Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taste in the Air

Whenever I fly for travel, I order a nonalcoholic bloody mary mix. I never drink this at home or order it in restaurants. I sometimes get a little queasy when flying and it always seems to settle my stomach. I've been doing this on flights for twenty five years. However I never order coffee on a plane which I  drink regularly. It always tastes so bitter to me, I came to the conclusion that airlines just make terrible coffee. Maybe not so...  There's more going on here than my own crazy habits.  Mark came home recently and told me about this fascinating study on how air pressure and altitude affect your taste buds. It's a german study done by Luftansa, so check it out and see if any of these taste bud quirks while flying pertain to you too.

I gave up buying nice wine glasses years ago. We just broke the delicate ones too easily. I started buying them in bulk from Pier One or World Market. Great for parties, but I never really liked the way they felt in my hand, they're so thick and heavy. Last spring when we were in Italy, every restaurant had the nicest glasses. Was it the italian wine, being in Italy, or the glasses that made it all seem so wonderful? (answer: all of the above) I noticed Bormiolo Rocco written on the base. I thought when I get home, I need to find some of these. 
I've seen a lot of the Bormiolo's around but they seem a lot bulkier than the ones in Italy. Then I started seeing Austrian made Stolzle Lausitz glasses around too.  I finally bought some Stolzle glasses at Tuesday Morning at a great price. I really love the way they feel. 
I think even cheap wine tastes fifty percent better from a nice glass!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I had never cooked venison until recently. A  neighbor of ours is a hunter, so last fall he gave us some deer meat. He explained that if you're skilled at cutting it up and don't let the knife that's cutting the meat touch the bone, it won't have that gamey taste. I've eaten very little venison in the past. He gave us a pack of ground meat and a pack of steaks. So I had to ponder what to do with it!
A few months back I decided to tackle the ground meat. The girls asked what was for dinner so I said "burgers". No lie there. I even mixed in some ground sausage because someone told me that would give it a nice flavor and keep it from getting too dry. We grilled them and they were really good. When everyone was finished eating, I asked the girls how they liked their first venison. After some screaming, one actually admitted to liking them better than regular beef burgers. The others were still in shock. So much of eating anything different is in your head.
Then I looked around for what to do with the steaks. Our local paper did a write up in the food section on venison steaks over smashed cauliflower. It was flavorful and still not gamey but I think we all liked the burgers better.
We thought our chickens had stopped laying for awhile, when our neighbor brought us over to see what she found in her garage.
14 eggs! I guess their nesting box in our shed just isn't up to their standards. They seem to prefer moving blankets.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I finally defrosted that duck I bought months ago. One of my resolutions for the new year was to expand my cooking repertoire with things I've  never made before and duck was one of them.
I've since seen fresh ones at Whole Foods so next time I'll buy a fresh one.
I followed a very simple recipe from Gourmet Today for Crisp Roast Duck.
It was amazingly easy and oh so crispy and we like crispy skin. Years ago when we lived out west we went to family gatherings in Arizona for Thanksgiving. We watched in horror as they removed all of the skin from the turkey before carving it. They were being health minded but I was thinking it's thanksgiving if you can't eat crisp salty poultry skin then when can you! We almost tried to sneak some from the trash.
With crispy poultry skin in mind, this roast duck was right up our alley!

First prick the skin all over and  pour 2 cups boiling water over the duck to seal the skin.
 Then pat dry. Season with 1 T. kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper inside and out.
Roast breast side up @425º for 45 min. Turn over, roast another 45 min. Turn back to breast side up for 45 min. Viola, crispy duck!
I served it with some sauteed fresh spring asparagus.
And popovers, which are so much fun to make and watch pop up in the oven. So delicious hot right out of the oven. They actually went really well with the duck.
So I'll check duck off my 'never cooked' list and think of what to tackle next. I was considering shad roe but, I think I've already talked myself out of that one until next year.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

50th Birthday Bash

My family threw a 50th birthday bash for my brother last weekend (and we're all still recovering)!
My dad was in charge of the meat and he did an amazing job with it.

 He made a raised fire pit, using a grate we got for a previous pig roast. To one side he burned oak logs
until they were charcoal and then shoveled them to the other side under the grate. He put the meat on the grate and then covered it to smoke the meat. It was mostly pork and some chicken.
He also used these wonderful churrasco skewers he made, for the chicken.
You can almost taste the wonderful smokey flavor just looking at it.
After many hours on the grill , the pork was chopped up and ready to serve on buns.
Everyone got to pick which  barbeque sauce they wanted to try. My dad made and named them all.

People brought sides and we had buns for the meat.
There was a keg of beer, lots of wine and we topped it off with a couple of brownie cakes I made.
There was some dancing involved and a great time was had by all!