Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dining Out: Yes, I had Christmas Dinner at Ikea

In my teens and twenties, I lived at Ikea.  Ok, in my teens I begged my mom to stop there whenever we were anywhere near Elizabeth, New Jersey, but in my twenties I lived close enough to a different Ikea to get there fairly regularly and I did just that.  I loved Ikea. I can walk into your house and name your Ikea pieces.  Who doesn't have a Poang chair or a Billy bookcase floating around?

A few years ago, I moved and now there is an Ikea at the end of my street.  Seriously, right there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cranberry Orange Bread

I make a lot of "quick breads."  I try to always have banana bread or blueberry bread in the freezer for a quick breakfast.   Blueberry bread is just blueberry muffins without the worry about whether they'll come out of the tins properly.  I buy extra berries in the summer and keep them in the freezer for as long as I can stand it.  I keep whole bananas with their skin on in the freezer (stash them just when they're too brown to eat raw).  But sometimes, the season catches up with you and you're out of nanners and blueberries and you're *so over* things like pumpkin and apple.  What then?

Cranberry bread.  Cranberry orange bread.  Seasonal but not squash.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Tip: Save your spoon with a clip

So I make these Norwegian cookies.  I told you all about them last year. Krumkake.  They take over my kitchen for two weekends each December.  There's smoke and fire and grease and burned fingers and spilled batter and in the end, lacy, crisp, amazing sugar cookies. Still, a huge mess. 

Well, this year I figured it out.  No, this doesn't prevent small kitchen fires and burned fingertips, those are going to happen either way, but oh does it  save on cleanup.

Sure, you don't make krumkake.  I understand.  Maybe you make pancakes, or pizzelles or something else with a drippy batter?  

This is a bag clip, but a standard binder clip would work too.  Clip it on the edge of your bowl and your spoon won't sink down into the batter.  Everything is right with the world. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fried Tofu Stir Fry

It's not like we don't eat, but I realize it's been a good while since I've posted a recipe.  When something awesome strikes, I'll write it up for you, but we've been eating stuff you'll find in past posts, mostly.

This is a recent stir fry with an illicit fall red pepper.  It was awesome, but not super-different.  I usually just stir-fry the tofu, but this time after I drained it, marinated it (mirin, soy, fish sauce, sriracha, onion, garlic, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar) and drained it again, I tossed it in corn starch and shallow fried it (like the banh mi recipe).  I stir fried some chopped up veg - broccoli, onion, carrot and the aforementioned pepper - and added some of the marinade.  That's really it.  Dinner. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I took the head off a chicken

No pictures, but this is not a post for the super-squeamish.  Just a warning.

Like everyone in the mid-90s, I was a vegetarian teenager, which meant that I ate a lot of grilled cheese and zero beans or nuts.  I didn't eat tofu and had never heard of seitan or tempeh or any other vegan protein.  I was also once so anemic that I had to routinely drink the water spinach was boiled in for the iron (not recommended).  So when vegetarianism wasn't working for me, I went back to meat.  Sort of.

I'm the kind of meat eater who isn't looking to expand my horizons.  I have a friend who loves rabbit and duck, but the cuteness factor gets to me (my mom grew up with a pet duck).  I've never been able to eat anything on a bone, and this means Sous Chef Brian has used a fork to take meat off a chicken wing for me.  

So I don't eat a ton of meat, in overall quantity or in range. 

I'm also pretty upset about factory farming, so I try to buy meat from local farmers and feel like I have a sense of where it came from.  This is easy, with beef, we have great farms we can buy it from.  With chicken, the real limit is that at the farm stands and similar locales, most of the time you're getting a whole chicken.

So in reality, while I say I "make food out of food," what I actually do is make food out of vegetables.  I don't take meat from a non-food state and bring it to the table.  The meat I'm working with has generally been all fooded up before I see it. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Potato Cauliflower Soup

I've been traveling for work, which means I have once again taken many pictures of hotel carpeting.  I don't do a ton of traveling but this past month or so has been exhausting.  I spent more time elsewhere than I did here.   So I've seen an array of conference center rugs. 

