July 26, 2017

Dear friends,
Two days before Tony became an American citizen, he plopped a 3-pound, long-bone prime rib in our grocery cart at Sam’s Club and announced, “This is what I want for my citizenship dinner,” then added, “can you cook it?”

“Are you kidding?” I scoffed. “It will be so delicious you’ll weep.”

I went about planning the dinner the next two days, ignoring Tony’s references to the meat as “my steak.” I realized he wasn’t kidding when, a couple of hours before the meal, Tony assured me he would share a bit of it with me. A bit?

By this time Tony had arranged the caveman-like hunk of meat on the kitchen counter in front of his naturalization certificate, with a little American flag stuck in the meat. He was photographing it when he made the offer to share his “steak.”

“That’s not your steak,” I finally snapped. “It’s a 3-pound rib roast!”

I was sorry to disappoint him on one of the happiest days of our marriage, but the guy was insane if he thought I’d sit on the sidelines while he ate an entire prime rib. I had my eye on that baby, too. It would be a luxe finale to a difficult process that began in February at the International Institute of Akron.

For four months, three evenings a week, Tony attended citizenship classes in preparation for an exam at the Immigration and Naturalization Services offices in Cleveland. For four months he also studied every day at home learning such arcane facts as the date the Constitution was written (1837) and the purpose of the Federalist Papers (to sell the Constitution to the colonies). For four months I drilled him with flash cards and tried to answer questions about how our current Congress works (or doesn’t work.)

Tony passed the test in late June and took his oath Friday at the Federal Court House in Cleveland. We were both so proud. In the hallway outside the judge’s chamber he signed up to vote and we chatted with fellow Akron-area honoree Quinn Lee. It was a moving experience, but the glow didn’t last long. On the way home, all Tony could talk about was his “steak.”

I knew exactly how I would prepare it. After I removed it from the photo tableau, I patted it dry with paper towels and cut away a bit — not much — of extraneous fat. I seasoned it lightly, coated it with olive oil and plopped it on one side of the charcoal grill over a drip pan, the other side loaded with ashed-over coals.

While the meat roasted I made a simple horseradish sauce of mayo, lots of prepared horseradish, and some milk to thin it. Tony and I cut corn kernels from some of the first ears of summer (from Graf Growers) and I sautéed them in a skillet with butter and a handful of sliced green beans, with coarse sea salt at the end. Grape-sized new potatoes were boiled until tender, halved and tossed with a spoonful of basil vinaigrette left over from an earlier meal.

My way of cooking grill-smoked prime rib is elemental. Not much stands between the flavor of the meat and your tastebuds. I have seen more-complicated recipes and one day I may slather the meat with mustard, dust it with flour and coat it with olive oil before grilling.

Or maybe not. While Tony didn’t weep, he ran out of superlatives for the smoky, juicy, tender hunk of meat. He dug into it like a true American.

Image

GRILL-SMOKED PRIME RIB
WITH HORSERADISH SAUCE

 

Image
  • 1 beef rib roast, bone in, about 3 lbs.
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. prepared horseradish sauce
  • Milk to thin
  • Soaked wood chips (hickory or apple preferred)

Remove roast from wrapping and pat dry with paper towels. Trim away some of the surface fat, leaving enough to moisten and flavor the meat. In a custard cup, combine the salt, pepper and rosemary. Rub all over the meat. Rub the meat with olive oil to moisten and prevent it from sticking to the grill.

Place a foil pan on one side of a charcoal grill. Mound about 40 charcoal briquettes on the other side. Light the coals and let burn until completely ashed over. Scatter a handful of soaked wood chips over the coals. Place the roast on the grill grid over the foil pan. Close the grill lid, vents open fully.

Roast meat for 30 minutes without removing grill lid. Remove lid, add a few briquettes if necessary and a few more wood chips. Turn meat front to back and side to side so that the part that was closest to the coals is now farthest away. Cover and roast about 30 minutes more, checking after 20 minutes with an instant-read thermometer shoved into the thickest part of the meat. For rare, remove when thermometer registers 140 degrees. For medium rare, 150 degrees. The meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the grill.

Let meat rest for 20 minutes before cutting. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and horseradish to taste in a small bowl. Thin with milk to a desired consistency. The sauce should be thinner than mayonnaise but still cling to the meat.

Serves four amply.

