Back from, well, here

July 28, 2012

Hellooooo, troops! Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, ‘n all that.

You may (or may not) have noticed I have not been in evidence here at Chez Keyboard for the last couple of weeks. Quite frankly, I have had better things to do, namely standing by and being grandmotherly while Child C birthed Amazing Grandchild No. 2, and then thoroughly enjoying grandparenthood when Child B and Amazing Grandchild No. 1 were here all this week.

Children B and C, AGC 1 and 2. Beats cooking any day.

I cooked. I guess. I was concentrating on other things. Like how to take care of a boychild after he’s been circumcised. (I had girls; I never had to do these things.) Like remembering how one deals with colicky babies. (He was an easy keeper for a while, and then he got over it. Dammit.)

In any event, it’s been hot, too hot to cook a whole lot, although we have been living like kings on farmers’ market bounty here at Chez Brockwell. I’ve cooked corn and peas and okra and sliced tomatos and chilled canteloupe and cut up peaches and plums at great length of late. I’ve cooked a lot on the grill — chicken and burgers and pork shoulder. (I can testify, by the way, that Kroger brand Jamaican Jerk marinade makes some kick-ass chicken. Just sayin’.) I made homemade pimiento cheese (p’minner cheese, in the vernacular) for Child B, who promptly forgot to take some home with her. 

Surprisingly, while it’s been insufferably hot and we’re in what’s classified as “extreme drought” here in the Spa City and surrounds, the farmers’ market has continued to produce good stuff. Canteloupes are gone — too much heat, not enough rain — but watermelons are still good, as is corn, and there seem to be no shortages of squash, green beans, purple hull and black-eyed peas and cucumbers.

I made a nice Greek-ish salad t’other night of cucumbers and halved heirloom cherry tomatos. Dressed it in some wine vinegar and olive oil, and chopped up some oregano. It was pretty primo. I love the simple preps that lend themselves to garden vegetables — like: Slice tomatos. Sprinkle with salt. Eat. I did do a somewhat more complex cucumber salad that was most excellent — a tablespoon of miso, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of rice vinegar, toss two cups of cucumbers, top with a healthy sprinkle of sesame seeds. It would have been improved by the addition of some grated ginger, which I will do next time.

I am big-time in love with my KitchenAid food processor, which is enabling me to make slaw at a dramatic rate. And today, as I was making a carrot cake for Future Son In Law 2’s birthday, I got overenthusiastic and grated way too many carrots in it. So I commenced looking for Mark Bittman’s recipe for houria, or spicy carrot salad.

Much to my dismay, houria (which I remember as being slap-yo-mama good) involves slicing or dicing carrots and then cooking them, before adding nice ingredients and chilling them. I did not wish to do this, plus, I had grated carrots. So I kinda winged it — a cup of grated carrots, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of Aleppo pepper, a pinch of ras el hanout, a tablespoonof sugar, a squirt of harissa, and a single-serve tub of Oikos Greek yogurt.

Tolerably good. Too much sugar, so I had to add some salt. I’d back it down to the barest sprinkle of sugar next time. But it’s quite presentable, and refreshing, And it put me in a North African mood, so I used the ground beef and pork I’d thawed out to do something with, and took a riff on an Epicurious recipe for a meatball tagine.

I thawed a pound apiece of beef and pork. With them, I combined two eggs, a pinch of cayenne, a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of turmeric, a healthy sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, a half-teaspoon of allspice, a healthy dose of onion powder and garlic powder, a pinch of white pepper, and some kosher salt. Smushed all that together, and made 2 dozen meatballs.

The sauce called for adding carrots and greens to braise with the meatballs. I was not into the full tagine routine, so I eliminated the excess vegetation, and caramelized an onion and three or four cloves of garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Added a can of tomatos, whizzed in the fo-pro because FSIL 2 doesn’t like chunks of tomatos (seriously?), and dumped that in. Added some ras el hanout and Aleppo pepper, and two cups of beef broth.

The recipe on which this is loosely based — VERY loosely, I might add — calls for a metric ass-load more cinnamon than this has.It also wants saffron. Personally, with saffron the price it is, I ain’t using saffron until I can TASTE saffron, and not when it’s all blended in with all the other stuff. And it did not call for ras el hanout, but I’ve found that stuff adds a kind of indefinable Northern African air to stuff when you just can’t quite get the spice mix to work for you, so, well, I use it.

I put it over basmati rice, though the canonical use would be over couscous. Tough. My family likes rice. And it’s gluten free.

Tomorrow, maybe, we’ll discuss the Scotch eggs, the carrot cake, the assorted other stuff that got turned out today. Meanwhile, I have a grandson who needs tending to. So you and y’mama ‘n ’em have a fine, fine Saturday night, and I’ll hope to be back with y’all tomorrow.

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3 Responses to “Back from, well, here”

  1. RMJ Says:

    Thought of you today when my lunch consisted of sliced heirloom tomatoes, basil & mozzarella cheese drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Just wish I would have thought to add a few capers.

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Heirloom tomatos are $1.50 a pound at the Farmers Market in Hot Springs. Just sayin’.

  3. melissa Says:

    ‘Maters are what makes summer great. I’ve canned over 25 quarts so far……and have more a’comin’. Cute kids and grandkids 🙂


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