Sunday, December 31, 2006

scone head

I made scones this morning. As I said in the last post, I recently discovered the glory of scones. Of course I'd seen them and knew what they were, but they just never appealed to me. Well, I tried one and my eyes were opened! Delicious!

When I looked up recipes, they seemed easy enough to make, so here on this lazy 3-day weekend, I tried it. I know I said I was gonna try lighter recipes, but for my first time I thought it would be better to make a regular scone recipe. Alton Brown is a trustworthy source, so I chose this recipe.

It was very simple and the results are very pleasing. Crumbly but moist, buttery and slightly sweet. I could go with more cranberries...Anyway, here's the results:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

holiday recap-kinda random

Sorry I've been a slowpoke on this thing. I've actually been cooking quite a bit. A couple weeks ago, I made my very first Roasted Chicken!! I can't believe it took me so long to try that. It's so easy. I used Nigella's method of rubbing the bird with salt, pepper and butter, sticking a lemon "up it's bum" and cooking for 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes. Voila. Juicy delicious chicken.

In fact, that's what I made for Christmas dinner. As I side dish I made roasted brussel sprouts. I love brussels sprouts, but that was my first time using fresh instead of frozen, as well as my first time roasting them. Mmmm-mmm! Maybe I should just roast everything from now on. Roasting is da bomb. The sprouts were kind of sweet, buttery...just darn good. Apparently roasting is a good method...even brussel sprout non-lovers are coverted by this method. Oh, and speaking of brussel sprouts...TURTLE FARTS!!!! that story is kinda cute, dontcha think?

So, today I tried my first scone. I know! I never was tempted...they don't look all that appealing to me. But I tried a St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera for out-of-towners) Golden Raisin one. And it was soooo good! Who new?!? Scones are yum! But, hence, it's almost a new year....holidays winding down and all that, so the nutrtion info on that particular scone isn't terrible, but If I make my own I can drop that fat and calorie content a bit. One recipe I found is Pear and Cardamom scones. I've got plenty of cardamom, and the sweetheart has been on a pear kick lately. These cranberry ones are gonna have to make an appearance also. These don't look too tough too make. They seem to be one step up from quickbreads and simple cookies, but not as scary (for me) as bread. I got a bunch of green tea as a gift...scones will go nicely, eh?

I've been enjoying being a Crockpot owner. I made the Fennel and Sage Pork I had on my links list. It was good. I subsituted Pork shoulder roast for pork loin, though, because loin? Hella expensive. Isn't the whole point of slow cooking that you can utilize the fat and connective tissue of the tougher cut of meat anyway? Yup. It turned out plenty moist. Same with our chuck roast and Jack's BBQ brisket/chuck roast combo.

The most fun crock pot thing we've made for is a recipe from the book Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes. It's delish chocolate lava brilliant thingy that our friend was generous enough to let us cook at her house while we all went out to dinner even though she is pretty terrified about heating elements left on while she's away...hopefully the wine and laughing and good food helped calm her anxieties...The result was worth it. Served over ice cream, it was chocolatey, warm, and rich. Here's the recipe ('cept in place of sweet cocoa powder I used unsweetened, and instead of crushed sweet chocolate I used finely chopped dark chocolate bar...Dark is the way to go...):

Hot Fudge Spoon Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sweet ground chocolate, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sweet cocoa powder, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt for serving.

1. Coat the slow cooker with butter-flavor non-stick cooking spray
2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, ground chocolate, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center, add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla, stir the liquid ingredients until well blended, and continue stirring in widening circles, gradually incorporating the dry ingrediaents, until you have a smooth batter. It will be thick. Spread evenly in the cooker.
3. To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in another medium size bowl and wisk until smooth. Gently pour over the batter in the cooker; do not stir. Cover and cook on HIGH until puffed and the top layer is set, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Turn off the cooker and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes before refrigerating or serving right out of the cooker.
5. To serve, scoop the cake into individual bowls. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt alongside the cake. Spoon some of the fudgy pudding at the bottom over the cake and ice cream.

The restaraunt we went to on that night, BTW, was the Pitted Olive. What a neat little place. A small hubby and wife operation with really good food. A small menu, with the chicken, pork and trout specials changing nightly. It's almost the kind of place I'd like to run someday with my babycakes. He cooks and controls the menu, I greet and host and decorate and wait and help develop the wine list and menu....We'll be going back. the food was impressive, and not expensive.

That's about all I can think of for my holiday recap. Oh! I got a new digital camera for Christmas, so expect even more food porn.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

what a crock!

A generous christmas elf brought me a brand new crock-pot the other day. My very first one! IÂ’m very excited. This should make for some good winter eats! IÂ’ve been looking out for recipes all week. HereÂ’s some IÂ’d like to try:

Southwest Steak and Beans

Chicken Curry

Lentil Curry (you know I like curry!)

Fall Lamb & Vegetable Stew (IÂ’ve never cooked Lamb)_

Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Rosemary (speaking of lambÂ…)

Creamy Pork and Apples with Corbiscuitsicuits

Pork Roast with Fennel and Sage (I Love Fennel!!!)

Goose and Kraut (crazy!)

I also have some slow-cooker recipe books on order from the library:

Not Your MotherÂ’s Slow Cooker Cook Book

How To Make Love and Dinner at the Same Time (ooh la la! saucy!)

Food Made Fast; Slow Cooker

I'll end with some Beastie Boys Lyrics..."let it flow! let yourself go! Slow and Low, that is the tempo!" I'm so hip with my crock-pot and 90's hippity hoppity.

Monday, December 04, 2006

not the most appropriate post to follow the brownies...

