This weekend I got myself down to two starters, and made some pretty successful bread.  I make my sourdough bread by mixing my starter with salt and flour until I get something that resembles a bread dough, I don't measure or weigh anything.  True bakers out there will wringing their hands at that admission, but after I've spent a day lovingly feeding the little yeasties I just can't manage to break out my scale.

Thanks to a coworker I have started doing a double rise, which helped volumes. 
Bread made with Inga the starter.
Not measuring seems to have worked fairly well for this bread, and I have some dough made with the other starter sitting on the counter.  I'm hoping that it will work just as well for a skillet focaccia tonight with some shrimp and salad for supper.

Recently I have been experimenting with making my own peameal bacon.  Been getting some positive results with that as well.  Hoping my bacon will take me places.  Places with plenty of mustard and kaiser rolls.




For the last few months we've been eating primarily CSA's (fish and meat) and while we're doing the CSF again and sharing it with friends, I think I'm going to take a break from the meat CSA.  The meat is phenomenal, and the cuts have been decent.  Although I've had enough pork chops for the next little while.  But between the meat piling up in my freezer, and writing my new Sunday Supper column I never get to experiment with new recipes.  Or frankly just cook what I want to eat that night.

I'm excited to get back into the veg CSA this summer though.  Especially with this whole weekday daytime vegan thing I've been into.
A month later, and I'm having some issues with upholding my vegan during the day standards.  This week was my American birthday, so I was taken to my favorite oyster bar for lunch, that's one day down.  And both the day before and after I was recipe writing for SeriousEats - and it's very hard to write a good recipe without tasting what you're cooking.

Basically, I'm not sure how I can really keep doing this in a strict way and do any/all of my jobs with any degree of competency. 

I'm going to keep trying and see how it works out.
I'm still really liking eating vegan during the day, but I'm eating the same things over and over.  And when I'm not being a vegan in the evening I go a little nuts with the non-veganness and end up eating really unhealthy food.

I'm going to try and get better this week.
This is week 3 of my vegan during the weekdays experiment, I've got to say it's going very well.  I've gotten used to the constant hunger, and the eating everything I can get my hands on (outside of meat, dairy, refined sugar and flour) which means mostly vegetables.

I'm feeling really good.  And I'm cooking things that I normally wouldn't.  This week I ate quite a few veg/tofu temaki (handrolls) and really loved them.  Although making them with brown rice is a little challenging, but worth the effort.  Avocado is making a regular appearance in my fridge for the first time in a long while.  Lots of spinach.  And tofu.  I really, really like tofu.  The time I spent in Japan taught me to approach tofu as an ingredient, not merely a meat substitute.  It's delicious.

Outside of the temaki I ate cold peanut sesame noodles twice this week, and I think I'm really getting that dish down.  I've been using whole wheat spaghetti, tofu, cucumbers, red peppers and cooked and drained spinach.  The dressing is a tablespoon of natural peanut butter mixed with some soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt with some water to loosed the whole thing up.

It's amazing just how good I feel, and how in the evenings when I eat meat, dairy and white flour I find myself eating a lot more vegetables too.  The ingredient that I've been really focusing on is the white flour - really good crusty bread has been all I want.

I'll finalize the cold peanut sesame noodle recipe next week and post it.
I decided to make this week a 4 day week in honour of Chinese New Year ( I had lunch with Lilly Jan today and could not say no to a big bowl of wonton soup.  With roast pork.  And a half a roast duck).

But I was a strict vegan from when I woke up until 5pm for four days.  And I've got to admit it was harder than I thought it would be.  There were a lot of whole grains, and a ton of vegetables.  I have never eaten this many vegetables, and still feel hungry. 

While I was waiting for Lilly to show up for our lunch date I spent some time in Super 88 (one of Boston's Asian groceries) and bought a bunch of tofu, a large selection of noodles, and quite a few vegetables.

My plan for next week is a lot of dal, some vegetable stock and a big pot of beans.
For either the first two meals of the day during the work week, or dinner four days a week.  I just ordered Mark Bittman's book - and I'm hoping it will inspire me.  The thing is, we participate in a CSF, as well a meat CSA which provide us with sustainably raised/caught meat and fish.  I feel very little guilt when it comes to where my food comes from, I just think it would be a great exercise in cooking/eating.

The issue is the work I do is all things food, and it's very hard to sustain any sort of diet when you are either constantly eating, or constantly cooking. 

That being said, I need to go on a diet of some sort. 
Another day with my Christmas ham.  With all the trimmings from my first few slices of ham I decided to make a split pea soup, as well as render some of the fat. 
Fat on the left, ham on the right.  The fat is going into a pot to render for another day, and the ham is destined for my soup.  Here's the recipe for a really nice cup of soup on a cold day.  If you don't have any serrano ham, any other type of ham or bacon would work just as well.  This soups takes a few shakes of vinegary hot sauce very well - this ugly sauce has become a favorite at my house.

Split Pea Soup with Serrano Ham

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a hearty main

olive oil
150 grams ham, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
7 cups stock (chicken or vegetable), divided
1/2 pound (1 cup) green split peas
1 potato, diced
salt and pepper

Heat 2 quart stock pot over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil in pan and heat until shimmering.  Add diced ham and cook until crisp and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Remove ham and reserve for later.  Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook until beginning to brown, 5-8 minutes.

Add five cups of stock to pot, reserve remaining stock.  Bring to a simmer and add split peas.  Cook for 15-20 minutes until split peas begin to soften.

Once peas begin to soften, add potato and ham to the pot and continue to simmer until peas are completely soft and potatoes are cooked.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with biscuits and dark beer.

My thesis in grad school was about the Oyster Wars of the Northeast, and how the media of the time sensationalized them.  As I was reading over my thesis, I was reminded of this quote.

"I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded: dead."
 -Woody Allen.

Even though I totally disagree, the man makes an interesting point.

My Mum bought me a beautiful Spanish ham for Christmas.  She's a wonderful lady.  The question now is what will I do with all 14 pounds of it.
At this moment I am very grateful for my time at the Formaggio Kitchen cheese counter.  First I had to slice off a thin slice at the thickest end of the ham, where this piggies thigh would have been.

Next, I carefully sliced off layers of fat until the fat to meat ratio is where I want it.
Then slice.
I'm just getting my first bites now, eating it as is.  But all the possible ways to eat this giant thing are overwhelming.  First off, what to do with all my fat trimmings?  Render them down and cook everything I eat in nutty delicious fat?  I think so.

My hands smell like nutty pork fat, I hope my husband enjoys the smell as much as I do.