Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without But Would Prefer Not To: 1970s Nutmeg Grater

This vintage nutmeg grater has graced my kitchen and grated my nutmegs for 37 years (I counted backwards and, yes, that's about right).  I bought it at a now-closed (and more's the pity) gift store in downtown Davis, my hometown, called Discoveries, a place with small beginnings in 1960 that grew to occupy three levels - basement, main and 2nd floor - next to what used to be the Cinema II indie movie theater.  My older boys will remember fondly the basement level, filled with quality childrens' toys including their beloved Legos.

Discoveries was the first gift store of its kind in Davis to feature greeting cards that were not Hallmark (a rarity in those days), small kitchen appliances, table top ware (I bought my first cloth napkins there - probably in shades of avocado and gold), small unique gifts, the sweetest gift wrap around - their signature emblem sticker, a gold sunburst, affixed a tiny bouquet of dried straw flowers to each beautifully wrapped package - and the most complete section of kitchen gadgets I've seen anywhere.  Bar none.  One could say, and I do, that my kitchen began in Discoveries.

Dorothy Briggs, one of the original three owners who went on to be the sole owner/manager until 1993, was a pretty scary lady.  As a newly married 23 year old, I remember when I wanted to return a duplicated wedding gift and she glowered at me, sending me away with a curt admonition to "come back when it's not so busy" and just what was I thinking, anyway?

So, what's so special about this nutmeg grater?  It's made of stainless steel, has never worn out (I stopped using pre-ground nutmeg when I bought this, freshly grated nutmeg being far superior), the non-grated portion of a nutmeg nut may be stored in the lidded compartment, and it was fabricated in West Germany.  Yes, West Germany.  Which, last time I looked, does not exist anymore.

Kinda like Discoveries.

You can buy a stainless steel nutmeg grater, made in China, in my Amazon Store, but if you truly want one like I have you'll have to go antique hunting.

Copyright © 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Friday, May 11, 2012

Slow Cooker Braised Rabbit with Garlic, Cippolini Onions & Thyme

I am not feeling well.  Haven't been for almost a month.  That nasty cold/flu thingy knocked me flat.  A few days ago I began to recover; almost felt like myself again.  Went back to work, saw a few plays in Ashland.  Felt not perfectly fine, but at least better.  Then the headaches began, temperature spiked, felt hot, clammy, chilled all in the same minute.  Went to the doc and whaddaya know?  I have a sinus infection.  Arrrg.  Back to laying around, trying to rest, trying to get better.
Soooo boring.

Why am I sharing this?  Two reasons:  1) If you get, or have, that nasty cold/flu thingy?, take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and do not jump up and do the samba just because you think you are better. It's a nasty, nasty virus that will knock you down again if you get too cocky;  2) The dish you see above is directly related to how much effort I was willing to put into dinner.  For all that, I was able to use ingredients I already had in the house and garden, it required very little prep time, and turned out to have the taste and comfort level my weary self was craving.  The look of the finished dish isn't going to win any awards, I know that, but comfort level?  A winner for sure.

So here's what you do (and in the Cook's Notes I'll tell you what I would do differently next time):
Pull a rabbit out of your hat freezer and defrost it overnight in the fridge.  If you don't have a rabbit, use a chicken.
Peel six red cippolini onions and twelve or more cloves of garlic.  Leave them whole.  Get out some whole peppercorns (Tellicherry are my favorite), some flakey sea salt, a couple of bay leaves (fresh if you can get them; I happen to have a bay tree growing just outside my door) and a handful of fresh thyme sprigs.  If you have some bacon hanging around, already cut into large-ish dice and already cooked (because Mr CC has been cooking for me and he loves bacon), use about a half cup of that.  (If you are feeling well enough to go to the store, buy some good smokey bacon, cut it into large-ish dice - about 3/4-inch square -  and cook it.)
You will need some dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc) and some homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock.
And that's it.


