Sunday, December 17, 2006
On Friday, we had the M's over for supper and play, which was lovely. I hit 40 hours at 4:15 on Friday, and left promptly to swing by Whole Foods and pick up a couple of chickens, 3 huge beautiful locally grown Ruby Red sweet potatoes and some wine. Hub and I are cutting back on alcohol during the week, but were happy to enjoy some wine with our friends. We rotisseried the chickens, roasted and mashed the sweet potatoes and also had orzo. Delicious, and the kids ate some of everything...except for Kiddo, who didn't even try the sweet potatoes with brown sugar sprinkled on them. Ah, well.
Last night Hub and I dropped Kiddo off at YiaYia and PaPou's to spend the night, as we were invited to a party in town. What a great party! I. was "re-warming" her house after moving back in recently. She asked guests to bring an appetizer or a beverage. There was so much food! I brought the Minty Lamb meatballs and tzatziki that I had frozen...unfortunately, it did NOT thaw well. The best part was the great conversations with intelligent, engaging people, most of whom we had never met. I. has a charming, small house in an old neighborhood in the city, and the floor plan plus her lovely back porch was very conducive to mingling. She spread the appetizers through several rooms, and the whole party was both easy and elegant.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
- 1.5 lb chicken breasts, skinless, boneless (3 halves)
- 2 oz fresh goat cheese (chevre) - if you can find it with lemon zest flavoring already, that will save you a step
- zest of one lemon stirred into the cheese, if the goat cheese was not already flavored
- 6 large leaves of Basil
- 3 oz Prosciutto
- 1/2 teas. salt
- 1/2 teas. fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 Tblsp. olive oil
- 1 oz fresh grated parmesan
- Light a grill, spray the grill rack with non-stick spray, put water on to boil for the orzo
- Using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the chicken breasts under a sheet of plastic wrap to a fairly even depth.
- Use a thin, sharp knife to slice pockets into the sides of the breasts
- For each breast, lay out one basil leaf, cover with 1/3 of the cheese, 1 or 2 slices of prosciutto and the 2nd leaf. Stuff the basil "sandwich" into the center of the chicken breast.
- Salt and pepper the breasts on each side, and put on the grill
- Grill for about 10 minutes a side, or until done. One reason to enclose the filling in the basil leaves is to insulate the inside of the chicken from the prosciutto - if you put the prosciutto on the outside of the "sandwich" it can make it difficult to see if the chicken is done, as the pink color can throw you off.
- Cook the orzo according to package directions, toss with olive oil and parmesan.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Anyway, follow the link for the recipe. The only modifications I made were to use Tilapia and to use goat butter for the sauce. The sauce is best if you don't cook it hardly at all, just slightly over low heat until the flavors are blended.
I am now looking into Hungarian dishes for Saturday night. We're having a couple of friends over who are interested in cooking with us. And of course, it will be more fun if I'm learning too!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Ms. J toiled over a lovely dish that her father makes. She was nervous to mess it up on two fronts -- one, it's one of her Dad's signatures, and she had a mental taste/look picture that she was going for. Two, she was cooking for me. I reassured her that honestly, I was just happy to be there! And I was.
Funny thing is, I don't usually like peppers very much. Hub loves them, so I kind of put up with the occasional grilled or roasted pepper. The dish Ms. J was making was ALMOST ALL PEPPERS! And Mr. B even was amazed at how much they had cost...so I was steeling myself for disappointment.
It was lovely. I mean it. I had seconds and thirds. Whee! I've found a way to enjoy peppers! This had 2 red onions (two!), something like one green, one yellow and one red pepper (but it may have been two of each?), garlic, a quart of cherry tomatoes and bowtie pasta, with parmesan on top. I'll either ask Ms. J for the recipe, or try to figure it out on my own.
She also has a HUGE frying pan that I covet.
Tonight, Hub made dinner and it was edible. Enough said.
Friday, November 24, 2006
- Make sure the turkey is completely defrosted (or fresh, which is the option we went for) and dry. If not, kaboom!
- Make sure the fryer is outside, not under a roof, and not on a combustible surface (we had it on the patio surrounded by sand). If not, kaboom!
- Make sure the oil is not too hot and not overfilled. If not, kaboom!
The guys did a fantastic job, and the turkeys were amazing (they did two). I've cooked a lot of turkeys in my life, have done some pretty interesting things like injecting them with wine/butter solutions, roasting them in a bag, brining, etc. I've even roasted a goose. Never has the carcass been subject to every single adult picking at it. And a super-bonus is that the oven was free to make/heat big pans of macaroni & cheese, stuffing, dinner rolls, sweet potato casserole, turnips & greens, gravy...the only "missing" item was mashed potatoes, but since Sis wasn't with us, no-one cared.
My contribution to the meal was to make two pies and bring the leftover frozen turnips and turnip greens from my last big dinner party. I actually made a fresh pumpkin pie, which was 100 times better than any pumpkin pie I've ever had before. I don't usually like pumpkin pie, to tell the truth. This was great. I'll post the recipe when I get back home. The other pie was a chocolate scotch pecan pie, also delicious. Kiddo helped me in the preparation of both...if by "helping" we can also include the slurping of leftover pumpkin pie filling with a spoon.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
2.5 lb cheap beef (beef chuck underblade is what we bought)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 onion, coursely chopped
4 medium potatoes, cubed to about 2"
1 12 oz bag of baby carrots
2 branches rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1 quart mushroom broth (Pacific brand is what I used) or I suppose beef broth would work
- Cut beef into 2" cubes, removing fat and membranes as desired
- Mix flour, salt and pepper in a freezer bag
- Put beef into the bag and shake, refrigerate
- Mix vegetables and herbs and broth in a bowl, refrigerate
- In the morning, put the beef on the bottom of the crock-pot, then throw everything else on top. Set on low.
- When I got home, the potatoes were still a bit hard (they were cut too big) and I put the heat on high for 30 minutes. But I think if the potatoes were cut smaller like I've said in the recipe, that wouldn't be necessary.
1 frenched rack of lamb, 8 ribs, about 1 1/3 pound
1 teas. black peppercorns
1 teas. kosher salt
Leaves from 1 branch rosemary
1/3 cup packed mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 450
- Put all the ingredients (except the lamb, lemon juice and olive oil) into a mini food processor, pulse them together.
- Mix the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl
- Place the rack in a small square glass baking dish, and pour the lemon juice and olive oil over.
- Press on the breadcrumb/herb mix
- Cook for about 35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 130 degrees
- Let rest for 5 minutes before carving. A normal portion would be 2 ribs per person, unless you're pigs like us.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
- 3 slices country bacon
- 1 small head red cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1 can butter beans, drained
- In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon at fairly high heat until crispy, remove to drain on paper towels
- Add the cabbage, lower heat to low and braise for 30 minutes
- About 5-10 minutes before completion, add the beans and the crumbled bacon.
