Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

what weekend? and peach bars!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One particular thing that I forgot about working in a office.

“How was your weekend?”

It’s not that I mind people asking. Even semi-faux interest is a nice gesture when you’re spending serious quality cubicle time with people. It’s more that I immediately lose track of what happened over the weekend the second I walk back into the building. Weekend me disappears and week me, who is a lot like weekend me except without the fun part, gets all up in my frontal lobe.

I did have a good weekend, though!

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The girls and I had some weird moments where they enthusiastically sniffed at a fence (that’s in front of another fence) so hard that Maida started snapping at Cloey because she was hogging the sniffing.

Why weird? Because I stuck my nose near the fence too. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t smell anything, but there’s a pretty good chance that I sucked something gross into my nose all the same.

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Crockett and I looked at our freezer and realized that some of our favorite tamales from Costco that we don’t eat anymore because one day we accidentally looked at the nutritional information (TERRIBLE IDEA, PEOPLE) were still hiding in there, so steamed ‘em up. There’s taking care of your health, and there’s wasting food. I prefer to do the first and avoid the second, but sometimes the two collide, and you have to have tamales for dinner.

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Mine fell apart on it’s way out of the steamer, but it was still so delicious that I swooned. Swooned, I tell you. There’s nothing like a hearty mixture of lard and masa to really bring a Saturday night home.

Also, I made peach-thyme cornmeal crumb bars.

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Because my peaches were being stupid and my thyme plant was being awesome. The recipe is at the bottom but I have a LOT of words today ok? Ok.

Sunday was basically more of the same, except with some cooking for the upcoming week and some laundry doing and oh right also less recovering from multiple texas slushes.

Did I mention that Friday night was a big night?

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Sunday morning I snacked on some fruit and then ran to the store to get half and half, which I’d forgotten on my big Saturday shopping trip. My local Albertson’s, which is a workhorse of a grocery store that can totally fill in for half and half when needed but isn’t really my go-to for … well, anything fresh, had a small basket of hierloom tomatoes. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t care. They looked wonderful. (I can no longer accept the regular ones now that I know their color is ruining their flavor! They look pretty and then blerg. I’m over it.) I bought two and three avocados and when I got home I pulled Crockett away from his tree trimming for brunch BLATs.

That was a really long story just to have it end with BLAT, when you could clearly see there was a BLAT right there.

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The tomato was so good that I ate it with the leftover aioli (ha – light mayo with additional lemon juice and powdered garlic).

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Then, to continue our produce-centric meals, I made a pizza with tomatoes (Pomi), tomatoes (yellow cherry), mozzarella (left over from book club), goat cheese, and two kinds of basil.

It was super tasty.

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Cloey really really wanted a bite, but I was too focused on Hell On Wheels to give her more than many minute of doting attention.

Look at her face.

Seriously.

She didn’t get any, though, because her tummy is still upset and also pizza isn’t for dogs!

Peach Thyme Crumb Bars
Based on Smitten Kitchen Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into slices
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced thyme
4 cups sliced peaches (I did not bother peeling them)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat your oven to 375. Grease a 9 x 13 or 10 x 10 inch pan. (Crockett got me this square nonstick Williams Sonoma cake pan that I worship and I literally bake everything I can in it. I didn’t even grease it.)

Stir together the first four ingredients and the thyme. Scatter the butter over the top and cut it in using either a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers. When the butter is mostly flat and small, add the egg and the sour cream. Smoosh it together until it’s holding together in small clumps, and pat slightly more than half into the bottom of your pan. You don’t need to  press very hard, just make a flat surface.

Toss the sliced peaches with the cornstarch, and lay them out in a roughly even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the top, as close to even as you can get.

Bake for 45 minutes. You want the top to be lightly brown and the fruit to be bubbling where it’s visible.

Munch munch munch.

cuppy cakes!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Despite my solemn promise of a cuppy cake recipe yesterday, I totally did not share a cuppy cake recipe.

Why am I saying cuppy cake? Because I’m currently super adorable, I guess?

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See?

Oh, that’s not adorable.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at a 5 year old’s birthday party.

(Crockett’s nephew turned five. Wearing that mask is one thing I did yesterday that was not publishing a cupcake recipe.)

(Apparently seeing myself in a Spiderman mask was enough to knock me out of that ‘cuppy cake’ nonsense.)

