The weather has been gorgeous. We left the windows open overnight. I was woken up by birds chirping and a cool breeze at around 6AM. I felt very energetic and decided to head over to the Merry Christmas Mine Hill for a short hike. As I stepped outside, I was met with a heavy scent of apple blossoms. I put my headphones on for some Verdi. Over the top and romantic. Perfect, I thought. So I walk down Spruce St. where Thomas the Old English Sheepdog never forgets to say hello. I saw some lilac bushes (more appropriate, trees!) starting to bloom. The town is full of them. Some bleeding hearts and globe hyacinths. A short stop at the bridge between the two old willows where Brewery Creek runs where I observed some small plump clouds and blue sky through the curtains of yellow green. White flowers, yellow flowers, and trumpet flowers. At the top of the hill, there was a parade of apple trees with fat, white and light pink blooms. The arched wild raspberry vines made my mouth water at what’s to come later in the summer. The lush blades of grass were covered in dew drops and the wetness had permeated my shoes. Time to sprint back home for some tea. Spring, you show off!
If you are a spring lover, come celebrate with my friends and I this Saturday night at the Mineral Point Opera House for the “Winter Is Over” program.
Continue reading Spring Notes
Please bear with me, I’m afraid I’m going to go a little RadioLab on you today. I’d like you to take a moment to listen the the recording embedded below (courtesy of rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb):
Continue reading Bebop-a-rebop
Last Saturday we got to attend one of my favorite things in the spring. Joe and Christy Cole’s first kiln firing party at Windy Ridge Pottery. We were like moths drawn to flames toward the giant 3 chambered kiln dubbed “the camel” by my friend Claire. Thank goodness there is always lot of scrumptious food and beer before you get too close! Joe Cole has singed his eyebrows a couple of times but it is understandable because he is the master of the kiln (meaning, we let him do most of the work). It is quite a difficult job because the fire has to be fed for 2 whole nights. Christy, the mistress of the kiln, had to stay up the second night (after most of us have gone home to bed). The kiln was finally opened yesterday. After a bit of inspection and cleaning, they will be ready for Clay in May this weekend.
Continue reading Feast, Fire, & Friendship at Windy Ridge Pottery
Happy Earth week! I’d like to share a classic Filipino dish with you called nilaga. It is a term used for any type of meat braised with whatever vegetables is available. Don’t let its simplicity deceive you, this dish is full flavored and so satisfying on a cool day. Here at Driftless Appetite, we try to cook food made with as many local ingredients as possible. I can say that everything on this plate is from around here. The oxtail was from Christy (who bought a whole cow last year). The cabbage and the gorgeous purple potatoes were from my friend Kelly at King’s Hill Farm. The leeks, carrots, and celery were purchased at Willy St., and the garlic and chives were from the garden.
Continue reading Beef Oxtail Nilaga
Good morning everyone, I know it has been awhile since our last post. Keith and I turned the big 3-0 this spring. We celebrated by traveling to London, the English countryside (where we got to visit with some of Keith’s family), New York City (with some favorite people) and the colorful patchwork that is Brooklyn. On our return, I was surprised with a 50′s food themed birthday party by our SW Wisconsin friends. There was something called “Beanie Weenies”, some kind of Cool-Whip dessert, Betty Crocker meatloaf, and other casseroles. It feels great to be back home, take time for tea, and to bake in my cozy kitchen. A bit of snow fell last night but that didn’t stop me from going to the garden. Several garlic plants have come up, the chives are slowly pushing up the leaves that covered it last fall, and the fists of rhubarb have started to uncurl.
