Friday, December 25, 2009

Grades

I got an A in history!! History is the bane of my existence. I understand its importance and I'm all for learning basic history but studying it in detail and writing a historiography has to on my list of least favorite things to do, ever.

Looking back, this class was fun and I actually felt like my final paper clarified some important things for me. The one class where I was convinced I was going to get a B, I got an A!

Of course, in the interest of Karma, the one class where I thought I was guaranteed an A, there is a strong possibility I'm going to get a B. Figures. And my other two classes are completely up in the air. I have no idea how I'm going to do.

I'm crossing my fingers and if worse comes to worse, I'll quit school and open a cafe. Not really. Well, maybe. No just kidding. Kind of.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Coconut Soup Revisited



I've been craving Thai food but out East it is apparently extremely difficult (or expensive) to find Asian products besides the ubiquitous soy sauce and peanut dressing. For example, two little pieces of Lemongrass are $2.99 at Whole Foods! That's ridiculous. Ginger, too, is excessively expensive when it's actually a cheap product to grow (I just found it reasonably priced at Trader Joe's, thank goodness!). Forget about Kaffir limes or Thai chilis. Most groceries have never even heard of the stuff. So this recipe is basically me throwing everything Thai in my house into a pot.

Ingredients
1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed
1 tsp red curry paste (or to taste)
2 tsp chili sauce (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 small package mushrooms, sliced in half or quarters
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Dash of lemon juice or lime juice

Directions
1. Mix everything together in a pot
2. Bring to a boil and simmer until mushrooms are slightly cooked (You don't want to overcook them because the flavor starts to dissipate and then they become very chewy. You want them to be tender)
3. Pour into a bowl, add the citrus juice and enjoy! (Lightly chopped cilantro is also a good garnish)


Note on Coconut milk: get a Thai brand!! I've been using Whole Foods brand but I bought a case of a Thai brand at Costco (I got my first Costco Card, yay!) and it is amazing! There is a noticeable different in taste and quality. And don't ever get low-fat coconut milk. If you're going to make something with coconut milk, a huge part of the flavor comes from the coconut fat. If you want low-calorie food, make something else.

Mashed Potatoes

For those of you who don't know me, I have strange eating habits. I'm an environmentally conscious eater but I love meat, so I'm almost always a vegetarian and then occasionally I'll pick up some locally grown, grass-fed beef and make fajitas.

On top of that, I'm trying to limit my dairy intake because I think it's causing my sinus allergies. Apparently it is a common problem among Mediterranean peoples. I went without dairy for two weeks and it my sinuses totally cleared up. I seriously wasted hours and dollars visiting doctors and specialists and none of them could tell me what was wrong. Then I read something somewhere and cured myself! Amazing.

That being said, I have a serious weakness for dairy. And meat. And desserts. Any kind of food, really. So you will see recipes on here from time to time that include meat or dairy (or both!) but I promote environmentally friendly and locally sourced food, always and that's always what I use.

With that disclaimer out of the way....
MASHED POTATOES!
I love red potatoes and I love mashed potatoes. This is hands down the best recipe I've ever made. Ever.



Ingredients
2.5 pounds mashed potatoes, quartered (it's like 4-6 medium-large potatoes)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated


Directions
1. Put potatoes and garlic in a pot and cover with water
2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes
3. Drain potatoes and garlic.
4. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mash.
5. Enjoy!

Note: If you use an immersion blender or food processor to blend it, it becomes this thick and creamy sauce. You can puree half and mix it in with the rest for a smoother mashed potatoes, or puree all of it and serve it as a base underneath some steaks or pork chops.

P.s. I love mashed potatoes with fresh cranberry sauce. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! The Cranberry Sauce at Trader Joe's is excellent, but it's seasonal so get it while they still have it. Only, I recommend excluding the cheese if you're going to eat it with the cranberry sauce. They do not go well together.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dog Continued...

So, My roommate's dog was ridiculously sick last week and one of her victims included a sofa cushion. We found a cleaner nearby that said he would clean the sofa cushion for $25. Awesome. My neighbor and I went to deliver the cushion (my neighbor has a car and my roommate had work).

We kept driving around the area and could not find the darn place! I called my roommate who has the place's number but she didn't pick up the phone so I finally called my neighbor on the other side and asked her to google the place. So she googles them and we are technically right in front of where the store should be but it's not there! I know it exists because we talked to someone on the phone. It's not like they disappeared overnight.

