Tag Archives: food

cherry picking > blueberry picking

2 Aug

It’s summertime, in case you haven’t noticed, and that means fruit is literally ripe for the picking. In the past month, Swede and I have twice thrown the baby in the Bjorn and set off for the fields, on the hunt first for blueberries, and then for tart cherries.

Our reasons for choosing these fruit are twofold: A) Blueberries are delicious, and 2) Tart cherries are the key ingredient in making cherry bounce.

Further-fold, we live not far from the states of Michigan and Indiana, where blueberries and cherries abound, which makes crossing the border all the more interesting, because doing so just for cheap cigarettes and gas gets old after awhile.

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You’d be surprised at how necessary this sign is. 

Right before the 4th of July we made our way to a blueberry patch (field? What’s the correct term here?). We spent two hours picking, and came away with approximately three pounds of blueberries. At the end of July we hit up a cherry orchard (orchard, right? I know nothing about horticulture) (are orchards and things even considered horticulture?) and spent another two hours picking, and came away with 43 pounds of tart cherries.

That is approximately 14 times more cherries than blueberries.

14!!

How, what, why is this possible, you ask? And why the hell are you even picking 43 pounds of cherries?
To answer your second question first, I refer you to the number 2 point in our fold.

To answer your first question, I shall tell you:

  1. We were to damn excited about the blueberries. The blueberry….pafield?…where we went had just started seeing blueberries on their bushes. Which is a nice way of saying we jumped the gun. Picking blueberries at the point we’d gone meant teeny-tiny clusters that had to be plucked delicately. Had we waited about a week or so, the bushes would have had blueberries all over the damn place. We could have swanned through the aisles of blueberry bushes and brushed 12 pounds into our buckets with the slightest sweep of our hands.
  2. It was hotter than balls out the day we went blueberry picking.
  3. Being hotter than balls, Baby McSwedolish was sweating through the Bjorn and becoming quite agitated about it, probably because he takes after his mother and detests being sweaty when it’s uncalled for.
  4. Being agitated for being in his Bjorn, I took one for the team and whisked Baby McSwedolish off to the shade where he could crawl around in the dirt and attempt to eat each blade of grass and/or twig every time I took my eyes off him long enough to blink.
  5. Alternatively, when we went to pick cherries, we somehow managed to nail the timing, and the cherry trees were positively dripping with fruit.
  6. It was not hot as balls.
  7. Seriously, I could have just shaken the branches a bit and a one million twelve pounds of cherries would come tumbling down into my bucket.
  8. Cherry trees are taller than blueberry bushes, and thus provide shade. Which means I didn’t get nearly as uncalled-for sweaty, and thus did not spend two hours cursing inanimate fruit, the state of Michigan, or anything else except bees. Because there did seem to be a lot of bees, and I really don’t like bees.

So remember, if ever you’re inclined to go out and pick some fruit, pick cherries, not blueberries. But also know this: But whether you’re picking cherries or blueberries, one thing is for certain—either is way the hell better and easier than picking strawberries.

 

checking in

12 Jul

It’s July, which by my math and calendar* means we are more than halfway through the year. Which means that seven months ago we all lolled about on our couches in a fog of cheese and leftover cookies and made a bunch of promises to ourselves, the universe, and our dog that we vaguely intended to keep, though in the far corner of our brains knew would be packed away like so many boughs of holly by February 5.

So! How are those New Year’s Goals** working out for you? Has anybody actually tackled any? Have any actually lasted beyond Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday?

Ahem.

waves raised hand wildly

Yes, actually, I have. And yes, actually, they have.

And yes, I’m totally tooting my own horn.

(toot! toot!)

How can I not? It’s not every year—or any year, for that matter—that I can actually say I have successfully completed or am successfully in the process of completing my New Year’s Goals. Or completing anything, really. (What? Mine is a world of inspired intentions.) So I’m going to celebrate the shit out of these.

Goal 1: Make one new ice cream flavor a month

What’s the point of having an ice cream maker if you don’t actually use it? Ever since I received this kitchen appliance two Christmases ago, I’ve had a steady stream of homemade ice cream go through my kitchen, much to Swede’s happiness. But this year I felt like I needed to expand my ice cream horizons, and put some of my Pinterest pins to the test.

And now this poor ice cream maker doesn’t know what’s hit it. Entirely possible I may blow out the motor by August.

I’ve made seven new flavors so far this year (I made two in March, because it was my birthday month and…well, it was my birthday month is the best reasoning I can come up with) (then again, do I really need a reason to make two new ice cream flavors in one month?). Some were better than others, but even the ones that were only meh were still good.

January: Red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl

February: Brown sugar bourbon ice cream

March: Creamsicle ice cream; lemon mascarpone ice cream

April: Baklava ice cream

May: Mint chocolate chip (such a classic flavor, yet one I’d never actually made)

June: White chocolate blackberry

Our favorite has been the brown sugar bourbon flavor, with the lemon mascarpone a very close second. Tell your friends.

 

Goal 2:

<crickets>

<twiddles thumbs>

Huh.

Totally thought I had accomplished one of the other goals on my list.

No?

