Archive for June, 2008

30
Jun

food list

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Food, lists

Food I have
Produce
3 red bell peppers
1 orange bell pepper
1.5 tomatoes
2 pears (not quite ripe)
scallions
collard greens (enough for 1 more breakfast)
lettuce!
carrots
elderly zucchini
1 grapefruit
1 lime
orange juice
dried tomatoes

portabella fajita leftovers
beet & leek coconut soup
fried leeks

Meat
1-2 oz of taco pork leftover
3 oz of steak leftover from Legal’s
6 oz of beef fajita leftovers
chicken, dark meat

Bread
tortillas, white flour or whole wheat flour

Meals?
Tonight
I’m really hungry – I don’t know that a salad will cut it.

30
Jun

ISO Foodies 4 soup help

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in experiments, Food

I had beets and chicken stock and the brilliant idea to combine them together to make soup. And yet I have an irrational distrust of borscht (which I know kinda just means soup, but you know what I mean).

So I looked through my cookbooks (and gave a cursory glance at the internet) for beet soup recipes that were not called borscht. And didn’t find any of them appealing.

Instead, I made shit up on my own.

Here’s what I have done so far:

  • sliced thinly and sauteed leeks (white and green part) until thoroughly cooked. Season with salt as it sweats.
  • Add 5 cloves of garlic, minced, and 1/2″ of ginger, minced – saute for 3-5 more minutes
  • Add some fennel, 4 beets, and 1 cup of stock and let simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add a can of coconut milk (and if I’d thought to add some lemongrass at the beginning with the leeks, that would have been awesome) and the rest of the stock. Season with salt and pepper and 1 clove.
  • Let cook down
  • Refrigerate overnight and skim some of the fattiest layer

And then I tasted it, and it needs something else. I was kind of thinking that it needed a can of black beans (and my usual go-to friend for food agreed, but I’m having second thoughts. My mother argues that black beans would be the same kind of flavor family as the beets and leeks and that there needs to be contrast. One of the other beet soup recipes I have calls for an apricot puree swirled through the soup, and that might be right. We did decide that thai basil was not the right accoutrement.

Tags: , ,

26
Jun

food list

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in experiments, Food, lists

food I have
Produce
3 bananas
1 small potato
orange juice
2 grapefruits
5 beets w/ greens
collard greens
1.5 small zucchinis of imminent doom
5 leeks
buncha scallions
2 red bell peppers
1 orange bell pepper
inner half of a bunch of lettuce
leftovers from a portabella fajita
almost 1pt of leftover baighan bartha (eggplant curry)

*no carrots, buy more *done*
*no hot peppers, buy more

Meat
1/2 a container of stock
5ish 2ish ounces of pork slow-cooked with taco seasoning, orange juice, and stock (Mmmm!)

Meals planning

Thursday, June 26
going out for dinner

Friday, June 27
roast bell peppers (and zucchini?)
breakfast: Kenyan collard greens (buy a tomato) over a bagel with cream cheese
lunch: anyone want to meet for lunch?
dinner: spicy tofu with beet greens

Saturday, June 28
breakfast: grapefruit – stop by produce truck and look for other sexy fruit
Start soup – clean leeks, cook them down with oil (set some aside with a lot of salt for snack food), add carrots. And then figure out what kind of soup you are going to make from that. (ETA: Apparently, this soup should also include beets)
dinner: salad. So I have this intricate salad planned, but it’s missing an ingredient or two. Here’s what I’m thinking – lettuce (natch), carrots, raw zucchini, taco pork, banana, scallions, and then I’ve made a salad dressing with balsamic, tamarind juice, honey, mustard. My mother thinks this could also use some mandarin oranges… and maybe I could go orange segments, but probably my grapefruit would be too overpowering. I think this also needs nuts. I’m thinking cashews, but I only have almonds, walnuts, and pecans – and I don’t see buying a whole container of cashews just for 1 Tablespoon worth. But it needs a salty, doesn’t it? *Done – cashews were a tasty addition*

Sunday, June 29
take bagels to my parents
eat dinner at Legal’s (I think I’ll go to the wood-grilled wild salmon)
give mother – argh – I was just looking at something the morning and reminding myself to take it this weekend. Oh, and the heavy cream.
get from mother – books to repair, leftovers
return bras to Lane Bryant
stop by Whole Foods on way home (if still open) and see if they have more conditioner and 1lb of spring mix for a reasonable price

Monday, June 30
breakfast: bagel w/ roasted pepper cream cheese
make rice for baighan bartha, and put up portions for lunch.
dinner: quesadillas – use up portabella leftovers, some of the leeks, the last of the roasted bell peppers, and the last of the collard greens.

