Friday, January 2, 2009

Just when you thought you were out... I pull you back in!

For whatever reason, Blogger started working again on my desktop computer, which happens to be where all my post-travel photos are stored.

So, I guess I might as well update the blog!

First things first, we need to catch up. Liz and I returned home from our 10 months and one week of travel on August 7, 2008. Liz found work quickly and is pretty busy between her (now) full-time gig and occasional shifts at . I have been looking for work and working hard on my book, which I finished a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

I've still got a few tweaks here and there, and a few manuscripts out for editing, but I'm beginning the process of finding a literary agent. In case you are a literary agent (or publisher) and you have happened across this page, the book is a 56,000 word, narrative non-fiction account of how my wife and I traveled around the world. Yeah, I know, there are a million books like that. So what's the hook? I, um, actually hate to travel. My wife made me go places that I never thought I'd visit in a million years. So the book is tentatively called The Reluctant Traveler - Or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Third World, and it's a sarcastic rebuttal to the sort of dreamy travel books that make living in a thatched hut with 43 chickens and a voodoo shaman sound preferable to the author's previous home in the United States. And it's really [censored] funny.

But enough about that. Let's get back to what Viva Robusto has always been about -- food. I plan on updating this site on the semi-regular with pictures, recipes and stories about our culinary adventures.

These pictures are roughly in chronological order and go back to the first month or so after our return. First up, maple-oatmeal scones (Barefoot Contessa recipe). These have been a favorite since we first made them. If you don't already have Barefoot Contessa: Family Style, just run out and buy it right now. Every recipe we've tried is a winner (and we've tried a lot of them).

Grilled steak (with butter melting on top, obv), twice-baked potatoes and homegrown peas. If this doesn't sell , I don't know what does.

A couple of the pigs raised right on the property for later use as bacon and other delicious pork products.

Some kind of molten chocolate cake/brownie thing that was pretty obviously delicious.

When we were in Italy, my grandfather's late brother's ex-wife made us the most amazing minestrone soup with pesto. Liz and I tried to recreate the recipe here using the America's Test Kitchen recipe for minestrone and Don's pesto recipe. Results? It wasn't quite as good, but it was damn close.

Another favorite from our trip recreated at home: Cochinita Pibil. I used the recipe from the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD, believe it or not. Basically, you marinate about 3 pounds of pork shoulder in a spice and lemon juice concoction (heavy with ), then slow-bake it for 4-6 hours at a low temperature. The pink onions are simply pickled red onions. Again, it wasn't quite as good as the real stuff in Mexico, but it was our first try. And it actually got better overnight in the fridge.

Another picture. The texture was amazing -- fall-apart juicy.

Hot coppa from New Seasons. My 2nd favorite cured meat in the world. Obviously we had nothing to do with the preparation of this food, I just thought it looked delicious. Look at those spicy seeds on the corner there... it makes my mouth water every time I see this photo.

For Liz's birthday dinner, I made bacon-wrapped filets with mushrooms and a wine-based pan sauce (and Liz added some mashed potatoes). The pan sauce recipe came from America's Test Kitchen and was excellent. Unfortunately the meal itself wasn't very photogenic once we plated everything up, so I've posted a photo of myself preparing it instead. You can tell it's going to be a good meal by the plate of blood sitting on the stove.

One of our few meals out since our return. This is some kind of deep-fried gnocchi with cream, sauce (I think it may have been plum sauce) and sage, and it was really the only good part of the meal. I had some kind of a fettucine dish with wild boar that was mediocre at best (and looked disgusting to boot) and Liz had French onion soup that was served lukewarm. Bummer.

My first attempt at a cake, ever. This is ultra-rich chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. We ate this after a particularly decadent dinner and it sent me to the bedroom for about an hour of lying on my stomach and groaning afterward. Two thumbs up!

Another wedding with excellent food. Liz's brother pictured here enjoying the dessert.

Thanksgiving pie, glazed and ready to go in the oven. Liz's sister Kate made this.

Something new: Abel Skivars. I'm not sure how to spell that, and even Google couldn't help me. But basically, it means apple pancakes. Round apple pancakes. Our friends Seth and Karen made these for us.

Here's how they look when they're all done. We tried 'em with apple, blueberry (I think) and we even made a couple with bacon on the inside. You dip them into some kind of jam and powdered sugar before eating.

Christmas dinner at my grandparents. Two enormous, identical prime ribs. As good as they looked.

These may have been from a mix, but they sure looked cool.

Salad up at Crippen Creek with roasted pear topped with candied walnuts and blue cheese.

Some kind of a "pudding cake" (?) that I forgot to try after dinner.

After Christmas, Don and Dave made sunday gravy with meatballs. The sauce cooks all day long with homemade Italian sausage, meatballs and (I think) pork ribs. Don said at dinner that if he were on Death Row, this would be his choice for his last meal.

Afterward, homemade cannoli. Tragically, I was too full to eat any.

Well, that's it for the first real Viva Robusto post in months. Now that Blogger is working I will continue to update this page with new photos and recipes as often as I can. Hope you stay tuned.

1 comment:

The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm said...


The unknown "pudding cake" is called
Toffee Sticky Pudding.

Your pictures look great.