Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bacon JAM!

I need to talk to you. It's important. See that little jar of brown stuff up there? It is a revelation.

Bacon Jam. 
I know, when I saw it on a menu recently, I too thought, "What the hell???".
And so I ordered the bruschetta as well as the slider that it accompanied just to get to the bottom of this "bacon jam" mystery. 

And I think I figured it out. 

It's diabolically simple. 
A perfect blend of caramelized onion and bacon. 

Forget my last post about eating healthy. That carrot cake could have benefitted from a little 
bacon jam, I'm sure. 
But a better plan is to toast up some baguette, slather some of this on and maybe top with some chopped tomato. 
Or better yet, make yourself a mini slider and you will realize that bacon jam is much friendlier than having to wrestle with those two slices of bacon that normally sit upon your burger. There will be no trying to ration a little bit of bacon for each bite of burger because, I tell you, bacon jam is a revelation.  

It's as easy as this:

Onions. Maui Sweet onions if you're lucky, as I was to have my Chef friend gift me with two bags of. Slice them, chop some bacon, toss 'em together with some salt & pepper and let them do their thing slowly and relaxedly until they are brown and lovely. And make a lot. Like the whole pack of bacon and a ton of onions, because it's that good. Then right at the end, perhaps you should throw in a dash of brown sugar just for fun. 

Let them cool a bit and then chop them up all together. It almost becomes tapenade-ish.

And then you really should build yourself (as my chef friend says with his Moroccan accent): 
Tiny AM-bergers. 

Oh. Yeah. Baby.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bribery Carrot Cake

I know I just posted that I am trying to be healthy and all, but really, I made this for my landlord!
I called it Bribery Carrot Cake because I'm trying to remind him how much he loves me living next door to him, don't sell the house, lower my rent, etc... Also it was his birthday and he's trying to be healthier too.

The recipe came from I used olive oil instead of whatever the  recipe called for just to make it a bit healthier too (and that's all I had).

How bad can a cake be that comes from carrots be anyway?!

Also, I baked it in a ginormous tin can because I liked the shape it would make. It came out cool, but took about ten years to bake. 

So, although I didn't even eat the finished product, I thought I'd share it with you anyway. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Homemade Granola

Strange things have been happening with me. 
The strangest perhaps is called "aging."
I used to be one of those people that others described with disdain like this, "You can eat whatever you want and not gain weight"!
Which, of course was not true. However, I could eat whatever I wanted without major consequences.
But I just had my 39th birthday and with it came the sad realization that my days of butter and cream and never exercising really have to end. 

That's when the next strange thing happened. 
I have started to eat healthier, drink water and even..... exercise. 

Truth be told, I've always cooked somewhat healthily, but that nub of butter, handful of chips, drizzle of bacon fat has all started to make itself visible.

So in the spirit of true stereotypical healthy stigma, I'm posting about homemade granola. 

Granola used to be associated with being a hippy thing. In fact it was an actual adjective when I was a kid to describe someone with hippy-like tendencies.
As in, "oh my god, your Birkenstocks are so granola!" 

Eventually the truth was revealed that granola could actually be not so good for you because of the oils and fat hidden inside. BUT, when I was recently doing some research on healthy foods, it was confirmed that whole grains, fruit, nuts and even olive oil are what we're supposed to be eating. 
The beautiful thing is that when you make your own food, you can control exactly what's in it. 

Alas, homemade granola.

I used this recipe from Ina Garten. But in true Swigs and Grinds form, I used what I had and changed it up a bit. Mine consisted of oats, coconut, sliced almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries. I also substituted olive oil and used a bit of honey to sweeten it. It has been my morning go-to now for a couple of weeks and it really rocks. 

  My favorite is with Greek yogurt, flax seed, some other mystery seed my sister gave me, sliced strawberries and a drizzle of honey. 
Healthy CAN be decadent!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Picky Lunch

I've talked about my love of "picky dinners" right? Not to be confused with a dinner for picky people, no a picky dinner in my house is one that you casually pick at. There are no silverware involved. Everyone shares from the same platter of little piles of food. 

I suppose if I were in Spain this would be close to tapas. But, alas, I am at the Country House and so it is  called a picky dinner. Or in today's case "picky lunch".

