Let’s Admit the Obvious: This Blog is on Hiatus

Three posts in seven months? Using only Instagram photos? One recipe, authored by my cousin?

Yeah, this blog is on hiatus.

Since I started grad school, I just don’t have time for much of anything else, least of all this blog. Not only do I not have time to edit Flickr photos (especially since their “upgrade” made the site extremely slow-loading and tedious), I don’t even have time to cook.

I’m leaving the archive of recipes up, because I still get about 100 hits per day from search engines. Some of the recipes are actually pretty good. But there will be no new content for the foreseeable future. This makes me sad, but it’s also a bit of a relief. I was never going to be a Serious Food Blogger. I have no desire to publish a cookbook, get on TV, or “monetize” my blog. I’m neither qualified nor interested in reviewing all the hottest, overpriced Austin restaurants (with which it’s now impossible to keep up). I don’t have, nor want, nor want to be, a “brand.”

It was just for fun, because I love food. I wanted to share some of my little corner of Texas with the world, and I have. I’ve met a bunch of amazing folks, and learned a lot about cooking and tasting and photography. I’ll probably even come back to it someday.

Thanks for all the comments, tips, community and support. I’ve learned a lot–and eaten a lot. It’s been fun, so I count this blog as a success. Happy cooking and eating to all y’all!

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Scenes from an Austin Burns Supper

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This weekend we were fortunate to be invited to the home of our friends Kevin and Mary to celebrate Burns Night in high style. Not only is Kevin an accomplished piper, but he and his lovely wife have a deep love of British food and culture, as well as an impressive collection of single malt scotch whiskies. We celebrated the birth of Scotland’s national poet with an abbreviated form of the traditional order, followed by much poetry reading, feasting, and merry-making. It was a lovely evening. Here are some of our photographs–and a bonus video of the piping in of the haggis!

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Our sacred text.

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Starters.

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The haggis. It’s actually quite tasty.

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A selection of some of the delicacies on offer: baked salmon (before going into the oven), pork pies, and bangers.

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Our host surveys his Scottish spread.

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The haggis, festively decorated.

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Just a few of the fine selection of whiskies we gratefully and enthustically sampled (I plan to purchase a bottle of Scapa as soon as possible).

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The dinner (clockwise, from top): pork pie, baked salmon, bangers, baked beans, haggis with whisky sauce, and neeps and tatties.

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Eric and I (notice the haggis is in focus–priorities). Eric’s enjoying some Belhaven ale.

And, finally, the promised footage:

If you’d like to book Kevin for your next event, let me know, and I’ll get you connected.

Stella’s Garlic Cashew Dressing

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This stuff is addictive. You will be tempted to eat it with a spoon. Or pour it straight out of the jar into your mouth.

And it’s okay if you do, because it’s super healthy and packed full of good stuff, like turmeric–a powerful anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants, that’s good for digestive and liver problems, as well as skin diseases. Garlic, in addition to being one of the tastiest foodstuffs in existence, is also very healthy. Cashews, like all nuts, are packed with protein, and they’re also rich in iron and zinc. The FDA calls them “brainpower boosters.” Their rich, sweet flavor makes a great base for sauces and soups. I think cashews are my favorite nut (sorry, pecans!).

1 cup cashews
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
water

1. In a small electric mixer or blender, mix cashews, garlic, turmeric, and half the olive oil. Stop mixing; use a spoon to scrape down any chunks from the sides of the bowl/blender. Continue mixing. Drizzle remaining olive oil slowly into the mixer.

2. Add a pinch of salt and blend some more. Taste; add more salt if desired. Mix again.

3. Add water as needed to achieve desired consistency.*

4. Pour into an air-tight container and store in the fridge.

Twists: add fresh herbs like basil or cilantro, or some curry powder for an even richer, more complex flavor.

 

*I usually use about a half cup of water per cup of nuts, but you might add more for a thinner dressing. A thicker sauce can be used as a dip for raw vegetables–mmm! I also like to leave it just the tiniest bit crunchy (see the photo below), but if you blend it a bit longer, you can make it nice and creamy-smooth.

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Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

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Cousin Jeff’s backyard view.

So, a few months ago my cousin Jeff moved to Bermuda. I know, right? He keeps posting all these ridiculous photographs on Facebook (see above), and talking about all the delicious, fresh seafood. Apparently, Bermuda also has avocados the size of eggplants.

