The End of #BEDN

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Mash-upToday marks the end of Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN). Yay! I made it! I’m really proud of myself and I’m glad I took part in the opportunity. I also have to say that I’m a little relieved. I have a new appreciation for those who do blog every day. It’s really hard to stay motivated and come up with good content when life presents you with plenty of distractions! Overall, I’m very grateful for the variety of new post ideas and of course, new followers and readers who have stopped in to visit.

So how am I spending this last day of November? Well, I’m messing around in the kitchen with some new produce items from the Good Food Collective. One of these items is celeriac or celery root. This item has a mild celery flavor and is often used in soups and French cuisine. I did a little poking around online and recipes were varied and some were quite rich. We just discussed how I have to clean up my food choices and so I was inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe because I saw the potential to keep it healthy while improvising with a few other ingredients I had on hand.

I can’t recall if I’ve told you about my love for truffle salt or not. I discovered it several years ago while I was working in retail. A friend was peering at the Dean and DeLuca catalog while raving about how she loved sprinkling it on her popcorn. I was immediately intrigued and went to Williams-Sonoma and almost had a heart attack when I saw the price tag. I rationalize paying the price because it’s so flavorful and I use such a small amount that this jar really lasts forever. It’s basically a finishing salt flecked with tiny pieces of black truffle. As my friend suggested, it is wonderful on popcorn, but also adds amazing truffle flavor to rice and potatoes. I knew I had to find a way to work it into a healthy mash-up of potatoes and celeriac. These are so delicious – you will not miss the butter and cream in traditional mashed potatoes at all!

Lady Sensory’s Chub-Checker Celeriac/Potato MashCeleriac

See what I did there? Ha!

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1 celeriac (celery root), approximately the size of your fist

2 medium-sized red potatoes (also approximately the size of your fist)

6 tbsp water

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Cracked black pepper and truffle salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of cracked pepper and 1 tsp of truffle salt)

Wash potatoes and celeriac thoroughly, peel, and chop into chunks that are roughly 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Warm the oil in a heavy pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until slightly golden. Add the potatoes and celeriac chunks and cook for another five minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium and add 6 tbsp of water. Bring to a strong simmer (almost boiling but not quite), then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes. Add the parsley and chives, then mash with a potato masher. These are supposed to be a bit chunky (like in the picture above). Finish with the pepper and truffle salt, adding a little at a time until you reach the desired flavor. This should serve 2 people or one very hungry person.

Happy December!

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-Rosalilium

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The Waiting Place

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Oh The Places You'll Go! Book Cover

Oh The Places You’ll Go! book cover

“Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.”  ~ Dr. Seuss

Can we get a show of hands from those who received Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! upon graduating from either high school or college? My aunt got me my copy. Now, when’s the last time you picked it up as an adult? If you haven’t, you should revisit it sometime. It’s pretty eye-opening. Today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) post is supposed to be on one of my favorite topics: travel.  As we get a little closer to the end of 2013, I realize this will be the first time in five years that I will not be acquiring a new stamp on my passport. Yep. Insert sad face here. But don’t cry for me, Argentina (note to self: add the land of Malbec to the ‘Travel Bucket List’). I’m very grateful that I have been fortunate enough to have visited several exotic locales over the past few years.  I know that there will be more amazing destinations to come when the timing and financial situation is right. In the meantime, I’m kind of stuck in “The Waiting Place.”

One of the recommended suggestions for this topic was to post about a funny travel story. I’m not sure I can top what I have already done here and here, so please amuse yourself with those tidbits while I present the best of what “The Waiting Place” has to offer at this time of year: New York apples. I’ve told you about how I’ve been participating in the Good Food Collective CSA share. Throughout the fall season, I’ve been getting a variety of about 6-10 apples per pick-up and the crisper drawer was starting to overflow with fruit. With a slight nod to the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe (Ina Garten), I decided to thin out the numbers by making a pot of homemade applesauce.

Apples

Lady Sensory’s Don’t Worry, Don’t Stew Homemade Applesauce

16 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and sliced. Reserve the peel of two red apples.

Juice and zest of 2 oranges

Juice and zest of 2 small lemons or 1 large lemon (my lemons were the size of limes so I went with 2!)