Tuesday, July 1
dentist appointment at 11am
therefore, have to do weight watchers meeting at 12:30, rather than 11:30
therefore, request medical time from work.
breakfast: mango from fruit truck
dinner: something with beets. And 1 potato (if it survives that long). Ooo… maybe I should put those in the soup. Are there any soup recipes with beets that are not borscht?

Wednesday, July 2
time for a dinner out

Thursday, July 3
dinner plans in

Friday, July 4
D&D

Tags: , , ,

25
Jun

Novus Tea

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Review, tea

At the party at work, I tried a new brand of tea: Novus Tea‘s Kenilworth Ceylon. It’s a tasty black tea with no off notes. It doesn’t brew as darkly as mighty leaf, but it had a full enough flavor that I was willing to add cream. I might sneak up to the end of the party to also try the Egyptian Mint – usually mint tea does not appeal to me, but something about the packaging was seductive.

Tags:

24
Jun

Ye Grande Cookbooke Post (or something like that)

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in cookbook, Review

I kept thinking I ought to do a post with reviews of my cookbooks – and I finally got around to it – YAY!

Cookbooks for general stuff

American Heart Association Cookbook, 5th edition

This is a surprisingly decent and solid cookbook – dieting or not. The first time I ever made black bean soup it was from this cookbook, and even though my mother had sworn she’d never met a black bean that was worth eating this soup turned out full of flavor and delicious. It has standard foods and ones with twists that appeal to me – like the mexican ratatouille.

The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Aww! This was a birthday gift from moot, and it was a wonderful gift. This is the book that finally comforted me about my inability to make tasty beef stock (in that it takes almost as much beef as you want stock). This it the book I go to if there is a common recipe that just keeps giving me trouble because these are the people who have taken common recipes and made them over and over again with tiny variations until they come up with a “perfect” version. Now my aesthetic does not always agree with theirs, but they tell you what they are aiming toward and exactly how each modification altered their results, so I can still extrapolate how to tweak my recipes to get the results I want. This is the shortcut to avoid wasting a lot of ingredients on your own.

Better Homes and Gardens (Plaid) New Cook Book (2002 edition)

So I grew up with this cookbook, and I always considered it a staple of a good household. So when my sister and I moved into our own places, my mother bought each of us our own copies of this cookbook and the Joy of Cooking. Only I have discovered that the only recipe I ever used this cookbook for was the banana bread, and the new edition changed that recipe! So it pretty much just takes up space. I does have some good conversion charts, but I have an internet for that, too. (banana bread bitching) So I think I’ll be getting rid of this cookbook as soon as I remember to do so.

Cooking with the Seasons: A Year in My Kitchen by Monique Jamet Hooker

I love the idea of this cookbook, and I even am rather fond of some of the recipes, but I wish it were more a list of tasty foods you can make with seasonal foods instead of trying to offer me organized meals. Nonetheless, I love the idea of certain foods being late summer foods and tailoring one’s menu around that.

Going Solo in the Kitchen by Jane Doerfer

I picked up this cookbook from the library after a discussion about cookbooks for eating in smaller households. It’s a good, solid book with not only simple (but not too boring) recipes, but also a lot of good tips on shopping, meal planning, budgeting, and cooking techniques. And it has a lot of quotes and discussion about how it really is better to get to eat alone without that bastard of a husband who just left you for some bimbo, and you get a sneaking suspicion that the cheerfulness is a bit forced… which I found pleasantly amusing. YMMV. Most of the tips were things I had already discovered, but they were often the things I was the most proud of having figured out because they were things other people don’t always get (like homemade stock and coordinating lunches with leftovers).

Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (1964 edition)

This was the other book I got from my mother when I got my own apartment… only this one, I ended up deciding that I really had liked my mother’s enough that when the modern version proved not as useful, I gave it back and we hunted through used books for an older edition that still would tell you how to skin a squirrel and other such handy things. This is the book I use if I want to know the oven temperature for a roast. This is the book I go to when I have a new (not too regional) ingredient or an ingredient I want a new way to cook. There’s an amazingly tasty asparagus recipe (in which the advocate roasting at a much higher temperature than you’d expect, but the results were lovely). Most of the recipes are very simple and necessary. This is a good book for basic sauces – when someone says, “Let’s just whip up a hollandaise sauce,” and you don’t have a packet mix for that, you go to this book. And it tells you how to butcher a pig, dress a squab, and – most importantly – skin one of those pesky squirrels that keeps trying to break into my apartment.

