The big payback

There are favors, then there are the kinds of favors that save you $500 on car repairs. A friend did one of those sorts of favors for me and all he asked for was dinner. It was not a burger-level favor, so it required more than a burger-level dinner. After some debate and noting his and his wife’s preferences (they’re charter members of the Carnivore Club), I decided on the ever-impressive standing rib roast. With it, I made pan-roasted rosemary potatoes, asparagus salad with sesame dressing and green beans tossed in olive oil, ginger, garlic and shallots. A smooth Cotes du Rhone in the glasses.

I made a blueberry pie for dessert using blueberries I froze last summer. And there was the problem. In my speed to get things ready, I didn’t thaw them out first. Beneath the nicely browned crust was blueberry soup. But my friends poured it over vanilla coconut milk ice cream (purchased for the dairy-allergic Hub), and after a few accompanying sips of cognac and Godiva chocolate liqueur, we hardly noticed.

Messing up the pie really bugged me, so I consulted my neighbor, the Queen of Pie. She verified that not thawing – and completely draining – the frozen blueberries was likely the problem. She said I might even need to cook them down a bit before putting them in the pie, although I’d like to avoid that to keep the fresh flavor. I will retry the pie until perfection is achieved. It’s just how I roll.

The sound of toast

Mother’s Day isn’t far away, and I’m sure many of you have mothers who are toast connoisseurs. Who like nothing better than a well-made slice of toast. Who spend a lot of time at the hot slots. If your Mom likes to sing while she’s making toast, here’s the gift for her: A toaster that’s also a radio. A little pop music while waiting for those Pop-Tarts just makes the morning brighter for good old Mom. Just be sure to duck when she opens your gift – more than toast may be flying.

From CSA to CSF

Here in Raleigh, we’re a mere three-hour drive from the beach, and about five hours from the Outer Banks. So, it was crazy how hard it used to be to find North Carolina seafood around here. It’s gotten easier, and is becoming even more convenient.

If you haven’t heard of a CSF, you probably will soon, It stands for Community Supported Fisheries, and is based on the popular CSAs – Community Supported Agriculture – for produce. The idea started in this state, according to North Carolina Sea Grant, and has spread along the East Coast. Most CSFs offer a choice of weekly or biweekly pickups and size of shares. Some offer a choice of receiving fish whole or filleted. Besides being an opportunity to get extremely fresh seafood, CSFs support a way of life on the North Carolina coast.

Many are now open for spring shares. Prices depend on the type of share selected. When considering a CSF, look at the kinds of seafood offered and convenience of the pickup sites, and gauge your family’s appetite for seafood. Also, find out what will happen if you can’t pick up your share on a given week.

Core Sound Seafood has pickup sites in Carrboro, Raleigh and Durham. Price: $112-$450 for 10-week season. More information here.

Walking Fish offers pickup on the Duke University campus and may add a Raleigh site in the future. Price: $91-$102 for 10-week season. More information here.

Locals Seafood has two pickup sites in Raleigh, and members can select shares from four weeks to 10 weeks. It also has a delivery option. Price: $84-$420. More information here.