Thursday, July 29, 2010

Walleye a la Boy Scout


Stepping off the plane at Dulles airport in Washington DC last weekend and walking to baggage claim, I had to smile at the sight in front of me - about 50 Boy Scouts on the escalator, dressed in their green-and-khaki uniforms, badges blazing on the lapels, excitedly talking and snapping photos of each other.

'Man, I'm totally covered if I need help crossing a street,' I thought to myself.

Little did I know that this would be a scene that would be repeated throughout my little Washington DC trip. I mean, hey, Boy Scouts are great, but I soon found out it was the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts and to help celebrate, 50,000 Scouts were converging in our nation's captial. All at once.

Uff da.

And not once did anyone offer to help me cross the street. Maybe my excessive persperation in the 100 degree heat had something to do with that...

So most of my vacation snapshots have America's Most Prepared Teenagers in the background...or foreground. See them back there at the Korean War Memorial?


Or how about crawling up the steps of the Jefferson Memorial?


I have absolutely nothing against Boy Scouts. My general impression was that they were pretty well-behaved, considering they were teenaged boys. Heck, someday Ben may be among the masses. It just got a little annoying to see lines everywhere as they sucked up all the tickets to Ford's Theater, caused an hour wait just to buy tickets at the Spy Museum, and amassed so thickly on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that one couldn't take a picture of our 16th president without a sleeve of khaki getting in the shot.


But, alas, it could've been worse. An AARP convention, perhaps, or maybe a Tea Party.

However, they weren't everywhere. For example, very little khaki was to be seen at the Smithsonian exhibit of first ladies' dresses.


And Cowboy Creamery, the most amazing cheese shop in town? Peace, quiet, and cool with the aroma of brie beckoning.


And at the pilgrimage destination of many an amateur chef, the Smithsonian exhibit of Julia Child's Kitchen...more middle-aged women had their noses pressed against the glass then freckle-faced boys.


Oh yes, I have many more pics of Mrs. Child's cucina. Hold tight.

Walleye a la Boy Scout

So titled because it's cooked in tin foil, a camper's best friend and, like the Boy Scouts, it's a little bit manly with some chili powder and Worcestshire - but still completely harmless.

1 lb. walleye fillets
Butter
Worcestshire sauce
Chili powder
Kosher salt
Minced garlic (optional)
Tin foil

Place fish on a sheet of foil. Top each with a drizzle of Worcestshire sauce, a liberal sprinkling of chili powder, a small pinch of salt, a bit of garlic and a pat of butter. Lay another piece of foil over it and roll up the edges to make a pouch. Place pouch on grill and cook at medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flaky.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Borscht Soup


Alright, folks. I have a few stories to share from the past weekend. But while I gather my thoughts on my quick trip to Washington DC that included 50,000 Boy Scouts, Julia Child, and snails (I'll explain soon, promise), I need a little sustenance. Something nourishing, something wholesome, something that says "Welcome Back!"

Ah yes. Borscht soup.

Here's a little lunch secret for any Bismarckians out there: Dan's Supermarket soup.

The soup menu changes, but borscht is the one constant that you will see on the menu everyday. It's good, it's hot, and it's cheap. Just like me. What. Wait. Did I say that?

For under $2, you can ladle yourself a bowl, digging to the bottom of the kettle to get the good veggie stuff instead of a bunch of broth. Grab a handful of free saltines and maybe splurge on a cheese stick for another 30 cents, and you've got a meal that has sustained me on many a hungry day.

But homemade borscht, with all the ingredients available RIGHT NOW at the farmers market (or in my dad's garden - thanks pa!)...well, Dan's borscht has some stiff competition.

Eastern European in origin, borscht is one of the few immigrant dishes remaining in the region that does not involve hefty doses of flour, butter, and/or meat; a bowl of deep red vegetable soup with a sweetness from the beets and the unmistakable flavor of dill underneath it all.

