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I always think that the change from July to August is the turning point of summer. It’s the signal for last hurrahs and doing things while you still can.

It’s also the time of year when I make blueberry jam.

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I use the blueberry jam recipe from foodinjars, but I replace lemon juice with balsamic vinegar.  For better or for worse, it’s my favorite jam ever.  And I say “for worse” because when I run out, I’m out until next year.  And because I have to make it, it means that sometimes things don’t go right.  This year, I had a little too much pectin, so it’s a bit too firm.  lol!

Oh well.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I still can’t get enough of it.

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Reference link:

http://foodinjars.com/2009/08/blueberry-jam/

My brother-in-law and I grill together a few times a summer. We’re a bit too lazy to do it more often than that. Or maybe we’re just influenced by family members. My niece doesn’t like grilled food (she’s 10) so I guess there’s less incentive.

But July 4th weekend is usually when we break out the grill. I’m more experimental than the rest of my family, so I brought over my own meat to grill. BIL did some BBQ-sauced chicken and some teriyaki chicken. Meanwhile, I took some inspiration from “The Big-Flavor Grill” by Chris Schelsinger and John Willoughby. The whole book runs on the idea of “grill it, and flavor it afterward.”

I made pork tenderloin skewers, and then tossed them with the fresh herbs, garlic and lemon sauce recipe (the original published recipe paired the sauce with grilled chicken). My fresh herbs were oregano and tarragon from my garden. The original instructions has you keep the ingredients separate until you’re ready to toss but I don’t know why. I preferred dumping everything in a large mixing bowl so that I had an easier time bringing it outside.

Overall, we really liked it. I think my mom was the only person unimpressed but that’s only because she found the lemon juice to be too sour. I could barely taste it. I plated my pork with some stir-fried watercress (made by my mom) and some white rice. It was delicious.

I think I need a copy of the book for myself (I know… I have too many cookbooks) since the copy I was working from came from the library. There are lots of other recipes in the book that I would like to try before summer ends.

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I don’t think I’ve talked about this restaurant before, although I’m sure I meant to.

Last weekend, I was visiting a friend in the Dutchess County/Columbia County part of New York.  One of our favorite places to eat  out there is an unassuming restaurant called “Another Fork in the Road”, in the town of Milan (pronounced as MY-LAN, and not like the Italian city because New York is odd like that).   Although it’s nothing special in decor, the food is anything but.

We went on a Sunday night, which meant that it wasn’t packed with people but it also meant that a lot of things had run out on the menu.  Oh well.

We were still well fed.

Here was our menu:

menu1

 

menu2

My friends and I shared three appetizers.  We had the grilled asparagus with smoked ricotta and soft boiled egg, the tandoori calamari, and the crispy pork belly with sweet potato and kale.

The smoked ricotta was amazing (as in, I still want some more right now).  The flavor of it with the grilled asparagus and egg was just perfect.  I loved the pork belly dish just as much.  The pork belly was sweet from the root beer but it didn’t taste like root beer at all.  It just tasted delicious.  It was wonderfully crispy and the mash was really good too (and, to me anyway, not heavy on the sweet potato flavor somehow… I wonder if it also had some root beer in it).   For my dinner companions, the pork belly dish was the best of the three.

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Our least favorite was the tandoori calamari.  It was fine, but it wasn’t anything special.  One person at the table is an Indian food “expert” and she said that the combination of spices was too bitter.  Personally, I just thought that it wasn’t as well thought out as the other dishes so it paled in comparison.  Also, the carrots should have been a little softer.

As for our entrees, there was duck with beans and fiddleheads, chestnut gnocchi with porcini, and 5-spice marinated flank steak with chard/ramp “kimchi”.

duck

 

gnocchi

I had a bite of the duck and the gnocchi.  Both were very good.  I almost ordered them  but my friends and I have a pact to not order the same dish if we’re dining at Another Fork.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I grew up on Chinese style roast duck, so I find most other duck dishes to be a little boring.  (Even if I am dining at a fine restaurant in Paris.  True story.)

The gnocchi were good but the chestnut flavor was undetectable under the sauce.  The sauce was amazing, but it’s really more of a fall/winter dish than a spring dish.

steak

The steak dish was my entree.  Downsides?  I couldn’t taste any 5-spice flavoring.  I could only taste the wine in the marinade.  As for the kimchi, it wasn’t kimchi at all.  I’m not sure it had even been fermented or pickled, to be honest.  I think it might have been sauteed.  So, I’m not sure why the restaurant chose to describe it as kimchi.  (I’ve had pickled items at the restaurant before.  It was delicious, so I know they know how to.)

The upside?  Boy, it was a tasty dish!  Definitely my favorite of the three and I’m glad it was all mine.  (^_^)

I can’t wait to visit the restaurant again the next time I’m in the area.  You should go too, if the opportunity is ever there.

