What I’m Eating – June 16

We saw the pop up tent too late two weeks ago, and thought we’d missed a culinary adventure. On a return to the Southside tonight for our kids’ culminating presentation at their Teen Ensemble program with Touchstone Theatre, they were back!

I know I’m getting ahead of myself. But when I see a poutine truck, I’m giddy as a school girl. My first taste of poutine was on our first family trip to Canada. It’s a simple, three ingredient dish that is perfect for a late-night-post-drinking-binge to soak up the evenings’ indulgences. Or a great afternoon-post-swimming-in-the-lake-all-day treat. Fresh cut French fried potatoes, beef gravy, and cheese curds.

Enter, a new to the Lehigh Valley food truck called “The Flying V.” The Bonn Brewery hosts them in the parking lot behind their establishment on Friday nights during the summer. You may not see it if you drive by the Bonn on Taylor Street. Since Morton street is a one way, better to get to this popup by taking 3rd street to Fillmore, turn south, then turn right onto Morton and find street parking nearby.

They’ve got their menu on chalkboards, and on table top menus inside the brewery. So many options of toppings, and a vegetarian option of a mushroom gravy. But true carnivores will appreciate their gravy made with a combination of beef bones, lamb shanks and chicken bones. Sure they could make a gravy with just beef, but these guys are purists – God bless their hearts!

Talking to the owners Matt and Christy, she’s a bonafide Canadian. Their popup can be found at local brew pubs around the Lehigh Valley. They post their location schedule on their Facebook page. So do what their sign says, and #JoinTheFlock by liking them on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re not close to Southside on Fridays, they’re at a handful of breweries around the LV. So worth the adventure of finding where they are.

So what’s peameal bacon? This is something you have to taste to really understand. It’s trimmed very lean, and smoked. You may think it’s “Canadian Bacon” and you’d be right. But it’s not that chewy slice of tasteless waste that you find in a drive through breakfast sandwich. Real peameal bacon adds a delicious smokiness to poutine.

We opted to have not toppings on our first try with this business in order to taste their gravy and test their cheese curds. Their gravy is rich and not over salted. The cheese curds are fresh and squeaky, and not over-melted so as to enjoy the most of the squeak. Did I already mention the fries are fresh cut?

Between the two of us, we had just enough time to enjoy a pint of Opus (American Amber Ale) and split a regular sized poutine. We were drooling like Homer Simpson and wishing we could enjoy one more pint. But the show starts on time, and we wouldn’t want to miss watching what those nutty kids.

As we were getting up to leave, I saw a stack of the Bethlehem Fig summer issues; released last Tuesday. Oh, and if you should happen to find a familiar face; it isn’t mine.

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Albums & Ice Cream, 3rd edition – June 12

I’m finding inspiration for new music and books in traditional places; weekend reviews on television and radio, and recommendations from friends. CBS Saturday morning has two regular features that often inspire new music to explore (“Saturday Sessions”) and dining ideas from the segment, “The Dish.”

Anthony Mason is a great music reviewer/ interviewer. I’m so glad he’s on the air for these features that offer a slice of humanity to balance the political news. But this post isn’t a review of where I find ideas – it’s the 3rd installment of this summer’s blog series, “Albums & Ice Cream.”

On June 3, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys was on the segment to perform a couple of tracks of his new solo album, “Waiting on a Song.” If you head over to the CBS This Morning – Saturday website and scroll down, you’ll find three songs performed, and an interview with Dan Auerbach about making his second solo album. If you’re a fan of the Black Keys, this interview offers a good perspective on why his solo albums sound different from the style of the Black Keys. As a producer, he’s showing a particular feel that’s more of his origin story. I tend to favor artists who produce their albums. They have more vision for the overall listening experience. Here is another interview from NPR in which he digs further into his ideas.

“Waiting on a Song” (the title track) has a good retro country/folk feel. Hard to listen to without having your foot join in. But the track that really got me interested in the album was “Shine on Me.” The opening line, “You only got a couple miles to go – if you’re trying to drive me insane.”

Listening to the album – which Steve already had downloaded on iTunes because he’s way more on top of the music scene than I am – the ice cream flavor that came to mind is salted caramel. Caramel is a warm flavor to me; and a little bit of salt (of the earth) rounds out the flavor so much that I don’t feel I can ever eat too much of this stuff.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. I swapped Kosher salt for the “flaky sea salt” in the recipe – it’s going to melt anyway. I also accidentally added all of the cream to the cooked sugar. But it didn’t harm the process.

I’m starting to learn a better time management for making and setting ice cream. It’s similar to letting bread dough proof. In order for the ice cream to set up well, it has to sit in the freezer for about four hours before I can serve it. After having the family taste the custard before I put it in the ice cream maker, we we’re patient enough for that long.