Coffee Rings
It also means I haven't been cooking, because you know, I've been elsewhere, and that I came home and had no idea what was in the fridge or freezer.  So I had to do a serious overhaul/cleanout/accounting for what's what like I did a while back.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece
The magical part of doing that was finding soup in my freezer.  Chicken soup and butternut squash soup and potato cauliflower soup.  Finding soup in the freezer isn't like finding frozen tofu or leftover pasta sauce.  With soup, you're already there.  It's dinner.

Piercing Array
Before I left, I had made up a lot of potato cauliflower soup.  I don't find a lot of use for potatoes, and potato soup has a guilt-laden heaviness to it that stems from the clear association between potatoes and saddlebags--an association often forgiven in the face of french fries.

Still, somehow soup sounds like I'm pretending.  "Oh, it's healthy, it's soup."  "No, it's potatoes." But when I found myself with these potatoes, I also found myself with a head of cauliflower.  And if there's one thing cauliflower does well*, it's pretending to be a potato.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Oh, right, dinner.  I've been in that space for too long where I forget what that task I'm supposed to accomplish around 7pm is.  Dinner. 

This is dinner.  It took about 15 minutes of actual-paying-attention-time and it was ridiculous good.  Like, tell your friends and family good. 

I had this little acorn squash - and I don't have prep photos because I didn't think it was going to turn into anything special.  This little acorn squash came home with me on CSA day a couple of weeks ago, and my friend Kim said, "What are you going to do with it?  It's so small!" and I shrugged and said, "Soup? Just two servings but still, soup." So look at my math and imagine multiplying it to get the number of bowls of soup you want to get.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Egg Test

I'm not a perfect locavore in any way.  I try to buy local, in-season produce, but then sometimes I find myself with a pineapple, or a banana, or a mid-winter red pepper.  But I try pretty hard. In the warmer part of the year, I get the majority of my food from a CSA and a farm market, and in the cooler part of the year, I rely on a buying club and can get almost everything I need from local folks.  Don't look too hard in my fridge at the pickles or the worcestershire. 

There are huge advantages to eating this way.  You can get to know the producers.  You understand what you're eating. You help the local economy.  Your food is fresher.  You get more variety, year round.  

One of the tiny drawbacks, however, faces me every time I go to use an egg.  I get my eggs from my CSA right now, and when that's over I'll get them from another fairly local farm.  That means that my eggs aren't always sold in new cartons that are clearly labeled with the date.  So sometimes, eggs are a gamble.  Did we get those eggs two weeks ago, or was it the week before that?  Which of the two cartons in the fridge is newer?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Salad

It's pasta salad, without the pasta.  You could call it Low Carb Pasta Salad, if  you were a carb-driven sort of person or you could call it All Vegetable Pasta Salad, if you were a vegetable-driven person, or you could stop lying to yourself about the pasta and just call it salad.  You're in charge here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tofu Banh Mi Salad

I've had this salad stuck in my head for a while.  It's sweet and spicy and crisp and fresh and it mimics my all-time favorite sandwich.  I've proclaimed my love for the tofu banh mi pretty loudly on this blog. Nearly a year and a half ago, I wrote up the recipe for the sandwich.  One of my first posts was just about how much I like these sandwiches, without a recipe or anything, just "Hey, you know what's a good sandwich? Tofu banh mi."  

A banh mi is pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, jalepeno, cilantro, a wee bit of mayo or vegenaise, maybe some sriracha and some kind of protein* which in my case is always tofu.  Sweet fried tofu.  

The good rolls from the real Vietnamese bakeries are made with rice flour and are crisp on the outside and soft inside and perfect for balancing the complex flavors of this salad.  

