Father’s Day, Sunshine & BobbyQ… sans Shannon

Next week there is a wedding in our family. Sunday was the shower, which means Mom and Dad Maxwell were in town. While Shannon and her mom were at the shower, dad and I whipped out the barbecue. I have to admit, I was worried that things might be a little unorganized without my other half, but overall we did well. Dad is an accomplished cook and stepped right in.

We started off the day at the Ballard Farmer’s Market, it was a good day, the sunshine provided lots of energy and the produce looked better than ever. We bought some beef ribs (the father’s day special), radishes, salad onions, mustard greens, lettuce, and asparagus. You know the signs at the market are incredibly brazen, and they don’t apologize for it either. I figure it makes sense because the whole local organic free range no hormones no preservatives shtick is the only reason all the people are there so what else would you advertise?

In other news my family made it out from Woodinville, It was great to see Joe on father’s day along with my Mom, Gus, Angelo and of course, Ola and Kamele. Dad Maxwell had a great time with the baby. Big ups to Nate, Risa and Natasha. Also thanks to Brian for popping in, I was hoping you would be able to make it to at least one barbecue.

Looking forward to next week.

Pre-Season in Indianola

There isn’t a place in Washington State that makes me feel like I’m in Hawaii… except for Indianola. Now I want to make it clear that I don’t go around Washington trying to rate how each place measures up to Hawaii because really, I love this state that I live in and Hawaii’s got too many flaws to put up on a pedastal. What I’m saying is that when I’m in Indianola, it just feels like I’m in Hawaii. It has a lot to do with staying at Shannon’s Grandpa’s house. The 84 year old Bob Maxwell is my Idol and his house there in Indianola reminds me of the homes my dad’s family grew up in. A Simple habitation symbolic of a time before gentrification, when a dry roof, and the surroundings of your dwelling were what really mattered. Calendars from 2006, kitchen utensils, garden tools adorn the walls and ancient maritime artifacts are strewn over every square foot of the property, ceaseless reminders of Bob Maxwell’s endemism to this tiny community.

Indianola, much to Bob’s ire, was featured in a Seattle Times’ article as Puget Sound’s best kept secret for dungeoness crab fishing. If you ask Bob, that was the end of the good days. Crabbing season that year was particularly competitive. Still Bob and his friend Jack are local crabbing legends, so much so, that the show “Deadliest Catch” was interested in filming a pilot, you can click on the image below to see it.

Shannon and I spent our last weekend before barbecue season in Indianola along with Grandpa Bob, Aunt Jean, and Uncle Don… and Murry, the dog. We relaxed in the living room, watched a some movies, walked on the beach and we even barbecued. We brought along some flank steak and potatoes and on Saturday we hit up the local farmer’s market in Poulsbo and bought some bok choy and Walla Walla sweet onions, then I grilled everything up. After the meal Uncle Don presented me with an OD green shirt that read “Grill Seargent” across the front. I love this shirt. Aunt Jean and Uncle Don barbecued chicken and Copper River Salmon on Sunday night. That meal was very good. I have to say I really love going Indianola and I really love Bob, Jean and Don.

Grilled Flank Steak, Bok Choy and Sweet Onions

  • 2lbs Flank Steak
  • 1 Bunch Large Bok Choy
  • 1 Bunch Sweet Onions
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic

Rub steak with salt, pepper and garlic. Place in a ziploc bag and drizzle in 1 Tbsp of oil. Slice the bottom part of the sweet onions in about a 1/2 inch thick and place in another bag with the rinsed and separated bok choy. Sprinkle in minched garlic, salt and pepper, and the rest of the oil. Usually I let the bags marinate for an hour or so. Then I grill the steak on medium high about 8-10 minutes on each side. For grilling the onions I like to make a small pan out of foil. For the bok choy I made sure to hang the leafy parts off the grill while the stems cooked then for the last minute turn them into the grill to finish.

Twice Baked Potato Bites

  • 2 lbs Baby Red Potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Reduced Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Sweet Green Onions
  • Fresh Cracked Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each potato half so they rest flat. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss with oil; season with salt and pepper, and arrange bottom side down. Bake until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on sheet. When cool enough, scoop out about a teaspoon from the center of each potato into a medium bowl. Add sour cream and onions, and mash; season with salt and pepper. Stuff potatoes with filling. (To store, refrigerate stuffed potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, up to 1 day.) Bake potatoes at 450 degrees until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Garnish with more onions.