GUT CHECK

What I ate in restaurants last week:
A bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sandwich at the Harp in Cleveland; crispy spring rolls with duck sauce and shrimp and chicken summer rolls with a weird peanut sauce at Taste of Bangkok in downtown Akron (eh).

What I cooked last week:
Ciabatta pizza with fresh-chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, mozzarella and prosciutto; scrambled egg and avocado on toast; grilled salmon Nicoise; grill-smoked prime rib with horseradish sauce, sautéed fresh corn off the cob and green beans, and baby potatoes with basil vinaigrette; salami and tomato sandwiches with basil leaves; cornbread, hot dogs and baked beans.

Note: We have been eating a lot of salami lately because Tony lugged home a 4-inch-round, foot-long dried salami.

THE MAILBAG

From Darren B.:
Thanks for being one of my links to Akron. I live in Chicago now and have on lived in Akron since 1994 but like to stay in touch with my hometown and you make this possible. My parents still live in Bath Township and my mother is always saving articles from the Beacon to send me but I still look forward to my weekly dose of Jane. Please know that I am spreading the word about sauerkraut balls here in Chicago and gaining loyal followers of this amazing NE Ohio hors d’oeuvre. Now if we could just get someone to give up the recipe for Yanko’s Beachcomber!

Dear Darren: Thank you for the kind words, and keep spreading the sauerkraut balls gospel. Has enough time passed that someone is finally wiling to share the Beachcomer recipe? Anyone?

 
From Betty C.:
We know now that most olive oils on the grocery shelves are fake. I want the “real” stuff that promises health benefits. What olive oil is authentic? Please help.

Dear Betty: The olive oils on grocery shelves are not all fake, although some advertised as “extra virgin” may not be, and some may be adulterated with other kinds of oil. Admittedly, it is a bit of a mess. A 2010 study by the University of California at Davis (and several subsequent studies) found that not all of the oils advertised as “extra virgin” meet the legal standard (historically, oil from the first cold pressing; legally, oil that passes a battery of chemical and sensory tests.)

Luckily, olive oil doesn’t have to be extra virgin to provide the health benefits of consuming monounsaturated fat. All consumable grades of olive oil may help ease hypertension and reduce the risk of heart disease.

But worse than the extra-virgin scandal, “60 Minutes” reported last year on a German study that found many olive oils were adulterated with seed oils such as sunflower and Canola oils. According to an article in Forbes, pure olive oil has historically been cut with less expensive oils, and it’s difficult to tell by taste, look or smell. The only way to be sure is to test it chemically, which the North American Olive Oil Association does.

If you care about getting what you pay for, check out the list of olive oil brands certified for authenticity by the North American Olive Oil Association atwww.aboutoliveoil.org/qualityseal.html.

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July 20, 2017

Note: A publishing glitch held up last week’s newsletter until Monday, July 17. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Dear friends,

I surely ate well last week, considering I didn’t cook a shred of food. Nothing. Nada. Some of the blame goes to my shoulder (I tore the rotator cuff in a fall and now need a shoulder replacement). But mostly, I couldn’t resist all the barbecue, hot chicken, biscuits and Coney dogs flung in my path.

Tony thinks we went to Asheville, N.C. to see the Smoky Mountains and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. The real reason, of course, was the food. With the exception of New Orleans, North Carolina is probably my favorite food region in the United States. Western North Carolina, where we went, is even better than my usual haunts along the coast because a bit of Tennessee cuisine bleeds across the border, giving us the best of two states. Yes, I’m talking about hot chicken.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack just a couple of miles from our campground on the western edge of Asheville. Tony made a U-turn, parked, and we queued up at the ordering window. Yup, this is the stuff, we agreed as a tray of meals sailed past. The cayenne-red fried chicken was crunchy-crisp, spicy hot and faintly honey-sweet. I think it was even better than the hot chicken we had in Memphis a couple of years ago. It was so good we ate there twice in five days. The biscuits were world-class, too.

We would have eaten at Rocky’s more often but we had barbecue to find and hush puppies to snarf down. We did both at Hawg Wild Bar-B-Que in Pisgah Forest, N.C. We had to really hunt for a good barbecue place. Barbecue doesn’t seem to be as plentiful in the western part of the state as in the east. Also, restaurants make a big deal of the difference between the regional styles. All of the good stuff is whole-hog, naturally, but western style comes with ketchup-based sauce while eastern style has vinegar-based sauce. Hawg Wild’s barbecue was so smoky and juicy I couldn’t see covering up the flavor with red sauce. I had eastern style along with creamy coleslaw and a clutch of hush puppies.

