Ode to My Meat Men #Charcutepalooza

I’ve been talking a lot about meat on this blog over the past few months… a lot. Maybe it’s because of my attempt to live up to the Charcutepalooza challenges, or the fact that I live in the great state of Idaho where our producers are second to none. For a time though, it’s appeared that I’ve been more on a meat quest, trying to find fresh pork belly, back fat, beef suet, and understand what part of the pig the pork butt comes from.

So today, an ode to my meat men of Southwest Idaho. The guys, who with patience and the typical Idaho helpfulness, have inspired my charcuterist ways and kept my fridge & freezer full.
I also call this guy ‘Market Sausage Man’. He doesn’t know it, but Lin Hintze of Mackay inspired my foray into charcuterie. Our household’s been making the trek to the Capital City market to fill up on Big Lost River links for several years and Lin is always there. 
Don’t be a rude market grazer and take advantage of his free samples! Sample one or two and make a purchase people. My favorites are the Garlic Rosemary, Chicken Apple, Italian Hot, and Chicken Parmesean Romano Patties.
Sharing the top grill with some Chicken Apple sausages from Big Lost River are the best damn franks I’ve had in my life, courtesy of…
Homestead Natural Meats and the fabulous Ed Wilsey. We first stopped by Ed’s booth during the first market of the season to try out the bacon (of course!) and a sample of the old-fashioned franks had us hooked. I’m a frank girl, grew up on Sabretts in NYC, but these knocked my socks off!

So when I put out the call on Facebook and Twitter for a purveyor to help me with the ingredients I needed for my latest Charcutepalooza challenge – Ed was there to help me out…hooking me up with pork back fat, beef suet, and the below pork shoulder needed for my Italian Sausage-making (blog to come!)

In the course of looking for the perfect cuts for my recipes, I’ve come across a few other purveyors I look forward to patronizing:

Meats Royale on Overland in Boise: "an Old Fashioned Meat Market. Friendly customer service and fresh meats. We’re always happy to custom cut and wrap for you. We will help you hand select the perfect steak, find that specialty item you want or help you fill your freezer at home with one of our bundle packages, all for a great price. Meats Royale carries fresh and frozen meats, we offer catering services, wild game processing and much more. 
(I can speak to the service – they were super helpful over the phone and I’ll be heading over soon!)

Double XL Ranch in Melba: "At Double XL Ranch we believe in raising natural products that are superior in taste and quality. We raise Berkshire "Kurobuta" pork, Wagyu "Kobe" beef and poultry which comes from animals raised on a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal proteins or byproducts in the feed, ever. This means no artificial ingredients. no preservatives, no antibiotics and no growth hormones in our products."  

(While I haven’t taken them up on their fresh pork belly – from kurobuta pork! – just yet, their willingness to deliver a custom ordered product and meet me at one of their market stands was impressive and when I take another run at homemade bacon I know who I’m contacting!) 

- Jess

New Kids On The (Idaho Street) Block

I may not be one of those folks who buys first generation gadgets (except for the iPad – my one eager-tech-buyer exception) but I am one of those foodies who likes to try out a new destination within a week of it opening. 

Sometimes I’m disappointed – the kinks are still be worked out – but I understand and return a few weeks later. But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.

Case in point – the new Fork Restaurant in Downtown Boise.
Owner Cameron Lumsden did a fantastic job warming up the historic space on the main floor of the newly renovated 805 Idaho Building. Warm woods, bright light and native stone throughout.

But – we’re here for the food. And while Fork describes it’s culinary approach as Fork blends fresh flavors from throughout the Northwest to create an Americana dining experience that is both surprising and comforting.  Whenever possible, we follow the ‘Farm to Fork’approach that includes sourcing farm-fresh ingredients locally, then preparing them in such a way as to enhance, but never cover, their natural qualities.”

