On Strawberry Jam & Tomcats + Sourdough Bacon Sandwiches, Two Ways


Strawberry Jam
My Mother was never much of a canner, from where I got the gene that urges me to put things by we have to go back another generation. When I started my first garden she stopped by one day mid-summer to see it. “Yup,” she nodded approvingly, “your tomatoes are on track. Poopsie always said they ought to be in full production the first week of August.” When she was a kid my Grandpa would load all the kids in the car on that first weekend in August and drop them off at the Ox Roast in town, the local festival that still takes place today, and then head back to the farmhouse to put up the garden’s bounty. I don’t know what else he canned, I’m certain there were things other than tomatoes, but I don’t remember specifics. My Mother was among the youngest of twelve children and was twenty-seven by the time I was born so by the time I was old enough to care much about things like gardening and canning and cooking Poopsie was gone. Read More “On Strawberry Jam & Tomcats + Sourdough Bacon Sandwiches, Two Ways”

Sweet Soyaki Beef + Orange-Ginger Rice


I usually try not to share recipes that depend on a certain brandname ingredient. I think it’s kind of silly. As far as I’m concerned, the best food has always and will always be brand-less — well-raised, tender and flavorful meat; fresh fruits and vegetables; potent spices. That said, I’m an American in the year 2015; there are store-bought sauces in my kitchen, and depending on which sauce we’re talking about there are either proprietary recipes and/or quality issues at play with each one. In this case, Trader Joe’s “Soyaki” sauce is where it’s at.

Normally, I use Soyaki sauce for making jerky. Thinly slice a roast, marinate it in the stuff overnight and dehydrate — it’s delicious — but yesterday I was craving P.F. Chang’s Orange Peel Beef, and had an unopened bottle in the pantry; it was perfect in the sauce.

Enjoy! We certainly did.

Sweet Soyaki Beef + Orange-Ginger Rice

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

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Serves: 4

Citrus-sweet stir-fried flank steak with a little kick, inspired by P.F. Chang's Orange Peel Beef.

  • Beef
  • 1 lb Flank Steak, thinly sliced
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Ground Red Pepper
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • ½ cup Trader Joe's Soyaki Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • 4-8 dried chiles de ├írbol (or similar small, dried chiles)
  • ¼ cup Golden Raisins
  • 1 TBSP Cornstarch
  • Peel of 1 Orange, finely grated
  • 1 cup Dry Rice
  • 1½ cup Water
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 Pat Butter
  • ½ cup Orange Juice
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over flank steak in a shallow dish. Allow to marinade at least 4 hours.
  2. Combine rice, water, salt and butter in a pot. Bring to a boil stirring to distribute butter once melted. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer. When rice has absorbed most of the water, dissolve ginger in orange juice and mix through. Remove from heat, leave covered and allow the rice to finish absorbing the liquid in the pan.
  3. Combine first five ingredients for the sauce and bring to a boil in a small sauce pot over med-high heat.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a couple "glugs" of vegetable oil over high heat in a shallow frying pan. Once hot, add beef to oil -- if hot enough, the oil should pop and crackle when you put the beef in the pan - and fry, turning halfway through, until the outside of the beef develops a dark, crunchy layer. Remove from oil and set aside.
  5. When the sauce begins to boil, remove ⅓ cup from the pan and mix thoroughly with cornstarch in a small dish. Reduce heat under sauce pan and slowly pour the cornstarch mixture back into the sauce, stirring constantly. Once thickened, add beef and grated orange peel to the sauce, mixing well. Allow to simmer five to ten minutes.
  6. Serve beef and sauce over rice; garnish with additional orange peel and sliced scallions.

Pulled Pork Tacos


One of my favorite flavor combinations is that of a good jalapeno popper. Not the kind you can buy in the grocer’s freezer section and warm up in an oven, the ones that are coated in whatever sad excuse is passing for commercial breading these days. I fancy the ones you can make at home, with fresh peppers and dairy and pork sausage, the ones that skip the breading altogether.

It’s not reasonable to be whipping out batches of appetizers all the time though, and not everyone is so fond of the heat packed by these kind of poppers. Which means I’m always happy when I can infuse an actual dinner with the subtle flavor of jalapeno, and that’s exactly how this version of pulled pork tacos arose. I really wanted jalapenos and everyone else really wanted a proper meal. But before we get to the recipe, just a couple notes:

The slow cooker technique is one I use often. I’m a big fan of tossing the meat of a meal into the slow cooker and being able to throw together a good dinner from it in less than fifteen minutes when the evening rolls around. This is increasingly true as fall sets in and we become busier and busier. You could make your pork roast in whatever way suits your fancy, the important thing is simply that it’s slow-cooked with the jalapenos and onions to get the flavor of the two infused throughout the roast.

