Fondues past and present

2020 was a handful

Our annual Xmas Eve fondue and champagne party was just us this year, by candlelight, with our Xmas outfits on.

I didn’t follow a recipe this year, as I think I’ve got fondue down enough to just wing it.

Handful of the following cheeses, shredded:

Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar

Jasper Hill’s meting blend

Fontina and Gruyere

  1. Toss the shreds in two tablespoons of cornstarch so they turn all silky smooth and declump.
  2. Season with a generous dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and a couple grinds of black pepper
  3. Top it off with half a can of Long Trail Lager
  4. Melt it all together, whisked slowly in a double boiler on the stove.

Served w freshly baked bread, boiled potatoes and apple slices (Champlain Orchards Liberty

I had intended for it to just be the Jasper Hill melting blend and the lager, but we ate through much of the bag the previous night making nachos (very good, btw). It’s a very 2020 story. 

“2020 was a handful” fondue

I found the fondue to be uncharacteristically salty, though no salt was added. I’d sub cheddar for the Fontina next time. I had enough shredded cheese to make a second batch, which we will do for New Years Eve.

2019 “El Jefe”

Last year’s fondue was made with El Jefe, the holiday ale from The Alchemist Brewery. Plus Cabot Seriously Sharp, a bit of Gruyere and cornstarch.

1 can of beer  : 2 lbs of cheese = 2 fondue pots. 

Note that this is a dark beer and so the result will be brown colored. Still very tasty.

2019 was a pretty Boss year.

This was described as “the fondue that turned us all into cats”. I was cleaning up in the kitchen and could hear loud calls of “Cat head human body” (had no idea why), so I sauntered into the living room with a cat head on. We passed the cat head around.

Honestly, a typical party at our house.

Heady Cheddar et al

For a couple years running, we did a Heady Cheddar fondue, which is basically the above recipe but with Heady Topper.

When we first started out, I pulled recipes from a Fondue for Dummies book, which actually has some good recipes in it. I recommend the Monterey Jack w tequila.

My fondue pro tip: set a bowl of hot water between your flame and your fondue pot. This will act as the double boiler and prevent your fondue from scorching. ( I’ve learned the hard way 👻 )


October adventures 👻

Well, it’s been a minute! We’ve been busy winding down summer, prepping for winter, and knocking some items off the to-do list.

We went to see an abandoned Air Force base with some friends.
We’ve had a few more backyard fires while the weather held out.
I reorganized my office set up again!
We introduced Gremlin to the attic!
We’ve been eating a much healthier diet (and therefore doing lots of meal prepping)
Got out to see some art (Wolf Kahn self portrait at BMAC)
Ate some barbeque
Planted 1.5 pounds of garlic for spring.
Hosted an online awards show from my basement.
Fixed up the basement for winter coziness (this was Dan’s project)
Awaited the Great Pumpkin
And I made some cake.

We’re looking forward to November and all that brings. More soon.

Five Summer Dinners (mostly salad)

I’m thankful that we have the backyard to retreat to as the pandemic stretches on. We have been taking our dinners there most nights. Sometimes friends drop by. Sometimes we have a fire. Sometimes both.

Birthday Gazpacho

  • Watermelon
  • Rhubarb
  • Jalapeño
  • Shallot
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lime

Combine ingredients and purée together to your taste. Serve w chopped basil and drizzle of olive oil. 

Served it with “chicken” Caesar salad

I didn’t do this, but you could strain it to get a smoother texture. If doing that, purée watermelon and rhubarb then strain and add other ingredients finely chopped or purée again. 

I made this as a treat to myself for my birthday. Of course every time I think of gazpacho, I am reminded of the gazpacho scene in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was the first time I learned about gazpacho. Dan loves fruit soup. This is the closest I get.

This took me an hour start to finish because my blender sucks and I ended up using a food processor. So much cleaning! 😬

Cold Noodle Broth Bowl (Panera copycat)

  • Red onion
  • Red cabbage
  • Edamame
  • Okra
  • Sweet corn kernels
  • Daikon radish

Roughly chop veggies then grill them on the George Foreman, yes grill even the beans and corn. Mix together and cool. I added chopped roasted yellow pepper to the mix but did not grill it.

For broth, combine following to taste in warmed water (to dilute the pastes)

Plate cooled ingredients in a bowl in this order:

  • Cooked soba noodles
  • Grilled veggies (pile it high!)
  • Up to a cup of broth, just to moisten and enough to sip but not slurp
  • Top with black sesame seeds and protein of choice
White wine also helps when working through dinner.

Honestly wouldn’t have had to make this if Panera hadn’t taken it off the menu 😜. Dan had to work through dinner but afterwards came down from the office with profuse compliments to the chef. 

This took about an hour start to finish because I was committed to only using one pot, and I had to cool the cooked veggies in the freezer. With pre-prepped ingredients this probably takes a few minutes. I used vegetarian “chicken” cutlets for the protein. 

Summer Pesto Garden and Pantry Salad

  • Farfalle (or similar pasta), cooked
  • Fennel
  • Garlic scapes
  • Daikon radish
  • Freezer pesto (last year’s crop), defrosted

Chop and grill veggies on the George Foreman. Combine and season to taste. Serve alongside a protein of choice and blistered shishito peppers. I had leftover steak, Dan had leftover salmon. 

Take life with a grain of salt, man 🤙🏼

Friends have been dropping off their excess garden bounty, hence the fennel and garlic scapes. I have found the grilling transforms the intensely flavored and crisp textures of the raw veggies to muted and slightly sweet pieces that still retain texture minus the crunch.

This took me about 20 minutes to make. Because I’m slow and I stop to think a lot. Dan put up the pesto last year from his herb garden. We’re still eating through it.

Potato Fennel Salad

  • Russet potatoes, cooked and cut up
  • Fennel fronds, chopped
  • Capers
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients. Serve with veggie cutlets and fire-roasted corn and a backyard fire.

This turned out better than I thought it would.

I would normally make this with dill instead of fennel, but no one had dropped any dill off on my porch. Actually, I would not normally make this but Dan came home from the store one day with a five pound sack of potatoes and I felt all Marilla Cuthbert 🙄.

This takes pretty much however long potatoes cook and cool. Dan liked the capers. 

Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • Can of sweet corn (unsalted), drained
  • Can of black beans, drained
  • Chopped jalapeños
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced red onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Combine and let the flavors meld in fridge for 1 hour or more. The jalapeño will become more pronounced over time. Serve with burgers. And more fire 🔥.

Didn’t mean to also serve it with corn and bean burger, so I added kimchi to the burger to make up for it.

This is one of my go-to camping meals and ends up making about two pint jars full, which is great when you don’t want to share. 😬

This takes a quite a bit of taste testing to get right. It takes more salt and lime juice than you might expect to brighten the salad. I suppose I should write down the measurements sometime. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Corn and bean salad out in the wild! It’s great to snack on when trying to remember how your tent works.