Recipe: Zucchini “fritters” with chard and poached eggs

This afternoon at about 5:45, I called my husband at work. It was the usual: how are things going, when are you headed home, and then — in simulcast — what do you want to do for dinner? My answer: Jinx, you owe me a Coke! His answer: Should we do something with all those veggies in the fridge?

You mean, besides just letting them decorate the crisper drawer? Like, yeah, I guesso.

So that’s what I did. On the drive home, I mentally inventoried our booty of garden fare and tried to think of a way to cram as much veg as possible into a dish that was slightly more exciting than a wok full of stir-fry. My first thought was a savory zucchini bread, inspired by this griddled gem that has been taunting me ever since I saw it on Food Gal a few days ago. But I wanted to challenge myself to use not just a scant cup or so of zucchini but ALL my zucchini, in one dish that would be consumed in one sitting — without becoming a squash version of Violet Beauregarde in the process.

Waffle maker to the rescue. I don’t know if all y’all follow Pinterest at all, but if you’re short on ideas for how to put a Costco brick of cheddar, a stack of Oreos or a waffle iron to use, check it out. It’s the Mother Lode. Ironically, it’s also the place to go if you want to look at pictures of women with eight-packs and perky rears encouraging you to “run for your dreams, not from your dreams” or “trim these three foods from your diet to shrink belly fat!” (Which three were those, again? Oh, Cheese, Oreos and Waffles? Oh, okay, cool.)

ANYWAY. Waffle irons are kind of making a comeback, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I began brainstorming a meal with a high veg-to-stuff ratio. And that’s why I let myself call these babies fritters and not waffles: because zucchini waffles makes you think waffles with zucchini, but zucchini fritters makes you think frittered zucchini, and that is a much more apt description — albeit these are more healthful, and a whole lot easier, than a fritter suggests. It just doesn’t get much simpler, or much more delicious. Zucchini. Cheese. A couple of eggs, some flour and a heap of savory spices to bring it all home. PLUS a topping of can’t-go-wrong Swiss chard and everyone’s favorite: a softly poached egg full of golden, oozing yolk?

This is veggielicious, kid-friendly money intha bank, my friends. And it’ll put that drawer full of late-harvest summer squash out of its misery, I promise.

Zucchini “Fritters” with Chard and Poached Eggs
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 25 minutes | Serves: 2

Note: I won’t pretend that I’m an expert on poaching eggs. In fact, I’m something of a horrible egg poacher, so I’ll leave the instructions to someone who knows what they’re doing and will instead provide the recipe for the more interesting stuff: the fritter!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (that’s about 3 whole zucchini, oh-hey!)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 T olive oil + extra for sauteing the chard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 bunch chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, poached just before serving (see note)

Preheat waffle iron. In large bowl, mix together zucchini, eggs, flour, olive oil, all spices and cheese. Stir thoroughly to combine and let sit for 5 minutes (in this time, the salt will draw liquid out of zucchini to thin the batter some). Batter should be thicker than pancake batter but not doughy. Mound 1/3 of the mixture onto waffle iron, using a spoon to spread it to within about 1″ of edges. Close iron and cook on high setting or about 5-6 minutes, until cheese is browned and crisped, zucchini is tender and batter is set. (How do you know this, you ask? Eat a little piece! Careful as it’s likely hot as a mother hen.) Repeat twice more or until all batter is used. If necessary, keep fritters warm in a low oven.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add swiss chard and salt and pepper to taste and saute until chard is wilted and bright green, about 2-3 minutes.

Pile chard atop hot fritters and top with an egg poached to your liking. I like mine with a drippy, liquidy yolk and plenty of salt and pepper.

Recipe: Rosemary sugar prune crisp

I know, I know, the first thing that comes to mind when you think prunes isn’t dessert. If you’re anything like me, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t even positive (it’s Barbara Mandrell, if we’re being honest). But last weekend, while having brunch at my grandparents house, my cousin Kyle asked me if I had tried the sugar prunes from their tree. I was shocked. Prunes? From a tree? I thought prunes were only prunes after they were dried, with the fresh version being a plum.

