Ima Take Your Grandpa’s Style

It’s the number one song on iTunes right now, and the artists are doing the late night circuit, but I swear my sister sent the link to this video to me ages ago. It’s barely scratching the surface to say that we come from a house of thrift and consignment store enthusiasts. Chances are that if you point out any object in the house that you like, it once belonged to someone else. We thrift and we’re proud.

The language in the video gave me pause (mom, he’s just talking about the size of his rooster, promise!), and so I didn’t post it when it might have been “news.” Well, ultimately the slow-mo couch running shot wins out. For that handful of folks who haven’t seen and/or heard it yet, please enjoy (for the camerawork and age and racial diversity, if not the awesome sax riff)…

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Roast Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard Crust

The time has come to make mustard. It took months of relentless cajoling, persuasion, bullying, and lies to get a certain significant other to consume even the tiniest speck of this sandwich necessity. But finally (FINALLY!) the conversion happened. He draws the line at French’s Yellow, but whether it’s whole grain, dijon, prepared with a hit of horseradish or honey, he now spreads it, quite liberally and literally, on everything. So once we get the whole seeds purchased, we’re going to follow the ever trustworthy lead of Good Food Matters and give it a go.

But to make room in the fridge we’ve got to use up the store-bought jars already crowding the shelves. As many a small apartment dweller knows, a key rule to survival in minimal living space is “one-in, one-out.” Costo and BJ issue their siren calls, but once you’ve encountered the impossibility that is gracefully storing a 28-pack of toilet paper and 12 jars of hearts of palm, you’ve learned your lesson the hard way.

We found a good use for that mustard in a recipe published in Bon Appétit. My parents gave us several packs of this spectacular salmon for Christmas (more on that later) – it’s so good it needs no adornment other than a squeeze of lemon, but we thought we’d switch it up this round.

Roast Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard Crust

Recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine, February 2012

1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives (we used minced green onion due to lack of chives)
2 8-ounce skin-on wild salmon fillets**
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, olive oil, and chives/green onions.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place them skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the tops of the fillets. Roast the fish for 6 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the salmon 6 inches from the heat for about 4 minutes, until the mustard crust is browned and the salmon is almost cooked through. Using a spatula, carefully slide the salmon fillets off their skins and transfer to plates; or leave the skin on if desired.

Serve with your favorite side of greens.

**The original recipe calls for 4 fillets, but we used 2 and kept the original 1/4 cup of mustard, because we love it so.

Homemade Nut Butter & the Holidays

It’s getting real cheery up in here. Annie Lennox is earnestly urging merry gentlemen to God rest themselves, the mini-tree is decked out in kitschy colored lights, seasonal cider is being imbibed, and nuts are a-roasting (for the biweekly batch of nut butter that Matt makes, but let’s consider it part of the holiday melange).

 

After a few attempts at shopping more than three days before Christmas – responsible! foresight! we’re grown-ups! – we soon realized that a lot of people do this and perhaps we’re better off waiting until the mad Eve dash when the eggnog overdose aggression kicks in, and instincts for gift-finding and crossing names off lists are honed as razor sharp as the end of the candy cane you’ve been whittling down for the better part of an hour.  I’m quickly realizing not to discount the wonderful thing that is online shopping, especially when wandering around Bed Bath & Beyond means encountering this:

That’s right. Snuggies have somehow generated enough revenue for offshoots and ripoffs. Such as the “Forever Lazy,” the “one-piece lie around, lounge around, full body lazy wear that covers you from head to toe!”…. HuffPost beat me to this scoop by about 11 months, but I bet they never expected to see the miracle display of displays that some enterprising employee cooked up with a Forever Lazy and 27 foam-stuffed soccer balls.  But I like lounging around and being warm. And if I hadn’t been so afraid of the creature becoming dislodged and suffocating the fifteen small children gaping up at it, I just might have grabbed one of the boxes for a closer look.

