pumpkin-free Halloween

dinner

For years we’ve eaten pumpkin on Halloween. Often in the form of soup, with Yorkshire pudding and sausages alongside, and sometimes in ravioli. This year we decided to take a complete break from it. Instead I made an equally autumnal supper of pan-fried rainbow trout and a rather successful melange of Brussels sprouts, onion and bacon, which worked extremely well. The trout was from Skagit’s Own Fish Market and was just beautiful, lightly floured and fried in a bit of bacon fat. The bacon itself was from Skagit River Ranch, and I wish I could say I liked it better. Everyone we know has been raving about it for the last year, and I finally got hold of some (whoa! expensive), but good lord it’s sugary. It smells wonderful in the pan, like smoke and maple syrup, but it burns really easily, and after a few bites I feel like I’ve eaten a candy bar. Brussels sprouts made the perfect vehicle for it, giving the sugar somewhere to go.

We drank a bottle of Sones Cancion del Mar white wine, gave out a few Butterfingers to the neighbor kids, and didn’t miss the pumpkins at all.

trout

butterflied

prep

sprouts and bacon

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like IKEA but better

dinner

One of the great pleasures of homeownership has been having an excuse to go to IKEA regularly over the years. As our friend Joe used to say, they pump some sort of gas into those places that makes you have hallucinations of wealth (“Two ninety-nine for a set of six toilet brushes! I’ll take ten of them!”) but the experience as a whole is ridiculously fun. Sometimes we’ll sit on the Ektorp sofas or the Poäng chairs for hours, watching the people shove their way through with lists and screaming children and anxious expressions. Now that’s entertainment.

The key component of a day trip to IKEA is, of course, the cafeteria and the Swedish meatballs. There are other foods available there, but at least one person in the shopping party has to get the meatballs. Sometimes we get one of the big meatball platters to share. It comes with boiled potatoes, lots of gravy, and lingonberry sauce, and you can get a glass of sparkling lingonberry juice as well. Eaten at little plastic McDonald’s-style tables, it’s still a tasty and filling meal, and makes you feel like you’ve been somewhere different. Continue reading

Lemon-poppyseed Brussels sprouts

shredded brussels sprouts

In my wanderings around the food blogosphere, I found a couple of discussions (at Smitten Kitchen and Orangette) of a particular approach to cooking Brussels sprouts. I love sprouts cooked my usual way, but I’m always interested to try something new. I had intended to copy out the recipe, but then I stumbled across a copy of the Union Square Cafe Cookbook in a used bookstore and figured it was kismet. We tried it a couple nights ago alongside a roast chicken.

lemon poppyseed brussels sprouts Continue reading

Another autumnal dinner

yellow fruit
I’ve been waiting all fall for the Brussels sprouts at the store to get good looking and cheap. I finally decided it was time, so I bought a big bag of sprouts and a fresh pork tenderloin and dug out the delicata squash from the fruit bowl. This is a notable dinner because it consists of two different vegetables I absolutely loathed when I was young.

J was in charge of the pork. He seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, seared it whole in a cast iron pan and put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Then he made an absolutely fabulous pan sauce with chicken stock and some reduced apple cider. Mmmmm. It had a wonderful intense, savory apple flavor. Continue reading