The perfect Halloween food

Look at this thing!

It’s a horned melon…also known as a jelly melon. This is what I fed my family tonight. Ok, not JUST this…we actually had a delicious and VERY fast dinner (out of the fridge/pantry and onto the table in 45 minutes) of pork shoulder steaks – salt, pepper, and into the grill pan, fingerling sweet potatoes – peel, pop into a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap and nuke, dress with butter, salt, and some brown sugar, and a tossed salad with some feta cheese.

But hey, it’s close to Halloween and I had picked up this little thing at the local farmer’s market. So I cut it into wedges and THIS is what was inside…

Green slime and seeds! WOO HOOO! Now you can eat the rind, although my family didn’t. Also, some folks just eat the green flesh and spit out the seeds, but in this family, the whole thing went down…seeds and all.

So the taste? Something between a cucumber and a kiwi. Add salt, and it goes sweeter and more kiwi… leave it alone and the flavor stays more mellow and refreshing like a cuke. Really neat fruit and a fun thing to eat. Everyone gave it a thumbs up, so I think I’ll pick up another one or two to eat over the weekend. You should too….after all, it isn’t every food that can look THIS scary but taste this good!

It’s all about Fall, y’all…

Saturday marketing has changed slightly now that the fall weather has really set in. Today’s haul included kale, apples, bacon, cheese, onions, broccoli, and salad mix.

I am already planning a full day of cooking tomorrow. I may end up putting BOTH crock pots to work since I have a craving for the kale, and I have a head of cabbage I want to get cooked up. I also have sweet dumpling squash that are so beautiful I’m not sure I want to cook them! Look at these pretty things:

It looks like a decoration, not something you’d eat. I hear they taste like sweet potatoes, so they should go beautifully with kale and ham.

Also, the apples…oh the apples! It’s that time of year and I have butternut squash in the freezer. I have been lusting for Ina Garten’s recipe for butternut squash and apple soup which you can find here. Definitely on the menu for sometime later this week.

We got carving pumpkins for Mads and the Boy… and also two sugar pumpkins that I’ll roast and put into the freezer. Those babies will make excellent pumpkin mousse/custard on Thanksgiving day. Or maybe, just maybe, pumpkin brulee? I can’t eat pie crust anyway, but I LOVE pumpkin pie. This may be just the ticket and will give me the chance to use the brulee torch my Spouse got me earlier this year.

Fall… my favorite season, and my favorite inspiration for all kinds of cooking. Warm spices, rich greens, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and my slow cooker. What’s not to love?

OH and got word today that TUESDAY we pick up our pork. So at some point before then, I need to make sure I get the freezers re-organized to be able to fit it all in. Guess if I’m going to get it all done, I’d better get SOME sleep. Goodnight all!

Herbaceous and HELLACIOUS

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Had a wonderfully long day today… finished up the goodies for Stretch’s Halloween care package, and got a few moments in my herb garden to do some harvesting and general tidying up. Man, what I found there looked a little like Europe gone WRONG. You see, I planted two kinds of oregano a few years back…Greek oregano and Italian oregano. I planted two very small plants of each. I planted one fairly decent sized rosemary plant, two thyme plants, two sage, two French tarragon, and some mint. Now yes, I also planted some tender herbs (like my sweet sweet basil) that don’t come back year after year, but the perennials I’ve already related to you.

Now, last year the mint got yanked because it was taking over. I had mint EVERYWHERE. So I pulled it all out and left everything else. My herb garden is completely organic. I do NOTHING to it besides water, and a little hardwood mulch. That’s it. If I’m home, and can remember, I will weed it by hand, and I regularly make a trip outside with my shears to harvest something to throw on dinner. This summer I was busy, this fall I was even busier, and so my herbs had been left alone to fend for themselves.

Well, Greece and Italy had basically overrun everything and were sharing that tramp, Rosemary. For real, my oregano was EVERYWHERE. It was lovely, but it was spilling over everything else and had managed to conquer my French tarragon (but I guess the French being conquered isn’t anything new…) and it also choked out my sage. Rosemary had gone from being a respectable size plant to being an evergreen I want to bedeck with white lights, red bows, and a star on top. YIKES.

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So I got in there today and ran Greece back to it’s borders. I pruned the sage back hard, and also shaped up the rosemary so that it wasn’t quite so unwieldy. I started working on the Italian plants, but the desire to see my football team play won out. I’ll finish the job sometime this week. So I’ve got a dehydrator full of basil and Italian oregano, which I plan to put into my homemade Italian seasoning. I also have my oven drying another good chunk of oregano and some rosemary. I’ve still a good bit to harvest before the frosts hit, so my friends, y’all can expect a good batch of herb salt for Christmas this year.

And would SOMEONE please tell Rosemary that she doesn’t need to co-mingle with all of Greece and Italy? It’s very unseemly.

Oh, on another note, while taming some of the oregano, I noticed my parsley had decided to make a comeback. The heat got it very early on in the summer, but it’s decided it wants to live. I kinda like that. Maybe I should call that plant “Lazarus”.
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Back to work tomorrow, but photos of care package contents will be coming as soon as I get everything in the mail. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for Stretch. Night all!

No self control… none at all

There are some places I should NOT be allowed to go, because I cannot control myself.

Up near the top of that list would be Williams-Sonoma. It’s like crack cocaine for me. I walk in there and my brain is screaming “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODDDDDDDD LOOK AT ALL THE FUN STUFF!!!” Seriously, the cheering in my soul is impossible to ignore.

So today I went to the Annapolis Mall after Boy’s soccer match, and sure as heck, ended up at my own personal crack den…I mean Williams-Sonoma. They had scads of Halloween and fall goodies set up all over the place, including the CUTEST cupcake decorating sets, stencils, sanding sugars, cookie cutters, and stuff for spooky table decor, including a whole bunch of table linens, placecard holders, and coasters all designed around Poe’s “The Raven”.

I was browsing the perimeter of the store, sipping my complimentary apple cider, and I came upon an entire gluten free display of products (many of them NEW!) and I swear I squealed OUT LOUD. Pancake and waffle mix, cupcake mixes (in FLAVORS!), and Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour. Now, Cup4Cup … or C4C… is featured in this month’s “Everyday with Rachel Ray” magazine and is rated the BEST gluten-free flour on the market. It isn’t cheap (I paid $22 for a big bag) but for those of you who have fought with inferior gluten-free flours and gotten cakes that won’t rise, or has a weird texture, or the taste is “off”. Also, oftentimes, recipes have to be modified for gluten-free flours since they don’t measure quite the same way as wheat flour. Not with this stuff. I cannot wait to try it.

I also got cupcake mix… chocolate and red velvet. Williams-Sonoma uses C4C flour in their cupcake mix, so I have high hopes. I got some garlic aioli, and some super cute mini cupcake liners that I’m going to use in Stretch’s Halloween care package. If my phone hadn’t gone off when it did, I may STILL be in that store.

Because I need help. Maybe a 12-step program for Williams-Sonoma addicts?

I’ll be sure to let you all know how the cupcakes turn out. At this point, I’m so excited to make them, that MAY be what we end up having for dinner tomorrow night. The spouse will just LOVE that.

Finished a few goodies to be care packaged, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll put Mads to work on the final food project.

Until then, I’m off to sleep… hope your weekend is another delicious one!

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Sports food and general catch up!

I’ve been immersing myself in the baseball playoffs, plus the end of soccer season for both Mads and the Boy. I’ve eaten a bunch of bun-less burgers, and enough wings to make me sprout feathers.

I’m almost finished with Stretch’s care package. I want it in the mail on Monday so she will have it in plenty of time to enjoy it. This should make her feel like she’s spending Halloween with the family even while she’s away at school. Last year was her first year away on Halloween and I think she really missed the treat part if the holiday.

I got a phone call from the eldest this morning. Seems my little buddy Jake was suffering from some severe gastrointestinal distress that kept him home from school. She didn’t know what to give him to slow down the diarrhea, so I went out and got some electrolyte replacing drink, some organic yogurt with plenty of live cultures, some organic apple juice (which she should dilute with lots of water), good bread for toast, organic applesauce, and bananas. Jake was happy to see me arrive with his “special food” and we had a little snuggle before I had to go back to work.

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Paid off the balance of our hog from the wonderful Lee and Tasha at It’s Only Natural Farm. Can’t wait to taste that delicious pork with apples, or sweet potatoes, or farm fresh greens. And the bacon… Oh the bacon!!

Finally in the spirit of catch up, is the photo my Mads sent me the day after my gluten attack. She’s always looking out for me.

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How’s THAT for “ketchingup”?

No good deed goes unpunished


So tonight I went out to eat at our local Texas Roadhouse. Our theater group was having a fundraiser, where a percentage of the sales during a certain time would go towards our efforts to keep electricity, water, and heat on in the theater. Our patrons tell us that lights, heat, and working toilets make the live theater experience SO much better!

Anyway, I did not do my due diligence on this restaurant, and (foolishly) assumed that a steakhouse … which serves meat, sweet potatoes, and vegetables would have something gluten-free for me to eat.

I was wrong…wrong… WRONG.

In fact, Texas Roadhouse doesn’t even have a gluten-free menu. From their website:

While we recognize that some guests have specific dietary needs, we are no longer able to offer our gluten-free menu at this time. It was a very difficult decision, but we concluded that due to the multi-use of utensils, supplier changes, substitutions, and the possibility of human error, we could not offer our guests a total assurance that the items were indeed 100% gluten-free. As such, we decided that the best approach was for the management team at each restaurant to work with guests individually to ensure that they can make the most informed menu decisions. Please ask to speak to your location’s Managing Partner, who will be happy to accommodate any requests or provide information about our food and preparation.

Uh. Ok.

Now, while I get that it really isn’t a requirement for a restaurant to accomodate food allergies, and I appreciate the honesty with which they put forth their statement on their website… I just want to scream. REALLY, Texas Roadhouse? REALLY? You’re not even going to TRY?

And for the record, YES, I should have checked. I shouldn’t have assumed. It’s meat and green beans, and a baked sweet potato for God’s sake! However, whatever they used in cooking my meal obviously had gluten in it because currently, I find myself in some pretty serious discomfort. I guess that’s the last time I eat there, which is sad because I do like meat, and the peanuts were a welcome diversion as well. However, it’s just not worth feeling the way I do now.

Guess I got complacent, figuring that I had managed so well for so long. Well not anymore… I won’t be assuming anything for a long long time.

The stomach ache just isn’t worth it, and even that 10% donation isn’t making me feel any better.

Now I’m off to find some cheese and fruit to go with my “whine”.