Wednesday, December 17, 2008

snowy sunday morning breakfast

Ash is not amused with wife this early in the morning

We had our first dusting of snow on Saturday night!!! (If you're not from the Northwest you might not understand what a big deal this is.) In the Puget Sound area that week or so a year we get snow is either heaven or hell for residents, for us it just happens to be heaven. That first day it gets cold enough...the whisper that spreads through schools and neighborhoods...watching the street lights waiting for a any sign of a flake. Its a ritual we all embrace. So joyfully, it snowed!
Sunday morning the kids were up and out the door before Ash and I were even fully awake. Normally on Sundays I just paw at my husbands arm repeating the words, "coffee. coffee. COFFFFEEEEE" until he rolls out and does my bidding. ( okay, maybe not just Sunday... maybe everyday. So what.) Anyhow, today I got up with him and surveyed the damage the kids breakfast had caused. As I grumbled he demanded I go back to bed but it was too late, I had opened the fridge and I was effing hungry.
I cannot fry an egg to save my life. (also, I cannot make french toast. I cannot, I cannot, I cannot!) I was smart enough to marry a man who can, and luckily does. I wanted something savory. He wanted me to get out of his way. I wanted green beans. He wanted me to calm down. I was too quick for him though, I had some beans steaming and a little garlic and onion sauteeing before he could pick me up and physically remove me like he had threatened. I believe it was the delightful smell that changed his mind, because before I knew it he had the sourdough in the toaster and two eggs in hand.

I mixed my green beans and the sauteed yumminess and set it aside while Ashley fried up the eggs in the drippings. The coffee was pouring, the toast was popping, and before you knew it we had this:

The BEST Sunday morning snowy day breakfast ever. That yolk mixed in with the green beans wonderfully. The sourdough sopped up the garlic and onion bits. It was perfect.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a day in the life...

The middle school is having a fundraiser. Which is nothing new if you know us. The kids go to a public k-8 Montessori school. They are getting an amazing opportunity and education for free...well, almost. The middle school addition is only in its 3rd year. I now have two kids attending and the whole damn business needs some cash to get going. So we raise funds. Its worth it really, the 7th and 8th grade trips are going to be really inspiring and leadership camp is something that everyone should be forced to attend, but I digress. Or do I? Whatever. On Friday there will be a holiday craft fair. This gives the kids and families a chance to make, buy, or sell items from other families or local vendors. This includes for the first time ever in my 13 years as a parent: A FUCKING BAKE SALE!!! I love bake sales. I love baking... I love selling. Its really a perfect venue for me.
I spent yesterday finishing up some handmade brooches for the vendor table we rented. I could post a picture, but this is a cooking blog, not a super cool dinosaur in a nest of glass beads brooch blog, is it... Nope! So, anyway, today I baked and confected. What is confected you ask? That would be the word I made up to describe my act of making confections...truffles to be exact.
I made them from this delightful book.

They looked like this...

and this...

After I had those setting up and waiting to be rolled, I made some bread for Ash and myself to eat for lunch. My Husband comes home everyday for lunch, did you know that? Even though it cuts his one hour lunch down to 20 minutes because he's a walker...he still comes home. I made two loaves today. One for us to split for lunch and one for dinner. They looked like this...

So he came and went and I moped about like I usually do for about 20 minutes after he left and then I made these... from a recipe I read at Minimally Invasive. They looked like this...

