Review: Sweeter Off the Vine

Sweeter Off the Vine

Sweeter Off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season by Yossy Arefi

Organized by season, this book offers recipes for using fruit – and the herbs and vegetables that go well with them – to make delicious sweet dishes. Within each season, multiple recipes are provided for each of the author’s favorite ingredients. Spring features herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries; summer highlights apricots, berries, melons, stone fruits, raspberries, and figs; fall includes grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears, quince, squash, and pumpkins; and winter wraps up the year with cranberries, citrus, and dates. The book concludes with a list of essential recipes and components that are perpetually useful, such as pie crust, crème fraîche, and puff pastry. As we have planted two apple trees already and will be planting peach, pear, and plum trees in the near future, I am super excited by these recipes. Many of them appear to be fairly complicated (baking usually is, at least from my newb perspective) but the instructions read clearly and seem quite straightforward. I’m so excited to have our own fruit growing right in our own yard. I have visions of bushels of fruit dancing in my head, and now some lovely images of pear pie with crème fraîche caramel to go with them!

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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just the nuts and bolts

Karl has been anxious to make his old family recipe for Nuts and Bolts for awhile, and now that we have been cooking actual bacon, we had the necessary bacon grease on hand to do so.

Making nuts and bolts

Karl also had the realization that we could use the vintage roasting pan we were gifted a few years back. Our oven is fairly small, and this recipe makes a rather sizable quantity, so having a larger cooking vessel was necessary.

Making nuts and bolts

This recipe is slightly unusual (at least to me) in a few ways, one of which is that it measures the dry ingredients by weight, rather than cups. We don’t have a kitchen scale, but we do have a postal scale, so K relocated that to the kitchen temporarily.

Making nuts and bolts

He carefully weighed out all the cereal and pretzels, though he purposely doubled up on the cereal since he omitted the nuts (he doesn’t like them).

Making nuts and bolts

This looks like a LOT of snack mix to me! But I’m sure it will get eaten faster than I expect.
Making nuts and bolts

Here’s the bacon grease, lovingly saved in one of our recently acquired glass storage containers. It doesn’t look as gross as I would have guessed, as long as I don’t think about it too much.

Making nuts and bolts

Here he mixes that with the butter and spices, again making a slight change: no celery powder. Has anyone out there ever heard of celery powder? I could find celery salt, celery seed, and celery flakes, but no celery powder, even at the hoity market.

Making nuts and bolts

Set the roaster for 225. I just LOVE the look of this control panel. So simple, yet so elegant.

Making nuts and bolts

Mix it all together, and it’s ready to cook!
Making nuts and bolts

After a few hours, it was done. EXCEPT that we have to let it sit for a week or so before we can start in on it.

Making nuts and bolts

We have a few days left before Eating Day. Hopefully it turns out to be worth the anticipation!I used this along with my to get fit.

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Parmesan-Reggiano

I’ve been looking for a tool that would help me to (a) expand my cooking skills and (b) encourage me to make healthy meals rather than default to things like eating cheese and crackers because nothing more inspiring occurs to me. Also required is that this tool have a lot of vegetarian options and have recipes that don’t have a ton of ingredients in them (more than a handful of ingredients is too many) or require using a bunch of pots and pans just to create one meal (pet peeve). If it could also help me to plan meals for each week, that would be the salsa on top.

Well, GUESS WHAT. Door to Door Organics just started a new service that does all of this! It also helps with organizing: you can click on a recipe to add it to your week, and then when you click on the recipe it gives you the option to add all the ingredients that DTD offers to your weekly box. And even better, it makes a list for you of all the things you need to buy that DTD doesn’t sell. And it has easily printed versions of that shopping list and the recipes you’ve chosen for the week! Seriously, this is beyond awesome.

I happened to find this new tool on a day that K was already planning to go shopping, so I was able to have him pick up some ingredients that we didn’t already have on hand (surprisingly there weren’t too many of these! Mostly specific cheeses). I didn’t have my weekly DTD box yet, so I made something else for dinner that night, but I used some of the Parmesan-Reggiano that I needed for another recipe.

portobella mushrooms and broccoli in balsamic vinegar with rice, topped with Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

I had a portobella mushroom that had been marinating in balsamic vinegar for a few days, and I added some chopped broccoli to that in the skillet, along with some leftover white rice, more balsamic, and some butter. After it was done cooking, I put some of the cheese on top and it was delicious!

portobella mushrooms and broccoli in balsamic vinegar with rice, topped with Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

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moderate noodle fiasco

So I got inspired to make some ramen noodles for dinner tonight and I thought I’d do some pan-fried noodles like those crazy delicious ones at P.F. Chang’s (admittedly it’s been a few years since I had them but they were good back then). I also had some spinach, some sliced Baby Bella mushrooms, and a few sad Chik’n Strips lingering in the bottom of the bag (sad because I only had a couple of them left but didn’t realize it until I was already invested in making them). Everything was going swimmingly until I tried to pan-fry the noodles. I was feeling all cocky, head bloated with recent culinary successes, and decided I’m such an expert I could just wing it. BAD IDEA JEANS. I succeeded in coating the entire pan with a nice baked-on layer of noodle crust, which will no doubt be pure delight to remove later (the pan is now soaking, relegated to a corner where it can have a time out and think about the consequences of its actions).

Despite this, though, the final product was pretty tasty. For flavor, I used the mister for a little bit of EVOO, cooked the ramen with veggie bouillon, and threw in some Italian seasoning.

noods with stuff

noods with stuff

Not very pretty, but it tasted good and was the hearty winter food I was looking for.

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real burrito

After my recent un-burrito, I somehow got up the energy to make actual burritos.

burrito

The recipe here is only slightly different than last time. Here I used:

I chopped up the mushrooms and pepper and put them in the skillet with the Crumbles and the taco seasoning. I warmed the tortillas in the microwave and then put the skillet stuff inside with some taco sauce, the cheese, and some fresh salsa (I try to squeeze out as much liquid as I can so the tortilla doesn’t get waterlogged).

burrito

I used Karl’s magic folding method (learned, I believe, during his teenage years working for Taco Bell, haha) which works like a charm to keep the goodies inside the shell while you eat it.

burrito

Turned out pretty delicious!

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