I’d affectionately say it reminded me of – comfort food elevated with a homegrown hook
My colleagues & I hit Fork up for lunch – where the Chicken Pot Pie was the most popular on a dreary blustery day.
Though there as a bacon & mozzarella and adult grilled cheese tempting me, I chose the roasted butternut squash ravioli. Both nom-worthy choices.
But the winner of the meal roulette was Gloria who ordered the Urban Burger topped with sweet n spicy bacon. I’m a sucker for presentation and the butcher block platter and copper cup o’fries was a great touch.
Then there was dessert.
What can I say – a half-dozen fairly original choices from Fork Beer Float to Warm Butter Cake to S’mores and these warm sugar donuts made me drool. I can really appreciate a joint that takes the art of dessert seriously.
Also – some great service for a soft-launch week and well-priced lunch options.
All in all I’m looking forward to a trip back – for adult grilled cheese, a skinny cocktail, and a few more desserts ;-)

I’m also looking forward to the expansion of John Berryhill’s foodie empire just up the street. Kudos to Boise Weekly for getting the scoop on John’s Plan B “a small, after dinner, after work bar…” with leather couches and finer scotches and his concept Bacon, “serving a selection of dine-in or to-go salads, sandwiches, paninis, soups and Italian strata. There will also, of course, be bacon. We’ll have probably eight to 10 different kinds of bacon … we’ll have turkey bacon, Berryhill bacon, kurobuta bacon, we’ll probably do some game bacon, tempeh bacon … we’ll have candied bacon, we’ll do bacon crumbles … you can put it on ice cream or if you want to put it in your latte—everything will come with bacon as an add-on.”  Read more

 Scotch in one part of the building, up to 10 types of bacon in another? I may never leave Idaho Street.

Boise Fry Co foodgasm

On the left – yam fries with cinnamon ginger salt and warm marshmallow sauce.

On the right – The Bourgeoise – hand cut Russets flash fried in duck fat and dressed with black truffle oil. (Best. Fries. Ever.)

And on the far right – as a side of course – the delicious (but pretty much unneccessary) bison burger :-)


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Perfect Welcome to Fall Meal

There are certain aromas – particularly from the kitchen – that always bring back memories and evoke seasons. I don’t have it often, but chili does it for me every time.

Nothing better to end a fall day than a cup of homemade chili (veggies from the still producing garden, local ground beef, steak and BACON of course :-) with a pint of my brother in law’s delightfully chewy microbrew stout.


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Holy Market Delicousness!!

Capital City Market uber-find from Morning Owl Farms.

Hot, delicious beignets made with farm fresh duck eggs!!!!

Oh my god soooooo good!


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A Dixie cup spoon for my marrow, please!

Awesome food and wine pairings at the Idaho Foodbank’s Chef’s Affaire

Had to share this photo – gotta love the wooden paddle spoon – for the Snake River Farms Wagyu Black Strip around a Marrow-Morel Mousse Bone over Lentil Puddle with Morel dusted Beignets.

Heck yeah


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Trying out this domestic diva thing

Canned peaches are done! Now onto using my latest kitchen gadget – The Apple Machine / It pares! It cores! It slices! – to whip these apples into sauce.

All while serenaded by rumbling rough-housing corgi/schnauzer battles in the background.


Thanks to Steph Worrell for bringing back the fantastic fruit from Sunnyslope, and to http://www.pickyourown.org for great step by step canning guru tips to make the most of all the fresh and local deliciousness out there.

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Putting the family buds to good use

This is about lavender buds, of course… just in case you were expecting something else!

Just had a fantastic farm-side meal out at Janie Burns’  Meadowlark Farm in Nampa. She is one inspiring voice for the local foods movement. I have the good fortune to belong to a really great locavore group led by locavore-cheerleader & all-around public TV rockstar Thanh Tan.  Dinners rotate to members’ homes or local producers like Meadowlark or Peaceful Belly.  Sometimes there’s a theme, other times – it’s just about bringing a dish showcasing one or more local products.

It may be the easy way out – but my go-to locavore product is from my family’s lavender farm - Lakeside Lavender in Nampa. A few tablespoons of our culinary lavender (one of the English varieties like Munstead, Royal Velvet or Blue Hidcote) in a sweet or savory recipe is yummy – though I prefer the sweet!