- 4 pork chops, boneless, fairly small, about one pound total weight
- 2 cups sliced "baby bella" mushrooms
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1 Tbspn chopped fresh thyme
- 1 Tbspn flour? (The problem I encountered was that the sauce was thin...flour would help. A roux would definitely help, but I don't really think any butter is needed in this recipe)
- Preheat oven to 400? (That was the other issue, it took too long...we started at 350 and raised the temp to 400 later on)
- Layer the pork chops in a small square baking pan
- Add the mushrooms
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, then spread over the chops
- Cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes?
More because this is the season of change and I'm re-discovering my Fall/Winter cooking bona fides, both of the dishes I did this week weren't quite right. But in the spirit of blogging, I'm going to go ahead and post them...and that way, when I try again, I can remember my mistakes and correct them.
2 cups Emmenthaler cheese, grated
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Fresh-ground black pepper
4 medium potatoes, sliced thinly (I use the slicing blade of a food processor)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
4-5 slices ham (not very sugary, Virginia ham is nice), chopped
Dark green leaf lettuce
- Preheat oven to 385 or so? We did 350, and it wasn't hot enough.
- Butter a 13x7x2 glass baking dish
- Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, black pepper and butter together
- Layer the ingredients, starting with potato, then onion, then cheese, then ham, then lettuce, then potato, then cheese, and finally the breadcrumb mixture.
- Pop in the oven and bake for something like 35 minutes?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The party was lovely, with lots of cheeses and dips and crackers and chips and wine and turkey meatballs (Ms. N's signature appetizer) and wine and friends and more wine. And small children running around like maniacs.
My small child wasn't there until late, because he went to the NC Zoo with YiaYia and PaPou and his cousins. Hub and I had ALL DAY to ourselves. We went to the mall and shopped for work clothing, since he also has a new contract starting on Tuesday. Then I spent the afternoon cleaning the crud out of my closet so I'm no so overwhelmed in the mornings. And Hub raked leaves.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
That being said, I'm really, really enjoying it! The pro's are far outweighing the cons. And, while I haven't cooked that much this week (mostly due to outside circumstances, or the fact that Hub decided he was going to cook) it wasn't because I couldn't due to lack of time or energy. The one night that I did, it was this super-easy, fast and very mild chili...mild enough for Kiddo to enjoy. I'm almost embarrassed to bother to write it down, but perhaps others have not used the "use every can in the pantry" method of cooking chili before...or if you have, now you don't need to be ashamed anymore. You are not alone!
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 can kidney beans, 15 oz
1 can black beans, 15 oz
2 cans flavored diced tomatoes, 28 oz total (I used one with mild green chilis and one called chili recipe)
1 tsp salt
1/2 t coriander
- In a large pot, heat the cooking oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the turkey and the salt, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, and cook until all the pink is gone.
- Add all the contents of the cans and the coriander. At this point, you might want to up the heat with chili powder or pepper or something.
- Bring to a boil, and boil for about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for as long as you like (within reason), it will only get better...but really, it's good to eat right now.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
I've been wanting to do this for a while, but never remembered to do the signing up in November when most CSA programs fill up. Strangely, this year that's exactly when I thought of it. Neat!
We went to a completely different kind of farm "experience" yesterday. I started a new job on Wednesday, and managed to snag an invite to the Fall corporate day out at a place called Hill Ridge Farms. They don't seem to do much actual farming here anymore (except maybe some corn, hay and pumpkins to support the real enterprise), it's more of a farm theme park. No matter -- Kiddo had a great time on the hayride and the little train, and I got to schmooze a bit. Hub actually did a much better job at the schmoozing than I did - occasionally the Scot comes out for a blether.
Regardless, we did pick up a nice fresh pumpkin. I have visions of a real pumpkin pie dancing in my head. With fresh ginger? More mmmmmm.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
This amount will only serve 3 as opposed to my usual 4 -- but it's very easy to expand.
And for once, this is an entire menu. The sides are super-easy and can be used with almost any entree.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 oz chevre -- Hub found some already flavored with lemon zest, but if its not pre-flavored you can add the zest of one lemon or the juice from 1/2 lemon to a similar effect
6 large leaves of Basil
3-6 slices Prosciutto (depending on the size of the slices)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup orzo
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 oz grated fresh parmesan
2 small heads broccoli, flowers only
juice from 1/2 lemon
- Light the grill
- Put 2 quarts of water on to boil for the pasta
- In a small bowl, combine the chevre, salt, pepper and lemon zest or juice (if using) with a fork
- Pound the chicken breasts out to a relatively even thickness
- With a sharp knife, butterfly the breasts, making sure to leave a solid "seam" on one side, and open them up.
- On each breast, place 1 basil leaf (or several smaller ones to cover the side), 1/3 of the cheese mixture, 1 or 2 slices of prosciutto and then cover with another basil leaf. Close the chicken breast.
- Grill the breast over medium/low heat for about seven minutes a side. Don't overcook.
- Put the orzo into the boiling water, cook according to package directions
- Squeeze the juice of the 1/2 lemon over the broccoli in a microwave-proof dish, and use the vegetable setting on your microwave. If you don't have a vegetable setting, cook on med heat for only about 3 minutes.
- When the orzo is done, drain and combine with the olive oil and parmesan.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
2. The one night we cooked, it was Hub doing his famous fried fish. Unfortunately, he doesn't measure anything, so I don't think I can do the "recipe" justice.
3. I've been singing, singing, singing, my voice out over the past few days. We have a yearly UU Choir Festival in NC, which takes lots of preparation and then one very long day of group rehearsals before a big performance. This was yesterday (the "mass choir" pieces were a few selections from Orff's Carmina Burana and a fantastic piece called _The Awakening_ by Joseph Martin.)
4. Today my parents and I and a few other members of the UUFR choir went up to the Peace Fellowship in North Raleigh to perform one of my father's compositions, _Evolution_. I felt like I disappointed him because my high notes were simply fried from yesterday, and I had to sing the soprano part an octave lower. Oh, well...I don't think I'm really a soprano anyway, I just tend to be placed in that section because I have a very strong (think loud) voice, and for some reason sopranos seem to be hard to hold on to in many choirs.
5. I start a new job this week Wednesday, so we'll see about new recipes this week.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Ms. J has given me the compliment of not only reading the blog, but actually cooking from it recently. Today she sent me an email asking for an appropriate vegetable accompaniment for the pork loin recipe. This is what I gave her -- not recently tested or measured, but it's a pretty easy concept.
Get an assortment of turnips, parsnips, carrots and medium-size yellow-skinned potatoes (or sweet potatoes), cut the carrots and parsnips in half lengthwise, quarter the turnips and potatoes. Toss lightly in olive oil and some fresh thyme, kosher salt and black pepper. Roast at 450 for about 40 minutes (I think, this is from memory, it might be a bit less) -- actually since you're doing the pork, just put them on the bottom rack and they will likely take the same amount of time as the pork, at those temps. Stir them around occasionally. They should carmelize a bit.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I think I forgot to mention that this was a politically-themed party, and I selected my guests carefully to ensure that we all fell on the liberal side of politics -- not necessarily Democrat, but definitely liberal. This close to an election, I get very, very sensitive about politics, and I wanted a group where we could loudly declaim this or that policy, and not get into actual fights about it. That's exactly how it turned out -- we had wonderful, very loud discussions about a fascinating array of topics.