What was left the day after stayed soft in the freezer. I’m starting to build a sense for what kind of recipes might be more successful than others. I’m liking where this adventure is going.

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Albums & Ice Cream – June 4

Albums & Ice Cream – June 4

The second post of the Albums & Ice Cream series features Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, since it’s the 50th anniversary of the music changing album from the Beatles. It goes without saying that the paired ice cream is strawberry.

My parents weren’t fans of the group, but it was impossible to not hear it. We have a couple of copies of it in various iterations; vinyl, CDs. I take tracks from it to my iPod for long walks on a treadmill. Still, it was great to sit and listen to it with full concentration; in awe of the innovative sounds and artistry.

There are no shortage of articles and reflections to aid my reflection. Rolling Stone names it the best album of all time. But to list all of the articles I’ve come across would be pure folly. There’s only 2-3 other references I want to mention. My friend’s book, Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio (Andy Babiuk, 2015). This book unlocks the secrets of their sound through expertly researched cataloging of their guitars, drums, amps, etc., throughout the band’s evolution. The book is a labour of love; and a treasure to have. Being married to a sound engineer, I’ve also had a ready reference to ask about tape looping or other ways Sir George Martin created those mysterious sounds pre-computer.

Last night, we tripped on the PBS broadcast of Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution.

The entire BBC documentary probably will be shown again. Just get ready for a heavy amount of interruptions for fundraising. But since public broadcasting depends on viewer contribution – that’s how it goes. The documentary only runs 45 minutes, just in case you were wondering. It’s worth watching. I’m going to keep my eye out for a second broadcast. There’s so much great information. The host, Howard Goodall is such an inspiring audience guide. Here’s a link to it’s official website for your own reference.

I had been planning on the strawberry ice cream pairing since hearing promotions on the Beatles’ Sirius XM station. I set out to search for the best strawberry ice cream I could find. Luckily I came across a food blogger who had done the same search and tested multiple recipes and techniques. Since he was so generous to document and share his findings, who am I to dispute his claim to the best recipe?

I had a box of grocery strawberries, but I knew I needed local, in season berries. I couldn’t wait for the beginning of our summer CSA (which will include strawberries), so Steve and I headed to the Easton farmer’s market. The trip inspired a whole bunch of other blog posts; and also a firm kick in the butt for the upcoming launch.

This is why you need to only make strawberry ice cream when the berries are in season:

The recipe has a few time consuming tasks. I found chopping the fruit into tiny pieces for mulling with a bit of alcohol (I used 1/2 Tito’s and 1/2 Limoncello), was calming. The step that took the longest was pushing the pureed berries through a fine strainer. It was worth it. I couldn’t wait for it to be fully set before writing this post.

I’ll update the picture and the post tomorrow with a new picture of firmer ice cream. But for now, I’ll slurp up a little bit more. Dang, it’s delicious! (Thanks, Max!)

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Albums & Ice Cream – May 31

Albums & Ice Cream – May 31

A friend I met through Twitter has a theme on his Instagram account called “Dinner and Vinyl.” Following his inspiration, I will blend a couple of goals I have for mastering a cooking technique, expanding my listening experience, and enjoying both on our patio in the warm summer air. Fair readers, let me welcome you to a new weekly topic:

“Albums and Ice Cream.”

Albums – because it may not always be vinyl, but it will be the entire album of work with a few brief comments on the overall impression. There is artistic thought into the flow of an album; the order of songs and the sense of journey throughout. Sure, there will be songs that grab me more than others, but to fully experience the listening, I give myself the gift of undivided attention and don’t talk over it either.

Ice Cream – because… c’mon! Do I really have to explain that?

This post features a new to me chocolate ice cream recipe and Little Steven Van Zandt’s new album, “Soulfire.”

Downloaded last week, the first tune, “Soulfire” already claimed the spot for my song of the summer. It’s got a great opening feel that makes me want to get in the car and just drive. With each track, you start to hear similar arrangements to some of the E Street Band; no doubt, his touch. He produced the album with so much nostalgic sound. Give track 8 a listen and tell me if that doesn’t have a familiar groove. According to my husband, if it’s got a trombone solo, it’s already a classic. And yes, this tune has a trombone solo. If you haven’t closed your eyes and started a little sway while listening; you have no soul.

Here’s a solid introduction to the album by Lara Stavropoulos on udiscovermusic. com. In the article, she mentions some of the tools and people in the album. She also reminded me that it’s been twenty years since his last solo album. This album, dear Mr. Van Zandt, is so worth the wait. If you choose to look for it on Spotify, that’s fine. But do the artist a solid and buy the entire album. There’s more than 15 other musicians on the album to get paid, too.

The ice cream recipe was ok. It was a regular egg custard with a cocoa powder base, and chopped semi-sweet chocolate melted into the base before cooling and adding cream and vanilla. No matter how much you think the solid chocolate melted, there’s still a grainy feel to the custard. I’ll keep trying other chocolate ice cream recipes.