I ate hush puppies everywhere I could, from the Hot Dog King (great Coney dogs packed with relish) to the barbecue place. I love those little cornbread nuggets, especially when they are laced with jalapeños as they were at the Hot Dog King.

The one place I didn’t get hush puppies and didn’t miss them was Rhubarb, an upscale Asheville restaurant helmed by chef John Fleer, a multiple James Beard nominee for best chef in the Southeast. Fleer executes his modern Southern menu perfectly, and I don’t say that lightly.It was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time.

Six components, all stellar, went into my entree of duck confit over Swiss chard. Tucked under the two duck legs and thigh was also a palm-sized sweet potatoes Anna (thin sliced, formed into a cake) infused with so much umami flavor it had to have been roasted in duck fat. Scattered over everything was “wet” walnuts that tasted of Bourbon but somehow remained crisp, and tiny sprinkles of sweet marinated garlic. A wide swath of rhubarb sauce streaked one side of the plate.

Most diners the evening we visited chose to sit outside on the covered patio overlooking Pack Square. I’m glad Tony and I opted for the dining room, a high-ceilinged space that looked like a rubber shop mid-rehab. The plaster walls were gouged and spotted with bits of old paint. Big industrial-looking lights dangled from the ceiling. We sat near the open kitchen, with a good view of the two brick ovens.

I’m sorry I couldn’t get Fleer’s recipe for sweet potatoes Anna, but you can bet I’ll be working on it here at home. Meanwhile, here’s a recipe for jalapeño hush puppies, humble but just as Southern and almost as delicious.

JALAPENO HUSH PUPPIES

Image
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups diced pickled jalapeños
  • Oil for frying

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and onion in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vinegar. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the jalapeños. Do not over mix.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a wide, deep pot or deep fryer. Drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. Do not crowd. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Break open the first couple of hush puppies to check for doneness.

Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Salt if desired. Continue until all of the batter has been used. Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

TIDBITS

Local corn should be ready for picking any day now. Rufener Hilltop Farms in Portage County will “hopefully” start picking this week, says manager Lana Rufener. “At the latest by (this) weekend.”

At Graf Growers on White Pond Drive in Akron, “local” this year will actually be a farm about 45 minutes south of Akron, according to Karlie Graf, marketing manager. Graf’s fields were too wet for planting this spring, so the Grafs contracted with another farm to grow corn using Graf seeds and techniques, such as hydrocooling the picked corn. Daily shipments should begin July 18, Karlie says.

Wherever you buy your corn, call first to avoid a disappointment.

GUT CHECK

What I ate in restaurants last week: Southwest avocado-tortilla-lime salad at Panera; cheeseburger Happy Meal at McDonald’s; oysters with country ham and cornbread stuffing, confit of duck with rhubarb sauce at Rhubarb in Asheville, N.C.; hot chicken thigh, collard greens, biscuit, corn pudding at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in Asheville, N.C.; Coney dog with relish, hush puppies at the Hot Dog King in Candler, N.C.; country ham sandwich and sliced tomatoes at Genny’s Family Restaurant in Chimney Rock, N.C.; more hot chicken; and chopped pork barbecue, coleslaw and hush puppies at Hawg Wild Bar-B-Que in Pisgah Forest, N.C.

THE MAILBAG

From Kathy G.:
Did you know Joe’s Home Cooking at its Finest — new location on Cleveland Avenue near Route 618 and Beiler’s Market in Uniontown— is back and open again? Great food and prices with larger eating area and lots of parking at the new location.

Dear Kathy: Thanks. I know a lot of people liked that place. I finally get to give it a try.

From Cheryl:
This year I celebrated Independence Day with avocado martinis — they sound odd but they’re delicious, cold and refreshing. This recipe makes 4 cups or so:

Rim glasses with lime juice, coarse salt and chili powder (ancho is nice). In a blender mix 2 cups ice, 4 ounces tequila, 2 ounces orange liqueur, 1 ounce lime juice, 3 sprigs of cilantro (optional), 1 avocado, diced, and 2 tsp. agave nectar (although I prefer 1 tablespoon honey). Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with lime wedges.