In the slow cooker, lay down the whole onions, garlic cloves and peppercorns first then place 1/2 of the thyme sprigs over them, then 1/2 of the bacon pieces.


Sprinkle the rabbit all over with sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to your liking.
Quickly sear the rabbit in a hot skillet, in a slick of bacon fat if you have it, if not, olive oil with a small amount of butter is fine, until lightly browned all over, then place the rabbit over the aromatics in the slow cooker.  Using 1/2 of the white wine, deglaze the skillet, scraping loose the browned bits from the bottom and pour that over the rabbit.
Sprinkle the remainder of the bacon pieces and the remainder of the thyme sprigs on top of the rabbit.
Gently pour in the rest of the white wine and the chicken stock.
Set the slow cooker to high for the first 4 hours, then low for the next 4-6 hours, depending on how long it takes your slow cooker to render the rabbit fall-off-the-bone-tender.
Go back to bed and wait rest.
After 4 hours the scent wafting through the kitchen will drive you crazy, but you must wait until tenderness is achieved.
Sleep a little, it'll help.

Slow Cooker Braised Rabbit with Garlic, Cippolini Onions and Thyme
Christine's Original Recipe
1 whole rabbit, skinned (a chicken may be substituted)
12 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
6 cippolini onions (red or yellow), peeled and left whole
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bays leaves, fresh if you have them, dry are ok
1/2 cup cooked bacon pieces in approx. 3/4-inch dice
5-6 whole peppercorns
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine, divided
1 cup low-sodium stock (preferrably home made)
Place the onions, garlic and peppercorns in the bottom of a slow cooker. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the bacon and 1/2 of the thyme sprigs.
Sear the rabbit in a skillet over high heat in a small amount of fat (bacon fat, duck fat, olive oil, butter - your choice) until golden brown.  Adjust heat so rabbit doesn't burn.
Place the seared rabbit over the aromatics in the slow cooker.
Pour 1/2 of the white wine into the hot skillet and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom, allowing the wine to reduce by half.  Pour this over the rabbit.
Sprinkle the remaining bacon pieces over the rabbit followed by the remaining sprigs of thyme.
Pour the chicken stock and remainder of the white wine into the slow cooker, put the lid on and set the cooker to High for the first 4 hours, then to Low for 4-6 hours thereafter.
If necessary, it's okay to turn the rabbit over once or twice during cooking.
When the rabbit is tender, turn the slow cooker off or set it on Hold.  Using tongs, remove all the thyme stems.
Transfer the rabbit to a warmed plate and divide into individual portions.  Spoons the onions, garlic and juices over and around the rabbit and bring it to the table.

Cook's Notes:
Had I been feeling better, I'd have cut the rabbit into serving pieces before searing and cooking. I think it would be much more manageable that way.  That said, this wasn't all that unmanageable.
Watch out for bones:  this isn't chicken (or maybe you used a chicken?), rabbit bones are tiny. 

Copyright © 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coming Out From Under a Rock . . .

. . . at least I hope so.

It has been awhile since I've shown up here.  And to be honest, what posts I have written in the past seven months did not have my heart in them.  I didn't know what to say.  What to write.  Simply carrying on as though nothing had happened is not my style.  When changes occur, when life throws punches, I want to share. I am an explainer.  But you know, some things are too private.
So I was quiet.

When I read the recent post of a blogger for whom I have tremendous respect, there it was:  A way with words to re-enter the world of recipes, stories and photos without spilling my guts.  In other words, come out from under my rock.  Because make no mistake, I've been in hiding.

So now, with a bit of trepidation, I will begin again, trying out my voice, here on these pages.

This minute, there is a whole rabbit braising away in my slow-cooker.  I didn't mean to be a copycat, in fact had forgotten all about the recipe when I pulled the rabbit out of the freezer, and I certainly chose my own ingredients for my own reasons but, all the same, something was resonating in my culinary sub-conscious so I've got to credit and thank Lucy for my inspiration - on so very many levels - for the recipe to follow . . .

Copyright © 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved