I have a tendency to hoard food. There’s no basis for this habit. I’ve always been well fed (too well fed as my scale sometimes notes) and never gone without, but for some reason I have this anxiety that if I eat it all, I can’t get it again. Maybe it happened when I started taking this locavore thing so seriously. The realization that strawberries can’t grow year round in the northeast. I need to get my fill while they’re in season, preserve their flavors as best I can and hunker down for a round 9 months without seeing them again. By the time strawberry season finishes, I’ve stuff myself so full I can’t imagine having even the smallest of berries. That lasts for about a month or so, then the cravings return with a vengeance. Preserving helps, knowing that I have fresh strawberry jam to last the winter puts me slightly at ease. Until it doesn’t. I only have 6 jars to survive the winter (let’s forget about the other few dozen types of jam I also have stored up in my pantry). I panick. Will they really last? So I ration myself, allowing myself only a small spoonful of the sweet chunky jam every few weeks, determined to make my inventory last. Fast forward 9 months later, as strawberries start to surface at the greenmarkets and I find myself still left with 4 jars. I’ve rationed too well and find myself pushing jars of jam on everyone I know (thanks for holding the subway door for me; here, have some homemade jam) so I can start fresh in the new season.
Last Wednesday was the first day of Spring. Here in Brooklyn, unless you double checked the calendar, you’d never know. I swear in the past few days it’s actually gotten colder. During a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, I saw one farmer selling buckets of tulips and it gave me hope. At least Spring has arrived somewhere! That was until I actually read the sign: “Greenhouse grown”. Not that there’s anything wrong with greenhouses, but I was kind of looking forward to finding something that actually grew in the ground.
There are some recipes you come back to, month after month, year after year. You’ve perfected them, they are comforting and homey or sometimes just plain easy. But for whatever reason, they may somehow fall out of that regular recipe rotation. You might get sick of them. When I was a child, we had pancakes every Saturday morning. They were great–until they weren’t. When I went away to college, there was a good 5-6 years where I wanted nothing to do with pancakes, then gradually I welcomed them back into my life. Then there are recipes that slip through the cracks and you just forget about. Like Crockpot Chicken.
I know what you’re thinking. Your read the title and automatically interpret one word–FATTENING. Well you’re wrong. There isn’t an ounce of cream in the stuff. Cheese, yes, but not an overwhelming amount. Mostly healthy veggies, milk and a dash of Parmesan. I made this recipe as part of my “let’s make Brussels Sprouts a feature food” project. Over the last few years I’ve come to love the bright green crunchy morsels and am sick of them cast off as a side dish. Grilled hanger steak WITH Brussels sprouts. Striped bass GARNISHED with shaved Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are forever the sidekick. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. RoCCA was one of the first restaurants I saw that featured an appetizer that was purely Brussels sprouts. I was intrigued and inspired. If they can do it, why can’t I? I resolved myself to creating a dish that would finally put Brussels Sprouts in the spotlight.
By now you should be very familiar with Smitten Kitchen and her glorious Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. If not, you may be living under a rock or are not seeking enough creative ways to get your daily servings of booze. Both are unacceptable. I was first introduced to Smitten Kitchen and her boozy cupcakes at a friend’s St Patrick’s Day party. I’ve never done an Irish Car Bomb. After dropping in a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s, you need to quickly chug the beer before the Irish Cream curdles. Considering my idea of downing a beer still takes a good half hour, while others have already moved onto a second round, I don’t think the concept would work too well. Nevertheless, when my friend added cupcake to the end of the description, I was already in love.