Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

I grew up a connoisseur of Salisbury Steak.  It frequently showed up on the school lunch menu and on the dinner plate.  What the lunch ladies served up definitely had a mystery meat quality.  And the Salisbury Steak I ate at home came from none other than Swanson. So who knows what was really in it.  Probably lots of things that I can’t even pronounce.  When I saw a recipe for Salisbury Steak in Cuisine For Two, I decided to see what I could do with it.  I figured that even if I totally bombed, it would still be at least as good as any Salisbury Steak I ever knew. Continue reading “Salisbury Steak”

Great Grapes – The Giveaway!

To celebrate the fact that it’s Friday and that we’ve reached the unofficial start of summer,  I’m giving away two tickets to the upcoming Great Grapes Wine, Arts & Food Festival.  To enter, leave your response to the following statement – My Favorite Food Memory Is Of….

The comments will be open between now and midnight on Sunday, June 6th.  I’ll use Random.Org to select two winners who will each receive one ticket.

Be sure you include your email address in the comment field so that I can contact you for additional information if you are a winner.  Tickets will be left at Will Call for pick up.

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Flashback Friday – The Reveal

The following originally appeared on 3/18/08 at Exit 51

The Reveal

Now that SFC has seen the finished work at the house, I guess I can share the photos. Lord knows I had enough to say about the whole process as it went on…

We went from this kitchen:

To this kitchen:

And from our tired old bathroom, to this bathroom:

It’s like night and day. I’m thrilled that the work is done and that we didn’t try and make these DIY projects. We had talked about maybe doing the bathroom ourselves, but seeing the guys using a jackhammery thing to get our old floor up convinced me that it was better left to professionals.

There are a few things I wish we would have added to the project but overall, it’s pretty much what I had imagined.

Spiced Chicken

Spiced Chicken

In a perfect world, I would:

  1. Travel and paint and read.
  2. Be fluent in French.
  3. See the inside of my gym on a regular basis instead of just driving past it occasionally.
  4. Interact with my friends in person regularly instead of sporadically texting or emailing them.
  5. Watch less mental junk food television programming.
  6. Cultivate a green thumb, if it kills me.
  7. Have oodles of free time to cook and photograph and write. Continue reading “Spiced Chicken”


Copper Study 1

Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.  We see those buzz words everywhere but how often do we consider how to implement them into our lives?  Recycle is easy thanks to Baltimore City transitioning to single stream recycling each week.  Sheila, you and I may not have agreed on much while you were Mayor but I would personally like to thank you for expanding the recycling program.

There are also great local resources like Free Store and Book Thing for other forms of recycling.  And even though I know I probably consume just as much as the next person, I’m hard pressed to find ways to reduce.  Although if you asked The Mistah, he’d say to start with the growing collection of purses and shoes that are taking over our limited closet space.  Ok, so reduce continues to be a struggle.

But reuse, that’s just the flip side of recycle.  What gets recycled by me today can get reused by someone else tomorrow.  Like that copper pan up there.  That tarnished beauty was hiding on a dusty back shelf in a Goodwill store.  After a good cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend, it was gleaming and bright.  All for less than $2.  So yes, it really does pay to be thrifty.

Great Grapes!

One of the following statements is true:

A) I detest bacon.

B) I am fearless in the face of yeast.

C) I cook food and I eat food so now we’ll find out if I can also talk about food.

I hope you all know me well enough by now to have picked C because I will be participating in a Food Blogger panel at Great Grapes.

Great Grapes is a two day extravaganza of wine, food, arts, music, and fun.  Local food bloggers Minx Eats, Mango and Ginger, and The Baltimore Snacker will be doing the hard work when they participate in the live cooking demonstrations (1PM Saturday).  I will be part of the food discussion (3PM Sunday) along with What’s To Eat Baltimore‘s Liz Stambaugh, The Upstart Kitchen‘s Wendy Tien, and Jessica Lemmo of Adventures in Baltimore Restaurants. Dara Bunjon of Dining Dish will moderate our mayhem.