Finally I got the number and called the man. He's actually miles away! Nearly half an hour by car. Turns out the google listing was wrong!! So we came back to try another day.

Google: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Procrastination

Hi All,

I'm writing the final draft of my final final paper. So of course I'm not actually working on it. I just found this website where you enter all the foods and spices in your pantry, and then it matches up recipes you could make. It shows what percent of the recipe you have (i.e. if it has five ingredients but you only have 4 in your pantry, it says you have 80% of the ingredients) and it also lists what more you would need. It's really flipping cool!

Here's the address, check it out: www.recipematcher.com


Over and out.

Sick as a Dog

That phrase is no joke. When a dog gets sick, it gets REALLY sick. And dogs don't know where to barf, so they just do it everywhere. My roommate's dog got sick the other day when I was supposed to be writing my final final paper and my roommate was at work. It got sick everywhere. And the smell was so nasty, I kept gagging and had to escape into the hallway.

She got the carpet, the sofa, her crate and the bathroom (after I finally caught her and locked her in there). It was disgusting. I called my roommate and begged her to leave work early, which thank the lord she did. I managed to clean one up before I could not take it and spent the rest of my time working on my paper in the hallway.

At one point the mailman came in and looks at me and goes, "Apartment A, right?"
And I was like, "yeah".
He goes, "What are you doing working out here?"
"You don't want to know..."

In the meantime I've stocked up on loads of scented candles and carpet freshener. My house has a lovely baking soda and apple spice smell to it now...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weather Update!

Forecast: Snow



Friday, December 18, 2009

Not Even Funny

I just got my first assignment for next semester, and I'm still not done with my last paper for this semester!!! That's not even funny.

Politician Sighting!

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton came to campus to speak. I had finals so I did not go, but I watched her get out of her car on my way to turn in final papers #1 and #2 (out of 4). I do believe she is the first major American politician I have seen in person...considering I've seen the chancellor of Germany, the president of Turkey, and the former presidents of Latvia and Poland, that's pretty sad.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You don't see that very often...


Holiday Season: Best Chocolate Bark Ever


Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Bark
I cannot get enough of this. And I make it during the holidays ONLY because otherwise I'd be fat. There are no measurements because I kind of lost the recipe and just sort of mix stuff in. So every bar batch is different from the previous ones.

Ingredients
Hazelnuts
Orange Zest
Bittersweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt (I HIGHLY recommend Maldon Sea Salt. It's slightly more expensive but worth it)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425F
2. Spread hazelnuts out on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes
3. Place hot hazelnuts on a dish towel and then wrap the dish towel around it so they can't get out (they're sneaky little things). You want to rub the nuts around so that the skins come off. Then take them out and rub them all a little more to make sure the loose skin is off. Wow. That was the most unintentional naughty sounding directions ever.
4. You want to coarsely chop the hazelnuts, which you can do by putting them back in the towel and hitting them with a hammer. There are other methods I suppose, but this is the most fun.
4. Orange zest: You can either zest it finely with a microzester, or use one of the fancy zesters, or use a peeler and then cut the peel into thin strips. Just make sure to avoid the white between the skin and the orange because it's bitter.
5. Melt chocolate chips in a pan while stirring constantly. Typically when you're melting chocolate you want to use a double-boiler or two pots with water in the bottom one, but in this case the chocolate needs to barely melt so just keep an eye out and make sure you don't let the chocolate burn.
6. Mix half the hazelnuts and most of the orange zest into the chocolate.
7. Pour the chocolate onto a tray that is lined with aluminum foil or waxpaper
8. Sprinkle with remaining nuts, zest and salt
9. Leave in the fridge for an hour and once it is set, cut into smaller pieces. You can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days but I guarantee it will not last that long!

Cilantro Pesto Pasta


Cilantro Pesto Pasta
I totally made this up! And I can't get enough of it! It's amazing! Eat it!
Ingredients
Cooked pasta
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cilantro
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove

Directions
1. Blend cilantro, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic. Try with a small amount of oil and just add enough to make it smooth
2. Mix in with pasta and sundried tomatoes. It's good hot, but it is WAY better cold. Yummy.

EASY. DELICIOUS. MAKE IT.

