Category Archives: Food Thoughts

Pork Shoulder Boston Butt

Now, looking at the description of shoulder and butt in the same title, one would wonder how that is even possible? “Butt means the widest part of the pig.” Even though, my FIL and his brother were butchers, not all of the terms of the trade were passed down to my DH. I learned what I know about meat cuts from my Mom.  Also from our daughter who graduated from culinary school and worked as a butcher at a local organic market, before getting married and raising a family. So, DH got this hankering for pulled pork, and I said, we could cook it in the crock-pot. He Googled while at the food market, “What cut of pork is used for pulled pork?” Up popped: Shoulder. In the meat case was this 8 pound Pork Shoulder Boston Butt, which was a cut I normally don’t buy. DH said he remembered reading that when it had Boston in the name, it meant 1/2 a shoulder. So we purchased it. I found out real quick that it was way to big for my crock-pot!!! Funny thing is, when I was at the market, I was sure it was small enough to fit in the crock-pot. Only goes to show, one should measure and research what one needs before they get to the market. So now, I am cooking this thing, flying blindly. I told our daughter via text messaging that we had bought this giant thing and she laughed via the texting and said we were going to be eating pork for days on end. I replied, that we could freeze it in portions. Stay tuned for the update…

Elite Speciality Food Market Tasting Day

We joined my MIL and our older daughter this afternoon at Rastelli Market’s tasting event. Both of them had been to other such events. When we arrived to the market located on State Road Route 73, Marlton, NJ, the parking lot was almost completely full. I said jokingly, “It looks like they are giving something away!” My DH said, “They are!” And we all laughed. Today the market had lots of samples from jumbo shrimp to pecan pie. I personally sampled a peach smoothie, mashed sweet potatoes, corn bread dressing, Brussels sprouts, cream of artichoke soup, butternut squash soup, baklava, glazed honey ham, turkey breast with cranberry sauce and finally red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. There were lots of other things to try as well, different cheeses, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, mashed potatoes, chocolate cake, ice cream, shrimp, various juices, and probably more that I didn’t even see. It was very crowded and the samplings were very good. Unrelated to the tastings, We bought organic chicken drum sticks, brioche, a six-pack of beer and cider doughnuts. The drum sticks were on special, the brioche is great for French toast, although, I will probably just eat it plain. The beer is for beer bread and the cider doughnuts, are just because I love them. If we had stayed there longer, I would have bought more items. It was good for us that the market was extremely crowded and difficult to move around.

Not Qualified to Bake Cookies

A funny thing happened… A friend of mine and fellow blogger invited me to participate in a cookies exchange, however, my food blog doesn’t qualify per their rules. I read the rules, and I thought it qualified. I only told my one daughter I was doing it, so now I’m not. This is the third time I have almost been involved in a cookie exchange. The first time, I signed up for one in Haddonfield, NJ, it was cancelled due to lack of interest. The second time I signed up for another one at the same place the following year. At the last minute, I sent my daughter as I had to work. So, this year my daughter said she could go with me this year to the exchange, however, I haven’t seen it advertised. So then this one fell into my lap so to speak. Is it true, 3 strikes and you are out? Or should I persevere? Or should I create my own cookie exchange?

In Search of…

From when I was a child all the way to when I had children of my own I enjoyed a convenient out of a box side dish. It was created and produced by Betty Crocker. It was a sad day when they stopped making Noodles Romanoff. My whole family loved it. It may be my imagination, but it seems as soon as we like something, the manufacturer either “improves it” or discontinues it. Only the manufacturer thinks it has been improved I might add. Sometimes, I am not alone, and the manufacturer gets an ear full from all of its unhappy followers. And they wind up making two versions, the new and the old. However, that doesn’t happen too often. I don’t know why, but I suddenly got a hankering for Noodles Romanoff. So I found a recipe on one of the many food cites, however, it didn’t taste anything like it, at least not anything like I remembered it to taste like. So, the search continues…Stay tuned.