Only less blurry of course. So now I am off to make dinner. Which I probably won't share with you because I will be too damn tired.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

cleaning out the fridge meal

I wondered what we were going to eat for dinner almost all day yesterday. I pondered fast food. I thought about defrosting the chicken soup in the freezer, I was indecisive and unsure of myself...until about 4 o'clock. I trudged into the kitchen to face my dilemma and was wonderfully surprised. I came upon 1/3 of a bag of organic frozen green beans ( the big Costco sized bag, not your standard grocery store size), 1/2 of a bag of peas ( grocery store size), 2 frozen chicken breasts, some fresh baby spinach, a bag of bow-tie pasta, some leftover lunch ham, the last of the parmesan, and a few cloves of garlic. Of course I also had wine, I always have wine...I mean it's me...who would I be kidding to act surprised by that little find? Certainly not you. I steamed my beans and peas till crisp tender and dumped them into one of my giant bowls, retaining the water to boil the pasta in ( you'll have to add some more of course). I chopped my chicken into small bits and started them on medium heat in the cast iron, sprinkling with salt and pepper. When the chicken was cooked through I removed it from the pan and set it aside and I threw in the 2 oz of sliced lunch ham and cooked until it was a little crispy, then removed and added to the chicken. In the pan to dislodge the crispy bits I tossed in some white wine and then garlic, reducing and adding a little chicken broth ( another constant-don't act surprised), salt and pepper. When the pasta was cooked I strained and added to vegetables reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water which I tossed in as well as the chicken, ham,garlicky wine sauce,parmesan and fresh spinach. Sprinkle with a little dried dill and red pepper flakes, mix it all up and serve. This fed 4 teenagers, 2 grown men, and myself. It was so bulked up with the vegetables it was enough for everyone to have a decent helping. it was good.

spicy pinapple


Saute sweet white onions in a little oil with some chili paste...
Chop up delicious Maui pineapple your parents brought you from their birthday trip.
Mix all together and cook for a few minutes until everything is tender.
Sprinkle with salt.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

on pork

I understand that we were all raised with pork fear.
I know that you were told you'd get worms if your other white meat was even sort of undercooked. Click on this link and pay close attention to the freezing instructions.
This works really well for my family because we buy our meat in bulk locally and have to freeze it in dinner sized portions.

I cook my pork to 150-155 degrees and let it rest for about 10 minutes under some foil. It generally adds about 3-7 more degrees during this rest period leaving me with a juicy tender piece of pork instead of a tough overcooked hunk of yuck. Please don't be afraid. You are really, really selling yourselves short.

Okay, that said...if anyone knows where I can get my hands on some cougar meat, hit me up.


thyme for a friday night fall feast

Its damp. Damp, dark, dreary, chilly and windy. On Friday it was raining in the house. We needed a hearty soul satisfying feast. Whats more feasty than herb stuffed pork tenderloin, rich smashed parsnips( aka smarshnips),buttery asparagus, and warm fresh bread? Nothing, I say! NOTHING. On Thursday night I chopped up fresh thyme, rosemary, a couple cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and mashed it altogether with a fork. I laid out two cleaned and trimmed (all silver skin removed) pork tenderloins that I kind of flattened with my hand in a dish and smeared the herb and garlic mixture all over one side. I stacked one on top of the other and tied with kitchen string at serving sized intervals. This sat in the fridge all night only to be removed about an hour before cooking time so it wouldn't be so chilly when it hit the pan.

I seared this on all sides in a little bit of oil in the cast iron skillet
and dropped into a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. Internal temperature on removal should be about 150. Set this pork aside and as it rests the internal temp will go up a few degrees. In the pan drippings add some chopped shallot and a little garlic. This cooks for about two minutes before you hit it with white wine and scrape the bits off the bottom...cook this down. Let the wine pretty much go away before you add some chicken stock and let it all cook down. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and you should be good to go. This is a super easy meat sauce recipe that can be used in all sorts of contexts.

I cut my loin along the strings tossed them away. I doused it all in the sauce and holy crap.
I mean, really... look.

While the pork was cooking I peeled and chopped my parsnips.

Parsnips are sooo rich a little goes a long way. I chop these all the way to the top discarding the ends. If you use a really large parsnip you may want to cut out the tough center and just use the surrounding less fibrous parts. ( I typically just stick to a little bigger than carrot sized parsnips to avoid the extra work.) Boil these up in salted water or stock, vegetable or chicken, doesn't matter. It doesn't take long to cook these tender. Drain, add a pat of butter, salt and pepper.
and SMASH! I use a potato smasher. I don't put them in a food processor and I do not blend. These are parsnips... a beautiful rustic root that is begging to be rough smashed and enjoyed.
So do it.

