Eating fresh fruit when it’s in season

8 09 2013

Ahhh, cortland apples are now popping up at the Greenmarkets.

My most favoritest fruit.

Last year it seemed as if it wasn’t available until late September, and then the apples were small and given to softness. They were still around in the markets into November, I think, but by late season they were all soft.

Which is too bad, because while the taste is pleasing, it is the sweet-tart in combination with the dense crispness that makes the cortland so delicious. That first bite explodes the apple, as if its juice were under pressure beneath the taut skin, snapping you to the fact that this is not a meal to be eaten mindlessly: attention must be paid.

I expect to pay attention daily for the next six weeks or so.

~~~

“Brand loyalty is for suckers”—that’s my thing.

However. I should also point out when something is well done, well, that matters.

Years ago, when I had more than two dimes to rub together, I bought some really nice pots, pans, and knives through various open source sales at Dayton’s. I was in the midst of trying to convince myself that I would enjoy cooking and thought that good stuff would aid in that endeavor.

It didn’t: I don’t really like cooking. Still, the good stuff is good, and to the extent that I do cook, it helps.

Anyway, one of the pots I bought was a Calphalon, and it was that lid which shattered a few weeks ago. Given that Calphalon is a fairly high-end product, I thought I’d check if the lid were covered by warranty. It was an old lid—over ten years old—and there was something on the site that mentioned certain old pots & pans weren’t covered.

But nothin’ about lids, so I thought I’d send an e-mail, inquiring. And I heard back, and after a few back-and-forths (requests for further information, a jpeg of the lid in question), the very nice customer service rep, Tony, said he’d said me a new lid.

Which completely surprised me: I really thought he’d send an apologetic “it’s too old. . .” email and include a link for where to purchase a new lid.

So I got it, and while it’s not as good as the old lid—the brim is wider (I think because it’s meant to fit on multiple pots/pans) and the glass isn’t as rounded—it’s still a mighty fine lid, and I am very glad to have it.

For free.

I stand by Brand loyalty is for suckers, but just because I think it’s silly to decide a purchase solely on brand, it’s also silly to ignore the good experience one has had with a product. It’s not that from here on out, I’ll only buy Calphalon (assuming need and finances, of course), but they’ll at least get first look.

~~~

Oh, and that whole don’t-like-cooking thing? This pretty much extends to everything food-preparation.

I mean, I kinda—kinda—like baking, and I’ll happily help someone else in the kitchen, but if you were to ask me, Absurdbeats, how do you like to relax/entertain/enjoy yourself? cooking ain’t appearing anywhere in my response.

Actually, I find this whole DIY-trend to basic living mildly alarming. I have no desire to grow my own cotton, weave my own cloth, sew my own clothes, make my own pasta, or churn my own ice cream. Yes, I’ll occasionally whip up a batch of cookies, and I do make the best caramel corn in the world, but I do these things because I like to eat them, not because I like to make them.

Okay, yes, I wouldn’t mind a garage in which I could put some basic woodworking tools—table, miter, and band saws, drill press, sander (and I’d take a class on how truly to work this stuff, rather than half-assing it as I currently do)—and I did kind of dig throwing pottery. And yes, if I had a yard, I’d probably give a garden a go—tho’ if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d plow that sucker under and put in some berry bushes.

But on the food-and-clothing front, I am more than happy to have someone else do the work. I do some sewing repairs because I’m a cheap bastard who hates waste, and I cook some stuff because I’m a cheap bastard who finds it easier to make the basic shit myself rather than overpay for it.

It’s just not that hard to make a plate of pasta.

Anyway, on the not-overpaying front, I did make 3-ish batches of pesto today. My basil was still growing, but the plants were getting so little light that it was past time to pull ’em up. I’d have had more basil had I not clipped a bunch recently, but I think I got enough to get me into next summer.

I could have supplemented with some Greenmarket basil, but I thought I’d see how far my own stuff would take me. If it’s not enough, I’ll adjust next year.

One point in my favor this year: I figured out ahead of time how to assemble the mixer such that I don’t spill the contents when I remove the container from the motor. It’s really not that complicated, I know, but last year I put some part outside of the jar  that should have gone inside of it, and when I lifted that sucker up. . . pesto everywhere.

And you wonder why I don’t enjoy kitchen life.





Feeeeeed me!

23 06 2009

Comin’ home on the train tonight, I had a coupla’ ideas for a blog post.

