Archive | October, 2012

Quick and Comforting — Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and White Wine

30 Oct

I’ve discovered a bit of a silver lining to the early winter, when winter rolls in and the days get shorter and the nights get colder.  That is, because the dark and cold conspire to keep me inside, I’m forced to look elsewhere for evening entertainment and ways to pass the time.  While spring and summer is often filled happy hours, patios, and outside activities, I’m not nearly as motivated or willing to leave home on the weekdays after I’ve returned from work.

The result? I end up spending more time in my kitchen preparing evening meals. (If this were the NY Times or another form of modern journalism then I would have used the word “upshot.”  For whatever reason, “upshot” is everywhere the past couple of years.  Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of the word? Better yet, can anyone explain it? It kind of annoys me to be honest.)

I digress.

The fall here in Columbus ended in traditional style.  Which is to say, schizophrenically. Less than a week ago, the high was 80 degrees.  This morning, there was snow.  And so it was, as much of the east-coast hunkered down at home, involuntarily sheltering in place, I did the same.  But unlike them, it was of my own volition.

Not too long ago, I came across a fantastic sounding recipe for Chicken Thighs and Mushrooms.  Not only did the picture make it look incredibly appetizing, but the instructions also made clear that it was relatively easy and quick to make.  I love elaborate cooking as much as the next guy, but when it’s a cold Monday night, sometimes you just want something that will come together without much effort.  If it looks and tastes like it required greater work and skill?  That’s just icing on the cake. (Or sauce on the chicken?)

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Too Many Cooks — That Food Truck Takes Center Stage

25 Oct

Based on the proliferation of food blogs (like this one) out there, it’d be a safe assumption that there are A LOT of people in the world that really enjoy food.  And not just consuming it.  They enjoy talking about it, looking at it, and hearing from others who share a similar passion for the things that we eat.

Every month on the second Sunday of the month at Wild Goose Creative, an open, eclectic, and ever changing group of people gather to be informed and entertained by someone with a special food story to tell or lesson to teach.  Called “Too Many Cooks,” this regular event is open to all-comers with an abiding, or even passing, interest in food.  (Try to RSVP, space can be limited!)  It starts at 7 p.m. and costs only $5.  (Not only do you get to eat whatever is on offer for the evening, but Wild Goose Creative is a nonprofit, and any proceeds from the event go towards supporting their vast array of other programs and events.)

Too Many Cooks had been on my radar for a while, but I only attended my first event earlier this month.  Honestly, what finally pushed me into attending is that Tania took over organizing responsibilities. (If that’s not disclosure enough, I may have a conflict of interest when it comes to writing this blog post.  After all, if I said bad things, I could run the risk of physical injury.  But, after viewing the photos of the food for yourself, I’ll let you decide whether there is anything bad to be said.)

Although Tania’s involvement was the primary reason I attended, the identity of the featured guest came in a close second.  That’s because the most recent Too Many Cooks featured one of Columbus’s newest food truck all-stars: That Food Truck.

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Beer — the Second Movement

15 Oct

Just last week I began the process of brewing a batch of White House Honey Porter.  In writing about that project, I promised that it would ultimately comprise a movement in three parts.  The first movement, the brewing itself, was probably the most exciting of the three.  Once that step was completed, I largely became a passive spectator.  It was up to the yeast to do the heavy lifting from then on.

And it took to that task with gusto.

Over the course of the past week, my airlock bubbled furiously as the yeast began to consume all of the sugars contained in the wort.  By this weekend though, it had stopped, meaning it was time for movement number two: transferring the beer to the secondary fermenter. (If you’re keeping track, it was a busy weekend.  I also grilled up some delicious Honey Ginger Pork Tenderloin.)

Siphoning into the secondary fermenter.

I have found that a secondary fermentation is a crucial step to obtaining a high quality finished product.  Sure, you can skip this step and still end up with a fine tasting beverage in the end.  But the extra rest in the secondary fermenter helps to take your beer to another level.

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The Thrill of the Grill — Honey Ginger Pork Tenderloin (also with broccoli!)

15 Oct

I love grilling.  And to be honest, I don’t really care what the weather is; I’m perfectly content to bundle up and stand in a snow drift if it means that the end result is I get to eat something that was cooked over a bed of hot coals.  That being said, it’s always more fun to grill when the weather is beautiful.

At this point in the fall, you never really know which nice day is going to be your last.  One minute it’s a model fall day, sunny and in the mid 60’s.  Then, when you’re not even looking, a cold front rolls in and that’s all she wrote for the fall—winter is upon you.  The lesson then, is when October presents the opportunity to enjoy perfect grilling weather, you have to seize it.

On this past Saturday, I did just that.

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Beer — A Movement in Three Parts

9 Oct

I don’t remember how old I was when my dad first got his home-brewing equipment.  Regardless of my specific age, I know I was still young enough to be disappointed when it turned out that the largest present under the Christmas tree wasn’t addressed to me.  And, that it wasn’t anything particularly cool; it was just mainly a couple of generic white buckets.

As time progressed though, I eventually came to appreciate the beauty of the age-old, yet simple, process by which water, grain, hops, and yeast transforms into the wondrous beverage that we call beer.  By the time I was in college, I had taken up the hobby myself, brewing my own batches of beer under his watchful eye and taking the finished product off to school with me. (More on the ways that my dad influenced me as a cook here.)

Certainly at the time my dad started brewing, and even later when I did, brewing beer at home was an activity shrouded in mystery.  I can still recall the confusion that would follow when I told people that I had brewed the beer contained within the bottles in my fridge.  Even more, I can recall their reaction when they first tasted it and realized: “hey, this isn’t too bad!”

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Easy as (pizza) pie

2 Oct

There was once (and may still be for all I know) a frozen food commercial that proclaimed “when you have pizza on a bagel, you can have pizza any time.”  Now, I never understood why the frequency of pizza eating was dependent on it arriving via bagel.  And if you ask Tania, there is nothing about pizza in its traditional form that in any way prevents you from eating it whenever you want.

One of the reasons you can have pizza any time is that it’s incredibly easy. Of course, the easiest is always ordering delivery, something I admit to doing on a not infrequent basis.  But if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort homemade pizza isn’t all that hard either.  It’s even easier, however, if you decide to start with a pre-made crust.  And here is where those bagel pizza people might be onto something: pizza crust doesn’t have to be traditional.

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