mount hope farm

August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I might have to let the photos do the talking for me on this one. First off I should say that I am lucky to have a sister that can somehow find the gems in any city and this was definitely one, Mount Hope Farm.

We were relaxed after only one night away. This huge farmhouse tucked around acres of land has four bedrooms all with their own charm and old fireplaces. There was a patio and gardens just off the kitchen, which lended itself perfectly to after dinner drinks. There were noisy goats and blabbering chickens and a cabin tucked in the woods a mile away right on the edge of Mount Hope Bay.

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We ate well and got good seafood when we could. Half of the restaurants in the area are on the water, so the seafood is fresh and plentiful. We reminisced at the The Beehive Cafe. My brother use to live in Bristol, but I don’t know if we will find a reason to go back in the future. Restaurants continue to change hands over the years, this new one, the Trafford Restaurant, was quite nice. Although we longed to be on the patio in the warm sea breeze rather than in the chilly AC.

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We took a day trip to Newport, exploring The Breakers, one of the many mansions that line the ocean. And joked about how we could live quite well in a place like this. We scooted into The Midtown Oyster for pita and hummus, more lobster rolls and Whale Tale pale ale. And got our last coffee kick from Mokka Coffeehouse, where we all couldn’t agree on whether the sweet barista’s accent was Scottish, Irish or Australian.

It was just what a few city folks needed.

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sweet & spicy tofu with broccoli

August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I have never eaten meat regularly. When I was a kid meat was my green peas. Many nights I heard “You will sit at the table until you eat it.” And I did sit there more nights. I plain didn’t like it. When I got older I rarely ate red meat. I think my biggest consumption of meat was during my college years, way too many late nights of buffalo chicken fingers. So when I made the decision to stop eating meat entirely a few years back, it didn’t seen like that big of a shift in lifestyle. And to be honest, it really wasn’t. I went from eating meat maybe once a month to not at all.

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Over the past couple of years, no meat eating has forced one new food introduction, tofu. I found myself still yearning to make some of my old stir-fry recipes that I loved, but they all seemed to call for chicken. For a while I just set all these recipes aside thinking there was nothing to be done.

When I tried tofu for the first time, I did not like it. Like anything, it took a little bit of getting use to both the texture and the flavor. And honestly, I didn’t know how to cook with it, well not well at least. I definitely made some bad tofu recipes those first few times. But overtime I have not only come to really like tofu as an ingredient but I have learned how to cook with it.

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This has caused an influx of Asian-influenced recipes in our house. Anytime I see a recipe with meat now, I feel confident substituting tofu. And 90% of the time I’m happy with the outcome. There are some recipes that just don’t work with tofu and I toss it. But I think you can say that for almost any new recipe you try, trial and error is always half the battle.

Serves 4
Inspired by the Yotam Ottolenghi

3/4 cup brown jasmine rice
1 head of broccoli, chopped
15 oz. extra firm tofu
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 shallots, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tablespoon ginger
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh black pepper
5 green onions, sliced

Drain tofu and wrap in a paper towel. Allow the tofu to dry out while preparing rice and broccoli.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a bowl. Once boiling add the jasmine rice, cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Steam broccoli over boiling water in a strainer. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli becomes bright green.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is warming, slice tofu into small cubes. In a large bowl, toss tofu with cornstarch until all sides are covered. Pour 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil into the pan. Add the tofu to the pan and make sure each piece is touching the bottom (otherwise you will want to do the tofu in batches). Fry for 10 minutes (do not stir). Stir and cook for another 10 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the tofu is crispy and slightly brown. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and place 2 more tablespoons of sunflower oil into the pan. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Saute for 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar and black pepper and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for 3 more minutes, until the soy sauce has slightly thickened. Toss in the tofu, broccoli and green onions and allow everything to heat through.

Place a bit of rice in the bottom of 4 bowls and top with the tofu and broccoli mixture. Serve immediately.

blueberry & lemon pancakes for two

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

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With the blueberry season in full bloom and yet almost over, I felt some urgency to get this post up. I absolutely love blueberries, it’s very hard to describe this love. I think it all started when I was just a kid.

My dad had and still has these huge gardens, filled with vegetables, fruit brushes and trees and flowers everywhere. One year he planted each of us kids our very own blueberry bush. I was so proud of my bush. Each year, I would not so patiently wait for the little white buds to turn ripe and deep blue. And as soon as they did, I would run out in my bare feet and pick and eat and pick and eat. I gave myself a bellyache many days eating too may blueberries, and yet I would get up the next morning and do it again.

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My blueberry bush was the best bush, not just because it was mine, but because it made my favorite kind of blueberries, the big plump ones that are sweet. The tiny tart ones always brought a pucker to my face and had me searching for a fat, sweet one. I loved that bush and honestly still do. I still pick at it each year when I’m home visiting. And I always pile as many as I can in a big Tupperware container to bring back to Boston and savor for a couple days, they don’t last longer than that.

So I guess I should thank my dad for this blueberry obsession, because it all started with the bush he planted for me. And now whenever I see a sign for “Blueberry Picking”, I pull over and fill a big pint and think of home.

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Serves 2
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoons margarine or butter, plus extra for the skillet
1 large egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup blueberries
Vermont maple syrup

Begin by heating a skillet over medium heat.

Slightly soften butter in a small dish in the mircrowave, whisk until butter is fully melted.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt and milk. Stir in the melted butter, lemon zest and juice. In a small bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Once your skillet is warmed, spread a bit of butter or margarine along the entire surface. If the butter doesn’t immediately melt, your pan is not hot enough. Scoop and pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan, pushing the batter around to make an even circle. Continue to pour individual pancakes until your skillet is full. On a large skillet don’t try to fit more than four pancakes. Be patient and allow the pancakes to cook until you start to see little bubbles appear on the top, usually 4 to 5 minutes. The key is not to rush here. The worst thing you can do to a pancake is flip it before it’s ready. Flip each pancake with a spatula and press down on the tops just a bit. Cook for another 5 minutes. Pancakes are done when both sides are golden brown.

Serve pancakes immediately with a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup.

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