Since I’ve been on a bit of hiatus here since starting grad school, I asked Jeff if I could post his lobster with pesto and risotto recipe. The lobsters show below were from his local fish truck, and went straight home and into the pot. The result sounds amazing. Test it yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments! I’ll pass them on to the cook, if he’s not too busy soaking up the Caribbean sun and being a gourmand.

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The very same lobster. Well, one of ‘em.

Here are Cousin Jeff’s instructions:

Take a whole lobster (mine was a spiny, so I broke it down out of the shell and cut it into cubes), poach it in olive oil and Irish salted butter. [Here’s an overview of how to boil a lobster, if you’re not experienced.] I used the whole shell for the lobster stock, boiling it for about 2 hours with the lobster water and additional water. Meanwhile, Dice a small onion (tangerine size), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 3 cups of finely chopped kale. Sweat these vegetables in about a table spoon of olive oil. Mix in about a cup of white wine (I drank the rest of the bottle), then added 2 cups of risotto and covered it with the stock. Cooked it down 3 times, adding more water each time, along with some cayenne and grated parmesan to taste. Finally, whip up a fresh basil pesto with chopped onions, olive oil, and garlic butter. Put the pesto into a baggie and chill it, then cut the corner and use it as a pastry bag to garnish.

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Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

Images courtesy Cousin Jeff.

The Great British Food Series: Part Four, Northumberland and Liverpool

Fourth in a multi-part series. Also see Part One: London and Brighton, Part Two: York, and Part Three: Edinburgh.

We spent four nights in Edinburgh, but on day two in Scotland, we hopped back across the English border in a runaway shuttle bus, on a little castle and coast tour.

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Bamburgh Castle, perched on the Northumbrian coast, overlooking the North Sea.  Quite the windswept, romantic spot, as you can see.

We also went to Alnwick, but, since we’re not Harry Potter fanatics, we skipped the £14.50 tour and spent two and a half hours in a pub.

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The Black Swan, Alnwick, Northumberland.

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Eric had roasted leek soup.  It was really good.

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I had steak and ale pie; it was deconstructed, and one of the very best beef pies I have ever had.

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Extreme closeup.

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A pint of Worthington’s.

Our final stop on the tour, and the real reason we went on it, was Lindisfarne.

Have you been watching Vikings, the new series on the History Channel?  The Vikings’ arrival in England in 793, at Lindisfarne, was fresh in our mind, thanks to the show.  I’ve always wanted to go there, but because of its remote location, I never made it while I was living in England.  Eric is also a history buff, and was fascinated by the story of the Anglo-Saxons “first contact” with the Vikings, so this was a real highlight of our trip.

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Guess what Eric found first.

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We also bought some mead on the island!  A bit sweet for regular consumption, it made a nice birthday dessert drink back at our Edinburgh B&B.

Our next stop was Liverpool.

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Upon arrival, it was too early to check into our room at the Heywood House Hotel, so we decided to try the attached restaurant, The Bank Bar and Brasserie, owing to its convenience and positive reviews.

It was passable, but overpriced.  The cheeseburger above was from frozen, and the bun was burned.

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Eric’s tomato soup was just okay.  The upscale, urban atmosphere of the place was great, but the food disappointed.  I supposed our first clue should’ve been that we were the only patrons at lunch time on a weekday in the center of Liverpool.

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But Mr Whippy never disappoints!  Albert Dock.

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As you may recall, I am a bit of a Liverpool FC fan.  So, of course, we went to Anfield.

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Eric was tired.  We had large coffees in the Anfield Boot Room Cafe.

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Though I was very tempted to order this:

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After spending the day exploring Liverpool on foot, we ended up at Thomas Rigby’s, near our hotel, for dinner.

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I had the last of many steak and ale pies.  I suspect they’re not even making full pot pies anymore, because I didn’t see a single one the entire time we were in Britain.  This is another “descontructed” one.  It was very good, too!  This was a great little spot.

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That’s it for the road trip portion of our UK adventure.

I’ll be back soon with a final post featuring a few more London noms, and then it’ll be back to your regularly-scheduled taco-related programming.

Fourth in a multi-part series. Also see Part One: London and Brighton, Part Two: York, and Part Three: Edinburgh.