LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Conflict Kitchen (pre-school edition)

There’s a right way and a wrong way to make a sandwich. Mine is the right way, and Mama’s…well, she can’t be right all the time, can she?

We agree that you should lay out both pieces of bread or the two halves of a bun, whichever you prefer. We agree that you should gather your remaining ingredients before proceeding.

Where we differ has to do with how you apply those ingredients to said bread. Take, for example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or, as I like to call it, a “hamburger sandwich” because, when you look at it from the side, it sort of looks like a hamburger is in there).

Sandwich bliss.

I eat all the crusts first, saving the soft inner sandwich for last.

Mama spreads either jam or peanut butter first on one half of the sandwich then wipes the butter knife on the clean half. No, no, no! She doesn’t realize that she’s just contaminated that half of the bread, and this is clearly unacceptable. Witness:

Oh, unspeakable horrors.

Oh, unspeakable horrors.

Now, you could use a clean knife for the other half of the sandwich, but I vastly prefer this method:

I won’t say who taught me this trick*, but I like it.

I won’t say who taught me this trick*, but I like its simplicity.

From there, Mama spreads jam or peanut butter on the other half and then puts the two halves together. Again, this is unacceptable, as sometimes, two jam halves are better than a half with peanut butter. Or maybe you don’t need anything on the second half. She doesn’t even ask first!

Feel my pain.

Feel my pain.

Sometimes I need help spreading the jam all the way to the edge of the bread, but I would still consider this the first meal I can make myself. And that’s not half bad, no matter how you slice it.

Love, Jude

*Mama would like me to point out that she does not condone the cleaning of even the dullest of knives with your tongue.

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Cooking lessons first, morality lessons later

If you’re anything like me and Mama, you have a fridge and freezer full of freshly picked fruit. Time to start making jam!

LittleJudeonFood

When Mama was growing up, she told me she had an Italian plum tree and a sour cherry tree in her yard; later, there were apple trees. One by one, though, they began to die, but the plums and “sours” (as she calls them) continue to be among her favorite fruits. It’s probably how she came to pinch the cherries from the tree down the street from her, in the yard of an old woman whose tiny house was all that stood guard over the coveted summer crop.

It’s a wonder, then, that it took three summers before Mama noticed the wild raspberry bush in our neighbor’s yard…especially since the house has been vacant since before I was born. When she noticed the red gems glowing in the sunlight, she darted across our semi-private mountain road with me (after looking both ways, of course) and pointed out the very reddest…

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Refrigerator Pickles, Part Deux

I sure love pickles. Not sweet or bread & butter pickles, mind you, but dill. I especially like when they’re crunchy.

I’ve made pickles before, and it’s really quite simple. Mama found a new recipe that she thought we could try, and it was a perfect chance to use the garden dill before it goes entirely to seed.

These little cucs are the perfect size for a pint jar.

These little cucs are the perfect size for a pint jar.

We have to wait a few days before we can eat them, but no doubt they’ll be worth it.

If you're mouth's not watering just looking at these, then... you mustn't like pickles very much.

If your mouth’s not watering just looking at these, then… you mustn’t like pickles very much.

Love, Jude


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Check out my new name!

Welcome to Little Jude on Food! Yes, I’m still “Baby Jude” at heart, but I’m growing up, and I need a blog name to reflect that. Mama says she wants to revamp the design of the blog, too, but we’ll see how far she gets with that. It’s summer, after all, and we have a lot of berries to start picking.

Love, Jude

Image

That’s medium-rare steak, marinated portabella, and Papa’s own roasted pepper & tomato sauce, all done on the grill (except for the spaghetti–that would be silly).


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Dear friends of Baby Jude’s Food Blog

Though I seem to have been slacking in my writing of late, I assure you that I have been well fed (even if the food hasn’t always made it into my tummy).

I currently seek counsel. You see, I have been blessed with having a few of my recipes included in a book that’s due out later this year. (I’ll include details at a later date.) The thing is, neither Mama nor I want to have a “dot-wordpress-dot-com” address in the credit, so we feel it’s time to finally buy a domain. But we’re stumped! After all, I’m not really a baby anymore–in fact, I tried on my first pair of big-boy underpants tonight after staying dry at daycare for 2 whole days! And “Jude on Food” doesn’t really convey what this blog is all about. So Mama thought I should ask you, dear reader, for your thoughts as to what I should name my blog. Please feel free to offer any and all opinions. We will entertain each of them–and maybe that’ll give me the bump I need to start writing again.

Love,
Jude

Here I am, watering our new blueberry bushes. You know how much I love bluebies.

Here I am, watering our new blueberry bushes. You know how much I love bluebies.


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Happy anniversary to me!

