Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Covid Cafe: Bread and Butter Pickles

Good day to you, chefs. It's summer, so please think about making pickles. Bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, all pickles. Trust me you'll start eating them with everything. We got these cuke beauties in our CSA box and have a zillion more on the vines in our gardens.

 I tore up 
some of the fresh oregano from this week's farm share
Bread and Butter Pickles
Adapted from The Dispatch Kitchen, a few other sources and personal taste
Big important note, especially if you are unfamiliar with bread and butter pickles: these babies are sweet! So very sweet! So sweet that I thought that the sugar level was a typo but sure enough, every other recipe I found listed sugar amounts in cups. Ayee. This one only called for one but I reduced my batch to 3/4 of a cup for a bread-and-butter pickle we find on par with the level of sweetness you expect from them. As in, it is probably “correct”. But, I will still reduce it to a 1/2 cup next time, to accommodate my taste preference, as you should adjust it to yours.

I also reduced the turmeric, which seemed like way too much, and added celery seed, because I like it with pickles.

Makes 4 cups of pickles, filling a 1-quart jar
1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Diamond Kosher salt [Updated: Why Diamond? Read this first.]
1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (see note above)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

To go with your pickles, this video will make you laugh...

Black Dads Try Other Black Dads' Barbecue

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Covid Cafe: Purple Cauliflower, Purple Rain

More crayola colors
from the CSA box

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Covid Cafe: Edible Flowers

Good day to you, chefs. Look at the edible flowers we received in our CSA box this week. Life is a little more beautiful because of them.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Covid Cafe: Shaved Asparagus, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Frittata.

Hello chefs. Are you enchanted as I am when you see a horse in a city? If so, check out Chicago's Dread Head Cowboy here. He's got some good energy. Then have a look at Rob's superb summer meal. Pretty in pictures.

Adam Hollingsworth, 33, otherwise known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” rides his horse Prince in the Loop, Tuesday afternoon, June 16, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times 

Rob writes: I bought four HUGE cucumbers last Saturday at the farmers market and realized this morning that their time was soon to expire.  So I made two batches of cucumber salad, creamy and Asian.  After working like a dog all day fighting a project that zaps my interest I thought a good dinner would be a remedy.

I riffed on the recipe and decided to roll the goat cheese bits in fresh oregano and I kept the asparagus tips intact and softened them in the pan with some white balsamic.  First stop after assembly was the stove top.

After it begins to cook, transfer to the broiler for a finishing. It’s a beaut!

And it plated up nicely with the cucumbers.

(find the recipe here)

Thought for Today
“If your voice held no power, they wouldn’t try to silence you.” - unknown

The Chicks - March March

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Covid Cafe: Back to Basics

Good day, chefs of Covid Cafe. We hope you're keeping well and that abundant summer produce is landing on your plate. Day to day, we try new approaches to food but often, with beautiful results, choose to fall back on old favorites.

Camille writes: While I love trying new recipes, especially those from Covid Cafe, sometimes we return to basics

Here’s last night’s dinner: pan roasted salmon with a cherry tomatoes, onion, and capers; tossed salad with many salad veggies; and a half slice of sourdough bread.

My Voice
To cure myself of wanting Cuban songs,
I wrote a Cuban song about the need
For people to suppress their fantasies,
Especially unhealthy ones. The song
Began by making reference to the sea,
Because the sea is like a need so great
And deep it never can be swallowed. Then
The song explores some common myths
About the Cuban people and their folklore:
The story of a little Carib boy
Mistakenly abandoned to the sea;
The legend of a bird who wanted song
So desperately he gave up flight; a queen
Whose strength was greater than a rival king’s.
The song goes on about morality,
And then there is a line about the sea,
How deep it is, how many creatures need
Its nourishment, how beautiful it is
To need. The song is ending now, because
I cannot bear to hear it any longer.
I call this song of needful love my voice.

Cactus in Chicago
Chris got a cactus start from a guy he worked for years ago and planted it against his garage, where nothing would grow because it's too hot. But this plant loves it.

Steak Salad with Creamy Herb Sauce
and more deliciousness at

Isley Brothers

Harvest For The World

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Covid Cafe: Scallion and Thyme Pancakes

Summery good day, chefs. We're washing the windows at Covid Cafe today, so enjoy this yummy recipe from Sweet & Sorrel and we'll see you tomorrow.
Scallion and Thyme Pancakes | Sweet & Sorrel

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Covid Cafe: Pasta Salad and Chicken Wings

Chris is growing the Beauregarde Snow Pea from Row 7 and look at that gorgeous flower.

