Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Glazed over

I recently discovered that the co-op downtown, Fiddleheads, carries a large amount of meat from my favorite local meat provider, Four Mile River Farm (even since being seated next to Nunzio and Irene Corsino at a River Tavern farm dinner, I have made a point to seek out their products). I had been ordering Four Mile River Farm products from CT Farm Fresh Express, but to find such a selection available a couple miles from my house (where I could look at it before I bought it and not pay an additional delivery charge) was a true find.

Four Mile River Farm specializes in beef and pork. Last week, we had meatloaf and hamburgers made from their amazing ground beef (it tastes different than supermarket beef - I swear, it does). We had a beef roast I did in the crockpot with veggies and red wine two weeks ago. However, on my last trip to Fiddleheads, I scored some pretty major pork chops - over an inch thick, bone-in, of the most beautiful shade of pink - and those pork chops became tonight's dinner. I looked at a couple recipes, took inventory of my ingredients on hand, and mashed together this spice-rubbed, honey glazed concoction.

First, I made a rub of ground cumin, Hungarian sweet paprika (thank you, Penzey's!), thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I threw these all in the mini-chopper and pulsed to combine.

I am pretty sure I picked up this mini-chopper 
in a Ladies weekend give-away

I rubbed the rub (duh) all over the chops.

I tried to resist the urge to totally overdo it with the rub

Following a cooking and glazing technique outlined in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I heated a pan over high heat and cooked the chops for about ten minutes, flipping every minute or two (these were very thick chops, so they took the whole ten minutes - use your discretion).

Yes, I need a bigger pan. I know this is too crowded.

After heating some honey in the microwave so that I could pour it easily, I slathered each chop with a healthy dose, turned them over, poured a tablespoon or so more honey on, and then flipped again to thoroughly coat. I continued to cook them, flipping frequently, until the honey thickened and the glaze was almost red in color.

The honey bubbled up quickly

These were delicious. It was a subtle enough treatment to not overpower the fresh, tasty pork, but still plenty flavorful. The spices in the rub balanced the sweetness of the honey. We ate this with corn muffins and green beans. Noe LOVED it.

(Slightly blurry) finished product

What's your favorite pork chop treatment?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Noe and I have a tradition of NOT going out on Valentine's Day. Neither of us are against the holiday, and we don't make a huge deal out of it or buy presents, but I like goofy cards and Noe likes candy, so it's really sort of a good fit for us. However, almost four years of working in "the most romantic restaurant in Ann Arbor" convinced me that Valentine's Day is one of the LEAST romantic days to go out, and certainly not a great time to try to really get a feel for a restaurant you haven't yet tried. So Noe and I try to collaborate on a really good dinner at home.

Sometimes we run into disagreements because I like to make "fancy" food (Noe considers any meat with a sauce to be "fancy") and things I haven't tried to make before, and Noe likes the tried and true. We also disagree on what constitutes a great dessert. This year, we decided to do things a little differently than usual - instead of Noe selecting the majority of the menu and me cooking it, I made the appetizer, one side dish, and dessert, and Noe made the main dish and one side.

(We did Valentine's Day dinner last night because we have the big New London Main Street bash tonight.)

For an appetizer, I chose seared scallops sauced with white wine, lemon juice, garlic, shallot, and parsley. I served these with a little split of Champagne.

Searing the scallops 

Scallop appetizer with Champagne...
and look at those awesome glasses...

Noe used our new grill pan to cook up some excellent rib eye steaks from Four Mile River Farm. For his side dish he (of course) chose rice. I went simple and steamed some asparagus.

Noe at work on his part of the meal

These steaks were huge

 I had to cut mine in half!

Dessert was difficult. I looked at a lot of different options. I finally decided to go decidedly un-fancy with red velvet cupcakes topped with a gigantic swirl of cream cheese frosting. This was my first time baking red velvet cake or cupcakes, and I think the results were spectacular.

Cooling and ready to be frosted

 Oh, yeah.

All in all, a great collaborative meal. Letting Noe take over the main course every once in awhile might not be a bad idea - and now that we have the grill pan, he can keep his skills sharp for summer.

What did you eat for Valentine's Day dinner?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gettin' Crafty

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, where they were giving away some extremely cool wine glasses from Whitewash Sundries.

Whitewash Sundries glasses 
(photo: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WhitewashSundries) 

Now, these glasses were engraved, not etched, but being cheap (and not really loving the style of glasses) I thought maybe I would get some glass etching cream and try a similar concept. So...one trip to A.C. Moore and a couple cheap wine glasses frome the Dollar Tree later, my practice round was complete.

While the etching supplies were easy enough to locate in the craft stores, I didn't like the stencils that were available. I thought the designs were cheesy (kind of '80s) and the letters were too small. I didn't see any numbers at all. Luckily, I saw a blank stencil mat, so I decided to get that, cut out some stencils, and practice on some cheap glassware.

I stuck some scrapbooking stickers on the mat and cut them out with an Exacto knife. I only had letters, so I picked a sans serif "W" for Wiseman (I'll just let it be known here that I love the "W" so much I am probably not going to be able to change my last name when Noe and I eventually get married - "W" is so much more dramatic than "E"). Here is what I came up with:

Cutting out the stencil and taping it to a practice glass

Covering the stencil with etching cream

 Rinsing after 5 minutes

Funky monogrammed wine glasses (with some pretty decent wine) - 
better glass projects to come

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Last Friday, my friend Tracy and I attended Re-Vamp: An Independent Runway Experience at the Crocker House, put on by Aticc Boutique and the Takeout Gallery here in New London.

Not only were the clothes fantastic (the ones I liked best reminded me of a combination of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters with some vintage-inspired accents), but the Crocker House itself looked amazing. I have seen this event space done up for several radically different events (Hygienic Halloween party, Rock Fix, Food Stroll, etc) but on Friday night, it looked how I imagine a high-fashion runway event would look. The energy in the room was something in and of itself - this crowd was into it. Add some drinks and some excellent music to the mix, and you had a real party.

I am hoping to get some better photos from a photographer acquaintance - until then, enjoy these few crappy photos I shot with my hopelessly out-of-date camera before the battery died.