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Cheese Demystified: The Funky, Stinky, and Scary (Slideshow)

Cheese Demystified: The Funky, Stinky, and Scary (Slideshow)


Cheese expert Christine Hyatt unmasks cheese

Hubbardston Blue

Hubbardston Blue from Westfield Farm in Massachusetts may look alarming, but is ultimately delicious. When it was first entered into competition — it won Best of Show in 1987 and 1993 — an entirely new category had to be created to accommodate this externally rinded blue cheese.

The 5-ounce, disc-shaped cheese has a downy white rind with hints of blue. Similar to a Brie but made with goat’s milk, the cheese has an edible penicillium rind and a soft, spreadable consistency. The cheesemaker adds blue cultures to provide additional flavor complexity.

Wabash Cannonball

Wabash Cannonball is a stunning little cheese hailing from Capriole Goat Cheese in Indiana. Best of Show 1995, the cheese has a unique velvety, convoluted rind that resembles a brain, a common characteristic of geotrichum rinds. You may also notice a thin layer of vegetable ash, which adds visual appeal and is traditional in French-style cheeses upon which this cheese is based.

The stark, white interior paste is tangy and sliceable with a bit of softening or even oozing beneath the rind, depending on the age of the cheese. The younger the cheese, the firmer the paste. Cheeses with a bit of age may run a bit when cut. Simply scoop up with crusty bread and you’re in heaven!

Bluebonnet

In 1996, the smallest Best of Show winner was crowned as the diminutive Bluebonnet took top honors. Made by Westfield Farm, famous for the Hubbardston Blue, above, these 1-ounce, barrel shaped rounds come in a three-pack and are dark and mysterious like a night sky on the outside with a firm, chalky and totally tasty interior.

These tiny treats start out as a Classic Blue Log, which the cheesemaker inoculates with penicillium roquefortii, a culture which results in blue veins. The logs are sliced to maximize surface area — blue molds grow when exposed to oxygen. The slicing means a perfect single serving size cheese with tangy, bright notes, and a distinctive kick of blue.

Red Hawk

2003 Best of Show winner Red Hawk is an orange-rinded, 1-pound round with a bold aroma and funky flavor, a hallmark of a "washed rind" cheese. Made by Cowgirl Creamery at their original Point Reyes Station location, production of this cheese depends on the cool, coastal breezes and unique microflora of the area for its character.

The interior paste has an almost butter-like richness that comes from the extra cream added to the locally sourced cow’s milk from Strauss Family Dairy. During aging, the cheese is regularly washed with brine to encourage the naturally occurring brevibacterium linens to colonize on the rind, transforming the interior paste to a smooth, rich, spreadable consistency.

Rogue River Blue

Rogue River Blue is a two-time Best of Show winner in 2009 and 2011 made in southern Oregon by the historic Rogue Creamery. The blue veining in this cheese can be alarming to some, but try it anyway. You’ll be rewarded by complex yet balanced blue flavors and a dense, sweet paste with hints of pear, bacon and cream.

Perhaps the ultimate autumn cheese, wheels are made only between the autumnal equinox and the end of the grazing season using the extra-rich, late lactation cow’s milk from the creamery’s nearby dairy. Aged for a year and wrapped in local syrah grape leaves, which have been macerated in Clear Creak Distillery Pear Brandy, this cheese is truly a taste of Oregon.


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


Give it a Go

Being stuck at home has forced me to change pretty much ALL of my routines. We are all going through a huge upheaval in our favorite rituals. No date nights at the movies, no Happy Hour with friends, no birthday parties at your favorite restaurants. And being creatures of habit, we do love our routines. And I know that many of us have gotten creative about substituting an old ritual for a new one.

My husband and I do love to cook, but even so, we had fallen into a rut of making some of the same things over and over again. Partly because we have pandemic fatigue, and partly because we don’t want to think any more. We are both exhausted after a day on Zoom.

But the same old, same old is boring. We have scads of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking magazines. We watch cooking shows. We have the resources, and clearly, now we have the time. So we made a pledge to try one new recipe each week that we had never made before. Enter, New Ritual.

On the weekend, we take time to go through our cookbooks or magazines and select something to try. It can be something that we have had but never made, or something we have never eaten. This forces us to dig into what interests us, what we are curious about. We have some successes, and some questionable results. Here’s what we have been up to:

When I worked in Philly, there was this Jamaican food truck that made the Best Oxtail Stew. Tender braised meat, so flavorful. I would get it for lunch whenever they had it. So I thought we would give it a go. First, I had to find oxtail, which is not your everyday cut of meat. Originally it was from an ox, it is now cow tail. And before you wrinkle your nose, it is just another cut of meat. It is one of those castaway bits that cultures have adopted and used. It is similar to the African one pot dishes that developed out of the slave culture in the Caribbean. We located oxtail at a great local butcher shop. No longer inexpensive, it was close to $10 a pound!

I used a recipe that was for my pressure cooker, but if you don’t have one, you can do it in a slow cooker. The oxtails are very gelatinous, and need to cook for a while to get to that tender consistency. The flavors are a combination of sweet and savory, with garlic, onions, allspice and either habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper and some butter beans. The results:

Delicious. It was easy to make in the Insta Pot, and only took 45 minutes. Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, the cost of oxtail has relegated this recipe for special occasions, but well worth it! Get the recipe here.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew

While we were shopping for the oxtail, I also found rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve never had rabbit, so we added that into the shopping cart. Funny rabbit story-we were in France in the town of Bezier, and they have a wonderful market there. A group of us had rented a house and we took turns cooking. My son, who was about 12 years old, went to the market with my sister. He came back totally distraught. “Mom, they eat dog here!” He was inconsolable. I assured him that dog is not eaten in France, but he was unconvinced. We went to the market the next day, and I had him show me the alleged dog. It was a whole rabbit. He saw the skinned whole rabbit with no ears and he thought it was a dog. Crisis averted.