Borscht will always scream North Dakota for me. I could be in Abu Dhabi and if I were served a bowl of borscht, I would immediately be transported to the plains and prairies of my homeland, Star Trek "Beam Me Up Scotty" style.


Pretty tall order for a simple bowl of soup. But borscht is kinda amazing like that.

Borscht Soup
Adapted from Savoring the Seasons by Lucia Watson. Don't let the fact that it's summer keep you from making soup - borscht is great served cold, too. The traditional dollop of sour cream is optional in my mind, but dill is absolutely mandatory.

5 small beets, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 diced carrots
3 medium diced potatoes
1 peeled, diced onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Handful cut string beans
2 tablespoons fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)
Sour cream for garnish

Toss the beets with salt and set aside to set the color; do not rinse them.

Melt butter in large deep saucepan and saute beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic for 1 minute. Add lemon juice and enough water to just cover the veggies. Simmer at medium low heat until soft. Add string beans and simmer until just tender. Add herbs, season to taste with additional salt if needed, and serve hot or cold, garnished with sour cream.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sherried Pheasant and Raspberry Salad


Have I ever told you how much I like grocery shopping? I love grocery stores. They really are a marvel, if you think about it, bringing produce and meat and cookies and cheese and frozen pizza in from all over the world in a comfortable, air-conditioned, clean space with friendly old women handing you samples of fruit on toothpicks.

Yes, I really like grocery shopping.

However, during the short ND growing season, I have to admit that there is a unique pleasure in pulling an entire meal out of items you've harvested yourself. Walking into the garden with a bowl and a pair of shears. Snipping a few leaves of lettuce. Pulling juicy red raspberries off the vine. Sauteing pheasant breasts that have been waiting patiently in the freezer since last season. Assembling a meal from the fruit of the land around you - there is a sacredness in the act that a trip to the grocery store can never match.

Sherried Pheasant and Raspberry Salad

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4-6 pheasant breasts
1/4 c. dry sherry
Garden lettuce, trimmed and cleaned
Raspberries
Vinaigrette

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Season pheasant with salt and pepper. Place pheasant in hot oil, cover, and cook until cooked through, turning once midway in cooking (about 6-8 minutes total). Uncover and pour sherry over pheasant in hot pan; most of it should bubble away, leaving a bit of sauce. Remove from heat, slice pheasant and set aside.

Assemble salads of lettuce, pheasant and raspberries, drizzled with vinaigrette.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A-Shopping We Go!

So, Mr. Random.org, who is our lucky winner today...?

#10 - Locavore Makeover! A woman after my own heart with the title alone. Sounds like June was a rough month for her, so hopefully a new saucepan or a pretty little decanter will brighten her day. :)

Ms. Makeover, I could not locate your email address, so send me a note at rhubarbandvenison@hotmail.com. Yeah, I'm just going to have to trust no one takes advantage of my non-techie system here. It usually works out ok.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Giveaway!

Check out what I picked up today.


Beer buckets. $4 each in the Target clearance aisle. Love. Them.

Check out what you may pick up today.


$40 for a little online shopping spree for your dining room, kitchen, patio, or just your sweet little self. I know, right? That's buys lots 'o beer buckets.


Ok, Ben. And apple juice buckets, too.

Those sweet people at CSN Stores, what can I say...you guys must be click-happy with the store links in these posts or something, they just keep coming back with more giveaways for you guys. And I'm always happy to oblige.

Want your name in the hat? Just leave a little comment...OR, if Google comments make you nervous, try commenting on the R&V Facebook page...yeah, that's the badge you see on the right side there. Right there. See it? The Facebook thingy? Something new, something different. You can comment there instead if you'd like, and I'll still throw you in our little random drawing.

I'll announce a winner on Wednesday night, so be sure to check back y'all, ya hear?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Ice Pops


I know my posts have been on the sweet side lately, but what can I say? When you live in a house with no a/c, summertime means cold sweet relief, preferably in popsicle form.

Enter raspberry chocolate ice pops, stage left.

