Sunday, October 18, 2009

A critique of Baltimore eggs

We love eggs. I like mine sunny-side up, steamed lightly, with the cover on and the edges just starting to brown. He likes his "pleated", the yolk broken and stirred once or twice (not scrambled) and quickly flipped over in a hot pan. Both of us like them cooked in a combination of olive oil and butter to give it just the right consistency. Luckily we are blessed this week with the beautiful eggs from Tam's farm in Vermont. Breakfast was delicious.

The problem with Baltimore eggs is they seem to lack je ne sais quoi compared with the farm raised eggs that we've eaten on both the Ranch in Wyoming and Tam's eggs from Vermont. We have tried eggs from three different vendors at the farmer's market in Waverly and they are all sadly lacking. Renee brought us some lovely eggs from a secret farm near Frederick, but those are not easy to get either.

I think the secret must be compost. The local farms are commercial where as, at the ranch and the farm in VT, they don't have a lot of birds thus they can feed them a very diverse diet of kitchen scraps, feed and their free range bugs. I've heard rumors of people in Baltimore starting to raise their own chickens, one is the neighbor of a friend of ours. I just have to wonder, with a yard that is 30x30, how well the birds are getting along with my friend's dog. And do they have a rooster?

At any rate, I think I'm going back to Trader Joe after this as the ones at the market are pretty much comparable for twice the price.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chicken Corn Chowder

It was so cold and rainy last night that I decided to say no to the leftover gyros that I had made Wednesday night and make soup instead. Since I didn't want to go to the store I gave some long thought to what I had in the house and came up with the idea to make chicken corn chowder. I had some leftover butternut squash so I wanted to add that. Spinning off of an Epicurious recipe, I cut it down and used frozen chicken breast instead of the already been cooked chicken. I also pureed the squash seperately, lifting it out and blending it and then adding it back in. This made for a very creamy soup without having to add cream or more than the 2 tbsp bacon fat that I started with. I finally used the beautiful red chili pepper Chris gave me last month (yes it was still good) and pulled out some of that Singleton's store bacon.


3 slices bacon
1 medium onion
1 fresh chili
4 c chicken broth
2 medium potatoes 3/4 in cubes
1.5 cups butternut squash 3/4 in cubes
2 c. milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3 c frozen corn
1 chicken breast, 1/2 frozen, very thinly sliced

Cook bacon until crisp and remove from pan, let cool and chop into bits (reserve). Leaving 2 tbsp bacon grease, saute onion and chili until onion is almost translucent, add butternut squash and potatoes and saute 2-3 minutes more. Add broth and milk, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until squash is soft. Carefully remove squash and some liquid from the soup and puree in blender. If you do not want potato chunks you can use an immersion blender and puree everything. Return squash to pan, bring to a simmer and add corn. Simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with bacon sprinkled over the top. You can also top with cilantro. Warm and comforting on a rainy, cold night.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vermont Bacon-off

Each year we pack up enough beer (Brewers Art Resurrection) for four people for four days and head to the mountains of Vermont to stuff our faces and sit on the sofa of our friends on their little hill farm in Stowe. Below is Tadcaster the ATV pup sporting his doggles on a run to the mailbox.

We were warned this year to expect a new addition to the household, as besides the sheep, chickens, dogs and cats , we now have angora fur bunnies and a house bunny that hangs out next to the wood stove eating raisins (5, no more, no less).

The foliage was beautiful, just past peak so it was raining golden leaves. My sweetie and I took a lovely ride over Smuggler's Notch to go in search of the 2 gallons of maple syrup that we need to get us through the winter. While investigating the possibilities in Jeffersonville, we came across a sign for smoked meat at Hanley's Market. We went in to take a look and bacon looked and smelled glorious!! Asking them what they smoked it over resulted in the correct answer.... cob smoked, bingo.

Now, it must be said that most years we get our bacon from Singleton's Store in Proctorsville, VT. We have an arrangement with friends that anyone in the vicinity must pick up bacon. This is a 2.5 hour ride each way from Stowe. After the 9 hour drive, we were not in the mood for more driving, so finding a cob-smoked bacon 1/2 hour from Stowe was quite exciting and required a taste test. Our friends were definitely not opposed.

Luckily our friends had some of the Singleton's bacon in the freezer, so we popped that open, popped open the Hanley's bacon and proceeded to have a bacon-off. I cooked them up in separate pans as you can see so I didn't "sully" the taste of one with the other. They all believe that bacon should be cooked until it is dead, I, for one, believe it should be slightly undercooked. They go their way, very dark bacon. On the left, the bacon from Singleton's, on the right, bacon from Hanleys.
I wasn't up to eating bacon all by itself so I whipped up some pancakes, Tam made pumpkin muffins in her new leaf muffin pan and we sat down to our taste test.

The verdict.... Delicious! Both brands of bacon were tasty, but you could tell the Singletons had been frozen as it was slightly acidic and a bit more dry than the other. The Hanley's store bacon was crispy and smoky and altogether a VERY acceptable substitute for the Singleton's store bacon. Next year we shall stock up, as of right now, Josh just stocked us up with Singletons so we have four pounds in the freezer. Brunch anyone?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cookbook Club Moved

Renee hosted Charm City Cookbook Club Friday night with Patrick O'Connell's Inn at Little Washington cookbooks. We've decided to move the blog to Wordpress from blogger so check out the posts from Friday's CBC by clicking on the link above. P.S. I stole Elizabeth's beautiful picture of her appetizer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

OMG October Tomatoes

Saturday night after Cookbook Club on Friday we just needed a chill out dinner menu. I've been picking 2 tomatoes per day and the yellow one finally was ripe so we decided on burgers and a caprese salad.

We pulled out a couple of Roseda burgers and I ran to Cerellio for some of their fresh mozzerella. They make it fresh every day and it's soooo good. The picture turned out so good with the cornichons and picholine olives in the middle I had to blog it.

Oh by the way. Cookbook club has changed it's blog as you can see from the link above.