Dear Cheryl: In my martini days I would have loved this. Now I’ll just settle for some chips and salsa. (In perhaps a fit of self-preservation, my body began reacting weirdly to liquor a few years ago. I miss martinis, although I do enjoy a bit of Bourbon now and then.)

 
 
From Diane:
Re: slugs on basil — To get rid of your slugs, save your egg shells and after drying out for at least 2 hours, crush them and spread them around the plants the slugs are eating. It is organic and I know it works. We had hostas that were being eaten by slugs and after putting crushed egg shells around the plants the eating stopped!

Dear Diane: Thanks for sharing. Sounds easy and convenient.

From Mark:
Re: smoked salmon hash — When my friends Don and Linda Murfin were officers of the Akron City Club in the early 1990s, a chef there created “Murfin Hash” for them. I use a lightly poached egg per serving as the liaison rather than the Boursin-based cream sauce created by the chef, but I love the chef’s innovation of chopped fennel bulb and beets (triple rinsed; added just before serving) to the familiar mixture of cubed browned potatoes with onion and similar sized pieces of smoked salmon.

Dear Mark: Aha! A fine use for the beets growing in my garden. Thanks.

From Jan C.:
I saw that you had eaten smoked salmon hash last weekend. I have an easy cheat to make it at home: I use Ore Ida potatoes O’Brien which already includes the chopped peppers and onion You can add more veggies or some dill if you wish. Brown the potatoes in butter. Stir in a bit of half and half to add just a bit of richness. Then flake in 4 to 6 ounces of smoked salmon. Leave it in small pieces, not shreds. This can be topped with a runny sunny-side-up egg for extra richness. I serve this with a homemade horseradish sauce that I use lots of horseradish in.

A easy cheat for salmon chowder is to use the baked potato soup from Sam’s Club or Costco. I brown some extra onion in butter, add smoked salmon for just a couple of minutes, then stir it all into the warmed soup, Lovely with a salad on on a cold winter night.

I know you are a from-scratch cook but once in a while it is nice to simply have things on hand that go together quickly on busy days.

Dear Jan: I don’t mind cheating with good-quality ingredients and recipes that make sense. Thanks for the good ideas.

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Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

July 17, 2017

Dear friends,
My three clumps of lavender have been waiting all their lives for Nancy Baggett’s latest book. I pounced when I saw The Art of Cooking with Lavender this spring.

I have known Nancy for years as a meticulous cookbook author — she has almost 20 — who triple-tests recipes on two types of stoves before sending them into the world. So I knew the recipes in her book would work.

I have tried just one of the recipes so far, but it’s a doozy. Lemon-Lavender Pots de Creme are voluptuously rich ramekins of the smoothest, silkiest custard you can imagine. The dominant flavor is fresh lemon, with an undertone of sweet lavender. Lemon and lavender were made for each other.

The book doesn’t stop at desserts, though. Recipes range from herbed popcorn to infused lemonade to stews and roasts. I’m looking forward to trying her Zippy Orange-Ginger Chicken Wings, Creamy Ranch Lavender Dressing and Lemon-Lavender Buttercream Frosting, among others.

The 122-page soft cover book is a trove of information about not only what to cook with lavender but how and what kind to grow. English lavenders such as Munstead (the variety I grow) are sweeter and milder than the more pungent French lavenders and for those reasons are best for culinary purposes. French lavenders are best for scent products, Nancy says. That’s lucky for us here in Ohio, because the delicate French varieties have a difficult time weathering our nasty winters. Spanish lavenders (L. stoechas) are purely ornamental and should not be used in cooking.

Lavender lovers with a plot out back have (or should have) harvested their crop by now. The stalks should be snipped when about the bottom third of the blossoms are partially open, according to the book. The blossoms may be used fresh or dried. I scattered my stalks on a table to dry and then transferred them to a plastic zipper-lock bag. Nancy recommends gathering the stalks into bunches and hanging them upside down to dry. I’ve done that, too.

The pots de creme call for two tablespoons of dried lavender, which is a surprisingly large amount, I found. The buds are measured after they are stripped from the stalk, and many stalks’ worth go into a tablespoon.

