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Leftovers Remembered

Yesterday I wrote a silly post regarding my bowl of cereal supper.  However, I had actually eaten my supper earlier: a bowl of leftovers.  I will now do a cooking post telling the origin of my leftover Pseudo Alfredo Sauce.

I began the recipe as I begin most of my recipes, by crushing up some garlic and setting it to breathe for 15 minutes.  While it sat, I chopped half an onion and put it to cook in olive oil, covering it so it could also kind of steam.  Then I chopped and added a green pepper and two red peppers.  Red peppers are my current obsession.  I added the garlic after 15 minutes.

After the onions and peppers had softened, I added a brick of neufchatel, or low-fat cream cheese, to be less fancy.  I added it whole and broke it up with a fork.  I found a can of evaporated milk and dumped a little in, then a little more, guesstimating amounts.  I don’t think I even used half the can, which was cool, because Steven likes to put evaporated milk in his coffee.

I had to stir the sauce fairly constantly because of the milk and cheese, so I got to see if a watched pot really doesn’t boil (of course it does) while I boiled the water for the pasta.  It was garlic basil linguine from The Pasta Shoppe of Utica, NY, a Christmas gift from my sister Cheryl.  At almost the last minute, I remembered I had some fresh mushrooms to add to the sauce.  Luckily, mushrooms cook quickly.

It was quite the delicious dinner.  The leftovers were delicious too.  Perhaps not as quirky as raisin bran with extra raisins, but I see that it made for a longer blog post.  A better blog post?  You, dear reader, are the judge of that.

 

Who Are You Calling a Dip?

Tonight is the first monthly dinner meeting of Ilion Little Theatre Club for the 2015-16 season.  I plan to attend.  After all, I like to believe I am a valued member of the organization.  Then again, every member is valuable.  We all make our contributions.

I intend to bring chips and dip as my contribution to the meal.  I usually bring an appetizer kind of thing, because I am usually hungry as soon as I get there (full disclosure:  I am hungry most of the time; that’s why I’m overweight).  Sometimes it is pepperoni, cheese and crackers.  I thought this time I’d mix it up a little.  I thought, “I’ll make my famous garlic dip.”  However, since I am sometimes mandated to work late, I asked Steven to pick up a package of onion soup mix, so I would have a faster option.

At work today, I pondered what I would do.  If I got home at my usual time, prior to four p.m., I would crush some garlic and get to work.  If I got home later, I had my onion soup mix back-up plan.  Everything would be great.

So I got home at the regular time and felt utterly exhausted.  I don’t know what my problem is. I came home and stayed there Monday and Tuesday.  Only on Wednesday did I have to rush back out for our pick-up rehearsal.  Could it be I am getting old?  SAY IT AIN’T SO! Let’s blame it on the extra weight.  I can lost weight (maybe) but I sure as hell can’t get any younger (and anyone who says they can is LYING!).

The first thing I saw when I came into the kitchen (after my beloved husband), was the box of onion soup mix (store brand, by the way).  I debated.  For one reason, I had planned to write my blog post about making my famous garlic dip.  Food posts are usually fun, and well received by many.  First I would sit down, have a cup of coffee, take off my work shoes, breathe a little…

You can see where this is going.  I still have not mixed up the dip, but I intend to as soon as I hit Publish (oh yeah, and share the post on Facebook).  It will be the easy kind.  I think my theatre friends will be OK with it.  I only hope my blog reading friends are OK with a post about… well, this. Then again, this is Non-Sequitur Thursday. Happy Thursday, everyone.

 

Don’t Tell the Cookbook Conglomerate!

So there I was, planning to do a Tired Tuesday post when I remembered I had a minor snack to put together in the kitchen.  I can’t say “cooking post,” because it is not cooked. Call it a recipe post and this can be Tasty Tuesday.  How does that sound?

I’ve had an unopened package of cream cheese in the refrigerator since my last party (didn’t make all the refreshments I had envisioned).   Rest assured, I have kept checking the “use by” date.  Then again, why should you care, unless you meant to stop by and have some.  Of course I should be delighted to have company.  Stop on by.

The recipe I wanted to use I stole from my sister Diane.   I don’t know where she got it, so I may very well be getting myself in big trouble from some cookbook conglomerate, but, hey, I need a blog post.

The recipe says to mix an envelope of Italian salad dressing mix with the cream cheese.  Come to think of it, they may even specify Good Seasons, and Diane got the recipe from the package of Good Seasons.  So there’s a little gratuitous product placement for you.  Full disclosure:  I usually buy store brand.

