Balsamic-Braised Lamb Shanks

I’ll go ahead and warn you ahead of time: these lamb shanks are amazing. I’ve eaten lamb on more than a few occasions, and this is one of the best preparations I’ve ever had. Just making sure I get that out of the way before we dive in…

Lamb shanks, which are a cut from the lower leg (just below the knee), are not the most popular part of the animal, but they’re just as good as the rest. The key is low and slow cooking, and this certainly fits the bill.

Braised Lamb Shanks

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The Backyard Medicine Cabinet: St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is probably one of the most widely-recognized herbs because of its association as an antidepressant. Long before Prozac, people were using this to treat ‘melancholy.’ It has been used as a healing plant in many cultures throughout the milennia, and many people regarded it as having magical properties, able to dispel evil spirits.

While we may not consider it useful for protection from spirits any longer, it’s still a good herb to have around, and fortunately, should grow just about anywhere.

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Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad

I got one of those veggie spiralizers for my birthday, and I really like it. It’s easy to use and gives us new ways to prepare our vegetables, at least visually (maybe it’s just the novelty of a new gadget; it’s still fun though). We started with a standard zucchini “pasta,” which really does make a good substitute for spaghetti.

Next up was this Asian-influenced cucumber salad – the texture was different than using bigger slices or chunks, and the tiny strands were able to soak up more flavor with their increased surface area. As always, customize this as you see fit – this is just a recommendation. Sprinkle with some peanuts or coconut, or add some lime zest for a little extra zing!

Asian Cucumber Salad

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Bin 216

A couple weeks ago, S and I were invited by a very generous group of friends to join them for a special tasting dinner at Bin 216, located downtown right next to Playhouse Square. Of course, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to spend an evening with such fine people.

Bin 216 has a classy lounge feel, with upholstered walls, couches, and small tables. The menu fits the atmosphere, with its focus on “whimsical small plates, desserts, wine and cocktails.” Although we didn’t have theater tickets on this night, it seems the like perfect spot for a pre- or post-show snack and drink.

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Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

We’re well into fresh-from-the-garden green bean season, and green beans are one of my favorites. My usual preparation involves steaming them for a few minutes then slathering them in fresh butter and a sprinkle of salt in order to get them on the table as quickly as possible!

But occasionally, everyone needs a change of pace, so I recently tried these balsamic roasted green beans. Quite delicious, I  must say. The balsamic cooks down into a syrupy glaze, and there’s a subtle sweetness that emerges after spending some time in the oven that I don’t get from the standard steaming.

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