Alas, turns out a dried prune is just a dried fresh prune, much like a dried apricot is just a dried fresh apricot  — but then why is a dried grape a raisin? SO CONFUSING. But I digress. A dried prune is a dried fresh prune, which yes, implies that there is such a thing as a fresh prune, and *gasp!* they are quite delicious. Smaller and more oblong than what we might think of as a conventional plum, the prunes that my grandparents grow have an almost candy-like sweetness and a firm but yielding flesh. What’s interesting about their prunes, in particular, is that the tree on which they grow has been grafted onto the base of an almond tree. Grafting isn’t all that uncommon in the agricultural world, so this isn’t unheard of, but my grandma swears that sugar prunes usually split down the middle when they’re ripe — and these don’t. So whether it’s the almond tree base or my 80-something year old Grandpa’s secret mojo, something makes these prunes both particularly sweet and pretty to look at. Atta boy, Gramps!

So, after trying (read: inhaling) 3 or 4 of these fresh prunes in my grandma’s kitchen, the next natural step was to amble my way down their gravel drive to the tree, pluck 60 little sugar bombs from the heavy, low-hanging boughs…and stash them in my purse for the drive home. (Duh, where do you keep your prunes? It’s a big bag. Don’t judge.)

And now here we are. Eating sugar prunes for breakfast. Sugar prunes for lunch. Cutting up platters of sugar prunes and sharing them with coworkers. Daily. And finally, sugar prunes for dessert, coaxed into sweet, jammy harmony with a little extra sugar, a savory hit of rosemary and olive oil, and a fragrant, nutty crumb topping. Enjoy!

Rosemary Sugar Prune Crisp
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 40 minutes | Serves: 4

Notes: Knowing that sugar prunes aren’t just anywhere, this dessert would work out just as well with any farmer’s market plum — just be sure to choose fruit that is still a bit firm to the touch. As for the topping, while I usually add rolled oats for texture, the cornmeal here works particularly well with the savory herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 20-25 small sugar prunes, halved and pitted (apologies I didn’t weigh them first!)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt/pepper
  • 4 T (heaping) whole wheat flour + 1 T
  • 2 T (heaping) cornmeal
  • 2 T sugar + 1 T
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 4 T cold butter, cubed

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, toss halved prunes with olive oil, 1T flour, 1T sugar, rosemary, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Pour into generously buttered skillet or baking dish. In same bowl, mix together remaining flour, remaining sugar, cornmeal, almonds and cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour and nuts until mixture resembles wet sand (some larger pieces of butter should still remain). Loosely sprinkle topping over plums; place skillet on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbling, topping is golden and nuts are toasted. Serve warm with ice cream

Recipe: Eggs marinara on crostini

This recipe goes out to my dear friend Emily, who, in addition to having an excellent name, has an excellent palate and is one of my most frequent dining companions. At Emily’s request, we made up some of these eggs for a quick breakfast before heading into the office yesterday, but they’re just as much of a treat for dinner or brunch. I believe Rachael Ray would, in fact, call this a BLAD recipe, which is supposed to stand for “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” but instead seems like onomatopoeia for a plain ol’ BAD recipe, so I’ll scrap the acronym and call this dish what it really is: fast, cheap and damn tasty.

(I do feel I should make the quick disclaimer that this recipe is hardly original. Eggs marinara are (is?) nothing new, and there are countless ways to dress them (it?) up with cheeses, truffle oil, fresh herbs and inventive, homemade sauces. So view this as a method, more than anything. Ok? Ok.)

