Don’t garden while reducing a pot of balsamic vinegar on high heat.
Because that is what I did. I don’t know why. I’ve reduced bottles of balsamic before. In fact, I reduce all the balsamic that comes into this house, because it tastes better that way. And of point in fact, I actually believe one can buy a big bottle of cheap balsamic from Costco, put it on the stove, reduce it by half, and call it decent enough to drizzle on a dish at table.
I will admit that attending to the pan rather than taking pictures of the mess would also be a lesson.
I didn’t learn it.
Cipollini onions taste better…
when grown in your own garden.
Actually, I should point out here that everything does. So much so that I am convinced I will think about Thanksgiving dinner as early as January, when I am looking through seed packets and dreaming of the meals I’ll make with all the delicious-looking food featured in garden catalogs.
Plan for it in spring and summer and
you’ll be extra thankful of your efforts in Fall.
The best thing you can do for a friend is making the stuffing of her dreams. Do it up right: cornbread from scratch with fresh cornmeal from a farm, cure pork belly from a contented pig to grind for stuffing, use cherries you dried and some you brandied last spring.
It is, by far, the greatest holiday gift you can give someone.
Which is what I was getting when I tried, over and again, to push the meat down the shoot. At one point, the sheer force of effort put out by my little machine was enough to shoot the whole grinder attachment off the machine and hit the cat that dared to stand nearby. I never liked that cat, really, but my dislike didn’t extend to wanting to inflict her with bodily harm by way of a flying meat grinder attachment.
The thing you learn when you are a line cook for any amount of time is that prepping ahead of time is the difference between life and death. So, you learn to plan. And start prepping days ahead.
I am really trying to work on doing this in my everyday meals, to be honest. The planning, not the garnishing. But I am really good at it for the big blow-out meals. The planning and the garnishing.
If you’ve kept up with canning and preserving goodies all year, you can fancy up boring dishes in a flash. Take this roasted butternut squash, I drizzled on some Bourbon County Stout-Bacon Jam on top and voilá! I am a chef!
This was my last jar of Bourbon County Stout-Bacon jam, which means, of course, that I planned that perfectly. Because the fall is bac’n-makin’ time here at my house and also the time of year Goose Island releases it’s Bourbon County Stout. So, the ingredients will be at the ready.
I also used a jar of bourbon cherries
and a jar of pickled ramps, see here”
I learned this from Michael Ruhlman, just this year. He wrote about it on his excellent blog. I also used his iPhone app, Ratio, for a lot of the cooking I did this year and use his book, Charcuterie, for (added: the rest of this sentence, post post.) the pork belly I then turned into sausage.
There isn’t much more to say about that, it is simply true.
Roasted Turkey with Gravy, Straight Up
Garlicky Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Cherries
Crispy Cipollinis and Mushrooms with Balsamic Glaze
Creamed and Pickled Ramps
Cranberry Jam with Candied Orange
Carrots and Parsnips with Fried Sage
Butternut Squash with Bourbon County Stout-Bacon Jam
Roasted Fennel & Beets with Charred Orange
added later, I forgot: Paul Kahan’s Cancer-Buster Kale Salad