I've been searching for popsicle molds for awhile now. They are surprisingly hard to find - I couldn't even find them at Target *gasp*! I happened upon a cheap set in the baking aisle at Cash Wise grocery store.

However, don't let a lack of popsicle molds keep you from making homemade frozen sweet relief. Dixie cups totally work or any other small container - I've even heard of people using muffin tins (the silicone ones especially). Grab some popsicle sticks at the craft store and you're ready to rock.

Raspberry Chocolate Ice Pops
You think I typed out this whole recipe? Heck no. I found it on Epicurious - click here to see the original.

For raspberry ice
6 ounces fresh raspberries (1 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

For chocolate ice
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Equipment: 8 (3-ounce) ice pop molds and sticks

Make raspberry layers:
Blend together all raspberry-ice ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Make chocolate layers:
Bring water, corn syrup, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in cocoa and a pinch of salt, then whisk in vanilla. Transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by setting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, about 15 minutes.

Make ice pops:
Divide half of raspberry purée among molds, then freeze until partially frozen, about 20 minutes. Divide all of chocolate mixture among molds (layers may run into each other a little) and freeze again until partially frozen (not hard), about 30 minutes.

Fill molds with remaining raspberry purée, then place cover on molds and insert sticks at least thourough middle layer, making sure they are straight (important for removing top when unmolding). Freeze until completely firm, at least 3 hours.

Unmold ice pops:
Put molds in a container with room-temperature water up to 1/4 inch from top of molds. Let stand 30 seconds, then remove cover and pull out pops. Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Recently Kent and Ben took a father-son trip to the lake to visit my in-laws. I stayed home to work...and then r-e-l-a-x. I love my boys, but it was so nice to have a moment to myself again. When the door closed after they left, I barely knew what to do with myself.

And then I knew exactly what to do. I reverted back to Beth Before Baby.

I watched a movie while eating macaroni and cheese with No. Inter. Ruptions.

I stayed up until 1 am reading.

I slept in until 10 am.

I leisurely walked through Target, purchasing whatever perked my interest. (Coconut marshmallows?! Yes please!)

I went rollerblading along the river bike path.

And yes, I made pie.

I used to always make pies. I like making pies. It's like meditation, all these simple steps and ingredients coming together into something majestic. My pies aren't pretty - I'm lazy with the crust edges - but they're usually edible. Usually. And this one was very, yummily edible.

I make up words. It's what I do.

I've made strawberry rhubarb pie before with flour as a filling thickener, but I had to try Smitten Kitchen's recipe. Raise your hand if you adore Smitten Kitchen! She uses A LOT of tapioca in her recipe, which gels the juice so you don't get that puddle effect on the bottom of the pie plate. Everything sticks together, neat and tidy in classic SK style.

Needless to say, after a few hours on the road, nothing says "Welcome Home" to my boys like a fresh strawberry rhubarb pie sitting on the counter (and a wife/mother who is delighted to see them return).

Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
I made some changes, but feel free to click here for the original recipe.

1 recipe double-crust pie dough of your choice
3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively. Cut slits in top.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rhubarb Slush


Rhubarb and Venison is now in summer kitchen mode. Basically this means:

- Less baking
- More grilling
- More salads
- More cold drinks

Usually Kent mans the grill. He's a great cook, and looks pretty cute with a spatula in hand to boot, but sometimes, every now and then, he inadvertently decides we're having Cajun for dinner.


Let's get a close-up of that Cajun beer-can chicken, shall we?


Don't worry. Crisis was averted and the chicken still turned out great. Meanwhile, I was in charge of drinks.

Do you remember those summer neighborhood get-togethers when someone would bring an old ice-cream bucket of frozen slush? You'd scoop it into plastic cups, mix it with 7-Up and it was The. Best. Thing. Ever.

Well, here's that slush. Actually, there are a million slush recipes out there, but I still have rhubarb festival on the mind, so indulge me. I like this one because it has a little extra fruit kick with the oj and lemonade. The kids will love it with 7-Up, but since I don't like it super sweet, I top mine with club soda.