Okay! Just the one goal then. But! That’s one more thing I’ve done/am doing. Let me just extend my Go Go Gadget arms and pat myself on the back again.

Well done, me.

 

So as to be completely transparent, you should know that for this one goal I can claim as successful (so far), there are at least 63 that have been failed somewhat and terribly.

Write how many words a month on the novel I’ve been thinking about for 10 years? Okay, I’ve written some. I’ll give myself partial credit.

Exercise how often? Huh. Not so much.

Make fresh pasta using the pasta maker we were given at our wedding shower two years ago? Actually, I attempted that one, only to have the motor on our KitchenAid mixer burn out. We have the parts to fix it, we just…have yet to fix it.

But that one! That one goal! I’m totally making it on my ice cream goal!

I encourage you all to look back at your own statements of intent, your New Year’s Goals, or whatever you want to call them. Did they fall by the wayside? Are they even valuable or interesting goals to you anymore? If they are, restart them. Give them a go. See how far you get. If they’re not, screw ‘em. Don’t waste your time busting your ass toward a goal you couldn’t give a hoot about. What’s the point in that? If there’s something more intriguing you want to work toward, why aren’t you doing it? Do it! Do it now! Because that’s the thing—no one says your yearly or monthly or daily goals have to start the first of the year. There are 365 days in a year, you guys,*** and any day, any day at all, is a good day to start.

*You may want to double-check me on that one. Math and calendars have never been my strong suit.

**I call them goals because resolutions are just asking to be broken.

***Seriously, check me on that one.

photo friday: i scream, you scream, we all scream because i forgot the food coloring!

20 Jan
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Don’t worry, you guys. Aunt DeeDee brought a red velvet bundt, so we did get our food coloring fix. Dog nose not included. 

One of my New Year’s Goals for this year—besides creating world peace, finding sustainable alternative fuel solutions, and saving the spotted horned-tooth owl—is to make one new ice cream flavor per month.* January’s flavor was red velvet with a cream cheese swirl, which I served up last week when Baby McSwedolish’s Aunts Mimi and DeeDee came over for dinner.

Dinner was a smashing success, of course (when is it not? Let’s just call a spade a spade), as was my contribution to dessert, le red velvet ice cream. (Aunt DeeDee rightly saw fit to inundate us with a half dozen mini bundt cakes, which were amazing, and which I may or may not have polished off for breakfast over the course of the following three mornings.) (No judging.) (I said stop judging! It’s really no different than eating a donut!)

Because I am amazing with ice cream time management, I made the base for the ice cream the night before, and as I was pulling together the ingredients came to the stunning realization that I didn’t actually have the red to make said velvet ice cream…red.

I could have batted my eyes and asked Swede to run to Mariano’s to pick up a bottle of red food coloring. I could have made blue or yellow or green velvet ice cream, because those were food colorings that I do have on hand. But blue velvet ice cream sounds like something I should make when there is some sort of Elvis-associated holiday looming, yellow velvet ice cream doesn’t sound appetizing at all, and green velvet, well, huh. That actually could be interesting. Will have to give it a go another time.

Anyway, my point is that red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl tastes just the same and just as good without the red food coloring. It tastes like lightly chocolate-d ice cream with a cream cheese swirl, which is exactly what it is. If ever you were wondering about where red velvet got it’s flavor, it’s not from the coloring. Why the coloring was ever added in, I don’t know, I’m not a food historian.

I’m just a food eat-orian.

*I welcome suggestions on what to make in the coming months.

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: june 2016

8 Jun

1. One of the Le Creuset dishes we have broke. It was a big, beautiful oval dish with a bubble-like lid that was ideal for making casseroles. And let me tell you something, I love a good casserole. Anyway, it broke, and Lo! How the McPolish was bummed. But these things happen, such is life, and now I have a bigger quandary on my hands: while the oval baker part is in many several pieces, the bubble-like lid is still completely in tact.

What does one do with a completely in tact lid? I feel bad throwing it out. Is there a website that will place orphan lids where I can list it? Do any of you need an oval lid for your Le Creuset oval baker? Comments and suggestions are welcomed. Free to a good home.

2. It’s June. And that means fresh fruit. Which means making ice cream with said fresh fruit. You’ve been warned. Who is you? I don’t really know, to tell you the truth. Let’s just say it’s a blanket statement for the Chicagoland area. Why am I warning you? Again, not really sure. It’s entirely possible I’m drunk on homemade ice cream and letting my mouth get ahead of my brain. I may also be making wild gesticulations, but it’s not like you can see me because this is the internet and I’m totally a figment of your imagination. Me and my homemade ice cream made with fresh fruit. Oooooo….sppoooooookkyyyyy….

3. Speaking of summer…kind of…well, it’s June, anyway, which means that I can finally stop wearing a coat on the regular and hey! That might as well be considered summer in these here parts. ANYWAY. It’s nice enough out that Swede and I and The Beasts Who Live In Our Home spend a lot of time hanging out on the balcony thinking and talking about very philosophical themes and ideas, like What Is That Strange Man on the Sidewalk Shouting About Now? Or, Should We Get More Plants? And, What’s For Dinner?