A special thanks to Pat Maxwell for “Indianola’s Deadliest Catch”

The Sixteen Dollar Pork Chops

I’m at the University District Farmer’s Market buying pork from Wooly Pigs. I had $14 in my hand while the salesperson put a package of two frozen pork chops on the scale and told me “Sixteen Dollars”, about 1.3lbs worth. I pulled out the VISA card and bought them. I needed to know what the fuss is all about with Wooly Pigs. Shannon had told me that this local (Spokane) farm had gained national fame for purveying some really tasty pork. The Salesperson, who I believe was the owner of Wooly Pigs warned me that these were not the “Mangalitsa” breed, the breed of pig that gave Wooly Pigs their notoriety. Instead these pork chops were from a Berkshire hog which later research revealed was no slouch of a hog breed itself. Of course I already knew that they were Berkshire Chops because I ordered them from the sign that read (in large bold letters) “BERKSHIRE CHOPS $12/lb”, the guy had given me a pretty good description of what it is like to eat Mangalitsa and I decided that I wanted Berkshire. Wooly Pigs is the sole domestic farmer of Mangalitsa hogs in the United States and if you visit their website you will find a torturous amount of information about the Mangalitsa and pig farming in general, including some video of an actual hog slaughter (pretty darn humane one by relative standards). But anyway back to the pork chops. Now whenever they are mentioned they are called “The Sixteen Dollar Pork Chops”. How good were they? Well, my favorite breakfast is fried pork chops, potatoes, and two eggs over medium. I decided that that this is the only meal that will suit these babies.

Pork Chops and Eggs

2 Pork Chops about 1/2 lb each

2 Cloves Garlic

2 Medium Sized Red Potatoes (Preferably left over from last nights dinner)

2 Eggs

Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil.

Scallions for Garnish

Take the chops out of the fridge to bring them up to room temperature, Prep the Garlic and scallions and slice the potatoes into about quarter sized wedges. Salt and pepper both sides of the chops and rub with half the garlic. Heat a skillet to medium high and place about a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan. Throw in the potatoes. Heat another skillet to medium high drop another dab of olive oil in the new pan and place the chops in it. Cook the chops just a few minutes on each side, I actually forget how long but I’m gonna say like 4 minutes on each side (I could be wrong). Make sure you flip the chops just once. Before you flip the chops, toss in the rest of the garlic with the potatoes. At this time I usually whip out our egg pan and fry up two eggs over medium. If it’s a good day I can get the whole meal ready simultaneously.

How were they? They were good, If I were rich, I’d buy em, but I’m not rich so I suppose that $3/lb stuff at the grocery store will have to do for now. The real difference I noticed in these pork chops is the flavor of the fatty marbled parts, it is much more rich and distinct. I read the Mangalitsa breed has the tastiest and richest fat of any hog. This distinction in the flavor of the fat makes me think that bacon and other cured pork product is where these breeds shine. I think I’ll have to go back to Wooly Pigs and at least try the Mangalitsa pork once, it is even pricier than the Berkshire but I need to know.

Spring Training 1

The Ballard Farmer’s Market

Leeks, Radishes and Shannon
A successful season begins with good preparation. I figured that getting familiar with the products available at the Sunday Ballard Farmer’s Market would be a good place to start training. I had never been there before, Shannon and I strolled down there this past Sunday and here’s the scoop.

Parking was super easy. There were 3 or 4 vendors selling pasture raised meats that all looked very good, though a little pricey… Lamb Loin ~$28/lb, Lamb Shoulder and Chops ~$10-$12/lb, Pork $8-$15/lb depending on the cut. Beef was $6/lb for ground up to $20/lb for T-Bone Steak. We settled for 1 lb of hot Italian pork sausage for $6. Shannon was interested in some eggs and there were a handful of poultry and dairy vendors. When we mentioned the words “cage free” a saleswoman scowled at us and said “Cage free doesn’t mean they[hens] see the sunlight, ours are truly free range”. We bought a dozen “organic truly free range” eggs for $5. I should say we have since ate some of these eggs and they are “truly fricken delicious”, even $5/dz delicious. Cheese is also amazing here, you could go to whole foods and pay probably around the same price but buying goat cheese out of a cooler from a woman in an apron standing in front of a huge poster of goats frolicking in a large grass field is way cooler.

Produce is really the star of the farmer’s market. Buckets of apples, pears, piles of onions, wonderful green garlic – I’m so amped up about this garlic, there like green onions, but garlic and they stink so good. I can’t wait to cook with this shit. You can get your veggies at decent prices, not as cheap as the grocery store but still pretty good. We bought a bunch of kale and a bunch of flowering arugula 2 for $5. Many of the produce farmers there were plugging their membership programs, if you sign up with the farmer of your choosing, then for about $25 a week you can go to the market each week and pick up what they claim to be a bountiful harvest of the week’s selected produce (selected by the farmers I mean). The catch is you gotta pay the whole 20 weeks up front. I’m seriously considering this because It would be a bit cheaper than buying everything separately and my Uncle Mike did this last year and he was extremely pleased.

A couple warnings though, there’s tons of kids at the market so if you are afraid of kids I wouldn’t recommend it. Perhaps worse if you are a big lumbering and clumsy walker you might step on a few of them so keep an eye out. Also beware, Shannon tried a sample of some local organic handmade fresh free range pasture raised pasta in a hazelnut cream sauce and she said it was the worst thing she ever tasted. I can’t remember her exact words but I think she said it tastes like lighter fluid.

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