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We also helped my mom move a couch into her garage. It’s a nice leather couch. It’s for sale on Craigslist – let me know if you’re interested (and not halfway across the country)! It’s from Scandinavian Designs but was the only piece of furniture in her guest room and does not make much of a guest room bed.

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We went grocery shopping and brought home whatever we felt like for lunch. Crockett apparently felt like a tiger roll.

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I, less sensibly, felt like a big sweet chili tofu steak.

We shared, because he did not begrudge me my odd choice.

Now, without further ado… Cupcakes!

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(What? I told you I forgot to take pictures of them!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s what you need to know about these cupcakes. They have been gradually and professionally optimized by me to consistently bake up gorgeous at 5000 feet, give or take. In other words, this is a high altitude recipe. It will probably be fine at sea level, but if your’e up in the air with me know that this does not need any alterations, mmkay?

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 30 cupcakes – can easily be halved or two-thirded (two thirded? really?)

15.5 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 salt 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup water
3 eggs

Heat your oven to 350. Line your cupcake tins with papers.

Note: remember what I said last week about making buttermilk with milk and vinegar? That’s not ideal here – buttermilk is actually the flavor of red velvet, so use the real stuff if you can. If you really think you’ll never use it again and want to buy just half a pint, make up the extra 1/4 cup with 2% milk.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar with the oil until combined and then add the remaining ingredients and whisk until uniform. Add half to the dry ingredients and stir until they’re all moistened, then add the rest and beat the crap out of it by hand for about two minutes or by machine for about twenty seconds. You don’t usually do that with cake batter, but the amount of acid in the batter means it’s going to stay tender and this will help give you a light texture by putting a bunch of air in the batter.

Using a half cup measure or a half cup ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake paper. If you’re making all thirty and using regular tins with space for twelve cupcakes, leave the center two empty in each. If you’re baking them in batches, which I suggest, beat the batter for a second before filling the liners each time.

Bake for between 13 and 17 minutes – I would tap the top at 13 and if the dent sticks, give it two more minutes. If it still feels a smidge squishy, give it one more. No more than that. Seriously, don’t do it. You’re asking for dried out cupcakes. Turn out of the pans to cool and frost or wrap well and freeze.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese (three packages)
1 pound butter (four sticks)
1 – 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar (it comes in one or two pound bags)
2 tsp vanilla

Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Seriously. This is the most important part. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART.

Blend the cream cheese and butter together until TOTALLY combined. It will seem ok to have little lumps but it is NOT OK. If you see a lump and you think it’s the last lump, it is not the last lump. Keep mixing.

Sift over about 1/2 pound of your powdered sugar and carefully beat. (This will be messy. It’s worth it.) Do it again, mix in the vanilla, and taste. If you want it sweeter, which I usually don’t, gradually add what you have left, tasting as you go. It’s easy to over power the cream cheese tang, so proceed carefully.

Use to frost your cupcakes. You’ll have a tiny bit left over, so you should probably just eat that.

 

HARISSA FINALLY

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

 

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So I’ve been looking for harissa everywhere. I assumed it would not be that hard to find – it’s not like Boulder county is a culinary wasteland. I checked at two different Whole Foods, a few grocery stores, and Super Target, and had no luck whatsoever. (A WF worker did helpfully inform me that they had something that had harisa in it – some kind of meal in a box, maybe? It was definitely not what I was looking for.)

Crockett and I went to Pacific Ocean Market, even, which is this absolutely INSANE Asian market a couple of towns over. We spent several minutes sniffing durian packages (not smelly until opened, apparently), many many minutes in the ramen aisle, and quite a significant amount of time discussing cocktails made with palm sugar, since there were several brands. We did not find harissa. Honestly, I knew it was a stretch, because harissa is from Tunisia which ain’t exactly Asian, but whatever.

I ordered it from Amazon.

While we were waiting for the harissa to come, I did make some tasty food.

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Pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes, pesto from our ridiculously prolific basil plant, and goat cheese. Served with roasted green beans because this was actually last Sunday and last Sunday I had this weird idea that we were going to eat a vegetable with every meal.

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Red velvet cupcakes as a special request from a dear friend for her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend who totally ruined the surprise by buying himself two red velvet bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes the day before.

(I forgot to take pictures of them frosted, obviously, but I’ll give you the recipe tomorrow. It’s pretty good. I’ve worked pretty hard on it. And my cream cheese frosting is fucking amazing. Totally true.)

BUT then the harissa came!