The loudness was one of the logistical problems. Kiddo, E. (5) and A. (2) were upstairs with the hired sitter, as planned. But they did not go to sleep. I've discovered that our house, with it's open floor plan, is just not suited for our party-loving children to tune their party-loving parents out enough to go to sleep. Hence, Kiddo and I did not go to bed until 1:00 AM. Oops! I think next time, I'll have him stay at Yia Yia's and Papou's house.
Logistical problem #2 - the schedule slipped due to A. still being asleep at 5:30. So the first guests didn't arrive until about 6:15. The rest of the adults trickled in over the next hour, with the final couple arriving at 7:15 or so. No big deal...Ms. C and Ms. J brought appetizers, so no one was hungry. I had made some cheese quesadillas for the boys - since they arrived a bit late, it was already too dark to play outside, so they went upstairs to the pinball machine, skipping dinner downstairs. I think it was close to 8:00 when Ms. C reminded me that they should probably be fed! The parenting skills were definitely a bit loose last night.
Logistical problem #3 - after we had soup, we convened back in the kitchen so I could cook the dinner. I don't have enough burners on my stove for the menu I had planned! So it took a fair amount of time -- enjoyable, loud, fun time, and Mr. M and Mr. E both chipped in to help (they are both excellent cooks in their own rights). So, in a way, this was not at all a bad thing. Dinner parties are NOT restaurant experiences!
I think we finally sat down to eat at around 10:00. On a plus note, everything turned out absolutely perfectly. On a minus note, I made waaaay too much food. I think we have enough chicken/duck to last a week of sandwiches. And I've frozen the turnips and turnip greens in the hope that they will reheat well for Thanksgiving.
Mr. D called to say he and Ms. P and their girls would not be able to make it after all, which was too bad. But the ice cream and dark chocolate bark worked just perfectly for dessert. And then everyone pitched in to help with the cleanup. Mr. T and Hub stayed up until 3:30 or so gabbing (T is Irish and Hub is Scottish, they are both champion talkers), and then Hub stayed up even longer to do more cleanup.
Exhausting, fun, delicious and we met two new friends who are thinking of moving to the area (Ms. C and Mr. M brought them, and we clicked immediately). Overall, a success. I'll be ready to do it again in about six months. :)
Friday, October 20, 2006
Dinner parties are quite different from bigger, appetizer-heavy grazing parties. The menu planning must include courses, side dishes, presentation. I am not a Martha Stewart fan...for the most part, I let the food speak for itself, and any presentation finesse is provided by Hub. In our house, he's the one who can arrange flowers, he's the one who will drizzle sauce expressively on a plate, he's the one I turn to when meats must be sliced Just So.
And really? It's because I think that's all hooey. What I always remember from any party or gathering is the conversation, and how happy and comfortable I felt. Too much presentation lowers actual hospitality, in my opinion. In fact, my brand of cooking may even lower the hospitality meter, because I love to cook...sometimes it dissuades those who don't love to cook from inviting me over for dinner. What most people don't understand is...I'd be happy with pizza and beer! Plus the right combination of people to talk to.
For this one, I've hired a sitter to watch kids here, if the parents so desire. Partly that's because I remember being sent upstairs when my parents had parties, with my siblings and the other children who came. We always had an excellent time. Our children are still a bit too small to send up on their own. Not all the participants are planning to bring their kids (some have decided they'll have a better time if they don't have to think of them in the house) but enough are coming to provide playmates for Kiddo.
So here's the plan -- I'll let you know how it actually turns out:
Start at 5:30 pm -- adults start grazing on appetizers (which my friends Ms. C and Ms. T have graciously voluteered to provide, we thought cheese fondue with bread and crudites would be lovely) and the kids in attendance will have quesadillas, veggies and juice boxes, then be sent out to play on the playset with the sitter. Hub's planning on mixing his killer martinis.
When the light starts to fail (7:00 or so), send the kids upstairs with the sitter. At our house, the TV is upstairs, along with Dance, Dance Revolution, Kiddo's playroom and a real, full-size pinball machine. The hope is, they'll mostly stay there. Sitter will be provided with popcorn when needed, and pajamas, and maybe we'll set up a group bath. Or what we call "Penis Soup" since most of the kids in the cohort are male.
Actual recipes for the following will depend on whether they turned out well or not...
Soup course. Roasted Butternut-Squash and Garlic, which I prepped for by roasting the squash and garlic and doing the food-processor thing (Kiddo ran it). I'll reheat, add Greek yogurt and seasoning tomorrow.
Dinner. Spice-Rubbed Chicken/Duck with Port Wine Sauce. Hub removed the skins from the duck breasts tonight and I made, then rubbed in the spice mix. Also, I prepped the sauce.
Brown-butter orzo, no prep needed
Turnips and greens, no prep needed
Dessert: I made a dark chocolate/dried cherry/walnut bark last weekend, which I will serve with vanilla ice cream. And Ms. P (who can't make it until dessert) promised some kind of divine-sounding chocolate pie.
I don't have enough good china to go around. Oh, well. Like I said, that's not what matters!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
And I cooked something really, really satisfying. In November, I won't be able to start a roast at 5:30, because I'll be in an office again. That will certainly be a change, one I'm more than ready for, as working from home has become lonely. Roasts will be weekend food again. Still, this one didn't take much time at all...
1 ¼ lb boneless pork loin roast
4 figs, sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 t kosher salt (Is it common knowledge that a small t is a teaspoon, and a large T is a Tablespoon? I learned that a long time ago when getting my cooking badge for Girl Scouts, but does everyone know it?)
½ t fresh ground pepper
1 T olive oil
1 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 450°
- In a small bowl, combine the sliced figs, 3 Tablespoons of the chopped parsley, the olive oil, the salt and pepper
- Using a long, thin knife (like a slicing knife), pierce the roast lengthwise, running the knife down close to the hilt but making sure you don't get too near the outside circumference.
- Do it again, making an X lengthwise down the roast.
- Stuff the cavity with the fig/parsley mixture.
- Roll the roast in the rest of the parsley, then put in a roasting pan. Top with any remaining parsley.
- Add 1 cup water to the pan
- Roast for 15 minutes
- Reduce heat to 350°, roast for 40 minutes more or until a meat thermometer reads 150°.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Monday, October 16, 2006
This year, with a 3-year-old experiencing everything for the first time, and Hub in tow (he had declined to accompany on the previous visits) we had a grand time. We rode 2 of the available 4 ferris wheels, ate a giant turkey leg and sweet potato fries, saw 8 piglets follow their mama pig around rooting for a nipple, and Hub won Kiddo a HUGE Nemo fish - it is bigger than Kiddo. He did this at the start of the afternoon, so he got to carry it around the whole fair for 4 hours.
Hub is a former carnie himself, and knew the trick to this particular game of skill, so it only took him one try for $2. You could tell the guy running the game was none too pleased. Hub, on the other hand, gloated...so carrying the fish for 4 hours was not really a burden.
Anyway, last night I did cook something new...recently I've been working from recipes a bit more, hence haven't had as much to write about. But I was inspired to try a new spin on a mussels dish last night, and it turned out beautifully.