I made the recipe twice because the first was a dismal failure. The fault was mine, not the recipe’s. I tried to reduce the amount of calories and fat in the custard by using whole milk instead of heavy cream. I learned that acids like lemon juice will curdle milk, but not cream. So don’t try to be virtuous with this recipe.

The book may be purchased for $15.99 from Amazon or directly from the author at www.nancyslavenderplace.com.

LEMON-LAVENDER POTS DE CREME
Jane-Snow-pots-of-lavendar.jpg
  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1/4 cup clover honey
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. sugar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. dried culinary lavender buds
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 large egg yolks, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh lavender blooms or sprigs for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh curls of lemon peel for garnish (optional)

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, bring the cream, honey, sugar, lavender, lemon zest and salt just to a boil, stirring until the honey and sugar dissolve. Turn off the heat and let mixture steep for at least 30 minutes, preferably one hour.. For a more intense flavor, cover and refrigerate an hour or two longer, tasting occasionally until the desired lavender flavor is achieved.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Lay a tea towel in a deep roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold 6 to 8 ramekins that ideally hold 2/3 cup each. Place ramekins or cups in pan, spaced slightly apart. Reheat the steeped cream mixture to very warm but not hot.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and smooth. Gradually pouring in a thin stream, whisk the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks. Whisk in the lemon juice. Strain the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 4-cup glass measure, stirring and pressing down on the zest and lavender. Divide equally among the ramekins. Put in oven.

Immediately pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come at least halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Begin testing by jiggling a custard cup. As soon as the creme is set except for about the center one-half inch, remove pan from oven. Place custards on a cooling rack until room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Let warm up slightly before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and/or lavender flowers or lemon curls. Makes 6 small or 8 mini desserts.

From The Art of Cooking with Lavender by Nancy Baggett.

TIDBITS

Local corn should be ready for picking any day now. Rufener Hilltop Farms in Portage County will “hopefully” start picking this week, says manager Lana Rufener. “At the latest by (this) weekend.”

At Graf Growers on White Pond Drive in Akron, “local” this year will actually be a farm about 45 minutes south of Akron, according to Karlie Graf, marketing manager. Graf’s fields were too wet for planting this spring, so the Grafs contracted with another farm to grow corn using Graf seeds and techniques, such as hydrocooling the picked corn. Daily shipments should begin July 18, Karlie says.

Wherever you buy your corn, call first to avoid a disappointment.

GUT CHECK

What I cooked last week:
Pan-grilled strip steaks, cherry tomato salad with walnut pesto; salami and avocado on toasted ciabatta bread; beer butt chicken, tomato salad with pesto; grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob; lemon-lavender pots de creme.

What I ate in restaurants/friends’ homes last week:
Green salad, fried liver and onions, mashed potatoes with a smidge of gravy at Alexandri’s in Wadsworth; shrimp sunomono, a Suzanne roll (a Jane roll with spicy mayo) at Sushi Katsu in Akron; roast pig, smoked brisket, corn bread, baked beans, mac and cheese, a chocolate chip cookie at Natalie and Brandon’s pig roast; brunch of smoked salmon hash, poached egg and hollandaise sauce at 111 Bistro in Medina Township; Thai red curry with chicken and vegetables at House of Hunan in Fairlawn.

THE MAILBAG

From Arlene:

Jane, I was wondering if you have any idea how to marinate garlic. Giant Eagle has some on its salad bar that is very good. I looked up a pickled garlic recipe that I made and I really don’t like it — too sweet and not what I expected. Then I realized the salad bar garlic isn’t pickled. It stays white and has a crunch and is not bitter or sweet.

I would appreciate any ideas you may have. My brother-in-law eats several daily and lowered his cholesterol to the point his meds were reduced. Healthy snacks!

Dear Arlene: My husband likes to snack on garlic, too, although he usually buys the pickled kind in jars. What you are looking for is marinated garlic. Here’s one from food.com. Tinker with the herbs until the flavor is to your liking.

AL’S FABULOUS MARINATED GARLIC

  • 30 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar (if you can find it, champagne vinegar is wonderful)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (I like to use Kosher salt)
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano)

Bring a medium saucepan half-filled with water to a boil. Toss in the whole cloves of garlic and blanch for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and plunge into cold water. Drain and dry off the garlic.

Mix the remaining ingredients (except the sprigs of fresh oregano) in a blender until emulsified. If using dried oregano, toss into the blender with the other marinade ingredients.