Via Row 7, here's what the mature snow pea looks like. 
Remarkably, it holds its color during cooking. 
(Send us pictures, Chris.)
 Beauregarde Snow Pea #2

Hi chefs. Today Maila checks in with a classic pasta salad/chicken wing combo that just might spur you to create a similar meal in the summer weeks ahead.
Maila writes: In the sweltering heat, this is an “easy to feed a huge crowd” recipe--also fine for two people if that’s what’s called for. It lasts very well in the refrigerator for a couple of days so I enjoy making a large amount to have on hand.

--Pasta cooked in generous amount of water to which garlic powder and red pepper flakes have been added. I prefer fusilli or rotini since the main part of the dressing is pesto, which adheres well to this type of pasta. 

--Add diced grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, bottled capers, finely chopped parsley, feta cheese, dill, and toasted pine nuts.

Measurements are to personal preference, but for the dressing I always use the Costco Kirkland brand of pesto straight from the jar, stirring it into the cooked pasta. After adding the rest of the ingredients except the toasted pine nuts, I adjust the dressing with some olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. I add very little, if any, salt since the feta and olives contain quite a bit.

How 'bout those wings?

The wing recipe is another one I “wing.” I first boil the chicken wings in water with garlic powder and pepper flakes, let them cool off completely, and then coat them with whatever barbecue sauces are hanging around, mixed with some soy sauce and rib sauce. If I want them sweeter, I throw in a little honey, maple syrup, or both. 

Since these were to be eaten with a Greek pasta salad, I omitted sweetness in the sauce. I cook the wings in a very hot oven (425 or 450), but watch them carefully to avoid burning. I turn them and baste the other side after one side is at the color point I prefer. 

(Sounds like good holiday food, Maila.)

I Won The Great American Baking Show But It Never Aired +
Torched Meringue Lemon Tarts
Vallery Lomas competed for four grueling weeks on "The Great American Baking Show" and ultimately won—but the show was canceled and her win was never aired. Instead of dwelling on the situation, Vallery is taking her proverbial lemons and making lemon curd.

on the vine



A Daily Prayer

God wears glow-in-the-dark acrylic nails, her favorite color is obsidian black,
             she’s lactose intolerant & is tired of femme exploitation.

God buys gold hoop earrings at Dollar Tree & ain’t afraid to wear eyelash extensions
             for two weeks straight even if the package reads “one-time use only.”

God says “hi” to everyone the moment she boards public transit & after she’s seated,
             she speaks loudly into her phone while munching on hot Cheetos.

God carries a plastic bag with quarters, pennies & her passport cuz she knows
             most of her followers ain’t shit & removal proceedings are always already a possibility.

God orders $1 fries, $1 cheeseburgers & $1 drinks at fast-food restaurants cuz
             a gurl needs to live & sometimes thriving looks like surviving.

God checks her eyebrows on her phone every two hours & licks her index finger
             to realign each hair particle before meeting up with da girls.

God walks into Metro PCS every three days for water damage services cuz she’s too often
             weeping onto her Android—M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa, & Sun—the deaths of Black girls.

God has hired a personal stylist cuz she don’t know no more how to be simultaneously ready
             for a funeral, court hearing, birthday celebration, anniversary dinner & the club.

God has a Twitter account with 36 followers & it’s aiiight cuz she follows 794K folk & they
             all Black femmes & the 36 that follow her hold her so she can hold the rest of the world.

Rob Walks Chicago:
Damage from high lake levels, a testament to the power of water.


Overly Competitive Trumpeters - Key & Peele 

Two seasoned jazzmen face off to see who can push his instrument to the extreme.
(They're not only good, they're funny)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Covid Cafe: Riffing on the Peanut Butter Swirl

Good day, chefs. Nothing warms our hearts like readers saying they tried one of our Covid Cafe recipes. Nancy sent this picture to say she'd made Holly's Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with a delectable outcome.

Is Holly the chocolate queen? She's back today with more..
After reading Saturday's blog post on the Flourless Black Bean Olive Oil Brownies with a nut butter swirl I thought about using the same technique and adding peanut butter to a recipe I've been making for years.

I’ve tried this flourless chocolate cake with garbanzos, white beans, and black beans and all work well. The original recipe calls for a 19-ounce can, which is hard to find. I’ve discovered the 14-ounce can works just as well. 


I swirled the peanut butter into the batter before baking and next time will add even more. Delish!

Chris reports from the back yard: Overrun with cicadas this year. Not the 17-year (that's in four years I think), but a whole lot more than normal in an off year. It’s like a constant ringing in your ear.

Coop Can Cook

Hibachi Dinner at Home
This vid will have you salivating

Rob walks Chicago:
Ah, the first day of a farmers market. Nothing like it!