It's that time of year when food is king. It's everywhere. Delicious cookies and cakes and comfort foods. I like it and usually don't feel much guilt. But I know I will be paying for it when it comes time for getting out the summer clothes again....the dreaded swimsuit and shorts and tank-tops. I love summer, don't get me wrong. But all my winter sloth and gluttony shows. It's the weather, I think, mostly. It's cold and dreary most days. You want to stay inside. Warm and comfy. And what's warmer and comfier than a belly full of yummy food?

Then New Years comes and we make all our resolutions to eat less, exercise more, etc. etc. Well why not start sooner? I've been searching for more healthy comfort food recipes. I read several bits about an author named Jeanne Jones who is famous for taking traditional recipes and lightening them up. I've gotten a couple of her cookbooks from the library, and tried one recipe: meatloaf in an onion. I liked the idea of it, but it turned out quite poorly. For one it's really meant to be something you wrap in foil and cook on the embers of a fire. But there were baking instructions, too. They didn't say NOT to put the foil on, so I wrapped all my onions in foil. It probably would have turned out better if I hadn't. What I got was bland steamed hamburger in a bland steamed onion. Very "cafeteria at the retirement home." Oh well. I'm not giving up on her recipes just yet, I'll just have to think about them more before I try them.

Wild Oats' website has all kinds of recipes. As far as healthier comfort food, this meatloaf and these mashed potatoes both look yummy and warming.

They also have a whole list of recipes to make using "super foods." Super foods are those which pack the most healthy stuff nature has to offer. I like this idea of not so much concentrating on "low-fat" and "low-calorie" but on quality ingredients that have naturally beneficial nutrients, fats, vitamins, etc. For more lists and recipes featuring the healthiest foods, check out the World's Healtiest Foods website, which has all kinds of info, including the list, a database of recipes, and featured food and recipe each week.

Also, this article lists 5 of the healthiest foods in the world, from around the world, such as Olive Oil from Spain. Click on each food to find out more about it, and see a recipe. Neat!

Okay, one more list. The 29 healthiest foods on the planet. It's something I'll keep in mind when planning my next meal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

i'm thankful for chocolate and Nigella

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I had several family gatherings with lots of yummy food. On Thanksgiving I was to bring a dessert other than pie...Preferably chocolate. I decided to make Nigella's Triple Chocolate Brownies from Nigella Feasts. I have never made brownies from scratch...the box stuff is usually a crowd pleaser. But the recipe looked awesome, and I've been building up my baking skills little by little lately, so I gave 'em a shot. They were pretty easy to make...and they turned out AWESOME if I do say so myself. Actually, Jack said they were the best brownies he's ever had, so take his word for it. He doesn't say stuff like that unless he means it. Here's some brownie porn:

Yeah, they are wonderful brownies. Super-duper rich (with 3 sticks of butter, 6 eggs and 3 kinds of chocolate, what do you expect?!?), and I'll definitely make them again for a special occasion. And I'm not allowed to make my usual Krusteaz Fat-Free brownies with stuff added again...after Nigella's recipe, those just won't do.

Friday, November 17, 2006

well read, well fed (installment 4)

The book I'm reading now is called Insatiable, by Gael Greene. I really got into at first, but now I think my attention span has shrunken, because I haven't been reading lately. Anyway, the book is good. All about food, sex and famous people. How could it be bad? And there are recipes interspersed throughout as well. I like Gael. Her life sounds like a fun one. She is a food columnist for New York Magazine. Here is an excerpt from Insatiable.

Last weekend, I went to a housewarming party of some friends of mine. As a host/housewarming gift I got them Amy Sedaris' I Like You. It's a book all about entertaining, with recipes, tips and such. It is freakin hilarious. Seriously funny. I will have to get myself a copy this weekend. It's great fun to flip through this book.

I've been watching Jamie Oliver's Italian Escape show on the Travel channel every Wednesday night, and it's very interesting. I might have to get this book as well.

Speaking of books about Italian food, Bookslut links to several articles, etc. from food author Claudia Roden, whom I've not heard of. Her books look great (and Bookslut is usually a reliable source for good writers/books). So I will be looking into her books more, via the library.

Looks like I have a lot of reading and eating to do. Yay!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Last night I tried this millet,tomato & olive stuffed zucchini recipe from CHOW (my new favoritest food site). It turned out pretty good. I over-herbed it a bit. I didn't rosemary or marjoram so I just used more thyme and oregano. I have a bunch of the stuffing left. I think I'll add chopped up mushrooms and use it in zucchini again. Jack had the mushroom idea. He's so smart. I had the zucchini along with some baked chicken...herbs, olive oil and some whole cloves of garlic and a couple quartered shallots. I am gonna add whole cloves of garlic every time I bake/roast chicken or veggies, because man are those morsels of sweet garlic are AWESOME! Here's some pictures of the meal:

Now I need to come up with some ways to use the rest of the millet I bought. It's new to me, but I think it has some yummy possibilities.

chocolate chunks (installment 1)

A quick couple bites of chocolate goodness...

On an impulse, I bought one of these Green & Black's Mayan Chocolate Bars a few nights ago. Though I enjoy those chocolate orange things, they aren't my first choice for a chocolate treat. But this Mayan bar had other spices in it as well, and holy cow is it yummy. Such a sensual blend of slightly bitter, rich chocolate, bright warm orange and comforting cinnamon and spices. I've been having a few squares of it every night this week, and I still have lots left. You don't need much to satisfy your chocolate craving. It does overpower wine (or at least the Valpiocella I tried it with), but it goes quite well with pumpkin beer.

