Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Father Ilchester, on the posts

Thanks to Adam, I'm finally set up to contribute to the Ilchester Road CSA community blog. The Ilchester Road site is where I snag my Breezy Willow share every week, and I think it a neat exercise that our mini-community is sharing recipes and experiences there - especially as we get to see each other every week in person, rather unlike other online groups.

I'll be crossposting the same produce and recipe commentary as I put up in this space, but I encourage you to check out the site - the other contributors have been adding some excellent gustatory content.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 22 CSA share

Good news, everyone! More foodstuffs:

The roll call: bread, tomatoes, apple butter, bell peppers, methley plums, peaches, nectarines, summer squash, red pontiac potatoes, and variegated corn.

I'll need peruse more of Breezy Willow's recipes, I think... and there may be more bell pepper cocktails in my near future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

the Centennial Warrior Challenges Saaz-Fuggle in the land of Hallertau

Hops for making beer, a cc by image from nikonvscanon on Flickr

Many thanks to the gents over at Living Proof for pointing out this excellent post on hop varieties. The specific characteristics of different hop varieties are often a bit of a mystery to the average beer imbiber, and this piece does a great job breaking down the theory behind their use and describing the most popular kinds. Better yet, included are specific beer and DC-area pub suggestions to explore different brews associated with each type.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The End of History

The End of History, via Brewdog.com

The End of History: The name derives from the famous work of philosopher Francis Fukuyama, this is to beer what democracy is to history. Fukuyama defined history as the evolution of the political system and traced this through the ages until we got the Western Democratic paradigm. For Fukuyama this was the end point of man’s political evolution and consequently the end of history. The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer.

Scotland's Brewdog has been involved in an extreme beer "conflict" with German brewery Schorschbräu to see who can generate the highest ABV beer in existence. The fruits of this competition on Brewdog's side have recently included the 32% ABV Tactical Nuclear Penguin, as well as the 41% ABV Sink the Bismark. As of today, the final shot has officially been fired.

The End of History clocks in at 55% ABV, a nigh-biologically implausible achievement via fermentation alone. All you need to know about said brew is this:

  • it is a blond Belgian ale that has been infused with nettles from the Scottish Highlands and fresh juniper berries
  • only twelve 12-ounce bottles were made, each sheathed in the body of a dead-by-roadkill rodent by a taxidermist
  • 11 bottles were put on sale to the public today for £500-700 apiece - 7 in well-dressed stoats and 4 in sartorially-elegant squirrels

I... can't follow that up with anything meaningful. Brewdog has helpfully provided the following video, which may provide more context. Or not:

The End of History from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 15 CSA share

Thank you, weather and Comcast, for letting us finally have our bloody-buggering internet back. Ahem.

The roll call: eggs, plums, blueberries, peaches, corn, onions, cucumbers, eggplant, bread, and tomatoes.

And here, I was lamenting the fact that we had yet to receive any corn yet... and we got some in spades, as they say. Or, rather, ears.

This is also the closest I've ever gotten to a non-cooked eggplant. I keep squeezing its spongy, supple flesh... I'll say no more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

the Ultimate (and Epic Ultimate) Bell Pepper Cocktail

As previously noted, Laura detests the bell pepper, and I am both unexcited & not offended by it's inclusion in various foodstuffs. In picking several up with our recent CSA share, I took this as a challenge to do something deliciously different with what I affectionately refer to as Cthulhu's Filler Vegetable. (Seriously, it's in just about every frozen or easily prepared dish that includes some sort of "vegetable mix.") Giving this a bit of thought, I came to an obvious conclusion:

The bell pepper must be taken roughly by alcohol in a shadowy bedroom and spit forth delicious progeny as a result.

I wasn't sure what form this would take. My first inclination was to find precedent for soaking peppers in an alcoholic beverage, as I didn't expect anyone would be mad enough to attempt a mixed drink with this ubiquitous waxen seed-husk... but a bit of interweb sleuthing proved me wrong, oh so wrong. Behold! The Ultimate Bell Pepper Cocktail:

My initial version used the following:

  • 2 bell pepper rings
  • fresh mint leaves to approximate 1 tablespoon mint
  • 1 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Dogfish Head Blue Hen Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Galliano liqueur

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and one bell pepper ring with the grapefruit and lemon juice. Add ice, vodka and liqueur. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with bell pepper ring.

