Remains of the Pork Belly….and other miscellaneous things….
January 25, 2011

 

OK, Paul wanted to know what happened this past weekend…”What happened to the pork belly?? I read you were going to get some and I was wishing I had a source closer than Catonsville. Just hoping to satisfy my pork belly craving vicariously.”

Wow...how good does this look?

Well Paul, I won’t lie… it was a pretty good dish, and as one chef said about pork belly “You could probably roll it in dirt and it would still sell“, but my dish  could have been better.   I couldn’t find pork shoulder(for pork two ways) and ended up getting some pork butt instead to accompany the belly. And you know , I wished it had all been belly(pork one way)…the butt pieces were just a tad dry….not as luscious as the belly. I wish I had a good source for you other than H-Mart(what they now call it) in Catonsville…but that’s the only place that I know of that sells it. Why is that? The recipe to the picture above is here….

Love the bivalves...

My Eastern Shore friends brought over some fabulous oysters…which we(the royal we-meaning he worked and we ate) shucked and ate with some saltines and sauce…so salty and plump….I haven’t had any on the half shell since I was in New Orleans last year. Delish.

This cream is only $13.50...gotta love that...

Lisa had a question: “Hi Donna – love the blog, read it all the time! Actually my response (question!) has nothing to do with pork. I watch 11 news at 5 and have always noticed how great your skin looks. Just wondering what your skin care routine is and what products you use. I am 55 and although my skin is in pretty good shape it could certainly stand some improvement. Guess we are all in search of that ever elusive “magic bullet”.”

Oh Lisa, first of all, thanks. And isn’t that the truth..the old search for a magic bullet..a better question is, what DON’T I use on my skin. Seriously, I kind of have the kitchen sink approach(throw everything at it and something will stick). I intermittently use a couple of creams from Swanson Vitamins( the Niacin cream and the Derma E Alpha-Lipoic acid cream…not expensive and good).

This cream is $150...let's say I use it sparingly....

 I also use Cold Plasma by Nicholas Perricone….NOT inexpensive but I like it a lot(great for the neck)…and my mainstay…Retin A. Honestly there isn’t a woman over 40(or very few) who should not be using Retin A according to my dermatologist. It is the bomb.  I really think it makes a big diff in skin quality. Add to that wearing sunscreen(and have for a long time) and hats when I’m in the sun, eating right( eating lots of salmon makes a difference in your skin-I eat some almost every day), getting enough sleep, and I take a boatload of vitamins….if anyone is interested(which I doubt), I’ll be happy to share what I take. Enough.

Why won't you make ice for me????

Oh let’s see…a Samsung refrigerator repairman was out this morning, as my brand new shiny stainless steel French door frig…isn’t making ice! Soooooo, he checked this and that, and then a little more this and that…but guess what the final fix involved? That’s right…a trusty hairdryer that he keeps in his truck(photogs here at WBAL also keep one to defrost and defog cameras going from cold to warm). And, after a few minutes of heating up the innerds of my ice maker, out plopped a 6 inch icicle from the line which had stopped up the works. Now the big question is…..will it continue to get clogged with ice, and why did it do so in the first place? Hmmmmm? To be continued…

 

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Pork Two Ways….and Culinary Sins…
January 21, 2011

Why do people leave these all over the newsroom????? WHY?

I know it’s Restaurant Week in Baltimore-check it out here…great deals at wonderful dining establishments( and trust me I’ll be checking them out next week), so it feels it a little Grinch-like to be eating at home this weekend. And it doubly shaming, after admitting in a post yesterday on Facebook, about my crumbling Nacho Cheese Doritos on top of  my healthy salmon lunch…that amused people(one person commented “Take heart, this is but a minor gastronomical infraction–a culinary misdemeanor rather than a felony.”  Funny….if co-workers would just stop bringing them into the newsroom! They’re so addicting. I had one and…you know.

But we have some friends coming over this weekend from the Eastern Shore to pick up Maryland honey that I bought for them at the Farmer’s Market this summer….(we got together one night at a restaurant and who forgot to bring the honey? you guessed it…). She says local honey got rid of her allergies, believe it or not.

