Monday, December 15, 2008


Yesterday's high temperature was 49°F, and since our house has virtually no insulation, the temperature inside was practically the same. Mingus is the only happy one when the temperature dips. The rest of us pile on clothing, huddle together, and in my case, roast.

Roasting is the silver lining to a cold house. I crank the oven up, and then let it produce braised meats, vegetables with lovely caramelized bits, and breads. I do minimal prep work, too, and the pace is so slow that it's easy to clean as I go, knit, and read a book (all the while huddled up to the oven).

Sadly, I have no pictures of the braised lamb shoulder I made last Saturday. The braising liquid contained mandarin zest, ginger, a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and some honey. It was falling off of the bones - so good! If someone can inform me how I am supposed to carve a lamb shoulder, though, please do! It was so pretty in the pot, but since it had no structure after being braised at 300°F for 5 hours, it fell apart if you just looked at it funny.

I took better blog notes on Sunday so I could share with you a typical roasting day. I was able to pick up all of my produce from the Riverdog Farm booth at the Berkeley Farmers' Market.

Happily, the produce that is in season - Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, winter squashes, beets - is just begging to be roasted. I started my roast-o-rama by heating up the oven to 450°F. Once the oven temperatures was stable, in went the halved Brussels sprouts for 40 minutes. Since I had some leftover lamb fat from the night before, I decided to use that fat instead of olive oil or bacon grease to coat them. I also gave them a generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. They turned out delicious!

Next was the cauliflower, roasted for 35 minutes. Roasted cauliflower is a treat I enjoy almost year round here. This time, I coated them with my favorite Bariani olive oil, course sea salt, and ground pepper.

After the cauliflower was roasted, I cranked the oven temperature down to 350°F and popped in the pumpkin, pumpkin seeds (tossed with olive oil, cayenne powder, cumin, and salt), and whole garlic. The pumpkin seeds were done in 30 minutes and the pumpkin and garlic took about an hour.

I'll scrape out the pumpkin flesh and make either gnocci, ravioli filling, or a soup, the roasted garlic will go into just about everything this week - vampires (and friends) beware, and the seeds will probably top our salads and be useful for snacky moments.

We put up some red saurkraut yesterday, too. Since the organic red cabbage was on sale for 1/2 the price of the green ones, we decided to experiment. I'm really happy with how it turned out! Shades of crimson are my favorite colors, so hopefully I'll get tired of looking at the canned kraut soon and will use it for a meal.


  1. Oooh, it all looks delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about braised lamb shoulder...

  2. Ir all looks/sounds/smells (I can smell it by looking at it, yum) delicious! Thanks for the inspiration. When the roads are decent, I'll be out to get more vegetables....

  3. Yummy! Does braising lamb require human intervention (frequent glazing?) in the 5 hours? I didn't know beets could be roasted. I have a bunch of beets and radishes from the farm - perhaps I'll roast them tonight.

    I've only had red cabbage in the sweet avatar. I so envy your creativity!

  4. Your pumpkin gnocci sounds very yummy, as does everything else! Our mom has been busy making cordials to give to friends for the holidays.

  5. Considering my thermometer hasn't been above 5 in days, 49 sounds like swimsuit weather! :)

    I did make dinner in the oven the other night to warm up the house, so we're on the same wavelength.

    Stupid question: does your house have a furnace? (I know many homes in Florida don't, so I figure CA might be similar.)



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