Eggs Marinara on Crostini
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 10 minutes | Serves: 2

Notes: I like to keep things moving along quickly by toasting my two lil’ slices of bread in a toaster oven. If you’d like to double, triple or quadruple this recipe for a group — for Sunday Brunch, let’s say (Oh, yes, I’d love to! Your place?) — it may be worth it to crank the oven and toast up a whole sheet pan of crostini at once.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good, crusty bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (or so) prepared marinara sauce
  • olive oil
  • crushed red chili flakes
  • salt/pepper

Instructions

Drizzle bread with olive oil and bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown and toasted (see note). Meanwhile, heat olive oil and chili flakes over medium heat in a small sauce or saute pan until chili just begins to sizzle. Add sauce, bring to a light bubble, and then carefully cracks eggs into the hot marinara. (I like to nestle the just-cracked egg into the sauce and then release the egg into the resulting indentation, if that makes sense.) Cover, reduce to low and simmer until whites are set or to your liking. A runny, slurpy yolk will serve you very well here — just saying. Plate eggs on crostini; top with remaining warmed sauce and plenty of salt and pepper.

Recipe: Oven-roasted tomatoes, aka tomato candy

‘Allo readers. While I realize I’m several days’ overdue for a post with substance, I’m also a bit preoccupied with a Top Gear marathon at the moment, so I thought I’d take just a quick break to bring you this non-recipe for one of my utterly private obsessions: tomato candy. Why private, you ask? Well first: as previously mentioned, Chris, whom I love with all my being, does not love tomatoes with any of his being, which makes this an Emily-exclusive treat in my kitchen. And second: there’s something just a little sinful about plucking these buggers hot off the pan with your fingers, mopping them around in the oily, dirty bits left clinging to the tray and delivering them straight to your mouth where the crackle of caramelized skin and the burst of still-tender fruit meet in textural harmony.

If that’s not kitchen raunch, I don’t know what is.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes (Tomato Candy)
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 1.5+ hours (though prep time is about 5 minutes)

Note: These are best when served simply: accompanied by good olive oil and freshly torn basil over pasta; mashed with a modest nub of goat cheese and spooned onto crostini; mixed with a drizzle of honey and black pepper and served over vanilla bean ice cream (it’s less adventurous than you might think), you get the gist. As for tomato variety, nearly any will do, so long as the size is somewhat uniform. Roast grape tomatoes whole; cherry tomatoes should be halved; larger tomatoes chopped into 1″ chunks. When scraping the pan, be sure to accumulate at least some of the blackened bits, as well. Christian Grey who?

Ingredients:

  • A heap of tomatoes, stems removed and chopped, if applicable (see note)
  • A generous glug (or two) of olive oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300. Toss tomatoes generously with olive oil, tip onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 60 minutes. Increase heat to 400 and roast an additional 30-40 minutes, or until tomatoes are shrunken and blistered to your liking.

On winning contests and fresh veggies

There are people that win things and people that don’t. I’m in the latter group. I suppose it could have something to do with the fact that I don’t enter many contests, but even in situations where one only has to be present to win (baby showers, bridal showers, other showers), I still walk away a loser. Or at the very least, empty handed.

To date, things that I have won in my life include:

  1. Tour of the Historic CA Governor’s Mansion
  2. Hoover Wind Tunnel upright vacuum cleaner
  3. 1 year subscription to W Magazine

Now for the disclaimers:

  1. The tour piggybacked an award dinner that wasn’t really won but earned by writing a fictional essay in the 4th grade.
  2. It was a scratch-and-win game; maybe I had access to about 250 scratchers, maybe I didn’t…
  3. The subscription was actually a second year free with purchase of the first year according to Derrick, the door-to-door magazine vendor trying earnestly to fund his Ivy League education. I’ve still not received a single issue. Not quite sure who the winner is here, but since I’m only now realizing there are no Ivy League schools on the West Coast, I’m thinking Derrick has the upper hand.

But. BUT! Change is in the wind, because just last week, I won something fair and square: Food Gal’s Full Circle giveaway, several weeks’ worth of fresh, local fruits, veggies and gourmet grocery items delivered right to my door by Full Circle Farms. In excellent Food Gal tradition, the contest required submitting a personal anecdote. Per Carolyn Jung, herself:

“Who doesn’t like receiving something wrapped up in a box? Just tell me about something you’ve gotten in a box that was memorable, special or a complete surprise. Best five entries win the produce box deliveries.”

