Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Very Tardy Entry's been quite a while since my last post.  I'm a tardy blogger.  I made my VERY first meal almost 2 weeks ago and have yet to tell the tale.  Mostly, that's because instead of roasting dinner, I was the St. Maarten.  That's all the bragging there is- because now my body looks something like this:

Making the choice to wear an adorable retro one piece, I have a very burned arms & legs and a VERY pale midsection.  Something like red velvet cake.

Alas, let's rewind to the fateful Saturday where the very first of 80 meals was prepared in my miniature apartment. 

The menu: Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken with carrots & onions
                Poutine with beef or chicken gravy (for the non-red meat eaters)
                6(?) bottles of wine all under $8 per bottle (yeah- we're classy)

The chicken was QUITE petite- only 2.5/3lbs, but definitely was satisfying, as every Perfect Roast Chicken is.  Combined with Poutine, we were in for an elegant affair.  Except, elegant in Orford, NH means having to go to Cumberland Farms gas station to buy two big bottles of vegetable oil because that was the only store open when I realized I was out.  And there was NO way I would be using my classy and expensive olive oil to fry a bunch of potatoes. 

Due to time constraints, I did succumb and used pre-made beef & chicken stock for the gravy.  Nods to Top Chef's Swanson promotion- I'll follow Padma's every command!

"The winner of this challenge will take home $10,000, furnished by Swanson Broth"

 Although, who are we kidding- my heart belongs to Gail:

 But in all fairness, as much as I love me some Top Chef, my decision to purchase Swanson broth had more to do with my favorite TV character than with that catchy Bravo show.  He loves meat, mustaches and breakfast buffets and his name is RON SWANSON.

 But now....on to the true intention of this post: POUTINE PREP!

Beef stock on the left; faux-roux (cornstarch) cooking on the right.

The fries did not brown up as well as I had hoped- which I am completely blaming on my electric stove.  If it's not gas, it's not good.

"We don't care to crisp"

End result, however, was tres bien (damn the computer not letter me include accents!).  Our arteries were sufficiently clogged and our stomachs able to absorb copious amounts of cheap wine. 

I think the Quebecois would be proud.

Who may NOT be proud is Grandma- because we may have committed a true sin that evening.  We turned the wholesome family fun of Mexican Train Dominoes into a drinking game.  Any time you pick from the graveyard, drink up!  Any time you throw down a stopper- watch out! 

Figgy Duff is going to have to wait for a bit- it will definitely involve a full day's labor (boiling pudding in a bag is dangerous stuff)- and I'm gone for the next 2 or 3 weekends (T-SHIRT PAR-TAY!).  But it WILL happen.  This is my blog and I'll procrastinate if I want to.

But fear not, my loyal readers (Now THAT's a joke..loyal readers, my foot), for I will be cooking a full beautiful Seder dinner on Monday night. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Which Duff is My Duff?

Meal 1 of 8, Second Course:

Hilary Duff?

Chef Duff?
No...sorry, sistah.  I know this is your future husband.



No- the 2nd and final course shall be........

A baked pudding similar to spotted dick, but without the suet.  Which i COULD buy if I needed the local gas station. 

Figgy Duff is also a rock band.  That is all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Take it Back!

Yesterday I wrote that there are no real culinary specialties in Ontario.  I was wrong.


  • 375g pack ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or 375g/13oz homemade)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g butter , room temperature
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • 50g chopped walnuts 
Yeah- it's in grams (AUBREY GRAHAMS.....).  And it's called butter tarts- not to be confused with the English butter pie, which is something else entirely.

I wonder if they serve butter tarts at the Dot.....

Planning for Pudding

After careful consideration of budget, caloric intake and high potential for disaster, I have come up with the menu for meal 1 of 80.  Budget should be ok- aside from needing to buy cotton muslin to make a pudding bag (that's right.....this meal requires a trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics).  Caloric intake? Extremely high.  Thank goodness for friends to share in the artery clogging (I'm looking at you, wizards).  High potential for disaster? CHECK!  I mean, I'm cooking pudding in a bag.  That sounds both adventurous and inappropriate. 

Obviously, my taste for the ridiculous is outweighing the need for a balanced meal.  This is going to be snack & dessert- no vegetables, no protein, just Canadian cuisine at its finest.

First course: POUTINE

so wrong, but so right......

Fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.  Will it be tastier than fries with mayonnaise?  We shall see.  Despite a Health & Wellness retreat to Montreal/Quebec City and several trips to The Gallows (rabbit confit poutine, anyone?), I have yet to ever eat this decadent dish because of one little problem.  GLUTEN.  There are far too many gluten free blogs with far too positive attitudes- so this will be the only mention of celiac.  I have's kind of lame...I can't eat gravy on fries.  Unless.....I MAKE IT! 

My one problem?  No SQUEAKY cheese curds to be found.  I am surrounded my dairy farms and have tried local cheese curds from at least 3 farms, but we just don't do the fresh, SQUEAKY, curds in the same way that they do in Canada.  If not for the high price of gas, I would definitely just drive to the closest Couche-Tard and purchase some.  Alas, non-squeaky curds will have to do.
Love me some Couche-Tard

Check back later as I reveal the second course of meal #1.........