But something about it was calling for salad-ization.  Rolls are great, but lettuce works. And a soft, crisp-edged roll might interfere with the magic act that is sweet tofu with pickled veg and spicy peppers and cilantro.  That's a lot to work with and you want to taste it all. So it was time to make it into a salad. 

Let's call this Same Dinner, Different Day, even though the other day was in April of 2011.  Please don't hold on to leftover tofu that long. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baba Ghanouj

Baba Ghanoush?

Baba Ganouj?

Eggplant dip.

Smoky, creamy eggplant dip. Thick and smooth, I don't want to knock hummus, but when I'm served hummus and baba ghanouj on the same plate, it's the eggplant dip that goes first.  And, much like hummus, baba ghanouj is really easy to make.  Even better than hummus, baba ghanouj is really easy to freeze, so you can have the goodness of eggplant season whenever you need it.

But I'm not being fair to hummus, and that's not why we're here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Like riding a bicycle, or a horse.

I'm mixing analogies, or idioms or something. Something about not forgetting how to ride a bike and then something else about getting right back on the horse. 

I blog pretty much in "real time," meaning that I don't have a backlog of foods waiting to be posted at any given moment.  Generally speaking, I'm writing about foods I've cooked recently.  I have one older post that'll go up soonishly from before we took our little hiatus, but usually, if I'm writing about it, it's from this week or so.  Usually there are still leftovers in the fridge.

So that means that when stuff comes up, there isn't content I can just push out automatically.  I don't have stock posts.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back soon

Have you ever been on your way to meet someone, and you're running a little bit late but you don't want to call because by the time you call you'll actually be there and it'd defeat the purpose?

I should have mentioned earlier that it'd be a lil bit before I got back.  I imagine I'll be back real soon. 

Here's the text version of The Goods, Week 14.  
Please pretend you're playing a role playing game on your Commodore in the 80s. 

Today we got spaghetti squash and tomatoes and little tiny pears and nectarines and sweet peppers and onions and lettuce and local (Trenton) pasta and some faux-romano cheese and my all-time favorite yogurt.  

Anyhow, back soon. In the meantime, hug your friends. Maybe even cook them a meal. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week 13

Week 13 is the week when the veg all fit together into one tidy package.  I'm not saying anything revolutionary here, my farmshare was Mexican food.   There will be a pasta salad, there might be a stuffed pepper (I have a pepper from last week), there will be tacos.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to measure and convert

The thing that stresses me out in the kitchen is measuring, so I try to avoid it.  Over the winter I made my version of the conversion chart/art "(ch)art?" I saw on The Kitchn, and that helps with some of it.

But there are other measurements that I keep having to Google*.  As I mentioned when I first posted that (ch)art - and I'm going to have to trademark that word and make it my own - I often have to Google the conversion from packet of yeast to jar of yeast (it's 2.25 teaspoons).  

Here are links to some nifty online conversion tools and printables that you can tack up on the inside of your cabinet door. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week 12

This week was unusual, and I've definitely become confused between which goods are from our farmshare haul and which were bought there at the farm during pickup.  That is so convenient, but I think it encourages me to misconstrue the actual CSA contents.  Bear with me and just look at some pretty produce. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Orange Monkey Bread

If you've been playing Saturday's Mouse: The Home Game for any amount of time, you know I don't make desserts.  It's not something I'm interested in and not something I'm good at.  I rarely want dessert.  And that's not some sort of personal restraint thing, I don't have any personal restraint, so I just eat a lot of cheese instead of sweets.  I break even.  

It's hard to cook things you don't care much about.  So dessert just isn't a thing. 

But as I perused the interwebs and the cooking shows and the food magazines over the past year or so, I kept seeing monkey bread.  I've never eaten monkey bread, and I've never seen it in person, but it's been everywhere lately and I'd like to think that the issue is not that I'm following a trend, just that I needed to try this. As soon as possible. 

