Shio Koji

Simple yet powerful umami flavor enhancer. And yes, I did forget and wrote ’20.

Over the past few years I found the more I prepared food and cooked for people the more I wanted to bring new experiences and flavors to them. My first dive into the fermentation world was this: Shio Koji. It’s become a staple in the kitchen and one I reach for to add another layer when I want to make people say “why was that so good?”

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New Beginnings!

He’s soooo much bigger now.

Hello again! Yes it HAS been a long while since I posted anything here. Long story short, the three of us have moved from Chicago back to the DC area. What’s that, you say? Three? Yes, three. Last October Cheryl gave brith to our baby boy. He’s quite something and we’re very happy. Anyway, back to the recap, clearly there’s a lot to catch you up on.

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Pork Belly Confit – Something You Need in Your Fridge

Happy New Year, hope you had a great holiday season. January is a quiet time for us so it gives me a good opportunity to do some creating and test out a few techniques and recipes. One I’ve been really excited to give a try is this pork belly confit. I will say, as good as duck confit is, I think I may like this better. I mean, it’s the part of the pig bacon is made with, and since everything is supposedly better with bacon…this is an easy winner!Continue reading “Pork Belly Confit – Something You Need in Your Fridge”

Whipped Mortadella – Perfect Holiday Appetizer

Hellooooo!!! It’s been a long while since posting mostly because summer and autumn were occupied with the sausage business and farmers markets. Life intervenes. And then once the markets ended I had to start getting ready for the holiday season. Hopefully we’ll get some quiet-er time starting next week. As a result of all this we didn’t travel to many new places this year (New Zealand being the big exception) but did revisit Tuscany on a celebra-cation of sorts for my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary. Being in Tuscany you of course eat and drink fairly well and one treat I loved was a whipped mortadella we had in Florence. Decadent yet simple to make, this is a perfect bite for holiday parties or just plain old snacking.Continue reading “Whipped Mortadella – Perfect Holiday Appetizer”

Auckland and Waiheke Island – New Zealand Journal Pt. 2

Auckland Airport
Welcome to New Zealand…I mean Middle Earth! Yup, that’s a big Lord of the Rings Dwarf and a random guy who was camped out in front of it.

Ok, if the last post wasn’t enough to make you jealous, then this one could: the first appearance of wine! Oh and a little bit about Auckland. For the record these posts are in no particular order. The mountain phase in the last one was about 3/4 of the way through the trip. This post is all about our arrival, initial impressions, and day trip to “Wine Island”. Continue reading “Auckland and Waiheke Island – New Zealand Journal Pt. 2”

Hiking in the Southern Alps – New Zealand Journal Pt. 1

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We have wanted to go to New Zealand for a long time but knew we’d need at least 2 weeks to really do it correctly. Last summer was ridiculously busy, being the first time we participated in farmers markets with the sausage business, so we promised ourselves a lengthy vacation this year before things started to get busy. Everything fell into place and we headed to New Zealand at the end of January for a fortnight of adventures. Continue reading “Hiking in the Southern Alps – New Zealand Journal Pt. 1”

Shhhh…It’s a Secreto


Way back in 2013 on one of our Spain vacations I was lucky enough to discover something on a menu mysteriously called “secreto.” With a mix of Spanish, English, and hand gestures our server told us it was a special pork cut hidden behind the belly. Hence its name. It is not a very common cut we see here in the US, making it even more mysterious. Even after all these years I think I’ve only seen it once on a menu here in Chicago, a city practically built out of pork. So what is it and where can you get it? I am glad you asked.Continue reading “Shhhh…It’s a Secreto”

Return to Provence (Pt. Deux)

Not THE Giant of the Luberon, but a giant of something.

Happy Christmas and New Year’s! As promised, here’s the rest of the Provence trip in photos to round out 2017. Proud of myself for getting more than one post in for the month. In other words, it’s nice to have down-time.Continue reading “Return to Provence (Pt. Deux)”

Return to Provence! (Pt. Un)


In what is now an established Thanksgiving tradition for us, we journeyed abroad on vacation. Over the years we’ve found it is fairly easy to travel internationally during this time. Flying domestically can be quite a hassle with packed airports, but flights headed to Europe can be half-empty.  We like traveling in the off-season and since we promised ourselves a long trip after the farmer market season ended, we headed back to Provence.Continue reading “Return to Provence! (Pt. Un)”