What’s perplexing to me, however, is how little time our neighbors spend on their own balconies, enjoying the warmer temps. Every unit in this building has a balcony (one unit even has two, the lucky ducks) (though not so lucky when they have to be fixed and repainted), and we’ve all just been though the same seemingly unending months of gray, blah weather, and yet…nothing. Sure, there’s the occasional neighbor who will grill on their balcony, but most are apparently not fans of al fresco dining. Or al fresco drinking. Or al fresco anything. Which is a shame, if you ask me, but no one, as of yet has asked me, but if they do, mark my words I’ve got a statement prepared.

4. Unlike last summer when I didn’t actually make it to a White Sox game until August, I’ve managed to get to two, count ‘em TWO, games so far this year. And while attending said games, I’ve spent much of my time eating my way through Comiskey.* And let me tell you something: Tater Totchos are not what I thought they would be. They’re delicious, don’t get me wrong, but basically all you’re getting is a Styrofoam bowl of tater tots that are then covered in nacho cheese.

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Playing the Cleveland Indians, inspiring a constant stream of quoting Major League. 

I say “all you’re getting” like that’s a bad thing. It’s not. I think I was just expecting a little more pizazz. And it’s really just as straightforward as the name implies—what are nachos? Corn chips with melted cheese. What are tater totchos? Tater tots with melted cheese. Duh—and my own brain created a more dramatic rendition of the dish.

But let me tell you something else: Helmet nachos? Now those are something else, a beautiful sight to behold, and much guacamole to eat.

*The Cell. Whatever.

 

 

photo friday: patience

12 Feb

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The only thing these two agree on is that Ham is Delicious and Yes, We Will Sit Nicely Until The Big Man Hands It Over.

from the file pit: beer bread

3 Feb

It’s February, which means, yup, still winter. Still going to be for awhile now. Which is awesome, because February is full of days that end in Y, and days that end in Y are perfect for eating bread.

Unless you’re gluten intolerant. And then every day that ends in Y is a horrible day for eating bread, but because I am a nice person I will eat your bread for you. You’re welcome.

I’ve long been interested in making bread, but on my few attempts it has turned out less-than-stellar. Usually super dense and not well-risen. Edible, yes, but not boulangerie-worthy.

Then again, sometimes life is not about perfection, but rather about getting shit done. And if that shit is getting bread into my mouth, then I have achieved success.

ANYWAY, I have some very exciting news for you: I have found a bread recipe that even I can’t screw up. It has three ingredients.*

 

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As per usual, my incredibly thorough directions, if they can even be determined through the chicken scratch. God only knows where I copied this recipe from. For all I know it’s off the side of a metro car. 

THREE.

3.

Trois.

That’s it.

Granted, one of the ingredients is quite specific,** but if you can manage that, you’ll find success. I promise you. Perhaps you’ve heard of Tastefully Simple, and their beer bread that I think you just mix together the dry mix and some beer? Sure, that’s only two ingredients, but this three-ingredient beer bread is just as easy. I like to call it Stupidly Simple.

I made two of these loaves in one day, in the span of about two hours, actually. THAT is how simple this recipe is to throw together. One for Swede and me, and one to give to his sister who had just had surgery. Because nothing says recovery like warm beer bread and narcotic-strength pain meds.

I should be a doctor.

This may be one of the greatest File Pit findings yet, you guys. Seriously. Easy peasy and delicious. Would I make this again? Do I even need to answer that? No. No I do not. Instead I will answer you by saying you should drop whatever you’re doing and go home and make this.

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More butter, please. 

(And if you also choose to pick up Kerrygold salted butter to slather on it fresh from the oven, no one will judge you. Nay, they will applaud you.)

*Four, if you count the egg for the egg wash. Five, really, if you count the melted butter you’re supposed to brush on top when it’s done. But now you’re just being nit-picky.

**Self-rising flour is the key here. I think you could pretty much use any light-colored or amber ale you so choose, but I can’t guarantee success if you try and use a different kind of flour. I could go into the science behind the self-rising flour in this recipe, but I won’t. Because I don’t really know it. I just know it’s different and clutch in this bread.

photo friday: things i love, maybe i’ll share. or not.

15 Jan

Part of holiday fun is getting unexpected gift from friends, like this one I received from my friend Jen. (She also sent wine, proving that A) she knows me well, and 2) I may have given myself a reputation  when it comes to wine, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but for now we’re just going to go with good. Because I said so.)

ANYWAY, this box of treats has become one of my favorite things to play with in the kitchen, and I highly recommend you getting yourself one. Or get yourself a Jen and have her send you one. (With or without the wine, up to you.) I will forewarn you about the Chip & Dip seasoning though, that you should probably get yourself more than one bag of chips or pretzels or whatever it is you want to dip. And you probably won’t want to share. And that, my friends, is just fine. We are grown-ass people and if we want to huddle in our bedrooms with one arm stretched protectively around a bowl of dip and the other deep in the recesses of a bag of ruffled potato chips while our beloved is completely unawares in the living room, well, we’ve earned that right, my friends. We’ve earned it.

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Nosy Parker, this dog.