From the Kitchen and From the Bar – experimenting with roots, a pie and a bottle of mead

boniatoThe local large grocery store has a small section of unusual fruits and vegetables, at least unusual to me, she who grew up in very white, very Protestant rural Pennsylvania and who hadn’t a chance to talk to someone who had skin any darker than her pale pink until she went to college. I decided to start an adventure where I try out the starchy tubers and roots that the rest of the world eats.

The first up is what the store called a “batata” (it seems boniato is a more common term), a purple skinned white fleshed type of sweet potato. It’s the first on the list here. We first found out that you don’t leave them in the usual plastic produce bag for any longer than it takes to get them home. They do sweat and I suspect will rot very quickly.

We baked our singular batata at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour and 15 minutes. The skin became stiff but you could flex it to tell when the flesh had become soft. The flesh is about as white as a classic white potato and was about the same texture, much less wet than a standard orange/yellow sweet potato that one sees in the US for the winter holidays. It was still very sweet, and my husband compared it to the sweetness of beets or sweet corn. He had butter and salt on his; I found a recipe for putting butter, a squirt of lime juice, ground cumin and salt on the batata and did so. I found that very good, the lime giving a bit of brightness to cut the starchy sweetness.

blueberryMy husband also asked me to make a blueberry pie this weekend. I made the usual pie crust I use, and poured in a can of blueberry pie filling. I also added about a cup and a half of frozen wild blueberries from Maine mixed with a tablespoon of Instant Clear Jel from King Arthur Flour Company (leftover from my venture into gluten-free baking). It made the filling just perfect, with just a small amount of flow out of the crust. The blueberries were great, and the rest will find their way into buckwheat blueberry pancakes later this week. The pie was baked at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. I did try to make a lattice pie and it’s pretty much that, though I needed to pay a bit more attention  🙂

Finally, I decided to get something new at the wine and liquor store. I found a bubbly mead made from macadamia nut tree honey and had to get it since we make our own mead and I like bubblies. The meadery is Heidrun Meadery in California.

I will have to say that I was disappointed in this mead. It tasted like a demi-sec champagne, and it is made with the same method as champagne. There was honey in the nose, but the taste was champagne, which isn’t a bad thing but not what was expected. As usual, we prefer our own still, sweet mead.

In finding this meadery, I found out something that I didn’t known about Norse mythology. Somehow I managed to miss that all of the mead for Valhalla was from the teats of a magical goat named Heidrun. Always cool stuff to still learn.  🙂

Eat and drink well!

(for any new readers, if you wish to avoid posts on religion, politics, and most things controversial, don’t read those posts under the category “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation”.)

From the Bar – Stonekeep Mead and a review of our local garden show

tasty fat-filled goodness
tasty fat-filled goodness

Here in central PA, we are known for the Pennsylvania Farm Show which is in January. Essentially a state fair in buildings, people bring their award winning farm animals in for judging, there are huge displays of the latest in farm equipment and the food is famous.  Of course, the reason it’s famous is that people aren’t paying attention to the fat content. There is a reason that milkshakes that have full fat milk and full fat ice cream taste *so* much better than anything else.  They go through around 10,000 gallons of milkshake mix in 8 days. 

The Farm Show is housed in a big complex of buildings to the east of the city that contain it and many other events through the year, most with a agricultural theme, from cow shows, to equestrian events and some other things thrown in like car shows, dog shows and this garden show.  The thing is huge with enough space in some of the arenas to have tractor pulls, etc.

This year, feeling definitely spring-feverish, my husband and I attended the garden show.  In one of the large areas (ceilings are probably around 25’, 7.5 meters or so), close to a dozen landscapers brought in dirt, rocks, trees and many bricks and liners to make life size dioramas of what they can do.  All were gorgeous and many had outdoor fireplaces with pergolas and shelters to allow one to live out side quite graciously.  My big favorites were the outdoor wood fired pizza ovens.  I just wish they weren’t so crazy expensive.  I guess I’ll have to be happy with my chimenea. We have a large cast-iron one.   Continue reading “From the Bar – Stonekeep Mead and a review of our local garden show”