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Harissa Chickpeas and Greens with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Not Without Salt

1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 ounce can)
1 tablespoon harissa paste
3/4 tsp kosher salt
6 cups mixed greens, preferably the baby version of toughish varieties (spinach, kale) or spicy ones (arugula) – we used a whole prewashed box of mixed spinach and arugula
2 ounces goat cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is pale gold in color.

Stir in the harissa and dump in the chickpeas. Stir gently until they’re mostly covered with the paste, and then occasionally until you start to see golden spots on the chickpeas. You’re not just trying to heat them up, you’re actually trying to fry the outside just a little. (I was using a non-stick pan – use your judgement. If they start to stick, you can be done.)

Add the greens by the handful, stirring until they wilt. Divide into two dishes and top with crumbled goat cheese. (Feel free to serve over rice, if you like. I didn’t find it necessary but Crockett did.)

Serves two people who like heat. The harissa is spicy, but tasty.

 

do scallops get ulcers?

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I’m a worrier. I don’t mean to be a worrier, but I am a worrier. It sucks.

Like, on Saturday? When I was at my family reunion?

My mom and I went to run some errands, and we put all four of our dogs in the car to accompany us. Don’t worry, it was only 65 degrees – the car was a happy place for them. We pulled up to the shopping center closest to our ranch, which happens to be at the intersection of two mountain highways, and parked the car. Maida, my lil puppy girl, hopped out of the car to come shopping with us, but I caught her and put her back where she belonged.

When we returned to the car, literally less than five minutes later, we saw my Cloey in the front seat, mom’s Buck in the back seat, and mom’s Charley hanging his head out the rear window.

The mostly open rear window.

And no sign of Maida.

So, my mom’s dogs are big. She doesn’t have to worry about half open windows, because her boys aren’t going anywhere. I should have checked to make sure the car was a safe place for my girls, but it didn’t occur to me. I stuck my head in the windows and opened the door of the seat where I’d left Maida, and I called her, and there was no sign of her.

My mom and I spent twenty minutes running around the parking lot, asking strangers for help, and screaming Maida’s name. I was absolutely sure that Maida was smushed somewhere. I called Crockett, who was only a few minutes away at the ranch, and asked him to come down. He asked me a series of reasonable questions but I was absolutely NOT hearing it – I was instead stopping every few minutes and going into a ‘where’s my DOG’ panic attack?

Are you scared?

Don’t be.

Maida was sleeping under the driver’s seat of the car. Crockett found her within ten minutes of meeting us. While I was accosting strangers and begging them to help me find my puppy, he was using his brain.

Yes, I’m a worrier.

Today something else happened that turned out ok, but I’m still all blerg about it, so I’m not ready to share. However, I will share:

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The delicious bag o’ heirloom cherry tomatoes that I bought on my way home from work yesterday at Ollin Farms.

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I remembered to take a picture of the farm as I was driving away. Pretty, eh? I drive by it on my way home every day and this is the only time I’ve stopped.

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I ate some of them for lunch today, along with the last of the leftover turkey burgers from the reunion and a Diet Coke. I’d really really wanted a Fresca, because hell yeah Fresca, but the F button was broken on the soda machine and the Frescas were in the F row. I’m really worried that they’re going to stop stocking them because no one can buy them. Stupid row F.

Ok, here’s today’s question, a little early.

Do you like scallops?

Because I want to like scallops, and I just don’t, really. I don’t dislike them, but for me they’re like lobster. Special in theory, but really nothing more than a vehicle for buttery sauce in practice.

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Crockett freaking loves scallops, though, so last night we had scallops. They were good, for scallops. Crockett loved them. What do I know.

Thai-ish Scallops and Rice

8 oz sea scallops, fresh or defrosted (I got ours frozen from Whole Foods – they were sustainably sea caught(? do scallops run away?), cause I’m all smug like that)
olive oil
3/4 cup jasmine rice
1 cup coconut milk, light or not light
3 tablespoons Thai basil, not chopped (regular basil or mint would be good too)
2 tablespoons lemongrass (I buy the chopped stuff in the tube from the grocery store because it keeps for awhile and I have no idea where to get fresh lemongrass)
salt

Combine the rice and 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 1/2 cups water (or however much you usually use, I’m at 5300 feet and need a lot of water for boiling things) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and set a timer for 20 minutes.

