Mom Weekend: Epicurian Adventure!

21 Mar

For those of you who don’t know, my mom is going back to school to be a chef this fall.  Imagine if you will, the eating adventures we have had in the last several years as her passion for cooking took center stage; Brining the Thanksgiving turkey, fresh cut french fries straight from the oil, white lasagna with spinach and mushrooms, risottos in all the colors of the rainbow, flourless chocolate torte, fruit pizza, grilled eggplant and asparagus, and for those of you who had the opportunity to grow up with me– who could forget her famous garlic mashed potatoes?

You might say some of her passion for food rubbed off on her daughters in a major way, so whenever my family gathers, we end up cooking something.  Mom came down for a short overnight since Eric’s job dictates he work most Sundays and we haven’t been able to get back up to Minnesota in a few months.  With her, mom brought the newest addition to our food-oriented family: their old grill.  It’s one of those stand alone charcoal burning things that looks like an alien spaceship, and you wouldn’t believe how thrilled we were to inherit it.  Infused with the countless spirits of my step-dad’s famously perfect steaks, this grill has a big future ahead of it.  I just can’t stop myself from dreaming of the fresh grown bounty of produce we will have this summer between my ever-growing garden plans and the CSA we are a part of, and Eric is, when it comes to food, my partner in crime with a zest for grilled meats.  Given this was the second go around for this charcoal beast, mom decided we needed to give it a little kick start.  We went to the hardware store to buy some spray paint, and in the warm wind of pre-spring Iowa, a new grill was born.

No, we didn’t use the grill this weekend, I just wanted to share.  We went out on Saturday to the small town of Oxford, Iowa.  There we dined on New Orleans turned Iowa cuisine at Augusta.  I had a stuffed pork chop the size of my head and loved every bite until I couldn’t eat anymore.  Eric had the catfish and mom had grits and sort of a smokey barbecue pork.  We returned home stuffed and ready for bed.  Sunday after a wakeful and detoxifying round of yoga, we started in on our adventure.  Mom has recently started making her own fresh mozzarella cheese.  Who grows tomatoes like a crazy person and will have lots of fresh tomatoes just dying to be tossed in a salad with fresh mozz?  ME!  So mom brought all the necessary tools and know-how to pass on to me.

I had been looking through our Bon Appetit magazine earlier in the week and was inspired by a picture of lobster rolls for a fun menu item.  Living in the middle of Iowa, you don’t see a lot of lobster, and I’ve never really had it to begin with.  My vow is to someday travel to Maine and eat it there, but until that epic moment, I must improvise.  We thought the basic idea of the dish would translate well into some sort of firm fish.  Two pounds of cod and a big bowl of colorful homemade slaw later we had our faux lobster rolls ready to go.  I in the meantime had been slowly stirring a vat of organic whole milk over low heat.  Mom added the rennet and citric acid at the correct temperatures and voila!  We had four little balls of homemade cheese.  I chopped four of the ripest hydroponic Iowa tomatoes I could find, and mixed with half the cheese, some basil, oil and vinegar we had our first shadowy bite of spring.  The meal was delicious and made me feel a little fancy having it at our small birchwood table.

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One Response to “Mom Weekend: Epicurian Adventure!”

  1. aurora March 22, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Makes my mouth water just to read about it all Fawn, LOVE the photo of the bright blue Weber ;-> Here’s to many more Iowan epicurean adventures.

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