Speaking of chocolate cravings, I caught a wee bit of Nigella's show over the weekend. It was the chocolate episode. While everything she made looked worth trying, I was especially excited about the last thing she chocolate...with Rum innit!! It looked sooo good. There was also cinnamon and honey in it...two of my favorite flavors at the moment. I will be making this. And I need to learn more about seems like something I should like. Dark rum. My new winter drink of choice? We'll see. Here's some intro to rum web pages and some recommendations from Forbes to get me started.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Naked in Italy

I was watching No Reservations the other night *of course* and what came on but a commercial for a new show, which starts tonight. This got me very excited and happy. Why? Because it’s a new JAMIE OLIVER show! We have not been getting enough Jamie Oliver here in the states for a looooong time. TLC showed his “School Dinners” show one week, but that was it.

The new show is “Jamie’s Great Italian Escapes” and it’s on tonight (Wednesday) at 7 (central). Dare I forgo my embarrassing habit of watching America’s Next Top Model? I think that I should. Jamie is much much better for my brain.

This reminds me, a month ago or so someone sent me an e-mail with a Word document attached which claimed to be Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook “Naked Chef 2.” It said it was released by an angry insider at the publisher before the book was to be rsomethingr aomething. The word document is indeed filled with more than 100 Jamie Oliver recipes (I recognized some of them from teevee), but I hadn’t heard anything about a so-called “Naked Chef 2,” so I put my goodies gumshoe hat on and, well, I just checked it out at Yeah, they are all Jamie Oliver recipes, but it’s not an actual book. Someone just compiled a bunch of his recipes, which were available all over the internet already, and put them on one document.

And remember, TONIGHT! New show! *squeeeee!*

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

a dinner to start november

i'm doing my best to embrace the colder weather and shorter bleaker days of fall. Food helps, of course. Tonight I made a very fall-appropriate dinner to ring in November (where the heck did October go, anyway?!?). It was a simple dinner of sweet potatoes, fennel, garlic cloves, onions and shallots dressed in some olive oil and seasoned simply with salt, pepper and paprika and roasted in the oven. While those were starting to roast, I rubbed olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and onion salt on so chicken breasts, then browned them a bit in butter in the skillet. Then I put the seared chicken on top of the veggies and continued roasting everything together (oh and I poured the chicken-y butter into the roasting dish as well).

I sauteed some swiss chard in butter, olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper and sugar for a bright green side dish. I ate everything with a dark ale. It made me like the season that much more. Although I really could use some work on my swiss chard remained a little too bitter. My roasting skilzz, however...heck yes.

Without further ado, here's some pictures:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

cuppycake gumdrop snoogums

The past week has been the week of cupcakes in Ironstef world. Last week there was a baby shower for a girl at work, and I volunteered to bring cupcakes because I had this vision of making sweet little babyface treats. Now, I'm no I used box cake mix and pre-made strawberry frosting. I did zap the frosting in the microwave for a few seconds (that stuff gets hot FAST!!) to get a smoother glaze-like topping on which to decorate. Here are the results:

All in the box, ready to be delivered!

A happy baby with a candy pacifier. Awww!

I made a few crying ones. They were my favorite, and a hit with shower-goers. I didn't make too many, though. Didn't want to scare the mom-to-be. :)

Today I had a coworker's birthday (we draw names and bring treats for everyone's day), so I took the opportunity to do some more cupcakes. This time, I got a little more experimental. I still stayed away from recipes that required a lot of baking skill. The first couple batches were Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, which I iced with store-bought cream-cheese frosting:

They turned out yummy. I think I added more pumpkin than I was supposed to, but that didn't hurt. They were not too sweet, and the ground clove added a spicy accent to the chocolate chips.

The sweetness of the frosting added another compliment to the spice and the rich dark chocolate.

I also made S'more cupcakes. I couldn't resist! I love s'mores, and cupcakes are pretty great, too. They were a little messy, but fun to make (just like real s'mores!):

I piped the Fluff on from ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner. Then I stuck the finished cupcakes under the broiler for a minute or so to toast the marshmallow.

Is there anything better than toasted marshmallow?

So those are my recent cupcake adventures. I'm sure there will be more, because they are so fun to make, and who doesn't like a cupcake? They're yummy and portable and totally cute!

On that note, here's a super-sweet sugary catchy little song involving cupcakes. Bye, cuppycakes!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

goodies gumshoe

Last week a girl at work put out her daughter's Girls Scout Cookie order form. What? I know, so soon. Well, she's from Illinois, and this is Illinois Girl Scout Cookie Season! Who knew?

So I take a gander at the order form. I see the picture of my favorite right away. Good Ol' Samoas! Except they are NOT CALLED SAMOAS!?!? They are "Caramel De-Lites!" What the!? The Thin Mints are still Thin Mints, but the other classics have different names. There's no Tagalongs, no Trefoils, no Do-Si-Dos! Most of the cookies LOOK like the familiar favorites, though. They can't do that, can they? Change the names of these American classics? I got a little panicky. So Of course I turned to my beloved Internets to clear some things up.

Turns out the Girls Scouts have two different bakers they get cookies from. There's the ones I grew up with (and tried to sell, but man, I hate selling things), and there's these other ones.

Phew! Mystery solved. The names that are so familiar still exist. I just won't see them until next March. Goodie Gumshoe has done her job. My Next case? Where do those huge Turkey Legs that you get at fairs/amusement parks COME from anyway? My thanksgiving turkey's legs are at least half the size of those suckers! I'm a little scared to find out, but I'm on the case!