1 bunch swiss chard
3 med tomatoes or 8 small
2 lb mussels
1/4 cup cornmeal
Rossi parsley garlic fettucini (I seem to be tearing through this box fairly quickly)
4 T salted butter
2 anchovy fillets
2 rosemary branches
1 cup wine (red or white, I find it doesn't really matter, both taste nice. Last night I used some Pinot Noir)
2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fresh grated parmesan
- Soak chard in the sink, in cold water. Stem it, chop coarsely, spin dry.
- Check the mussels - if they are not very clean, scrub with a brush and pull their "beards" off. Discard any that are open or that do not close when prodded. Put mussels in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and sprinkle the corn meal over. Let rest for about 20 minutes. The mussels will feed on the corn meal and disgorge sand.
- Start heating water for the pasta
- Start heating a large, heavy pot, such as a Le Creuset
- Chop the shallot
- Separately, chop the tomatoes and smash the anchovies.
- Heat the butter in the large heavy pot
- Add the shallots, saute until butter is golden
- Add the anchovies and tomatoes, stir
- Add the wine and rosemary branches
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels from the bowl of water into the pot, checking to make sure they are closed tightly.
- Put the chard on top.
- Cover and steam for about 14 minutes. The chard should be wilted, and the mussels should be open...but it will be difficult to check the mussels since they are buried under the chard.
- Start cooking the pasta after you cover the mussels, cook according to package directions.
- Serve the mussels over the pasta, with chopped flat-leaf parsley and fresh grated parmesan on the side.
Monday, October 09, 2006
What the heck, I'll try to do it from memory. Later I'll come back and test it again. This fed five adults (Mom, Dad, Hub, Sis and me) on Friday night, and there was 1/2 a chicken breast as leftovers. Sis was in town on her way to Mexico.
This recipe (or a variation thereof) that I invented years ago is one of the reasons I ordered the Rossi pasta recently.
1/2 cup dried blueberries
Vodka to cover (about 1/2 cup?)
1 small container creme fraiche
3 large chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Juice of 2 lemons
1 pkg Rossi lemon pepper fettucine
Salt & pepper
- About 2 hours ahead of time, put the blueberries into a small bowl and cover with vodka.
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Wash and dry the chicken breasts, put skin up in a roasting pan. Juice the lemons with a reamer right over the breasts (no need to strain). Salt and pepper them.
- Roast for about 35 minutes.
- When there are about 15 minutes to go, heat the water for the pasta and cook it.
- Put the vodka/blueberry mix into a small saucepan and heat gently. When warm, stir the creme fraiche in.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with the chicken and a green salad.
Friday was actually pretty crazy, hence the need for Hub to go shopping. There was a huge explosion at a chemical plant not too far from here late Thursday evening, and Kiddo's daycare was in the evacuation zone. We were a bit nervous we would have to be evacuated ourselves. Ms. J and Mr. B and their kids were right on the edge, and fled to Ms. H's house. So I took the day off work and Kiddo and I went over to Ms. H's to join the news-watching and fretting. The kids played, the mothers worried...after noon, Ms. N and I and our kids returned to our cul-de-sac, let Kiddo and Boo run around for a while (outside! by that time we had relaxed a bit about toxic fumes) and then retired to nap. So I never got a chance to shop.
After dinner, I dragged Sis to a birthday party at Ms. D's. There was o-so-much wine and crazy conversation. At one point, Sis told me I am in a sorority. I am? Wow. I've never been in a sorority before. I guess the difference is, I'm not paying for the privilege and I don't have to live with these women. And our menses are not in sync.
Saturday afternoon, the church had a block party, and I ran a Name That Tune booth. We kazoo'ed tunes for people to guess. It was a riot.
Saturday night, Bro and Sis-In-Law came in, and we all joined the sorority and fraternity (the husbands) for a big night out to a comedy club in the City. At dinner time, I found myself channeling the General (my dearly departed Aunt who ran social events with an iron fist). Someone needed to organize this crazy party of 16! We dined at a fantastic restaurant right next to the comedy club. While Hub did have to send his sea bass back, the tilapia that came out to replace it was excellent.
Sunday was quiet. I was exhausted.
And then tonight I went out with girlfriends again. Do I never learn???
I'm tired. Good night.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Which is soooo not the point! I was kind of hoping to impart my heck-try-it-it's only food philosophy, not make anyone feel daunted. Anyway, she was kidding and we've decided we'll do a cook-together gathering soon, which should be fun. And yummy.
Another thing the ladies had to offer was advice on the alcohol (and cheese and chocolate) issues I had been having, which was...gastro-esophogeal reflux disorder (GERD). Helooooo, Pepcid AC! Yes, I know, I should see my doctor.
I haven't been cooking much this week, but tonight put together a shrimp stir-fry that turned out very, very nicely. Hub's comment upon first taste was "what kind of butter did you use?" None, of course (who uses butter in a stir-fry?) but somehow the combination of the mushrooms and the sesame oil created both the mouth-feel and taste of a very rich butter sauce. Odd.
I know this seems like a long ingredient list, but this is the kind of stuff I keep in my pantry, in case the stir-fry mania strikes.
1 cup short grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions. If you don't have a rice cooker, get one!
1 lb shrimp (I tend to buy 2 lb bags of frozen easy-peel shrimp)
1/4 lb snow peas
1 small head bok choy
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic
1 knob fresh ginger or 1 T ground ginger
Juice of 1 lime
2 T Thai fish sauce or soy sauce
1 T chili-garlic sauce
1 T sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar
- Start defrosting the shrimp, if it's frozen.
- Get the rice started. Expect it to require about 45 minutes, if not a bit longer.
- Wash the snow peas, snip the ends off, transfer to a mise bowl.
- Brush any dirt from the shiitake's, remove the stems and slice the heads into strips, put in a mise bowl.
- Slice the bok choy widthwise, put it into a salad spinner, wash and spin dry.
- Mince the garlic and ginger and put in a small bowl.
- Add the lime juice, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar to the bowl, and whisk with a fork.
- Shell and de-vein the shrimp.
- When the rice is done or almost done, heat the wok. When it is quite hot, add 1-2 T peanut oil...really not much.
- Very carefully add the shrimp (since it's wet, it's likely to splatter) and stir-fry for about 1 minute, just until barely pink.
- Add the mushrooms, stir-fry for about 30 seconds
- Add the snow peas and bok choy, stir-fry for about 30 seconds
- Add the sauce, stir completely and then cover the wok. Let steam for about 3 minutes.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
The first party was a 2-year-old's birthday party in the cul-de-sac behind us. Ms. D had sandwich makings, chicken nuggets, yummy chips and dips, meatballs and plenty of adult liquid refreshments...after all, how do we parents get through the 2's? It was great fun.
The second party also started at 4:30, and I had promised Ms. K to make Mint Pesto pasta, so I had run that over at 4:00. We arrived at about 6:15 and the fun was in full swing. Although Ms. K's birthday had been the week before and her eldest daughter's birthday was on Friday, this party was really more in celebration of her mother-in-law's visit. Sort of a "meet our crazy friends" event. And we lived up to it! Mr. J's mother is a hoot, and we had a fun, fun time...by the end of the evening, we were all dancing to 70's and 80's music. Kiddo did not want to leave, but we managed to drag him out just before 10:00. He fell asleep within about 30 seconds of his head hitting the pillow.