All in, this display has nothing on the one that Eggton saw in Home Depot. Try reading that post without shooting milk through your nose. The milk that you’re drinking while eating a Fuji apple spread with Matt’s homemade nut butter, of course.

Al-hew Nut Butter
By The Mr. but tweaked off of Alton Brown’s recipe for cashew butter

8 oz. raw almonds
8 oz. raw cashews
1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Put half the almonds and half the cashews on a cookie sheet. Roast at 350 degrees, keeping a close eye on them, until the oils start to appear on the nuts and they just start to turn brown on the edges.

As the other nuts are roasting, put the remaining almonds in a food processor and pulse until they create a coarse meal. Add the cashews and process these for a few seconds. Let the processor run while you add a tablespoon of walnut oil, then a tablespoon of honey. Once these are mixed in, stop the processor and with a spatula, clean down the sides of the bowl.  Put the lid back on, turn the processor on and while it’s running, add the second tablespoon of walnut oil and then the remaining honey.

Once the other nuts are finished roasting, turn the processor back on and add them to the mix. Process this, cleaning down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until you have the approximate consistency you’d like for the nut butter.  We process it until the butter starts to “glisten” from the oils coming out.  We’ve never tried to go all the way to really creamy because we like the crunchy consistency.

Once you’ve reached the consistency you like, pour in the salt, pulse a few times, then stir the mixture by hand. This means that some of the salt crystals don’t melt in, making for little bursts of saltiness when you eat the butter. Which is delicious.

The Threat of the Weekend

You know what the excitement of an impending Friday plus a little Woodchuck Hard Cider (it’s delicious) will do to you?  I suppose it depends on your life circumstances, but it just might compel you to go through your Shazam tag list on your iPhone, download a bunch of random songs, and then actually take iTunes’ genius recommendations very, very seriously.

And then you may even be suckered into buying songs like this because you remember your dad mention in passing that he liked Conway Twitty:

 

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, please remember the stack of unread and dust-blanketed books languishing next to your bed and step away from the electronic devices. Very, very slowly.

Stuff and The 100 Thing Challenge

There are a lot of things I would buy if I had a little more discretionary income. These include, but are not limited to: A roller suitcase with wheels that actually spin and are free from cracks resulting from curb-to-asphalt … Continue reading

Happy Birthday, or, Good Things Come In Ugly Packages

What do you get when you mix a deeply embedded streak of laziness with a dash of wrapping paper abhorrence and a pinch of frugality?

I suppose that combination could produce any number of results, but believe me when I say that one of them is this:

What you see above is an earth-conscious reuse of material with a rustic-chic embellishment, resulting in a manly presentation for the Mr.’s birthday gift.  In other words, I wrapped his present in the crumpled brown paper it was shipped in and then tied the whole lumpy mess up with a measure of kitchen twine usually reserved for looping around chicken legs. Happy Birthday, Love of My Life!!!

Here’s my issue with wrapping paper. You buy a 17 foot tall tube of the stuff which goes out of its way to launch itself at you every time you go in the closet for the boots or umbrellas.  You spend 20 minutes wrangling it around some unshapely object, unless you’re one of those people who gives hardback books (in which case, you are way smarter than me).  One side does the envelope-fold thing neatly, the other stone cold refuses so you hack it with scissors and then it’s too short so you’re forced to cut an extra teeny square to tape over the gap.  Then the whole wrap job gets ripped open, often within 10 minutes of being crafted.  Follow this with one of life’s biggest dilemmas – throw away the shreds, laden with a measure of guilt in direct proportion to the amount of space in a landfill that the discarded wrapping paper will create, or gingerly fold the remains and put them in a drawer, knowing in the cockles of your heart that you’ll never reuse them?

Alright, maybe not one of life’s biggest, or even smallest, dilemmas, but I really wanted to use the word “cockles” in an unexpected context.

I actually do like wrapping paper, but I can’t be bothered to pay for it, and I don’t have the foresight to buy it after the holidays when it’s 50% off and use it the next year. Plus, as evidenced above, I’m a really bad wrapper.