Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Local last-minute gifts for foodies

Tis’ the season to make a mad dash for last-minute Christmas gifts.  Typically waiting a few days before Christmas leaves people stressed, thinking they can’t be creative or thoughtful with their gifts because they don’t have the time.  But that doesn’t have to be the case—especially if, like me, you have several people on your list who love good food, great spirits and unique restaurants.

To help my fellow foodies out this holiday season, I’ve put together a list of five gifts that can be purchased quickly and easily, and all are creative and thoughtful. Best of all, each gift is produced locally in Indiana, or offers dining experiences at unique locally owned restaurants.

 My top five last-minute holiday gifts for foodies: 

1)     A Classical Cocktails basket from Kahn’s Fine Wines and Spirits. Make spirits bright with Indiana distilled Harrison Bourbon, Prohibition Gin and Indiana Vodka. Throw in a cocktail shaker and a book on Prohibition era cocktails and your gift will be appreciated well into the New Year. 
Visit any of Kahn’s three locations to purchase a customized gift basket

2)     Indianapolis Dining Cards are the perfect gift for social butterflies who enjoy variety and eating out with friends. Packaged like playing cards, a deck of Indianapolis Dining Cards contains 52 gift cards, redeemable at locally owned restaurants. 50 cards provide $10 off any food bill of $30 or more, and two cards offer a free coffee or cupcake. It’s a great way to avoid chains and sample a variety of Indy’s local flavors!   

Order online or pick up a deck of Indianapolis Dining Cards at a local retailer, a list of which can be found at

3)     A Bacon of the Month Club membership from Goose the Market is a gift that keeps on giving. Club members receive 1lb of fresh house-made, house-smoked bacon each month. (How awesome is that?!) This is a down-to-earth delicacy sure to please any bacon lover.
Call to order a membership at 317.924.4944 or stop by in-store at 2503 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis, IN 46205. Visit Goose the Market online at

4)     Cooking classes at Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market are the perfect unique gift for anybody interested in food or cooking. Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market co-owner, Chef Tony Hanslits offers “Demos and Dinners” courses
that include a cooking lesson and conclude with dinner.
Register by phone at 317.257.7374 or in-person at Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market located at the 54th Street and Monon Shops, near the Monon Trail. Visit Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market online at 

5)     A subscription to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the area. With over 32 different CSAs located in central Indiana, there is no gift more thoughtful than responsibly grown fresh fruits and veggies. CSA subscriptions can vary by farm, but generally all entail receiving a fresh basket of produce weekly dependent on growing seasons
A comprehensive list of area CSAs, complete with contact information, can be found here at

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hunger is the Best Pickle

Snooki is NOT the Best Pickle!
Benjamin Franklin is attributed with this quote, and there is something magical about the hunger and yearning that precedes a great meal. Based on our last post, the most frequent question we received was, “When are you inviting us over for dinner?” A fair question. The second most frequently asked question was, “How do you pickle okra?”

The process of pickling (also known as brining or corning) began as a way to preserve food for out of season use and for long journeys (such as your last family vacation in the car). One of the distinguishing characteristics of pickling is that it results in a pH less than 4.6, which is sufficient to kill most bacteria. In short, out of all the recipes we’ve ever posted, you are least likely to poison someone by feeding them homemade pickles!

Pickled okra is a distinctly Southern treat, and that’s why we featured it in our “Walking Gumbo.” This recipe originally came from Mrs. Elsie Holliday (we’ve tweaked it a bit), an upstanding citizen of North Carolina. It was passed along to us through Mr. Randy Pierce, and it is guaranteed to make your tongue slap both sides of your mouth.

Pickled Okra

3 lbs okra
5 cloves garlic (1 per jar or use 1 tsp of minced per jar)
5 fresh red hot peppers (1 or 2 per jar or 1 tsp of crushed red pepper per jar)
1 qt water
1 pt 5% apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup salt
2 tsp dill seed
1 tsp mustard seed
Trim rough stems from top of okra. Soak in ice cold water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, sterilize five canning jars. Place 1 clove of garlic and one hot pepper in each jar. Bring water, apple cider vinegar, salt, dill and mustard to a boil in a large pot on the stove.
Cut a slice in each piece of okra ( to help absorb liquid). Pack okra in the jars. Pour boiling liquid into the jars leaving ¼ head space (the bottom ring on the jar mouth). Add lids and rings to jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Always Better When We're Together

Nieces Loreli and Piper hunting Morel Mushrooms

If you are a fan of Jack Johnson’s music (or of Reese’s peanut butter cups), this assertion makes perfect sense! Some things in life truly are better together, and we were reminded of that when we hosted a dinner party Saturday evening. Sharing food with friends enhances the flavor by connecting it with a meaningful experience. The flavor of food is also enhanced when it’s correctly paired with wine or spirits. Here’s the menu from our first Spring dinner party, aptly titled “Rustles of Spring.” Hopefully this inspires you to invite your friends and neighbors to your house for your own spring dinner!