So that’s what I did (see entry waaay below). Me and five other people. That’s right, I won a contest where 5/6 entrants took a home a prize, but I still won, dadgummit. And I’m enjoying the fruits — and veggies, thankyouverymuch — of my labor. (Big thanks to Food Gal, here, for hosting such a fun contest.) This week marked the first of what will be four weeks of complimentary Full Circle deliveries, and here’s what I received in my “Seed”-sized order (note that this is the smallest of four order sizes):

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes, Organic – 1.5 pounds
    Herbert Family Farm, Hollister, California. 
  • Zucchini, Organic – 1 pound
    Pinnacle Organic, San Juan Bautista, California. 
  • Green Kale, Organic – 1 bunch
    Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, California. 
  • Green Leaf Lettuce, Organic – 1 bunch
    Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, California.
  • Valencia Oranges, Organic – 2 each (We actually received 3!)
    Corona College Heights, Riverside, California. 
  • Angeleno Plums, Organic – 4 each (We actually received 5! Check them out in Garlic Chicken with Plums)
    Nicholas Family Farms, Orange Cove, California.

Now, the awesome thing about Full Circle’s delivery program is that you can completely customize each week’s order to include the produce of your liking. For example, tomatoes are the hub’s kryptonite, so we swapped those out with kale (green smoothies are going OFF in this house, yo). You can also change the size of your order from week to week or postpone deliveries for an extended period of time, which is especially handy in the summer when vacation schedules could otherwise lead to veggies simmering in the front porch sun. And the price? Very reasonable. While I won, muhahaha, and therefore paid $Free.99 for my first shipment, the going rate for a Seed order containing all of the above, including delivery, is just $20.95. Plus, you can kill all sorts of birds with one stone by adding jams, jellies, pickles, grassfed meats, sustainable seafood, spices, bake-at-home breads, yogurts, fresh tofu — you name it — to your order at a la carte.

Pretty rad, right?

So now we get to quality. And it’s spot-on. Each delivery is hand-packed in a compostable/recyclable box that uses smart dividers to protect leafy greens from bumbly potatoes, etc. Ours arrived in pristine condition, with the exception of the kale being ever so slightly wilted (nothing a quick ice bath couldn’t fix) — and the freshness is impressive. The plums (we cooked with them and ate them out of hand) were sweet and slightly crisp, the lettuce perky, the zucchini slim, unmarred and tender. I’ve not yet cooked the potatoes, but I’ve got high hopes based on the fact that they’re potatoes and, short of seeing what they shouldn’t with their beady little eyes, they can do no wrong.

In sum, I might just be sold on Full Circle. Granted, I love supporting our local City Limits Urban Farm and relishing in the weekly bounty we receive June-September, but it will be nice to have a fresh produce delivery program to take us through the fall and into the holiday season. And with the option of adding artisan groceries to any order, I can even see picking up a few Christmas gifts along with future orders, which just screams efficiency.

Love. That.

——————————

Oh, you’re still reading. Well then, why not check out the entry that won this spectacular Full Circle produce delivery? True story:

My best “in a box” story: When I was six, I was incredibly attached to a tattered bunny-blanket that I called, creatively, “Bunny.” Bunny and I were inseparable, and I like to think I offered him just as much security as he offered me. One day, in an attempt to (justifiably) wean me off of Bunny, my mom decided to strike a deal: I could keep Bunny with me for as long as I wanted — if I stayed out of trouble in the classroom. Chatty child that I was, I came home the very next day with a polite note from my teacher regarding my “excessive socializing” during class. And just like that, Bunny was gone. Or so I thought. Twelve years later, a Freshman in college, I received a care package from my mom. It in I found everyone’s favorite homemade Tollhouse cookies, a week’s supply of Maruchan Ramen bricks & haw flakes, hair barrettes — and Bunny, cleverly clutching a note. “Phew, thought I’d never escape Mom’s undies drawer. Figured you might need a buddy now that excessive socializing is not frowned upon but encouraged.” My partner in crime was back.

