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When I was a child, my family vacations almost always involved a 1970′s motorhome, three dogs, and a big sense of adventure. My father was a salesman, so family vacations could conveniently be tied together with business trips and we would drive all over the West Coast from town to town for weeks at a time in the summer.

One of my many summer vacation memories involves driving through the beautiful Naches Valley of Washington State in late August and seeing a sign for fresh peaches by the side of the road. We turned off the highway and headed up a long gravel drive, finally ending up at a peach orchard. Crates of freshly picked peaches were stacked by the small parking lot, and a sign said 25 lbs for $10. We picked out a crate, hauled it into the motorhome and continued on our way. About fifteen minutes later, the entire vehicle was filled with the most distinct and fragrant smell of perfectly ripe, sun-warmed peaches. It was intoxicating. At our next stop we all dove into the crate and picked out big ripe peaches. I remember crowding over the little sink and biting into a peach so full of juice it ran down my arms and dripped off my elbows. They were the best peaches I’ve ever eaten.

Since that memorable peach, I’ve always searched for ripe peaches at the end of summer. Hopeful that somehow I might find a peach that can live up to the memory of the Wenatchee peaches. Once I moved to the Midwest, I became less optimistic about finding great peaches, since I was that much farther from any peach orchards. And then Mr. B came home with these.

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The Rocky Mountain Peach Company is one of those neat family owned businesses that values quality above quantity and can produce the peaches I dream about. The Rocky Mountain Peach company hand packs their peaches right in the orchard allowing the peaches to ripen a lot more than the ones you’ll see in the store which are mechanically picked and packed. The peaches arrive in varying stages of ripeness – some need to be eaten immediately and others can last a few weeks in the fridge, they even arrive with tips for proper peach care. This allows you to enjoy a few weeks of fantastically ripe peaches and take advantage of the shipping costs by ordering a big box. The company will partner with non-profits and schools to sell the peaches as a fundraiser (how cool is that?). They sell the peaches in bulk shipments at an affordable price that then allows groups to tack on $5-$10 to support their organization, while still keeping the final price around $25-$28 per box.

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If you are chasing an elusive memory of a perfectly ripe peach, and live miles away from an orchard, these just might satisfy your craving until next summer. (They are especially delicious in this recipe!) Unfortunately The Rocky Mountain Peach Company doesn’t sell them online yet, as the individual shipping cost would be prohibitive for most people. However you can give them a call and see if peaches are being sold in your area, or hold a fundraiser for your favorite group and gain a shipment of amazing peaches to boot!

 

 

With a few food posts under my belt, I now figure that introductions are probably in order. Just who is this Phoo-d you ask? And who could Mr. B be? Here’s a little about us:

Phoo-d (phoo-d@phoo-d.com)

Profile Photo

I’m a twenty-something female living in the middle of the country. I work full time in a business totally unrelated to food after spending my formative years studying like crazy to get three college degrees. I enjoy lots of other things besides food, most of which are outdoor activities. To draw the edges around the bizarre box which you could put me in, I enjoy skiing, theater, hunting, fine dining, rock climbing, and international travel. Most of all I enjoy life with Mr. B!

Mr. B (mr.b@phoo-d.com)

Mr. B is a thirty-something male living in the middle of the country (Hooray we’re in the same place! It only took three years…but that’s another story for another time.) He also works full time in a business totally unrelated to food. Mr. B is a full participant in the diverse interests above, as well as a connoisseur of music, handcrafted art, and my cooking!
Oscar

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Oscar is the newest addition to our Phoo-D and Mr. B family. He is a Small Munsterlander puppy and is the only dog I’ve met who thinks a carrot peel is great fun!

 

 

Honest Scrap Award

Debby, over at A Feast for the Eyes has chosen to give this little blog the Honest Scrap award. Basically it’s her very nice way of saying she likes us and wants to know more, please! Well flattery will get you everywhere around here- so we accept the award with great thanks and as it requires we will share 10 random things about Phoo-D & Mr. B. Thanks Debby!

Oscar

10 Random Things

1.) Why Phoo-D? Well it is a play on words for ‘foodie’ which is a rather annoying and stuffy term so the using ‘phoo’ as in ‘phooey’ seemed appropriate.

2.) I like just about all good food. The only things I really can’t enjoy are offal, stinky cabbage dishes, and poi. Blech.

3.) Mr. B and I met through family but we weren’t set up. If we had been we probably never would have dated just to rebel against being set up. Yeah, we’re strange that way.

4.) When I first moved to the Midwest it was the beginning of winter and the only furniture we had was a 2′x2′ card table and a mattress. I was still looking for a job and didn’t know anyone other than Mr. B. Oh, and we had no TV or radio. I read War and Peace to keep from losing my mind. It really is as good as they say.

5.) I wear a size 9 shoe, have 20/20 vision, and drive like a bat out of hell.

6.) I am very type A and a morning person. Mr. B is very type B and a night owl.

7.) I have no sense of direction and a challenged sense of spacial awareness. This means I’m often lost and inadvertently bumping into things.

8.) We both love to be outdoors and enjoy skiing and swimming even more than eating.

9.) The dorkiest hobby I ever had was playing the handbells in Middle School. Combined with a mouth filled with an orthodontic neck-gear and a bionater, those were not some of my best years!

10.) Instead of New Year’s resolutions I set cooking goals for 2009. They include: Learning to bake a killer San Francisco style sourdough bread. Fixing an Italian summer meal from scratch with homemade pasta, mozzarella, tomato sauce fresh from the garden, and pistachio cannoli. Mastering at least one French mother sauce.

In the spirit of sharing which comes with this award, I now pass it on to Catherine of The Unconfidential Cook. Catherine just started food blogging and already her site is filled with delicious recipes and fun photos of her daughter Emma-a budding young chef and Guthrie- the largest dog I’ve ever seen!

 

 

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Oatmeal never sounds good in August. However now that the air is starting to carry a bite and the mornings are darker, oatmeal is making its way back up the list of my breakfast favorites. I have found that all oatmeal is not created equal. There are the typical quick or regular cooking oats, terrific for baking and good to have on hand. Yet I often find these gelatinous, mushy, and never want to eat a bowl of them. And then, in a whole different category, there are Irish Steel Cut Oats. Steel cut oats are the texture superstars of the oatmeal world and after discovering them, steel cut oats have topped my cold weather breakfast list ever since.

Steel cut oatmeal stands apart due to a unique approach for cutting the oats. Using steel blades, the whole grain groat which is the entire inner portion of the oat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm) is cut into small pieces which are often compared to small kernels of brown rice.

Photo of oat groat courtesy of Wikipedia

The result of this process is an oat with three-dimensional texture, a bit more “bite”, and a sweetly nutty flavor. The winter breakfast of champions. One of the downsides to traditional steel cut oats is that they can take a very long time to cook (30 min+). If you have a slow weekend morning or a slow cooker it is worth taking the time to cook the traditional steel cut oats. However I’ve happily found a few other options that make a weekday breakfast of quality oatmeal possible.

When I lived on the West Coast Trader Joe’s would carry McCann’s Instant Irish oats in single serving packets. These were my instant breakfast heroes, as I could grab two packets dump them in a coffee cup at work, pour in instant hot water out of the water cooler, and presto, tasty oatmeal in one minute flat with a much improved texture, though not quite as spectacular as steel cut oats. Now that my Midwest commute is 15 minutes instead of 85 minutes through I-5 gridlock, I can take a little more time to make breakfast at home. Sadly, the sacrifice is that my drive to Trader Joe’s is now four hours instead of 10 minutes. The things you give up for love!

At home during the week I cook McCann’s Quick Cooking steel cut oats, and it only takes about 5 minutes if you soak the oats in the cooking water a few minutes before turning on the heat. The texture is better than the instant Irish oats, though probably a little less spectacular than the traditional steel cut style. If you’re looking for a quick breakfast that will taste great, warm you up, and stick with you, it’s hard to go wrong with steel cut oats. Plus your imagination is the limit when it comes to flavors and add ins! I can usually find these oats online through Amazon, or in store at Whole Foods or Cost Plus World Market.

Here’s my recipe for steel cut oats, peaches and cream style:

PEACHY STEEL CUT OATS

Serves Two

1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats

2 cups cold water

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

4 tablespoons cream (or half & half)

1 large ripe peach

Cook oats according to package instructions. Once oats have finished cooking remove from heat and stir in all ingredients except peaches. Divide oatmeal into two bowls. Halve the peach and remove pit. Cut peach into thin slices and place on top of the oatmeal. Enjoy!

 

 

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While I have not yet been lucky enough to travel to Tasmania, since I discovered Leatherwood Honey my tongue has made the trip several times. It started innocently enough, when I picked up the July 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine and started to read a feature article on Tasmania and honey (“The Secret Life of Bees”, pg. 108). The photos were stunning and I was pulled into the article by lush descriptions of a tiny island with a huge diversity of vegetation. Over 30% of Tasmania’s land is preserved and you will find everything from eucalyptus trees and temperate rain forests to dry grassland and alpine forests on this little island south of Australia.

