My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.

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Asparagus Pesto Pasta Carbonara 1

Posted on April 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

I always hate to be faced with left-over pasta, and it was especially so the other night.  I had been planning to use of the wild greens I’d been harvesting to add to the basil I had found for a batch of pesto for dinner.  But poor Greg: I’ve done him in on the use of the bitter greens I’ve been preparing at every turn.

Enjoying bitterness is a new development for me.  But this spring, feeling like I’m ready to emerge from winter’s lethargy and – let’s face it – extra weight, I just can’t get enough of these fresh and bracing greens that leave me feeling vital and somehow cleansed.  But Greg said NO to the weed-pesto, and so our spaghetti was pretty thinly coated with the traditional basil pesto I scraped from the blender.

And there were the noodles this morning, flecks of green sort of morosely clinging here and there.  I was frowning at them and hungry for breakfast and the last couple pieces of bacon caught my eye, and I thought: why not?

It was one of the nicer things I’ve done to cold spaghetti, so I’m sharing it with you.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Carbonara
Serves 4

Cook until crisp and then drain:

  • 4 slices of humanely raised, nitrate-free bacon
  • (Don’t want bacon?  Measure out 1/2 t. smoked paprika, 1/4 t. salt, 1 pinch sugar and set aside)

While bacon is cooking, beat together:

  • 2 eggs

Dig out of the fridge and stir together:

  • 4 – 6 cups leftover spaghetti with pesto sauce & steamed asparagus (if you don’t have them leftover you can cook them and then just add them to the skillet in the next step)
  • 3 T. grated parmesan cheese
  • (The paprika mixture if you’re skipping the bacon.)

Heat in a skillet until rippling:

  • 1 – 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. butter

Add spaghetti mixture and stir around every few minutes.  When entire batch is fairly warm, pour in eggs and stir so that everything is evenly coated.  Crumble in bacon, if using, stir, and serve as soon as egg is set.

Chinese New Year’s Valentine’s Day 0

Posted on February 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

My delightful and amazing friend showed up a few weeks ago with a duck and a goose for our freezer.  I had last met the birds as cute little fuzzywumps who were making a temporary stop in her condo on their way to the farm where they were to be raised.

Better, more interesting, and more thoughtful writers have written about the contradiction of loving specific animals and eating them.  But not all of them have a 7- and 4- year old to stage impassioned debates on the issue.

The boys asked what I was bringing down to the basement freezer and I told them.  Z. blanched and said, “But that’s TERRIBLE!”  And he started crying and telling me he wouldn’t eat them.   E. said, “Oh, I want to eat them, Mommy.  I’ll eat their … HEADS!”  So while his brother sobbed, I explained that birds usually don’t have heads by the time they get to someone’s freezer, and we trooped downstairs to peer inside the plastic bag at the birds.  E. nodded.   Z. announced that he was going to be vegetarian.

As the boys continued to loudly process their quest for ethical eating, I wanted to plan a meal around the birds.  Then, before I knew it, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year’s were about to coincide and we turned it into a little party.  I started thinking about traditional good luck New Year dishes and Valentine’s fun.

I planned on a sort of mock Peking duck, with the overnight approach of steaming the bird and then roasting it with a glaze on the skin.  But when I went to start them: NO SKIN!  I gasped and started scratching my head, saying something that rhymed with, “duck,” over and over.  What was I going to do?  What possible substitute for skin could there be?   Duck, duck, duck, f …

Then there it was: bacon.

So it was on to plan B.  and making a sort of frosting with palm (unhydrogenated, organic, non-saturated) shortening, molasses and sambal oelek, and rubbing it all over the birds before draping them with lots of thick-cut bacon.  Then I roasted them in a clay-pot cooker to keep as much moisture in as possible.

I cooked them for about 1 3/4 hours at 475, which was when faces began to appear from all directions, asking to snitch a piece or two of bacon.  We then carved the meat and served it with:

  • Bacon, since there was no crispy skin
  • Wheat tortillas brushed with sesame oil and warmed
  • Hoi sin sauce
  • Julienned scallion greens
  • Scallion brushes (If you make this, don’t skip these!  They look great and will make your guests giggly-happy.)

There were tea eggs.  Here are Sara and her lovely daughter peeling them (and Kim laughing at my silly picture-taking ways):

And General Tso’s Seitan with broccoli, with homemade seitan made with Post Punk Kitchen’s excellent and reliable recipe.

