The Cook is back-well maybe!

Greetings to all you readers and food lovers out there. The Cupboard Cook has been hibernating but the tummy started growling so the Cook is awake, out of the deep coma, and ready for some good eats. The sad thing is that the Cook has missed the annual trek to the south, as all of the normal stops and friends along the way have been recalled back into doing their respective jobs around the globe. One can never predict what worldly events will crop up. The Cook was greatly anticipating the Gator Sarny that awakens the Cook’s spirit and soul.

[Read more…]

The Cook’s Cookies

The sun is gone by 5:00 pm and is not showing back up until 7:00 am. It is cold and snowy! What do you do to fight those blues? Sorry… the Cook forgets that there are people out there that love these conditions and the Cook was one of those…but not now. Spend one winter in north-central Russia, yet alone many, and that is a love never to return.

So what does one do to find comfort from the cold and dark? The Cook goes to baking and soup making. Comfort food is what it is now called. What is your favorite?

Cookies, (aka: biscuits, keks, biscotti, galletas) small flat baked treats, according to a few sources, where originally invented rather by accident than by design. It is claimed that [Read more…]

The Cook ‘s Trivia Challenge

You are all familiar in the States with the NPR show Car Talk with Click and Clack- the Tappet Brothers. They play a Stump the Chump puzzler game, where listeners are given clues and are to guess the answers to win some spectacular prize or another. Well, while visiting some of the Cook’s foodie friends, they decided we should play a similar game using all things related to foods and food history. After having a few glasses of great wine, some cheeses and fruits, the Cook was not faring well with the trivia presented by his fellow peers. The Cook suspects that there was some game fixing involved, but was none the less, soundly drubbed.

The Cook asked from what planet that the chosen questions came from, but the Cook was assured that the questions were all common knowledge food related facts here on good old mother earth. Hum!

Help the Cook feel good about the resounding defeat that the Cook suffered — or not. Below are some of the questions. See how you do. The Answers are at the bottom.

 

1.  What cake was a staple for both the Redcoats (Brittish army) and the Continental army of the American Revolutionary war, and a particular favorite of George Washington?

 2.  What beverage did George Washington like to have while eating his cake?

                  A. cream

                  B.  mint julip

                  C.  tea

                  D.  coffee with a touch of brandy

3.  During the same American Revolutionary time period, what was Salmagundi?

 

4.  What is Garbure?  (French)

 

5.  What is the common measurement value of a Speck?

 

6.  A HOT oven refers to one at a temperature of 450 to 550 degrees. – True or False?

 

7.  Can you remove excess salt from soups and stews by adding a few raw potaotes and       allowing to boil for 10 -15 minutes – True or False?

 

8.  What is the name for the cut of meat that includes the backbone? 

 

9.   Fleurons are:

                  A.  small particles of food that are atomized during the process of high speed blending

                  B.  French flowers similar to poppies and valued for their seeds by pastry chefs

                  C.  a Zydego band in New Orleans

                  D.  light puff pastry shapes served as garnishes with meats, soups and fish.

These where just a few of the questions that made up our little game of Stump the Cook.  If you had the correct answers to all of these, let the Cook know. You should change occupations to a game show professional. Missed one- you have stumped the Cook. Missed two- you have joined the Cook. Missed more than 2- you have made the Cook feel good and the Cook thanks you!

Thanks for reading and as always….eat well and eat local.

The Cook

 

answers:        1. gingerbread;    2. B;     3. a favored colonial supper dish consisting of minced meats, onions, herring and  eggs;    4. vegetable soup consisting of beans, cabbage, and potatoes;     5. less than 1/8  teaspoon;     6. False (400-450);     7. True;     8. chine;     9.D

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward, an interview with Carey and Jim Hewitt

Three wooden spoons for 99 cents.  The first sale at The Cupboard.  It was November 22, 1972 in a tiny little shop in the Northern Hotel, sparsely and optimistically filled with a lot of baskets, plants, some local pottery, wooden bowls and some wooden spoons.   Thirty nine years later, under the leadership, hard-work, common sense, and good values of Carey Hewitt, The Cupboard is a central downtown fixture.  The Cupboard employees over 30 people, runs a multi-million dollar business with the intelligent and attentive weilding of pencil and paper, and is as vibrant as ever.  The Cupboard just launched its new website and is dipping its toes into online sales, and Jim, Carey’s son is in process of taking over the business.  I thought it was a fine time to interview father and son, to find out a little more about their thoughts on life at The Cupboard.

Carey, what has been the most rewarding aspect of owning The Cupboard?

I guess it would be seeing both customers and staff embrace this store and work to enhance it.  We often hear from customers that they are happy we are here in downtown Fort Collins, which encourages us, but also challenges us to continually improve.  Our staff has taken ownership in the store and each person works to enhance The Cupboard, whether in buying, displaying, product knowledge, or customer service.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in kitchen retail over the last 39 years?