Combine the coconut milk, basil, and lemongrass in another pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a fast simmer. Add half a teaspoon of salt. You want this to reduce while the rice is cooking. (If you want to cook the rice in the coconut milk you can, just wait until ten minutes of cooking have passed before adding herbs. I personally like it as a sauce because you can pour it over the scallops.)

When the rice is pretty much done, heat a pan over medium high and add some olive oil. Pat the outside of the scallops dry and salt – somewhere between generously and lightly. Not four grains, but not 500 either. If you’re using kosher salt, I would aim for about a teaspoon and a half for all the scallops, about  teaspoon if you’re using regular salt.  When the oil is hot, place the scallops in the pan with one flat side down and set your timer for one minute. When one minute has passed, flip them to the other side and cook for one more minute. Touch the top and if they still seem squishy, give them thirty more seconds. If they feel firm, pull them off the heat super quick and transfer them to a plate.

Serve rice, top with scallops, and pour reduced sauce over the top.

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do zombies like salad?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

I’m having a weird week – I have this thing where I just get these headaches every day for a few days, and then no headaches for ages. Since it’s cyclical, I suspect it’s a girl thing? Cyclical things always are. Stupid cycles.

Anyway, it always makes me feel kind of off. My sleep patterns get wonky, because of naps, and I don’t feel like my brain is working at it’s full potential.

Oh, and one of my aunts thinks that she got bedbugs at the lodge this weekend. That’s not really helping with the sleep.

I’m not telling you this for any useful reason, it’s just true. I should have blogged last night, but I actually forgot. Like, forgot I was a blogger. I watched The Walking Dead and also watched Crockett fold laundry instead.

Brain dead, zombie style.

 

Other examples: those things attaching my hand to the puppies? Yeah, those are belts. I couldn’t remember where I’d left their leashes.

I took this picture (why, oh why, do blackberries mold so fast?) without realizing there was a ghost (alternately, a thumb) in the upper left corner.

Don’t worry, these blackberries weren’t moldy. It’s just that I had to eat like four pints in two days to be able to make that be a true statement.

This morning, post extremely slow one mile run, I carried around my breakfast shake and iced coffee all morning while getting ready…

and then with three minutes left before I had to leave, realized I hadn’t consumed any of either of them. Even though, yes, they accompanied me to the bathroom sink.

Anyway, can I tell you guys about the best and easiest salad dressing ever? I can? Awesome. I made it last night, even with my wonky headspace issues.

Miso Dressing

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Smoosh everything together until completely combined and toss with salad, preferably a chunky one. (The dressing doesn’t work better on chunky salads, I just don’t really approve of salads that aren’t full of stuff). Makes about two servings.

There are a lot of options here, of course.

  • You can add a little water if it seems too thick – you don’t want any chunks of paste left, because they turn into a weird, sort of gritty mouthful.
  • You can start with a different kind of miso, although I never do because the white is the mildest and I like that umami hint, not a full on miso flavored  salad. I get my miso paste at WholeFoods in a flat white container that snaps shut, and the paste keeps forever. The container I’m currently using expires 7/2013.
  • Different fat? Absolutely. Bacon fat would be nice on an appropriate salad, or a walnut or hazelnut oil (probably sub only half the olive oil out, unless you’re CRAY about the taste of your nut oil).
  • Different vinegar? Sure! A fruit vinegar would nicely complement a salad that contains fruit, of course. My salads always contain fruit, but I never have fruit vinegar. The only vinegar I’d skip would be a heavy balsamic, at least with white miso. Too powerful. White balsamic should be ok though.
For reals, it’s delicious. There’s no emulsifying, no herbs, no need to salt (although I usually lightly salt my salads after they’re dressed) – no issues at all, just tastiness.

 

empty handed

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I was in training all day today.

Hybrid hard disk drive training.

It was totally interesting! Until like 10 am. And it was pretty tolerable. Until like 2 pm.

My notes from the last three hours of the day include a lot of stick figures.

Anyway.

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That party we went to? With all the Thai food? I did not show up empty handed. I brought two of my favorite cookies.

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Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Very slight adapted from The Good Cookie, i.e. one of the best cookie books ever. Unfortunately, it’s out of print now :(. Sadness.

1 stick room temperature butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar (I NEVER have buttermilk. The substitution works fine.)
2 cups flour (I’ve substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half with acceptable results, but try to resist the urge.)
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick room temperature butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla (Use clear vanilla if you have it, which I only do because a good friend of mine brought it home from me from Mexico. I have no idea how it’s clear.)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar for at least two full minutes. You want lots of air in there. LOTS. Beat in the egg yolk, reserving the white.