I read 47 recipes for monkey bread.  Here's the gist: make white bread.  Roll it in balls.  Sugar and butter. Bake.

Most of the recipes I read used canned biscuits, but that's not my style and Cooking Light made their own bread so I made a bread a lot like their bread too.  They also used a cream cheese glaze and that's also not my style, so I just went with the bread. I didn't do it word-for-word, but it was close.  Their bread had OJ in it, and I wanted to take that nine steps further, so I added orange zest and orange extract and orange liqueur (a word I can't spell without Googling). 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

(Refrigerator) Pickled Jalapeños

There are a handful of store bought condiments that are always in my pantry.  No matter how easy it sounded when I read Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, I'm not making my own worcestershire sauce.  I'm probably not even making my own mustard.  There are always pickles, and sometimes they're things that I've just doused in vinegar and sugar and salt and other times they're store bought.  And there are always jalapeños, which are very easy to make yourself.  

We make a lot of tacos and burritos and nachos and such.  It's pretty easy to throw together whatever veg and protein you have on hand, cover it in cheese and call it dinner.  We typically add jalapeños to those meals.  We make banh mi.*  Jalapeños are important. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week Eleven

Ok, yeah, these are way late, but I didn't want you to miss out on the goodness, so here they are. 

I'm not really sure which stuff came with our standard CSA share and which stuff Sous Chef Brian bought.  The lettuce has a price tag on it, so he bough that, and I gave him instructions to buy all the peppers he could hold, so some of this is standard weekly, and some of this is additional purchase. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hot Tip: Freezer Burritos for Easy Lunches

In the winter, lunches are easy.  Winter means any time when it's not 90 degrees out.  In the winter, I make lasagnas and chilis and pastas and I just make extra servings to freeze and lunch is handled.  On winter mornings, each of us just looks into the freezer and pulls out something wrapped in foil or dished out into tupperware and there it is, home cooked goodness to eat at our desks while staring off like zombies.  It's awesome.  In the summer, it's not quite like that.  In the summer, if I cooked the night before, there might be some leftover stir fry or pasta salad, but there's never that freezer bounty.  Summer foods just don't freeze like winter foods. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer CSA 2012 - The Goods - Week 10

Ten weeks into my favorite CSA season ever.  It's a good distribution of veg and fruit, there's a weekly cheese and a weekly herb, and with the extra protein/dairy choice each week, we're all set.  This week's pretty easy, too.  No kohlrabi or beets to worry about, and Sous Chef Brian traded out our peaches. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad

When it gets to be the end of the week, and just for confusion's sake, by the end of the week I mean "Wednesday," it's time to really think about what's left in the fridge.  The CSA foods show up on Thursdays so Wednesday's dinner is really our last chance with last week's veg.  Sure, we might find last week's pattypan squash in the fridge, buried under this week's foods, but the chances of us using it drop dramatically once we pick up a new haul.  So Wednesdays are about cleaning out the fridge and eating what we find. 

I had one small pattypan squash and half a container of tomatoes* from last week's haul.  I grilled them both and called it salad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pancakes and the magic of home cooking

I've said before that pizza was the start of our personal cook-at-home revolution, and that's pretty true.  Once we realized we could make our own pizza, making our own [fill-in-the-blank] wasn't far behind.  If pizza was part of the solution, then pancakes were the problem.

A million years ago, pancakes were the big joke, because I couldn't successfully operate a box of Bisquick. There was a distinct tone of: "Rose can't even make pancakes," around here. I said it too, all the time.  

And even once I felt like I could handle myself in the kitchen, once I was making all my own salad dressing and nearly all my own bread, I still wasn't trying to make typical pancakes.  I loaded them up with flax and wheat germ and said, "No, they're not supposed to be soft and light, they're different from those pancakes." 

Friday, July 20, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week 9

It's getting so colorful.  There's this period when everything's green (following a long winter when everything's beige or brown or green) and then the tomatoes show up.  I know we've had tomatoes a few times now, but with them and the fruit and the loathsome beets, it's pretty. 