They don't look like much... I know, but they taste like a million easily made bucks.

So to finish it all up we had some asparagus with a little butter and dill, which is pretty self explanatory.

Oh yeah! To finish it all up and really bring the feasty aspect all the way home...

(click on this it. its amazing bread)
Friday's bread. With rosemary. Yum.

We are getting a new roof come Thursday...I wonder what we should celebrate with?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

herbfarm beatdown

Miss me? I missed you, I did indeed. I haven't been challenging myself much lately due to the insane cost of food let alone new and exciting ingredients. That coupled with the guilt that I feel because I didn't can or freeze ANYTHING this year, has me feeling pretty frugal and something else I can't quite name- contrite? Maybe... So, anyway, I battled that crappy Herbfarm recipe. As you can tell from the pictures I beat its ass. I put it down soundly. I made it weep little Herbfarm tears. Boo hoo hoo.
I swear it cried all the way home.

I'd love to tell you how but it was awhile ago and I can't remember. It was good though.

( If even one of you someday choose to take me up on my offer to please, pretty please change the original recipe from the previous post and post it here on my blog ...I too will post my new recipe. I was hoping for a fun and exciting game damnit. I know there are at least two of you out there.)

So lets, see...what else have I been up too? OH! This:

I have a link to the right for a site called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and its amazing. That's exactly what I have been doing. Making fresh bread for my family every single day. Its really makes for perfectly cozy fall time house smells. The goal is to eventually eliminate the need to buy bread at the market, period. So far we seem to have a hard time making the loaves last long enough to use them for sammiches. But I did manage to get a few croutons one day.
Speaking of...Its time for soups isn't it? Hmmmmmm....

I'll see you guys soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

fried green tomatoes

Mmmmmmm. Green tomatoes, a few jalapenos, some yellow pear know, garden stuff. Its getting chilly in the mornings and I still have a lot of tomatoes on the vines. I figured before I pulled them out to ripen in a safer location I would try and give myself and my family a fried food heart attack. The older kids are away at leadership camp this week and I was only cooking for four. Ethan and I always get a little bummed out when the house is so quiet so comfort food seemed in order. I made a wonderful jalapeno, brown basmati, meatloaf that I am still waffling about sharing the recipe...(I have about 6 meatloaf recipes. One more amazing than the next and I am not certain you are deserving of them... Yet) Okay, actually I was planning on doing a meatloaf series so keep your pants on. Anyhoo...where was I ??? OH YEAH! Fried green tomatoes. I sliced my tomatoes nice and thick, covered them with salt, pepper, and cajun spice blend. I let these sit for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime I heated, in a cast iron skillet, about 1/2 cup oil on medium high heat.
I used vegetable. (I wanted to use bacon grease but I am not fully committed to the heart attack idea yet) I made up a little dredging station of 1. Flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne 2.Milk 3.Bread crumbs. I dredged and dropped into the heated oil for about 2 minutes per side. Flip
these very, very carefully with tongs. Unless of course you have asbestos hands. Which I bet you don't.

These were delightfully spicy. The kick so much better than the mostly bland fried green tomatoes I have tasted in the past. This is one of those recipes though, where it really comes down to what your family enjoys. You can skip the spice... you can even skip the bread crumbs. You can substitute panko, you can use actual bacon fat! Its up to you. Its a wonderful occasional treat though...and I highly recommend it as an end of season tradition.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

spaghetti with roasted cherry tomatoes and thyme from the herbfarm cookbook

(the following recipe by jerry traunfeld)

Its been awhile since I've been excited to try out someones recipe to the letter. (I guess technically I made some minor adjustments to this one...though I still think they really would not have mattered). Help me out here. I am going to give you the exact recipe that I followed. Perhaps someone can try it out and we can compare notes. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a truly bad experience. It just wasn't what I had anticipated from such a renowned restaurant.
(my family reluctantly nom'ed. really reluctantly.)
Here goes:

6 quarts water
1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pint small cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons very coarsely chopped fresh English thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces dried spaghetti
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Fill a large ( 8-quart) pot with the water, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Using a very sharp thin knife, cut each tomato in half and put them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil then sprinkle with the thyme, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of the black pepper. Using your fingers, gently toss the tomatoes to coat them evenly.

yum, right?

