wisconsin goodies

our friend leslie came to visit last weekend, and she brought us some delicious goodies from her home in viroqua, wisconsin: homemade ramp pesto and new glarus beer. since lately all i seem to be good for is taking pictures of food, it seemed appropriate to honor her gift with an homage to the culinary delicacies of wisconsin.

a few days ago i had made some ricotta cheese with another friend (blog post to come, don’t worry!) and added it to the pasta we made with leslie’s pesto. it. was. delicious.

and perhaps brian’s favorite part of the meal, leslie also gave us new glarus honey bock, which apparently you can’t buy in minnesota (and only buy in wisconsin?). delicacies indeed! thank you, leslie!!


mystery fish

It’s amazing how much more time i have now that i have accomplished watching the West Wing. I enjoyed the series, but I think I’m going to take some time off from TV, especially for the summer. Tonight, instead of gluing myself to the computer, I was able to accomplish a two-mile run, create a tasty experimental meal, read my book, take a bath, hang out with B, AND go to bed early. Maybe that sounds like a normal night to you. For me, this is a minor miracle.

So, I’ll share a little bit of my dinner with you tonight. We’ve had this mystery fish in the freezer for a very long time, which B’s parents got from a neighbor and gave to us. All I knew about is was that it was a white fish, and that all fish tastes good on the grill. (OBVIOUSLY.) So I soaked it in a lime-ginger marinade (with a little brown sugar and red pepper flakes thrown in for good measure), and fired up the coals.

while the fish cooked, i made a salad slightly tweaked from a david chang recipe, the main feature of which were apples smothered in a kimchi puree. delicious. tossed with some mixed greens and drizzled with a lime-yogurt-honey dressing, it was wonderful. i was pretty proud of myself, thinking the apple-kimchi mixture was very innovative, until B told me it’s typical for folks to toss some apples into their kimchi from time to time. oh well, it was new to me!

finally, as a relish for the fish i flash-pickled some cucumbers, another trick from david chang; you just slice them and cover the slices in a tablespoon each of sugar and kosher salt for 5-10 minutes.

clearly, for those of you who read my last post, i’m still suffering from some feelings of powerlessness and frustration (there are many things I can point to within local politlcs, but here’s one example). L pointed out in the comments that it’s comforting to her, too, to cook when she feels this way, and i found it helpful again today. So y’all can expect some more of this! Thanks for reading. :)

powerless muffins

as i write this post, i have some muffins in the oven: muffins i’m sure are going to turn out too hard, too dense, not sweet enough, not nutritious enough… i’m on a health kick lately, so they’re whole wheat-oat bran-blueberry-walnut-coconut muffins. there’s not actual sugar in them (except what you find in applesauce). there’s no butter or oil in them (except what you find in peanut butter).

you see, it seems that when i can’t solve the problems i face in my job — curing injustice, or righting inequity, or (duh) discovering the answer to world peace — i turn to cooking, to gardening, to things that make me happy in a very immediate sense. thus, my ridiculously healthy, hopefully delicious, but probably imperfect muffins.

the muffins are still in the oven, and i just checked on them, sticking a fork in the middle of one. they weren’t  fully baked, and some moist not-quite-cooked muffin came out on the fork… so i tasted it. BE WARNED: these are not muffins for those who like their muffins sweet. this are some hard-ass, super bran-y muffins.

i began by combining the dry ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat flour, half cup oats, half cut wheat bran, half cup coconut flakes, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp nutmeg (or cinnamon), 1/2 tsp salt.

then, i combined in a separate bowl the wet ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 and a half tbsp greek yogurt, 1 cup applesauce, half cup peanut butter. (by the way, by now i know i also know i should have added about another half cup of milk or so, probably some more sweetener, and about a tsp of baking soda).

adding a half cup each of (frozen) blueberries and walnuts, i mixed together the wet and dry ingredients.

i spooned the batter into twelve greased muffin tins (i used canola oil spray), and baked them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit.

actually, these didn’t turn out nearly as poorly as i thought. if you warm one up, and smother a little butter on it, you have a hearty meal for the morning, even if it’s not as sweet as i wish it were. (probably that’s for the best!)

i suppose that there’s something satisfying to creating for myself an (even imperfect) muffin, when i feel so powerless in the face of so many things i feel i can’t change. minnesota right now is going up against some pretty ugly legislation(s?), from eliminating general assistance for the poorest, disabled single adults in our state, to enshrining hateful, bigoted discrimination in our constitution (though what other kind of discrimination is there?). i know many of my friends and colleagues would encourage me to not lose heart… and i won’t… but.

but there are times that what i need is to resort to activities where the result is predictable, and even when i fail, i’m not letting down anyone else when i do so. i love to cook and to bake, because i get to be creative. but when my creativity sucks, at least the only person who suffers the consequences are myself (or perhaps B, and he doesn’t mind).

feel free to try your own version of these muffins. and if you get a better version, leave it in the comments below!

finally: DON’T FORGET to let your elected officials know how you feel, about the issues i mentioned above, and about anything else that’s important to you. for the sake of my sanity, please, use your intelligent and  thoughtful voices for good.