Last week's corn and green beans got frozen, and I felt bad about it at first, like I couldn't keep up, but then I realized I'd have corn and green beans in the fall or winter, so it's actually quite a happy thing. 

There is an overabundance of herbs in my fridge. The whole top shelf is mugs and jars with some water and something green sticking out. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I have a song stuck in my head & Seitan Green Curry

I'm someone who typically has a song stuck in my head.  It's not necessarily a song I like, or a song I've heard recently, and this, I think, is fairly strange because I'm not all that into music.  The music I like, I like a lot, but other music, no, I really don't like other music, and whoa is there a lot of it out there.  So I'm weird on music, especially with the musician husband and friends.  I've been around a lot of music, for not really liking most of it.  Anywho, I get songs stuck in my head very easily.  I'll often turn to Sous Chef Brian and just say, "Black Hole Sun,"* and he'll nod, or he'll think back to the last time he thinks I heard it and let me know why it's in my head.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creamy Dill Salad Dressing

It's zesty. It's perky. It's dill and it's creamy.  I got dill in my farmshare haul the other week and it really wanted to be salad dressing. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week 8 (and week 7)

Week 8: The stone fruit continues.   The good news is that my colleagues like it, and so I bring peaches to work and spread joy.  I hope apricots work the same way.  The better news is that both Sous Chef Brian and I had some recollection of not liking blackberries and we were both wrong.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pickle Salad

Remember when I made the cucumber salad and there were a lot of variations on the interwebs?  Like with anything.   A couple of recipes called for tomato and onion, which definitely was not anything like the original, but sounded fantastic to me.  July has been about barely being able to drizzle vinegar over veg without breaking a sweat.  So I went for it. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Garlic Knots and Bread Drama

What I need to start doing is just bringing the camera with me to the kitchen no matter what I'm doing in there, in case something *really important* happens that I need to tell you about.  But I didn't do that, so we have no process horror pictures.

I think that means this isn't a fail, but is instead a hot tip, since I won in the end, but whoa was it a fail early on. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kohlrabi Potato Pancakes

Kohlrabi is one of those veggies that makes people anxious. It's weird looking.  It's not one of the ten vegetables* I grew up with. 

It's actually pretty easy to just peel it and throw it in a salad.  It's sort of like a mild radish, or a bland, crisp apple.   So when we got the kohlrabi in our CSA haul, the first bulb was eaten raw, off the cutting board, while we prepped other veg.  It didn't even make it into a salad. 

You can use the greens, just pretend they're collards and you're all set.  

But one quick answer for dealing with unusual veg is to shred and crisp.  We've done this with parsnips, we can do it with kohlrabi. Enter the potato pancake. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday Dinner and Using up the Veg

This is pretty and delicious, but it's all supermarket foods, no CSA foods. 
Whenever we've been in the market for a CSA, and that's been a few times now, we have The Conversation.  The Does-It-Really-Make-Sense-To-Get-A-Full-Share conversation.  And when people ask me about my CSA, they're often surprised that we get a full share.  Most of my friends in two-person households get a half.  A half share means, depending on your CSA, either that you pick up a full haul every two weeks, or that you get a lesser haul weekly.  The every two weeks thing wouldn't work for us; I like having lettuce, always, and lettuce doesn't keep like that.  Neither does the rest of it.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - The Goods - Week 6

Week 6.  Remember that time I was like, "ugh, beets are coming," and then beets didn't come and I danced? Ok, fine, you weren't in my kitchen this afternoon. 

We get an email the day before pickup letting us know what we're getting, so we knew the losers on the list were beets and peaches.  I had committed to figuring out something with the beets, since I had already given away a bunch of them from a previous haul.  We have someone for the peaches, too, so we were all set.