Mix the baking soda into the warm water. Sift the cocoa powder over the butter/sugar/egg mixture, and at least partially incorporate it with a spoon or the beaters. (It will poof everywhere. Embrace it or stir slowly.) Add the hot water mixture and beat to combine. Add one cup of the flour, along with the salt, stir, and add the milk and lemon juice/vinegar (or buttermilk). Beat to combine. Add the final cup of flour and beat until there are very few lumps left.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or butter it). Using a one tablespoon scoop (or just a tablespoon measure), scoop balls onto the baking sheet. Leave 1 1/2 to 2 inches between balls – you can fit 15 on a standard baking sheet.

Bake for 6 minutes, then check. It’s hard to tell since they’re so dark, but the top should be craggy like you see in the picture and shouldn’t squish if you poke it. (It can dent, but it shouldn’t squish.) If you have any doubts, stick em back in for another minute. Overcooked isn’t great but it’s better than under. As soon as they’re done, carefully remove them to a cooling rack.

While you’re baking all the cookies, cream together the butter and cream cheese for the frosting. Add the powdered sugar and beat until crumbly, then add the egg white and vanilla. (You will be eating it raw. If you prefer not to use the egg white, sub 2 tablespoons milk or cream or even water.) Beat until smooth.

Once the cookies are at room temperature, pair them up in appropriate sizes. They should be MOSTLY the same size, but some will definitely fit together better than others.

Spread one to one and a half teaspoons on the inside of one cookie and top with it’s mate. Repeat and put in the fridge until they’re not sliding around anymore.

Store somewhere coolish. They’ll be great for a day, tasty for two or three more, and worth eating for close to a week. (That last part might be just my opinion.)

The other cookies were these almond blueberry bars. Recipe later this week, deal? Deal.

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You know what’s almost as good as cookies?

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BBQ with my man.

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Even if it does rain so hard we can’t play cornhole.

More training tomorrow! And Wednesday! Whoo. Hoo.

under the bus

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I hate the phrase ‘throw someone under the bus’. That being said, I totally did it twice yesterday.

The first time, my bosses boss came over and asked about an anti-fatigue mat I was supposed to have since I have my standing desk. I told him I asked my boss for it, BECAUSE I HAD. Afterwards my coworker said she thought I got my boss in trouble. Whoops.

The second time was at dinner. Crockett and I had some errands to run, and we stopped on the way home to grab a pizza. A friend of ours that works there was bartending, which is a new position for her, and she was slammed. She got our drinks and put in our pizza order, but then when our pizza came we didn’t have napkins or plates or silverware. We tried to get her attention but then the bar manager saw us trying, and I made a silverware motion and he brought us some.

Then she called me out on it, and I felt absolutely terrible.

So, yeah. Whoops.

The pizza was damn good though. Marinated zucchini, buttermilk ricotta, and mozzarella.

I would eat more right now if I could.

Other dubious decisions I made yesterday: piling my breakfast into a jar like this. Pretty, right?

Eating it was not easy. My hand was covered with yogurt by the time I was done.

To make me feel better, my company gave me a popsicle.

(They did really give me a popsicle, although I don’t think it’s because of my yogurt hand issue. It was just general employee appreciation.)

Anyway. I don’t have another picture of the pork tacos, but I do have the recipe!

Pork Tacos with Asian Pickled Broccoli Slaw
Adapted from Food52 and Mark Bittman

Pork:
3 pound pork shoulder
2 medium onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smushed
1 tsp salt (more if not using a slow cooker)
1 tablespoon cumin

Slaw:
4 cups packaged dressing free broccoli slaw
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the ‘crema’:
Sour cream (light or otherwise)
Lime juice

Tortillas

For the pork, using a slow cooker:
Cut the pork into fist size chunks. Add with all other ingredients to slow cooker, add water to cover, and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.

For the pork, using the stove:
Cut the pork into fist size chunks then cut in half again.  Add with all other ingredients to a dutch oven, cover with water, and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Either way, when the pork is done, reserve a cup of the water (with as little fat in it as possible) and set the pork on a plate to cool until you can touch it. Discard the onions and garlic.  Shred the pork with your fingers or two forks, and set aside.