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

ApplesauceJuice and zest the oranges and lemons, then put the juice and zest in a large cast iron fancy pot (6 – 7 qt) on the stove. Add the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and dried spices to the mixture. Warm the pot on low until butter just melts and turn off the heat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while peeling, coring, and slicing the apples.  I used a mix of red, yellow, and green apples. Don’t ask me what they were because I honestly do not have a clue. All were great for snacking and/or baking so choose accordingly. Reserve the peel of two red apples if you can. Mine was a hodge-podge of red apples because I suck at making fruit peels. You’ll eventually discard them, so don’t worry if they aren’t pretty or perfect. Combine your apple slices in the fancy pot with the citrus/spice mixture, cover with the lid, and place in the oven. You will be baking this for about 1.5 – 2 hours, until the apples are very tender. I cooked it for about 1 hour and 20 minutes and then turned the oven off, leaving the pot to sit in the oven for another half hour. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove the lid (a lot of steam will be released). With a potato masher or whisk, mash and stir the apples until the desired consistency is reached. This makes about 8-10 servings. It’s very tasty warm but it will also keep in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container. The brown sugar, maple, and vanilla give it a caramel/pie filling flavor that you will really enjoy and the citrus keeps it bright.

I hadn’t made applesauce since I visited an apple-picking farm with my parents as a kid. If you’ve never made it, it’s actually very easy. As a bonus, cooking it elicits the most delicious and natural fall home fragrance you could ever ask for. So when in doubt in the kitchen (or anywhere for that matter), you safely can rely on Dr. Seuss to give you that extra boost of confidence you need: “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” 

Hello. Is It Me You’re Looking For?

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Lionel Richie pic -www.musicstack.com

Lionel Richie pic -www.musicstack.com

Yes, I know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted.  Allow me to summarize the past 6 months for you in a nutshell:  I rebranded my former organization, broke my foot (while cooking) the night before a major press conference, dropped the lid of a Le Creuset pot on the same foot two months later (again, while cooking), and now I’m presently pursuing a career change. Yes. It’s been quite an interesting time in the land of Lady Sensory. I can’t really tell you what my next move will be just yet but I’ve received several wake-up calls (or shall we say, “several swift kicks in the pants?”) over the past several months that will undoubtedly put me in the right place, both physically and mentally.

Despite all of this, I have dabbled at some new local dining establishments, continued to cook and beverage accordingly, and managed to avoid any further injuries.  On the cooking end – this past summer I signed up for a local CSA share called the Good Food Collective (GFC). This share supports local farmers and provides seasonal offerings. I liked it so much that I continued it during the fall months.  I also enjoy that it’s kind of a crapshoot and I’ve had to contend with several culinary challenges in the form of vegetables that I wouldn’t ordinarily pursue while shopping at a Wegmans.  Nothing like breaking out of your comfort zone, right? I will say that if I never get another kohlrabi again it will be too soon!

So I had a few surprises in my share this past week, one of which was in the form of collard greens.  I’d never used them before but was told by one the GFC staff that I could replace kale for collard greens.  I found this highly amusing.  Here’s the reason why: my old co-worker/friend used to make fun of my kale chips, complain about how they smelled up the office, and claimed that she tried to like kale but just couldn’t get into it.  She even bought me kale chips for my birthday as a joke. Fairly recently, another friend of mine has been dealing with both gallstones and a kidney stone.  When this was discovered, the same co-worker told me all about her kidney stones how her doctor informed her she needed to avoid dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens.  When collard greens were mentioned she promptly responded to her physician, “Now you wait. No. Just no. I am a black girl. I will give up all of that other green stuff.  But collard greens? Not negotiable.”

True story.

Collard Greens: before shot

Collard Greens: before shot

As a result of her hatred for kale I was a bit skeptical of substituting collard greens. However, I decided to give collard green chips a whirl.  I rolled with a slightly different recipe than the one that was featured on my friend’s blog, but those who like a little kick will find these chips to be a very flavorful and fun addition. I also added some chipotle for a spicy and smoky-bacon-type note. These came out rather delicious.  And certainly, feel free to substitute with kale if that’s your bag.

Lady Sensory’s Kick in the Pants Collard Green Chips

1 bunch of collard greens

1 1/2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (I used Wegmans Basting Oil)

Do you need a kick in the pants as well?

Do you need a kick in the pants as well?

1/2 tsp salt (or more, if you prefer – I used the pink Himalayan variety)

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1/4 tsp chipotle pepper flakes

1 pinch – 1/8 tsp of the following:  cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and Hungarian paprika

Place two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Chop collard greens into bite size pieces, rinse well and dry or spin in a salad spinner.  Place greens in a bowl. Combine salt, black pepper, chipotle flakes, and desired amount of cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and paprika with a mortar and pestle.  Sprinkle mixture over the greens. Drizzle the greens with the garlic-infused oil and massage well.  Place the greens on the parchment-lined cookie sheets and cook for approximately 10 minutes, rotating the trays at 5 minutes. When greens appear crisp and slightly golden, remove from oven and place in a bowl to serve.  Make sure you have a tasty beverage or two on hand since these have quite a spicy kick.

I have another “surprise vegetable” post on the way so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll continue to spread the word about my availability:

Will work for food