Recipe: Garlic chicken with plums

Today when I woke up to gray skies and that fine, Bay Area micro-mist that’s actually quite uncommon in my neck of the woods, I knew it’d be a Dutch oven supper night. Despite my obsession with summer and my resistance to its departure, autumn brings with it all sorts of seasonal rewards, not the least of which is fiddling with my slowly growing collection of Le Creuset cookware. (Hey, homegirls gotta pay the bills.) I’ve always been a fan of slow cooking. It’s the kind of cooking that indicates you’ve got time on your hands, and that’s a luxury I’ll never refuse — but there’s something almost sinful about transforming simple, inexpensive ingredients into a culinary experience this rich with flavor, with body, with unarguably homey comfort.

And that’s really where this dish appeals to me. While it’s not overtly Chinese, the combination of aromatic ginger, sugar, soy sauce and wine give this an almost hot pot-like quality, replete with a glossy, unctuous sauce that begs for rice. White rice is a “treat” in our home these days, but it’s absolutely the recommended accompaniment for this meal and should be generously doused with the garlicky, plum-studded sauce and consumed in abundance.

Which brings me to my next point: this is cheap eats, so double it, triple it — hell, quadruple it if you’ve got a Dutch oven that can take it, or just fire two pots at once — and feed a gaggle of discerning diners on a beggar’s budget a la Frugal Feeding or Kimberly at Poor Girl Eats Well. (Both are super budget savvy bloggers who are cooking/eating better than most of us for a lot less cash. They’re talented scribblers, as well, so do yourself a favor and check them out if you haven’t already.)

In sum: we’re talking slow-cooked, unctuous, affordable goodness here, so get after it, like, right now.

Garlic Chicken with Plums
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 2 hrs (or so)  | Serves: 3-4 (or 2 with excellent leftovers! See note)

Note: This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe I use for pork belly, which becomes just as meltingly tender and syrupy when simmered for hours in the sugary soy broth. In both recipes, leftovers are excellent wrapped into tacos with shredded cabbage, mayo mixed with a little tamari and sriracha and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T canola or other light cooking oil
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 7-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 plums, pitted and quartered
  • s&p
  • Hot steamed rice for serving

Instructions

Add oil and sliced ginger to a large Dutch oven and bring to med-high heat. Pat chicken pieces dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together wine, soy sauce and sugar. When chicken is browned, pour over wine mixture, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and add garlic. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil; then cover, reduce to low and simmer for 1.5 hours. (Now would be a good time to wash your hair, sweat to the oldies, plan your next three-day weekend…) At the end of the 1.5 hours, skim off any surface scum, stir in plums, increase heat and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by 2/3, about 25 mins. Remove chicken pieces to platter and pour over sauce. (Plums and garlic will have marvelously melted into oblivion.) Serve with lots of hot steamed rice.

Whine-with-me-Wednesday + salsa suggestions open call

Whhhhhednesday. Do you ever have those weeks where, before you know it, Friday is upon you though you swear it was Tuesday only yesterday? This is not one of those weeks. Today is Wednesday. Today feels like Wednesday. And every evening, daylight slips away a tad earlier, little shrinking sands boogying their way ever faster through the hourglass, until we’ll have nothing at the end of the day but a brisk walk across a darkening parking lot, keys deftly woven between each finger a la Self Defense for Women Walking Through Parking Lots 101.

Wow, that went dark quickly.

Anyway, the great thing about being on the cusp of a seasonal depression is that the little things still hinting at the continued existence of summer can just turn a gal’s mood right around. Like the lovely little bounty at left from last week’s CSA harvest.

Check these little guys out! It’s like a homegrown Awkward Family Photo (BTW, best AFP ever). Ok, maybe I took these photos on Sunday, but my end o’ summer bummer is still waning just looking at them.

