A New Place to Taste
I guess this place opened about 3 months ago. Located in east Saint Paul, ‘Cook’ looks to be a place that I shall be going to again soon. I opted to get a Monte Cristo sandwich, which was very yummy. Next time I shall get the Short Ribs Eggs Benedict, which one of My friends ordered. The bite of it that I got was quite delicious. Also pictured is their Brunch Burger and homemade Apple Pie.
Ramen, Lovely Ramen
United Noodles is a bit of a back alley grocery store. Specializing in foods from nearly all corners of asia, they are one of the oldest asian grocers in the Twin Cities. Within this store is another store, a small deli. Called Uni Deli, this place has an extremely short menu, but that is okay, because one of the eight things listed for You to have served hot and delicious is Tonkatsu Ramen. Oh My, I had not been there in about a year and My taste buds have been blown away again. How do I forget to keep going back for more? If You go there and do not order tonkatsu, You are missing out. Order it spicy, simply the best.
A Treasured Heirloom
Last year, I tried growing a variety of tomato called Cherokee Purple. Sadly, last year, spring was quite late and I had a pathetic harvest of one tomato, as noted in the post on this site called ‘Love at First Spite.’ This year I tried them again. Much like the previous year, spring was late, but I got them planted about 2 weeks earlier than before. Thankfully, I have a lot more to eat this time around. Varying in size from 3 to 6 and a half inches across, they have grown in such thick clusters that I’ve had to do a large amount of thinning to prevent rot, due to over crowding. The key to these tomatoes is the taste. They are simply better than most, if not all of the other varieties available. Even the under-ripe 6 inch 1.7 pounder pictured below is tastier than any other tomato I’ve ever grown, or gotten from a grocery store. I never thought I would actually like tomatoes, but I do now… Thank goodness some plants will still give us seeds that will grow into more food.
This Year was My second mandarin orange harvest. Eleven times more fruit than last year’s haul, which was one orange. The tree that gave Me that orange, gave three this year, in an escalating size range of two, to nearly four inches in diameter. They were VERY sweet and not particularly acidic. The largest one however was quite bland in flavor, I think I picked it too late? My other satsuma tree gave Me eight little oranges. I picked them in varying lengths of time after turning bright orange. Today, I picked the last five, about a month later than I think I should have. Quite a day, plucking fresh oranges from a tree when it is 7 degrees(F) outside..
The fruits from this tree were far more acidic and powerful in flavor, but not as sweet as the ones from it’s sister. They are the same age and from the same source, but I planted them in very different soil mixtures, to see what would work better. I can only assume that this, is what caused such dramatic variation in the experience delivered to My taste buds.
Having also plucked the last meyer lemon, there is just one fruit left growing in My tropical Minnesotan attic jungle. It is the first grapefruit from My nearly six year old ruby red tree.
There is nothing like freshly harvested food. It has been great to experience the cycle of these trees and of course, reap the rewards! I can’t wait to see what I get next year.
I Picked My First Lemon!
I know that having such fruit trees around is normal for many people, but this is Minnesota! One must grow citrus in pots and haul them indoors for the winter. Thus, I am that odd guy who has ‘the glow’ of an artificial sun beaming out of My attic windows for a large part of the year.
Three years in and I am still learning how to keep all these little trees happy, with mixed success. My ‘Improved Meyer Lemon’ tree is not looking the greatest, yet it has 5 little lemons that are ripening, in this, it’s first year of fruiting. Well, there are only 4 now…
Love at First Spite
This has not been a good year in the garden for Me.. Most of the food stuffs I planted, did not take very well. Unlike last year, we didn’t work any compost or peat moss into the raised beds. I think that, in combination with the nearly two month delay in the arrival of spring, immediately followed by several weeks of extreme heat, really set things back. The carrots and parsnips have been puny and pathetic. The peas and beans have grown in a rather lack-lustre manor and the peppers, bak choi, spinach and tomatoes have been a joke. Even My citrus trees suffered from the odd weather. I started putting them Outside once the temps at night seemed to stop going below 55 degrees. Only to have My older keifer lime and younger blood orange bitten by frost. Happily, both have bounced back very well. Unlike the apple tree, which openned most of it’s flowers in a beautiful display, on a day temps dippped into the 30s. Needless to say, at least 75% of the pottential bounty promptly died off. With such slim pickings, the squirrels, who usually get most the apples, have taken nearly all of them.
I planted two varities of tomatoes for 2012, a cherry type called Gardener’s Delight and Cherokee Purple, which is often compared to Brandywine, but with a more robust flavor. Both were started in planters, indoors, late in the winter as usual. Then, spring didn’t bother showing up and they started dying. So I planted another round and waited for the weather to start warming, but it didn’t. Seven weeks after the ‘normal’ planting time, and 5 weeks after starting the second round of tomatoes, I finally put some in the ground. I should have just sewn in seeds, but I planted the best looking of the seedlings I had growing, even though they were stunted from being in tiny starter planters for 5 weeks. After 2 weeks showing no signs of change, both varieties started growing! The first flowers did not appear until the end of June. Both plants grew to about 2 feet, kicked out about half a dozen flowers and are yeilding 3 to 6 tomatoes. They have stopped growing taller and aren’t really flowering. It’s sad… Last Year I grew a pair of Hybrid Zebra Cherry Tomatoes, which are a cross of green and red zebra stripe cherry tomatoes. They grew taller than Me, delivering 1200ish amazingly yummy little morsels. Needless to say, I am quite disappointed in this year’s crop. Then, the very day I was going to pick My three Cherokee Purples, some hateful little critter stole two of them! Leaving them, partially eaten, on the ground nearby. So My crop is a solitary, scarred tomato that grew to only half the size of a usual C. P.