Within the temperate rain forests of Tasmania grows the shrub-like Leatherwood tree. When this tree is filled with white blooms somewhat resembling a wild rose, the bees get busy and we get lucky. Leatherwood honey is considered a “monofloral” honey, which basically means that the bees practice flower monogamy and stick to Leatherwood blossoms exclusively. Monofloral honey is highly valued because it often is very distinct reflecting the unique nectar characteristics of a single plant species.

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This photo isn’t of a Leatherwood blossom but you get the idea

So what kind of trip will Leatherwood honey take your tongue on? Well, it is guaranteed to be dark, exotic, and full of complex twists and turns. After reading the article in Gourmet I looked online and ordered my own jar of this special honey. When it arrived I immediately twisted open the lid, and dipped a spoon into the jar’s thick golden contents. Once the spoon was in my mouth I closed my eyes. Immediately I could imagine standing in the midst of lush vegetation at the bottom of the world. Sunlight poured through a dense canopy of leaves and Leatherwood flowers bloomed nearby. Okay, so I couldn’t imagine it perfectly, but oh could I taste it!

The honey has a fragrant bouquet with medium sweetness. It holds dark, complex, almost mossy flavors, with a lingering taste of sweet damp foliage. The overall effect of this nuanced flavor is similar to that of fresh truffles. I have never tasted a honey before or since that is anything like Leatherwood. It is absolutely unique and as JenJen writes “This needs to be on the list of flavors to try before you die”.

Aside from blissfully sucking on spoonfuls of the honey, it is a wonderful substitute for regular clover honey in this recipe for Honey Glazed Five Spice Chicken. If you want to make a Leatherwood themed meal, the chicken pairs well with this recipe for honey glazed carrots and a glass of dry Riesling. I am about two-thirds through my current jar of Leatherwood honey and was delighted to find that you can now order it on Amazon. This wasn’t the case a few years ago and I ordered it from a rather sketchy New York grocer, who I won’t recommend here. So if you want to try one of the world’s truly unique flavors, take your tongue on a trip to Tasmania!

 

 


Growing up on the West Coast, apple pies were one of the highlights of Fall. Often picked fresh from a tree in our yard, tart, crisp and pungent apples filled the house from September through November. With such an abundance of beautiful apples I never looked much farther for other pie fillings. And then I met a Midwest boy. Let’s call him Mr. B.

One of my first trips into the middle of the country occurred during Fall. The brilliant autumn foliage and golden prairie grass were a vibrant contrast to the sameness of a Southern California autumn. The air was crisp, the sun was long, and I was enchanted. Besides long walks in the woods and other activities to woo me, Mr. B tried to find creative ways to convince me that life in the Midwest was pretty great. On a trip to the grocery store, he spied a display of Mo Pecans and instantly started to rave about them. I had never heard of Mo Pecans, so we bought several bags and decided to make a pie. (I was doing my share of wooing too.) Once out of the store, I cracked open the bag and popped a Mo Pecan in my mouth. Wow. I had always liked pecans, but they never made it to the top of my favorite nut list. Often they were slightly bitter and kind of mealy, relegated to being buried under gobs of sugar and corn syrup before eating. Mo Pecans were a whole new animal. Grown in Missouri, these small, light tan nuts, were sweet and meaty without even a hint of bitterness. The buttery aftertaste had me digging into the bag for a whole handful. These were nuts worth eating! The pie we made was consequently one of the best pecan pies I’ve ever enjoyed, and I’ve made pecan pies with Mo Pecans every Thanksgiving since. One bite reminds me of Fall in the Midwest and falling in love.


What makes Mo Pecans so special? Well they are 100% Organic Native American pecans, lovingly grown by a co-operative of Missouri pecan growers. The growers are so proud of their pecans that they provide a full money back guarantee if you aren’t happy for any reason. The pecans are sold online directly from Mo Pecans http://www.mopecans.com/index.php and a few Midwest retailers carry them as well. If you visit their website you can purchase whole nutmeats, pecan brittle, and pecans in the shell (handily cracked already). I found the pecan bits shaker pictured above in a local store, and don’t see it on their website. However if I was ordering directly from Mo Pecans I would go with the nutmeats and chop them up as necessary. Enjoy the sweet nutty love!
(P.S. Let me know if you want the pie recipe. It involves Knob Creek Bourbon, dark chocolate, and if you’re feeling over the top a handful of macadamia nuts!)

 

 

 

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