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Aunt Toby Takes A Cooking Class

Anyone who knows me knows that Aunt Toby reads and participates in probably more blogs than she probably has time for, but what the heck. One of them, Fab Over Fifty has a site associated with it (interestingly enough, also called, which always has lots of terrific contests and giveaways (plus great articles about what women over fifty years of age are doing, creating, running, operating, challenging, combating, changing, winning and so on). I usually don’t enter contests but I did enter the one to win a free cooking class with Jyl Ferris, she of . (more…)

More Brisket BBQ – Asian Pulled Beef

All pulled beef looks the same, so I’m not going to give you a photo essay on that. Go here:
Pulled BBQ
But I do have a totally “Aunt Toby Sticks Her head in the Fridge and Sees What Comes Out” sort of BBQ. We had guests coming on Friday night. I also had to go to physical therapy (it’s going very well, thank you very much; I can put my left hand in my left back pocket), so I hauled out the slow cooker, the defrosted brisket (trimmed and cut into two big pieces), and poured in the following:

1 Can of low sodium beef broth
3-4 slices of sushi ginger (I had a jar of this in the fridge – I’ve also used this on top of fish when I’ve put it in to bake – really nice). If you have fresh ginger, I’m sure a couple of slices of that would work as well.
1/3 cup of light soy sauce
1/3 cup of cider vinegar
1/4 cup of honey or dark brown sugar

Put on high for one hour; then turn down to low for 6-8 hours. Remove from slow cooker and shred with two forks.
In the slow cooker, add half a bottle of ketchup and stir. Add back the shredded beef, stir up the meat and sauce to combine. Put on high for 20 minutes to heat through

Serve with crunchy sandwich rolls and cole slaw or Claremont Salad


Pulled BBQ Beef

Aunt Toby believes that one of the problems with cooking in these United States is that we get stuck in a rut. We cook something because Mom and Dad cooked it or because we are familiar with it. Frankly, there are meat cuts out there that 99% of American’s have never eaten; never experienced in the kitchen, and frankly are scared to death of. (more…)

Can’t Cook Lamb? Baaaaaa — Humbug!

legoflambTurkey has whoopped Lamb’s butt in terms of consumption in this country. Before the invention of “processed turkey everything” starting about 20 years ago, in general, American families ate turkey twice a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ham gets the nod for Easter in most parts of the country with a cameo appearance of the leg of lamb on the east and west coasts. Lamb gets eaten on special occasions: going out to eat in a restaurant or at Easter/Passover. That is it. (more…)

Getting the Best Out of Grass Fed Meats

Well, I lied. Or, I think I did. I think I said, or at least intimated that I’d delved into farmers markets and wouldn’t darken that door again.

Well, Aunt Toby realized that she missed out on an entire section of stuff that gets sold at farmers markets (and increasingly gets sold, I might add), which is meat.

Honest to gosh, shrink wrapped (though usually not on a slab of Styrofoam, in my experience), frozen, labeled with weights on ‘em, meat. And many times, they are labeled with words such as ‘free range’, ‘pasture raised’, ‘grass fed’ and so on. This is to differentiate them from what’s in your butcher or supermarché, which generally is ‘conventionally raised meat’ which means “grain raised”.

And when you see ‘grain raised’, the little voice of reason in your head should be saying, “and that means, ‘corn fed’.” (more…)

It’s 8:00 – do you know what’s in your freezer?

ice climbing in a big freezer I know Aunt Toby always sounds a bit like the ant in the fable who ends up with the frozen grasshopper at his front door, but thinking ahead is always a good idea. So, we’re going to take a tour of Aunt Toby’s freezer and talk about the future.

No, that photo at the top is NOT Aunt Toby’s freezer, though there are moments when I gaze into mine and have the same feeling like I’m going to be climbing into it, not knowing what the hell I’m going to find. Do you have that feeling too?

Even when you stock up, and even if you know one week later that you bought chicken on sale, cut it up, packaged it and put it into the freezer, would you know how much you really have and when you put it in there. How about a month later? How about 3 months later?

Are your eyeballs glazing over (and not from the cold air, either – you can shut the door to the freezer now..)?

Aunt Toby is as guilty of ‘lack of inventory management’ as the next person, perhaps more so since I have this really deep seated belief in socking stuff (more…)

Show Some Respect for the Honored Dead — and make Turkey Soup!

turkeysoup If your house is like mine, the carcass from yesterday’s dinner turkey got a piece of aluminum foil thrown over the top of it and is sitting forlornly in the refrigerator, having been combed for odd bits of meat over the past 24 hours.

And you are really quite fed up with it sitting there and are about to unceremoniously throw the poor thing into the garbage, scraping out the roasting pan and letting it be done at that.

“Step away from the roaster, Sir (or Ma’am) and no one will get hurt.”

Now is the time to show some restraint and respect for the poor bird who “gave it up” for your family yesterday. We’re going to turn it into soup today! You will need: the turkey carcass and hopefully the pan that you cooked it in with all the lovely stuff still in it, plus a little salt or a can of chicken or turkey broth. (more…)

Cheap and Good: Chowder

shrimp-chowder So, you’ve gone to the grocery store with your $10 bill and you’ve bought some staples. You put them on the shelf and it looks good. You feel solid.

Let’s take a look at chowder, that theoretically quintessential American soup.

Actually…it’s not. Chowder comes from the French word chaudiere. This is the name of a big pot that is basically used for things like stews, because if you look at the word, it contains another French word, chaud, which means hot.

If you look at the map of New England, you will notice that it snuggles up against historically French areas of Canada: the Maritimes and Quebec. The Maritimes are great fishing areas still. And, if you look in any phone book, from Castile, Maine to parts of northern Vermont you will see hundreds and hundreds of people with names like Thibodaux, Dubois, Michault et al. — the border between the US and Canada in those areas is remarkably porous and people for hundreds of years passed back and forth, or were forced out of places like Nova Scotia and moved and brought their customs, dishes and big iron pots with them. And stews and soups made out of fish and shellfish have been around for a very long time. (more…)

Cheap and Good: Chili

chili1 Well, we’re back in the kitchen with Aunt Toby (which works out pretty well, since we’re talking about food) and your first assignment (because I’m all about the assignments and all about doing it right now) is this:

Take out your wallet and take out a $10 bill. Put that bill in an envelope with your coupons or shopping list for the week and hold onto it. We’ll talk about that $10 bill a little bit later, but trust me on this one: You will want to do this every single week for a while. It WILL save you money.

The whole point of this series (which will be on-going…at least until the economy gets itself together) is to share ideas on how to nourish ourselves and our families with stuff that is a) good, b) cheap and c) good for you. There are a lot of things that are cheap and good, but from a nutrition standpoint, are not particularly good for you. The point here is to hit the Nutritional Trifecta: Good, Good for you and Gives you ultimate bang for your nutritional buck.

For our last discussion of Nutritional Bang for the Dollar, see:
What’s It Worth To You?

Our first week’s topic is the old and new favorite: chili.

The Return of the Urban Chicken

chickenOK, we’ve talked about starting a garden and even gardening on the deck of apartments. I mentioned raising a little bit of protein – but also cautioned that people need to check out their local ordinances.

It seems that I am a bit “behind-hand” (as my mom used to say) in terms of urban farming. Apparently, raising chickens in the urban setting has become, like knitting, “the new yoga”:

This past year alone, grass-roots organizations in Missoula, Mont.; South Portland, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Ft. Collins, Colo., have successfully lobbied to overturn city ordinances outlawing backyard poultry farming, defined in these cities as egg farming, not slaughter. Ann Arbor now allows residents to own up to four chickens (with neighbors’ consent), while the other three cities have six-chicken limits, subject to various spacing and nuisance regulations….

In New York, where chickens (but not roosters, whose loud crowing can disturb neighbors) are allowed in limitless quantities, there are at least 30 community gardens raising them for eggs, and a City Chicken Project run by a local nonprofit that aims to educate the community about their benefits…

(Poultry Politics, urban chickens)

For those interested in getting together with other egg-fanciers, here are a few sites to help you find one another, check out your local ordinances, and so on.

(originally published at Oxdown Gazette)

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