And to my blog. Thank you for reading. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you my adventures in eating. If you’re new to Baby Jude’s Food Blog, take a moment to read how it came about. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, I’m sure you can appreciate what I’ve been going through. Either way, comments are always welcome. What would you like to see me learn to make and eat?

Remember when it was so hot outside that only a giant, tart lemonade could cool you off?

Remember when it was so hot outside that only a giant, tart lemonade could cool you off?

Love, Jude


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Stock Up on Stock

We’ve used stock in a lot of our recipes, from soup to risotto. Mama often makes vegetable stock, but on occasion, she makes chicken (or turkey) stock or seafood stock. Just like roasting a chicken, making your own stock is super simple—and the end product, at least according to Mama, is far superior to anything you’ll buy at the grocery store. (The only real drawback is having to plan ahead to use it, since you have to thaw it.)

Mama explains that there are stock purists out there who believe there’s an art to making a good stock. While Mama does lend credence to this conviction, she also feels that a down-and-dirty stock can be equally flavorful. Let’s start with a vegetable stock.

Always start with mirepoix. (Isn’t that a funny word?) It consists of carrots, celery, and onion. (And of course, these should all be organic—especially the celery.) This is the basis of all great soups and sauces. The nifty thing about a stock is that you’re going to strain it, so you don’t have to bother with all the peeling and trimming you’d normally do for something like a vegetable soup. Just rough chop about equal portions of these three vegetables, say 1 onion, 2 stalks celery, and 2 large carrots. Or thereabouts. (You really can’t screw this up…but if you’re going through the minimal trouble of making a stock, why not use a whole bag of carrots, a bunch of celery, and a few onions?)

Add a bay leaf, a few peppercorns (no salt), and a few sprigs of parsley. If you don’t have these, don’t worry about it. Mama always cuts a whole head of garlic in half and throws that in. If you have fennel or leeks or parsnips, go ahead and add them, as well. (Go easy on the fennel, though, or your stock will have a slight anise taste. You also might want to avoid beets, but hey—this is your stock.)

Put everything in a large soup pot and cover them with cold water. This is where Mama sides with the purists. Warm water leaches minerals from the pipes. Or so they say. Bring it up to a simmer—never a boil, otherwise your stock will turn cloudy. Partially cover the pot so all the yumminess doesn’t evaporate as steam, and let the stock simmer for as long as you can tolerate that delicious aroma. It’s certainly possible to do a quick stock in 30 minutes or so—it’s very easy to do this with mushroom stems for a mushroom stock or shrimp shells for shrimp stock. But for maximum flavor punch, let the stock do its thing for at least 2 hours. You won’t be sorry.

Strain the vegetables out then cool and store in the freezer. Some people use ziptop plastic bags; some use glass jars. If you’re really being thrifty, use these veggies for a second go-around. Repeat the process with a little less water and simmer for a bit longer. This second stock, or remouillage, will taste a little weaker, but what a great way to get utmost veg usage! You can always use this weaker stock when you cook rice or couscous, etc.

Mama tossed a few leeks in this stock.

Mama tossed a few leeks in this stock.

If you’re keen on making chicken stock, break down your bird, trimming as much of the fat and skin from the carcass as you can. (Fat makes your stock cloudy and skuzzy.) Put the bones in the pot along with your mirepoix, and proceed as above. (If you happen to be deboning a fresh chicken, it’s perfectly fine to use raw bones, as my friends Ty and Tora’s mama does, but it’s more likely you’re going to use roasted chicken bones.) It’s even more important with a meat-based stock to use cold water and a gentle simmer. Cold water helps draw out all the yummy goodness from the bones, and a simmer will keep it from getting cloudy. (Your stock should always be clear.) Mama lets this go anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. If the top of the water begins to get scummy, simply skim it off and discard. If your stock winds up very fatty, strain it then refrigerate it overnight, and the fat will solidify at the top—and then you can easily remove it.

For a fish stock, use the fish bones, or go with crustacean shells. You can get away with simmering these for 2 hours.

For a beef stock, you definitely want to roast your bones first. This is where you’d get bones from a butcher or farmer specifically for stock. Roast them in the oven (400°F) for about half an hour, add your mirepoix, and put it back in the oven for another half hour. Since this is going to yield a brown stock, you should add some sort of tomato product–paste is generally your best bet. Take the bones and veggies out of the roasting pan and put them in the soup pot. But before you do anything else, deglaze that roasting pan with a bit of cold water or red wine. Scrape up all those browned bits of goodness, then add them to the stock pot. Add water to cover, along with your herbs. Simmer for 4–6 hours, then strain.

As you can see, making stock isn’t such a big deal. Usually, all that gets in Mama’s way of making stock is….well, me!

Love, Jude