So now that we’re all smiles — and three days post-photoshoot — I’ve gotta get these fruits and veggies off my counter, onto a chip and into my belly. STAT.

Let the sending of salsa recipes begin!

Recipe: Soy glazed bacon noodles with baby broccoli & wax beans

soy glazed bacon noodlesOh boy, another bacon post! That makes four now, if you count Bacos, meh, and yesterday’s post about the glory that is Trader Joe’s Bacon Ends and Pieces (indeed, the very same Ends and Pieces that make a star appearance in this dish).

I promise — and those with whom I eat on a daily basis can attest — I’m not always this lazer-focused on the pig. In fact, meatless meals end up on our dinner coffee table most nights of the week. But when we’re craving just a little animal protein after a rigorous bike ride or an Original Butt session (yikes, the sound of that…), things always get shakin’ with bacon. A few slices go a long way, both in terms of flavor and hitting that “this is a meal, not a snack I can follow with a second compensating snack an hour later ” sensor. I don’t want to misspeak here: regularly tapping the salted swine does not for a healthy diet make. But once a week? Maybe twice during holidays (it was just Labor Day)? No big thing.

Even in this recipe, the sticky-sweet bacon is quantitatively trumped by not one but two types of fresh veggies: baby broccoli (or broccolini, broccoli rabe) and crisp-tender wax beans — the last of summer’s bounty, courtesy of our CSA of choice, City Limits Urban Farm. With the addition of quick cooking noodles, this stir-fry satisfies on the carb front, too, no rice cooker needed.

Soy Glazed Bacon Noodles with Baby Broccoli & Wax Beans
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 20 mins | Serves: 2

Note: As mentioned before, I love Trader Joe’s Bacon and Ends and Pieces. They’re half the price of the pretty slices, and the thicker, meatier odd bits are actually preferable for dishes where the bacon is chopped or diced. In lieu of wax beans, green beans or chinese long beans would be excellent here, though the latter rarely make an appearance in our house because of that squeaky teeth thing that I just can’t stand.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T dark sesame oil
  • 4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped (highly recommended: Trader Joe’s Bacon Ends & Pieces — see note)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 bunch (6-8 stems) baby broccoli, cut into 1.5″ pieces
  • 1 cup wax beans, cut into 1.5″ pieces
  • 2 T oyster sauce
  • 3 T water
  • 1 package (4 oz) par-cooked udon noodles, soaked in hot water to loosen and drained
  • 2 scallions, sliced diagonally

Instructions

Heat sesame oil in large skillet or wok over med-high heat. Add bacon, chili flakes and grated ginger and fry until bacon is begins crisping, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add garlic and fry another 30-60 seconds (do not let garlic toast). Add sugar and soy sauce, stir to combine, and allow sauce to thicken and caramelize, 3-5 minutes. Stir in veggies to coat in caramelized mixture; add water and oyster sauce and cover, 1-2 minutes. Add noodles and toss lightly to combine/heat through. Scatter over sliced scallions and serve.

No-post Sunday – or – TJ’s Bacon Ends & Pieces

Wow, what happened to my lazy Sunday? I was all scheduled to have a recipe posted today, but between brunch in Sac with the in-laws, the drive home, errands, spontaneous fridge-freezer rearranging (I can’t lie; I LOVE reorganizing stuff) and watching Thor on Netflix, here I am. With no post. Or more accurately, a post but no edited-for-the-blog-world pictures. So basically, no post. Whaaa.

In lieu of the intended post, please enjoy this picture of Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ends and Pieces, borrowed from The Food Yenta, which I strongly believe are one of the best bargains in the market and a sure favorite of omnivorous taste buds all around. More on my obsession later, but The Food Yenta uses these tender vittles for what sounds like sweet sin braised in beer…and served on a steamed bun with the holiest of Asian condiments, Hoisin sauce. Oooohhmami. How I am still spending time on this blog entry when bacon this tasty exists in the world is a mystery to me.

