Sunday, June 28, 2015

First of the Season Food Truck Rally at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown

About a week and a half ago, my awesome boss and friend Kerstin alerted me to a food truck rally at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown. My fiance Greg is a huge fan of food trucks, and honestly, I am becoming one myself. (We're talking of having our wedding reception catered by a food truck.) And this was only the first of a summer-long, monthly food truck rallies at the Wednesday Evening Farmers Market in Kerrytown! The next is July 15th, then August 19th and September 16th after that. (Courtesy of this article on MLive.)

The June meet-up turned out to be a bit of a rainy night, but the Farmers Market is well equipped to handle such weather and is mostly covered (thought not all of the trucks were). There was the usual market activity, tons of food options, and face painting! Sadly, I did not get my face painted (at this event...). But Greg and I did get something from almost all of the trucks, plus a bag of delicious, all natural garlic parsley linguine from the Pasta Shop (find them in the market). 

First up was the Pita Post where I got a chicken shawarma pita and Greg ordered the buffalo blue cheese sausage. We also split an order of sweet potato fries. The shawarma was a little dryer than I like (because I can't get enough of garlic tahini sauce!!), but still delicious and satisfying. Greg enjoyed his sandwich, though I think he said it had some bite to it. The fries were nice and crispy. And because that wasn't enough, we also stopped by the Hero or Villain Van to split a Frieza, comprised of "mozzarella, spinach, blueberries mascarpone on sourdough." As Greg said, it was a "dessert sammich!" And wonderful.

I'd really wanted to try the Shimmy Shack with its all vegan and gluten-free menu, but the line was pretty long, and at that point, I think we were just ready for dessert (not in sammich form), so we picked up some wonderful-as-always gelato from Hello Ice Cream and donuts from Petey's Donuts

It was so much fun! Maybe next time I can gather a group together and we can all go hang out, with perhaps a little drinking after. (I haven't gone out with people in sooo looong!) Even with the weather, the June event was well-attended. It's nice to see this foodie fad getting so much support. I think food trucks are a great idea! I know a number of the newer restaurants around Ann Arbor got their starts as food carts at Mark's Carts on Washington. It's a great way to test the waters and either build on a good thing or take it once step further to a brick-and-mortar location. Any which way, I get to eat tasty and innovative dishes. Eat on!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Harvest Round Venison Steak

I told you I'd post more wild game recipes! This one comes to us from GroupRecipes' Harvest Round Steak. Except instead of beef steaks, Greg used our venison round steaks. Twas a delicious substitution.

I reiterate that venison is a much leaner meat than the beef. Deer run around the forest, leap away from predators (and into traffic), and just overall get a lot more exercise than do cows. This is generally true for all wild game versus domesticated. Hence a lot of venison is cut with beef when ground - added fat. But there is no added fat to round steaks. (Not that I can tell, anyway.) So you must be mindful when looking at substituting venison for beef in recipes. You don't want the meat to dry out.

This particular recipe had moisture added from the other ingredients - onions and apples, for example - which helped. (One of the ingredients is also water.) I really liked it! Very "harvesty." (Maybe we should have saved it for the Fall?) I would make it again with beef. Apples, onions, and sweet potatoes may sound like an odd combination, but I really quite liked it! And they well complemented the gamier flavor of venison.
Side track: What does "gamey" even mean? 
Before I had venison, people always told me that it tastes like beef, but gamier. Wha? That means nothing to a person who has never had "game." A lot of dictionary definitions (here are some) say that "gamey" is basically the stronger flavor of slightly tainted meat. Yummy! The best I can say is that wild game - gamey meat - has a more pungent flavor. I realize that the word pungent is usually used to describe smell, but the way that a pungent odor smells is basically how gamey meat tastes. It is stronger, sometimes with more of a tang to it. There can also, at times, be a pungent odor (maybe because it has become "tainted").
That is the last of the wild game meat in the freezer that needs to be cooked. There is still, I believe, a roll of venison salami. Greg seems to be saving it for something, but what I do not know. I think it would be great with cheese and crackers! Maybe a little wine, though red or white I cannot decide. It's summer now, so maybe a pitcher of sangria is in order. Perhaps this is something that should be served at our housewarming party! (Whenever that will be...) If this happens, rest assured, I will post pictures and give a fill report. I've never eaten venison salami before! It sounds tasty!

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Food Haiku

In the calm after
Raging storms and flash floods,
We find empty cupboards.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lemon Pepper Brussels Sprouts with Raisins and Walnuts

We have a lot of spices in our cupboards. So when I looked through for something to pair with my bag of shredded Brussels sprouts from Trader Joe's, I had a lot to choose from. I eventually settled on an old standby, lemon pepper, which I used to sprinkle (liberally) on chicken breasts. I didn't follow any particular recipe for this because I have made Brussels sprouts so many times, it's really just a matter of throwing together new combos at this point.

  • 1 bag of shredded Brussels sprouts
  • lemon pepper seasoning 
  • about 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • about 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
To start, you want to heat your Brussels sprouts in a good-sized frying pan. You don't want the sprouts to fall over the edge and out of the pan while you stir them to be sure they are evenly cooked. You are also going to want some kind of non-sticking agent. I tend to use olive oil (regular - not extra virgin), but cooking spray, coconut oil, or even butter or bacon grease should work just as well. Just know that whatever oil or fat that you use will affect the taste of the dish. 

I sprinkle my seasoning in right after adding the sprouts to the pan and and stir to coat. So it goes oil (or fat), sprouts, then seasoning. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, remembering to check to make sure nothing is browning or burning.

Brussel sprouts are finished cooking when they turn a deep, bright green. As the tips are just starting to turn, add the raisins, which will absorb the excess liquid and oil and plump up. Turn the sprouts over often and blend thoroughly to ensure even cooking and no burning. I save the walnut pieces for right at the very end when I am about ready to turn off the heat. 

Over moderate heat, this only takes a few minutes. This is why I like shredded Brussels sprouts. They are a quick and easy sidedish!