blackberries and vanilla ice cream

This year the blackberries at the parental homestead have been going apeshit. I’ve never seen such fat sweet blackberries — the really ripe ones don’t need even a grain of sugar.
I stuffed most of those straight down the pie hole either whilst picking or during a blackberry-appreciation moment with B to whom I was giving a bunch of the loot.
As for the rest of them, the lovely but not quite as oozingly sweet ones, they were absolutely gorgeous with vanilla ice cream. Normally I dislike dairy and berries, finding that the creaminess mutes the berry flavors, but this particular combo rocks the house, bringing out the best qualities of both.

harvest time

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude

it is that time of year when it gets dark earlier, the weather gets sharper even when it’s still warm, and we get inundated with season-end produce that needs to be eaten immediately lest it perish.
so i’m playing catch-up in the kitchen these days, figuring out how to use as many tomatoes as possible — and i’m finally resorting to cooking them, which is how i know that autumn is nigh. Under normal circumstances I would never allow heat to touch a garden tomato — they must be eaten raw, with salt and pepper and oil, or possibly in a sandwich with mayonnaise and toast.
but i just cut a particularly vulnerable specimen into my bean-corn-beef stew, and i am drying bread cubes for scalloped tomatoes. and I have to tell you, scalloped tomatoes actually do ease the sting of oncoming winter, because they are just so darn tasty: roasty tomatoes, toasted bread cubes, Lawry’s seasoned salt, hot from the oven. Yum.
then i have to figure out what to do with the last few watermelons now that it’s cold enough that we don’t actually feel like eating watermelon any more. i am thinking agua fresca…
[for Christi: this is the recipe i liked best when testing versions for the drink we had at the wedding: Watermelon Agua Fresca]

white turnips

My parents have had a bumper crop of white turnips this year. I have been eating the greens since spring, helping to thin the bed, don’t you know, and they were delicious — at least up until the last batch, which were cut from the tops of lovely huge white & purple turnips. That last batch was quite bitter, so much so that I didn’t enjoy them even when cooked up perfectly with diced bacon and onions. So note to self: turnip greens best when young.
But now I have lots of nice white turnips, which I have also been seeing in the farmers’ markets around here. And though you can mash and cream them, winter style, that preparation doesn’t have much appeal in weather like this. So what I have been doing is treating them just like daikon.
They’re quite similar in flavor, a little milder and a bit harder in texture. They work very well sliced thin in simple pickles, either just salt and vinegar, or a mix of that with a bit of sugar. Occasionally I’ll toss in a little hot pepper flake, but usually I like the clean crunchy quick pickle just plain. It’s worked well alone, or mixed with carrot and/or cucumber.
I’ve eaten these pickles plain, or as a side to a japanese style meal. I’ve been mixing them into cold cooked somen noodles, along with scallions and some chopped tamagoyaki (which i did buy in a frozen block from the market — it’s OK, but a little sweet and spongy).
The other thing I’ve been doing is blanching them in cubes and throwing that into various chopped salad things, like the russian pickle mix and shrimp salad from an earlier post. They’re a bit bland once blanched, so they work as a neutral filler and carrier for other flavors in the salad.

embarrassment of riches

We went to visit the parents this weekend and also picked up from the farmshare today, and since the parents impressed upon us the ridiculous overflow from the family plot, we have more than a few vegetables and fruits:

This jumbled pile includes 3 trays of the most gorgeous blueberries imaginable, 1 tray of blackberries, 4 pears from my dad’s coworker’s tree, red peppers, hot peppers, yellow crookneck and zucchini squash to feed a small village, vast numbers of ripe tomatoes (we could have taken about 7 more lbs today from the farm, but we couldn’t justify it when we already have doubts about our ability to distribute this stuff to enough people fast enough), celery, chard, 13 heads of garlic, a fistful of beets, 2 types of eggplant, a big bunch of basil, cucumbers, sweet vidalia onions, and a watermelon.
Yeah. Summer is OK.

foodwhores do chicago

littlelee and spleen came to visit this past weekend, and we packed in a hell of a lot of chicago eating, along with a few touristy things I’ve been meaning to do since i got here. 🙂
The architecture river tours are totally worthwhile. Alcala’s Western Wear is worth the trip, and spleen bought herself a pair of cowboy boots in black & a lovely caramelly brown. We also went to see a live taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news quiz show, which was hilarious in so many ways, not least of them being how much new information we learned about current events. We’re lame, yes. Or maybe just hiding from the horrors of reality.
Anyway, we also went to Supermercado Morelia (7334 N. Clark St., 773-761-3291), which i learned about from Cindy and have been dying to visit. It didn’t have any of the exotic citrus she described but it did have some fabulous wafer cookies filled with cajeta, the yummy goat-milk caramel. There was also some gorgeous looking roasted pork in the hot case, but the place was a zoo, so I didn’t wade in to get any. I did snag some dried chiles with which to make posole, and some Ibarra chocolate, since there’s now a palpable chill in the air here in Chicago.
The girls got their minds blown by Devon St, where we ogled fabulous gold jewelry we can never afford, and bought some of the wonderful snack mixes at Ambala. We had some gorgeously fatty barbacoa tacos at La Pasadita. We had elotes, which they agreed are completely disgusting in theory but completely delicious in reality. We hauled our asses to Hae Woon Dae (6240 N. California) and knocked back a respectable quantity of soju and OB lager with our friend E, also serendipitously in town the same weekend for a bachelorette party, along with exceptional kalbi, delicious spicy pork, a mediocre spicy soup, and an oddly-buttery-but-delicious version of kimchi bokum.
We also went to Frontera Grill, but that’s a whole post in and of itself. Rick Bayless is my hero.

holy crap, watermelon!

We picked our first watermelon today, a bit premature because it split open for some reason. We feared the worst, but it turned out to be sweet and delicious! Tallasiandude is so happy — he’s been trying to grow an edible watermelon for years and been thwarted by so many forces, not least of them our crappy Northeastern climate and our shady front yard. We sucked up the tiny sweet pink fruit for breakfast, and I’m thinking I might take the rinds and pickle them. Heh.
(for the scoop on the inside joke of the title, go here and watch the cartoon.)