Pork Shoulder...an under-appreciated cut...

So I feel like I owe them some good  grub…and we’re eating in. I think I will do Pork Two Ways from  Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham…it’s a slow cooked pork shoulder and pork belly, with some turnips, carrots and onions thrown in for good measure(and maybe some bourbon, I can’t remember). But let me tell you it is fabulous eating.

Love love love beets and cheese in a salad!

I’ll roast some beets for a beet and blue cheese salad…made some orange marmalade vinaigrette this morning(it’s really good too)….maybe some risotto to snuggle alongside the pork and we’ll call it dinner. Yes?

On the meantime, I have to get a new ice scraper…I found my self using a WBAL baseball cap to scrape the snow off my windshield this morning, and a couple of weeks ago, I used a coat hanger. I know, I know. Anyway, have a lovely weekend, stay warm, do something nice for a friend, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

The Week of Eating In……
February 23, 2010

Cannellini beans with red peppers and garlic....let's eat in!

That’s right, you heard me….this is the week where we eat in. No take-out. No restaurants….time to get to know your kitchen stove a little better. You buy the groceries and prepare the food….so old school, baby! But thing about the money you’ll be saving….not to mention the calories you’ll be saving, and you’ll feel so accomplished! In fact if you want to get serious about it, you can sign up to take the pledge to eat in this week, February 22-28th, on THe Huffington Post. For me this is no sacrifice, since we eat in usually 5 nights out of 7 anyway….but for those of you who do lots of carry-out…it could be a little more difficult.

I started Friday, cooking pork belly with roasted turnips and carrots. Yes Paul, pork on a Friday. Shoot me. And one reader asked where on earth one gets pork belly and how on earth does one cook it. Well, I get mine at HanAhReum, the Korean supermarket on Rolling Road in Catonsville. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a regular  grocery store, but you could ask the butcher if they can get it in. As to how to cook this most fabulous cut of pork, I will refer you to Jamie Oliver’s pork belly…he is also obsessed with it. His simple but fabulous recipe is a good one. Easy but luscious..you’ll never look back.

Beef short ribs....best ever....cook some this week!

I also did some beef short ribs this weekend….also bought at the Korean market. For these I tried a new-to-me recipe from Bon Appetit 2006, in which the ribs are seared, and then braised in red wine and vegetables. Those same veges are pureed at the end which makes a gorgeous thick sauce…I loved it, and hopefully so did my next door neighbors who have a new baby, and I thought they could use a dinner. Serve it with some smashed potatoes drizzled with olive oil and, everyone will love you.

Tonight, still eating in…I reheating black-eyed peas I had cooked last week…. with chicken broth, smoked sausage, onion and red peppers(I love red peppers)….and lots of garlic of course. Very healthy, and if you’ve never tried black-eyed peas….you really should. If you cook them from dried, ridiculously inexpensive. Like all beans.

Cubed eggplant ready for roasting....

And one blog reader, Gabrielle, asked about the recipe for roasted eggplant. Oh, Gabby…it’s sooooo easy, and once you start roasting vegetables(I learned from the Silver Palate cookbook), you’ll see there’s really no better way to prepare almost any vege. Eggplant, sweet potatoes, green beans, asparagus, turnips, onions, red peppers…you name it…they’re all enhanced by roasting as it reduces them to their best essence. How to? Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put your cubed(large cubes) of eggplant on the baking dish…drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt and toss, so that they’re all covered. And don’t be too shy with the salt. Make sure it’s a single layer and roast for about 20 minutes. (It will take longer for potatoes and sometimes a touch shorter for green beans or asparagus…check at 15 minutes.) Once its brown and caramelizing on the bottom, give them a flip and put back in for another 5 -8 minutes, and you’re done. Trust me…these are good alone or on a salad, and can be served hot or at room temperature.

The Art of Eating In.....

