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

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 #3

DREAMING OF SUMMER

Dreaming of Summer

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!

Pan Sautéed Flounder – A Family Favorite

This one is for my kids because it is one of their favorite dishes. We live in a seaport town that has the last commercial fishing fleet in Connecticut and have the luxury of getting fish literally right off the boat. Flounder, along with scallops and lobster,  is one of the main products harvested by our local fishermen.

The "kids"; awesome aren't they.

The “kids”; awesome aren’t they.

I know this recipe, if you want to call it that, is ridiculously simple, but it is wonderful. And when you eat it you feel healthy and happy; at least my kids do. Sure hope they make this soon in their own apartments. Or come home. I will be happy to make it for them!

Servings: 1 (can be multiplied easily)

  • ½ cup flour
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 fillet of flounder
  • lemon

Place the flour, salt, and pepper in a wide bowl. Mix to combine.

Place the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan. Heat over medium high heat until the butter is melted and has stopped bubbling. (The bubbling is the water in the butter boiling off. Once it stops bubbling, the water has evaporated and it is ready for cooking.)

Lightly dusted flounderMeanwhile, dry the founder fillet and dip it into the seasoned flour on both sides. Remove it from the flour and shake off the excess.

Place the flounder in the sauté pan and cook for about  2 minutes. With a spatula, gently turn the flounder over and cook until done. This will just take a few minutes. The flounder should be golden brown.

Flounder sizzlin' awayRemove the flounder from the pan, plate and place a wedge of lemon along side it. We like to serve it with rice topped with black sesame seeds and minced scallions. A green salad with a lemon vinaigrette is a perfect vegetable for the dish.

This my friends, is a BIG Do Again in our household. As long as you have high quality fish, this is a delectable treat. And healthy.

Raiding the Fridge – Wheat Grain Salad

Per doctor’s orders, I hadn’t been able to eat a real meal for the past two days. Did lose 5 pounds but was hungry enough to eat my cat. Now that I am finally allowed to eat again, I wanted something fast; so I raided the fridge. . . the cat was too fast for me to catch.

This is what I found – wheat berries, roasted beets and shallots, roasted sweet potatoes, leftover duck breast, garlic sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese, swiss chard quick pickles, walnuts, and  salad dressing. And this is what I made! It tasted pretty good.

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Rainbow Chard Quick-Pickles

Last week I made a Spicy Asian Pork Soup that used rainbow swiss chard. After finishing the soup,  I just couldn’t throw out the stems – they were just too pretty.

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Aren’t they just gorgeous?

But what do you do with chard stems besides saute them?

Well, when you have leftover pickle juice, you pickle them!

In my fridge, I had leftover spicy pickle juice from some pickled green beans. ( I like to keep pickle juice on hand for a variety of things, deviled eggs, quick pickled beets -you might be surprised how handy it can be) I just dumped the juice into a medium-sized pot and brought it to a boil.

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Then I tossed in the chard slivers and simmered it for about 5 minutes. I then poured the juice and chard into a wide-mouth canning jar, let it cool, and placed it into the fridge.

It was that easy.

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What can you do with these, you ask? You can top a salad with them to give it a little zing or  put it on top of a pulled pork sandwich or fish taco. Or a hamburger. Or hot dog! Or. . .

I bet you could think of even more ideas.

So, next time you are cooking, think outside of the box. Don’t throw out ingredients like swiss chart stems, make them into something new – like PICKLES!

ENJOY!

The Biggest Loser and Food Trends for 2014

Food Trends for 2014

Food Trends for 2014

Monday evening the husband came home with an announcement. He had joined a Biggest Loser contest at work and was going on a STRICT diet. What?! I have to cook diet food? For two months? This was not in my plan. I mean, just like many others, I did a fine job of binging over the holidays and feel the need to cleanse my system to shed a few pounds, but a full-on diet? I have never done that. So I got researching.

To try and accomplish this task of revamping our diet, I went out and purchased the January edition of Bon Appetit magazine. The cover, with an asian pork noodle soup and the tag line “the new healthy” got my attention. Inside, I focused on the  section that made several predictions for what is going to be trending this year. It appears that we are going to be eating a lot of greens, grains (other than wheat), fish, and local, rather than industrial, meats – such as pasture raised chickens and grass-fed beef. Oh yeah, the gluten-free  and nut milk movement is going to increase as well.

Time magazine though has a different twist on the food trend theme. They are predicting that kohlrabi is the new kale. I remember my grandmother growing this veggie on her farm in western North Carolina. It is a strange-looking vegetable that is usually pickled or used raw like jicama. I grew it a few years ago and had trouble figuring out what to do with the suckers. I think I waited too long to harvest them because many were the size of a toddler’s head and had a thick skin that was difficult to trim. Maybe I should give it another try. We’ll see; I am not convinced that this trend is going to go mainstream.

The most interesting food trend I have heard so far though comes from Joel Stein, a Time magazine columnist. He is predicting, with assistance from Alvin Roth, a Stanford professor in economics, that veganism is going to take over the world and all meat eaters may become officially repugnant. They point to current issues with factory farming and health concerns over red meat as to why these offensive meat eaters are losing ground in popularity.