Weight Watchers – Favorite Homestyle Recipes

I haven’t opened this one recently, but I should. The recipes in it were pretty good. I got it back in the days when I studiously went through and made little post-it tabs to index every recipe that looked promising, and this one has a lot of post-its. It is, however, one of the diet cookbooks that stupidly confuses spaghetti squash with a spaghetti alternative – and really, it’s much tastier if you let it just be a stringy squash instead of trying to top it with marinara and meatballs.

Cookbooks for entertaining – Appetizers / Parties

Cocktail Food Deck

This is a fun format, but it’s not as useful as I’d hoped. Most of the recipes are duplicated elsewhere. BUT – and this is a big one – it is the place where I get most of the recipe for my homemade pita chips, which are awesome, if I may be modest for a moment. 🙂

Finger Food by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen

This is my quintessential book of appetizers and party food. The author appreciates the sexiness of heavy cream and dainty presentations, but the techniques are rarely all that complicated – and there are a lot of options here that travel well. This book has stuff for the gluten intolerant (Mmmm – wild rice pancakes topped with smoked salmon, and cucumber cups filled with smoked trout) and encompasses a wide variety of flavors and techniques. I have been using this book rather hard for several years now, and there are still some tempting and simple recipes I haven’t gotten around to trying (partly because the ones I’ve tried have all worked so well they have become reliable standbys), and it’s only 96 pages.

New Vegetarian Entertaining by Jane Noraika

This one looked a lot like finger food in the way the recipes were presented, but they really aren’t very similar cookbooks. I hardly ever find something I decide to make in this book, but I keep it around because I do run into a decent amount of vegetarians and you never know.

Winterthur’s Culinary Collection compiled by Anne Beckley Coleman

This is a book I bought after having looked through the copy at the library. It has several recipes that I were common around the town where I grew up (e.g. proper Chadd’s Ford stuffed mushrooms), and is full of tasty food, but it’s in the appetizer category in my head because those were the one’s most familiar and evocative.

Soup Cookbooks

Betty Crocker – Soup, Stew, and Chili (Feb 2004 magazine, #205)

This little pamphlet is so wee that I keep forgetting I have it when I want to make soup. And then I find it and go, “Hmmm, I should use this someday.” And so the cycle continues.

Glorious Stew by Dorothy Ivens (1976 edition)

This stew is, indeed, glorious. I looked through a copy at the library and liked it so much that I bought my own copy. Okay, so that’s a lie: I still have the library’s copy, but I talked my mother into buying the book. It has a recipe for goulash that it the closest I have seen to Cee’s authentic recipe picked up in a little place in Slovakia. It separates stews by main meat product and then by whether it it browned first or cooked unbrowned. This cookbook makes the winter pass more easily.

New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein

On the other hand, this cookbook does not impress me. My mother bought it for me because she knew I made a lot of soup, but (and I may be judging it too harshly here) I already have all the soup recipes I need, and this one didn’t seem to have anything particularly new or interesting to contribute. At some point, I might give it another chance.

The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew

THIS! This is the best soup cookbook ever. Actually, this is the best / most-used cookbook I own. Every single time I go to this cookbook, I find a couple things I want to make. There are recipes that will use up random extraneous ingredients (green bean soup – which I have not yet been bold enough to try). There are light soups and heavy soups, exotic soups and homey ones. There are exotic homey soups (garlic soup!). This is the best cookbook ever – and I found it randomly on the clearance rack of crappy books at Barnes and Noble.

Cookbooks for Miscellaneous Food Types

The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Chicken contributing editor: Linda Fraser

All chicken all the time. I’m really not short of things to do with chicken, but every now and then I am so hungry that nothing sounds right and I’ll turn to this book. This is where I started when I wanted to experiment with coronation chicken and needed a recipe from which to start.

Filo! by Jan Nix

MMmmmm! I want to use this cookbook more often, but I’m not usually willing to go to the effort to clear space to work with phyllo. But still, I like that I have this book checked out from the library.

Great Bread Machine Baking by Marlene Brown

It’s a good book with clear directions, and I think I might get better results from it now that I know how important it is to check the temperature of the water… only now I’m kind of dieting a bit, so I haven’t been making bread. But for special occasions, yeah.

World of Dumplings by Brian Yarvin

Includes: Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan, Georgia, the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Ashkenazic traditional, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, United States, and Canada. I saw this book in the library and coveted it. And then a friend got it and was experimenting with it a bit and having issues with the author, so I was thinking of not getting it… and then my mother bought it, so I stole it from her. And, yeah, the author is talking our of his ass rather frequently, but if you skip the storytelling sections and go straight to the recipes, it’s pretty decent. I’d love to use this cookbook more, but like Filo!, it’s more effort than I usually spend. Hmmm… maybe I could have a dumpling stuffing party sometime (I did have one friend over to make things in phyllo before, and I got a whole pirogi lesson when I visited another friend, so it’s not inconceivable). But in the meanwhile, I have discovered the joys of frozen dumplings bought from the asian grocer.