Monday, October 09, 2006

honey cardamom trial and success

Last night I made this Honey Cardamom Chicken. It was pretty easy, and quite tasty, too!

Here's the finished dinner, all ready for today's lunch in a ziploc container:

I think Cardamom (mon?) is my new favorite spice. I bought a bag of the seeds from the Indian aisle of the store. It was a whole $5 cheaper than the ground stuff in the spice aisle, and I think it will last me quite awhile. Plus, like most spices, grinding it fresh will make it more flavorful:

Looks like cardamom can help digestion, freshen breath, and it's believed to be an aphrodisiac (which may have something to do with the good digestion and fresh breath...)! A couple recipes that I may have to try are this pea soup and some lamb chops. It's also used in breads and pastries a lot in Scandinavian cooking, so maybe I'll try it in some beer bread.

Back to my dinner. To accompany the chicken, I kind of winged a sweet potato concoction. I diced 3 sweet potatoes into bite size pieces and blanched it in salted simmering water for about 4 or 5 minutes. I diced a yellow onion into approximately the same size and put those in my baking dish, poured the hot, drained potatoes over them, and added a large, rinsed can of chick peas. I sprinkled a little bit of nutmeg and ground clove over everything, along with a good amount of salt and pepper. Then I melted 1/3 stick of butter and stirred in about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and poured that mixture over the veggies. I used my hands to mix everything together and put it in the oven. I cooked the chicken and the veggies at the same time, but the chicken took a little longer to cook. Here's a closeup of the vegetable mixture, and you can see the roasting dish below it with it's yummy caramelized bits still stuck to it:

And a closeup of the combination:

mmm, it was tasty. Oh, and everything baking in the oven gave the apartment a very thanksgiving kind of smell, what with the sweet potatoes, onions and nutmeg. I thought this would be more of an Indian flavor-type meal, but it was quite traditional-American tasting, with a twist of exotic. The chicken skin was quite sweet, from the honey, and the underside, because of the lemon it was sitting on, had an initial fruity-pebbles quality to it. But all together, the flavors were very nice.

I think I'll make it again, with all chicken legs. This time I used 4 thighs, which were good, very moist and flavorful, but I think legs would get more of the flavor of the marinade, because they are smaller and have a higher skin-to-meat ratio.

Friday, October 06, 2006

beer + bread = baking even I can handle

Lookie what I made! I'm not much into baking. It's too scientific and precise for my skillz. I love fresh baked bread though. It smells so good, and you can't buy anything like it. So when I was reminded of beer bread, I checked my cupboard and found that I had all the ingredients. So a whipped a loaf up! It's so stinkin' easy! And makes your home smell fantastic. Here's a few pics of the finished product:

Here's the recipe I used:

I did substitute one of the tablespoons of white sugar with brown sugar, just 'cause it sounded like the right thing to do. And I used this beer:

There's a review of the Jumping Cow Beer Here. I like the beer, but it was pretty bitter. That bitterness definitely translated into the bread. Overall the bread was yummy...crusty, not too dense, hearty and yeasty. And a little honey helped with the bitterness:

Here's a similar recipe to the one I used(on a really fun home decorating/hip domesticy-website, Digs, that you should take a peek through). I will definitely be trying beer bread again, with different beers and ingredients. It's quite versatile. And I'll have to remember it next time I go camping.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sausage Links (Installment one)

A random group of food-related links that I've collected/discovered/explored/enjoyed this past week....Expect "Sausage Links" to become a fairly regular feature, because I like me some randomness.

-If you were scared of Spinach, wait until you encounter the Evil Strawberry. Muahahahahaaaa!

-Extra Tasty is a fun website all about cocktails! All kinds of concoctions, including lots of reader submitted ones. A new one everyday! And it's very cute and fun to explore, to boot!

-This article in the New Yorker is all about the Food Network and how food TV has changed things. It's a neat look at how times have changed it terms of how Americans cook and eat, and also how the Food Network has evolved from Chef-centric to *gag me* Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee instructional shows for the way-to-busy-to-really-cook moms. Quite fascinating.

In other news, here are two recipes I want to try soon. Like in the next two weeks:

-Cardamom Honey Chicken, which looks easy enough...and quite fall-esque.

-Pumpkin Chili, which also looks easy and, well, it's got pumpkin innit, so Fall-O-Rama! And it's pretty darn healthy, too!

Monday, September 25, 2006

My first Lebanese Experience

Last weekend I headed over to St. Raymond's Catholic church in St. Louis to reunite with a friend from highschool, and to pig out on some yummy Lebanese cuisine. They were having a homecoming celebration, so there was music and grilling outside, and inside a banquet center filled with people eating and laughing and playing games/raffles. It was cafeteria style, so I grabbed a tray and went through the line picking out my lunch. Which ended up being huge, because I wanted to try everything. Here's the menu, although not all of that was available...anything with Spinach had been nixed :( :

But I still ended up with quite a tummy-full:

I had the lentils & rice, with a dollop of Leban on it. Leban is kind of a yogurt/sour cream mix...a tangy, creamy addition to all the dishes. I also had the Kibbe Aras, or Foot Ball, which consists of a ground beef and wheat mixture that's formed into a hollow football shapes, filled with more ground beef and deep fried. Then there's the meat pie, a yummy chewy crust with yet more ground beef. There was lemon in it so it had a nice tangyness. And finally a cabbage roll. Whew!