And so, in the twilight hours of the last day in July, I partook in the suprizingly delicious little thing. I’m not really a tomato person.. I grow them, mostly, cause they are good for You. But this thing was really good! I however, did it no justice. With My stomach growling, I broke out some tortillas, cheese, spinach and some ‘pulled bbq chicken’ from a plastic tub. It was pretty good, for a 4am food excursion. While eating it, I just couldn’t help but feel like I should have made something, well, better.. I wasted the best tomato I’ve ever tasted, the single fruit of My months long labor, on a bit of pre-packaged, over sugar’ed, microwaved, remnants of meat. At least I ate some of the tomato and snapped a couple pictures before constructing dinner. If things go better next year and they give more bounty and viable seeds, I’ll grow these Cherokee Purple Tomatoes forever!
Bacon, Spinach and Shrimp
I’ve been told, several times, that this is the best thing I have ever cooked.. . A couple of weeks ago, I had some friends over for some bbq chicken and fried rice. One of which hit Me up the next day, thanking Me for serving some “yummy stuff,” which inspired Her to want to make “some bomb @$# food, like that bacon, shrimp, spinach thing You use to do.” So here We are, one of an endless stream of recipes that I had completely forgotten. Having made something like it twice in the time since this conversation, I find Myself wondering how such a recipe could have fallen out of the regular rotation. Why am I not eating this all the time!?
This is in fact, pretty much the same flavor arrangement as ‘Manated Pork with Peas,’ which can be found by scrolling down through this blog. Less the pork and onion, adding bacon, spinach and shrimp! I told You it’s versatile! Although, many ingredient changes, also require a change in cooking method.. I must also point out, that I never measure when seasoning things. To Me, cooking something slightly different, every time You cook it, is a huge part of the joy and fun in that which We call food. Thus, all quantities listed in My recipes are guesstimations, but should provide a solid starting point.. Please do leave some commentary should You give this one a try.
Supplies Needed: A wok or large fry pan, cutting board and knife/you can get by with just a mincer, also a small sauce pan, like You would boil a single pack of ramen in…
1 pound of shrimps, steamed or boiled lightly
one third of a pound of bacon, sliced or chopped however You like
a bag of spinach, at least enough to make salad for 4 people
Half a bag of frozen sugar snap peas, thawed
4 tbsp of fresh ginger root, minced
2 tbsp of garlic, minced
6 inches or so of fresh lemongrass, at least half an inch thick, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
1/4 cup of cooking sherry
1-2 tbsp of soy sauce
2-3 tbsp of ketcup(optional, but it adds a lot)
1 or so tbsp of sugar, just enough to take the edge off the sour/bitter ingrdients
1 tsp mild chili pepper powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Prep and Cooking:
Over low to medium heat, mix all but the peas, bacon, spinach and shrimp in the small sauce pot, stirring as often as possible, until it has thickened into a nice sauce. Remove from heat, toss the chunks of lemongrass and keep stirring until You are ready to add it to the rest of the ingredients. At the same time You begin cooking the sauce, fry the bacon on medium heat in a wok or sizable skillet, remove from the pan once cooked to Your liking. Then, toss the sugar snap peas and a fist-full of spinach into the bacon grease, stirring constantly, adding the spinach one fist-full at a time. Keep it up until You’ve used about three quarters of the spinach and remove from the pan. This should only take 30 seconds to a minute. Turn the burner to high heat and toss the shrimps into the remaining bacon grease, fry for 20 to 30 seconds, depending on size. Remove from the pan and turn off the burner, add the bacon and cooked veggies back into the pan, mixing vigorously. Now You can also add the sauce and remaining spinach, or plate the food and distribute them between each serving. Time to eat!
The key to this dish is to privide spinach, in three textures, fully cooked, partially cooked and raw. Hence the process of adding it a bit at a time. Hoisin sauce was not part of the origianl recipe, srirachi works quite well as a replacement. I almost always make this with a nice spicy kick!
You can also mince the lemongrass, but it MUST be broken down very finely. You can also buy lemongrass in frozen, pre-minced form as well as puree’d in a tube. I would use 2 or so tablespons of such options instead of a fresh stalk.
To cook this all in one pan, start by frying the bacon and shrimp, as described above. Remove them and start making the sauce. Once it’s almost thickened up, add the peas and commense the spinach application process. Mix everything back into the pan and You are done.. You’ll have to have thawed the peas for this method, or the sauce will be runny, which is fine by Me. This is the lazy method, the flavors become more of a blur, but it’s still damn good.
July 9, 2013 ***UPDATE ***
Last night I made a variation of this recipe with bak choi instead of peas and spinach. It was delicious. I made the sauce in one pan and stir fried everything else in another, while the sauce thickened. The bak choi stems were a really nice texture and the light flavor helped temper the powerful chunky sauce. I simply fried them in the bacon grease and added the green, leafy parts and some green onions once the stems were just starting to soften. A truely great dinner.