Regional cuisine: Chinese, Thai, and other countries in eastern Asia

Classic Chinese Cuisine by Nina Simonds (1994 edition)

I love this cookbook. It has clear directions and beautiful pictures and a confidence about the recipes that makes me think that cooking from these recipes will produce foods with authentic flavors… now the reviews on Amazon keep praising the availability of the ingredients they call for, so that might be a delusion, but it’s a delusion that makes me happy. There are very few true vegetarian dishes – most vegetable heavy dishes still have meat incorporated, but that makes me perfectly happy. This has become my primary Chinese cookbook, and it might stay that way.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery

Includes: Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Japan. This cookbook is so over the place that it’s hard to predict what will be in it and use as a reference. Instead, I have to be perusing the cookbook and construct meals around it. On the other hand, this has one of the best section on ingredients that I have found – lots of pictures and clear descriptions and storage instructions – and it is very good at disambiguating similar sauces across cuisines. From this book, I learned how to easily find the right kind of rice to make sticky rice. This was (I think) a gift from the moot people as well, but if I am wrong, it has been a very long and useful loan.

Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott

YAY! I looked long and hard for a Thai cookbook that would appeal to me, and this is the only one I have found. It is a lot of text and no pictures, and it is broken down by region. The only problem with this cookbook is that right at about the same time I found it, I also found wonderful canned Thai curries that had wonderful fresh flavors that made it unnecessary to make the pastes from scratch. Still, this is a very good cookbook, and I have made several of the recipes. Oh, and this is the source of the recipe for the awesome Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce.

Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller

This is a big heavy book that looked quite promising. Now, I just go to it if I can’t find the answer elsewhere just because this book has so many recipes – but the recipe it has is not guaranteed to be good.

Regional Cuisine: Indian

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julia Sahni

Found this recently at the Free Library’s book sale, and it looks very useful, but my other Indian cookbook is so good that I haven’t even really cracked this one yet.

Indian Epicure: Classic Recipes from North India by Meera Taneja

The grumpy guy surrounded by spices on the cover looks so trustworthy that I was completely suckered into this book (which was totally not written by the random guy pictured on the cover). This book completely reshaped my taste in cookbooks to the standards I have been talking about above. It’s all text, and very reliable. This, and the cooking class on the Bend It Like Beckham DVD, has taught me how to make Indian food that is decently passable as possibly authentic. Also, I am lucky to have plentiful access to good Indian groceries. I love the eggplant recipe. From this cookbook, I successfully made a five course Indian meal for my parents’ vegetarian house guests (plus a small family recipe beef curry for my emphatically non-vegetarian father). Good times.

Regional Cuisine: Mediterranean

The Food of Greece: Cooking, Folkways, and Travel in the Mainland and Islands of Greece by Vilma Liacouras Chantiles

My kind of cookbook – all text, convincing backstory, and divided by region… but I just haven’t found myself using it much.

Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich

So I kinda like cooking shows, but not usually for the recipes (more for the warm fuzzy glow of people being dynamic in the presence of food: +4 to charisma) (But not Emeril – for some reason, he annoys me no end). But Lidia’s show had me wishing I had written down the recipe because it was something I really wanted to eat, thought I could make decently easily, and could not remember how to make it – Eggplant Rollatini (or something like that). So I started watching her show whenever it was an option, and I really enjoy the foods she makes. Just last weekend, I watched a show where she made olives look tasty to me. So I love this cookbook and use it a decent amount relative to how infrequently I eat Italian food.

Regional cuisine: Mexican

Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz (1976 edition)

Here’s another book from the library that I liked a lot. The authorship is somewhat suspect, as she’s a rich diplomat’s wife spending her time in another country learning to cook from the help, and having them make fun of her for wanting to do this herself. But despite that annoyance, this is actually a good cookbook that has gotten me several steps closer to authentic-tasting food. Which is fairly impressive. I love how different it is from what I grew up calling Mexican food. I use this cookbook in fits and starts because most of the recipes I have tried have been pretty heavy and required washing a lot more dishes than usual (i.e. required using a food processor or blender). Still – yay!

