North Africa-bound

August 24, 2018

It’s just a PRETTY piece of kitchen cookware.

Like I needed another specialized piece of kitchen cookware.

I have purchased a tagine. In part because I just think they’re pretty. And in part because I love the cuisine of Morocco, where the tagine is a necessity of life.

And in part because I’m thinking maybe if I rub it just right, a genie will come out and grant me three wishes.

I already had several Kindle cookbooks on the cuisine of Morocco and environs, but I guess I figured if I was going to buy the tagine, I might as well have a dead-tree cookbook to use with it, so I bought one of those, too. So I’m ready to get going with long, slow stovetop braises of chicken, and maybe I’ll even try lamb (not that I’ve ever LIKED lamb, but there’s always a first time, right?).

I think one reason I enjoy Moroccan cuisine is the predominance of fruit in its recipes. I can’t think of many times when chicken (or pork, if they cooked pork, which they obviously don’t in a mostly Muslim country, bless their hearts) is not improved by the addition of dates, or dried figs, or dried apricots, or, or, or.

Anyway, a tagine is a shallow, wide earthenware base in which one sautes and then simmers proteins with a goodly measure of aromatics and a small portion of liquid, covered by a conical top. Mine is glazed inside, and “raw” earthenware outside; I will season it however one is supposed to do so, and then set about cooking something, which is then served over couscous or rice.  The typical tagine includes a meat, dried fruit, and nuts; tagines can also be made with fresh hard veggies like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and so on. Lamb with dates and almonds, anyone? Beef with beets and oranges? Meatballs with baked/braised eggs? Chicken with preserved almonds, green olives and thyme, or with artichokes and green grapes? Honey, onion and chili pepppers and ginger are key ingredients in all these. I’m on board with all of ’em.

And I need to set about making myself some preserved lemons.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, help me now.

I’m headed out of town for a few day this weekend, but when I get back, I’m thinking I’ll start things out with a spicy chicken tagine with apricots, rosemary and ginger. Or maybe duck breasts with dates, honey and orange flower water.

A tagine dish, of course, requires a Moroccan flatbread (which one can also make in the tagine, or on a pizza stone in the oven). I’m down with that, too.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to come help me try this thing out, we’ll pop in a copy of Casablanca and let Sam play it for us while we cook.




A stovetop full of cookware!

Isn’t it PRETTY? I’m fixin’ to break it in with dinner tonight, and see how good it cooks.

My mis-matched, picked up here and there cookware has gone home with Child C, and my brand new Paderno is occupying pride of place atop my stove, where I can look at it.

For the record, the above is what $1,000 worth of cookware looks like. Well, $1,000 Canadian, which comes out to about $775 US, and let me guarantee you I paid nowhere near THAT for it. And the only reason I have it at all is due to the good offices of an online friend I know through the eGullet cooking forum, who ordered it for me, and then turned around and shipped it to me in Arkansas.

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Sharp things, shiny things

September 8, 2017

Sharp thing: A new, fancy paring knife.

I didn’t NEED either one of them. But I’ll use them regularly, and they make me smile.

Reason enough to buy new knives, and new wineglasses.

I got to jonesing, for some reason, for a good quality paring knife. I have three or four el cheapo paring knives, but when I need to peel or slice something, I generally reach for my faithful 5-inch Misono utility knife. I love that knife and use it every day.

Decided I wanted something just a bit smaller. I was breezing about Amazon, and found a hammered steel, not carbon, Kaizef, four-inch. I knew I didn’t want carbon, knew I wanted hammered. It was on sale. So I bought it.

It’s a nice, nice knife, that came in a nice sheath and box. Haven’t used it yet. Will try to touch up the edge just a bit before I do.

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Food shopping online

July 10, 2017

Spicing up my life, I am. Peppers R Us.

I am continually amazed at what the Interwebs can bring me in the form of good eats.

There is not only what I can order online and get delivered to my door from the local Chinese takeout joint, without ever talking to a live person until the guy shows up at my door. There are the clicklists I can call up and for a mere five bucks, get my grocery shopping list picked off the shelves, bagged up, and have it waiting for me when I pull up at Kroger (and while that’s not as big a deal as it was when I was working at a not-at-home office, with kids that had to be strapped in and unstrapped and corralled in a basket, it’s still quite attractive from time to time). And there are the plethora of specialty/gourmet food websites out there, up to and including the incomparable DiBruno Brothers salumeria on Ninth Street in Philadelphia, wherein resides the best damn sausages and cheese I ever put in my mouth. God help me, I love them.

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May 14, 2017

Market haul. Lots of good stuff this early in the season!

Yes, I am still alive. I’ve just been…busy.

Between Friday, May 5, and this past Friday, May 12, I was home for exactly 12 hours, during which I neither cooked nor ate. Between those dates, I went to a conference, at which I contracted a stomach bug; I went shopping at an outlet mall, saw a bear (not at the outlet mall), and lost only $45 at a casino. Then I came home (after approximately 1,000 miles), slept, unpacked, repacked, and went to Little Rock for the announcement of an 800-job, $410-million project on which I’ve been working for a year and a half. Then I came back on Friday, after spending two days at the factory site with the architect.

Then I slept. A lot.

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The start of the garden! Can't wait.

The start of the garden! Can’t wait.

Complain about the US Postal Service all you want. I love ’em. And UPS, and FedEx.

The proportion of my shopping that’s being done online is growing steadily, a trend that reflects the national move away from brick-and-mortar stores. I still do my grocery shopping in person (though I expect I’ll be using the Kroger ClickList function sooner rather than later, just for the convenience of it), but increasingly, everything else comes online.

Except shoes. I want to try shoes on before I buy ’em.

Anyway, one of the great things about online shopping is when you reach into the mailbox, or look out in the carport, and get that little frisson of excitement before you remember what you ordered. “Oooohh! Packages!” It’s like Christmas.

Today, my mailperson (he actually is a mailman, at least most days) brought me two food-related packages: the first of my garden seeds, and a collection of produce bags for storing the yield from said garden in the fridge.

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Odds and ends

January 22, 2017

Beeswrap. This may be a cool thing; I have not made up my mind.

Beeswrap. This may be a cool thing; I have not made up my mind.

There’s been some cooking going on, but it hasn’t been anything particularly unusual. But looking at my photos for the past week, there have been a few things here and there that haven’t made it into posts, so we’ll just corral them here.

First, the above. This stuff interests me. It is beeswax-impregnated cotton cloth, designed to serve as a substitute for plastic wrap in your kitchen when it comes to covering containers, etc. It’s from a place called Mighty Nest, to which one can procure a $10 a month subscription that nets you a kitchen or home-related goodie aimed at making your life and home more sustainable and cutting your landfill footprint.

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