Tag Archives: ithaca

Grow your own veggies!

Er – maybe not like this. They are pretty, though! Maybe you want to:

1. Grow your own sprouts(Sprouted chickpeas are great for hummus)

2. Grow random crap from your pantry and fridge! (Special shout-out to potato sprouter extraordinaire Judith Ternes – you inspire us)

3. Check out Carolyn Cope‘s advice for edible windowbox gardens!

4. Find out who among your friends and family are undercover garden wizards! They’re everywhere, and they’ll definitely give you advice, probably bring you their extras, and maybe even deliver you some transplants.

Don’t forget to have fun and not worry too much! This spring, I tried to let go of my desire to read and read and read about gardening, and just gardened. It’s been great. Maybe (read: probably) I’ve made some serious technical errors, but I’m too ignorant to know the difference! And as long as I’m not perpetuating pests, I figure my amateurish behavior is acceptable. And the herbs are hard to kill. And it feels good to eat food you’ve grown. And it feels almost as good if not better to not pay $3 for a pathetically small bunch of “fresh” herbs.

Max and I threw a bunch of stuff in the ground this spring. Click on for some photos of our -likely-unimpressive-to-you-but-totally-life-changing-for-me garden! I’m practicing for my hopefully long career as a slightly senile but very proud grandmother who has impressively but inconveniently learned to use snapfish.

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“Doesn’t Everyone Spend Saturday and Sunday Nights in the Kitchen?”: The Deadpan Entree Smackdown

We on the Deadpan/Ithaca FamilyStyles Team – you know, that ruggedly good-looking bunch – always love a little bit of competition. You can usually find us going to war with Bananagrams, settling Catan with all the imperial zeal of Cortez or Columbus himself, or quizzing each other on random yet seemingly important information (think real-life Sporcle): name as many pokemon as you can! List the members of the nightshade family! Extoll the virtues of kosher salt! You get the idea.

So, it was only natural that when it came down to figuring out an entree for our first Deadpan event, we decided to compete for it, with a facebook event, scorecards, and of course, hours upon hours in the kitchen. Once again taking advantage of Hilary’s generosity and five-burner Electrolux stove, we went to work.

Max Hull is a photoshop god

I’d say each one of us totally and completely brought it. Pictures and results after the jump!

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Butternut Squash Polenta and Other Mayhems: Deadpan Restaurant’s Opening Nights

So much has happened in the last few weeks. Amin is now gallivanting in Dresden, and Judy has proven a valuable addition to our kitchen cohort. We at Deadpan Restaurant had our opening debut a few weeks ago, and then a repeat event this past weekend. It was, in a word, insane. Five dishes, 12 guests per event, hours upon hours in the kitchen, and I don’t think I’ll ever look a pot of polenta in the eye again.

Let’s talk about the menu. Since we’re new at this whole restaurant thing, we haven’t really figured out how to simultaneously serve a secret supper and photodocument it, so bear with us on the pictures!

We started with a red wine oxtail and beef tongue stew, served as chilled, jelly hemispheres, with a layer of homemade Momofuku pickles on a toasted baguette round.

Probably the most challenging dish of the evening, our tongue-and-tail amuse bouche was cast in a mold designed and cut by Amin. Pretty cool, huh? We value the use of all parts of the animals we eat, and wanted our guests to do the same. To our surprise and delight, nobody tried to escape the event while we described this dish, and everyone cleaned their plate! On a side note, those pickles are so addictive and delicious – definitely at the top of my these-are-so-easy-to-make-i’ll-never-buy-them-again list.

For our starter, we served the dish that has been our pride, joy, and near-undoing for the last several months: pork belly with butternut squash polenta. Cured for two days in a mix of brown sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and black pepper, and then braised for upwards of three hours in a pot of chicken stock and Delirium Tremens (famed as the best beer in the world), this local pork from Autumn’s Harvest Farm is tender, buttery, and melts in your mouth. The butternut squash polenta is cooked on the stovetop and then baked (or is it fried?) on cast iron with a lot of butter. We made our sauce out of a reduction of the braising liquid and some Cornell Orchards cider. This isn’t actually the pork belly we served, but an earlier incarnation that looks mostly alike:

We also served some cider mulled with the same spice mix that we cured the belly with. Still with us, even through the bad flash photography? Our other three dishes, after the jump…

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Random Food Porn, or, What I Accomplished in Sophomore Fall

As the spring semester starts up, I find my mind wandering back to all the things I did in the fall. Remember the fall semester? Walking up the slope without getting my face windburned off? Four months of classes and pouring money into this lovely Ivy League institution? Learning about things like neuroscience, psychology and the legal system, human development, and so on? Brutalizing your savings account and learning how to bake flourless chocolate torte, braise pork belly, poach eggs, make hollandaise sauce, butcher a deer, french ribs, and so on? Becoming a shameless fan of the blood-spatter-style plating of sauce (pictured below)? Do I remember all that? Not really. Good thing I took pictures, and we’ve got recipes coming in future posts.