Start the slaw an hour before you’re planning on eating. Mix the wet ingredients together with the sugar. Find a dish that you can put something on top of, because you’re going to need to press down on the broccoli so that it all pickles at the same rate. Add the liquid and slaw to the container, cover with plastic, and then rest something on top so that all slaw is submerged.

When you’re ready to eat, mix together the sour cream and lime juice to taste. Fill a tortilla with pork (if it’s cold, reheat it on the stove with a little of the reserved cooking water), add slaw, and top with crema.

heat wave

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

When I run in the morning, there are bunnies EVERYWHERE. You can see the two there, who could not have cared less about my presence or picture taking, but there is actually one in that yard further on and two out of the frame to the left as well.

I think they’re going out early to escape the heat, just like me.

When I got home from my run, I did what I usually do. I destroyed the kitchen while packing breakfast and lunch. I don’t know why I needed four containers of vegetables and two containers of yogurt all out at the same time. I do know why I needed an enormous container of blueberries, though.

Because blueberries are delicious! Duh. Also, Stash pomegranate raspberry green tea is slightly more tolerable than Tazo Zen green tea. I’m going to keep drinking it though – I think it’s probably like coffee. Nobody likes coffee at first, they just drink it because this is America and that’s what we drink, galdarnit.

There’s a slight possibility I’m wrong about that last part.

See, this is why I had to make such a big mess in the kitchen. It takes a lot of stuff to put together a salad of mixed greens with  chickpea chicken curry, a bag of mixed veggies, and a white bean basil dip.

(I’m totally lying. All of this, with the exception of the veggies, was already prepared.)

Something that is justifiably messy? A SUPER DUPER ripe peach. I took this picture to show how it the flesh was red like half an inch down from the skin. It was a glorious drippy experience.

When I got home, I found Crockett facing off against the heat – he was in the backyard assembling our new air conditioner! The swamp cooler has done it’s best, I’m not degrading it, but the air conditioner will mean that we can close up the house during the day without worrying about coming home to a … well, a swamp.

I dutifully assisted by sitting next to the window with a book and a glass of wine, so I could hand tools over when necessary.

This is how air conditioners work, right?

When we decided it was too dark to finish, I put together some pork tacos that were FAB. I’ll tell you about the pork and the slaw tomorrow, k? K.

Basil White Bean Spread

I’m calling this a spread because puree sounds sort of blah, and it’s not really hummus because it has a different kind of bean AND no nuts or seeds. SO. Spread.

1 cup dry cannellini beans or two 15 oz cans cannellini
As much basil as you need to remove from your basil plant (this would also work with other soft herbs – 1 to 2 handfuls is probably ideal)
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
kosher salt (start with 1/4 of  a teaspoon if you used canned beans, 1/2 teaspoon if you cooked them yourself)
2 – 3 cloves raw garlic

If you’re starting with dry beans, you can use my new and exciting bean cooking method. Put them in a slow cooker on low with water to cover and cook for three hours. Test, add salt, and cook for another half hour to one and half hours, depending on how done they were. Don’t soak. DO look for rocks, though. It’s my understanding that rocks will never soften in a slow cooker. (You’re welcome.)

Either let the beans cool or rinse the starch off the canned beans, and put everything but the olive oil into a food processor. Whiz for awhile, scrape the sides, and then turn it back on and slowly pour in the smaller amount of olive oil.

This is where you get to exercise your personal preference. (Again, you’re super welcome). Taste it and add more salt, more olive oil, some bean water or some milk if you’d like it thinner but not more olive oily, and anything else you want. Suggestions include oil packed sundried tomatoes (definitely chop them first), pine nuts, or parmesan. Or olive. Man, now I wish I’d added olives. That’ll move you closer to a tapenade, but that’s ok! That’s why we called it a spread.

Eat on crackers, veggies, or as a sandwich spread. Or off a spoon. Or your finger. No judgement here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*shrug*

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Have you seen this whole ‘shrub’ thing, lately?

Maybe I read too many food and drink blogs, but I swear to god shrubs have been stalking me. Since one was bound to catch me eventually, I caved.

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Basically, a shrub is a liquid made of fruit juice, sugar, and an acid. That liquid is then mixed into cocktails or sparkling water, as above. My stalker shrubs have all been vinegar based, so that’s what I used.

There are a lot of ways to make your shrub. You can cook fruit and sugar together to make a syrup in various ways, OR you can do what I did and make it cold. (Have I mentioned that it’s SUPER HOT HERE JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE?)

