Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ruh-Roh: "Every Day Is Like a Wednesday"

Hard drive on computer failed.
Road construction ahead.
Expect delays.


Have a Technical One.  : /

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By - Chicken Again? Think Again! From Espresso Love's Table Talk Cookbook: Crispy Balsamic Chicken Wings

I know, I know.
Yes, it's chicken again. But honestly, what isn't chicken anymore?

This is a great do-ahead recipe.
Which, right about now, is good for me, since I am doing the do-this-workout-schedule-and-either-give-up-or-lose-10-pounds, lol.
Otherwise known to the uninitiated as "Interval Training."

Ideal for a winter Sunday early dinner (quick, get it done before DOWNTON ABBEY!) or happy hour on the deck in summer, this is made ahead and, when ready, the rest is done in the oven for you.

From one of the island's best gourmet coffee house/bistros Espresso Love, Carol McManus and her cookbook Table Talk (and recipe) do not disappoint. Known for her sublime pastries, cookies, coffees and light lunch/dinner fare, I chose "Crispy Balsamic Chicken Wings" because easy prep-and-cook make it ideal for giving me more knitting or boating or just loafing-in-the-hammock time.

The first time I fixed these, I found the taste a little sharp. Next batch I added honey to the vinegar "sauce" to taste, a little Worcestershire sauce, salt to taste and, if you want them a little spicy, I might add a dash of cayenne pepper to taste as well. Just right!

To complete the menu I usually start off with some awesome clam or smoked bluefish dip from Net Result in Vineyard Haven... or better yet! my friend Sue's totally off-the-chain recipe for baked bluefish with crackers (which, if she will give it up, lol, I will share closer to the summer season).

And maybe... no, not 18-21-year-old-girls in Hooters uniforms and beer, lol... 
Ok, the beer. And, I'm thinking coleslaw or a platter of carrots and celery with ranch dressing. Or whatever.


Crispy Balsamic Chicken Wings
(makes 4 servings)

2 lbs. chicken wings
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
(optional mods: honey, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper - all to taste, before you add the raw chicken wings to the mix)

1. Combine chicken wings, vinegar and scallions in a large, gallon zip-lock bag.
Zip-lock the bag and smoosh and mix the ingredients until well-coated.
Refrigerate overnight (and mix it up and flip the bag over every once in awhile in the frig. when you think about it, till you are ready to cook).

2. Just before cooking, take the chicken out of the frig. and let come to room temperature.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

4. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on large baking or cooky sheets (with a lip).

5. Bake 25- 35 minutes, until crispy and brown Check the last 10 minutes to see if done, and extend cooking time accordingly.

Modifications: I found adding a little honey, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste (also a dash of cayenne pepper if you are so inclined) round the flavor out, and I highly recommend experimenting to your individual tastes.

Add a salad, coleslaw or carrots/celery with dip, for a great Sunday supper.


Have a Good One. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By -The Black Dog Tavern

Hi-dee ho, people.
It's Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By (among other things)... on a Tuesday, lol.
Well, my time clock has always been a bit on the late side.

First up: an obvious favorite - The Black Dog Tavern's Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook.

If you're not familiar with The Black Dog, probably, hands-down, the most famous of all island eateries (think Presidential presents - does that ring a bell?), it is best known for welcoming locals and tourists to the waterside establishment for crazy-good food and great atmosphere.

The Tavern was named after the long-loved black lab companion of one recently arrived Captain Robert Douglas. The Capt. opened the Tavern on a wintry New Years Day in 1971, after having found that there was, in fact, no good, all-winter-open restaurant on the island.

Inside the Tavern you will find exactly what you would expect of a seaside eatery - a rough-hewn building filled with all sorts of Capt. Douglas's sea-faring memorabilia. As for the main fare, everything is fresh, and most local caught and bought. 

This particular cookbook, the first of two, features favorite summer recipes and good cooking tips, to boot.

Since I'm always looking to build more knitting time into my schedule, I am usually in search of either a quick-prep, quick-cook or an easy-prep slow cook, or... someone else to do the cooking. :)

This recipe, Grilled Pork Cutlets with Maple Chipotle Glaze appealed to me on two levels: first, it was quick, but creative (who even knew Chipotle powder existed??) and second, you could either cook on the grill or in the oven - rendering it a good year-round go-to recipe. All you have to do is add a simple salad, some rice and let the glaze speak for itself.

PS: I was terribly afraid the chipotle glaze would be too spicy for the kids, who were eating with us that evening, so I modified the recipe to offer a less-spicy version. I did make the original glaze, but after tasting before glazing, decided to modify. In retrospect I will use it next time, as during the cooking process the chili powder lost a lot of its spicy nature. I am sure if the glaze were used as in my mods, but keeping the chipotle powder, it would be perfect.
Never challenge a great cook's recipes, lol!


Black Dog's Vermont Maple Syrup Pork Chops and modifications

2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 ½ tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbs. cold water
1 ½ pounds pork cutlets, ¾ in. thick
salt and pepper

with modifications:
use 1 tsp. chili powder instead of chipotle
add 2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
add 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
½ tsp. pepper or less, to taste

Servings/Yield: 6 servings

If using grill - preheat.
In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup, chicken stock, chipotle powder and thyme to a boil.
In a small jar mix the cornstarch and water together. Put the lid on and shake vigorously. This is an easy way to make sure the slurry combines. It should have the consistency of whole milk.
Pour the cornstarch slurry into the boiling glaze mixture and reduce to a simmer.
Cook about two minutes until it becomes clear and thickens.
Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and brush with a little canola oil.
Grill cutlets 3-5 minutes per side, brushing the glaze on while cooking.