Reference Link:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Another-Fork-in-the-Road/163533972662

Whoo-hoo!  My semester at the extension school is over.  I’m free to do other things until September rolls around.

So, how do I celebrate?  By getting an Ikea Gnistra knife sharpener.  It’s a manual sharpener with three different grits of stones that you run your knife through.  You pop the knife guide open, fill it with some water, pop the guide back down, and get to work.  It might be my new favorite kitchen gadget.  It certainly seems less barbaric than sharpening my knife on the underside of a ceramic mug… which I might have done many times in the past.  (Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, plus it actually works in a pinch.)

gnistra

(Sorry the photo is a little blurry.  I was using my phone and didn’t notice that the camera had focused on my fridge in the background, instead of focusing on the sharpener.)

My chef’s knife has seen some a little wear and tear lately, so here’s hoping that it gets some regular TLC going forward.

I do have an electric sharpener, a hand-me-down from a cousin who moved out of the country, but I have no place to put it.  And it needs to be plugged in.  I’m too lazy for that.  Maybe I can hand it down to one of my siblings?

Anyway, I plan to post regularly over the summer.  Wish me luck!

I’ve had the awesome opportunity to cook with organic, grassfed ghee from Pure Indian Foods as well as their cultured organic, grassfed ghee.  (Yes, this is yet-another blog post that is sitting on my to-do-list.)

I love it.  It’s not cheap, but they last a long time.  I’ve had oil go rancid on me and it’s a very cruddy moment when you have to chuck it in the trash.

My mom recently cooked with some of my ghee, and then asked for a jar for herself.  I picked up Swad ghee based on the recommendation of the BFF (who is Indian and therefore I value her opinion on the subject).  I’m curious how it will taste.  Pure Indian Foods is twice as expensive, but it’s really lovely stuff.  

Yes, I could make my own ghee, but I’m lazy to be honest.  Maybe if I come across a sale on grassfed butter then I’ll do it.

At least I have plenty of time to think about it.  I only just opened my jar of the cultured ghee.

Any readers have thoughts on this?

Between school and the craziness that my day job has become, I’ve been neglecting my blog.  I have a backlog of pictures and things I want to write, and, if I’m lucky, something will go up this weekend.

One of the things that I wanted to write about was my brand-new-to-me high speed blender.  One of the things that I plan to do with said blender is experiment with the recipes from BLEND.  What is BLEND?  It’s a series of e-books for smoothies by Simply Artisanal that I think sounds really promising.  I’ve purchased, from my own pocket, the Basics e-book and Summer, Volume 1.  They’ve started an affiliate program, and I thought that it couldn’t hurt to join.  Here’s my affiliate link:

Click here to visit Simply Artisanal.

What else?  Oh!  Graze box invite codes.  I don’t think there’s a limit anymore?  Anyway, if you would like an invite code, please comment with your email address.

I think that’s it for now.  I just wanted to let you know that I’m still around!  (^_^)

For people unfamiliar with me, I like and use Blue Apron.  It’s a grocery/recipe/meal delivery service that I pay for when I’m feeling self-indulgent (which is not too often, to be honest).  Once you’ve been a Blue Apron account holder long enough, you get the chance to send a free box to a friend.  Of course, the person you’re sending the box to must be new to Blue Apron.  I won’t lie, it’s a way to rope in new customers.  That’s the crappy part but don’t forget… I actually like the service so that must say something good about it.

Here’s the first time I wrote about Blue Apron:

http://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/blue-apron-part-1-of-3/

Anyway, I have three invites with a free box of food sitting on my account.  Rather than just letting them sit there, I thought I’d offer the trial membership to a reader who wants it.  I’m not getting reimbursed in anyway from the company.  This is a service they give to all of their long standing customers. I want to be upfront about that.  I will also warn you that you will need to open an account with a credit card in order to receive the free box of food.  This isn’t a giveaway so much as it is an invite, but I’m using a rafflecopter giveaway widget to make it easier for me to administer this.  Once you have your free box of food, I recommend that you log into your Blue Apron account and check for future deliveries.  Blue Apron will assume you want a delivery unless you shut it off.

Does this sound a lot of work?  Maybe?  I thought it was inconvenient when I first signed up, but now I’m pretty accustomed to it.

The quality of the food is great, and I’ve had good results overall from the recipes.

Three random entries will win the invite.  Please make sure the Blue Apron delivers to your location before you enter.

http://www.blueapron.com/pages/frequently-asked-questions

http://www.blueapron.com/assets/learn-more/blue-apron-ship-zones.jpg

Here’s the link to the rafflecopter widget… because I’m too brain-dead from homework to figure out why it won’t embed correctly.  This will end on December 20, 2013.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2144a50/

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