2. Spaghetti. When the water is at a rolling boil, stir in the spaghetti. Put the tomatoes in the oven and roast until the are sizzling, slightly shriveled, and have released some juice in the pan, about 6 minutes. Rinse a large mixing bowl with hot tap water to warm it, then empty the roasted tomatoes into it. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Cook the spaghetti until tender but still firm, 7 to 9minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and toss gently with tongs or two wooden spoons. Serve in warm shallow bowls or plates and pass the cheese at the table.

Alright. I did all of that. As you can see I used yellow pear and red cherry tomatoes.
I used fresh thyme and flat-leaf parley from the garden... and yet.
I will make this again. I will add red pepper flakes to the roasting tomatoes and I will use less parsley and it will be more finely chopped. Try this one out for me would you please?
Lets compare do-overs as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

mexican rice that was so good i forgot to take a picture.

This recipe is technically a two-parter because I made the rice to go into something, but first things first. I am going to give it to you the way I made it because its my blog...though I am going to remind you that your probably not feeding as many boys, men and Isabella's as I am and you will probably want to halve this. I chopped 1 whole onion and sauteed it in 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the onion was transparent I added 1.5 tablespoons ( give or take) of cumin that I had ground in the mortar and pestle, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cayenne, and some black pepper. I added 2 cups of jasmine rice and browned it. Here you can add chicken stock or vegetable stock. I chose vegetable stock for Isabelle's sake. ( Isabelle whom we have taken to calling "PORK") 4 cups of the stock of your choosing and 1.5 cups of good quality tomato sauce. Bring all this to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Check it occasionally...stir it up...taste it...praise it. Now. On to the second part.
I made burritos.

And they looked like this.

And they made people do this.

I steamed some tortillas in the ole microwave. Warmed up some vegetarian fat-free refried beans. ( I know this sounds like some Sandra Lee shit but its a weeknight dinner...make your own damn refried beans if you want to...I got mine from a can) I put some beans, some rice and some of our favorite house hot sauce inside, folded them up, and two by two after spraying a large cast iron skillet with olive oil cooking spray, grilled them for a minute on each side. I topped
with sliced tomato and avocado.
They ate it.

They mean mugged it.
(that is what that looks like right?)
This is yummy and easy to make for anywhere from 1-8 people. (I'm guessing anything over 8 gets complicated no matter what.)
I once made it for just Ash and myself using refried black-beans and some of that tomatillo salsa.
You should use whole wheat tortillas. For a family this size with today's grocery prices, that's not always an option. You could use whole beans and brown rice as well. Have at it.

p.s. the next blog will not have anything to do with my longing for a permanent taco tuesday, i swear!

tomatillo salsa

I needed a cheese and cream free topping for black bean soup. Don't get me wrong, I adore both cheese and cream...they just don't always mesh with the eating light, heart healthy, low calorie diet we've adopted. I found some tomatillos I had picked up at the farmers market along with a few cherry tomatoes and a jalapeno from the garden. Combining all that with a portion of the giant Walla Walla onion Ash brought me, and I was in business. I diced my onion and tomatillo. I rough chopped some cilantro and halved my cherry tomatoes. I removed some of the seeds from my jalapeno and chopped it fine. I squeezed some lemon juice. I dashed with salt and pepper. I bashed it all up and down on the counter in my Magic Fucking Bullet. I tasted. It was fantastically great. I served alongside some avocado on top of my soup. Which I will blog when I get to the soup portion of this season. This really topped everything off perfectly if I do say so myself.