But the real topic at hand: how will these guys meet their end here at The Pig & Quill? Or, to put it another way:

Are these Ends and Pieces part of the belated recipe post aforementioned? Will you love them as much as the Yenta and I do? Or will Boris and Natasha finally catch Moose & Squirrel in unsuspecting circumstances?

Stay tuned next time to find out!

In the Pigpen No.1: Bacos, badonkadonks & bomb-diggity bread

Happy Friday, world! Lots in the hopper here at the P&Q and no real rhyme or reason (yet) as to how I will manage the queue. Fellow bloggers, please tell me: how do you do it?

Enter my attempted solution, the Pigpen: a mini-roundup of the promised miscellany that’s been bouncing around in the ol’ cabesa but hasn’t quite achieved solo-post status. We’ll see how far we get with this…

1) My random nostalgic love of: Bacos. Why is it that foodies almost always have a nostalgic obsession with packaged foodstuffs that attempt to closely approximate meat? For my husband, it’s Vienna Sausages. For my mom, it’s SPAM. And for me, it’s Bacos. Ok, that’s a lie; for me it’s Bacos AND SPAM, but SPAM is getting kinda bourgeois these days, so does it really need another plug? I can’t promise it won’t happen eventually, because I really do love SPAM, but….I mean, look at this! Already it’s hijacking poor Bacos’ blurb. So let’s get on with it. Bacos. Yes, the salad topping. As a kid, I would eat them by the spoonful or just pound them straight from the plastic container that was a pantry staple at my god-sister Whitney’s house. I was, and still am, completely Bacosmitten. Sure, they’re artificial, full of chemical flavorings and hydrogenated everything and taste nothing like the applewood smoked stuff we’ve all come to call the norm. But for you naysayers, I have three words for you: Savory. Fruity. Pebbles. Enough said.

2) Motor on the back on my Honda: PopPhysique Original Butt. Does your special someone Not Want None Unless You Got Buns, Hun? Listen up. PopPhysique — the fitness studio arm of the Bay Area-based PopSugar empire — has recently released a DVD version of one of their most popular barre workouts, and it’s bananas (in a good way). I received mine in the August edition of their monthly Must Have box (hoping to do a full rundown one of these days) and immediately convinced myself that this would be my shortcut to getting Adriana Lima’s body in time for our trip to Costa Rica this fall. Ha. Ahahaha. One workout in and I’ve reached Lima status, all right, as in Lima towel handy so I don’t slip and die in the pool of sweat collecting on my upper lip, holy GAWD. It’s that intense, and there’s not even a cardio component. It’s all about controlled poses, micro-movements and twitchy muscles, and it’s effective as hell. My arms were trembling. My legs were trembling. My butt cheeks were trembling individually. Of course, if you’re a seasoned yogi, or a barre class regular, or just bendy by nature (limber and flexible I am NOT), you’ll have a much easier time, but this workout is no joke. Except for that Lima pun up there, which was totally a joke, and totally hilarious.

3) Seriously the best thing (since…): Alpine Valley Organic Multi Grain + Omega 3. OhEmGee, people. Have you tried this bread? I’ll start by saying that it’s not my favorite bread straight out of the bag since it has a glutinous, almost undercooked texture that makes it a tad gummy — but toasted? Peter, Paul & Mary, it’s fantastic. Whatever it is that makes this bread a bit of a hot mess when it’s plain helps transform it into a chewy, toothsome treat after a two minutes in the sack with Mr. Toaster. Add in the subtle caramel flavor imparted by a touch of honey and a nutty, seeded crust and I’m in Leavened Heaven. Bonus points for being able to find a little two-pack sack of these guys at my neighborhood Costco. (Whadda ya know, Jeanette behind Fergie’s Bites and Stuft Mama, from whom I borrowed the pic at left, are also grooving on this stuff!)

So, what say we about the whole Pigpen thing, folks? And don’t spare my feelings, because I already designed the cover art for Numbers 2-10, so we’re kinda locked in regardless. But really. Eh?