Bicentennial Celebration of Battle of Stonington- 1814

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I know my site is called Do Again, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. Sometimes you only get the chance to do something once. That is when you take the bull by the horns and dive right into the mix. This is about one of those times.

The weekend of August 9th, 2014, Stonington CT will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Stonington. In 1814, during the War of 1812, those pesky Brits decided to attack our sleepy little village and the battle raged for four days and nights. The brave residents of Stonington fought off five ships, commanded by Thomas Masterman Hardy of the British Royal Navy . Why would they bother little ole us, you ask?

They needed food. Desperately. And we had cattle.

We looked like an easy mark.

They were wrong.

The village residents had a lot of New England pluck about them and refused to surrender, which of course irked Commander Hardy to no end. So, he decided to bombard our village with cannonballs in an attempt to force us to bow down to his authority.

Here’s the problem – we weren’t a fort or military outpost, just a small fishing village. How could we prevail?

Fortunately, we had three small cannons at our disposal. Leftovers from the Revolutionary War? I don’t know.

In any case, they shot at us, we shot at them. . . . . . . Being thrifty New Englanders, we also gathered up the British cannonballs and wailed them back at the ships. Yup, we is smart. (Two of the cannons used in the battle are on permanent display in Cannon Square near the southern end of the village.)

While the Brits had much more firepower, after a few days they grudgingly gave up and limped off into the sunset. The attack did damage many homes, but the village survived. In fact, some homes still have cannonballs lodged in their walls to this day. A friend of mine has one in her basement wall.

Soon, talk about our plucky little town became “the talk of the country.” According to Mary Beth Baker, the executive director of the Stonington Historical Society, “It was a victory at a time when there were not many victories for the country. And it was a victory in a state that had reservations about the war. It was a way for Connecticut to rally behind the cause.”

For a long time, the annual celebration of The Battle of Stonington was more celebrated in town than the 4th of July. Even now, the village puts on some sort of celebration in remembrance of the eventually, but with its 200th anniversary, this year is special.

Currently, there is a curated exhibit at the La Grua Center, and special displays at the Stonington Historical Society Nathaniel Palmer House and Lighthouse. On the 10th, there will be a parade, along with a commemoration, concert, battle-themed walking tour, tall-ship cruises and a display of the tattered flag which flew during the battle.

For more information about these fun events, check out the Stonington Historical website and Stonington Borough websites It will be a grand weekend for all.

I mean really, Stonington knows how to do small town parades.

So please, do yourself a huge favor and come to Stonington for the festivities. You will be glad you did.

Photographs courtesy of Jerry J. Williams and Heather Lathrop Williams

The Sun Rules with the Sunday Farmer’s Market and a Super Cool Sun Dial

Thank heaven summer has finally arrived. And along with it comes all of the local farmer’s markets offering us tastes and smells of summer.In the winter,  the Stonington Farmer’s Market moves to the Velvet Mill on Bayview Avenue and has now moved back to the town docks for the summer location. But that isn’t the only game in town.

Denison Homestead - Mystic CTWhile I do go to the Stonington Market the most, sometimes, ahem, I sleep in too late to make it there so I must go further afield to get local ingredients. On Thursdays, Westerly has its farmer’s market near the ice skating rink and Sundays a market can be found at the Denison Homestead in Mystic. While both have a good variety of vendors I was especially surprised in a delighted way with the Sunday Market.

A few weeks ago I stumbled into the Sunday Market to visit one of my friends who is working to legalize hemp in Connecticut (the industrial plant, not the smokable one) and was surprised at the quantity of vendors. I know this market has only been around for a few years, but it is beginning to rival the selection in Stonington. One reason I believe this to be so is because of the leader, our own Mr. Davis from Davis farm, who is inviting a wide range of new vendors including a local meat purveyor, my hemp loving friend, and another cool product – a human-run sundial.

Sun Dial Time TestActually, human-run sundial is my name for it. John Geary, its inventor, calls it a Horizontal Analemmatic Sundial. John has several clients who have had him install these sculptural sundials in their gardens to delight visitors and I dare say, many schools are interested as well. I do have to say, it is quite a conversation piece. Many decide to place a special sculpture at the center of the dial to help tell time rather than using their own shadows for the effect. John spent a few minutes at the Farmer’s Market showing me how it was installed and I got to stand in for the statue to see how it worked first hand. Its kinda neat!