But...there's more. Debbie (my friend, who helped prepare all the food, and does so every Wednesday) thought I'd like to try the Kibbe Nayee, which is the meat/wheat mixture that the football is made from, except it's left raw...kind of like a steak tar tar. We tore off pieces of flat bread and used it to scoop up the raw meat. It was really yummy. I liked it better than the deep fried version, although that was delish as well. Here's me digging in:

Then we went outside, where they were making Lebanese flat bread, called saj bread. It's pretty neat to watch, they cook it on a big dome shaped stove, called a saj, like this:

(Not my photo BTW-found via google image)

Outside there was more food! Falafel, an all time favorite of mine, Kafta, a ground beef and parsley mixture that's wrapped around a skewer and grilled, and some grilled chicken, which Debbie informed me was flavored with ketchup and some other things. I had a sample of all of it:

It was all, of course, fantastic. I was so stuffed by the end of it. But Debbie and her mom wouldn't let me leave without taking some desserts home:

Every city has these cultural festivities that are open to the public. I admit I am guilty of not taking advantage of these rich learning experiences. I will definitely keep my eye out for such things from now on. It was such a warm, friendly atmosphere. People expressing pride in their heritage and culture and food. This was especially neat to see because of the events happening in Lebanon. I can't claim to have kept up with everything, but the episode of No Reservations from Beirut was so heartbreaking. Luckily, the culture and food and spirit of Lebanon is being kept alive all over the world by churches, restaurants, neighborhoods, families and festivities.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Falling Back

Okay, for the billionth time (exaggerate much?) I am dedicating myelf to writing in this blog more regularly. It seems that in the summer months I am a major slacker in terms of Ironstef. But Fall starts this Saturday, hence a new season and renewed motivation. I'm gonna miss summer. What with the Malibu and Pineapple juice, the smell of coconut and chlorine, the grilled dinners, my new appreciation for cold crisp white wines and of course the juicy messy sticky mangoes.

But Autumn has it's perks. Baking, Slow-cooking, and trips to local wineries. It's red wine time. And fresh baked bread. And bonfires. And open windows. Oh! and freshly picked apples!!

Okay, so I'm back. Getting excited about Fall. And with lots of posts rolling around in my hungry little head. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

well read, well fed (installment 3)

well read, well fed; installment three

Last week 3 food related books that I had put on hold at the library came in on the same day. I won't get around to reading them anytime soon, especially since the day before I went and bought Anthony Bourdain's "Nasty Bits" and plan on starting on that tonight. So, for my memory and in case you're interested, here are 3 food books that I hope to read in the near future:

The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher. This is an impressive volume. If I start reading it and find I like it (which is a distinct possibility, seeing as Fischer is well-known as one of the best-ever food writers), it might warrant a purchase.

Coming Home to Eat by Gary Paul Nabham.

Last Chance to Eat by Gina Mallet.This book was mentioned in the interview with Bourdain I linked to a few posts back.

Meanwhile, over the weekend I made a visit to the thrift store, and happened upon 14,000 things to be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer. I thought I'd share some of her food/food-related "things":

-Long-stemmed glasses
-goat cheese
-gravy boats
-tea bag tags
-reading menus
-taking a food-and-drink dictionary to a retaraunt
-breakfast on the porch
-cucumber sandwiches sliced like a dream, brown boiled eggs, strawberry ice, lemondade
-sweet basil=good wishes
-pistachio nuts
-pizza bricks
-fresh and tangy lime
-balls of real butter
-pasta with pruscuitto and peas
-Mr. Magoo's Chinese cook, Charley
-The refrigerator egg holder
-meringues that melt in the mouth
-wienie roasts
-wild Maine blueberries heaped onto a crust and topped with whipped cream
-soup spoons

happy yet? hungry? :)

obsessed much?

I'm almost done with Anthony Bourdain's Nasty Bits. I should have finished a long time ago, but I think I'm really putting it off because I love it so much I don't want it to end!

At least I can get more Anthony from all the interviews he's doing. Here's two really good ones:

Interview with Powell's Books.

Interview with Salon. you have to watch a Honda commercial to read the whole thing, but Tony's well worth it. Here's a little blurb to convince you:

Salon:You've said that the U.S. should open the borders to let more workers from countries to the south of us get work and populate the kitchens.


S:Am I getting that right?

A:Ooh, I got a lot of mail over that. Listen, in 25 years, I don't remember ever seeing an American-born kid of any income level walk into my restaurant, or any restaurant owned by any of my friends, and ask, Do you have a dishwasher job, or a prep job, or a job for a kitchen porter? We're not willing to do it. If somebody else wants to come over here and do it, that's fine with me.

And yeah, I think we should open our borders, for a variety of reasons. First of all, we've got plenty of work for people, apparently. People say "they're taking our jobs" -- well, no one's asking for those jobs.

I also like the idea of people from other places coming to our country and multiplying. It makes for better food, higher expectations, more diversity and cuter people. Foreigners should come to our country and have sex with our womenfolk.

S:Hey, why can't they come have sex with our menfolk?

A:That, too!

