Life in Philly
It was a pretty good month overall, despite the hot weather. Tom finished up his last two weeks at his job and had two weeks off before starting the new job in September. During that time he was able to relax, see some movies, and do some cooking. We went to a few movies together: Do the Right Thing (BYO at the Roxy) and BlacKKKlansman, both of which were excellent. We got to go to a roof deck party when the weather was decent, which was nice. And, Tom bought us some new furniture, which makes a vast improvement in our living space. Thanks, Tom!
We’re enjoying one of the best times of year for the farmers’ markets. I’m trying to concentrate on preserving savory things, so I gave up on berries and plums (maybe next year), and have been concentrating on peaches, tomatoes, corn, and peppers. Early in August there were still some apricots, but those didn’t last long. We still have yet to see hot peppers or many tomatillos. We’ve also really been enjoying skate wing and swordfish from Shore Catch.
We got two orders from Plonk this month – one was their summer rosé six-pack, and the other was our usual white wine club order. In both cases, the shipping continues to be ridiculously slow (I didn’t get my wine club until the 20th of the month, though it’s supposed to ship in the first week). The rosés were all very nice, and the white wine club was an excellent selection as always. My favorite was a Croatian wine (Posip), but we didn’t care too much for the Hungarian wine (Zefir), which was a bit too perfumey. There was also a nice Moroccan wine and a white Bordeaux.
I got a Tasting Room club shipment of 6 bottles of white wine, after having taken a break for a month and reducing the quantity. I was overall disappointed; most of the wines we like are repeats at this point, and when we take a chance on something new, we end up not liking it. I’m going to skip September and try again in October. If this continues I’ll have to cancel, as I hate spending money on wine I don’t like.
I used my bean club discount to buy some more Rancho Gordo beans: Vacquero, Moro, Rio Zape, Midnight Black, and prepared hominy. Of the new beans, I love the Vacquero, which has a beautiful black-and-white cow pattern and cooks up very creamy, but am not as impressed with the Moro, which is supposed to be in between pinto and black, but I didn’t think its flavor was that interesting, and I had a hard time cooking it down. I am totally enamored with Rio Zape right now; I didn’t get it at first, but now it’s definitely occupying a pinto part of my heart. The hominy and black beans are just good staples to have around.
In other excitement, I ordered a box of Hatch green chiles (Big Jim variety) from New Mexico. I used some of it right away, froze some fresh, and froze some roasted. I love the medium heat on these. I definitely want to do this again next year, but the question would be, should I stick with Big Jim, or kick it up a notch to Sandia?
Other than that, here are some of the things we made this month:
- From New Vegetarian Cooking: Beans with Broccoli Rabe (using yellow eye beans), and Rio Zape beans with Cumin and Chile. I had made both of these recipes before, and they continue to be reliable.
- Chicken legs glazed with homemade preserves: once with blood orange marmalade, and several times with apricot BBQ sauce.
- Open-faced quesadillas, using Domingo Rojo beans.
- Steve’s nearly magic tomato sauce with Flageolet beans, eggs, tortillas.
- Swordfish cubes w/Greek salad – we’ve found we really enjoy cubing swordfish and then baking it, rather than attempting to pan fry or roast it whole.
- Shrimp with hot paprika, Azufrado beans, and chorizo – we finally got some hot paprika to have around (in addition to smoked and sweet) and are digging it.
- New Orleans red beans & rice with Domingo Rojo – also great as leftovers with eggs on top.
- Tom found the best clams & pasta recipe – we did this twice with clams and once with scallops.
- Our usual veggie chili, but this time with Rancho Gordo Midnight Black and Vaquero beans instead of canned. This version of the chili had a thicker broth than usual, so delicious.
- Posole with summer veggies – I used roasted peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans – then we repurposed this with eggs on top for brunch.
- Flageolet beans with slow-roasted tomatoes – I made this for lunch one day; these beans definitely go great with tomatoes.
- Peach pizza – this is the third year we’ve made this, and it continues to be delicious.
- Moroccan chicken with tomato saffron jam – recipe from a free ebook by Diana Henry.
- pressure cooker corn risotto – it was our first time making risotto in the pressure cooker, it’s pretty amazing how quickly it cooks, though the result is not nearly as starchy.
- Hatch green chile sauce – I brought this as a side dish for a party, then we used the rest for swordfish. I was very pleased with how this came out.
- corn pappardelle – one of our summer favorites.
- Spanish chicken with Bravas sauce – using Cassoulet beans. It was a reminder of how good these beans are.
- Salmon with charmoula
- Moroccan carrots from the Zahav cookbook, served with hummus & pine nuts.
The highlight of the month was a tomato-themed dinner at Bistrot La Minette. We also had excellent brunches at Noord and Royal Boucherie, and date nights at Le Virtù, Sawatdee, and SouthGate. One night we met Dennis and Emily for dinner and drinks at TALK, which was excellent. We also enjoyed Goldie falafel a few times for lunch.
It’s peak season, so I’ve been preserving a whole bunch of stuff:
- Stone fruit:
- apricot BBQ sauce w/gochujang from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars – this wasn’t really very BBQ-y at all, really just an apricot sauce. It’s good, but it needed more gochujang, and I wouldn’t call it BBQ without some tomato.
- more peach almond marsala conserve from Preserving Italy, since we liked it so much last year.
- pickled nectarine slices from Preserving by the Pint – the fruit was too ripe, so they didn’t stay as firm as the recipe calls for, but I love the pickled flavor.