The recipe calls for taco seasoning, this is for convenience. If you’ve been following here for any length of time you probably know that most of the time I don’t actually keep taco seasoning in the house. I just toss together a mixture of paprika, cumin, chili pepper, salt, garlic, onion powder, and whatever else I happen to pull from the spice cabinet that night. You can do it either way.

As you can see from the picture, I served it with Charred Sweet Corn Relish, fresh salsa, a little Crema Mexicana, and finely chopped fresh cilantro. It’s a good combo.


Pulled Pork Tacos

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

  • 1 3lb Pork Roast
  • 1 med Sweet Onion; sliced
  • 2-4 Jalapenos; seeded, deveined and diced
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Crema Mexicana
  • Fresh Salsa
  1. Rub the pork roast on all sides with a generous amount of your taco seasoning of choice. Set aside.
  2. Distribute onion and jalapeno evenly across the bottom of the slow cooker, covering with about 1 pint water.
  3. Set pork roast on top of vegetables and cook on medium all day.
  4. Remove pork roast from slow cooker and shred meat using two forks. Set aside.
  5. Strain onions and jalapenos from the liquid in the bottom of the pan and set aside.
  6. Brown corn tortillas over an open flame. Fill with meat, onions, and jalapenos. Top with salsa and crema mexicana to taste.

Charred Sweet Corn + Zucchini Relish


We didn’t get a sweet corn patch planted this year, and it’s really a shame, because it’s been a great year for it. Fortunately, we have generous friends and neighbors who did and we’ve been enjoying the fruits of their labor instead.

It hasn’t been enough to do any significant freezing or canning — as my Granny always said, “Beggars can’t be choosers!” — but it’s been plenty to keep us in fresh grilled corn on the cob and some of our favorite summer sweet corn side dishes. Read More “Charred Sweet Corn + Zucchini Relish”

Moroccan-Inspired Pork Stew

Normally the slow cooker and dutch oven are tucked away at the back of the cupboards this time of year, but it’s been chilly here. For much of the last two weeks of July and all of August thus far it’s felt more like mid-Autumn than late summer. With nights struggling to stay above the mid-fifties and daytime temps barely climbing into the seventies, stews, chili, soups, and other rib-sticking fare has only felt appropriate. Read More “Moroccan-Inspired Pork Stew”

Peppery Fig Preserves

Fig Jam Preserves

I have read that there are people here in Michigan who grow figs in big pots and well-protected gardens despite the species’ decided preference for milder climates. I have not yet figured out how to do that myself, though someday I’d certainly like to give it a try. We are however, fortunate enough to have a reliable source of quality produce from far-flung places within an hour’s drive of the farm. So when things like figs are in season in the states where they do grow well (in this case California) I try to pick up a pint or five and put them by for a snowy day. It’s part of my older, wiser, more balanced approach to locavorism: Eat as much as possible from as close as possible; it eases the guilt of indulgence in everything else. Read More “Peppery Fig Preserves”

Smoky Pork Tacos + Apricot-Cherry Salsa


It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe. I’m not going to lie, The Man has been doing most of the cooking since I got back from Israel. He’s good at it, but mostly relies on the things he knows. And I haven’t been complaining, because I just really needed the time to re-acclimate and play catch-up.

The past week or so I’ve been back in the cooking saddle though, and was particularly happy with this meal. Simple, grill-able, fresh, in-season, delicious… it doesn’t get better. So here we go… Read More “Smoky Pork Tacos + Apricot-Cherry Salsa”



I can take absolutely zero credit for the recipe that will round out the end of this post. It can be found on page 259 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I was simply reminded of it (and the four pints I still had stashed in the back of the pantry from last year) when Renae comment on the Marinated Asparagus post.

The Complete Book is the first home canning book I ever owned and I still can from it regularly. My mother bought it for me when I first started out. She just up and delivered it one day, along with one of those handy dandy canning tool kits. Which was a nice surprise given that we are not particularly close and she has never been terribly interested in the domestic arts herself. Read More “Rhubarb-b-que!”