This is how I modified the recipe
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat butter in pan in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
Pat dry the cutlets with paper towels.
Brown pork chops each side in a sauté pan.
Cook just enough to brown, then remove from pan and place in a high-sided baking dish or roasting pan. (If your pork chops are very thin and have cooked through, skip the oven and tent them loosely with foil while making sauce.)

I added vinegar, switched out the chipotle powder for chili powder, added pepper and worcestershire sauce to the sauce recipe.
Bring the vinegar, chili powder, pepper, maple syrup and worcestershire sauce to a boil. Add the cornstarch/water slurry and reduce to a simmer.
Cook about two minutes until it becomes clear and thickens.
Pour the sauce over the chops in the baking dish.
Lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake uncovered 10 - 15 minutes, or until interior of pork reaches 145 degrees.
Place the pork chops on a serving platter and pour sauce over. Reserve some for use at the table. Or better yet, double the sauce recipe!
Add salad and rice for a complete meal.
Serves 6.

Have a Spicy One. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meh: Lamentations, WIPs and Getting Buttons

What a meh day, huh? Or maybe it’s clear and sunny where you are, I haven’t checked the "local on the 8s" yet. lol.

Winter days and Wednesdays on the Island just don't hang together real well.
1. I’ve finally decided on my Urchin Hat for the birthday present needed THIS SUPPERTIME.
Disastrous results yesterday on the gauge for two different yarns, two different patterns, couldn’t find my #4 circ needle, well you know how this goes… on and on.
urchin hat/arm warmers

moss stitch

I am getting ready to cast on for the Urchin, and this time try a moss stitch around the band to shake it up a little. If I get distracted, I can always gift one of those said lovely hats I made out of Quince yarn before Christmas and didn’t sell. Is that kosher? Must get those on Etsy soon, and then pin to my Pinterest to get some action, possibly.

something like these
2. I want to sew. lol. Didn’t see that coming did ya?
There’s a book - How to Sew a Straight Line - that has inspired me. I brought back from Hawaii scads of Hawaiian print fabric to make sun dresses out of, and sell during the summer season, and haven’t done so. lol. Yet another Lucy scheme on my part.
I wonder how hubby puts up with this stuff sometimes. The ideas in this head could be harnessed for good, if they would settle in a little, lol.

3. The house is a wreck - The kids got the things we stored in my Aunt’s basement "temporarily" and dropped them smack dab in the middle of the main level of our house, so there’s no way around it, literally, I must go through and put the damn stuff away SOMEWHERE, lol. 
 As for that: A) What was I even thinking? It was stuff from the Victorian cottage we had. I’m not sure what I was thinking other than it had to get moved out ASAP to clear the place for sale and I don’t know. lol.
So the communal dining table is stacked - I am typing around the stuff, that’s how hard-core I’ve become.

4. Another button I need to do. Get a "butt on" the chair in the office and continue my free-lance writing assignments right here in "river city." Stringing for the local rag here takes some persistence - you have to eyeball the island action and pitch the story to them first rather than the other way around. The slant on community and news is very different from the Mainland - they take it personally. Example? Recent bitching has been about putting in a rotary road where the only traffic light of sorts - it's a blinker - on the island is presently located as a four-way stop. The debate has been hot, the State Authorities called in, lots of slinging of the "L" word (lawsuit, lol) around.  Anyway, I've got some pre-tty interesting ideas up my sleeve ;) - as usual - just you wait and see. :)

5. Wishing you lived close by to distract me - we could go grab a cup o' joe at Mocha Mott's or Espresso Love and knit a bit.

Instead, I have Family Supper Night (read that with an echo, it’s endless sometimes how much I want to hang with my extended family, lol).

And a hat that must be knit.

I could probably just put this up in a post, couldn’t I?
Good idea, lol.

Yours in yarn,

Have a Good One. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By

Winter on the island can be cold, reclusive and just plain downright blehhhhh.

So. To jazz things up, I've decided to include a regular post challenge called Cooking Sunday.
Hopefully, I will be cooking my way through local cookbooks, so you can get a feel for what kinds of yummy, wonderfulness (is that a cooking term? I think it is now!) local cooks, chefs and establishments regularly feed the flock with.

This week, however,  I'm going to start off slowly, cooking-wise, with a good winter Sunday supper regular.
And bonus for you knitters out there - it's cooking you can knit by!

But really, you don't have to be a knitter to include this in your repertoire of good-tasting, easy-fixing go-to recipes.


Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ

6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (12 oz.) bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce ( Honey Barbeque is one good option)
1/2 cup zesty Italian dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
optional: 1/2 cup diced onion
optional: 1 tsp. liquid smoke

Servings/Yield: 6 servings

Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the bbq sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.

Cover, and cook 3-4 hours on High or 6-8 on Low. (You can also use fresh chicken breasts - just adjust the timing.)
Add buns, maybe some sliced cheese in there with the buns and voila!
Sunday Supper!

Adapted from an recipe

Have a Good One on me. :)