Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer here at Nerds Towers. (Note: our house is not actually called “Nerds Towers” – that was a humorous attempt to make our residence sound grander than it really is. We don’t have any towers. We have a shed, but it’s in the process of falling down.) With … Read more

Pickled Ramps

Pickled Ramps

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. If you have your own private ramp patch with bounty to spare, feel free to use the bulbs, as we did in this recipe.


Yeah, yeah. I know ramp season is over but I made these a while ago and they were so good I decided to blog them anyway. When it comes to ramps, it’s really the green leaves that are incredibly perishable so every once in a while, you can find just the bulbs for sale long after you stop finding the leaves. But what to do with them?

You may have guessed that I’m fond of making pickles. What’s that? Oh, that’s just Matt running in to the room holding a jar of brined pencils, screaming “Obsessed! You’re obsessed”.  Fine. Yes. I’ll admit it. I love pickled red onions, radishes, cucumbers, even grapes.

So it should come as no surprise that when I found the last batch of ramp bulbs hidden away in a overlooked corner of our local market, I immediately decided to preserve them in a delicious, sweet/tart brine.

You can use these pickled ramps anywhere you would use pickled onions (on sandwiches, tacos, bean dishes, etc). I also really love them sliced up in this Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Olives and Feta.

Pickled Ramps

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Easy, home-made Greek yogurt

Creating your own home-made Greek yogurt is easier than you might think and doesn’t require any special ingredients, just a little time. 

Easy, home-made Greek yogurt

The missus has been out sick this week, so I’ve taken over blog duties. Last weekend I expanded on my bread baking with a really good multigrain recipe from Martha Stewart (to be blogged later) that involved three kinds of flour, two kinds of grain, and four kinds of seeds, and after all that I had to have a good lie down in a darkened room.

For this post, conversely, I decided to try something else I’d never done but keep it as simple as possible. Yogurt is something that we always try to have in stock in the fridge – not only is it a fantastic breakfast option, especially with some toasted nuts or seeds, maple syrup or honey, or (when in season) fresh berries, but it’s a great stand-by for a host of other recipes, such as marinades, dips and saucy dishes such as curries. We often use it in place of sour cream, like in this Lemon Basil Sauce.

We almost always buy the Greek varieties of plain yogurt, which are strained and therefore thicker than the “regular” variety. People have started wars over their preferred brand of Greek yogurt – to avoid bloodshed, I won’t reveal the specific brand we prefer, other to say that it’s the one that’s not Chobani.

Home-made Greek yogurt is so much more delicious than even the best store-bought kind, and is also much more affordable. The best part is that you get to control the quality of the milk that goes into it and we found that even using the best organic, grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free milk was cheaper than buying it already made.

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Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Guys, I’m seriously worried that I might actually be living in a Portlandia sketch. Sometimes I watch it, and I laugh and laugh and then look around nervously to see if anyone is giving me the “um, that’s you” side-eye. I think it was the Battlestar Galactica episode that hit a little too close to home.

Nerd aside: some of you may remember my little black cat, Special Ed. Oh how I loved that boy. So Special Ed, being much adored, had about a hundred nicknames (mostly having to do with the fact that he was a skinny, scrawny, wee little gentleman). So during the height of my BSG obsession,  his name became “Edward James ALMOST” (another fave was “Roger PALTRY”). Still makes me laugh.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, you’re probably wondering what the bleedin’ hell I’m on about, but one of their sketches is about people who pickle everything (a dropped ice cream cone, a used band-aid, a broken high-heel). Well, stop laughing immediately because pickles are delicious!

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

(Yes, it’s true that I’ve mentioned Portlandia before in the Spiced Pickled Grapes post).

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Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes are my go-to if I’m making tacos, quesadillas, or really any kind of  sandwich. They are so quick and easy and are just the perfect thing to perk up anything slow-roasted or long-simmered. Best of all, they’re ready in under an hour and last for weeks.

We aren’t ardent picklers, but we do have two favorites: quick-pickled red onions, and these tangy babies. You can also add herbs (I like thyme, bay leaf and tarragon best), chili flakes or whole dried chilies for spice.  I had a big tin of pink peppercorns that I picked up from Sahadi’s last time I was there so I added them as well.

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds
Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

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Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

Chinese broccoli is a tasty variation of the standard green, and we show you one delicious way to cook it with a sesame citrus dressing.

After what has felt like a gabillion months of (bone-chilling, face-freezing, fun-zapping) winter, this past weekend the sun peeked out from the behind the clouds and warmed our little corner of New York to a downright balmy 42 degrees.

So we did the only sane thing and grabbed our sunglasses, slathered ourselves with SPF8000 and went swimming in a crystal clear lake and let the fish nibble our vitamin-D deficient toes.

Just kidding! It was 42 friggin’ degrees so we braved the mud that is quickly replacing the permafrost in our driveway and drove to the little asian market we’d been itching to check out for ages.

Sure, by NYC chinatown standards the place is tiny but it packs plenty of great products into its two crowded aisles. Among many other fun things, we bought a bottle of ponzu, some chili-garlic sauce, a big jar of sesame seeds and, best of all, a huge bag of incredibly fresh chinese broccoli.  Aw yeah! Party at the Cliftons.

Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing Chinese Broccoli Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

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