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Project

This blog (I can't believe how many times I've typed that word this afternoon.....definitely more than I ever have in my entire life prior to this day) is really just serving as my guilty conscience to make sure I complete my project.  What project could this be?  Another annoying, yuppity, over eager, self-indulgent, "foodie" food blog?  I seriously hope not....if any of my writing ever comes close to needing such descriptors, tell me and I will shut this act DOWN!  Food memoirs used to be things of beauty....remembrances and tales of food and love.  MFK Fisher- I'm talking about YOU! 

And let's not forget dear Ms. Reichl (we had lunch, remember?)

I certainly am not crafting a food memoir.  But I CERTAINLY am not constructing a project so I can be the next "Julie and Julia"- THE WORST.  Granted, when I first read the book in hardcover at the tender age of 18, I couldn't get enough of it.  Oh the mistakes we make when we are young. 

WARNING: This project may appear similar in concept to that of "I'm going to cook my way through 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking,' abandon my husband and become self-obsessed." 


My project:

I have carefully crafted an idea (or spent 30 minutes of my work day deciding this would be fun) to travel around the world from my miniature sized kitchen.  Literally, miniature- I live in an attic.  Not in a creepy "Flowers in the Attic" kind of way.  Just your "standard attic converted to 1-bedroom apartment in a carriage house built in the 1800s by the inventor of the internal combustion engine" kind of way.

As a volunteer coordinator, funds for global travel are LIMITED.  But whenever I have had the pleasure to journey about, I find myself eating my way through cultures.  So attempting to cook my way around the world seems like a very budget-friendly alternative.  

Though I am a fan of many classic pieces of literature, I have not read the book from which the title of this book is based.

My sincere apologies Monsieur Verne.    

And, I most certainly am not imposing an 80-day schedule for 80 meals.  That is ridiculous, absurd and something Julie (ugh) would do.  No- I am planning on taking at least now through the summer to explore the cuisines of the world.  More if need be.  I am not going to have a mental breakdown over a beef bourguignon.  This has, in fact, already happened on December 31st, 2009.  In frightening similarity to the story IN the aforementioned despised novel.  That is another tale entirely.

So, I have decided to begin my gustatory travels close to home, with our neighbors to the North.  And no, I am not starting with Canada simply because I am obsessed with Degrassi.

That's right, AUBREY GRAHAM!

As amazing as Ontario is, I have yet to find some delicious and savory recipe that is found ONLY within the Toronto metropolitan area.  So this weekend's very first endeavor will feature two very different Canadian territories: Newfoundland and Quebec (apologies for the lack of accent et gu....that is far too technically challenging).

I leave you salivating over these two words and part of my menu for this weekend: FIGGY DUFF. 

OMG.....I may have started a blog.

In this, the digital age, I have been firm in my stance against the ubiquity of the blog.  Do I read blogs?  I read two.  One, the hilarious creation about the trials and tribulations of teaching (you know who you are, Mr. Vest), and the other, trashy celebrity gossip (NOT PEREZ).  I have an iPhone, but have maybe 5 apps, all of which were free.  I haven't opened my home laptop in weeks....mainly because the battery has completely died and I fear if I so much as touch the thing I will lose all the important documents that I, of course, have not backed up.  My printer at home is not attached to anything, nor does it even have ink.  My "bandwidth," whatever that means, is limited since I am (maybe illegally) sharing one wireless router with 5 people who live in my house (not roommates- other apartments- let's be clear).  All that this bandwidth thing really translates to for my understanding is that when I tried to stream pirated episodes of True Blood, the internet got really slow and I got a "someone is using too much bandwidth" e-mail from my landlord. 

Sookie Stackhouse, the internet is NOT mine.

So....why even start this endeavor when I am not fluent in the language of the blog, could not tweet if I tried, and generally hate on all things "tech?"  Because I live in New Hampshire.  Now, that is not to say that there is a lack of things to do in New Hampshire.  While I normally spend my days not paying state taxes, sloshing through snow, and being surrounded my yuppie white people, I could (and have tried) to make my day to day life as exciting and fulfilling as possible.  I could have attempted to ski, joined a knitting circle, gotten a part-time job.  I DID start up a book club (insert shout-out to UVBC).  However, after too many weeks of coming home after a day at work, buying cheap wine at Cumberland Farms (for those of you who live in exciting places- this is a gas station) and watching marathons of "Bethenny Ever After," I have come to the conclusion that I am not winning in the productivity department.   

Thus began......the blog.  I can only imagine the reaction on many of my dear friends' faces....I think it would look something like this:

*Thank you to Mr. Vest to introducing me to this wonderment*

So, the blog.  I could not even hope to amuse anyone with random ramblings and my thoughts on the state of things.  I'm not even sure I am going to tell ANYONE about this blog for fear of its horrendous lack of witticisms.  The solution?  Have a project.  The title of this blog makes it fairly obvious what this project the next post to find out.