Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday Night Supper

I do try to plan out our weekly meals - even though I think I do better when I cook on the fly (hence the "Mama's choice" category). You can see here that on Sunday night we were planning for chili, so that's what we did.

We don't use the meal chart all of the time. I'm really not that organized...
My dinner - without cheese
This is skillet chili. First I cut up and sauteed some garlic and cheese sausage. Then I added onions, red and green peppers, and garlic, along with some cumin. Next in was a can of diced tomatoes and a can of pinto beans. I added chili powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

I topped it with some fresh cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. On the side there was homemade corn bread. Made with the recipe off the back of the Quaker corn meal container - except I replaced the oil with melted butter. A glass of Berkshire Brewing Company's Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale for the grown ups and water for the littles.
Paul's dinner  - with cheese

The three year old at least tried it. She's on the white food diet these days - bread, butter, cheese, bananas, the occasional apple (peeled of course). But, it did get rave reviews from my spouse, and the six year old kept saying, "Mama, I love your chili!" and then she asked to have it in her lunch the next day. That is high praise indeed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Visions of Meals Gone By or Tales of Past Repasts

I have an odd habit of taking pictures of meals and dishes I've created. Maybe it's because the food tends to disappear in much less time than it takes to put it together and somehow I'd like to capture it before it goes. Maybe it's just because I'm obsessed with food and this is my version of porn (btw -I do call it food porn when I'm trolling my favorite foodie sites on the web). Either way, I've accumulated a lot of pictures of food and I thought I'd share a few here.
Ginger pear scone - funny thing, it began it's life as a recipe for cheddar-chive biscuits. It's strange how sometimes one recipe will just morph into something completely different.
.Swiss chard, ham and potato saute with onion and garlic. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow of the farm share.
This was a simple lunch of fennel, celery, carrots, onions, sauteed with mint and lemon and served over quinoa with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.
Crumble top carrot coffee cake with raisins
Smoked trout pate

We got a bunch of yellow watermelon at the farm. I pureed some with fresh mint, added simple syrup, a few squeezes of lemon and enough water to get it to the right consistency. Then I poured it over ice.

This is just a start, there's more to come... 

P.S. I want you to know that I do realize that words like saute and pate are supposed to have accents over the "e". I just haven't figured out how to make that work in Blogger - any tips on this?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night at the Apollo

The Apollo Grill , at 116 Pleasant St. in my adopted hometown of Easthampton, MA, may well be my favorite restaurant of all time. I'm never disappointed and often I'm raving after a visit. It's our standard spot for date night but it's also a good place to bring the kids when we don't have a sitter. Tonight was one of those nights...

The Apollo is known for it's interesting decor and also for it's magnificent collection of vintage salt and pepper shakers. Each table has a different set. We had the bass tonight.

The menu varies from season to season and there is an emphasis on using fresh, local ingredients. They bill themselves as "American fare with an outer-space theme decor" and they are located in a renovated mill building close to the center of town. It's a great spot for this particular restaurant - quirky with high ceilings and exposed pipes. It just works.

The waitstaff is always friendly, funny and accommodating. It's not easy to go out with small children. Our waitperson tonight has kids of her own so she knew to bring us bread and butter right away. Always a crowd-pleaser for our family. 

On its face, the kids' menu offers what you'd expect: grilled cheese, burgers, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and quesadillas, but here they are prepared with the same care as the "grown up" meals and they come with a generous helping of fruit as well as fries. Tonight we had  watermelon, apple and orange slices. Thank you for offering my kids something colorful, healthy and delicious.

We started off with one of my favorite appetizers, veggie spring rolls with a delightful sweet and spicy dipping sauce and a refreshing cucumber-mint salsa. The rolls are crunchy on the outside and packed with yummy cellophane noodles, cabbage, carrots mushrooms and probably other things I haven't yet identified (just means I have to order them again). The plates are even lovely, hand-crafted by a local artisan. Can you see the stars on the plate that echo the one decorating the dipping sauce? A nice touch.

Sometimes pictures don't do a meal justice... For example, you can barely see the pile of coleslaw hidden below this gigantic burger and surely you can't see how it is delicately dotted with caraway seeds to add just the right flavor. The fries are hand-cut and perfectly cooked. This is not a meal I typically order out, but sometimes you just gotta have a monster burger - medium rare, please. And it does help that the beef is raised locally and ground fresh. Just so you know, this is from the "Lighter Fare" section of the menu...

Paul had the lamb kebabs. This is his standard order at the Apollo, which wouldn't be so surprising if it weren't for the fact that the man wouldn't even eat lamb when we first met. I take credit for getting him to appreciate it. It's beautifully seasoned and is served with hummus and pita, along with a little Mediterranean salad.

I would have taken a picture of the empty ice cream bowl that finished off our meal - vanilla from Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream, another of our frequent haunts (go and try the maple bacon) - but someone's finger got pinched and there was a lot of screaming and crying so we figured it was time to leave before they decided not to welcome us back... All in all, though it was a successful dining experience: the kids ate, the adults had a drink and a few minutes of peaceful conversation, we all laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves like mad. It's all part of Casey's plan.

Next time you are in my town. Go and try the Apollo Grill. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Welcome to this new space!

I love food. I love to eat it, cook it, write about it, and even take pictures of it. A friend recently suggested that I should start a blog dedicated entirely to food, so here goes.

As with food, some things are better when they are shared, so I invite my friends to contribute to this venture by sending me their food stories, recipes and photos. Credit will always be given where it is due.

Bon appetit!

P.S. Here's a sneak preview - these are pizzas I made last night. I picked up some Naan at one of my favorite independent grocers and used odds and ends from the fridge to make a dinner that everyone in my house would enjoy. The pesto pizza was my six year old's favorite!

Before they went in the oven.

Pesto, mozzarella and black olives on the left. Margarita pizza on the right.

Barbecued chicken with Monterey Jack, onions and red pepers