Only I hadn’t bought any store brand this time.  Here’s something funny:  I said to myself, “If I was really high speed, I wouldn’t use the envelope, I’d use fresh garlic and chives from the garden and make something up.  That would be a better blog post, too.  Nah, I’ll just be lazy.”  Imagine my chagrin.  On the other hand, you see how I err on the side of honesty for your entertainment (I do hope somebody is entertained by my silliness).

Trapped into being high speed,  I contemplated the chives.  It was pouring rain out, and I was wearing little canvas sneakers.  Surely fresh garlic and spices would be sufficient.  Why should I get my feet wet for the sake of a blog post?  I crushed up some garlic and set the timer for 15 minutes, so it could reach its full antioxidant effect.   Oh, what the hell.  I went out and got the chives.

It really wasn’t so bad.  For one reason, there is a patch of chives very close to the house.  I avoided stepping in the big puddle right next to them (a puddle in the yard?  Really?  Who else has one of those?) and also avoided picking too many.   Back in the house I chopped them up and put them in a bowl with the cream cheese.

I forgot to mention that the cream cheese had been sitting out for a couple of hours to soften up.  And it is actually Neufchatel, which is a third less fat and fun to say (try it).  I added horseradish and dill, then mushed it together with the potato masher.  After some consideration I added lemon pepper, oregano and basil.  Mushed some more.  When the timer buzzed, I put in the garlic, mushed some more, then used a fork to make sure the stuff was thoroughly mixed.

My mixture is now sitting so the flavors can blend.  When I get ready to, I will spread it on flat bread which I will use to make small sandwiches with sliced cucumber.  Yum!  You know, now that I think about it, it is possible that the original recipe for this calls for the sandwiches to be open-faced.  It may even have been like a cold cucumber pizza.  It was some years ago my sister first made the stuff.

So was this post better or worse than a typical Tired Tuesday?  It matters not.  This is my story and I’m sticking to it.  Hope to see you all on Wuss-out Wednesday (good God, I’ll be half-way through the week by tomorrow!  I should have known:  vacation weeks are always shorter).

 

Back from the Garlic Festival

This time I have a good reason not to have Saturday Running Commentary. I was recruiting my energies for the Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival in Little Falls, NY. Several family members planned to accompany me. It was going to be great!

And it was great. Just the weather was lousy. It poured rain. It was cold. I wore the wrong jacket, by the way. We found a parking space a good distance away from the festivities but were lucky enough to catch the shuttle. I don’t mind a walk, but with the rain pouring down and the shuttle right there waiting for us, I was happy to take the bus.

As we got to the festival I was excited by the smell of garlic. I was also impressed by the size of the crowd. Many of them had umbrellas (another accoutrement I had stupidly forgotten) and/or their hoods up, but all were eagerly walking around enjoying the vendors and the music.

I tried several samples of different mustards, dips, cheeses and, of course, garlic. I did not get a chance to chat with the vendors because it was so crowded. Next year I hope to get there earlier. After walking all around we went into Stone Mill, got a warm beverage from Ole Sal’s Creamery, and browsed the antiques.

After stopping at a few vendors we had missed and a quick stop at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, some of us made our way down to the Piccolo Cafe where a beverage distributor out of Utica (I stupidly did not make a note of who, but I will find out and report back) was offering a craft beer tasting. Then it was off to Mohawk, NY for further adventures.

Gearing up for Garlic

For the benefit of local readers (if any), I thought I’d do a quick Preview of Coming Attraction (singular; it’s going to be a short post). The Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival will take place in Little Falls, NY, this Saturday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I plan to be there.

Garlic is one of my favorite flavors (right up there with chocolate and a little ahead of deep-fried). I like herbs, too, but that’s kind of a wider category. The festival features plenty of both as well as other vendors, food, music and more. The event happens at Canal Place, in front of Stone Mill and the Little Falls Antique Center. Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts is nearby.

I’ve attended the festival several times. One sister tries to travel from Liverpool, NY every year for it, and family and friends from closer by often join me, too. Family, friends, garlic, what’s not to like?

I’m have often been amazed at the number of garlic farmers the area is blessed with, and I am kind of fascinated by the variety of kinds of garlic available. I always learn something new, try something new, and thoroughly enjoy myself.

For more information on the festival, you can visit their Facebook page: Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival.

The Garlic Pickles

Anyone who knows me knows that garlic is one of the guiding forces of my life. Regular readers of the blog may have noticed that garlic plays a part in nearly all my recipes (after I let it “breathe” for fifteen minutes, of course). Imagine my delight when I found garlic pickles at the Ilion Farmer’s Market last Saturday.