Here are a few of my parent’s recipes that I’ve already tried (like the cool & refreshing & super-simple lavender lemonade.) But I wanted to try something new. From a quick trip around the web I found two recipes to try out to satisfy my sweet tooth and lavender supply. Happily found the Dessert for Breakfast blog (fantastic title!) and the story and recipe for Meyer Lemon Lavender Pound Cake. I really love the melding of lemon and lavender, 
Visually? It looks fantastic! And the recipe was pretty easy – though I may tweak it a bit to it is a bit less dry. This is an example of cooking lavender buds right into the food. You don’t need fancy recipes to do it – try it with your pound cake, sugar cookie or scone recipe. A tablespoon or two should do.

But my favorite experiment was the Lavender Cheesecake with Blueberries & Honey. Holy crap this came out good and is addictively delicious. (And comes from another fantastically named food blog – More Than Burnt Toast. I need to get more creative with this blog’s name :-)

I tweaked the recipe slightly, adding about double the amount of honey and ‘lavender tea’ (another way to infuse lavender flavor – steeping dried buds in hot water for 15-20 minutes, straining out the buds and adding the liquid to your recipe). The Lorna Doone crust brought back great memories of my grandmother! Overall, while it was good it didn’t firm up too well. So when I try it again I’ll definitely make the cheesecake in individual portions in ramekins. 

Quick plug for my folks – if you love lavender and you’re in Southwest Idaho you can pick up their products at Idaho Indie Works!
(Thanks to Whitney Rearick for the awesome locavore dinner pics!)

- Jess Flynn

Glorious garden day

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil,
getting dirty without feeling guilty,
and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”
- Lindley Karsten

There’s nothing quite like the feel of soil beneath your nails, cupping small seedlings, the soreness in your back and shoulders after a day of working the earth, and the promise of what a garden will (hopefully!) turn into. Did I mention the getting dirty part?

“A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little 
it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.” – Gertrude Stein
We’re still waiting to harvest the onions and garlic that went in this winter. But joining them now are broccoli, peppers, and a side bed with some new netting to promote climbing of green beans, cucumbers and spaghetti squash. Here’s hoping it helps keep off the rot and bugs that make me squirm.
And we’re also giving the upside-down tomato planters a go – to free up raised bed space and to grow better toms.

“Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.”
  - Michael P. Garafalo
And what grow season would be complete without our mobile herb and lettuce bowls – cilantro (favorite of Kev’s – makes everything from scrambled eggs to soups to steak taste better), basil, arugula and mixed salad. I’ve been dying to plant and utilize arugula more. Love the bite it brings.

We love to eat local – seeking out the local producers at the Co-op, at Freddy’s and especially at the Capital City Market and our bi-monthly Idaho’s Bounty. But there is nothing quite as local, and as fulfilling, as pulling your meal from your backyard.

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.” 
- Linda Solegato

United Nations of the Bench – Foodie-style

Made a spontaneous stop at the Orient Market on Emerald today looking for some dry miso. As with most random foodie trips my ‘oh look at that!’ mentality meant I walked out with more.


Front and center were yummy fresh pastries from the new Yen Ching Bakery in DTBoise – we snagged the coconut and custard pastries. Also grabbed some super affordable loose leaf Jasmine tea, and got distracted watching fish mongers in the back clean fresh red tilapia and sea bass.

Which leads me to singing the praises of my fantastically diverse – at least from a foodie perspective – Bench ‘hood. From Emerald to a few blocks south on Orchard we have a slew of ethnic markets and eateries:
- A Wee Bit of Scotland
- Orient Market
- BoEx Bosnian Market
- Indian Market
- Campos Mexican Market
- Tango’s Argentinian Empanadas
- Banh Mi Baguette Deli (Vietnamese)

Must own up to having only frequented the Orient Market (for sushi supplies, soups and spices), Campos (for great BBQ meats and tamales), and Tangos (for kick-ass delightfully fried meal and dessert empanadas).

But this summer I’m pledging to keep broadening my foodie horizons and do a culinary Tour d’Bench. Look for more posts as I try my hand at more ethnic foodie fare than my typical Italian roots :-)
(and let me know if I missed a stop on the Bench!)

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