My cat is my grandma

I was sick today and picked the green chair in the window spot to sit and read and drink tea. The chair that belonged to Grandma Bizarre’s father. The comfortable one, with old green upholstery. I’d started earlier The Invisible Man, who proved to be, as he was quickly replaced with a cat. This cat is a cross of a Siamese and a Fuzzball, with crossed blue eyes and all. She is aptly named Smoochie, and sometimes when her nose touches yours, it makes a spark from all the static built up between her and your wool sweater. It did this time. She seemed very interested in my tea, in a Cathy mug, with lines of tiny hearts, stating: “Love is the answer”…Isn’t it?” The mug belonged to Scottie, who was a cheerful sweet woman who I was privileged to call a grandmother. Her son was my mom’s best friend who died too soon. When my mom adopted the cat, she was surprisingly pregnant (please enjoy the extreme syntactic ambiguity of this sentence). Smoochie begot Solo the one and only son in a litter. She snuggled back in and purred as the connection grew in my brain and I pet her extra nicely. She gave me one more spark kiss before we parted from the chair as if to say, “it is.”

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Lamb Tagine

Tagine

Stovetop or Oven, always use a low heat!

A Tagine is a wonderful tool…
It allows one to cook meat for hours and hours and never dries it out. The conical shape allows evaporated water to condense all along the top and drip down back onto the meat, and all over the meat. Love it. Here is a recipe I used.

Leftovers, with added kale, a fried egg on top, and Persian rice.

 

 

 

 

Melt
2Tbsp butter in the Tagine(or other heavy bottomed pot that can also be baked) on the stovetop

Preheat oven to 325 Farenheit

Add Spices (for ones you can get whole, it’s better to toast and then grind them, but pre-ground spices work as well)
1Tbsp cumin
1Tbsp coriander
1/2 Tbsp sumac (I substituted lemon zest.)
1 1/2 tsp ajowan (I guess kinda like thyme? Used Herbs de Provence.)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
5 cloves garlic, diced

Add
2 lamb shanks and cook until browned on all sides.

Add
7oz chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
1 fresh chile, chopped
pinch of saffron
1/2 meat of small pumpkin (or squash, in 1″ cubes)
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1.5 liters water or stock (you may want more or less depending on the size of your pot and how soupy you want the soup.)

Bring back up to a simmer and then place in the oven, 2-3 hours.

Add
1/2 an eggplant in 1″ cubes
7oz chick peas, cooked or canned
2Tbsp honey
lemon juice, salt, pepper to taste

Cook another 1-2 hours, don’t worry about over cooking :)

Take it out! eat it!

Serve with rice, bread, flatbreads, and yogurt if you’re sensitive to the spices.

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Long awaited Baguettes!

I have made this recipe, literally at least 25 times, yet each time they are either eaten immediately or not exactly quite most pretty enough to take a picture. Sometimes they look wonky and curvy but they are always delicious. Simple and Easy, but plan ahead 24hrs.

It looks like a lot of steps, but I just like to spell things out!

1. Thoroughly combine, in a large bowl:
3.25 c all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp fine grained salt
.75 tsp bread machine yeast (this works faster and more automatically than regular yeast, but we’re slowing down the fermentation by using ice water)

2. Add and stir vigorously:
1.5 c iced water (not the ice)

Your dough should be stiff and a bit difficult to stir, should be happy as a ball in the middle of your bowl. Add flour or water to adjust the consistency.

3. Brush with:
oil or butter

4. Cover with:
plastic wrap

5. And leave in a quiet place for 20-24 hours, stir once (vigorously) during that time if convenient.

6. Stir dough and cut into two pieces. Oil your knife or scissors for ease.

7. Prep a baking tray, oil it, then sprinkle with cornmeal.

8. Roll out one half of the dough (on a floured surface) into a rectangle, roll the longer sides toward each other and pinch together with your fingers (and a little water if necessary). Tuck in the ends. If you want more advice on shaping baguettes, the internet has very useful videos!

9. Put it on the tray, seam side down. Do the same with the other.

10. Cover with aluminum foil so that it is not touching the bread and it has room to rise. And place it in a warm space for approx 1 hour.

11. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.

12. Slice diagonal slits on the bread with a very sharp knife. 4-5 per loaf.

13. Pour cold water down the oven door or into a hot pan at the bottom of the oven to keep it nice and steamy in there. Lower temp to 475.

14. Don’t open the oven door for 20 minutes! After that you can check it. Ovens vary so I won’t suggest timing specifically but I’d be very surprised if it took more than 45 minutes to cook your baguettes to a tasty golden brown.

Adapted from Nancy Baggett(not Baguette, but close)’s Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads. Thanks! And totally recommended to anyone who is into baking delicious, simple breads.

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So French for lunch.

An omelet with Parmesan and shallots, fresh baguette with butter, green apple, and strawberries. Of course the obligatory glass of inexpensive but tasty wine. Thank you two buck chuck!
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How to make a french-style omelet:
1. Heat up a pan, not too hot, with a pad of butter in it.
2. wisk or fork mix # of eggs desired (for two people 4-5, for three people, 7). Add in pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.
3. Once butter is getting sizzly, add ingredients that may need cooking (shallots, onions, broccoli, other sorts of hard veggies or meat).
4. Once mostly cooked, add the eggs in. Turn heat down, to a sort of medium situation.
5. Once they eggs are almost completely cooked, add on your cheese and other last minute tastiness (spinach, spices, pre-cooked ingredients).
6. Fold it over.
7. Eat it.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you know to make these bitchin’ baguettes. It takes a day, but you sure won’t be working on it the whole time and they are super delicous and worth it.

Sad Bread no more!

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Ginger Cucumber Salad

Now, I don’t know if you are all familiar with the joys and pitfalls of dumpster diving. But there is so much good food to be had. Here is a list of things I have recently found in perfect shape, without looking too hard:

-bags of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
-potatoes
-sour cream
-yogurt
-mushrooms
-cheeses (cheddar, parm)
-fruits (melon, pineapple, berries)
-lots and lots of cucumbers

Our society is very wasteful, make use of it! I don’t recommend this activity to those who do not trust their sense of smell, but if you do, give it a shot.

Now what to do with all of those cucumbers! I made it to serve with that delectable momofuku chicken. Nice and light to contrast with the fried, I found this in Mark Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World.

1. Halve, de-seed, and slice 2 large (or equivalent) cucumbers thin and soak them in this sauce for 1-3 hours before serving.
-1/2cup rice vinegar
-1″ piece of ginger, chopped or grated
-3Tbsp sugar
-1tsp salt
2. Right before serving, sautee 1 onion, sliced, with 1/2tsp turmeric until the onion has softened.
3. Add onion to the cukes.
4. Garnish with 2Tbsp toasted sesame seeds.

On Toasting Sesame Seeds:

Spread in Baking Pan
Low Oven, Ten to Fifteen
Keep A Nose Out Though

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Fried, Amazing, Momofuku Chicken

When I open up a cookbook I’ve never used before I love to see lists of ingredients that I can afford, that I even already have in my kitchen. Looking at My Last Supper: The Next Course, I did not find this at all.

Except for the delightful surprise: David Chang’s last supper of delectable fried chicken. I’m sure this isn’t the famous fried chicken dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar, but it’s tasty enough it could be! A bit time consuming… it requires some planning ahead, but is completely worth it.

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1. Take a Chicken and cut it into quarters.
2. Brine in 4c water, .5c coarse salt, .5c sugar for 1-6 hours.
3. Steam pieces for 40 minutes. I don’t have something nice like a steaming basket, so I literally place a colander in a frying pan with some water in it, and cover with a pot lid. 40 minutes is a long time to steam, so make sure you have enough water.
4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.
5. Out of fridge, rest 30 minutes.
6. Fry in a neutral oil such as grapeseed or corn, heated to 375 degrees (or sizzling but not too hot if you don’t have a thermometer.), until they look golden crispy delightful.
7. Toss in this sauce:

2 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp chopped or grated ginger
1 Thai chili or other little chili you like
1/4c rice vinegar
1/4c light soy sauce
2 Tbsp neutral oil
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1.5 Tbsp sugar
pepper to taste

What?!?! Eat it, try to not eat it all. Not too hard.

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Stock up on it

Homemade stock is a simple way to make everything delicious. It’s a great way to use leftovers and veggies that may have been sitting in the fridge a bit too long to be optimally tasty.
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You can use it in:
– rice
– beans
– soups and stews
– gravy
– sauces
– any other savory thing which calls for water!

So here is how you make it, Eyeballing works perfectly well for stock.
– Put bones (chicken, turkey, pork, beef, seafood shells and such) in a large stock pot (I borrow my neighbor’s).
– Cover with cold water, the general rule of thumb is to cover the bones and then add another half of the water you’ve added so far.
– Add 1 or 2 onions, chopped in halves.
– Add coursely chopped celery, carrots, parsley, whatever else you like.
– Season with peppercorns, bay leaf, other whole spices if you feel like getting a bit crazy.

Once all this is together, heat it at a low temperature. Never let it boil!