Want to check out some of his videos showing the whole thing in action? Just click here

The mysterious calculations to create a sun dial in your yard.

The mysterious calculations to create a sun dial in your yard.

and you can see several showing not only how it works, but also the construction process.

So, if you are like me and tend to sleep in on Saturday mornings, I suggest you try out the Sunday Market at the Denison Homestead. And if you see John and his sundial, stop by and say “Hi”, you will be glad you did.

 

CONTACT INFO:

Precision Sundial

John Geary, 860.383.3068

 

Denison Homestead Farmer’s Market

Every Sunday through mid-October, 12-3pm, 860.536.9248

Potato Leek Soup – A Primal Soup Everyone Needs to Know

Potato Leek Soup

This one goes out to my friend Sheila, an amazing PE teacher. After a hugely successful field day, she was sitting in her office looking forward to a restful weekend and was trying to figure out what to do with the leftover potatoes. Why you ask are there leftover potatoes after a field day with middle school students? Well, lets just say that Sheila is highly creative. In any case, I immediately told her to make Potato Leek Soup – one of my favorites. It is easy, cheap, and can be varied a ton of ways to make just about any kind of soup you may desire.

So, join me and Sheila on a journey through the ever evolving world of Potato and Leek Soup – you will be glad you did.


 

POTATO LEEK SOUP

Serves 4

Time to Prep – 10 minutes

Time to Cook – 20 minutes

  • 2 cups of cleaned and diced leeks, white and tender green portions only, chopped
  • 2 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes
  • 4 cups of water
  • salt and pepper

Yeah, I know, you are saying “Really, that’s it? Will it taste good?”

Trust me; it will.

 

The hardest part of creating this soup is cleaning the leeks. The easiest way to do this is to slice the leek running down the middle DSCN0446and then run it under the faucet. Because leeks are from the onion family, they tend to get a little grit in between the layers. Don’t want that in our soup.

DSCN0451Place the  leeks, potatoes, water, and seasonings into a pot and let boil for 20 minutes until tender. That’s it.

 

 

 

If you desire, and I always do, you can puree the soup and sprinkle a few chopped chives on top. I also often add a dollop of sour cream, 1/2 cup cream or half and half to enrich the soup. Sheila told me that soy milk works well too.

You can also add different veggies if you want as well. My daughter discovered that pak choi was a wonderful, light addition. Many add watercress. peas, spinach, or even cauliflower or broccoli.

Another nice thing about this soup is that you can serve it cold as well (vichyssoise). I find when served cold, it needs a little more salt and the 1/2 cup of cream to add flavor and body and MUST be pureed.

Enjoy! And have fun playing with this soup. That is half the fun of cooking.

Creative Quinoa – Goin’ Crunchy!

COOL NEW USES FOR A POPULAR GRAIN

Quinoa Crunchies

A few weekends ago, Mark Bittman, NY Times food writer, wrote a fabulous article about new uses for Quinoa. I decided to try the recipe for Quinoa Crumbs with some leftover cooked Red Quinoa I had tucked away in the fridge. Bittman had a variety of flavor options including Smoky Paprika, Sesame Nori, Pumpkin Seed Spice and more. I decided to be daring and create my own flavor blend and used Maldon Sea Salt and  Zahtar Spice Blend, which ended up quite yummy.  Continue reading

Snow Day #4 – Boredom Busters

A great time to cook and eat. 

Parsley, sage, rosemary and snowI just heard a report that it is a record snowy winter in Philadelphia. Today is the fourth snowy day there that has accumulated more than 6 inches in one day. This has never happened ever. So, all of you along the east coast that are stuck inside, like me, what are you doing today?

I made Baked Eggs in Grits for breakfast and am currently making French Onion Soup – perfect snow day food. (Will post the recipe tonight when I have some pics) Last night, I made a recipe from Bon Appetit – January 2014 – Pan Roasted chicken with Harissa Chickpeas. It is cheap, easy, and tasty. I especially liked the chick peas and how the harissa warmed up my insides. Check out the link for the recipe; it is definitely worth doing again. ( I did find that I needed more water than what the recipe indicated – otherwise, the recipe was accurate.)

Snow day GamesTonight, once we get a good dose of cabin fever, we might whip out our favorite games – Cards Against Humanity  (CAH) (you can play online too!) and Things. Can play this online as well.