Tonight we're off to see Aimee Mann and the Indigo Girls. Whee!
1 lb lamb leg sirloin steaks
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (Fage Total, if you can find it...if not, use regular plain yogurt that you have strained for 30 minutes or so)
1 T Aromatic Pepper (recipe from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider, reproduced here:
- 2 T black peppercorns
- 2 T white peppercorns
- 2 T pink peppercorns
- 1 T allspice berries
- 1 T coriander seeds
- All ground up together )
1 T olive oil
- Combine everything except the lamb and stir
- Coat the lamb in the yogurt mixture and let stand for about 30 minutes
- Grill over medium/indirect heat, turning about every 5 minutes, for a total of about 25 minutes.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
0.8 lb turkey cutlets
~ 1 T fresh mint
1 bunch parsley (I just shave the main bunch of leaves from the stems with a sharp knife)
1 small wedge goat cheese (4 oz? not sure)
3-4 slices country-style bacon
- Put the mint, parsley, cheese and pepper into a food processor, pulse
- Pound the turkey cutlets out, then spread the parsley mixture on them, fold, and wrap with bacon. Use toothpicks to secure.
- Heat oven to 350º
- Heat a frying pan that you can transfer to the oven (ie, metal handles). Put the turkey roulades on the pan and sear on as many sides and you can, about 2 minutes a surface.
- Splash about 1/4 cup of red wine into the pan, and transfer to the oven
- Cook for about 10 minutes, then turn roulades over and cook another 5 minutes.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
We arrived home after 5:00 and I was too hungry to go shopping, so I had to make do with what was on hand. This is actually my favorite time to cook, because according to Hub it forces my creative juices to flow. If I ever get any more readers/commenters in this forum, I plan to do a sort of "Stump the Cook" thing like Splendid Table does. It would be fun to see if I could come up with something delicious given five ingredients any given someone has on-hand.
I had corn on the cob. Husked it, broke it in two, covered with cold water, put on to boil. Check.
I had a leftover piece of grilled London Broil that Hub sliced thinly and we ate cold, sort of more as a side dish.
I went to make Macaroni & Cheese, and immediately noticed two problems - 1) out of milk. 2) no regular cheddar. Plenty of cheese in the house, but all a bit more esoteric. This is how I managed to do the dish, and it was honestly some of the yummiest mac & cheese we have ever tasted.
2 T butter
2 T flour
6 T light sour cream
1 cup shredded goat cheddar
1 cup shredded feta (really, 2 cups of whatever cheese you have on hand will probably work, but go easy on bleu cheese)
1/2 lb macaroni
- Put the water on to boil for the macaroni
- Melt the butter over low heat in a large saucepan
- Add the flour to the butter and cook over low heat just until it starts to turn golden. Stir constantly to remove lumps. I like a wooden spoon for this.
- Add the light sour cream gradually, stirring, stirring, stirring. This will be very thick.
- Add the cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring, stirring, stirring
- It's much too thick at this point, but here comes the magic - add 2 tablespoons of the hot pasta water and stir, stir, stir. Voila!
- Drain the pasta and add it to the cheese, stir (once more) and serve.
Plus, so far, potato vodka isn't making me ill. It's probably only a matter of time, but at least there's one option still open.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I'm not talking about getting drunk here...and up until this started happening (about one month ago) I had a very high tolerance for alcohol.
So, I stopped drinking anything with grain. Then I started noticing that after one glass of wine, the wine would start tasting like vinegar. And now I'm feeling very ill the next morning if I have more than one glass of wine.
This stinks. I really like to relax with a glass of wine. I like pairing wine with food. Hub and I used to collect single malt scotches, for goodness' sake. I know this can only be good for my health, but I'm still very annoyed.
Off to drink some green tea...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
20 oz fresh, filled tortellini (filling is pretty much your choice)
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 oz cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
3-4 medium tomatoes
5 cloves garlic
.75 oz fresh sage
salt & pepper
I find the order of preperation for this dish important, so here it is explicitly. I use "mise bowls" - little glass bowls to put all the prepared ingredients into so that they are all ready to dump into the saute pan.
- Put on a pot of water to boil
- Chop the tomatoes and put them in the serving bowl.
- Slice the garlic very thinly. This may seem laborious, but it's worth it
- Slice the sage thinly lengthwise
- Brush and quarter the mushrooms. Did you know you shouldn't wash mushrooms with water? They soak it up. Instead, use a mushroom brush.
- Dice the zucchini into small cubes
- Heat 5 T olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and saute briefly, about 1 minute, just until turning golden. Then add the sage and saute about one minute more until garlic and sage are crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and sage from the oil and set aside in a mise bowl. By the way, this crispy garlic & sage trick is one I absolutely love, you can apply it to so many dishes.
- You probably want to put the pasta in to cook right about now.
- Add the mushrooms and zucchini to the oil, and saute until the mushrooms start to express some of their liquid. Transfer all the contents of the pan to your serving bowl.
- Add 2 T olive oil to the pan and heat.
- While that is heating, slice the chicken breasts lengthwise in approximately 1/2 inch wide strips.
- Add the chicken to the pan and saute, just until pinkness disappears. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a reamer (preferably), juice the 2 lemons directly into the pan. Who cares about seeds?
- Turn down the heat and simmer for about 2 minutes
- The pasta should finish up right about now, so drain it and add to serving bowl. You may want to add a ladle-full of the pasta water as well.
- Add the chicken and it's sauce to the bowl, toss. Top with the crispy sage and garlic and serve.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
I called up Whole Foods, and the fish guy said that it was fairly common for cod and grouper to have parasites, but very uncommon that they are still alive. They'll refund my money or give me another piece of fish. I think I'll take the money.
I'm a pretty fearless eater, I love things like sushi and rare meat, but when you pick a little worm out of your pan of fish...I'm still shivering with disgust.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Tonight I prepared this recipe, with some variations so I'll go ahead and write the whole thing down. It was incredibly good.
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and then chopped
Rossi Lemon Pepper fettucini - 12 oz
1 jar Ortiz Bonita del Norte tuna in oil (I'm trying to find a link, haven't yet)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
zest & juice from one juicy lemon
2 fillets Ortiz anchovy in oil, chopped
1/4 cup thyme, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
- Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta
- Toast and chop the walnuts, and put in a big pasta serving bowl
- Use a vegetable peeler on the zucchini to make "ribbons", add them to the bowl
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovy and herbs
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the tuna and its oil, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook for 1 minute just to heat the tuna through.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions (Rossi pasta cooks fast). Add it to the big pasta bowl, top with the tuna and oil and toss. Then add the dressing from the small bowl and toss some more.