In honor of the French Rabbit episode, I decide to make a Rabbit Pot de Provence with Potato Fondant. The recipe has the typical southern French flavors tomato, fennel, olives, a little orange zest and is a simple braise in a Dutch oven. I had to cut up the rabbit into pieces, but it is very similar to cutting up a whole chicken, so no big deal. The potatoes are also a French recipe, with them being first browned and then baked in chicken stock. You can do a rustic cut or a more fancy cut on the potatoes. We went rustic, since the rabbit was a rustic stew.

The results:-Rabbit- very tasty! The meat was tender, and the flavor is mild like chicken but with just enough of a slight gamey flavor and texture. This recipe combines such lovely flavors with the fennel and the tomato blending beautifully. I do want to find locally sourced rabbit. What I didn’t notice was that the rabbit that I bought was sourced in China. I’ll reach out and find a local source. The carbon footprint alone makes me feel guilty for not reading the label better. You can find the recipe here.

The Potato Fondant-not as successful as I had hoped. The recipe calls for 4 waxy large potatoes, like russets. You shape the potatoes and cut them in half, then brown them in butter on both sides. Then into the oven for 30 minutes. Even after 45 minutes, the potatoes weren’t cooked through. I think my potatoes were too large, so I suggest going for a medium size potato. I’ll give it a go again, they flavors were delightful. You can find the recipe here.

Rabbit-a home run . Potato Fondant, not so much…

Since the holidays this year were a bust, socially, I decide to try something for New Year’s Eve dinner. I have always wanted to cook duck breast, so here we go. On the search for duck breast for 2 people, I discovered that it was absurdly expensive for such a small amount of meat. I went to another store, and they were out of duck breast, but hey! Whole duck and it was on sale! The breast was going to cost $20 and I got the whole duck for $28. Cue foreboding music…..

I found a whole roast duck recipe that involved salting the duck for 6 hours prior to roasting. And then you had to submerge the legs into a Dutch oven and simmer the tough parts, keeping the more tender breast out of the water. Then, you moved the whole bird to a V-rack and finished it in the oven. Okay, kind of involved, but it’s not like I’m doing anything else. So I take the duck out of the package. And I notice that it smells kind of..gamey? I’m in unknown territory, and I know how fatty they are, so I chalked it up to “if it smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.” More foreboding music. So I salt and I simmer and I roast and I glaze. Really committed to the process! And it looks AMAZING!

Looks fantastic, right?

But it still smells. Only worse. I mean, what a weird, unappetizing stinky odor. But I refuse to give up. So I make the wild rice and make some gorgeous roasted golden beets. We plate it up and it really looks like something you would order out.

So impressed with myself!

So we sit down and dig in. And it still stinks. But now the whole house stinks. The odd thing is that it tasted fine. So, I don’t know if the reason it was on sale was that I should have cooked it that day, or if that is how duck smells. So much air freshener…

The result? Calling it a technical epic fail. But I have another whole duck in the freezer, so I am going to try again. Consider it research… You can find the recipe here.

Not what you think, this is a different kind of pig-tale. I used to live in Denver and I would go to a little place in the 5 Points neighborhood called Casa de Manuel. The specialty there was a wet beef burrito with cheese, smothered in green chili. They are so good, that when I visited there one time, I order 10 and froze them and flew them home. But this story isn’t about the burrito..

Next to the restaurant was a Mexican bakery and they sold a cookie that was like gingerbread and always in the shape of a pig. After consuming said burrito, I would always buy a bag of Ginger Piggies. The spiced cookie settled the tummy after burrito consumption.

I left the Denver area and moved back to the east coast, and really didn’t think much about Ginger Piggies. Years go by, and after living in a remote part of New York for a number of years, we rejoined civilization and moved to near Philadelphia. In our area, we have a number of small central American food shops. One makes totally kick ass tamales on Sunday mornings. Get there early, they will sell out. This brought back my fond memory of the Ginger Piggies. I looked in several stores and asked, but none of them made them. Time to make them myself.

I went recipe hunting and found a simple pan dulce recipe for Marranitos, the official name. It is a soft cookie, fragrant with spices and molasses. They are wonderful after a meal, or with coffee or tea. I did purchase the pig cookie cutter, got to be authentic! You can find the recipe here.

Plate full of Ginger Piggies, plus some honey bees with the leftover dough

I’ve had some successes and some failures in to this foray into the unknown. The successes were fun, and I loved going to where I had not gone before. The failures? Eh, no big deal. Because there is NO PROGRESS WITHOUT FAILURE. Read that again. No failure, no progress. You just have to give it a go. And cooking is a great way to fail. Yup. Because it will be obvious. Cooking will show the failures in taste, texture, doneness and smell…like stinky duck.

So while you have some time on your hands with the pandemic keeping us home, give it a go. Try something. Fail at it. And learn. And try again. Don’t worry about what others think, and please don’t judge yourself. There is a world of difference when you DON’T know what you DON’T know, to when you DO know what you DON’T know. And once we can get back into the world, you can share what you learned. So give it a go!


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