And if you find you love eating in and all the $$$$ you’re saving….check out the book, The Art of Eating In, by Cathy Erway…it’s by a woman who swore off eating out for two years, get this, in New York City…the biggest restaurant town in the world! “Two years, three apartments, countless food events and some strange restaurant-free “dates” later, she was able to turn eating in into something of an art, rather than mere survival method.” Sounds like a good read…I’m definitely checking it out!

The Lawn Chair War….
February 19, 2010

Mmmmmm...lookin' good!

Well, it’s come to this has it? The Mayor of Baltimore has to issue a directive that goes something like this in feeling…”Come on people! Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we just be good neighbors and trust that others will do the same, and not have to stake out our parking place with unsightly chairs? NO? Ok, get ready for a ticket, buster!”

I drive through areas that are chock-a-block with chairs of all types, presumably something not too valuable…I certainly haven’t seen too many good looking chairs out there. I mean, if someone will steal your parking place that you sweated on, they will for sure grab a nice chair won’t they?

lawn chairs held hostage....set them free!!

I haven’t seen any chairs out in my neighborhood(that doesn’t mean there aren’t any)…and don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think we all trust each other implicitly. I remember years ago after a different blizzard,  my teenage son came storming through the front door, saying that our then, next door neighbor had parked in the spot he dug out. He was livid!  “I’m going to go over there and tell her to move it!”  I reminded him that maybe…just maybe…she hadn’t thought about who dug it out, and as a single woman with children, maybe she just really really needed it more than him. “Go dig out another one“, we told him. Can I just say that was not well received, but he did it.

No I think the reason people in my hood don’t put out lots of chairs, is we’re afraid of being accused of being tacky…not to our face of course, but you know. People will talk.  And for sure, bedraggled lawn chairs that look like they should have been consigned to bulk trash long ago, decorating the street, are kinda tacky. They just are. So it will be interesting to see if  the Mayor’s plea will fall on deaf ears. Or will the chairs start to disappear, one by one, their tattered remnants marching back to the basement  from whence they cometh. Good riddance. And maybe, if we get to know our neighbors better, there won’t be this lack of good will and lack of trust(though in truth, really getting to know your neighbor might lead to more of both). 

All I know is it’s Friday, and I don’t have anything I have to do tonight! Dinner(pork belly roasted with carrots and turnips), watch some Olympics….bottle of wine…it’s good enough, good enough.

Weekend Wrapup….Jazz, Twilight and Pork Bellies
November 23, 2009

Darryl Harper playing smooth tunes onstage at Creative Alliance

Let’s see….did something I’ve never done before Friday night. Went to a jazz concert at the Creative Alliance, just east of Patterson Park on Eastern Avenue, to see jazz clarinetist Darryl Harper. What a talent he is….he had gathered some great local jazz guys in for a concert and the music was smooth, smokey…very blues. Darryl’s latest album is Stories in Real Time….you can hear  some selection by clicking here…and the Creative Alliance has many unique offerings… for music lovers, film lovers, classes for adults and children, including a 4 week Saturday session of running away to join the circus…”Admit it–your child is amazingly gifted and you’ve dreamt of creating a circus act together. Now’s your chance! Aerial superstar Lizzie Lyra introduces parents and kids to the circus arts: acrobatics, partner balancing, hooping, trapeze.” Come on people! You don’t see that everyday….

OK…saw Twilight…I’m in…all in.  And now I’m ready for New Moon….maybe over the holiday weekend. But I also want to see Precious….I’ve heard it is simply amazing….and Blind Side….also supposed to be just wonderful. It could be a good movie marathon weekend!  I love doing double features with a snack in between. Time to get my movie on. 

Oh, and I made some mean pork belly for dinner one night..(which is the new foie gras, or some people say). Not that I was  foie gras eater…I wasn’t, but I do love properly prepared pork belly. I used a variation of  Jamie Oliver recipe that I found on someone else’s blog….thank you very much….and it was luscious. Just absolutely fantastic. Still have some leftover in the frig. Wait for me…no matter where you are, I will find you!