I've used regular canned tuna in oil before, and it's very good...but this Ortiz stuff is on a whole other level. We're lucky to have it stocked at the local Whole Foods. I'll search the web to see if I can find a good source for mail order.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Bleagh. Maybe this nice glass of wine will wash away the taste.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
My favorite dish of the evening was one Mr. M brought and prepared on site -- tuna medallions seared with garlic and oil, and then green beans and halved cherry tomatoes added to the pan. It was fantastic with a splash of soy sauce.
Hub challenged me tonight by bringing home 1/2 pound of calves liver. He knows that I love liver, but he's more hesitant. Here's what I did, I thought it turned out very well. Hub even went back for seconds!
1/2 lb sliced calves liver, cut into 4 pieces
1 pkg Wild Mushroom Linguini (from Rossi pasta, of coures)
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
4 shallots, sliced very thinly crosswise
2 T chopped fresh thyme
6 oz spinach (one bag, if that's how you like to buy it), coursely chopped
6 slices country smoked bacon
1/4 cup flour
salt, pepper (do I even need to list these?)
- Put on the water to boil for the pasta, lightly salted. (I know this step seems obvious, but Hub always forgets)
- In one large frying pan that has a lid, heat the olive oil, then add the shallots. Fry them, stirring, for a few minutes until they turn golden brown. Watch them! They very quickly could turn dark brown, then black, and then all that careful slicing was for naught. Anyway, when done, use a slotted spoon and transfer them to a plate with a paper towel, and sprinkle with about 1/2 t kosher salt.
- Add the thyme and mushrooms to the oil, and saute until well coated with oil. Then add the spinach in handfuls, letting each addition wilt a little so there's room in the pan for the next. Saute to make sure everything has a very light coating of oil, then put the lid on and steam for a few minutes, just until the spinach has released it's water. Slide the whole panful into a serving bowl Cook your pasta and toss it in. Add salt and pepper to taste, and about half of the shallots.
- Meanwhile (don't you hate that?) you should have been cooking the bacon in another frying pan until it's crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
- Combine the flour and about 1/2 t each salt and pepper on a board, and dredge the liver in it. Then, over medium-low heat, cook the liver on both sides in the rendered bacon fat just until it springs back when prodded. Don't overcook! Liver is nasty when overcooked. If you think you hate liver, it's probably because your mother killed it in the frying pan when you were young, cooking it to the texture of rubber. I know mine did.
- Serve the liver sprinkled with the rest of the shallots.
Friday, September 08, 2006
I'm taking a half day today, went to get my toes done with Ms. N and Ms. C earlier. Ms. J stopped by to say hello, and decided as we spoke that she was interested in doing the Friday night potluck thing at her house. She's new to the group, so kudos! In fact, she organized the Thursday night play date just last night (we met at a park rather than at a house) so obviously, she fits right in.
So, I'm rotisserie-ing a couple of chickens right now, then at 3:15 I have a haircut/dye job scheduled. Rotisseries are fantastic...if you are in the market for a new grill, get one. We have the Turbo STS with the rotisserie added as an option. Other than the cleanup (which I mostly let Hub do) it's really easy to use. Thread the chickens on the bar, then turn on the motor and shake on lots of herbs. Maybe I'll post a photo..they are really pretty. :)
Monday, September 04, 2006
Last night after Ms. T's party, I decided I'd better roast that rabbit we picked up from the farmer's market. Rabbits really need to be cooked and not held in the fridge for any length of time...they really start to stink.
I mostly followed a recipe from Sally Schneider's fantastic A New Way to Cook. It was kind of stressful, but turned out delicious -- very like the chicken I've had in Europe, which tastes so much better than our bland chickens here. (By the way, my only modification was due to a lack of prunes and of 8 hours. I used currents and soaked them for about 1 hour. The stuffing was lovely.)
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I didn't have much time after church to prepare anything fancy, so I threw together some quesadillas. I've been playing with quesadillas for a while now, and the trick seems to be to get the ingredients fairly dry. This is what I had in my fridge, so this is what went in today...
1 bag tortillas (6)
1/2 block monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 round queso fresca, shredded
8 quarters of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped and rolled in a paper towel to remove some moisture
2 handfuls salad greens, dried and chopped
1 big squeeze of cilantro in a tube (I would have used fresh if I had it)
- Heat a griddle
- Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl
- Combine the other fillings in another bowl
- On one tortilla, spread out a layer of cheese, a layer of filling, and a little more cheese on top
- Press another tortilla on top
- Spray lightly with oil
- Toast gently on the griddle until the cheese starts to melt, then spray the other side and flip it
- After you take them off the griddle, let rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The party was very well attended, pretty much everyone could make it on such short notice except for Ms. L (who wasn't at work, and didn't get the email) and Ms. D (who was on her way to Virginia Beach to run in a half marathon). That's one of the things about this neighborhood -- we all have kids, and most of us hang out on the weekends...and any excuse to get the kids all together where they can entertain each other is a good one.
I quit work at 3:00 and checked out the fridge and pantry, and here's what I made. It's super-easy and usually a big hit.
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
2-3 cloves garlic
2 oz parmesan, cut into manageable chunks
Large bunch mint, about 6 oz before stemming, stemmed, washed and spun dry
2-3 T olive oil
salt & pepper
1 box rotini pasta
1/3 lb feta, preferably goat's or sheep's milk
- Throw the pine nuts, garlic, parmesan chunks and mint into a food processor, pulse.
- Add the olive oil, pulse some more
- Add salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
First, a reporter from the town newspaper asked to take Kiddo's picture while he painted on a wall. It's on the front page of that paper today. Above the fold, no less. The link above goes to the picture.
Then, a reporter from the big Raleigh paper cornered Hub and asked him how he felt about the recent spate of civic "disasters." He had his quote featured in Sunday's paper. That was a bit more buried inside the City&State section, but still one of our friends read it.
Honestly, what are the odds?
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I'm tired and grumpy, so I'll do a meme I stole from Jenorama
Number of contacts in your cell phone?
<10. It's new, and I hate cell phones.
Number of contacts in your email address book?
What is the wallpaper on your computer?
Hub and Kiddo.
What is your screensaver on your computer?
It's a laptop -- a screensaver would be a power-waster.
Are there naked pictures saved on your computer?
Yes. Of me, chronicalling the hugeness of pregnancy.
How many landline phones do you have in your home?
Does VOIP count? If so, 4.
How many televisions are in your home?
One, and it's only 27". And over 10 years old.
What kitchen appliance do you use the least?
The bread machine. It seems to think it's a brick-making machine.
What is the format of the radio station you listen to most?
What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?
Are you right handed or left handed?
Very, very, very right-handed.
Have you had anything removed from your body?
Would you like to?
I doubt it.
Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
Sight, ever since I had it fixed with Lasik.
When was the last time you had a cavity?
I've never had a cavity. Ever.
What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
Kiddo, who is almost 40 pounds. He's a bruiser.
If it were possible, would you like to know the day you're going to die?
If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
I love my first name. It suits me perfectly.
How do you express your artistic side?
Cooking. My work is surprisingly artistic (Software architect). Singing in choir.
What color do you think you look best in?
How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
As long as the library is well stocked, I could do a few years.
Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
I have no clue.
If we weren't bound by society's conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?
How often do you go to church?