- peach saffron jam (we had leftover peaches after our peach pizza, so I threw this together last minute) – the recipe uses a food mill, so the peaches didn’t need to be peeled – it seemed more like a butter, but we’ll see if it set more like a jam when it’s opened.
- more peach-tomato BBQ sauce from Saving the Season – this time I didn’t let it reduce as much and got three 1/2 pint jars out of it. I love this kitchen sink recipe.
- green tea chai spiced peaches – this had been on my recipe list for awhile – I really like the spices and am interested to see how it turns out. In the future, though, I need to remember that peaches are always better cold packed.
- heirloom tomato sauce from Saving the Season – going forward, I decided that the ROI on making tomato sauce using expensive farmers’ market tomatoes just isn’t worth it – it’s expensive AND time consuming, better to just buy tomato sauce. But this time I did manage to produce the right amount for a pint. I still want to preserve tomatoes, just in other recipes.
- yellow tomato & basil jam – this was interesting and pretty – I’m interested in trying it again with green zebra tomatoes.
- basic salsa from Food in Jars – this was pretty good, but not quite as good as the other chunky salsa recipe I’ve been using – it could be much hotter. It’s definitely a good “basic” recipe to use as a starting point, though, to be spiced up as desired. Red bell peppers give it a nice sweetness and contribute to the color. I would make it again and add more jalapeño.
- more chunky tomato salsa (w/Hatch green chiles!)
- more Brock tomato jam – I had initially thought about testing the pH to see if it could be canned, but decided not to bother since it has oil in it.
- new batch of fermented tomato salsa from Ferment Your Vegetables
- Sweet peppers
- marinated mixed peppers from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars (made two batches)
- roasted red pepper relish from Saving the Season – in the future, I think this should be my go-to pepper recipe, though it has competition from the NSFIJ honey recipe and Preserving Italy oil preserve. I like that it’s topped with olive oil, though that’s frowned upon in some canning circles; that actually makes this recipe best of both worlds.
- Tomatillos and green chiles
- tomatillo & roasted green chile sauce from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars – off the bat I thought it was too limey! I would leave off the lime zest next time. But the fact that I used fresh roasted chiles and didn’t bother to remove the seeds also made this nice & spicy.
- more salsa verde (w/fresh Hatch green chiles) from Saving the Season
- more fermented celery – I had to dig up the recipe though I swear I thought I wrote it down somewhere. For the record, it’s 2% brine, 3 garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves.
- more pesto abruzzese from Preserving Italy – this batch made too much for a pint, and was way more carrot-y than last time.
- pickled celery from Saving the Season – using some nice celery from Z Food Farm – this should be interesting.
- Other canning
- pickled green beans from Saving the Season – just garlic, dried pepper, black peppercorns (same seasonings as simple fermented version)
- sweet corn salsa from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars
- preserved fig quarters with whiskey from Preserving by the Pint
- Tropea onion jam from Preserving Italy – this recipe was on my “winter” list, but I saw actual Tropea onions at the farmers’ market (from Z Food Farm) and decided to make it now, rather than using plain red onions.
- Other non-canning
- lemon olive oil from Preserving Italy
- savory mint sauce from Preserving Italy (served with fish)
- fermented potatoes – I have never made a stinkier ferment. It was actually fine while it was fermenting, I loved the bubbles. But once I tried to roast them up, my apartment suddenly smelled like stinky tofu at a Taiwan night market.
- Stone fruit:
- apricot-gochujang BBQ sauce (see above) – I used this right away rather than canning it, I don’t remember why, it was probably a weird amount and I didn’t have the right jars – we’ve had it on chicken (very good) and fish (not a great pairing)
- finished last year’s pesto abruzzese and started a new batch – I’ve been using this a lot with beans.
- finished fermented celery and started a new batch – I’m so pleased with how well this keeps, it’s so great not to have to waste celery.
- opened 1 jar of blood orange marmalade – it’s pretty good! Now I won’t hesitate to either keep or give away the rest of my jars (of which there are far too many!)
- opened lemon garlic pickles from Indian Family Kitchen – very tasty!
- I had to toss last year’s 4 pepper jelly – I should have opened it sooner. It was about a year old and the solids had separated rather than holding their suspension in the jelly. Too bad, the little I tried when I first made it was very tasty. I guess I suck at jelly.
- opened our last jar of blueberry gin jam from last year
- opened 1st batch of strawberry jam (Preserving Italy recipe) – I had overcooked it, so we tossed it
- opened 2nd batch of strawberry jam (“fancy” recipe from Saving the Season), and it was excellent – just the way I like my strawberry jam
- finished date chutney – almost a year old, was starting to get crystalized
- finished fermented salsa and started a new batch.
- got rid of all my sauerkraut – it was all good, but just couldn’t eat it all, and needed the jars & fridge space
- opened a jar of the corn salsa – it’s very nice, much better than the corn relish I made last year
- I finished Aftermath 3 – overall I enjoyed this series very much. After finishing it, I hit a bit of a lull as to what to read next.
- I continued Catch 22
- I read several cookbooks: Afro Vegan, Food in Jars (checked out from the library), Preserving by the Pint, and Jam Session.
- Toward the end of the month, to try and break up my lull, I read A Million Worlds with You, the final book of Claudia Gray’s Firebird series. It was a fine ending, but I feel like this series peaked with the first book.
Last Month’s Update