 

 

New Jersey Food Cottage Law

I make homemade bread for my family’s own consumption. I had thought about selling it at a local flea market, and accidentally stumbled into a debate on Facebook where some of the posters had the idea that a cottage Bill had actually become law. After searching the State of New Jersey’s website, I have come to the conclusion that the State has no such Cottage Food Law. A Bill has been proposed and passed in the Assembly however, it is currently in limbo, with an undetermined time as to when it will be heard and voted upon in one  way or the other. My guess is the Bill is being held up by lobbyists for commercial bakeries and or kitchens. I have heard of instances where a home-baker who was making and selling beautifully decorated cakes was reported by a disgruntled customer. So, until New Jersey passes a Cottage Law, I won’t be selling any homemade foods, and neither should anyone else.

I am currently looking into the requirements of a mobile hotdog cart type of operation through the Camden County Health Department. However, I have no desire to cook with propane, especially after a food truck blew up in Philadelphia a year or so ago. I am happy to report that the fire marshal in the town I live in requires that food trucks using propane must be inspected by the fire department. Now the big question is, do all fire departments inspect them? And the other question is how often?

Philadelphia Italian Market

Today, was the day that we all were free from any commitments and all could get together to go to the Italian Market. Even though it is only 45 minutes away from our house, we don’t go there very often. Today as we were driving through South Philly my MIL mentioned that she was in her old stomping grounds as a child. DH asked her if she wanted to drive by her old house and she did. She lived on Mildred Street and it definitely was not a street that I would care to drive on since it is very narrow. Vehicles park on one side of the street, and each block they alternate the side they park on. Fortunately the street is one way. Anyways, the street is almost not wide enough for two vehicles side to side! The people parked on the side of Mildred Street are practically bumper to bumper, and to me, it looks as though they can’t possibly get out unless they all leave together beginning with the one at the lead. The neighborhood has changed drastically from when MIL lived there.

From Mildred Street we headed to the Philadelphia Italian Market which basically runs on South 9th Street between Wharton Street and Fitzwater Street. I have never walked the entire area as when we go, we go to select stores. The open air market on the sidewalks are lined with fresh produce vendors. Any thing from live plants to exotic fruits and vegetables can be found here. Yesterday, was a perfect day to enjoy the culture,

We went to a place that makes fresh pasta and you can watch them roll out the dough and cut it to different shapes. I bought a pound of angel hair, and from the frozen case, I purchased pumpkin stuffed ravioli with abundant filling. MIL purchased ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and DD#1 bought black ravioli stuffed with crab. We also went to a cheese shop that has easy 500 different cheeses, different prosciutto style meats including traditional ham, duck, boar and others. DH likes the potent stinky cheeses, whereas I prefer the mild ones. We tasted all of the cheeses that we purchased. We also bought a bottle of spring water, Soppressata salami and apple pepper jelly. From there we decided to walk West on Christian Street to an Italian bakery where I bought a pound of pignoli cookies and two mascarpone cheese filled chocolate eclairs. MIL bought a peach pastry that looks like a peach but is actually sponge cake filled with a creamy peach flavored filling and soaked in liqueur. On the way to the bakery, we passed a vendor who had morel mushrooms which I screamed in delight over! I said I’d get them on the flip side since I would be back past the vendor on the way back from the bakery. Since I really had no idea as to how to pick out the perfect morel, I just winged it. I selected eight one and a half-inch morels and one three-inch one. The morels in the bin were a mixture of medium brown to dark brown almost black in color. Having never tasted one I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard from my foodie friends that one needed to clean them good to avoid grit or hitch-hikers. My 8 mushrooms cost me $5.85 cents. The guy waiting on me yelled to the back of the garage, “What are morels?” Someone yelled back 35. At that point I didn’t know if that was a sales code or the price, however soon after it became instantly apparent that it was $35. per pound!!! And I was glad I didn’t grab anymore of them. We also stopped at a butcher and purchased an ostrich tenderloin. My Sister-in-law introduced DH and I to ostrich about 7 years ago which is a red meat and tastes similar to beef.

So after we arrived home with all of our delectable goodies, I had thawed a sirloin steak to be grilled. I froze the ostrich. Morels are fragile as they spoil fairly fast, so it is wise to eat them as soon as purchased. I decided to saute them along with onions, and garlic in butter. Since it was my first time, I cut them in half-length wise to make sure there weren’t any bugs inside since they are hollow. They were delicious! An earthy mushroom flavor that is stronger tasting then portabella. They do have an odd texture and become soft but not mushy when sautéed.

Morels

Morels cooking in skillet.