And it was pretty.

The tomatillos really add and apple like sweetness and crunch to an otherwise traditional pico de gallo.
Try it please.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

so what, i lied about the harissa...

Turns out the stuff is genius.
It really was worth the time to make. I roasted up some tomatoes and made a quick pasta sauce using
a little of this and a little of that( actual recipe to follow) and a dash of harissa...PERFECTION. Mix harissa with a little mayo, put it on a turkey sammich...PERFECTION. Add it to a black bean soup...PERFECTION.
I love this stuff. Make some.
I have been cooking. I'll post soon. I have a couple early fall friendly recipes I think you'll want me to make for you.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

harissa, meh

In an attempt to overcome my mid-summer slump I decided to try to make a North African chili
sauce called Harissa that I had been reading about lately. I was bored and it seemed like the perfect way to spend a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon. ( That was sarcasm. I am an idiot.)
The sauce itself is easy enough. I used about 8 dried New Mexico chili's and two Thai chili's that I soaked in boiling water for about a half an hour. Wearing rubber gloves I removed the stems and seeds and put the bits into a blender. Notice I say blender here and not food processor. You should use a food processor...I should have used my magic bullet. Alas, I didn't. I used the fucking blender. So be it. I tossed in 4 garlic cloves, 1tbs ground coriander, 1/2 tbs cumin, salt, pepper, and dried cilantro. I blended it all together using a little bit of the water the chili's soaked in so as to avoid too much olive oil...which I added about 1tbs of. I tasted this as I went because I am hardcore like that. I suggest you be hardcore like that also or this will end up tasting like butt. I put the whole bunch into an empty artichoke jar and put a layer of olive oil on top. This will keep for awhile in the refrigerator. ( 1-2 months) To be honest, I wouldn't suggest making this unless you're really bored. It wasn't exactly worth it. Though I did use it in dinner...and it worked out okay.

Monday, August 4, 2008

its summertime and i am lame

I have been cooking. I have. It's just been repeats or something so excessively boring that its not worth talking about. In the summer our menu is usually just a protein and a veggie. Its just too busy to worry about much else. I know its a lame ass cop out... and I know I had Ash pick me up those golden beets to honor Bronwyn...

I will be back on the ball when the kids get back from camp, I swear. In the mean time. Go back and try making my grilled corn and slather it was some cayenne butter. The grilled baby bok choy seems lonely. Cook it. You all know you could do with more lentils in your life. Make my Dal, it's perfect for summer and will feed you well for days. I think thats what I'll make for dinner tonight. I kinda want something crunchy though. Oooooh! Maybe I'll make some grilled pizza with tomatoes from the garden and roasted golden beets.
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

you have never had it this good pork tenderloin with white wine and shallot sauce

One day back in February I was removing the fat and silver skin from a pork tenderloin while Isabelle watched. The sight of me sliding that very sharp knife under those long veins of inedible tissue turned something in my delightfully carnivorous daughter. She proclaimed right then and there that she would never eat meat again and to her credit she has not. Though everytime I make pork tenderloin with shallot and white wine sauce...I swear I see her salivate. Its so interesting to me that a little girl who I have witnessed sing the praises of meat from bacon to goat, a child who never flinched at the idea of eating babe, or bunny, could just turn her back. Go figure. So. In honor of Isabella's vegetarian proclamation, I bring you, PORK! YUM. Buy the best quality pork tenderloins you can. You are going to want to trim these, wash them, pat them dry. My rubs vary and I adjust based on whatever herb flavor I seem to be craving that week but the base is always the same, dry mustard. This week in my mortar and pestle it was dry mustard powder, salt, pepper, dry onion, lots of oregano, and a dash of thyme. I rubbed this all over both clean pieces of pork, wrapped them in plastic and refrigerated for a few hours. ( I have been known to do this for 24 hours) DO NOT FORGET to let your meat sit at room temperature for about an hour before cooking. I am serious about this. Its important. Now in my big giant cast iron skillet I have some olive oil heating on high heat. Its hot and popping when I toss the tenderloins in and let brown on all sides before I throw the whole entire thing into a 400 degree oven.

