Archive for ‘Music’

March 4, 2013

Taking Tea | Afternoon at the Harrison House

I see why they do it in the south and of course, it goes without saying, in the UK.

Taking time for afternoon tea is an immeasurably nice way to spend an hour or so in the afternoon.  And if you’ve got a girlfriend to catch up on some gossip, all the better.  The Harrison House, right now, kind of has a little secret.

But the scones and tea are so nice, it won’t be secret for much longer.

If you’re looking for an exceedingly quiet place to take tea, a few scones (good ones, with the exception of how they are cut, according to a very knowledgeable British source), some savories, some fruit, and a gorgeous dessert, let me recommend them.  No hustle and bustle here, just attentive service and the charm of a Victorian Village house.

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The afternoon tea service run by Savvy Spoon Tea is a pop up of sorts, taking advantage of off time in the Harrison House kitchen and its cozy parlor in which to serve it in.  All the better for us, who get to enjoy the scones that pop out of the oven as you’re arriving and being seated.  The tea menu is varied with all good selections, I chose the rose black.  The scones were marvelous with a little lemon curd and I was completely enamored with the mushroom pasty.  The pear cake was moist and a real treat.

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March 1, 2013

It Makes a Difference | Askinosie Chocolate Tasting

Tasting SheetIt’s sometimes the unplanned moments that work out to be the best ones in your day.

Take the morning e-mail from a thoughtful Slow Food Columbus member who types a quick joke, makes you laugh and extends an invitation to attend a chocolate tasting with Shawn Askinosie in the Jeni’s Ice Cream Kitchens.

That afternoon.

Well, you have to say yes, don’t you?

I should say yes more often.

Especially when you’re saying yes to hear what Shawn Askinosie has to talk about.  Not only is he making remarkable chocolate that’s traceable from bean to bar, but he and his family are working hard to improve the lot of the farmers who grow the beans, the neighborhood and community in which the factory is located and heck, the lives of every single person who unwraps a bar of what I am starting to think is some of the best chocolate that has ever melted on my tongue.

Shawn takes something that inherently makes people happy – chocolate – and then ups the ante by making it good for everyone along the supply chain.  Good, clean and fair indeed.

His noble work takes him all around the world to the cocoa farmers and co-ops that he trades with directly who reside in that narrow band 20 degrees to the north and to the south of the equator.  There, in far flung locales from Ecuador to Tanzania to the Phillipines, Shawn partners, pays fairly and profit-shares with growers – many of them women – to produce not the rarest beans, but the ones handled with the greatest care.  Askinosie beans are carefully raised, picked, fermented and then sun-dried in the equatorial heat.

Don’t take my word that it’s these careful steps that makes Askinosie among the best chocolate made anywhere.  Listen to David Lebovitz.

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December 11, 2012

Simple and Heartfelt | Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball SoupSometimes, you just want soup. When it’s rainy (no snow?) and cold and dreary and grey, you need something that says, “Bubbala, where are your mittens?”

This fantastic soup is something that anyone can make, with the most simple of ingredients.  And it’s pretty much the single most biggest bang for your buck kind of thing you can make.  People love it.  It’s funny like that.  Because you say to yourself, “Really?  This is that good?”

But it is.  You might even get a bit greedy for the leftovers.  But then, you won’t, because you know better and because this is wonderful to share.  Because the leftovers are even better.  And this, in the season of giving is a wonderful thing to give: warming, comforting and 98% love by volume.

This particular recipe/method uses every possible bit of the soup, even the fat that you skim off the top of the stock.  Because thrift is what takes this soup from ho hum to oh nom.  Yeah, I went there.

Matzo Ball Soup, Serves two for dinner, plus five for leftover lunch, so, yeah. Lots.

For the stock

1 split chicken breast, bone in, skin on

2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

2 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on

2 carrots, quartered

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August 17, 2012

Why Haven’t I Done This Before? | Watermelon Rind Pickles

I picked up a beautiful, heavy and sweet local watermelon at my neighborhood Giant Eagle Market District.  I still can’t believe that this is my normal, everyday, hey-we’re-out-of-milk grocery store – it’s humongous.  But I have to give them props: for being as huge as they are, they do try for a couple of months to really bring in a bunch of locally grown and raised produce.  I really like that.

So back home, I was cutting it up and then slicing up all the leftover rinds so that they would break down faster in the compost pile and it hit me.  People make pickles out of this stuff.   And thankfully it’s less for the compost pile to try to digest, which is a good thing this time of year, just ask my husband, who often gets stuck with the job of carting out all the scraps.  He’s a good man.

Is that a cucumber in the foreground? No! Just a well trimmed watermelon rind.

So a quick browse around and it’s a simpler method than I even thought.  For half of a medium watermelon the brine is

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August 10, 2012

Local Foods Week | Whey Crepes with Ricotta and Zucchini

It’s the time of year where just about anything your heart desires is available fresh and local here in Ohio.  Farmer’s market tables groan under the weight of melons, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches.  Oh the loveliness.

Local Matters (whose mission is to transform the food system in central Ohio to be more secure, prosperous, just and delicious) hosts Local Foods Week every year.  This year they have so many events from tastings to picnics to special local foods week tours.   It’s kind of a party with produce all week.  Which is awesome.

Cooking with local produce is my personal favorite thing to do this week.

But it’s summer, too, and if you ask me, that means cooking should be just barely above a simmer.  If you’re in the house, lightly sauteed or not cooked at all are methods I can stand behind.

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July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement. 

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July 18, 2012

BFFs | Trout and Bacon

I understand the problem as well as anyone: we’re told to eat fish for its health benefits, but it’s a challenging ingredient that leaves us either nervous or unfulfilled.  We’re afraid to eat it, and when we do we’re hungry later.  Well I have the solution — trout paired with bacon.

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