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: Tour of the Historic CA Governor’s Mansion Hoover Wind Tunnel upright vacuum cleaner 1 year subscription to W Magazine Now for the disclaimers: The tour piggybacked an award dinner that wasn’t really won but earned by writing a fictional essay in the 4th grade. It was a scratch-and-win game; maybe I had access to about 250 scratchers, maybe I didn’t… 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! … Read More

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 … Read More

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 … Read More

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

Oh 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 … Read More

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 … Read More

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, … Read More

Recipe: Cucumber carpaccio with red chili & fennel

For this post in particular, I’m going to have to get this disclaimer over with right away: I am not a photographer. So until I really rally my crap and get our snazzy Nikon together, these pics are going range from eh to bleh. Not a great trait for a food blog, I know. I promise attempted improvement over time. Now, having said that, please don’t let the crummy picture here dissuade you from trying this super simple, slightly spicy summer salad. (Say that five times fast without being accused of speaking Parseltongue. I dare you.) Cucumber Carpaccio with Red Chili & Fennel By Emily Stoffel Cooking time: <5 mins | Serves: 1-2 Note: Try this recipe with almost ANY summer veggie, or a combination of veggies: zuchs, steamed beets, fresh corn, creamy slabs of boiled or roasted Yukon Golds — whatever. Even kale gets its good on with this treatment. Oh, and bust out the butteriest, grassiest, spiciest olive oil you’ve got stashed away for this. It’ll be worth it. Ingredients: 2 lemon cucumbers, thinly sliced (or other veggies — see note) good olive oil fresh lemon juice crushed chili flakes lightly crushed fennel seed smoked sea salt (coarse) Instructions Arrange … Read More

Obsession: Cray for J. Crew + GDL love

Holy Sale, Batman! J. Crew is having a promo where all redline items are an additional 30% off (through Friday, Sept. 7). It’s not like this is the first time J. Crew has had a sale, or even a sale of this nature — but, this is the first time I’ve actually committed to purchasing the boatload of loot I added to my online shopping bag. You see, it started with browsing new button-downs…and falling in love with a shrunken blazer in a cracked-out plaid. And then I saw that the Tippi sweater was part of the sale, too. And the wheels. Completely. Fell off. Let me explain. The Tippi sweater is the best friend of my best friend, Giada DeLaurentiis. (Clarifications: 1. only in my literal dreams; 2. she doesn’t know; 3. please don’t tell her.) Ok, maybe Giada doesn’t befriend knitwear, but the sweater was heavily recommended as one of her favorite things several GDL email newsletters ago, and being the bosom buddies that we are, I had to have it. How else could we be Tippi Twins at the next Food & Wine fest? Duh. Fast-forward 45 minutes, and I had checked out with NINE — aiyah! … Read More

Going no-sugar-added: take that, eyeabetes!

A few weeks ago, my middle school friend Miriam, aka Amazon Genki Girl, and I were at home for her dad’s (crazy adorable, super fun) third wedding when she broke the following news to me: Mir: “Em, did I tell you? I have eyeabetes.” Me: “Oh no! DubTeeEff is eyeabetes?” Mir: “It’s when the optometrist says I have the eyes of a diabetic because I’ve been literally eating, like, a whole bag of Dove chocolates in one sitting. Every day.” Oh. Yeah, apparently that’ll do it. So now my eyeabetic friend Miriam is on a slightly modifEYED (oh, snap!) diet that involves avoiding products with added sugar five days a week. With some exceptions. Monday through Friday, baked goods, candy, chocolate, and pretty much all processed convenience foods are OUT. Sauces, dressings and condiments are IN, in moderation (ketchup and hoisin are biggies in Mir’s household, as they are in most Chinese-American kitchens). And of course, foods containing natural sugars, like fruits and veggies, are allowed in abundance. On the weekend, it’s back to normal. Easy, right? Actually, as far as modified diets go, it IS pretty easy. Inspired by Mir’s commitment to eyesight, I hopped on the bandwagon four weeks … Read More

Recipe: Braised meatballs with bacon & chard

I. Freaking. Love. Meatballs. In fact, I’m pretty certain 50 Cent knew nothing of fat kids’ loves when he was rapping about cake. Any fat kid that knows what’s up would take a saucy little meatball over a crumbly slice of Duncan Hines hands down. And that’s the truth. In this version, juicy spheres of herb-studded, organic, grass fed beef are roasted to develop a crisp crust and then bathed in a super fast tomato sauce chock full of bacon and thick ribbons of chard.  Serve over whole wheat or brown rice pasta for a meal that’s as balanced as it is satisfying. Braised Meatballs with Bacon & Chard By Emily Stoffel Cooking time: 50 mins | Serves 4 For the Meatballs 1/2 c panko 2 eggs, beaten 3 T chopped fresh herbs (basil/sage/oregano/rosemary/thyme all work well) 2 T olive oil 1 tsp onion powder 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes dash nutmeg s&p to taste 1.3 -1.5 lbs ground beef  For the Sauce 4-6 slices thick cut bacon, roughly diced 1 bunch swiss chard, tough stems removed/leaves chopped 24 oz prepared pasta sauce (scratch or purchased) freshly grated parmesan Instructions Preheat oven to 450F. Combine … Read More