In case you’re wondering, I do have an electric ice cream machine that makes these experiments possible. It sits patiently in my basement storage area until Memorial Day and gets its full measure of work until Labor Day.

Well these posts are going to be fun to pull together. I hope you’ll join me in the fun of exploring new sounds and new tastes. If you do, please share!

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What I’m Researching – May 28

What I’m Researching – May 28

This is six year old me. An avid fishergirl, confined to wearing Buster Browns with built in orthotic inserts for inclined ankles.

I think this picture was taken at a family vacation with my Irish grandparents on a Wisconsin lake not too far from Kenosha. We slept in a cabin with lots of screened windows. The beach was very rocky, but we splashed in regardless. I’m not too clear on the details, but I do remember some of the food we ate in the summer. My mom and grandparents were magicians; making picnics special occasions with simple food. Simple? Maybe not with five kids screaming and running all over the place. Memorial Day comes with a flood of childhood memories. I’m sure they are a blend of summer events; Fourth of July picnics, or other vacations took when we weren’t in school.

They say that memories are stronger when associated with smell and taste. Fresh cut grass or charcoal grills usually release the floodgate of memories.

Meal planning based on childhood memories takes research. Family recipes, ancient cook books, internet, crowd sourcing. This may not be a complete memory; but it’s what comes to mind when I’m planning a Memorial Day meal for my family.

Burgers with basics. Condiments were ketchup and mustard. If it was a fancy picnic, there would be iceberg lettuce leaves, tomato slices and some onions that I don’t think anyone ate. If there was cheese, it was processed and sliced.

Salads. German Potato salad that wouldn’t spoil if left out more than an hour in the sun like the mayonnaise version. Or the mayonnaise version was offered, and put back in the fridge? I remember both. Three bean salad; definitely three bean salad. With canned beans. Or maybe the green and yellow wax beans came from the garden and the kidney beans came from cans. And a garden salad with iceberg lettuce, tomato, radish and peeled cucumbers.

Deviled eggs. Dusted with paprika for super fancy backyard picnics.

When I start researching, I’ll refer to this Twitter feed or Tumblr blog – because I know if my mom saw this in a magazine she would roll her eyes at it. The effort vs the appreciation from her family would not have made any of these recipes worth the effort. She had a sister in-law who was a Julia Child devote anyway – you know, the person who was making real food in the 70s.

What I remember most fondly is the chocolate Texas cake. My grandma would put chopped walnuts on top. I think I remember cherries in it once. I make it plain; just chocolate. I found a recipe online that tastes like I remember it. There are other versions on this site; but this one is my favorite. It was my old cat Porsche’s favorite, too.

The other thing I remember is watermelon seed spitting contests. And bing cherry eating contests where the winner was the person who stuffed the most cherries into their mouth. They only counted when you spit out each stone. Choking hazard much?

What are your favorite childhood food memories?

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What I’m Eating – May 23

After yesterday’s heavy post, and the news from Manchester, I need to take a lighter reflection today. The lightness and the simplicity will give me a moment to focus on the good things in front of me.

Nothing makes me more grateful than the taste of food that I prepare in my own kitchen. From therapeutic vegetable chopping to meticulous measuring for a complicated cake, being able to make a dish from scratch is something that I really love to do and to share.

The weekly menus are usually adapted near the middle of the week when spontaneous changes to the schedule happen. Or somebody accidentally eats a key ingredient. Or there might be an item I tucked away in the cupboard, only to rediscover it weeks later completely unconnected to a plan. And now I have to figure out what to make with it.

It’s kind of like an episode of Chopped, but without having to deconstruct a Twinkie™.

Two ingredients I discovered in my kitchen this week, P’tit Basque and crystallized ginger. The first item is a sheep’s milk cheese from France. A mild flavor that pairs really well with Fuji apples (my favorite variety this month) and a piece of crusty bread. It’s the traditional Ploughman’s lunch that pack easily into my bike pack for a day at the office. I’d like to learn how to make my own pickles to add some flavor to the lunch. Might be a good experiment when the CSA cucumbers arrive in force. I have no idea why I bought this cheese.

The crystallized ginger was bought for a recipe, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what I was thinking. On it’s own, I could mix it with my daily ration of mid-day trail mix (unsalted roasted almonds, dried pineapple, banana chips and raisins). But this has a really strong bite after two pieces.

Pardon me while I search on a recipe website for a clue…

Found it! Ginger-Peach Jam. Last summer I was looking for more ideas for the peach bounty of the CSA. There are only so many peach pies my family will eat. I’ve yet to try making jam at home. This is definitely the summer for this adventure.

Thinking about food, learning new techniques are my jam! (pardon the pun)

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