Two Wendi’s. One stage. What are the chances of that?

Here’s what you need to know:

What: Great Grapes 2010

When: June 12th and 13th, 12pm – 6pm (rain or shine)

Where: Oregon Ridge Park

Check out the Great Grapes website for a complete list of the participating wineries, musical entertainment, and to purchase tickets.

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Salty Sweet

Compost Cookie

I’m a salty sweet girl.  I love how the two flavors play off of one another, enhancing the essence of each.  Pretzels and chocolate?  Absolutely.  Chocolate and peanut butter?  Right on.  Bacon and chocolate?  But of course.  Kettle corn?  If only I could still eat popcorn.  Berger cookies and CheezIts?  Mai oui – but maybe that’s just a Baltimore thing.  My point is that I embrace the salty sweet dichotomy.  So when I saw that The Amateur Gourmet had posted the recipe for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies, which celebrated the salty sweet, I figured I could get down with that.  So I did.  But then I didn’t.  Because, and I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, they were too salty. Continue reading “Salty Sweet”

Food Memories – What My Mother Ate


Baltimore Blogger, Kathy, better known as The Minx, writes about food, dining, restaurants, and Top Chef at Minx Eats.  She is also a gifted story teller who kindly shared the following Food Memory.  She said, “Took me a while to think of a good recipe to send you. I realized that I really don’t have any family recipes – my grandmother never showed me how to cook, and my mother made stuff up as she went along. That’s the way I cook too. Instead, my piece is heavy on  memory and short on recipe – hope that’s ok.”  Absolutely, because really, it’s all about the memories.

What My Mother Ate

If my mother ate it, I ate it. No matter how weird it seemed, I trusted her taste – with the exception of two things: SPAM and Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies.

I grew up in a Polish-American household. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Russian-occupied Poland to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Here, as in their home land, their families were poor; they ate what they could get and passed the value of snout-to-tail eating on to their US-born children.

Sausages, ground-up oddments stuffed into intestines, are a big part of the Polish diet. In our house, every major holiday was celebrated with a grand meal of kapusta i kielbasy, or sauerkraut with fresh Polish sausage. The garlicky fresh kielbasa was delicious, but I especially loved the rare treat of kiszka, or blood sausage, that Grandma would tuck into the basket we took to Church for blessing on Easter Saturday. Kiszka has a livery flavor and granular texture (with the occasional bit of bone) that may not be appealing to most people, but my mother ate it, and so did I, from a young age.

Mom seemed proud that I wouldn’t hesitate to try anything if I saw her enjoying it first. She liked to tell a story about the first time I tried scrambled eggs. Until that point, my favorite way of eating eggs was either poached or over-easy, both methods resulting in a lovely dippable egg yolk. We called these “matsu eggs” because I couldn’t pronounce the Polish word for smear, which is “mazać.” One morning, when I was about two or three, Mom decided to switch things up and make scrambled eggs. In a perhaps not-so-rare fit of pique, I stalked off, refusing to touch them. Mom fixed herself a plate and began to eat, making “yum yum” noises but otherwise pretending to ignore me. Curiosity eventually got the cat and I was soon standing at her elbow, feigning nonchalance but secretly wanting a taste of whatever it was that made Mom so happy. After that taste, I was on her lap, finishing the rest of her scrambled eggs.

