Market Morning

My parents are visiting and wanted to spend some time with Lizzie by themselves. We took the chance to enjoy a slower trip to our favorite farmer’s market. We wandered through, bought some meat and veggies and fruit (and I picked up a bag of decaf coffee). It was the perfect, relaxing start to what became a very busy day of shopping and a visit to a local Spring festival.

Does your town/city have a farmer’s market? Is it year-round or seasonal? What sort of things are sold there?

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6 – Cookies

Mmmmm, cookies. I didn’t grow up with the tradition of Christmas cookies but I’m very happy to be part of it now. Baking of Christmas cookies starts as soon as humanly possible and the prep begins in mid-November when Matt stocks up on sugar, flour, and cookie spices. (He also picked up some colored sugar this year, for use by a certain blonde little girl.) Most of the cookies stay with us, but we share with anyone that comes over during the season. Making ten different kinds in a season is not at all surprising.

So far, we’ve only made three cookie recipes, all were new to us:

  • Butter cookies (Galettes bretonnes) from The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan
  • Cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne) from The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking by Mimi Sheraton
  • Decorator’s dream cookies from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

The butter cookies, unfortunately, have little flavor and are quite dry (so, would not recommend). The cinnamon starts are tasty but very German with not much sugar (recommend, if you like semi-sweet cookies). The sugar cookies are quite excellent – easy to roll out and cut and are quite tasty. They even aren’t too sweet when you add sugar decoration.

Do you make cookies for the holidays? Do you hand them out to others to keep them all for yourself?

The 1,000th Recipe

We’ve made it – our 1,000th recipe since we started Eat Your Books just under three years ago. I’ll give you a few hints about what it was. Features meat.  Took less than 10 minutes to make after getting the mise en place together. Complex spice profile. Eaten with your hands. Neither carbs nor dairy. A main dish but more easily an appetizer.

The recipe came from one of our favorite cookbooks: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alfred and Naomi Duguid. The book features recipes from Southeast Asia, where cuisine – particularly in Thailand – aims for the perfect balance between those four flavors. Matt was lucky enough to get a copy online that a library was getting rid of for less than half the cover price.

Okay, I’ve delayed enough. Our 1,000th recipe is…Aromatic minced pork, Shan style. You may have had Thai laab or PF Chang’s chicken version. This is similar to both but the meat is pork and is fried rather than steamed. It’s got intense flavors – lots of scallion and Thai chilis and galangal. We followed the recommendation in the cookbook to serve it with some simple steamed veggies – we used a sweet winter squash and carrots – but also added lettuce cups as a serving mechanism and some rice because, well, we like rice. Matt and I thought it could use just a bit more heat but Squirms was rather overwhelmed by it.

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Sound good to you? Here’s the recipe. Assuming you can get your hands on the few specialty ingredients, it’s quick and easy to make for a weeknight meal or for guests.

Aromatic Minced Pork, Shan Style

Adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia, Jeffre Alford and Naomi Duguid

6 to 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tbl minced lemongrass
2 tbl chopped galangal (can substitute ginger)
6 dried Thai chilis (use 4 if you don’t want serious heat)
1 tsp salt
2 tbl vegetable oil (or other neutral high-temp oil)
1/2 cu chopped shallots
3/4 lb ground pork
1/3 cu chopped scallion greens
1/2 cu coarsely chopped coriander (cilantro)
1/4 cup minced fresh mint

Brown the unpeeled garlic gloves in a cast iron or other heavy pan. Wait for them to cool then peel.

Combine the lemongrass, galangal, chilis, and salt using a food processor.

Using a wok over high heat, cook the shallots in vegetable oil until translucent (takes 3-4 minutes).

Add the mixture from the food processor.

Add the pork and cook until slightly browned, then simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and herbs.

Serve in lettuce cups, using the leaves to scoop up portions.

Birthday Dinner

The Day 10 prompt is well-timed as my birthday is actually coming up:

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

First, let me say that I think I’ve finally found my voice here. I’ve been writing daily – or, when I haven’t had the time – writing then scheduling multiple posts at one time which means I don’t have the time to think when I write. My writing here has mostly been the same as how I talk with friends, with more punctuation so it’ll make sense. I ramble, use too many prepositional phrases, and rely on parenthesis, dashes, and some key phrases (So, As, and Therefore come to mind) heavily. It took me quite awhile to find what my voice was and it’s obvious when I’m using someone else’s voice or the voice I use when I’m writing for work. I feel like I’m comfortable because I’m not trying to sound like (or not sound like) someone else who’s writing I admire. I’m just trying to sound like me. But online.

Back to the prompt. Memorable meal of celebration. Let’s go back to my childhood and wonders of cheeseburger rice casserole.

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