Monday, June 12, 2006

well read, well fed (installment two)

I've gotten back in a good reading habit again. I just finished a book yesterday by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami. This time it was South of The Border, West of The Sun. I enjoyed it. It's the third book I've read by Murakami. I recommend you check him out. Kafka on the Shore has been my favorite so far. Anyway, here's an interesting food (well drink...still a favorite past time of mine)-related excerpt from South of the Border, West of the Sun:

She asked the bartender to make her a Robin’s Nest. I ordered the same. She took a sip of her drink, nodded slightly, and returned the glass to the countertop.
“Hajime, why are the cocktails here always so much better than any other bar?”
“’Cause we do our best to make them that way,” I replied. “No effort, no result.”
“What kind of effort do you mean?”
“Take him, for instance,” I said, indicating the handsome young bartender, who, all serious concentration, was busy breaking up a chunk of ice with an ice pick. “I pay him a lot of money. Which is a secret as far as the other employees are concerned. The reason for the high salary is his talent at mixing great drinks. Most people don’t realize it, but good cocktails demand talent. Anyone can make passable drinks with a little effort. Spend a few months training, and anyone can make your standard-issue mixed drink-the kind most bars serve. But if you want to take it to the next level, you’ve got to have a special flair. Same with playing the piano, painting, running the hundred-meter dash. Now take me: I think I can mix up a pretty mean cocktail. I’ve studied and practiced. But there’s no way I can compete with him. I put in exactly the same liquor, shake the shaker for exactly the same amount of time, and guess what-it doesn’t taste as good. I have no idea why. All I can call it is talent. It’s like art. There’s a line only certain people can cross. So once you find someone with talent, you’d best take good care of them and never let them go. Not to mention pay them well.” The bartender was gay, so sometimes other gays gathered at the counter. They were a quiet bunch, and it didn’t bother me. I really liked the young bartender, and he trusted me and worked hard.

I like this idea that mixing drinks is a special talent. Like an artist. I don't pay enough attention to cocktails, I guess. I know that I don't like them too sweet or too alcohol-y tasting. My two mainstays are a gin & tonic and a Long Island Iced Tea. I'd like to taste them made by the bartender described above, and compare. I pay attention to details of the wine I drink, even the beers. Now I'll try to apply that same sense of thoughtfulness to my cocktails.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

nasty bits *swoon*

Check out this great interview with Anthony Bourdain on Bookslut.

"All I can say is, do anything to get yourself into that position of being lost and letting things… like eating, travel should be largely submissive. As opposed to cooking, which is not that at all. Let things happen to you, good things and bad things. It’s almost invariably rewarding. And of course, avoid the hotel, avoid Western food, if you see other Westerners, run away. Avoid backpacks, maybe dreadlocks is not a good choice for you if you’re a white guy. Forget who you are. You’re never going to melt into Asia. They won’t have you completely. But that’s okay. You can love them, and you can love Asia, and Asia will love you back."

I'm so smitten.

Friday, June 02, 2006

you wanna see my what? let me see yo grill

Jack and I are going out to buy a grill. We're getting a gas one, for it's ease and versitilty (Here's a good article about gas vs. charcoal). It will have a burner on it, too, so we can cook stuff in a wok if we want. Wok cooking doesn't work so well on our apartment-grade electric stove-top.

I am very excited about this grill thing. It'll be a good summer. The other night we were wondering if we should go ahead and spend the money, and lo and behold, the food network had a whole special on, with snippets from all the food network shows featuring the art of grillin'. And we decided that we indeed need a grill. Soon.

I can't wait to try something like this grilled mango recipe. I need to start getting some lessons at BBQ University.

Meanwhile, this article is a wonderful summation of the awesomeness of barbecue. A snippet:

"I believe that barbecue drives culture, not the other way around. Some of the first blows struck for equality and civil rights in the Deep South were made not in the courtrooms or schools or on buses, but in the barbecue shacks. There were dining rooms, backyards and roadhouse juke joints in the South that were integrated long before any other public places."

Hmm...I got into the Kansas City BBQ thing last year, but I haven't really explored STL places. Maybe I should check a couple out this summer...

Friday, May 26, 2006

sliders and crappy beer

"Vampire" To Protest White Castle's Garlic Sandwich. Fo real. Why doesn't he go after Emeril for gosh sakes, then?

In other not-so-gourmet food news: The 50 worst beers. Eva! I haven't had most of these, fortunately. I'm glad to see Bud Light on there. That stuff is EVERYWHERE, and I just don't get it. *dodges stones from overly-loyal St. Louisans*

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I just went out for lunch at a bakery cafe nearby called Le Bonne Boucher with my mom. I had a lovely roasted vegetable (eggplant, zucchini & red pepper) sandwich with a thick slice of Havarti Cheese on 7 grain bread. It came with a very generous bowl of fruit. A very nice lunch indeed on a sunny, warm day.

As we were waiting to pay, I spotted a wall of Meringues! I love those meringue cookies you get at the grocery store, so I asked how much these were. 48 cents!! And they are about the size of a dinner roll. Good deal! I got two. One chocolate and one vanilla. I ate them back at my desk. Oh man, so light, that bit of crisp and marshmallow-ie soft middles. I can't stop thinking about them. I could eat a dozen.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

random foodness

-Tiny tiny sculptures of people interacting with food as the landscape. Fantastical!

-Today Slashfood had a post about the ”popener”, a name and product that made me giggle. I sent it to a couple of friends, and Kelly went the extra mile and clicked on the Spartacus link on the site where the popener is sold. The only Roman Gladiator to cook! Apparently it’s a show/going to be a show? What the?!

-Last night I made a simple, cheap, healthy-like dinner (those are my specialty). I cooked some cous-sous, added a can of butter beans, a can of diced tomatoes (drained) and a can of Glory mixed greens along with some garlic and onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Mixed it all up, put a blob of it on my plate, sprinkled low-fat Mexican cheeses on top and nuked it to melt the cheese. I served it with salsa. It was yummy. The greens really add a nice smoky-sweet flavor. I know it sounds strange. A “fusion” of Moroccan, Southern US, and Mexican. Hey, my kitchen is a melting pot, what can I say?