Regularly, if you count a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as church. Many UU's would loudly protest that designation. :)
Have you ever saved someone's life?
Has someone ever saved yours?
For this last section, if you would do it for less or more money, indicate how much.
I just won't bother with the last section. I wouldn't do any of those things for money. I'm just not that kind of girl.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I made a solemn vow to NOT COOK A THING for this party. This is really hard for me. I guess I'm cook-proud -- I feel like I have a reputation to uphold or something stupid like that. I am proud to say that I managed to do this party without breaking the vow. And remember, this was a 4-7 pm party for kids and parents. Dinner was expected.
- PB&J sandwiches (the frozen Smucker's kind, 32)
- Juice boxes
- Bottled water (lots, especially since tap water was out of the question)
- Mac & Cheese, which Mom made
- Fruit salad, which Dad made (OK, my solemn vow does not include my parents)
- Veggie tray, which Mom made
- Spinach dip, that I bought
- Hummous, that I bought
- Deli station, which consisted of sliced meat and cheese I had to call to Raleigh to order (because of the whole Boil Water Advisory thingy) and which I ordered way too much of, but am very much enjoying the leftovers of...
- 2 lbs roast beef
- 2 lbs roast turkey
- 1 lb sopressata (really not a mover. But I love it)
- 1 lb cheddar
- 1 lb havarti
- 1 lb lemmi (don't ask me, they recommended it)
- 2 mustards
- sliced tomatoes
- 3 types of excellent bread
- assorted pickled veggies
- purchased fancy roasted potato salad
- purchased fancy cole slaw
We had 28 kids. Actually, 30 if you count the infants. I'm not even going to try to count the adults. It was a really fun party, with multiple generations and everyone pretty much stayed in the backyard and we didn't lose track of Kiddo too many times and he only had one pass-out episode and no one else got hurt...he has a strange reaction to hitting his head, which is really too frightening to even write about...but luckily it happened 5 minutes into the party and he recovered by 30 minutes in.
Generally, it was a really good party. Kiddo was very happy, surrounded by all his friends. And that was the point.
Today we went for his 3-year well child visit and received a height prognosis...6'1" to 6'4". I'm a little freaked out by that. Where is that coming from? I'm 5'4" in shoes and Hub is 5'9". The only tall guy in my family is my brother, who's adopted. I buy mostly organic milk and meat, so it's not hormones...and yet Kiddo has been at least 95th percentile in height practically since he was born.
BTW, I would be remiss in not mentioning all the amazing cleanup, de-bugging (literally, our backyard is full of mosquitos) and toy setup Hub did for this. He's a rock.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
2 large tomatoes
1/3 lb feta cheese, preferably sheep's milk, also preferably in brine
2 T mint
12 oz whole wheat or multi grain pasta
- Cook the pasta according to package directions
- Chop the tomatoes, put in a bowl, making sure you keep all the juices. At my house, that means guarding the cutting board from Hub, who is very likely to stick his face right down onto it and slurp.
- Chop the mint, add to the bowl
- Use a vegetable peeler on the zucchini to make "ribbons", keeping the peel but stopping when you hit seeds. Toss those into the bowl.
- Crumble the feta into the bowl
- Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and toss.
- When the pasta is done, take 2-3 ladlefulls of pasta water and add them to the bowl.
- Then drain the pasta and add it to the bowl, toss, and serve.
1 1/2 lb ground lamb
2 cloves garlic
1 t kosher salt
3 T mint
1/2 cup bread crumbs
- Toss all of the above into a food processor (or bowl, in which case, mince the garlic)
- Mix it up.
- Fry in olive oil, turning frequently
- Drain on paper towels
2 lb shrimp, shelled, deveined and poached, cooled
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions, cooled
Juice of 1 grapefruit
.75 oz Mint, chopped
2 T Olive oil
2 green onions, green and white parts, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
- Combine the shrimp, grapefruit juice, olive oil and 2 T mint in a bowl to marinate for about 30 minutes
- In another bowl, combine the quinoa, green onions, tomatoes, salt to taste and rest of mint (about 5 T).
- Mix it all together
Monday, August 14, 2006
- Tues. 8/8: went to book club, where we selected the books we'd be reading for the next nine months. Ms. H2 made a gorgeous fruit tart, I'll have to get the recipe.
- Wed. 8/9: went to the pool in the evening with Kiddo, ate really bad pizza
- Thurs. 8/10: headed over to Ms. H's house for Thursday night play date. I'm a somewhat infrequent participant in these because during the year I have choir rehearsal on most Thursdays, but it's a neighborhood women and children night and the guys go for beers. I brought the corn and tomato salad, but instead of zucchini I used an avocado, which made it quite different...nice and creamy. I think I prefer the zucchini, though. Ms. H. made an excellent linguine with tomato and goat cheese sauce, which was incredible, and Ms. D. brought and nice salad with walnuts and dried cranberries. The kids ate mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and broccoli, and basically ran wild. Kiddo was very, very happy.
- Fri. 8/11: I have no idea what we did on Friday. Nothing, I think. Chilled. Played with Kiddo.
- Sat. 8/12: Actually hired a babysitter for the first time, because my parents were out of town. We went to Mr. T's (that sounds funny) 40th birthday party, and it was great. They live on the lake, and Ms. T. hired caterers to do a "Hawaiian BBQ". Also hired a steel drum band, and even a bartender...it was swank, and I drank waaaaay too much white wine. I had great conversations with new and old friends, and it was a great night out. And Kiddo had fun with his sitter!
- Sun. 8/13: We were going to have Ms. N. et famille over, but they canceled, so we did ribs for ourselves again. This time we tossed the broth, though, since I'll be out of town later on in the week.
Monday, August 07, 2006
3 Quarts broth
4 pork chops
2 inches fresh ginger, skinned and chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 green onions (we happened to have the whole bulbs, not the green parts)
1 box rice noodles
2 hearts of Romaine, chopped
2 T hoisin sauce
2 T chile and garlic sauce
- Simmer the broth
- Add the ginger, garlic and green onions
- Add the pork chops, cook gently for about 30 minutes
- Remove the pork chops
- Add the rice noodles and lettuce, cook for 5 minutes
- Add the sauces
- In the meantime, cut the pork chops from the bones, remove the fat and cube the meat.
This is soooooo good. You can substitute about a million ways - using tofu or chicken for the protein, using actual bok choy or spinach for the greens, adding mushrooms, heck, you can even use angel hair instead of the rice noodles. The real key is the fresh ginger, I think.
Oh, and by the way...we threw this together as a quick meal before going to see Fiona Apple in concert last night. Kiddo really enjoyed the cubed pork and noodles, sans broth. And he enjoyed his first non-classical concert, too. The boy is destined to play in a band, I'm sure of it. After all, his mom did!
We had picked up a couple of racks of ribs when at BJ's earlier in the week, so we decided that would be our contribution to the potluck. This is an all-day process, but not at all difficult. I can't be specific on some aspects of it...but here goes.
2 racks pork baby back ribs
vinegar-based BBQ sauce, mixed up with some ketchup
- Fill a very large stockpot (I use this one) half full of water. Add about 1 T salt.