Parker’s Historic Cider Mill and Farmer’s Market on Otsego Street in Ilion, NY is one of Steve’s, Tabby’s and my favorite places to go. Naturally we like any place we can bring our sweet little schnoodle Tabby, and Tabby’s favorite places are those where there are many interesting smells and nice people to pet her.

I know I’ve given many shout-outs to the Ilion Farmer’s Market. It runs year round on Fridays and Saturdays in a barn built in the 1800s. I just never get tired of going there.

On this visit, we particularly noticed works by folk artist Jim Parker, prints, t-shirts, mugs and note cards. I have a t-shirt of a print of Ilion but I’ve had it for a while and I recently noticed some discoloration along the collar. I informed Steven I will be needing a new shirt, perhaps with a different print. Do you suppose he’ll make my wait for my birthday?

Allowing Tabby time to sniff and be petted, we made our way to the shelves at the end of the barn where I always check the canned (jarred?) goods for garlic pickles. A long time ago, I found some garlic pickles there and loved them. I have not seen them since.

Until last Saturday. Eureka! Hot and Sweet Garlic Pickles! I chose hot, telling Steven I would probably return the following week to purchase sweet.

The pickles are crisp, tasty and hot. I think they would be very good in a sandwich or salad. So far I’ve eaten them plain and in a bologna-cheese roll-up. Yum!

My only fear now is that local readers will all dash to the Farmer’s Market and buy up all the garlic pickles, leaving none for me. Oh well, if such a thing happens, at least I will have spread joy and happiness.

Garlic Good Times

Saturday I was delighted to attend the Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival in Little Falls, NY. Steven unfortunately had to work, but I was joined by my sister Diane, her daughter, Camille;, and her mother-in-law, Sally.

This is the third time Diane, Camille and I have been to the Garlic Festival, and it is always a good time. It was Sally’s first visit. Eat, Stink and Be Merry, their advertising said, and we did.

Next year, I want to try to arrive closer to ten, when it opens. We got there after 11:30, and it was in full swing. We dropped Sally and Camille close to the gate while we drove a few blocks away but were happy to find a parking spot. I don’t mind walking; I need the exercise. I later found out there was a shuttle but never got any details as to where we could have caught it. Hey, I never said I was the most detailed blogger.

Before going into the festival, we saw that The Piccolo Cafe was offering a free beer tasting. I enjoyed some Saranac Pumpkin Ale. The young man pouring gave me a couple others he said I’d like (he was right), but I foolishly neglected to write them down (I’m not very detailed and not very organized). Most of the beers were made in the area. I must check out some of those breweries.

Then it was on to the Garlic Festival! $3 admission for adults, under age 12 free. That was a bargain, because there was a lot to see and live music playing. We walked around a bit before getting something to eat. We were lucky enough to find a picnic table to sit at while we ate, then we walked around some more.

We were not able to spend as much time chatting with the vendors as we have in the past, because it was so crowded. Everybody was friendly and ready to answer questions, but there were so many people, I felt obligated to move along. Getting out of one person’s way, I would usually bump into somebody else. People were very good-natured about it, and I tried to be more careful.

Regarding neither detailed nor organized, I picked up a number of brochures and business cards, which I promptly left in Diane’s car, which she drove back to Liverpool. She said she would send it to me, so perhaps I can do a follow-up to this post, adding specific details about some vendors. In the meantime, I’ll just say the Garlic Festival is a wonderful annual event in the area. For more information, you can Like their Facebook page.

Garlic for the Blog

Steven and I did a very little running around on Sunday, and already I was tired of it. I did NOT want to also stop at the grocery store. What did we REALLY REALLY need? Milk. Oh, they must have that at the drug store.

As we pulled into Rite Aid in Herkimer, NY, I noticed T & J Fruits and Vegetables next door. Of course I know T & J’s is right there. Last year I got some lovely purple flowers for my container garden, the one color I sorely lacked at the time (please don’t ask about my container garden this year) (I SAID DON’T ASK!).

“If we stop over there first,” I said. “I could write a blog post about it. Look, they have those hangy-uppy garlic things.” I meant the braids of garlic.

I usually buy supermarket garlic. At the Little Falls Garlic Festival last year an area grower expressed horror at the thought.

“It’s made in China!” he said. “Just buy what you need for the whole year right now.”