Regional Cuisine: Middle East

The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos

Includes: Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf States (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman), Yemen, Egypt, Iran, and Afghanstan. This one is also hard to use as a reference because even though this is a thick book rather full of recipes, I keep feeling as though there should be more. That said, it does a nice job of showing (perhaps too simplistically, but it acknowledges the problem) how these different countries treat similar foods without creating too much duplication of similar recipes. This book really makes me want to make egg and lemon soup someday. It’s also a library book.

Things I have left out

Note: I have left out both translations of Apicius because I have reviewed them before, and I have left out the books about booze (Mr. Bostons, a scotch book, and a new cocktails book) because I haven’t used them much

21
Jun

Eggplant for dinner

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Recipe, vegetarian

I had some amazing eggplant in garlic sauce from a local chinese restaurant, and I have been hankering to have it again ever since.

So I bought an eggplant.

I did not, however, get around to buying garlic sauce.

So when faced with the dilemma of making something else for dinner or pulling some crazy recipe out of my ass, what do you think I did?

Well, okay, I first checked for recipes in my chinese cookbook, but it only had two eggplant recipes: one required a larger steaming apparatus than I have and the other included pork and sake, neither of which I had on hand (all the pork is frozen).

So… Here’s what I did:

  • Line a jelly roll sheet (baking sheet with 4 raised sides) with aluminum foil. Stab your eggplant a few times so it doesn’t explode.
    • Put the eggplant on the sheet, and pop it into the oven – on broil. Turn the eggplant occasionally so that the skin chars evenly (just like roasting a bell pepper).
    • When it is almost finished, turn off the oven and walk away. I suggest watching an episode of Stargate: Atlantis.
    • When cool, lift the eggplant away from all of the liquid that has oozed out. You aren’t saving this liquid – it’s all bitter and nasty. Hold by the stem, and just peel off strips of skin until it all starts to fall apart on you. Then transfer to a surface and peel the rest. At this point, I tip the worst of the liquid down the sink and then just bundle up all of the peel and sticky foil and toss it. (and if you are lucky, the pan is still clean.) And then cut half inch strips of eggplant across the grain and one or two lengthwise.
  • Random stuff I threw together to make the liquid bit:
    • 1/4 cup chicken stock
    • 1 teaspoon sambal olek (okay, so I totally sniffed at the sauce later and added another heaping teaspoon, but I hadn’t realized I was going to end up with a slow simmer cooking thing, and peppers build heat the longer you cook them – so it was a little too spicy for me. Therefore, just one teaspoon.)
    • 1 teaspoon black vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon manischewitz wine (to sweeten, and because sherry seems popular in asian cooking and I don’t own any)
    • 1 inch ginger, minced finely
    • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
    • 3/4 teaspoon steak sauce (cause it seemed a bit thin)
    • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce (because that was the real answer to the thin problem)
  • And now to the main event:
    • Get 1/2 c asian short grain rice to boiling
    • Immediately after you turn down the heat and set the rice to steaming, heat up some oil in a pan (I used about 4 teaspoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of chili oil, and a little bit of sesame oil).
    • Throw in the eggplant and toss it around a bit so that it makes good friends with the oil (MMmmm – eggplants love oil).
    • And then I added the liquid and turned the heat down low and left it (stirring occasionally) until the rice was finished.
  • And then it was pretty tasty.

Tags:

9
Jun

Food list

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Food, lists

So the goal is to use up all of my perishables by mid-day Thursday

What I have

Produce
1 plum
2 tomato
6ish new potatoes
portion of spring mix (salad greens)
collard greens
1 zucchini
broccoli stems

opened jar of salsa
1/2 jar pasta sauce
1 qt orange juice

Meat
thai roasted beef (enough for two salads)
chicken/duck stock (not used – boiled, though, so it should last another week)

Dairy
whole milk (just enough for 1 more bowl of cereal)
half pint heavy cream (unopened)

What I should do with it
Okay, so two salads are a given.

I think I should make soup, but it has just been too hot to consider it. And I don’t feel like a minestrone (bunch of vegetables just glommed together with a can of tomatoes and a starch)-type soup. Maybe something with beans. Or cream. Or something. I am not inspired.

So I’ve got potatoes to do away with. And a little bit of a diet (though I did make tasty mashed potatoes with full fat dairy products and collard greens (is it still colcannon if you add dairy products?) the other day with no problems in diet land.

Oh, and spaghetti sauce. Last time I made pasta, I threw in all kinds of veggies (including broccoli), so maybe I’ll save that as the Wednesday night dinner that cleans out the last of the fridge.

Meh.

Tags: , , ,

8
Jun

Exercise

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Food, weight/exercise

I am really liking pilates.

I think I have been waiting my entire life for exercise I can do on my back with my legs in the air.

(It also helps that the teacher is wonderful)