Put the cloves of garlic in a jar and cover with the marinade. Tuck the sprigs of oregano into the jar. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 5 days (longer is better) in the refrigerator. Serve as a snack, or as part of an antipasto, or as a side dish, or add to a green salad.

From Martha, Kent:
I don’t have the gardening success that you apparently do, but I have always been able to grow basil in pots on my back deck. But this year, something — some sort of bug, I assume — is eating the basil leaves! Instead of shiny, full leaves I’ve got munched up, mangled leaves. Do you have any idea what is eating the basil this year, and if there is anything I can do about it?

Dear Martha: My “gardening success” is a myth. I write about my garden fondly but it rarely returns the affection. This year I planted sugar snaps in April and just harvested the first handful of beans. I’ll be lucky if I get enough for a stir fry. My little row (about 4 feet) of French green beans was attacked by insects and the leaves look brown and chewed. But they have a few blossoms so I’m not giving up hope! The tomato plants I grew from seeds are not wilted and brown yet, so I am excited about an eventual crop.

My lone success so far this year (besides the wild black raspberries) is my basil. It is bushy and lush. I have had your basil problems in the past, though. From the photos you sent, the culprits are probably slugs, which eat great hunks of leaves instead of pinpricks that leave a lacy skeleton (for that problem, blame Japanese beetles.

This information comes from www.gardenknowhow.com:
“To retard those munching slugs, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth over the mulch. The diatomaceous earth scrapes the slug’s skin and causes it to dehydrate and subsequently die. Products such as Bayer Advanced Dual Action Snail and Slug Killer Bait, Sluggo, Escar-Go, and Schultz Slug and Snail Bait must be reapplied after rain or watering. While not totally nontoxic, these products contain iron phosphate, which is significantly less harmful to pets, birds and beneficial insects than the more antiquated metaldehyde-containing products.”

Hmmm. The phrase “not totally nontoxic” worries me. You’ll have to wash the basil leaves before you use them.

From Tammy:
I want to weigh in on the soy milk issue. I am not lactose intolerant nor am I a vegetarian but I love soy milk. I do not cook or bake with soy milk, nor do I see it as a substitute for the “real thing” but the taste is different from milk and I enjoy it. I have never had almond milk, cashew milk or flavored soy milk so my opinion is limited. I do love edamame and tofu in all forms so maybe this has something to do with it.

From Beth:
Try Califa unsweetened almond milk. The green one, there are several colors of packaging. Great on cereal.

Dear Tammy and Beth: I may gather my courage and try plain soy milk, but I’m wary of nut milk after the cashew fiasco.

From Tami W.:
Regarding lamb, I wanted to give a second shout out for Duma Meats. All their meats are wonderful — and we always make the drive to Portage County when we want to cook beer butt chicken. You can taste the difference! Duma’s prices are also much lower than grocery stores.

Dear Tami: I’m sold. I’ve bought whole pigs from Duma for roasting, but have never made the trip for regular cuts. I must remedy that.

From Cheryl:
Crown rack of lamb, leg of lamb and nice chops can be found at Sams Club. The racks got rave reviews from our ladies’ lunch group when I served them grilled (cherry smoked) with homemade pomegranate molasses, grilled asparagus, grilled smashed potatoes with rosemary butter and my signature lemon lavender martinis. I love my friends.

Dear Cheryl: And we would all love to be one of them. Currently, Sam’s is my source for lamb. The price is good and the lamb is pretty good, too. I’m just hoping to find a local source with reasonable prices, which may be a pipe dream.

From Janet:
Your were hunting for lamb. And I do not know if this would be a solution: Arukah Market Health and Wellness. It is located at 2871 Edison St. in Lake Township west of the Hartville Flea Market in a house on the north side of the street. There is a website. The changing sign out front mentions bison, goat and elk. Everything is natural. I have not been there but the reviews are good.

Dear Janet:
Thanks for the tip. I’ve seen the sign for the store but didn’t notice anything about bison, goat or elk. Exciting! I called and talked to owner John Taylor, who said he does get lamb sporadically from a local farm. The store had ground lamb and one leg of lamb when I called. The leg was $11.97 a pound.

To everyone who suggested Spicy Lamb Farm, Brunty’s and other local boutique operations, I am aware of them but they are out of my price range — as is Arukah. But I may stop by for some elk.