I did not. For one thing, the garlic braid I did buy didn’t stay good till I had used it all. I suppose I was supposed to dry it or freeze it or something. In any case, there is a sign right next to the Hannaford garlic that says, “Product of USA.” Perhaps not as local as it could be, but I make do. However, I was certain what they had at T & J’s would be more local.

T & J’s looks really cool on the inside, like one of those old grocery stores run by a little old Italian guy (there used to be at least a couple of those in Rome, NY). They have a great selection of produce. I almost got some tomatoes on the vine that looked divine, but since I had no plan for their immediate use, I refrained.

I asked if they had any shorter garlic braids than what I saw. They did not. I went out front and grabbed a long one. I will just have to use lots of garlic in the coming weeks. Shouldn’t be too difficult for me. Regular readers may recall I went right home and used some, for Wrist to Forehead Cooking (Sunday’s post).

T & J’s Fruits and Vegetables is located at 221 S. Caroline St., Herkimer, NY 13350. Phone number is 315-866-7272.

Wrist to Forehead Cooking

So there I was, happily cooking with wine, when I realized — I haven’t done my blog post yet! Talk about Wrist to Forehead Sunday!

What’s a blogger to do? I search for a notebook with blank pages, grab a pen (I recently bought a bunch on sale at Rite Aid) and write while I cooked.

To set the scene: The rice is simmering, the chicken strips are frying, the garlic is breathing, I am debating peeling an onion. I could throw it in with the chicken. It might not have time to carmelize. Lately I have a minor obsession with carmelized onions.

I peeled and chopped an onion and added it to the chicken. Now will the chicken overcook before the onions are done? I did mention this is Wrist to Forehead Sunday, didn’t I?

And what about the garlic?

I should perhaps at this point mention that I began cooking with no recipe or plan in mind. I put on rice because Steven expressed an interest in eating rice. I put on chicken because you can cook this kind from frozen. I put in garlic and onions because that is what I do.

If anyone is interested, I added to the chicken some Roasted Garlic Olive Oil from gusto della vita (it is all lowercase on the bottle). I see they don’t have an address on their bottle, but it is a local or at least an area company.

When the garlic was done breathing I added it to the rice, which still has at least ten more minutes to cook, I think. We will eat this improvised mess — uh, I mean meal with a tossed salad I made yesterday. Won’t that be nice?

Note: As I typed this in, I realized my tenses were all messed up, because I was writing as I went along. I started to change it all to past tense, since it is now, in fact, past, then thought I would leave it as written and see if I liked it. Which I did.

Further note: The website for the oil company is www.gustodellavita.com.

I Stink and Am Merry

The Little Falls Garlic Festival boasts the motto, “Eat, Stink and Be Merry.” I like it, but I also think it is a little silly, because I like the smell of garlic. I suppose they refer to garlic breath. I guess that’s different.

I missed the Garlic Festival last year so was pleased when my sister Diane and her daughter Camille drove over from Liverpool specifically to attend. It’s not a far drive from Herkimer to Little Falls. It was not even too difficult finding a parking space.

We paid our admission and got our hands stamped in case we left and desired re-entry. I said it was like we were going to a bar or a club, a thing I have not done in ages.

We strolled around the booths, trying free samples of garlic and dips made with garlic. I never realized how many garlic farmers this area has. I also had not realized how many varieties of garlic there are.

“I just go to the grocery store and buy garlic,” I said.

“Don’t buy that junk!” a vendor said. “That’s shipped over from China! Buy enough here to last till next year.”

I didn’t quite do that, but I purchased a lovely braid of garlic which is currently hanging in my kitchen. When it is gone, I shall make every effort to replenish my supplies through a local vendor.

Our fun was cut short by a storm. We had been a little afraid it would be but had made up our minds to enjoy the festival while we could. It had started to sprinkle and the wind had started whipping as Diane purchased her garlic. I was relieved that the bill she was using to pay and the bills the young man had gotten out for her change did not fly away in the breeze.

The deluge hit at Diane completed her purchase. She and Camille had carried umbrellas and I had my crazy old lady hat, but nothing did us much good. Our backs were soaked well before we reached the car.

I was laughing. “Shawshank Redemption!” I said, throwing my arms wide and looking up, like Tim Robbins does in the movie. Camille was less amused, but her discontent stemmed from the fact that the storm had hit before she had been allowed to buy anything.

My main regret was that we had not been able to hear much of Common Threads, the band Steven and I had enjoyed so much at the last event we attended at Canal Place. They had started playing at two, and the deluge hit not long after that.

It was still a fun time. The Little Falls Garlic Festival is a great event. I highly recommend you watch for it next year. I certainly will.