And yes, this will go great with that Cajun grilled chicken.

Rhubarb Slush
6 cups chopped rhubarb
7 cups water, divided
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (6 oz.) frozen orange juice concentrate
3/4 cup (6 oz.) frozen pink lemonade concentrate
10 cups club soda, 7-Up or ginger ale

In a large saucepan, bring rhubarb and 4 cups water to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5-8 min. or until rhubarb is tender.

Mash rhubarb and strain. Reserve juice and discard pulp. Add sugar, concentrates and remaining water to rhubarb juice. Pour into a freezer container; cover and freeze until firm.

Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before before serving. Place equal amounts of slush mixture and soda in each serving glass.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fruit Salsa


Have you ever noticed how certain tunes can put everyone in a good mood?




Ok, maybe 80's Whitney Houston just puts ME in a good mood. But how can you not love this video? That permed hair, those neon colors, the invisible naked people dancing in white shoes! It's 1987 and it's a party!

Fruit salsa is kinda like that. You put out a bowl of fruit salsa, and suddenly everyone is in a good mood. Or at least I am.

I made the cinnamon chips with extra pie dough I had on hand - just roll it out, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, and bake until crispy. Instead of pie dough, use flour tortillas sprinkled with the same sugar/cinnamon and then baked. You could serve the salsa over fish, chicken, pork, or eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon. I won't tell anyone.

Fruit Salsa
Consider these fruits just suggestions. You can use just about any fruit instead (including tomatoes), although I wouldn't recommend bananas. Mush mush.

1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and diced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 nectarine, sliced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
Juice of one lime
Handful of chopped cilantro
Sugar to taste

Mix, cover, chill, and enjoy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day


On 3rd Street here in Bismarck, just north of The Walrus restaurant, there is an adorable house in an adorable neighborhood. However, it's the yard that makes me slow down every time in admiration.

It's a vegetable garden. One big beautiful vegetable garden.

Instead of Kentucky bluegrass, they are raising peas, eggplants, herbs, squash, lettuce, chard, onions, tomatoes...it's a wonder to behold.

Aside from my garden space, every year I try to rip out a little more lawn and replace it with something else - flowers, shrubs, even rocks or brick. I've sometimes thought a rhubarb plant, pumpkin vine, or some swiss chard would look nice planted aside my black-eyed susans, but I can't help but admire how refreshing it is to see a full garden no longer relegated to the backyard.

One afternoon I was passing by and stopped to chat. Very friendly people, they simply said this was a sunny spot where grass didn't grow well, so what the heck, let's grow veggies. I think there is more to it than that, but it's inspiring.


Imagine if we all did this. Got some dirt under our fingernails. Taught our kids that food doesn't just come from the grocery store. Ate the freshest of fresh vegetables instead of the stuff shipped in from New Zealand. Instead of the hum of lawn mowers and weed whackers on Saturday morning, we'd lean over our garden plots, chatting with our neighbors about mulch and tomatoes and rabbits.

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

However you choose to express your independence, I hope you have a very happy 4th of July.

Be the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bittman's Summer Recipe #86


Mark Bittman has done it again!

Click here for his latest list of quick, easy, delish summer cooking ideas. Actually, click and then print it out. This is essential Bittman - 101 recipes only two or three lines long of food that emphasize fresh ingredients with simple preparations.

Let's see. 101 recipes. 91 days of summer. Looks like it's time to get cooking!

Bittman's Summer Recipe #86
Red peppers work best here. Although I suppose you could use commercial brick mozzerella, get the soft fresh mozz instead (check the cheese case or deli) - once you try it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Grill whole bell peppers until blackened and collapsed; put in a bowl, cover, cool and peel. Grill eggplant planks, generously brushed with olive oil, until very tender. Chop up the veggies and make a salad or sandwich with balsamic vinegar, fresh mozzarella and basil.