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Introducing Ithaca’s Newest Secret Supper Joint: Deadpan Restaurant!

In approximately three weeks, Deadpan Restaurant, Ithaca’s newest secret supper club, will be hosting its first event.

What’s a secret restaurant, you ask? Good thing we already wrote a post on that: big sister lays it down for the uninitiated.

We’ll be serving a three course meal at a to-be-revealed location. Look out for more announcements!

After all, who wouldn’t want to hang out with and experience the epicurean adventures of champions such as these…

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Big Buck Hunter: A Day in the Life of A Not-So-Average College Sophomore, or, Little Sister Waxes Philosophical on Meat

Most of the time, eating meat seems simple. After all, processed meat in the grocery aisle is neat, clean, and offers us little in the way of reminders that we are eating something that used to be alive, that had a head, feet, fur or feathers.

Deer in Ithaca are so populous that they’re essentially pests – destroying gardens, disrupting the ecosystem, and all too often meeting unfortunate ends in car accidents or starving in the winter. When Daniel’s dad offered Dan the chance to go deer hunting, we were all thrilled. Now, before you close the book on us savages, let me say this: we don’t believe in hunting for sport, or for trophies, but we loved the idea of getting another step closer to our food, and decreasing our dependence on factory farmed meat.

So, a few weekends ago, the Ithaca FamilyStyles gang experienced just how complicated and incredible meat really is. Sure, we’ve gutted fish and cared for livestock that would eventually become food, and I like to think that we’re thoughtful about and appreciative of the work and care and life involved in producing meat. But, butchering the deer that Daniel killed (with one shot, by the way) on his family’s land, was a whole new, up-close and personal experience for all of us. This time, we were responsible for seeing the animal through from death all the way to neat packages in the freezer.

And it was fascinating. For more pictures, and the occasional rumination, down the rabbit hole we go!

Warning: These pictures feature meat in a pretty serious way – view at your own risk! (Just so you know, I considered making a joke about “rawness,” but decided against it. You’re welcome.)

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Adventures with Bouillabaisse, or, what would Julia Child do?

At the end of the summer, Daniel and Max and I hosted a small house-warming gathering at which we served two dishes inspired by two culinary goddesses who’ve both had tremendous influence on our Ithacan kitchen: Mei, my sister and primary proprietress of this lovely online space, and Julia Child. We imagine that their lovechild would be miraculously tall, butter- and bacon-loving to a fault, and look something like this:

Hmm… maybe we’ll stick to hybrid meals and leave offspring to the professionals. Bouillabaisse and scallion pancakes ahead.

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a happy birthday at hazelnut kitchen

Over the weekend, Daniel and I made the twenty-minute drive to Trumansburg, NY to dine at the lovely Hazelnut Kitchen. As you may know, the Ithaca/Finger Lakes area is a destination for foodies who love semi-rural areas, beautiful scenery, and local, sustainable, organictastic food (and wine, but I don’t know anything about that, this being my 19th birthday…). Apologies in advance for the sort of bad pictures. The camera was on the verge of dying, and then it did, right before dessert…I’m new here.

The restaurant was tucked away, almost invisible on the main street, small and homey with a bar and a view of the kitchen. They serve Gimme! coffee and the menu lists all the farms they buy products from, including goat cheese producers, apiaries, and so on.

hazelnut-specials

That there is the specials blackboard, and a view of the exposed brick walls. 

I’ll get straight to the good stuff. First, bread and appetizers. 

hazelnut-bread-bucket

The bread came in a little metal pail with green onion butter. It was excellent.

hazelnut-calamari

Daniel started with a calamari watercress salad with black olive vinaigrette, feta, wheat berries, and red pepper coulis. Pretty!

hazelnut-egg

I had this genius creation, which I could literally eat every day for the rest of my life. Bottom layer of semolina pasta sheet. Middle layer of smoked ham, ricotta cheese, and garlicky broccoli rabe. Blanket of sunny-side-up organic farm egg. Be still my heart. Be growly my stomach.

Our entree escapades were equally fruitful, or, perhaps more accurately, meatful. Daniel killed some pan seared duck with plum miso sauce, grilled asparagus, snap peas, and baby carrots, and I housed down a roasted, natural, pasture-raised chicken breast wrapped in the most crisp and delightful bacon I’ve ever eaten, over a vinaigrette bread salad with green onion-wrapped asparagus. Feast your eyes. 

hazelnut-duckhazelnut-chicken1
Bonus points for a crispy little bit of thigh on the chicken as well. You can see it peeking out from behind that green onion. Hello, friend.

Dan and I finished the meal with triple espresso chocolate cake and a warm apple galette, both with amazing vanilla ice cream. Alas, I have no pictures, but I think I’ve probably tortured you enough already.

When will I return to Trumansburg, and bring you with me, you ask? 

chicken-bbq1

May 3 for the chicken BBQ. Buy your bus tickets now.

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