Most weekends, the smell of chicken soup, or rosół z kury, drifted from Grandma’s downstairs kitchen to our third-floor apartment. When I was very small, I remember her need to hand-pick her chicken, which she did at the “chicken choker” (I am not making that up) at the “Jewish Market,” a stretch of Lombard Street that housed a live poultry market as well as Attman’s, Jack’s, and various other purveyors of Jewish delicacies. I was never allowed to accompany her when she went on these trips with my Dad because: 1) the shock of seeing a chicken beheaded might be too much for me; 2) the area surrounding the market was known as a “bad neighborhood.”  But I was definitely allowed to eat as much of the resulting soup as I wanted, which due to the frequency of its preparation usually wasn’t a whole lot. I’m still not a big fan of chicken soup, but I do love chicken, especially the weird bits. Mom and I would each try to be the first person to find and eat the stiff ridge of cartilage from the breast bone (chrząstka). Of course that was also Grandma’s favorite part, so we had to share with her if we were eating in her kitchen. Another chicken bit we loved was something we called the ogonek (little tail). It was probably an internal organ, but I have never found this particular part in a fowl of any sort since childhood. It had a slightly livery flavor and a somewhat “bouncy” texture. As you can probably tell from our name for it, we liked to imagine it was, um, an external organ.

Grandma also made beef soup fairly regularly. Although I liked it better than I liked rosół, the only part that excited me was the szpik, or marrow. Mom would smear a blob of szpik on a slice of buttered rye bread from Levin’s bakery and I would be in heaven. Sometimes all of the marrow escaped from the bones into the soup, which was a huge disappointment at suppertime. Often there was only a single bone still hanging onto its fatty filling so we split it four ways; szpik was one treat my younger brother also enjoyed.

My love for bone marrow was my dark little secret until I was in my late 20s, when I was astonished to read that it had been one of Queen Victoria’s favorite snacks. Even the rich ate what the middle class probably fed to the dogs! Now fancy restaurants serve the stuff as if it were the cow’s answer to caviar. Landmarc, in Manhattan, serves bone marrow with bread and onion marmalade for the princely sum of $14. You can make it at home yourself far less expensively – a package of marrow bones costs about $2 in most supermarkets.

Roasted Bone Marrow

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place marrow bones, cut side up, in a roasting pan or an oven-safe skillet. Cook for 15 minutes or until the marrow starts to separate from the bone – if the marrow starts to leak out, you’ve cooked it too long!

Spread marrow on crusty bread, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Thanks, But No Thanks

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 1/22/08 on Exit 51.

Thanks, But No Thanks

I get way too many catalogs and junk in the mail. It all ends up in the recycling bin and most of it never even gets a second look. The way I figure it, if I want to buy something from Crate and Barrel, William Sonoma, or Eddie Bauer, I’ll go on their website. Them sending me catalogs every few weeks isn’t going to prompt me to make a purchase.

And the thing is, once you do order something from a merchant it seems like an avalanche of random catalogs follows. Just last week, I got one from Sundance. ‘Scuse me, I’ve never been to Sundance, never knew they had a retail side, never visited their web site, and certainly never bought from them. But sure enough, I got their catalog.

I was pretty much resigned to just being reactive to the onslaught. But after reading this article –

Stop the Paper Trail

– in the Washington Post, I went on the offensive. I’m not endorsing these websites or their services, but I think it’s worth checking out if it means less junk in the mail. I will be interested to see if I manage to escape the catalog crush going forward. Pottery Barn…you’ve been put on notice!


I’ve got a google reader set up to follow along with a whole slew of blogs. Every so often I’ll read something online that makes me stop and say hmmmm. Or laugh out loud. Or genuinely touches me in some way. And I’ll think to myself that I should post links to these things. And then I’m distracted by some bright, shiny object, or a recipe for the world’s best cake frosting, or the weekly Lost chat over at the Washington Post (how I will miss you), and I promptly forget all about it. So this is me remembering not to forget to send out some link love.

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You @ The Oatmeal – If you’ve ever had a cat, you know it’s the god’s honest truth.

A Random Grab Bag @ Wendi Aarons – She says the things I wish I were witty enough to even think.  Did she really work Samuel L. Jackson, Barry Manilow, and The Golden Rule into a single narrative?  She sure did.

Help Me Help You @ Pastry Methods and Techniques – At what point in recent history did good manners and common sense become obsolete?

Unexpected Love Bomb @ LoveFeast Table – I can’t find the words to say how this touched me. Just go read it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress…