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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Great Christmas Baking mini-meltdown of 2013



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I have just managed to work my way through a baking meltdown. I volunteered to make our Christmas dessert (7up Pound Cake), piece of cake mom - I got this. Oh the arrogance of this humble blogger.

sidebar: have I mentioned that I'm not a natural baker before? That I require concentration to bake? I digress

So recipe in hand and full of concentration I began creaming my butter and sugar. And I got a lump, yes a huge lump of butter and organic sugar. Apparently someone (me) should have checked to see if there were any differences to expect when baking with sugar that's not tiny crystals. After much cursing (my grandparents would be so proud) and praying, I think the cake will turn out okay. I'll post a picture, if all turns out well. If not, I'll be off to any store that's still open to bake again (with tears as a special ingredient).

UPDATE:
There shall be no tear filled cake this Christmas!


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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winterizing

Happy Winter Solstice!

12:11 pm marks the official start to winter, although it has been really cold (for me) since early November.  Winter, without fail, makes my inner food craver go nuts.  All I want to eat is soups and stews; and bread.  Crusty bread with sweet, slightly salty butter (I'm getting hungry just typing about it).

I can't make bread to save my life, but I'm a decent soup maker and getting better at stews, where I really shine though is chili (yes, that was a complete brag).  I know that chili isn't that difficult to make, but a good chili can be altered into a multiple of varieties and mine does that.  My chili is based on my mom's and can be altered to be meatless or meat heavy, it's entirely up to you.  Here's the base recipe:

1 lb ground (turkey, chicken or beef)

3 - 15.5 ounce cans of beans (I use 3 types black, red and - kidney, pink or pinto)

1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 large onion, diced

Chili powder

Cumin

Garlic powder

Instructions:

In a large stockpot, brown meat (if using turkey or chicken put a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the pan to help prevent sticking and for flavor).

Once meat has browned, add beans and onion.  Season with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder (I eyeball my measurement in the palm of my hand, its approximately 2 tablespoons of each).  [You could also just use a chili seasoning].

Next, add your tomatoes and stir.  Let chili cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  You want a thick and hearty consistency.

Variations:

Here are a few:

- Meatless:  add a 4th or 5th variety of beans and mushroom (you can also add mushrooms to the above).  I've never used seitan or tofu in this chili, but i'm sure you could.  You can also add additional vegetables.

- Use real garlic in place of the garlic powder.

- Make it extra spicy with hot sauce.

Finally,  if you have a small family or are single, don't be afraid to make this or other large pot meals most freeze really well.

Stay warm.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

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Sauted kale, roasted radishes, & orzo with sausage and artichokes. May not look like much, but it is tasty.

Question

I'm experimenting today with roasted radishes.  Also debating kale, sausage and white bean soup or orzo & sausage with artichokes.  What are you cooking today?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hello Cookie!

Today is National Cookie Day!  (YES!)  It is also the holiday season so homemade cookies will soon be everywhere.  My go to cookie for gifts and cookie swaps is a Chocolate, Chocolate-Chip Mint recipe my mom found when I was still in high school from the cookbook Still Life with Menu.

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(Image from eatyourbooks.com)

For me, they are the Goldielocks of cookies.  Not too sweet, not too chocolately, not too minty – they are just right.  And they are perfect for the holiday season.

Here’s a link to the recipe from the author’s website.  Enjoy!

And if you don’t mind, share your favorite cookie in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

It's National Cookie Day!



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Do what you wish with that information 😉

Monday, November 25, 2013

A couple of confessions

It's been a long time, sorry about that.  Once again work got very hectic - they don't teach you that in library school.  They especially don't mention it before you become a manager.  In spite of the chaos, life is good - and I hope to get back into a regular blogging schedule.

So here's a quick update to my cooking world:

1.  SNAP  Challenge:  technically i totally failed.  I went over budget for the week I shopped and did the challenge.  HOWEVER, just about everything I purchased was also used the following week or frozen for future use - - so a wash, maybe?

2. Lost post:  my awesome mom wrote a post of  book to movie suggestions, and I lost it.  I still have the suggestions which I'll give you next, but I lost her full post (sorry Mom).

My mom is a major reader, she reads everything and, unlike me, she stays committed to the end - no matter how bad the book.  She's also an avid movie watcher and amateur critic.  These are 3 of her suggestions for anyone that's looking for a good movie based on a book.  They are older titles so you may have to get them from the library:

Small Island: by Andrea Levy
 The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency: by Alexander McCall Smith
Having Our Say The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years: by Sarah L. Delany; A Elizabeth Delany and Amy Hill Hearth
 
That's all I'm confessing for now.  Thanks for sticking with this blog, sporadic as posts have been.

Thanksgiving Cooking Survival Guide … from VyneWorld

Thanksgiving Cooking Survival Guide … from VyneWorld

Monday, September 30, 2013

SNAP Challenge

I'm doing the SNAP challenge next week and I have to be honest, I'M really nervous.

I keep over thinking. Should I use coupons? Go to the discount grocery store and bulk produce store? Would someone with a limited budget even have these thoughts? Then there's the whole issue of sticking to the $31.50 budget for the week.

I seriously need to get over myself. Anyway my challenge starts next week, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 2, 2013

New board

q9

Apples & Pumpkins

#GoOrange

#GoOrange

This September I'm #goingOrange to help end childhood hunger, join me if you wish.  Visit nokidhungry2.org to find out how everyone in your family can help.

There are over 16million kids in America (yeah right here) that don't have enough food and with SNAP under attack, it's more important that ever to end this problem.  Just my humble opinion if you're going to end a the food safety net, then eliminate the reason there needs to be a safety net.

I'll start back to regular posts next week.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Random August Thought

I kind of feel like I should be hitting farmer's markets, stocking up on summer fruits and veggies; to freeze, can and preserve for winter.

Mind you I don't do any of that.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#comfortfood

I'm still here, just in case you were wondering. It has been an incredibly busy summer (great for a public librarian); not great for cooking/blogging. But here's a photo of what I'm up to this week:



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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And so now that ice cream is ruined for the rest of the summer I should have absolutely no problem reaching my fighting weight.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Playing with my food

The other day I stopped at the grocery planning a healthy non-lettuce salad that would last for a couple of days.  I got home, made said salad, then was in no mood to eat it.

You see while I was in the store I smelled something sour, while there was nothing wrong with any of the produce I purchased, but that smell was still in my head.  I talked with my mom, to try to find an excuse to toss the food out; but ultimately I couldn't waste the food - and I knew there wasn't anything with it.  But still, I wasn't going to talk myself into the salad.  Enter the experiment,  quite simple really turn salad into a chilled soup.  And surprisingly it worked.

For the salad (also good and I make it all the time):

2 medium cucumbers - preferably seeded

2 to 3 medium tomatoes

1 ripe avocado

Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt, Peper and Garlic Powder - all added to taste.

Mix and enjoy with garlic bread or grilled seafood.

 

The Experiment (Avocado soup)

Blend or mix all ingredients above in food processor until smooth.

Add fresh cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil; if needed.

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I'll freely admit that it wasn't a perfect chilled avocado soup, but it will do and no food was wasted - which mattered more to me than anything else. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dig into reading

I'm ready to dig into #summerreading2013, how about you?



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Sunday, June 2, 2013

One more thing

Oh yeah, I got to meet Elizabeth Gilbert at BEA (Book Expo).

Do I even have to say how much I loved Eat, Pray, Love and Committed.



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Summer Foods

Last weekend marked the unofficial start of summer.  I marked the occasion not with barbecues or going to the beach, but by avoiding all traffic and staying put; I have found that since I started working in a shore community almost nine years ago I can’t handle the extra traffic that holiday weekends bring.  I do, however, love Summer food.

 

Summer food, for me, is seafood – mostly boiled crabs, anything my dad tosses on the grill, deviled eggs, ice cream cones, and popsicles (which I still somehow manage to have drip down my arm).  But most of all it’s fresh fruit and vegetables from local farm stands.  I’m lucky enough to live in an area where farm stands are abundant (and friendly).  I’ve learned, the hard way, not to over purchase.  As much as I love fresh plums and cherries, I can only eat so many before I make myself sick.

 

Right now I find myself craving (not that unusual), cherries, peach pie, tacos and Oysters – not at the same time, of course, because that would be a little gross.  What are your favorite summer foods?  Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

[youtube=http://youtu.be/2RUYkzJio24]

Friday, May 17, 2013

Avocado & Radish Salad

Avocado & Radish Salad

I'm totally loving radishes right now and this is a super simple salad to make.
1 med. avocado
4-5 small or 3 large radishes sliced
1 to 2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSB Lemon juice
Kosher salt to taste

Mix it all together and enjoy.
Serves 2 as a side or one as a meal.



It's quite delish with iced tea.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birthdays are also for giving

I'm celebrating my birthday this week, it's been pretty awesome to receive so much specifically focused love from my family and friends.  One of the things I did for my birthday was share all the love I felt with two food based charities.  I actually decided that I wanted to give and not just receive on my birthday when I was driving home from work last week, trying to decide what I wanted for dinner.  And while I was hungry, I occurred to me that I have never really ever been seriously hungry.  I had the fortune to grow up with parents that always made sure I knew where my next meal was coming from.  I was never punished by being sent to bed with out dinner, I feel I had a healthy balance of junk for and the stuff that's good for you, and when I didn't want to eat what was on my plate I wasn't told about the hungry children in another country - I was told about the kids here.  And while as a kid I didn't  have an appreciation for this as and adult I do.  16 million children in this country are in food insecure situations.  16 MILLION!  Most of them receive food through school lunch programs and SNAP (the supplemental nutritional assistance program) which is on the list of government programs slated for cuts.  Is it a perfect program, no, but it's a first line of defense to prevent children and their families from being hungry.

I'm asking for your help on this birthday week of mine, please consider making a donation to your local food bank, a national or international food related charity; and if so inclined contact your local members of congress to tell them not to cut funding to SNAP.  You can find out more information from the No Kid Hungry website.

I do genuinely try not to get political on this blog, but I think we can all agree, or mostly agree, that hungry kids are a bad thing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays...

According to the song I should totally be in a funk, but I like rain days and I have the day off so I'm all smiles today. (I will totally annoy everyone when I go to the grocery store later).

If you are not a lover of rainy days or Mondays; or the continuing less than spring-like weather might I suggest you make yourself some pesto and wait it out.  I don't know, pesto is my woman declaration of spring, it is just a perfect spring food item and its so simple to make there's absolutely no reason to buy the prepackaged stuff.

So for everyone that's longing for a little bit of spring, I present PESTO!

1 to 2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 to 2 cloves garlic

¼ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

¼ c pecorino romano (or parmesan) cheese

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a food processor (you can use a blender if you don’t have one) combine basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese with about ¼ cup olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Continue to add oil until pesto is well combined and smooth.

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Add to hot pasta or over chicken. 

No worries if its too much pesto for one night, it can also be frozen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Please read & share

http://www.thedevilsfoodadvocate.com/2013/04/eating-is-agricultural-act-wendell-berry.html

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Would you buy this dressing?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLqci6rTi6Q&w=560&h=315]

Kraft's new ad campaign for it's Zesty salad dressing features a hot guy that eventually ends up shirtless.  I'll be honest, i don't mind the objectification, but it's not going to get me to buy the dressing - sorry Kraft.

Not because it's a bad product, but because I make my own salad dressing - excepting ranch and blue cheese.  And if you recall, this blog started after an ad where brownies were vilified.  How about you, would you buy a product just because a sexy man or woman was in the ad?  Answer in the comments section and be honest.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

RED MEAT!

For Lent, this year, I gave up red meat, I’m slightly anemic so it was kind of a big decision; but to be clear not a huge sacrifice.  Up until about 2 weeks ago, I was doing ok, then out of the clear blue sky I started smelling meat everywhere.  And that’s when things started to get difficult, I’d go to the local pharmacy, smell grilled burgers from the cowboy bar across the street and my stomach began to growl.  Thankfully before I could give into temptation Easter arrived and I had Pot Roast.  Specifically Trisha Yearwood’s Roast Beef with Gravy.  I followed the recipe exactly as it appears on the website. And it turned out so well, that I may only ever make pot roast this way again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is here!

Here comes the sun

Spring is here! Except for the fact that it is probably going to snow here tomorrow morning.
Access to my favorite fresh veggies is not to far away; and this has me looking forward to cooking again. Oh yeah, I haven't been cooking a lot this winter mostly the same types of soups.

Anyway, Happy Spring everyone.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

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Bob Spitz has written an in depth, well researched biography of Julia Child, most of the focus is on her development as a mostly directionless young woman to a strong writer and business woman. At times she's contrary between who she wants her readers and views to see her and and who she really is underneath the facade.

This was a difficult read, at times, because Julia Child was truly a product of her time. Her personal views on equal rights for women, people of color and the LGBT community, as well as her language make it difficult to like her at times from a contemporary place. That said, she was a product of her time; as a reader, viewer and home cook I have to give her credit for changing the landscape of American cooking. She elevated chefs in a way I don't think anyone else could have and she made it possible for average people to share there love of food, cooking and food related products on the blogs of today.

Over all I enjoyed this biography and would recommend for anyone interested in food history.

4 spoons out of 5.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm as restless as a willow in a wind storm

I have a small cold, mostly a sore throat. It's nothing that won't pass, but I have to admit that sitting still and resting is making me a bit restless, in spite of the fact that I don't have a lot of energy to do much. I have a couple of posts I'm working on until I get them up enjoy this.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So this happened today

Completely unrelated to food, but I had to share...


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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I don't have a title this week. I'm feeling a bit fuzzy, for lack of a better descriptor, at the moment.  The wind is howling outside and I feel like my ears are stuffed with cotton.  But I don't have a cold, at least I don't think I do.

Anywhodoole, every year I make a list of goals, not resolutions exactly, but challenges I want to meet for work and, more importantly in my personal life.  So one of my goals this year was to avoid serious injury.  The finger slice heard around my town, that resulted in 5 (I think) stitches  solidified that goal four days before Christmas.  Sadly, I'm not reaching that goal so far.  Another knife slip about 2 weeks ago, but no serious injury this time (thank goodness).  Needless to say, I may avoid any cooking that requires a lot of chopping a little while.  

Couple my growing aversion to knives and the deep cold that is setting in here in the Northeast and you've got yourself a food blogger that is pretty much all about soups and stews these days.  My mom made an awesome Three Bean Vegetarian Chili last week, and that's this week's recipe.  

Three Bean Veggie Chili

Any combo of beans, 1cup each

2 TBSP Chili powder

1 TBSP Cumin

1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 small can tomato sauce

1 small can mushrooms

Onions

Garlic Powder

Soak beans according to package directions.

Add beans tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions and seasonings to large pot.

Cook until beans are tender.

 

You can use canned beans, just rinse and drain.  Also if you want more that 3 beans, go for it, just cut the amount down to 1/2 cup.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reblogging, I think this is so true for many of us as modern librarians. I think libraries are still about stories & yes books. We, as librarians need to do a better job of recognizing our people that are rock stars, because they do a great job day in day and day out, and not the ones who throw the most raging after-party at conference.
Rant over, but not my admiration for Julie.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Vegetarian Stew



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Super simple.

In a medium sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.
Dice 1 medium eggplant, add to oil and lightly brown.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Dice 2 medium zucchini's, add to oil.

Add eggplant to zucchini.

Drain and rinse 1 small can chickpeas, add to veggies. Next add 1 small can diced tomatoes, 1 cup veggie broth and about 1/2 water.

Season with granulated garlic, dried cilantro ground cumin and garam masala.

Cook on medium low heat until chickpea's are tender.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

At some point in everyone's life, you come to a crossroads. You ask yourself, "what am I doing with my life?" "is this really the life that I want?" and if not "how do I change?" For food blogger Luisa Weiss, sitting down and asking herself these questions changed her life.

My Berlin Kitchen, at it's heart is a love story. In this case, the love story is not just girl meets boy, falls in love and lives happily ever after. For Luisa Weiss, her love story is one of finding her place in the world, learning to truly love herself as she is and doing it all with a healthy appetite for delicious soul filling food.

5 spoons out of 5.

Oh and immediately after I finished the book, this happened:

http://instagram.com/p/RTqOEzKh68/


Visit Luisa's blog at: http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/
 

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