Over the next few hours, keep an eye on it. With meat stocks, you get some yucky looking stuff coming to the top. Skim that off a few times.

Simmer until it looks and tastes like the water has taken on much of the flavor, 3-4 hours for chicken, as much as 6 hours for pork and beef.

Remove from heat, cool at room temp, strain, and use or freeze to save for another time.

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Apple Almond Quickbread

Yesterday I woke up feeling refreshed, relaxed, earlier than I’d anticipated and thought, “well why not just get a jump on the day?” It being the last day of 2011 and quite was a fine one, I thought I must make one more loaf of bread before this year is over. Yes indeed! Lets not push it though, go for a quickbread. I’ve got all these apples, sweet ones at that, plus plenty of almonds.

So I went to work, riffing on a recipe I found on www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com.
Now, that butter just did not want to soften. I prepared my dry ingredients, though I didn’t sift them, I do not believe sifting makes a gosh darn difference. Anyhow, I measured out the milk and the sourcream, carefully avoiding the smelly and/or fuzzy parts.

The butter was still hard. And so I did the dishes and wiped down the counter, starting attending to the pork chops on the menu for later in the day. At last, I gave up, I couldn’t wait any longer for the butter, and I began creaming it vigorously, soundly. With each rotation of my arm I knew that it would have been better to wait, I should have been patient, but sometimes the impetus of action overcomes sense. And so it was creamed and so I continued with my quickbread. By now it was practically done already!

So I put everything together, of course the oven was already preheating and so it tossed it in there, pit pat pit pat just like that, with a clap of hands wiping flour. I went to wash the rest of the fairly minimal dishes and saw on top of the microwave, sitting nearly at eye level, the eggs. Shit, I forgot to put in the eggs. I swiped the bread from the oven before it had barely started bubbling around the edges. I had sprinkled almonds on top of the loaf I suppose to denote the nuttiness of the bread inside, or perhaps because this is how it always looks on the serving suggestion. This suggestion gave way for those two sadly forgotten eggs. When I’d mixed as well I could, I tossed it back in the oven, and hoped.

Guess what. Bangin Bread!

Moist and delightful!


Even on days when you wake up poised to do everything right, things will go wrong, but you can fix them. Here’s my recipe:

Cream this:
1/4 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

Add to creamed mixture:
2 eggs beaten
until light and fluffy (but apparently this step doesn’t actually matter).

Dry:
2 cups whole wheat bread flour (get it in your bulk bin, gainesville babies!)
1.25 tsp baking powder
1.25 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
.25 tsp allspice
.25 tsp nutmeg
.5 tsp salt

Wet:
1 cup milk (I used soy)
.25 cup sour cream

Add it all together, then:
2 cups chopped apples
2/3 cup chopped almonds

Pour it into a greased pan, bake at 350, about 45min-1hour.

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Great band, great recipe

Jane Jane Pollock strides the creepy/cute continuum in a beautiful way. Psychedelic Island Experimental Dance music doesn’t get better than this.

Also this recipe: Korean style ribs from Crepes of Wrath is super, simple, and really cheap, especially when you live right next to an oriental market.
It can also be done in the oven if you don’t have a crock pot, just very low, about 230 degrees. I also recommend broiling the ribs for about 5-10 minutes after they are cooked to give them a crispy finish!

This also reminds me of when I worked at a breakfast restaurant. A boy about five years old ordered very convincingly “I’ll have the creeps.”

mmmmm, delicious creeps.

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Have no money? Make your family candy!

This recipe for Rocky Road Bark (from Cook’s County Chocolate Desserts issue) is delightful, just make sure you don’t cook the caramel too long! I also suggest you double it. Then you can give away half and eat the rest!

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Line a 8 x 8″ baking pan with foil, squishing it into the corners so it fits well. Make sure you’ve got a bit of extra around the edges.

Heat up the oven to 375.

Line the bottom of the pan with:
6 graham crackers, breaking them if you need so they fit tightly.

Melt in a pan, stirring constantly until the sugar melts:
6Tbsp unsalted butter
.25 cups packed light brown sugar
.5tsp salt

Pour this mixture over the graham crackers. Put it in the oven, about 10 minutes or until the caramel mixture is bubbling.

Take out the pan and sprinkle on top:

1 cup chocolate chips, I used milk chocolate and it was super!

Back into the oven with that baby! Just 2 minutes to melt the chocolate.

Sprinkle on:
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup nuts, I used almonds to great success.

Push them in a bit, let cool for half an hour, then cool in the freezer another half hour.

Take it out, cut it up, and eat it! Or refrigerate for 1 week.

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