- Cut the ribs at every 2 ribs
- Chop the onion coarsely
- Simmer the ribs and onion in the water gently for 1 hour, basically until the house smells strongly of pork&onions.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the ribs from the water and put in a large container,
- If you are so inclined, keep the broth for the next recipe.
- Pour the sauce over - this is where I have to be vague. We have a good friend, Mr. R., who makes batches of the best vinegar-based Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce that we've ever encountered. He has instructed us on how to combine it with ketchup, but beyond that, it's a secret recipe. We get batches by feeding him regularly. I would have to guess that it contains apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, whole peppercorns, lots of other spices...oh, heck, who knows? Find a BBQ sauce you like.
- Fire up the grill, get it hot, then put the ribs over indirect heat.
- Cook them over low, indirect heat for 2-4 hours, turning every 30-60 minutes or so.
Out front there was the "wading" pool - a bit larger and deeper than your traditional plastic one - and lots of camp chairs for the adults to sit around and holler at kids from. Kiddo actually got completely wet (he tends to resist his head going under) and learned lots of bad splashing habits from the older boys -- at one point, they decided the best game was to soak me (the sole watching adult) and did a fine job of it.
We ended up closing out the night, as our Kiddo likes to stay up late, as do Ms. C and Mr. M's kids. The only downside of the evening was that Mr. J. cut his finger pretty badly on a bottle that didn't open properly, and Ms. H had to take him to the emergency room. He's OK, though.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Nah. I'll just ride it out like always.
What I'm mulling over is what to do for Kiddo's birthday, which is on Friday the 18th. I'll be travelling for work that day (argh) but probably want to have the party on Saturday anyway. I certainly don't want to spend much time cooking or preparing for it, because Kiddo will be wanting serious Mommy time - today when Hub told him I would be traveling on an airplane, he said "But I just miss Mom all the time." He then repeated that sentiment to me...making me feel glad, very loved, and guilty as hell.
So, do I give in and get the catering trays from Chick-Fil-A? Ms. H. did that for A's birthday, and it was a hit. Or do I have Hub grill burgers and hot dogs, and make mac & cheese, etc, etc? That's what I usually do, I just don't know that 1) Kiddo will appreciate that and 2) it's his day, not mine. None of the 3-year-olds will care if I made the pesto from scratch.
I'm thinking a compromise...get the catering trays, but make the cake myself. And Kiddo can help me make the cake. I'll even make it chocolate, which he loves, but which revs him up to insane speeds.
Monday, July 31, 2006
This is what we did with them tonight - it's a variation on a very generic theme, taking advantage of whatever herbs/seasonings you have in the fridge or in the garden. Me, I have a black thumb, you know whatever I'm using came from the store.
2 Cornish Hens
4 T butter (I used goat butter tonight, because I had some - wow, that was nice) OR olive oil
Handful of dill, chopped, or parsley, or oregano, or mint, or rosemary, really whatever strikes your fancy here. I've used them all, they're all nice. You can even go dried, but fresh is nicest.
1 lemon OR 1 lime
If you like heat, add 1 seeded jalapeno, chopped, or some paprika
- Preheat oven to 450°
- Split hens lengthwise, removing breastbone with a sharp knife or kitchen shears
- Arrange hens in a baking dish, not too shallow (probably not a rimmed baking sheet)
- Use a zester to get the zest from the citrus. I love the Oxo one. Then, chop the zest up.
- Juice the fruit. If you don't have a wooden reamer, get one. They are hands-down the best way to juice a citrus fruit. And I just like the fact that I own a reamer. Cue Beavis & Butthead laugh.
- In a small dish, combine the herbs, butter (if you are using butter), pepper, zest and juice. Mash it up as well as you can.
- If you decided to use olive oil, drizzle some on the hens
- Smear the mixture over the hens, then pour whatever wasn't incorporated over.
- Put the hens in the oven on the top rack, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the juices are basically boiling under the skin. You probably want to turn the pan around a few times to account for uneven oven temps.
I now resolve to go running in the morning. Believe me, I need to.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
It was fantastic. The gods were smiling, that was a really excellent tomato sauce. And no tomato wastage!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne.
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life
Now, it's your turn. Do it on your blog, and then leave a comment saying you've done so.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Salt & pepper
- Cut the corn from about four ears of fresh corn that has been either boiled or grilled.
- Chop about 3 large tomatoes or halve a pint of cherry tomatoes. That means an entire pint of cherry tomatoes, each little tomato cut in half, by the way.
- Use a vegetable peeler to make zucchini "ribbons" out of about 3 medium zucchini
- Chop a bunch of cilantro leaves - I don't bother to stem cilantro, but just chop off the "head" of the bunch.
- Toss in a big bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste.
At least 16 oz preserved vine leaves (I usually need a bit more than one jar)
3/4 cup long-grain rice
2 oz pine nuts (at least)
10 oz onions (one large) and 3-4 spring onions, green and white parts
3 T fresh dill
2 T fresh mint (at least)
3 T fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup hot water
salt and black pepper
Instructions - this is where I veer off-recipe:
- Carefully reach into the jar and squeeze the roll of leaves up to the side of the jar. Wiggling back and forth, ease them out.
- Put the leaves into a colandar, put the colander into a big bowl. Run hot water over them and set aside.
- Measure the rice into a fine strainer, put that in a bowl. Run cold water over it and set aside.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan. Be careful! I have a terrible tendency to forget about them and burn them. When done, set aside to cool slightly.
- If you feel like it, chop the onions, spring onions, dill, mint, parsley and pine nuts by hand. If not, throw them all in a food processor and use on/off pulse to get them chopped. Do not liquify!
- Strain the rice and put into a bowl. Add the chopped ingredents. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, and juice of one lemon. Stir.
- If you're tired at this point, set it in the refrigerator...you can roll them tomorrow. Or just make pilaf.
- Rinse the grape leaves. On a cutting board with a drippings trough, start rolling the grape leaves, as follows - you are never going to read this in a cookbook. If I remember, I'll take pictures the next time I do it. I learned on my momma's knee.
- Select a whole leaf without too many holes. Set aside very tough or very torn ones. Use them to line the bottom of a large, heavy pot (Le Creuset is really the best for this that I've tried so far). Remove any long stems.
- Veins up, stem at the bottom, place about a teaspoonful of filling near the stem - the amount will depend on the size of the leaf. Spread it out horizontally a bit.
- Fold the right bottom section in on an angle, then the left bottom section
- Fold the right entire side vertically towards the middle, then the left side.
- Roll up from the stem, tucking as you go if you need to
- Put the roll into the pot (if you have your layer of bad leaves) or into the trough with the edge down.
- After you've tightly packed one layer, put another layer of bad leaves on and keep on going.
- When you have all the parcels tightly packed into the pot, pour over the other 1/4 cup of oil, the juice of the other lemon, some salt and pepper and the cup of hot water.
- Place a small plate in the pot on top of the dolmades.
- Simmer gently for 50-60 minutes (the Le Creuset takes 60 minutes, a regular pot usually 50)
- Let stand for a while before attempting to remove, or you will burn your fingers.