Winner of two James Beard Awards for food writing.

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Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter. Then click here to sign upunder your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

July 5, 2017

Dear friends,

My legs are scratched and I have poison ivy on one wrist, but that’s a price I willingly pay for black raspberry pie. This is the summer of the wild berry. The black raspberries are running rampant here in Ohio, and I have no doubt blackberries will be next.

The overgrown patch of wild black raspberries between my greenhouse and shed is out of control, sending rogue canes over, around and into the greenhouse. In years past I have collected handfuls of berries to eat with my morning yogurt. This year I have harvested quarts of berries and haven’t even hacked my way beyond the perimeter of the thicket. I urge you to go to the woods, find a clearing and start picking.

For the first time I have enough berries for a pie. Initially I made a galette, a simple tart of a pastry round covered with about two cups of berries and the edges folded over to form about a 2-inch rim. The next day I picked a quart and reached for a 9-inch pie pan. I used refrigerator pie crust for the bottom crust (my shoulder injury is worse, not better) and devised a spur-of-the-moment crumb mixture for the topping.

I didn’t use a recipe for the pie and you needn’t, either, for the fruit you pick or buy this summer. Just remember that a galette bakes in about 30 minutes and a pie in 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Because fruits vary in juiciness, you may have to look up how much thickener to stir into the filling. Four cups of black raspberries (the amount needed for a pie) require 3 tablespoons flour. I didn’t use sugar in the filling because the berries were sweet enough. Use your judgement, but in any case go easy on the sugar to allow the fruit flavor to shine.

The formula for a crumb topping is 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup flour, 5 tablespoons butter and about a half cup sugar. I substituted three tablespoons Splenda for the sugar. You might want to add a few shakes of salt, too. The butter is cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the bits are the size of peas. To this basic topping recipe you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices. You may season the filling, too, if desired. Sometimes I add a few drops of almond extract to peach pie filling, for example.

Save this column and stash a box of pie pastry in your fridge. Then whenever you come across a trove of fruit this summer, you’ll be just minutes away from slipping a pie into the oven. What’s that old saying? And some days there’s pie.

BLACK RASPBERRY CRUMB PIE

Raspberry-Pie-Jane-Snow.jpg

  • 1 pastry disk for a 9-inch pie
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 3 tbsp. Splenda granular)
  • Several dashes of salt
  • 5 tbsp. cold butter, in small pieces
  • 4 cups black (or red) raspberries
  • 3 tbsp. flour

Leave pastry at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold under the edges and crimp. Place in refrigerator.

In a bowl, combine oats, the 1/3 cup flour, sugar and salt. Stir together. Cut butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it’s the size of peas. Refrigerate.

Gently wash berries by floating in cold water or by very gently running water over them in a strainer. Spread on paper towels to dry. Place in a bowl and toss with the 3 tablespoons flour.

Remove pie crust and topping from refrigerator. Pour berries onto the pie crust. Top evenly with the crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees (375 if using a glass pan) on the middle oven rack for about 60 minutes, until crust is dark brown and fruit is tender. Makes 1 pie.

GUT CHECK

What I cooked last week:
Black raspberry galette; black raspberry crumb pie; sweet soy-glazed pork chops with a platter of oven-roasted red bell peppers, Anaheim peppers and new potatoes with olive oil, coarse sea salt and chopped fresh basil over arugula; and thick pan-grilled hamburgers on ciabatta buns with roasted red peppers, onions and mustard.

What I ate last week in/from restaurants:
Ribeye and gorgonzola sandwich and a few thin fries at Johnny’s Downtown in Cleveland; chicken and vegetable rotini from Earth Fare; peanuts and a hot dog with mustard at Progressive Field in Cleveland; a California roll, tuna and crab poke salad, and coconut-curry noodles with jumbo shrimp at Basil Asian Bistro in Canton; a thin veggie pizza from Earth Fare; and a fruit cup, toast and a two-egg omelet with feta cheese, onion, mushrooms and tomato at the Eye Opener in Akron.

TIDBITS

I finally tasted soy milk last week — specifically, cashew soy milk, which my doctor recommended. Until now I have resisted the soy-milk fad, stubbornly clinging to my beloved skim milk, which I use in puddings, protein shakes, for baking and cooking, and occasionally straight up.