-I am currently drinking Old Speckled Hen Ale. It’s quite delish. Rich, but not in that dark-beer way. Kind of nutty, but still refreshing. I think it’s a bit on the expensive side, but heck, Jack bought it, and it’s really yummy. If you’re up for a beer splurge, I’d recommend it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

well read, well fed (installment one)

I was recently inspired to research and write a post about literature that involves food. Novels with recipes in them, memoirs revolving around tastes and food experiences...that sort of thing. I was a bit surprised to find how many books there are out there that are heavily influenced by food. I suppose it's natural. I mean food is part of everyday life. We have emotional as well as physical connections to it. What we reflects who we are and where we came from. So it works well in literature to humanize the subject, to tell the reader something about the characters and to draw the reader in with feelings they can identify with.

To get an idea of the amount of food-related books out there, check out this list. Just for starters! So, I abandoned the idea of one long involved post on the subject, and thought it would instead make a good regular feature.

Recently I read a book by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my most favorite-est writers, Deadeye Dick. It's about a boy with eccentric parents who accidentally shoots and kills a woman. It goes through his life until adulthood. Throughout the novel there are recipes. Rudy Waltz, the main character and narrator spent much of his boyhood in the kitchen with the family cook, and prided himself on being the only one in his family who could actually cook.

Here's an excerpt from pgs. 28 & 29:

“I myself am in one picture in the paper. It is of our entire family in the street in front of the studio, looking up at the Nazi flag. I am in the arms of Mary Hoobler, our cook. She would teach me everything she knew about cooking and baking, by and by.

Mary HooblerÂ’s corn bread: Mix together in a bowl half a cup of flour, one and a half cups of yellow cornmeal, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and three teaspoons of baking powder. Add three beaten eggs, a cup of milk, a half cup of cream, and a half cup of melted butter.
Pour it into a well-buttered pan and bake it at four hundred degrees for fifteen minutes.
Cut it into squares while it is still hot. Bring the squares to the table while they are still hot, and folded in a napkin.

When we all posed in the street for our picture in the paper, Father was forty-two. According to Mother, he had undergone a profound spiritual change in Germany. He had a new sense of purpose in life. It was no longer enough to be an artist. He would become a teacher and a political activist. He would become a spokesman in America for the new social order which was being born in Germany, but which in time would be the salvation of the world.
This was quite a mistake.

How to make Mary HooblerÂ’s barbecue sauce: Saute a cup of chopped onions and three chopped garlic cloves in a quarter of a pound of butter until tender. Add half a cup of catsup, a quarter cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of freshly ground pepper, a dash of Tabasco, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of basil, and a tablespoon of chili powder.
Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.”

It's a very good book, the heavier moments lightened up a bit with these recipes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

couch potato

Well, I don't watch as much food proramming as I used to (back when Jamie Oliver, Tony Bordain and Nigella all had shows...), but there's a couple new food shows that I've been digging lately....Wait, first, some very very good news...Nigella is gonna have a new show on the Food Network!! This is so exciting. I've missed her. I can't fathom that FoodTV didn't put her on sooner (her previous shows were on the Style network and BBC America, I believe).

Okay, on to the shows currently on TV. On the Food Netork, Ive been thoroughly enjoying Ham on the Street. It's a hilarious show, with the host usually out on the street making passers-by try his strange concoctions or play the game "Name That Meat." Very entertaining. But also, there's lots of good ideas! For instance:

Cinnamon Rolls made in a hollowed out orange for camping. You wrap the whole thing in foil and throw it on the embers of your campfire. Brilliant!!! I tried to make cinimon rolls last summer while camping. I just made kind of a foil tent pack thing. They were pretty flat and doughy, but an okay breakfast. I'm so doing this orange trick next time.

As a matter of fact, that whole Great Outdoors episode was full of fun and neat ideas. Check out the "Bean Hole Soup" (Oh man did they have some fun with the phrase "Bean Hole!") and S'mores Nachos *droooool* (s'mores and nachos are some of may favorite foods.)

One more thing I will probably try out this summer is the Venezualen hot dogs from the hot dog episode (another very humorous episode). Cabbage and potato chips ON at hotdog. Fantastic.

The other new show I've been watching is Bravo's Top Chef. I didn't think I'd like it at first, but I caught the second episode, and it's pretty neat. It's like Iron Chef meets, say, Project Runway. Drama, competition and food. Good times.

This winning recipe from episode 4, the convenience episode, looks totally do-able and yummy: Mirin Glazed Sea Bass. Episode 4 was fun because for the quick challenge they had to make something out of ingredients they bought from a convenience store. Very creative.

Slashfood (my favorite food blog) has a recap of the show every week.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

notes to self

Recipes I must try SOOOON:

Roasted Curried Cauliflower.

Coconut Lime Macaroons.

Curry Potato & Spinach soup with lots 'o yummy fixins.

These Banana Muffins:
Banana Muffins

1/4 cup of margarine or butter
2 cups of brown sugar, lightly measured (not packed)
2 eggs
6 bananas

blend well

in a separate cup mix
2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp hot water

add to the banana mixture

3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt.

Mix lightly, till blended, don't over mix.

bake at 375 for 20 minutes, makes 24 muffins.

(I don't remember where I nabbed this recipe from, sorry)

On the non-recipe front, I should think about contributing to this nifty project.

But for now, I'll just finish my hefeweizen and finish reading a book...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

may i please have samoa

Girls Scout Cookies. Not the best cookies, but enjoyable every year. I did really like this year's New Cafe Cookie. It would go so good with hot chocolate or good coffee. It's mostly warm weather right now, though, so I'm not hitting the hot beverages so much.

