added in while the potatoes are cooking. Once the potatoes are cooked through, I'll add the chopped-up veal, plus some herbs and salt, and finish with a little milk or cream. I'll garnish with some fresh carrot greens.

Doesn't that sound awesome? I'll drink my favorite tequila with it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chamucos tequila

Every once in a while, the universe throws you a bone.

During the New Mexico chapter of my road trip, I discovered this tequila. It had a devil on the bottle, and it was delicious. Smooth, floral, amazing. Best tequila I'd ever put in my mouth. I bought a bottle.

Then I couldn't find it outside of New Mexico. Not in California, not in New York. Not until my current job--the bar there carries it. Even so, it was not available to me personally; the local New England liquor stores didn't carry it, either. I despaired.

Until last week, when I discovered that the random wine shop across from my new digs had it for sale.

I'm going to drink it on my day off tomorrow. (Some of it--not the whole bottle, of course.) I will drink it neat, with no ice or mixers, because this is not a cheap tequila that you dump into a margarita. This is like drinking a little piece of a road trip. Then, I'm going to purchase an additional bottle to take with us to Seattle, because God knows when I'll be able to find it again.