The verdict: Cashew soy milk is no competition for the real thing. It tasted like a No. 2 pencil. I’m serious. Sink your teeth into a yellow pencil and inhale. Then take a sip of cashew soy milk. Am I right? Besides, It is grayish-tan, a hell of a color for something you’re supposed to consume.

I am mystified why so many non-vegetarian, non-lactose intolerant people have switched to soy milk. Please enlighten me.

P.S.: And don’t tell me it’s because milk is inflammatory. Dairy products do not cause inflammation, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, both of which cite a review of 52 clinical studies that disprove that widely disseminated falsehood. In fact, dairy products may alleviate inflammation.

THE MAILBAG

 

From George, Akron:
About where you can buy some good lamb: One, Canal Fulton Provision — they sell to restaurants as well as the public; and two, Near East Market, 3464 Hudson Drive in Cuyahoga Falls — I believe you wrote about them in a newsletter from a galaxy a long, long time ago.

Dear George: I remember that galaxy, where we were all much younger. I haven’t had much luck with Near East Market the last few visits. The lamb in the freezer was scant and the owners didn’t want to talk about it. Canal Fulton Provision sounds like a hot lead, though. Thanks.

From Maryann:
For lamb — and nearly every other edible critter that can be portioned, wrapped and frozen — try Duma Meats on 857 Randolph Rd. in Mogadore. A second site in Hartville Marketplace is expansive, too, with fresh meat. But for the full ark, the Duma home place has it and is worth the drive.

Also, I have a new food find for you. Hidden in the new center at the NEO College of Medicine, Chef Xavier holds court in fine, fine form. I have only had lunches, as food service stops about 2 p.m. But it’s always a treat — unique dressings on unique and fresh made-to-order salads. Everything from PBJ to black bean hummus on naan bread. He also hosts special cooking events as part of the Wellness Center programs on improved health through healthy eating. Although it is a small cafeteria-style station for getting folks in and out quickly, the vibe is good as is every dish I have eaten there. Check it out at the Rootstown exit of I-77. The med school is easy to find and parking is easy as well.

Dear Maryann: If Tony and I are ever near the med school around lunch time (it happens), we will stop. And thanks for the lamb tip. The lamb at Duma is reasonable, too. I called and was told leg of lamb is $6.95 a pound bone-in and $7.95 a pound boneless.

From Bill:
Jane, there is an Indian grocery store in Cuyahoga Falls, across from Acme on Front Street/Bailey Road next to Jubilee Donuts, a few doors down from Strickland’s ice cream and Ninnies Hot Dogs and the River Grille, around the corner from the Silver Swan Tavern and Totally Cooked. You might find naan there or just a good meal in the neighborhood. If you need to take Tony you can drop him off at Hudson Drive Hardware — a real old-fashioned hardware store.

Dear Bill: Well, now I can’t wait to walk that neighborhood. Maybe I’ll just move in. Thanks, Bill, for all the ideas.

From Linda Bower:
I really like your “what I ate” and “what I cooked” parts of your column. I like to see what restaurants you go to. It gives me ideas for places that I want to check out for myself. As far as “what I cooked,” sometimes I want to know the details or the recipe of something you cooked. For example, last week you said you cooked strip steaks with wine sauce. How did you make your wine sauce?

Dear Linda: I am always glad to share details. The wine sauce was simple. After cooking and removing the meat from the skillet, I added about three-fourths cup of leftover red wine I had on hand. I think it was a pinot noir. I added a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and brought it to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. I let it boil for a minute or two until reduced by a third to a half, then whisked in a few bits of cold butter. Very basic.

From Marcia, New Franklin:
Oh my, grilled double-cream gouda and roasted pineapple on toasted sourdough? Sounds wonderful! What’s your take on how the Blue Door fixes it?

Dear Marcia: The Blue Door’s $11 grilled cheese sandwich is worth every cent. The cheese layer is not thick and gooey. In fact, it melts almost completely into the bread. But imagine the best thick-cut sourdough toast you’ve had, with just the right tang countered by the richness of that wisp of cheese…. and I haven’t even gotten to the pineapple yet. The sandwich is the opposite of a Melt grilled cheese in conception. It is elegantly understated, letting a few outstanding ingredients speak for themselves.

Winner of two James Beard Awards for food writing.

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