“Walking Gumbo” (Sunny Slopes Farms Johnny Cake, House Made Chorizo, Pickled Blooming Gardens Okra, Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp) paired with an Indiana Sazerac cocktail

Savory Spring Break Pudding (Blooming Gardens Asparagus, Locally Foraged Morel Mushrooms, Scholars Inn Bakehouse Bread, Gruyere Cheese) paired with 2004 Blanc de Blanc, LeReve, Domaine Carneros, Napa, California

Indiana Corn Chowder (Fire Roasted Blooming Gardens Corn, Home Grown Potatoes, Homestead Growers Dairy) with 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Drystone Berridge Vineyard Estates, Marlborough, New Zealand

Hoosier Mama’s Bloody Mary mix with Indiana Vodka

Brick Oven Limousin Beef (Carrico Farms New York Strip roasted in the brick oven, Home Grown Spaghetti Squash with homemade/home canned marinara sauce, Blooming Gardens Broccoli) with 2003 Rocche, Barolo DOCG, Aurelio Settimo, LaMorra, Italy

Whimsical Peanut Butter & Jelly (Endangered Species Chocolate Mousse Tartlet, Easley Vineyard Concord Grape Juice & Peanut Butter Cream Sauce), 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port, Dow’s, Oporto, Portugal

BJava Brazil Serra Negra Pressed Pot Coffee

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

We were encouraged to see this article in the Indianapolis Star on Sunday (YES, we promptly recycled the paper after reading the article). Congratulations to the many people around Indianapolis who’ve had the vision to establish these great venues to purchase local foods. Join us in supporting the locations mentioned in this article!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ice, Ice, Baby

As the ice and snow fall over the next 48 hours, it’s a great time to huddle around the stove and create delicious meals. It’s even better if you can involve the whole family (or maybe it’s not, we hardly know your family). Either way, here’s our favorite potato soup recipe, perfect for a cold winter day! And, if you were one of those crazies standing in line at the grocery store, this will put your recently purchased milk to good use.

Hearty Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, diced
6 celery stalks, diced
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
6 T. butter
6 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 ½ c. milk

In a large kettle, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid and setting vegetables aside. In the same kettle, sauté onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Gently stir in cooked vegetables. Add 1 cup or more of reserved cooking liquid until soup is desired consistency.

Friday, January 21, 2011

There’s More Than Corn in Indiana!

As we continued to expand our diet to include more foods grown, raised and cultivated in Indiana, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the breadth of products available. We started with the obvious ones – corn, tomatoes, green beans, peas, potatoes, etc. Our shocking discovery is………INDIANA CITRUS! That’s correct! It was serendipity at its finest. We toured the Lily House at the IMA and there were citrus trees heavy with fruit in the sun room.  Then we went to a pitch in dinner and someone brought oranges off of their tree they keep in a green house.

It’s in the spirit of our pleasant discovery that we share this fun recipe using Indiana ingredients (yes, we do have Jerusalem artichokes (aka. sun chokes) in Indiana!). This brothy vegetable soup has a great citrus flavor and is uniquely characteristic of the Provence region of France. This recipe was modified based on one in the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Provencal
1 T. olive oil
1 ½ c. chopped onions
¾ c. peeled and medium diced potatoes
1 ¼ c. peeled and medium diced carrots
¼ c. small diced celery
1 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf (you can grow your own!)
2 ½ c. chicken or vegetable stock
5 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters or 7 oz. sun chokes
1 T. dry sherry
½ T. dry white wine, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is the best
1/8 c. fresh orange juice
¼ tsp. freshly grated orange peel
Ground black pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil in a nonreactive soup pot.
Add the onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, salt, and bay leaves and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the stock or water and bring to a boil; then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the artichoke hearts or sun chokes and sherry to the soup pot and continue to simmer for five minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, orange juice, and orange peel and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Season to taste with black pepper.
Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Serve with a nice crust piece of bread.