On the Road

Sorry for the lack of posts these last few weeks. I’ve been on vacation. The first leg, last week, I spent camping with my brothers and nephews in the Berkshires in nw Massachusetts, and this week I’m in Ohio visiting the in-laws.

As far as cooking goes, while camping, we cooked everything over a fire using a dutch oven. My brother Bob made a delicious chili one night, using pork shoulder. First, he fried up some bacon for the drippings. The pork shoulder was cut into 1 inch cubes and dredged in flour, and browned as best we could, while Rob’s son (my nephew) William and I chopped up onions, celery and green peppers and garlic, which were tossed into the dutch oven once the and pork bacon was removed. Then some liquid was added, along with cumin and diced tomatoes, and the meat was added back in. Since we were cooking in the woods, Rob said that we were only adding the minimum of spices, but that the recipe called for adding hot chilis, etc. He clamped on the lid, and added some coals on the top, and let that cook for a while, then added a couple cans of beans. He said that an alternate version of the recipe has you add hominy instead of beans. While it was all cooking, I helped him make hand made tortillas, from a mixture of water, salt and corn meal. By the end of the batch, I had gotten pretty good at hand rolling golf ball sized wads of the dough out into flat tortillas, which we browned over the fire using the overturned lid of a second dutch oven. The chili ended up tasting really great, with me eating three bowls worth, though the tortillas needed work. Not sure what, but they were lacking.

After my short camping trip last week, I went home to get ready for the second leg of my vacation, but I did take the time to make some blueberry preserves. Blueberries are way on sale this week, something like 4 pints for $6 at my grocery store, so I picked up a bunch. I cleaned and mashed them in batches. 10 cups of whole blueberries yields 6 or so cups mashed, in a pot with the juice and zest of one lemon, and 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of splenda, and one package of liquid pectin. The jelly still came out a little runny, but it’s tasty. For detailed instructions, check out the recipe at PickYourOwn.org.

Last night, we ate at a restaurant here in Milford, Ohio, called The Schoolhouse, an old school converted into an eatery, with oak kitchen tables and windsor chairs, and the menu written on the old blackboard. The food is served family style, where everyone chooses their main entree, but the sides are served in big bowls and placed on a lazy susan in the middle of the table. A charming place, even if the food was merely OK. I ordered broiled pork chops, but they were kind of dry, and could have benefitted with a brine before cooking. Everyone else ordered fish… broiled tilapia or deep fried sole. The sides were cole slaw, salad dressed with a french dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, cornbread and stewed tomatoes (which no one touched). I had blackberry cobbler ala mode for dessert, and everyone else at the table shared a couple slices of a dense, rich chocolate layer cake. By DC standards, the meal was cheap, though my sis-in-law and her boyfriend think that it’s a little too pricey to go too often. Interestingly, they’re only open 4 days a week, Thursday through Sunday. If I ran a restaurant, that’d probably be how I’d run it.

More later, when I have time…