I know that CAH is taking the country by storm, but if you haven’t heard of it yet and you have a warped sense of humor, like my family, you need to check it out. My son got this for Christmas (he knows one of the developers of the game) and we had a blast playing it. In a nutshell, everyone pulls cards from a deck that are used to fill in the blank(s) for a statement or question the “judge” poses from another pile of cards. The goal is to see who has the funniest answer. When playing this game, make sure you feel comfortable with each other because it gets smarmy and inappropriate quite fast.

As much as I like CAH, THINGS can be even better. The major difference between the games is that THINGS doesn’t have cards for the players to choose their answer from – you need to create your own answers. So, it can get just as crazy as CAH as long as you have truly demented and creative people playing. Since the oddball answers are up to you to create, it can take a few rounds to get the proverbial “creative juices flowing,” but once everyone gets in sync it can gets even wilder and raunchier than CAH.

Also, if you choose to, THINGS can be played in a G-rated mode, but why would you do that?! Both games are available online, so get shopping and you too will have a blast during the next record-braking snow storm. Winter isn’t over yet.

Snow Day #3

DREAMING OF SUMMER

Dreaming of Summer

Glendronach – Aged 12 years: A Winter Warmer

GlenDronach - Aged 12 yearsThe husband decided it was time to pull out his tasting glass from our trip to Edinburgh last night, but wanted to have something worth to pour in it. Thus, he decided to do a mini-splurge with the GlenDronach Original – Aged 12 years . He could have amped up his investment with an older version, but decided that wasn’t necessary.

This lovely scotch has a sherry note at the beginning, followed by a fruity, raisiny flavor. The mouth-feel was full and has a somewhat buttery with a nutty finish.

On a cold winter night, this scotch is a good buy and does a fabulous job of taking the chill out of your bones. Something we northerners could use about now.

Damn that Groundhog.

Join a Fun Virtual Cooking Club from the Ocean House

Jerusalem DinnerThis fall, I decided to do a first and take a cooking class. Not just any cooking class – one at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Now if you haven’t been to The Ocean House, you don’t know the significance of this. The Ocean House is a legendary vacation destination, which was demolished and painstakingly rebuilt to its former glory. When in western Rhode Island it is a must see. Check out the website and you will understand.

 Taylor Swift lives down the road and stops by every once in a while. Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, it was a blast. And not only was the class fun, instead of holding it at the resort, it was held at the Pink House. A friend, who grew up in Watch Hill, told me the home was formerly owned by Mick Jagger. She said that they were always on Rolling Stone watch in the summer. Yup, I cooked in his kitchen. (I will now pause for that to sink in.)

It was fun. I am confident Mick knew I was there and wished he were back in Watch Hill. I could feel it in my soul.

But I digress;  this isn’t about that experience (which by the way is a definite Do Again), it is about a virtual cooking club.

You see, the other day Janice McEachen, the Food Forager for The Ocean House, (cool job, huh) contacted a bunch of us to see if we wanted to start this virtual cooking thing.

I said, “Yeeeees!” And we were off.

Cardamom Onion Ckicken It was determined that our first dish would be from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, which I had just purchased. Janice decided our first recipe would be Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice. It looked good, so off I went to the grocery store.

Now, if I am going to make a special dish, I don’t want it to be for just the husband and me, so I invited my friends Tami and David over as my official taste-testers. I also decided to try other recipes from the book, since I did own it, and chose the Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yogurt, and Buttered Pine Nuts and Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake. Sounds good, huh.

Well, it was.

Swiss Chard with Tahini Yogurt Sauce As a group, we decided that the rice and cake were the big winners. The rice was wonderfully flavored with spices and herbs and the cake was moist and sweet, yet not cloying. The chicken was a little bland, but Janice thought that if the thighs had been marinated with the spices overnight the flavors might be more pronounced. I thought brining the thighs might benefit the recipe as well.

The only other problem I had was that some of the directions for the recipes were incorrect. The Swiss chard recipe told me to squeeze the water out of the chard until dry, which made the vegetable too dense and flavorless. The picture showed a much more moist vegetable than what I ended up with  by following the directions exactly. If I made this recipe again, I would just remove most of the water.

Clementine Almond Syrup CakeAlso, the cake, batter is more of a cake paste and cannot be “poured.” I don’t make cakes often since I am more of a salty gal, rather than a sweet, (My dessert is usually another glass of wine.) so I was freaking out about this misdirection and assumed I had ruined the cake. Well, I hadn’t; it was the star of the meal.