And then it happened.  For the first time, I went to pickup, which meant it was much later in the pickup window than when Sous Chef Brian typically goes, and wouldn't you know it, they were out of beets.  Amazing!  They were also out of green beans, which is sad, but hey, no beets. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mexican Rice from the Internet

We had this little dinner party.  It happens a lot.  And I had a busy morning and other stuff to do so I thought we'd "just have tacos."  But you know, just tacos sounds lame.

So the plan was I'd do seitan and beef.  Beef like how I did the beef fajitas, and seitan that had spent some quality time with some canned chipotle.   

And corn spoon bread, which, if I had photographed it, I'd have written up for ya'll, but it was my first time doing it since I quit boxed mixes and I wasn't sure it'd turn out.  It did, and I'll make it again sometime and tell you all about it.

So two types of tacos, spoon bread, and some black beans.  Just beans and some bacon fat and cilantro and cumin and onion.  And then all the fixins, with the lime and the cheeses and the tomato and lettuce and the salsa and the guacamole.  Basically, what I mean is we had to use the dinner table, two fold out trays and a side table.  I cooked like my mother cooks, which is to say plentifully. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Barbecue Tofu

I didn't think dinner would be awesome enough to warrant a blog post. This was one of those meals where I was like, "Yeah, sure, I guess we could do barbecue tofu." So yes, they're phone photos taken on the couch. Because we're superclassy. 

But then, of course, we liked it enough to tell you about it. It's not rocket science, it's sauce on soy. It's not even grilled, it's just sauced. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sour Cherry Brownies

At least in this part of the country, folks with CSA fruit are getting overloaded with cherries.  Sure, you can make pies and crumbles and tarts, but those are totally not my thing, so I've just been eating sour cherries by the handful.

It got to be too much, and Sous Chef Brian won't touch them, so it was all on me.  We finally resorted to inviting friends over (not that we wouldn't have invited them anyway) because we knew they liked sour cherries. We sent them home with a doggy bag. 

But wait, you know what's better than staging a dinner party to use up fruit?  


Friday, June 22, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - Week 5 - The Goods

Isn't it pretty?  

I'm going to go in order of looks. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cucumber Salad

My friend MSNDG's* grandmother makes this cucumber salad.  I should be clear, she makes a cucumber salad, or even the cucumber salad, but not really this cucumber salad, and it's truly spectacular.  It's sweet and tangy and so cool and crisp.  I was thrilled to take home the leftovers from one of their family events a few months back.  Also, we had a variant of this over a year ago as part of the falafel dinner. 

I'm very good at asking your mother, your grandmother, whoever, for a recipe, but I'm not good at pulling out a notepad and writing it down.  We covered this in the episode on brisket.   But I asked her, I think twice, and she kindly told me what she does, but I'm under the impression that either she cooks like me, and doesn't measure everything, or that she intentionally gave me vague directions so I couldn't follow her recipe exactly.  Either way, it worked like that, because I have no idea exactly how she makes it and this was close, and fantastic, and I'll make it again and again, but it's not MSNDG's grandmother's recipe.  Close. 

When I asked MSNDG for a refresher, just before making this, she gave me about as much information as I had remembered... vinegar, sugar, salt, white pepper, and cucumbers.  Ratios, procedures, no.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dining Out: La Lupe

A few weeks ago, Sous Chef Brian was all, "MEXICAN FOOD!!" and I was all, "eh. Long wait to get in."  So we went somewhere else.  La Lupe is up by the Italian Market, right next to the damn cheesesteak places.  And it was awesome. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CSA Summer 2012 - Week 4 - The Goods

Now, let's just take a minute and observe this week's rainbow of produce. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Local Vegan Sausage

At the end of Winter Harvest, I ordered some vegan sausage.  We're not meat-sausage people, but I was interested in new main dish options, so I went for it.   It's been occupying my freezer for a while. The sausage is from Renaissance, right here in South Philly, and they're known for their food truck

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