The thing I have noticed about my picky lunches is that they are usually when I am by myself. I have gotten slightly better at cooking a meal for one, but the problem is, when I am working at home I usually get so wrapped up in whatever creative project that is at hand and the limited time that I have to work on it, that lunch usually happens as an after-thought and I'm so hungry by the time I actually get around to it that I really don't want to wait for something to actually be cooked. 

And therein lies the beauty of a picky lunch. In the time it takes to cut a few pieces of cheese, grab a handful of crackers, toss some tomatoes in olive oil & balsamic, and throw on a few chunks of last night's bbq chicken, lunch is served. 

As I make my way back down to my studio, and resume my spot at the computer, I can simply PICK. A tomato here, a cracker there. 

Ahhh... delighting in simple things. It's one of my favorite things....

What are your favorite items for picky food? Do tell..... 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lucky Peach

Two Christmases ago a very thoughtful boy gave me a Kitchen-aid mixer. How could he possibly top that this past Christmas, outside of a trip to Italy, of course? Well, he came pretty darn close with a subscription to Lucky Peach. A very cool food magazine that I knew nothing about. 

This is not your mother's (no offense mother) food magazine. 
This magazine is brand new, as in just birthed. In fact the first issue that I received was only the second one published. I must say I feel like I am in on something very cool and sort of underground. Rebellious almost.

Lucky Peach is "a quarterly journal of food and writing". It is published in June, September, December and March. When I opened the cover of my first issue I read this from Editor in Chief, Peter Meehan: "After we wrapped up the first issue and I had a minute to stand back and look at the thing, I felt like it was the magazine equivalent of throwing an M-80 into a bowl of ramen and taking a crime-scene photo of the results. That was a good thing, at least for me".

Well, Mr. Meehan, it was a very good thing for me too. With such articles titled: "More Things Were Eaten", "Miso Horny", "Eat, Drink, F*@k, Die", and "Nobody doesn't Love A Cake With A Runny Center", what, I say WHAT is not to love. 

Yeah, I said it. I am head over heels in love with the brash, raw writings about things beyond appetizers and cocktails, not that I don't love a cocktail and an appetizer. I mean all you have to do is behold the covers of this magazine to know that you will be in for a ride. Who thinks of tattooing a pigs hind quarter with the body map of a human, for god's sake?! I love it. 

And a small disclaimer, if you are easily offended by the F-word, it's written about seven times in the first seven pages, but that too, I must confess - I love. I mean we're talking about FOOD. But not just the romantic, touchey-feeley aspect of food, but the boiling hot kitchens, the long hours, the hard work. And it's not just some foodie blogger such as myself ranting about such things (although, in my defense I did grow up in my parents restaurant and am currently dabbling in my friend's cafe, I do however know my place on the food chain) the writings in Lucky Peach are coming from the big dogs of our food culture. The likes of David Chang of Momofuku, Daniel Patterson of Coi Restaurant, Mario Batali, etc. etc... In fact, in both issues so far, my (*)boyfriend Anthony Bourdain has written a story woven around a random movie of all things.   

SO, with all of that said, I urge you to get your subscription to Lucky Peach. Heck, now that I think about it, it may even have been the catalyst for my recent return to Swigs and Grinds. For that I thank you Lucky Peach folks, because I have missed my little spot here in the blogoshpere. Till next time.....

(*) Ok, maybe I don't want him to be my boyfriend as much as I actually want to BE him. But that's another story....  

Quote of the Day :
 "A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into".
~George Orwell
(as quoted in issue 3 of Lucky Peach)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Imperial Stout, a new love

Alright, alright...  I've been missing in action. Again. I HAVE been busy with the art of survival, not to mention the art of photography, painting, raising children, making food, eating, drinking, being merry etc, etc... My 11 year old daughter has been disturbed by my absence here and has several times told me that some concoction that I've whipped up needs to be photographed & shared, stating, "Mom, you have followers that are waiting for you!"

I'm not so sure if the breath of my followers is bated or not, but here I am none the less...

There have been some things recently that have been inspiring me in the Swigs & Grinds department and so, at long last, I have finally decided that today is the day when I shall share them.

The first is a new swig in the form of beer that I have discovered.

I am learning that my taste in food AND beverage is similar: big, bold and brazen. Sheesh, sounds like much of my life - but that's another story. This beer is Sam Adams Imperial Stout. If you like dark beer this is a serious treat. It's almost not just beer. It's like a hybrid of coffee, chocolate and malty booze. It's thick and creamy and you only need one because it's over 9% alcohol.

Look for it at specialty stores and do pick some up!