Sautéed Morels in Garlic Butter

Ingredients:

  • 8 morels
  • 2 tablespoon butter (salted)
  • 1 sweet onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Clean morels thoroughly to get rid of any sand or bugs that hide either inside or in the little crevices.
  2. I cut my large one in several pieces so it would cook evenly with the others.
  3. Dice onion and microwave it in a microwave safe container for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir it and microwave it for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. In a skillet on medium high heat, melt butter.
  6. Add semi-cooked onion to the skillet and saute it for 5 minutes stirring every 30 seconds or so.
  7. Add garlic and saute it for an additional minute.
  8. Add morel mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes stirring and flipping them over so they cook on all sides.
  9. Sprinkle seasoned salt over skillet.
  10. Serve and enjoy.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time : 15 minutes

Serves: 2

( I made the morels as a garnish to the steak which helped to enhance its flavor. MIL and DD liked the morels but said she wouldn’t pay that much for them, and DH agreed. I on the other hand, might buy them again for a special occasion as I really enjoyed them).

 

 

Smoked Neck

For years my Great Grandmother whom we called GG short for Great Grandmother did all of the cooking and shopping for her immediate family whom consisted of GG Bert our Great Grandfather as well as our Grandmother Honey V. One of GG’s specialties was smoked neck. We would go to her house in the Logan section of Philadelphia when my sister and I were little, about 50 years ago. Just saying that makes me feel old. After GG Bert’s passing, GG and Honey V moved from Philadelphia to rural Sicklerville, New Jersey to a ranch house. This move happened when I was about 12 years old. At the time my family lived in Levittown, NJ which the town voted to change the name to Willingboro mainly because mail was constantly being mixed up with Levittown, NY. This predates zip codes. After moving to Sicklerville, GG and Honey V needed to find new places to buy their food and other supplies. Both had lived in Philadelphia all of their lives and were use to the convenience of stores within walking distance. Suddenly, they had to drive everywhere. GG never learned to drive, so she relied on Honey V to get what she needed. So she wrote up a list of groceries for Honey V to purchase, and off she went for the groceries. She traveled from store to store and not one of the supermarkets had smoked neck. They suggested that she go to a butcher. As luck would have it, there was a local butcher who carried a large selection of not only traditional cuts but specialty cuts as well. She took a number and waited her turn. She was slender and fashion conscious in her leopard printed pant suit with matching jacket. She always caused heads to turn in admiration. She must have been quite an unusual sight to the rural local folk when she walked in. When her turn came, she asked the butcher behind the meat case for a smoked neck. She said that the butcher said, “Lady there is no such thing!” So she showed him the list that GG had written out. The butcher had numerous kinds of cuts that were smoked but no smoked neck. Honey V told them that she would be back after she found out what it was? Well, the crux of this whole story is GG was raised in the Victorian era, and ladies did not say the word butt as it wasn’t proper. So since GG would always do the shopping herself in Philadelphia at the same butcher Every time she would just point to the cut. Then she would ask the butcher to write Smoked Neck on the wrapper. I remember that story like it was yesterday. Honey V was so amused by the whole thing!

A Healthy Take – On My Italian Style Meatloaf

True comfort food even with this healthier version.

True comfort food even with this healthier version.

The challenge of this contest amongst Epicurious Community Table bloggers is to take a recipe previously published in the Community Table and give it a healthier make over. The original recipe featured ground pork, veal and beef. It also had a whole egg, mozzarella and thick full fat Caesar salad dressing. This lighter version is amazingly tasty! Serve with whole grain pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground chicken (white meat)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (seasoned)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup low-fat Caesar salad dressing
  • 1 cup low-fat skim mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 8 ounces marinara sauce

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, oregano, egg, garlic and Caesar dressing until combined, but don’t over mix it.
  3. I suggest you line a baking dish with non-stick aluminum foil, for easier clean-up.
  4. Form meat mixture into a mound shape and place it in a large enough baking dish that there is space all around it.
  5. Use one cup of marinara sauce to coat the meat loaf mound on all sides except the bottom.
  6. Bake meatloaf for one hour, 15 minutes or until fully cooked through.
  7. Heat remaining sauce up in microwave at 1 minute, 30 seconds.
  8. Slice meatloaf and drizzle sauce on top.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes.

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Servings: 8-10