Got home, pooft, gone.

Still, here’s something I can contribute: Lunch!

I don’t really enjoy cooking, but as a cheap bastid, I prefer to bring my lunch to work rather than eat out. Thus, the cheese-and-mushroom wrap, easy to make a bunch ahead of time, handles freezing-and-thawing well, and, post-thaw, ready in 2 1/2-to-4 quick nuker* minutes!

  • 2 packages mushrooms (I buy pre-cut, since I’m too lazy to chop ’em up, but if you like slicing fungi, go for the whole ones; alternatively, you could use an egg slicer.)
  • Approx half a package of firm tofu, sliced into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 large fresh hot pepper, or generous tsp of hot pepper flakes
  • Approx 2 cups cheese, coarsely grated
  • tortillas
  • spicy brown mustard
  • salt
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

Heat oil in large skillet, along with pepper flakes. (If using fresh chilis, wait until oil is hot to add).

When oil is hot, add chilis, mushrooms, and tofu. Season liberally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally.

While mushrooms and tofu are cooking, grate cheese.

Prepare tortillas: spread mustard liberally around tortilla, then add the desired amount of cheese in middle of tortilla.

When the liquid has evaporated or nearly evaporated from the skillet, the mushrooms & tofu are done. Remove from heat.

Ladle mushroom/tofu mix over cheese in center of tortilla. Add more cheese to top, then fold and roll tortilla.** Repeat until shroom/tofu mix gone. (If using a medium sized tortilla, this should yield about 9 wraps. Burritos. Whatever.)

Wrap each rolled tortilla in plastic (works better than waxed paper to keep stuffed tortillas together). Double bag and toss in freezer.

If having for lunch, remove 1 or 2 from freezer the night before to thaw in fridge. Remove plastic, set on decent microwave-proof plate (i.e., not styrofoam or any sort of material which will melt upon contact with hot cheese), cover with waxed paper or paper towel (to keep tortilla from drying out) and nuke* on high 2 1/2 to 4 minutes (depending upon strength of microwave). Do note that it is highly likely the mushroom roll will at least partly come apart, so make sure you have a big enough plate.

Oh, and you’ll need a fork for this baby.

*If you don’t have a microwave, reheat on stovetop, in a small covered saucepan, on low-to-med-low heat. The point is to give the innards a chance to heat through before you burn the tortilla.

**Handy roll technique: fold tortilla in half over shroom/tofu/cheese mix, then pull top half toward you with fingers. Roll, either folding in sides as you roll or, if you have space for another roll, after the first one. Set aside, fold down. Or just go to Chipotle and watch how they roll their humungous burritos—same idea.

A few additional points:

  • I buy the cheap button shrooms because they’re, well, cheap. And in this dish, I prefer them to the so-called ‘baby bella’ shrooms.
  • Similarly, I forgo the more expensive hand-rolled tortillas in favor of regular ones—since they’ll be frozen, you won’t really notice the difference, anyway.
  • That said, you will know the difference if you use fresh tortillas over those that have been sitting around in your fridge for a coupla’ weeks: fresh tortillas roll soooo much easier.
  • And, continuing the cheap/frozen theme, no need to use expensive cheese. I like a sharp or extra sharp cheddar, but monterey jack, brick, colby, or any other good melty cheese will work. (I’m not a fan of American cheese product, but hey, if that’s your thing. . . .)
  • Ditto with the mustard: save the grey poupon for your fresh sandwiches.
  • Since I commute near a Trader Joe’s, I use their sliced button mushrooms, firm tofu, and regular tortillas. (I also buy my cheese there.) Why? Cheap. If I could find something cheap and more local, that’s what I’d go with, but in the meantime, this works.
  • Finally, it’s painfully obvious that you can swap ingredients in or out as you see fit. I like spicy mustard and the kick from the peppers; if you don’t, then leave them out.

As I mentioned, I’m not really a big cook, so I like that in about an hour I can prepare a bunch of meals, to be eaten over the course of a week or a month. And, as a bonus, these wraps/burritos/rolls actually taste better eaten the next day or after having been frozen & thawed than if eaten that day. I don’t know if the flavors get a chance to meld or something funky happens in the cold dark, but there it is.

And there it is. Relatively fast, relatively cheap, relatively hard to mess up, and pretty darned tasty.

Good eatin’!