In the article, “The Future is Now. . .ish”, Roth states, “We already don’t eat whale. We think whales might be smart. The next question is cows.” Well, I for one can vouch that cows are smart. Well, some cows. On the farm, I saw cows, especially Bertha and Bossy do some highly intelligent stuff. I mean, Bertha was a wiz at algebraic calculations and Bossy built a two-stroke engine that was solar powered. Now that is talent! Fortunately for them, we never ate Bossy nor Bertha – just their offspring, who weren’t quite as intelligent. Chalk this one up to survival of the fittest.

A peek into my fridge.

A peek into my fridge.

Thus, with all of this food trend insight, I shuffled off the the grocery and farmer’s market to load up on my hip, cool foods. Once home, I laid them out on the counter and began to formulate my plans for healthy, yet delicious meals for the week. I am going to make that asian noodle soup, pan-sauteed flounder, tofu veggie noodles with teriyaki, and a farro/beet/goat cheese salad (beets are hip right now too). I am also eating a lot of clementines, fruit smoothies, and hot tea with lemon. I will post some of these recipes later this week.

My question to you is – What are you eating right now? I can always use some new ideas!

Oh yeah, and Joel Stein. . .  I plan on remembering all of your predictions for 2014, so you aren’t off the hook. Especially the one about the “obese, polygamist, vegan President on steroids who keeps a brain-dead clone of himself around for spare parts.” Somehow I don’t think that one will fly.

Creative Cheesy Creations

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Cherry Spread

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Cherry Spread

This isn’t so much as a recipe, as it is a way of thinking. I love grilled cheese sandwiches. You know this if you have read about my experience at The Spotted Pig and my rendition of the $17 Grilled Cheese Sandwich (which is now $18 by the way!). Because of this undying love for all things cheesy and melty, I refuse to settle for a pedestrian grilled cheese sandwich. I want adventure! Therefore, the other day when the craving hit me, I threw open the fridge with gusto and went rummaging.

Thanks to my generous sister-in-law, Julie, I had a plethora of cheeses and other tasty treats to experiment with.

So, I got creative and made a cheese mixture from what was available. I grated the onion gouda and blended it with some remnants of my herbed goat cheese spread and a few glugs of heavy cream and a dash of salt. Mushed them all together and made a spreadable paste. But I wan’t done yet. I dug deep into the recesses of my holiday leftovers and found the Balsamic Cherry Spread Julie had brought for Christmas and became inspired. After prepping my soon-to-be grilled cheese sandwich, I schmeered a bit of the cherry goodness on top of the cheese to create a new masterpiece.

My husband doubted my creative genius and went for a sandwich sans cherry. Poor guy; he knew not what he had done. But, then he made the mistake of asking for a bite of my sandwich.  Being the loving wife that I am, I complied. Must say that he regretted this  once he took a taste of my delectable delight and swooned. That’s okay. I will experiment with dried cherries and balsamic vinegar to re-create this spread so that he can have a whole sandwich next time.

So, I guess what I am saying is –

Be brave like Pocahontas! Dig deep into that fridge or pantry and try out weird combos. You may have to eat come duds, but every once in a while you get a “ta-dah!!!”

So, now I have to figure out what to do with carrot pickles and leftover duck breast. Hmmm. . . .

Cheers!

Creamy Tomato Soup – comfort food at its best.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

When I was a kid, I loved Campbell’s Tomato Soup; it was one of my favorite comfort foods. Sometimes to save money, my mother would buy the store brand instead of Campbell’s. I would refuse to eat the stuff. Or, sometimes she would use water instead of milk. Blasphemy, I say. You need the milk; otherwise it isn’t creamy!

Now, as a grown-up, in age at least, I don’t like to eat processed foods. But I miss my tomato soup fix. So, in desperation, I decided to try my hand to recreating the stuff. Took me some tinkering and the help of my husband’s taste buds, but we finally got it right.

Now, just know that the sugar and pureeing of the soup is key to the recipe. If you want to leave these out, you can, but it won’t taste similar to Campbell’s. Yes, even with these steps, this soup is a little more acidic than the processed product, but I think that is a good thing. I hope you like it!

  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (not tomato puree or sauce!)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

    Ingredients

    Ingredients

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • nutmeg

Place the olive oil into a medium saucepan. Toss in the diced onions and cook on low until translucent, yet not browned.

Place the crushed tomatoes in the saucepan with the wilted onions. Then pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Using a food mill, run the tomato mixture through to make the puree smooth. You can alternatively place the contents of the can in a blender and then strain the mixture through a sieve. You decide. I like option one the best.

Add the sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Then add nutmeg. I like to use whole nutmeg and grate it directly into the pot. If you are using ground nutmeg, I suggest you use about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. I just put in enough to please my taste buds. Be careful, too much nutmeg will overpower the tomato flavor.

Alternative Version (easy) – Substitute 3 cups of tomato juice for the pureed tomatoes. Just cook the juice down to 2 cups before adding the other ingredients. This will make the juice more concentrated and less watery.

And. . .  if you want to get really crazy, placed sliced hot dogs into the soup. My mother made this for me when I was a kid. Penny Soup is the name; and if you try it, you just might find that you like it too. Personally, I think it is great. Just make sure you use good quality hot dogs.

Enjoy!