My mom brought the unpictured but delicious Beets with Star Anise from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and made sauce for Sesame-Peanut Noodles (long noodles are a traditional celebration food because they’re associated with long life).

Dessert was truffles, plus Sweet Rice Cake. I love this dish, but I adore sticky gooey things made with glutinous rice.   Besides being a really endearing texture, it’s auspicious for New Year’s because it’s round, signifying family union, and sweet for a sweet new year, and its name in Chinese is a sound-alike for a sort of good wishes expression.


But there were children to consider, so a Western-style dessert was in order.  In the morning, I had thrown together a vegan orange batter for cupcakes, then realized I had left out the baking soda, which I hurried in right before baking.   That was when I had a first-hand experience with what happens when you over-activate your leavening agent.

So I baked the rest as a cake, which worked better for some reason.  Then after dinner, while the children were acting completely insane and were all past their bedtime, a 10-year old guest and I made our silly piece de resistance, which involved the cake, neon-colored 7-minute frosting, black icing gel, and heart sprinkles.  It was a Tiger’s Valentine’s Cake (about which my assistant made sure to remind guests, “No actual tigers were harmed in the making of this dessert”).

And then we sent guests home with cupcakes and collapsed in a fit of sugar and food and good conversation.

Blackberry Apple Cobbler with Bacon-Sage Crust 4

Posted on September 12, 2009 by crankycheryl

0905091840So it was International Bacon Day last week, and the boys were dismantling the furniture as I was cruising around the food blog world.

Normally, these sorts of things turn me off.  I just want to run and hide when I see the whole food world marching in lock-step with an ingredient or a technique or celebrity or whatever.

But this was bacon.

“Guys,” I said.  “What do you think of bacon ice cream?!”  They looked up from their couch-cushion boat.  I watched warring emotions cross their little faces like cloudbursts on a sunny day.  Clearly they were thinking, “Mmmm, bacon!  Ice cream, mmmm.  Smokey ice cream?  Can I get it in a cone?  Would the bacon melt it?  Can I still bite off the bottom of the cone and use it as a straw and watch Mommy try to keep her composure?”

But perhaps I project.

E. said, “Listen, Mommy: I have an even better idea.  What if you made a bacon pie!?  And then we have vanilla ice cream and put bacon on it?!  And you give me hot dogs for dinner first!?

Perpetually thinking about ways to get produce into their little mouths, I suggested that maybe we could make an apple cobbler with a bacon crust.  I’ll admit it: I was pandering.  The only thing they like more than apple pie is apple cobbler.  There were no hot dogs, because that seemed like going to Catholic mass to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.   And off we went.

Blackberry Apple Cobbler with Bacon-Sage Crust
adapted from The New Basics Cookbook & in honor of Sheila Lukins

Yield: 12 servings.

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, stems removed
  • 8 apples peeled, cored, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 c. plus 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • Freshly grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • scant 1/2 c. unsalted butter ( I again send you to iRaw’s excellent site for her vegan version of biscuits, should you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 4 slices bacon (or turkey bacon or veggie substitute, of course), cooked and crumbled into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, chopped very finely, or 1/4 t. ground dried sage
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Combine berries, apples, 1/2 c. sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in the prepared pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 1 T. of the sugar.  Work in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips.  (I have a whisk like this, which I love partly for its double life as a pastry blender.)  Lightly beat the egg and milk together, and slowly but firmly (you don’t want too many strokes) stir into the flour mixture.  Stir in the chopped bacon and sage.
  4. Knead lightly, sprinkling on a bit more flour as necessary to form a smooth dough.
  5. Break off portions of the dough and place them on top of the fruit in the pan, pressing and spreading the dough as you go.  Cover the entire surface.
  6. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the dough and bake until well browned, 35-45 minutes.  Serve immediately, with ice cream of course.

Blessed Silence Sunday: Bacon Apple Blackberry Crisp 1

Posted on September 05, 2009 by crankycheryl

We Crankies celebrated International Bacon Day with an Apple-Blackberry Cobbler with bacon and sage in the biscuit topping.

We Crankies celebrated International Bacon Day with an Apple-Blackberry Cobbler with bacon and sage in the biscuit topping.  (Recipe to come with the EatLocalVT Challenge.)

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