I did not order Thin Mints, because I thought Jack was gonna get some from a lady at work. But he forgot. I prefer the Samoas, but I understand the addictiveness of Thin Mints. I don't crave them, but if I start, It's hard to stop. Anywhoo, we're thin mint-less. Maybe I'll have to take a crack at this recipe. They would be healthier. Or maybe we'll just get the ice cream.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

more time for food

So I am just starting to settle in after moving. We are way way way closer to work, now, saving around and hour and a half a day of our lives that used to be spent in the car. Woo.

Tonight I'm flying solo. I decided against working out, because I have worked out 3 days in a row, and don't feel bad taking a break. So after work I went to the library. Having so much time, I perused the "New Books" shelf. I came across Read it and Eat, by Sarah Gardener. It basically lists 4 books for every month, each month within a theme (i.e. September is "Celebrate Banned Book month" and October is "Fright Night," so all the books have a common theme). It has discussion questions for each book, then, and this is the neat part, recipes inspired by the book to serve at the book club gathering! What a great idea! There's a catfish recipe for Huckleberry Finn, "Inconcievable! Fritattas" for Princess Bride,and Irish Farm Bread for Angela's Ashes. I really like this idea. Check out the excerpt from Amazon.

After the library I made myself a healthy dinner. I cooked a sweet potato in the microwave, then cut it in half and dumped some curried chickpeas on it. It was a simple meal...I added my curry powder and a few other spices and seasonings to the canned chickpeas, and a bit of water, and nuked them for a couple minutes. It's a very filling and comforting meal. Healthy, too, it would seem.

While I was eating, I flipped to Isaac Mizrahi's show on the Style Network. He's so fun. He had a guy on named Josh Perilo who had the 10 best wines for under $10. Being a big fan of wines under $10, I enjoyed the segment. Unfortunately, the link to Perilo's site doesn't work, and I couldn't find anything much on him with a web search. For now, there are tons of "Under $10" lists out there for us to check out.

Okay, back to my book, now.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

rachael ray drinking game

Hilarious! I'm so doing this.

The part about taking an extra drink when one of her cutesy made-up abbreviations is followed by an explaination of what it means...brilliant. It always drives me nuts when she does the "EVOO...(extra vergin olive oil)" thing. Whay not just say "Extra virgin olive oil"?!?!?

But I think one needs to be added for the dramatic "OMG this food is sex" eye roll when she's tasting something.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ruby Reuben

Last night I got a little creative with dinner. I had some German dark wheat bread...that's what the package's pumpernickle, basically. I got some turkey pastrami from the deli as well as some Lorraine swiss. So I have to make a Reuben, right? Only I don't really like Thousand Island I used spicy mustard intead. The "creative" part was, I also didn't feel like sauerkraut.I remembered Aunt Nellies sweet & sour cabbage. It's milder than sauerkraut, and prettier, and really really cheap.

I put my pastrami on one slice of bread, my swiss on the other, stuck them under the broiler for a few minutes, added the cabbabge and voila! A yummy modified Reuben! I'll call it a Runy Reuben, because Aunt Nellie's is red, and with the pink pastrami and dark brown pumpernickle the colors of tha sammich were lovely. It was quite healthy too.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

food finds

Some foods I've discovered lately that I am diggin big time...

*Pigeon Peas! I discovered a can of these green fellers in the Mexican section at my local grocery store. I gave them a try because, well, I love beans. They are soooo good! I usually combine them with cous cous, mexican spices, some lowfat cheese and salsa (I've been on a Pineapple salsa kick lately). It's cheap, easy and healthy. The Pigeon peas have a slightly nutty taste. Less "mushy" than beans...almost like edamame. Yum!

*Quaker Maple Brown Sugar Multi-grain cakes. Rice cakes? I Know! But, dang, these things are flavorful! They taste just like pancakes, but they are crunchy, and good for you! Great for a sweet-tooth snack, at only 50 calories per cake. And 1 gram of fiber! YAY! FIBER!

*Chocolate Chex Mix. In particular, the Chocolate peanutbutter variety. Such a good idea. Chocolate and peanut butter flavored chex, peanuts and little fake m&m's with pretzels. Now, there were too many pretzels, so we ate them first, so we could enjoy all the other goodness without the bother of all the darn pretzels.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Frozen Pizza?

Yes, frozen pizza. I can't say that there are many out there that I really like. However, I really really enjoy Red Baron's Mexican Style frozen pizza. The two best things about it? There is cilantro on it! Like nice big leaves of it so you can actually taste them! Also, tortilla chip pieces!! Brilliant! They ad a nice crunch and texture.

It also went well with our Mojitos. You know? Lime, mint leaves and sugar all smashed together with rum and club soda? One of my all-time favorite beverages. So good. Bacardi has a neat website dedicated to the Mojito, with videos about the history and a recipe. It's fun.

So, that was my Friday night!

Friday, January 06, 2006


One of my little New Year's resolutions is to update this here blog more often!! What i've decided to do is not try and focus on making long posts or posts with lots of related links. Instead, I'll update whenever I have a food moment, food find, new recipe, fun link or just random food thoughts.

I'll start with two things.


Kelly gave me some peanut ginger chews (made by the Ginger People), and they are my new favorite treat. They have a nice soft and smooth but substantial texture, and the taste...oh the taste. First it's peanut buttery, then the ginger kicks in, and it's very strong. And at the end your mouth is burning and all is well.


How to order wine at a restaraunt without looking like an asshole. Kind of angry (what do you expect from a blog called "Waiter Rant?" but some very good points, nonetheless.

see? that wasn't so hard. yeah, I can do this :)