Thanksgiving: Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup



Leftover Turkey (or Chicken) Tortilla Soup
Ingredients 
2 small cans chopped and peeled tomatoes
corn kernels
green beans
potatoes, chopped
Handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped (including stems! That's where the flavor is)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped 
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Leftover chicken/turkey, shredded

Directions 
1. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft
2. Puree 1 of the cans of tomatoes and half of the second can
3. Once onions and garlic are soft, add tomato puree, rest of tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro and poultry. Add two cans of water (fill the empty tomato cans with water)
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
5. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes more
6. Serve! You can add crispy tortilla chips, shredded cheese and/or sour cream

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weather

First Snow of the Season!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving: Candied Pecans




Candied Pecans
I made candied pecans because I was too lazy to buy walnuts when we already had pecans to home but you can really do this with any nut you want toasty and sugary. I made it the night before and served it in a salad with goat cheese (you can use bleu cheese), cranberries, apples (you can use pears) and a wheat beer vinaigrette dressing. 

Directions and ingredients
1. Start toasting nuts in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until they get toasty but not burned
2. Add enough butter to cover all the nuts
3. Sprinkle sugar* on nuts until they are lightly covered. Continue to saute briefly until sugar covers carmelizes but before it burns
4. Set out on a tray to let them cool**

*white or brown sugar depending on what you want it for - brown is better for snacking, white is better for accessorizing in a larger dish
**This whole process should be less than 10 minutes, so be attentive! It is very easy to burn the nuts and/or the sugar

Thanksgiving: Apple Pie




Ingredients
Dough
2 cups flour
2/3 butter or shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
cold water

Filling
7 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1.5 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons softened butter

Directions
1. Set oven to 450F

Dough
2. Combine flour, butter and salt with a pastry blender or fork. You're supposed to do it until they're "pea-sized balls". I have no idea what that is. I just sort of mixed it together until it was in little crumbles.
3. Add cold water one spoonful at a time.You want to work the dough as you add the flour WITH YOUR HANDS until it's "doughy" and roll-able.*
4. Roll out a little more than half the dough and line the pie plate. Trim pastry to fit the plate

Filling
5. Combine filling ingredients except for butter.**
6. Fill pie with filling
7. Dot butter on top of filling
 
8. Roll other half of dough out. Brush the edge of the bottom half of the dough in the pan with water. Put top half over and crimp the edges together. Poke holes in the top, or cut out pretty shapes to let steam escape while baking.***
9. Bake for 10 minutes
10. Turn oven down to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes
11. Let it cool for an hour before serving. I HIGHLY recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream

*The water will just sit around if you try to use the fork. Dough is dirty. Your hands will get dirty. You counter top will get dirty. Get use to it. This doesn't take too much water so be careful.
** I actually didn't have lemon zest so I just ignored that. It was fine without it, but it might add to it if you have some. There were also some wankers on the website where I got the recipe who went on and on about how it was "so much cinnamon the apples were brown". EXCUSE ME, that is apple pie. If you don't like it, make something else!
***I had serious issues with the dough because it kept falling apart and I had to re-roll it. It might have been that I used 1 tablespoon too much water...who knows

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie


So I bought a pre-made graham cracker crust but I had extra filling left over so I made more crust and I thought it was fantastic! So I've included directions for both...

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425F
2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl
3. Beat eggs in another bowl.
4. Mix pumpkin and dry ingredients into eggs
5. Slowly stir in evaporated milk
6. Pour filling into pie crust and bake for 15 minutes
7. Reduce oven temp to 350F and bake for another 40-50 minutes. You don't want to overbake the pie because it will start to crack, but you also don't want to check by inserting a knife because it totally ruins the pie. I recommend just eye-ing it between 40-50 minutes and making a decision.
8. Cool for two hours before serving. You can refrigerate it and serve it later, but from what I understand the crust gets soggy. Some chefs recommend popping it in the oven again for 10 minutes before serving it and apparent that fixes the sogginess. I didn't have that problem with the store bought one.

Graham Cracker Crust
 Ingredients
1.5 cup squashed graham crackers (or graham cracker crumbs. Apparently they sell that now. LAZY)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar
2. Add butter and mix until it's all sticky
3. Press into pan
4. Here's the tricky part. Some people recommend baking for 10-15 minutes while others say to refrigerate for two hours. I did both and it still kind of fell off the edges. I could only get it to sit normally on the base. So good luck!