I have never been very good at timing things. I tend to cook by smell and browning. Thats not necessarily safe when cooking pork and poultry so I also cook by temperature.
Set your timer for 13-15 minutes and then check your temp. You are going to take the pork out of the oven at 150 degrees internal temp. You'll set it on a plate and cover it with foil and ignore it for about ten minutes while you make an amazing sauce. ( The internal temp will go up to about 155 degrees while the pork sits, this is exactly what you want.)

1/4 cup shallots in the hot pork drippings, cook for a couple minutes and then deglaze with 1/4 cup of white wine. Stir this until it starts to disappear and then toss in 3/4 cup of good quality chicken stock. Let this cook down. Slice your pork into 1/2 inch bits and top with sauce. I have a huge list of exciting sides to go with this. I can't wait until I get to parsnips!
This is the most tender, moist, delightfully perfect pork you will ever eat. I swear.

Monday, July 21, 2008

easy yummy berries.

Marion berries and Black berries were found at this weeks down town farmers market.
2 bucks a pint isn't that bad I guess...but it's certainly not free. We had an abundant supply of berries just across the alley until the berry police bought the house next door and complained until the owners of said berries were FORCED to kill them off. No jam, no pie, no shakes. Sigh. So, Ash brought me two pints of delightful dessert makings! I marinated the berries in a little balsamic with some finely chopped mint and lemon balm for about a half an hour and set it on top of some light vanilla bean ice cream. I think next time I will use spearmint instead of peppermint. It was wonderful and refreshing. No need to add honey. To anything. Really. At least not with this berry combo.

I am a few posts behind.
We don't actually eat dessert very often...but I'm preparing you for a pork tenderloin that will make you want to slap me for being so awesome.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ginger spice cake with chocolate coconut curry drizzle

I am not going to tell you how to make it.
I made it for Annie's birthday dinner.
The afternoon itself was kind of a disaster, but I really liked this cake.
Do you feel like this:
Or maybe like this:

You should. More soon...Things I may actually share.


Monday, July 14, 2008

mommy's meatball subs

Those stupid Subway sandwich commercials have taken over the minds of my family. We don't ever eat there...ever. Yet when I ask what people want for dinner what do I hear? "Subway meatball sandwiches" UGH! What? NO!!! Don't get me wrong... I love meatball subs. Just not crappy ones so I decided to give it a shot.( A waistline, heart friendly shot at that.) I started with John LaFemina's recipe for a basic tomato sauce. In a stock pot over medium heat I cooked 1/4 cup shallots and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic until softened. I added two 28-ounce cans of whole plum tomatoes, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, pinch of pepper and a
pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook this on high heat for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally, breaking up tomatoes slightly, then lower heat to medium and simmer for another 30 minutes. This makes a lot of sauce and the leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months.
While the sauce was cooking I made up some meatballs using my recipe that I really should link to here, but don't know how. It was in June. Find it. I felt guilty feeding my family a fruity meat sandwich. I thought, hmmmm, maybe I should make a salad...AHA! No! I'll make a spinach and arugula topping for this delightful sandwich. Brilliant! ( No, seriously... I really said that. Out loud. To myself. Alone. In the kitchen.) I whipped up my basic vinagrette and remembered to add the lemon juice this time. I washed and chopped some arugula and baby Walla Walla greens from last weeks farmers market. I found some baby spinach in the refrigerator and tossed it all together while I stuck some sourdough rolls under the broiler for a minute. The result was really great. I was really excited. The greens and vinagrette really filled in the flavor of the light tomato sauce.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about this one. It wasn't traditional.
The flavors were lighter, less invasive than you're regular overindulgent sandwich.
The reviews were rave! The kids and the men ate them without pause.
Yay for meatballs!