This ended up being far tastier than I expected. The profile of the pepper holds up well with the other flavors, and the result is a sweetly spicy taste of some complexity. Of course, enjoying this requires that one actually likes bell peppers. I offered Laura a sip, and her immediate response was "OMG IT'S HIDEOUS" and to gag and wave her hands in front of her mouth until I brought her a palate-flushing glass of ginger ale.

The original poster noted that serving such a drink out of a bell pepper seemed to be a messy and inconvenient idea... so I clearly had to go there. Behold! The Epic Ultimate Bell Pepper Cocktail:

  • a whole bell pepper with a relatively balanced bottom
  • fresh mint leaves to approximate 1 tablespoon mint
  • 1 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Dogfish Head Blue Hen Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Galliano liqueur

Slice the top off of the pepper in one even layer, and gently core the central seed area out with a paring knife. Cut the central stem out from the top and discard. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and the remaining pepper top with the grapefruit and lemon juice. Add ice, vodka and liqueur. Shake vigorously. Strain into the body of the bell pepper and serve.

Although admittedly gimmicky, this would be interesting for someone to try who was both "hosting a party" and had a surplus of bell peppers. The added advantage is that cleanup would be both easy and nutritious.

Now, to finish this alcohol-impregnated pepper...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 8 CSA share

And so it came to pass that there was a CSA share who's contents were not entirely to our liking:

The roll call: plums, blueberries, eggs, bread, tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, bell peppers, red potatoes, and summer squash.

You see, Laura is not a fan of bell peppers.

By "not a fan," I do mean "revolted by their taste and texture in any method of preparation." That noted, when I picked up the share, I chose not to trade them for something else. (This was only partially motivated by the fact that the trade-in bin only contained cabbage, which we still have plenty of.) While not a massive devotee of the bell pepper myself, I was determined to find interesting way to use said vegetable. Experiments in that vein shall be disclosed shortly.

The rest of the share, of course, clearly meets our global approval. In addition to the usual recipes up on Breezy Willow's main site, I've discovered that our specific CSA drop-off community has it's own blog for recipe sharing, which kind of blows my mind in a meta-algorithmic-subdivision way. Ow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Creamy Fruit Salad

Finding myself with a wondrous surplus of fruit in our July 1 CSA share, I heavily adapted this recipe for creamy fruit salad as a fruit-based side dish. I used:

  • 4 peaches, diced and pits removed
  • 8 small plums, diced and pits removed
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup trail mix
  • 1 (1 1/2 ounce) box sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine the peaches, plums, blueberries and trail mix in a large mixing bowl. In small mixing bowl, combine pudding mix, water and lime juice with a wire whisk until smooth. Add pudding mixture to fruit. Mix gently until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This was incredibly easy and quick to make, and the result was quite tasty. The lime juice added a strong flavor base, but bordered on overwhelming - for the next go-around, I may use 1/3 cup lime juice and 2/3 cup water.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

June 24 and July 1 CSA shares

In which I show you our produce pr0n in order to catch up:

The roll call for the June 24 share: summer squash, bread, cherries, blueberries, new white potatoes, lettuce, peach jam, broccoli, mushrooms, and cucumbers.

The roll call for the July 1 share: plums, blueberries, new white potatoes, cabbage, sunflowers, eggs, tomatoes, bread, peaches, green beans, and cucumbers.

As usual, Breezy Willow has been posting some excellent recipe suggestions. Instead of briefly mentioning some of what we've been trying in this post, I'm going to explode several of the recipes out to their own individual posts... selfishly, because that will help me keep track of things better, and look them up easier for the future. And, of course, for your own personal culinary edification.

I've noted a couple of interesting things as we enter the second month of this grand experiment. The first is that there has been very little wastage thus far. Apart from a head of lettuce and a few squash early on that succumbed to wilt and mold, we been doing a surprisingly (to me) good job of keeping up with the produce and using it in a timely fashion. I'm also pleased to see that we're still excited to try new and creative things with what we get, as opposed to "I'm tired it's late here's a whole cucumber *crunch*" This bodes well for the sustainability of us actually, you know, cooking on a more regular basis.

Also, if our kitchen knives were sapient, they'd report feeling as though they were transferred from a nunnery to a brothel for all the use they have been getting since June started.

It's... best I don't extend that analogy. In any way.