While eating this meal was wonderful, what was even more fun was discussing this experiment via the Facebook page with everyone else who had participated. Now, this is a new group, so there aren’t a lot of us yet, but I must say, it was fun and worth doing again.

Check out the links and Facebook page provided. If you like trying new recipes and discussing your trials and tribulations in the kitchen, try it out. You will find me there!

Honey and Sriracha Glazed Chicken Thighs

 Honey Sriracha Glazed ChickenWell, the floodgates have opened and am I excited! Do Again suggestions are coming in from all over the country, from followers and I couldn’t wait to share the Honey and Siracha Chicken from my Texas/Wisconsin  friend, Myra (Hey, girl!). She told me about a spicy chicken recipe that she and her husband love. It is ridiculously easy, spicy, and cheap. And, with Super Bowl Sunday coming up, I couldn’t resist trying it. I mean really, all it has for ingredients are chicken, honey, and Sriracha. Who can resist that? Not me!

 The chicken is just spicy enough with just a hint of sweetness. I was tempted to tinker with it by adding additional ingredients such as soy sauce, but found that Myra’s recipe was perfect. Although, a sprinkling of sliced scallions is always a nice addition in my book. In fact, my husband, after tasting it, immediately said it was worthy of doing again and has requested that I make it for the big game using wings instead.

 Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in, skin on, chicken thighs
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 4 tbsp. Sriracha

Preheat oven to 400°

SrirachaMix the honey and Siracha in a large bowl, until blended. Place the chicken thighs in and marinate for one half hour.

Place the chicken thighs on a foil-lined, rimmed cookie sheet. Make sure you do this step, otherwise you will be scrubbing your pan for a very long time. Not fun. I found out the hard way. Place it into the middle of the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Baste the chicken with leftover sauce from the bowl, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. To make sure the chicken is done, pierce it with a knife or skewer. If the juices run clear, then they are done.

That is it!

PS: Myra said her husband, Jake, likes to have some extra Sriracha on the side for dipping. Personally, I think he is dipping crazy; but to each his own. I like spicy food, but that is too much for me. Of course, he plays rugby, so he can handle just about anything.

 

 

 

Taco Night – Done Right

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Please welcome Will Halsey, a new contributor to Do Again. We hope you enjoy his special ode to Taco Night. Not only does this post include a mighty delicious recipe for tacos, but also includes a review of a special spice blend , AND a great beer pairing as well. For more information about Will and his blog, please go the About Us page to read his bio. We look forward to more posts from him in the future! So Will, please take it away. . .

First, I need to let you know that I am in grad school. That makes me poor (relatively). But being poor doesn’t mean you can’t make a ‘do again.’

Taco nights are a cornerstone of cheap, time-friendly, family-centric meals. They are easy to make and a variety of toppings lets everyone have fun, while also getting exactly what they want.

However, good tacos, at least those worthy of a Do Again, require two important things:

1) Flavorful meat

2)  A really good sauce or salsa

But first things first. What is the best friend of someone cooking on tight budget, besides beans and rice? A slow cooker.  Slow cookers allow for any cheap meat (pork ribs, shoulder, any cut of chicken, beef trimmings for stew, etc, to magically, over time become tender, fall-apart goodness. As well, slow cookers are easy to clean and recipes require very little maintenance, once the food is inside. If you don’t own one, get one.

I wanted to make a big batch of food that would last a long time and could be multipurpose in its uses. Enter in, the Chicken Tinga. This slow cooked, mexican-style pulled chicken can be used in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, in salads, with rice and beans, as an appetizer or  just eaten by itself.

For this dish, you make a sautéed spice mixture that is added to the slow cooker with the raw chicken. Once hours have passed, you pick the chicken apart.

Slap Ya MamaMy secret flavor weapons are – Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning and apple cider vinegar. This awesome spice mixture from the bayou kicks everything up a notch, and the apple cider vin also brightens up the flavor. Finally, by sauteing everything, the flavors intensify and form crispy edges on your pulled chicken that add a wonderful crunch.

Finally, if you want to personalize the dish, you can add extras, such as sautéed veggies, pineapple or cheese (like pepper jack). Half of the fun of cooking is making it your own. So feel free to be creative.