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Basically, I took one cup of my precious frozen sweet cherries (I could have used fresh cherries but that would have involved a second trip to the store after the first, regular one, I took yesterday), and mixed them with one cup of sugar. I could also have chopped them up first, but I didn’t. I used one of my Twist N Sparkle bottles since I’m trying to ween myself off them. You know, because of the exploding.

After a few hours, the cherries had defrosted and were starting to mix with the sugar to make a thick syrup. After twelve hours, the bottle was full of grainy red slush and cherries.

I drained the liquid off and mixed it with one cup of vinegar. (I used half white and half apple cider). It’s as easy as that.

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That’s the shrub (shrub syrup?) on the left, and a mixture of about a tablespoon of syrup and a cup or so of sparkling water on the left.

I get why people have been drinking these for a super long time, y’all. It’s weird, because you can absolutely tell that you’re drinking vinegar, but you don’t really care. The fruit taste really comes through, too.

Next step, cocktails!

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Cocktails are far more romantic than drinking it with breakfast, like I did this morning. And I like romance in my drinks. And alcohol. Romance and alcohol.

If you want to try yourself, here are a couple of good resources. Let me know how it goes!

Serious Eats
The Kitchn

whoops

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I opened my home laptop just now and realized that I’d shut the lid last night while yesterday’s post was… posting. Post post. Post.

So there it is, smooshed right up against this one. Oh well.

Many exciting things happened today. For example, my coworker buddy sent me an article about how sitting all day makes you die, and then she and I rigged a standing desk out of textbooks. This is my standing desk, apparently she’d rather be comfortable than alive from 92 to 94.

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I send Crockett this picture and he pointed out that there are probably $1500 worth of books under the laptop, making this an exceptionally expensive rigged desk. My bosses boss did come by and say that if I wanted a real one, they’d make it happen, but I’m going to try it out first. Honestly, I stood up for like four hours today and I feel pretty solid. It’s awesome.

…. Huh. I guess that was actually the only exciting thing that happened today.

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I watered our herb garden – what up, three kinds of basil?

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I watered my new lemon plant. See the teeny tiny lemons? They’re exactly the same color as the leaves right now, but I have high hopes for an eventual lovely yellow.

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I did not water our hops plant, because after all the rain I’m pretty sure it’s trying to take over the world and doesn’t need help from me.

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I ate breakfast.

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Those yellow things are the last of the mango nectarines. Thank god, because those things were trippy.

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Then I ate some baby yellow tomatoes and some roasted mushrooms and farro salad, which it turns out does not photograph any better in natural light than it did in the kitchen last night. It did keep well, though, so here you go:

Roasted Mushroom and Farro Salad
Adapted from The Kitchn

1 or 2 8 oz packages of whatever kind of mushrooms you like (see note)
1 cup uncooked farro
3 cups chicken stock or equivalent bullion substitute
2 – 3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 oz parmesan or romano cheese

Here’s my note: I used probably 10 oz of crimini mushrooms,  2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. I wished there had been more mushrooms, and possibly more interesting kinds, but otherwise I thought it was about perfect – however, I really like farro and didn’t need it heavily dressed. If you’re not sure how you feel about it, feel free to up the juice and oil values. Also, this does involve turning on the oven.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees (I know it’s July – save this recipe for fall if your house is too hot) and put the stock or three cups of water and your bullion on to boil. When boiling, add the farro and bring to a simmer. Set your timer for 25 minutes.

Rinse and chop or break your mushrooms into smallish bite size pieces. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with foil and toss them with one to two teaspoons of your oil and about half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Stick them in the oven and turn it down to 350 – hopefully right now your timer says 20 minutes, give or take, but if not set one that does.

When the farro is done, try it. It should still have some bite but nothing serious – you just don’t want fluffy. Drain it. Pull the mushrooms out of the oven, and let them and the farro get down to room temperature. (Don’t rinse the farro to cool it off – if you want to speed up the cooling process, spread it out on a baking sheet). When they’re both coolish, stir them together and toss with the rest of the olive oil and the lemon juice.

Crumble (not grate) the cheese over the salad and serve at room temp.

Possible variations: Veganize it by leaving out the cheese. I suggest some nutritional yeast flakes if you’re going to do this.
Herb it up.. I wanted to try it plain first, and now I’m thinking parsley, thai basil – maaaaybe thyme… something bright.
Fried egg on top, anyone?