The Scent of Lemon and Vanilla
Continue reading Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Until recently, the only member of our household who had eaten squirrel was Oliver, our dog. And, despite his best efforts, the only one he ever managed to catch had already been dead for a while. But one day, Leslie found one of those “100 things you have to eat before you die” lists online (this one, I believe) and filled it out. She had eaten almost all of them, only coming up 5 or 6 things short. One of those things was squirrel. A few days later I was telling a coworker, Dave, about this list and he mentioned if we wanted some squirrel, his son Casey would be glad to hunt some for us. And so, before we knew it, we had squirrels in the freezer. Continue reading Squirrel
I’ve been on a fermented food kick lately. I’ve made some sourdough baguette, bagels, and boule with starter, flavored liqueurs, and kimchi. Kimchi is a kicked up pickled cabbage and happens to be the national dish of Korea. It is made mostly with napa cabbage (sometimes with other vegetables like radishes, leeks, and carrots) along with a very generous amount of garlic, Korean chilis, ginger, and fish sauce. It is unapologetically bold, to say the least. In fact, many Korean households have a special fridge for the stuff. I usually triple bag my jars and rinse the outside of the jar each time I open it. A single droplet can flavor everything in your fridge. Kimchi can easily be found outside of Asian grocery stores. I’ve seen jars of the stuff at Metcalfe’s , Whole Foods, and Willy Street but you just can’t beat the home-made stuff. I guarantee you will be hooked.
I had been planning on making kimchi ever since I found Korean pepper (gochugaru) seeds from Dr. Dave of Midwest Chili Peppers based in Madison (who I first learned about from my friend Denise of Digging in the Driftless). I started the seeds indoors then planted them in my summer garden but only got a dozen of peppers from 4 plants that survived. I’ve also got my one Korean friend, Jikyung, who has eaten so much kimchi that it probably runs through her veins. That would make her an expert. She has also watched her mom make a lot of kimchi. The weekend before the new year Jikyung brought some dried and roasted Korean peppers from her mom, some fish sauce, and something called saeujeot (salt fermented young shrimp). Hard core kimchi makers use sauejeot or even fresh oysters but you can stick with just the fish sauce.
Can You Smell It?
Continue reading Kimchi
We recently had the pleasure of attending the Black Truffle Dinner at the Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee. The dinner is an annual tradition of theirs, made all the more special this year because the week after the dinner in Milwaukee, they were recreating the meal for the James Beard House. Even more special (for us, anyway), was that we went with our friends Andy and Caitlin. Food can only make a meal good, it is the company that makes it memorable. Andy had been invited to the dinner because he is the man behind Rush Creek Reserve, which was the centerpiece of the cheese course.
Now, a seven course meal (plus hors d’oeuvres) is a fairly decadent to begin with. Add to that black truffles with every course and you’ve got a meal that would make Beau Brummell blush. Plus, being sensible people of moderation, we took a trip to the Milwaukee Public Market for a couple dozen oysters before dinner.
Despite the pig pictured on the menu, we have it on good authority the truffles were found by dogs.
Continue reading Decadence of the (Mid)West
Here is another dish that is guaranteed to warm you up this winter, Nigella Lawson’s Slut’s Spaghetti. Spaghetti alla puttanesca originated from the island of Ischia in Southern Italy, made with a combination of cooked tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, black olives, chilies, and olive oil. Puttanesca is derived from the word puttana, a colloquialism for “prostitute”. Might I add, it is a very easy and a fairly cheap dish to make!
Continue reading Nigella’s “Slut’s Spaghetti”
Here’s another easy winter dish for you. All you need are some leftovers (mine were from the Serendipity Lamb Tagine), a bit of cheese, and herbs. Of course you can easily use pre-made pastry but I think making your own pie crust would be more delicious and satisfying. I have not been very lucky with pie crust in the past but it finally clicked this year. Just check out this rhubarb pie I made in 2009. How awful, right? I’ve learned that I must follow the recipe (harder for me than most to do), not to handle the dough too much, dive into it with positive energy, and give it time to rest. It also doesn’t hurt to turn to Julia.
Julia Child’s Galette Dough
- 3 T. buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
- 1/3 c. ice water
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
- 1 t. sugar
- 1/2 t. salt
- 7 T. cold, unsalted butter cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Mix the buttermilk and ice water in a small bowl. In a bigger bowl mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Incorporate the butter using your hands, letting the flour and butter mixture fall through your fingers. You will get different size lumps (the size of corn kernels, rice, and breadcrumbs). Add the buttermilk and water mixture into the dough and handle until you can form a large ball. It should only take a couple of minutes. Wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Flour your counter and dough generously and roll it out. I used a 6 inch cast iron pan but you can make a free form pie if you wish. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
Now I leave you with a bit of food porn. Happy Monday!
Filling: lamb, potatoes, carrots, caramelized onions, ricotta and parmigiano cheeses, and thyme
Continue reading Meet My Meat Pie