Every good taco/burrito/whatever needs one more thing and that is a sauceIt’s all about the sauce. My sauce is a riff on chipotle mayo, but it tastes way better and is even healthier. It’s plain, non-fat greek yogurt, lime juice and hot sauce (I use Chalula). The tartness of this sauce cuts the heat of the spice like sour cream, but then elevates all the flavors on your palate. The goal here is umami.  Also it has no fat, so you don’t end up with the greasy, gloppy mess that chipotle mayo often brings.

Taco’s are delicious, and food comas can be comforting, but nobody enjoys a post meal feeling of self-hatred (see – eating two chipotle burritos back to back).

For the taco itself I prefer frying up some corn tortillas but you can use flour ones if you like. Also important are an arrangement of toppings. I prefer  simple and fresh (as opposed to over loaded). I slice a few red onions, chop some tomatoes and sprinkle on some cilantro. All these flavors go well together, but you could also include some fresh purple cabbage for an added textural crunch.

Finally to pair with your tacos, you need one more thing.

Beer. 

Noble Pils I never thought I would see the day I would give my support for Sam Adams, but the brewery has come a long way since the Boston Lager. Enter in the Noble Pils – Sam Adams’ take on the pilsner. But this isn’t your average pilsner, which normally doesn’t taste like too much beyond straw, biscuits, and perhaps a whisper of hops. Noble Pils surprised me with a subtle, yet  beautifully  hoppy presence that makes this a pleasure to drink. It is clean, refreshing, but manages to balance its superb hop flavors well.

Skip the Corona, Sol, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modello or even Tacate. For a dish like this, you want to enjoy every aspect and not just drink something to wash it all down. Having a slightly hoppy beer allows you to keep the spiciness of this dish at bay and the pilsner-style means two things: the hops won’t dominate your mouth and it will be low in alcohol, so you can have several!

Easy drinking and easy on the wallet. At $8.70 a six-pack this is easily one of the cheapest, flavor-filled “sixers” to pick up; I love when price meets quality.

Recipe

Chicken Tinga

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 Limes, juiced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbs chicken stock

 Spices

I just add the spices a dash at a time. Be careful when adding the cayenne pepper since it is potent, but the others you can sprinkle to your heart’s content. Personally, I like my chicken quite spicy.

  •  Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Ground (dry) Mustard seed

Spicy Yogurt Sauce (low-fat)

  • 1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs hot sauce (I use Cholula)
  • 1 Tbs lime juice (half a lime)

You Will Also Need:

  • Corn Tortillas
  • Apple Cider Vinegar ( 1 Tbs vinegar per cup of pulled chicken)
  • Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning ( or other seasoning of your choice)
  • Red onion ( optional topping)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (optional topping)
  • Red Cabbage (optional topping)
  • Cheese (optional topping)
  • Guacamole (optional topping)

Instructions (chronologically)

1) Place chicken in slow cooker, add juice of 3 limes and place on high for  (3-4 hours) or low (5-6 hours).

2) Next, saute the onions  for 5 minutes, then add the jalapeno, garlic, and spices.  Continue to cook until onions begin to sweat and become translucent.

3) Add chicken stock, set burner to low and cook for 5-8 minutes more.

4) Add the mixture to slow cooker.

5) A half hour prior to chicken being done  is a good time to whip up your yogurt sauce and make your toppings. Just blend the ingredients together in a bowl and you are done! – Keep yogurt sauce refrigerated until serving time.

6) Once the chicken is cooked, pull apart tender, remove from slow cooker and, um,  pull apart. In a large bowl, add chicken and reserve slow cooker liquid for later.

7) Add in any extras to mixture that you might desire. (See my suggestions above)

8) Get two frying pans – one to cook the tortillas and one to cook the chicken.

9)  Add the chicken mixture to one pan, with apple cider vinegar and any seasoning (such as Slap Ya Mama) and set to medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the chicken starts to get crispy edges,  remove it to a serving bowl and  set aside. Garnish with cilantro or green onions if you like.

– (Be careful not to burn or dry out your chicken – use the reserved slow cooker liquid to moisten your Chicken Tinga if needed)

10) In the other pan, start frying up  your tortillas. Place one inch of oil in the pan and heat on high. Once the oil is hot, dip the corn tortilla in the oil. Fry briefly on one side and then gently turn it over to crisp on the other side. You can crisp it up completely to make a tostada (flat taco) or cook it less time to keep it flexible (traditional taco). Or heat up your flour tortillas in a 250 degree oven, wrapped in aluminum foil for about 10 minutes to make them more flexible.

Set table with tortillas, Chicken Tinga and toppings and enjoy!