Nationally, we have seen the consolidation of department stores, the rise of discount stores, and now the emergence of the internet as a selling venue.  In our store, we have evolved with an ever increasing selection as we have expanded, with a greater emphasis on displaying the merchandise.  Recently, we have also developed a stronger marketing program through the newpaper, our website, and on Facebook.

How do you see The Cupboard evolving into the future?

I’ve always wanted The Cupboard to be the best kitchen specialty store we could be.  This means working as a team to buy merchandise that is functional, attractive, and distinctive.  It also means displaying it so that the customer finds it appealing and marketing it well so that our message is heard.  With the advent of internet selling, I feel it is important to offer some of our products on-line so this is a bold new adventure for us.  I do not want to have another brick and mortar store, but instead continually make this one the best it can be.

Jim, What do you remember about The Cupboard as you were growing up?

When I think about The Cupboard growing up, I always think of the staff (some of whom still work with us).  I was always welcomed and felt part of The Cupboard culture.  They saw me grow up from a small boy to the person I am today.  When I went away to college, I always talked about how great the staff was at my dad’s store.

Working at the store in high school, I remember the expansions in 1989 and 1994 and being excited about the projects.  From when I was young through high school, my sister and I would get to choose one ornament each Christmas to hang on our tree.  One of my first was a small nutcracker which hangs on my tree today.

I don’t remember this, but my mom tells the story of me as a young kid.  After shopping with her all day and being told not to touch anything, we entered The Cupboard and in a loud voice I announced, “This is my daddy’s store and I can touch whatever I want!”

When you were growing up, did you ever think you would take over The Cupboard?

I don’t know if I ever thought that I would take over the store.  I chose business as a major because I saw myself possibly being involved in the business.  After my dad told me that he had taken a few business classes and they didn’t help him, I decided to change my major to communication studies.  He told me that running the business boiled down to “how you treat people and common sense.”

Where would you like to take The Cupboard in the future?

As we move forward into the future, I want to make sure that we continue to do the things that we do well.  We have great merchandise and great customer service.  I want the in-store experience to be the priority.  I also want to keep up with the times.  Customers constantly ask us if we sell online.  Our new website will feature a limited amount of products that people are able to purchase online.  I plan to continue to build on this.  I also want to find more ways to communicate with and involve the community around us.

 

The Cook's Soup

The Cupboard Cook’s Butternut Squash-Apple & Curry Soup

Pumpkin and squash soup recipes tend to leave this cook wanting a bit more in the flavor department. This cook wants a soup that can stand on its own for a meal, accompanied by hot cornbread or baked polenta and a green salad or vegetable dish. This recipe for the ubiquitous butternut squash soup takes flavor influences from the south of France and the Near East to yield a more memorable entrée.

 

The Cupboard Cook’s Butternut Squash-Apple & Curry Soup   

Yield:  3 meal-sized portions or 6 first course servings 

 

Equipment List: 

A medium –large pan or stock pot
Immersion (stick) blender or regular blender

Ingredient List:

1 pound of roasted butternut, acorn, pumpkin or any other hard winter squash scooped      out of the skin.
1 granny smith or tart apple peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for the pan
2 sticks of celery cut into small dice
2 peeled carrots cut into small dice
½ white or sweet yellow onion cut into small dice
1 clove of diced garlic
28 ounces of homemade or quality low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon of Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon of Vietnamese lemon curry powder (optional but recommended)
2 ounces of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1-2 ounces of diced Murica Curado other mild hard goat cheese
1½ teaspoons of diced fresh marjoram or ½ teaspoon of dried.
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes:

Lightly toasted pecans, freshly diced marjoram, and croutons (Substitutions: paprika, parsley, thyme, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds)

Method:

In a medium-large pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter then add the celery, carrots, onion, apple, garlic, and a pinch or two of salt, and cook until just fork tender. (Approximately 8 minutes) Do not allow this to burn. Then add ½ of the stock, stirring while allowing this to come to up to heat but do not boil. (~3 minutes) Add the cooked squash and marjoram and incorporate it into the mix.

With the stick blender, process the mixture using a slight up and down motion, being careful not to lift the blender out of the soup while it is still running. Makes a mess! Process until it is somewhat smooth. Then add the remaining stock and the curry powders and process once again for about 1 minute. Allow this mixture to come to heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

(Note: This base soup can be held at this stage for later service or allowed to cool and stored for a day in the refrigerator. It also could be put in the freezer for later use.)

A few minutes before service, reduce the heat to low and add the butter, cream, and cheese stirring constantly until the cheese and butter melts. Then process with the stick blender for 30 seconds to 1 minute to incorporate the ingredients and give the soup a bit of body. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Service:

Put a handful of croutons into warmed soup bowls and ladle soup over the croutons. Garnish and serve.

 

NOTE:  The Cupboard Cook will be at the Fort Collins, Colorado store on October 14th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, to help celerate the Cupboards anniversary. The Cook will be demonstrating the preparation of this soup along with some other tasty treats. Those in the area please  stop by have a taste and learn something too.