Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gingerbread Cookies

I haven't made this yet, but my mom gave it to me and said they were amazing. Will make this weekend. Just didn't want to lose the recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbls cocoa powder
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses

1. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
2. Beat butter, sugar, egg, and molasses until fluffy. Stir in other dry ingredients.
3. Refrigerate for several hours or over night.
4. Roll out dough until slightly more than 1/4 inch thick.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

Sugar Icing
1 package confectioners sugar, 1 lb.
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until smooth. If not enough water, slowly add more teaspoon by teaspoon.

Tips: oven temperature is really important when baking cookies. If you don't have a fancy oven (i.e. owning your first home or renting), an oven thermometer is worth it to make sure your oven is just right.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

E and I made this bread over Thanksgiving which was then served to W who went back for seconds. The bread was good straight out of the oven

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Makes 2 loaves

* 1 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
* 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1 tbls honey
* 5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
* 1 cup warm milk
* 4 teaspoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 2 cups dark raisins
* Canola oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 7 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 1 large egg white, beaten

1. In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and honey. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. (We wrapped the bowl in hand towel to keep the water warm.) Mix 1 cup warm water, 1 cup warm milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter in large mixing bowl and then add yeast mixture. Gradually add flour, powdered milk, sugar, and salt. Mix until blended. Knead by hand, 15 or 20 minutes. Add raisins and 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and mix until blended.

2. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand into a ball. Place dough, smooth side up, in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans generously, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon, and set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and cut in half. Cover one piece of dough loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap.

4. Press the other piece of dough into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush with half of the beaten egg, sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar, and drizzle with half the melted butter. Rub the surface with the back of a spoon to blend butter and cinnamon sugar. Starting at a short end, roll up dough tightly, and pinch together along crease. Roll the dough back and forth to make it cylindrical, and pinch the ends together. Transfer to a loaf pan, seam side down, and cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Repeat process with second piece of dough. Let loaves rise in a warm place, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Thirty minutes before this final rise is completed, place a baking stone, if using, in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

5. Brush tops of loaves with egg white, and sprinkle each loaf with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Bake 15 minutes; lower oven to 400 degrees, and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Changes: the honey with the yeast was added. The original recipe called for powdered milk but I didn't have any and unless I am in Guatemala don't keep it in the kitchen. So I substituted a cup of warm milk for one of the cups of water. I kept the milk warm so it won't stop the growth of the yeast.
E also blended in some of the cinnamon into the main bread which I thought was a nice touch.
When I make it again, I may add more butter between the layers. Mmmm...butter...

Bread tips
: I had heard that yeast tends to negatively react to metal. After some online research, this seems to mainly apply to acidic breads like sourdough. I don't think this bread is acidic so I won't worry about it.
If your house isn't very warm in the winter, you can use your oven to help the bread rise. Heat the oven to the lowest temperature possible, turn off the oven door and place the bread bowl inside covered with a slightly damp cloth that is not touching the dough.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pork Roast

I made a port roast this weekend with D., cab never came, and missed the symphony. Life is hard, but meat is good. We got the recipe partly from How to Cook Everything.

Pork Roast Recipe

One pound carrots
One medium onion
Two large red potatoes
Three cloves chopped garlic
Olive oil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Two and a half pounds of pork shoulder

Heat oven to 450. Coarsely chop all veggies to be one inch or a little more. Cook one and a half to two hours until the meat thermometer says 160 to 170 degrees. We did it to 160.

Thoughts and feelings: the shoulder is really fatty and the meat was tough. The carrots, onion, and potatoes were amazing. I am not sure how to make pork roast tender and flavorful. Next time I am going to slow cook at 300 for a really long time and maybe marinate it. Also, I am not going to do it right before the symphony.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup

This soup is great on a cold wintery night, and as an added bonus, cauliflower is in season. This recipe is from The Moosewood Cookbook (the revised classic) with a few variations of my own.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

1 medium potato, diced
1 large cauliflower, cut or broken into pieces
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups grated cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp dill
black pepper, to taste

1. Put potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, garlic, onion, and salt in pot and almost cover the veggies with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until all the veggies are tender. Puree in a blender or food processor.
2. Add these to the puree along with all remaining ingredients. Heat gently, and serve topped with a little extra cheese.

I don't blend all of the ingredients thoroughly so the soup has some consistency to it. You can also put aside two cups of florets of cauliflower, steam them, and put them in the soup after you puree it.

The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, but I don't like them so I never add them.

I also used smoked swiss cheese this time and it was delicious. Enjoy with all its variations.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fried Eggs

I recently read a Cook's Illustrated article about fried eggs. It said you were supposed to heat the skillet on low for five minutes. Add butter. Wait a minute. If butter is browned, then skillet is too hot. Add egg. Flip when appropriate. I tried it sort of but it didn't really work.

I feel like my fried eggs have been getting more disastrous. I am on a 75 percent success to 25 percent failure rate. Usually, I heat the skillet on medium heat. Add butter and then the egg. The lower the heat I cook it at the more likely it is the yolk breaks when I flip it. If it is too hot, the egg gets that weird brown crust. I have to think about how to fix this problem...

Apples, Fake Sausage, and Me

So it has been awhile. Been the week from hell. Did a huge needs assessment on sleep deprivation and college students that was due on Thursday. I haven't been this sleep deprived in a long time. On the brighter side of life, lots of good things happened after the cake was eaten. Personal details disclosed by letter, email and phone. This weekend I have been eating breakfast for every meal. Today's posting hails from one of these meals.

Apples and Fake Sausage

Gimme lean
One apple
Olive oil or butter

Heat frying pan. Low-medium heat. Add olive oil or butter. Wait a minute. Slice apples about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Put on frying pan. Form gimme lean into patties. Heat 'em up. Brown the sausage. Flip the apples a couple of times. Near the end add a little salt and cinamin on top of each apple slice. When the gimme lean is done, the apples should be done. Serve hot.

I am sure this would be better with real sausage but I don't really cook a lot of meat. Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cake #3: Blueberrie lemon cake with white chocolate

So this year is the year of the three cubed. Off to a good start. I included an active link to the recipe. It is on The great thing about this website is that you can read all the people's reviews of the recipe and what they changed. Gee, that doesn't sound familar.

Lemon Blueberry Cake with White Chocolate Frosting


3 1/3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
4 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

11 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), finely chopped
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Additional blueberries (optional)
Lemon slices (optional)

For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until blended, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in lemon juice and peel, then eggs 1 at a time. Continue to beat until well blended. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions. Fold in berries. Transfer batter to pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks.

For frosting: Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until almost melted. Remove from over water and stir until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in lemon juice, then cooled white chocolate.

Turn cakes out onto work surface. Peel off parchment. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with additional blueberries and lemon slices, if desired. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

So about the cake...was very dense. I used an electric mixer this time to whip the butter, sugar, and eggs. The dough was a lovely consistency. But...I forgot to add the baking soda. So it was heavy and I could have cooked it a bit longer than the 40 minutes. I also excluded the lemon zest. I wanted a nice subtle lemon. It was an amazing cake but I am looking forward to eating it with baking soda.

The frosting is amazing. It makes a lot. I cut it into 2/3 and then added semi-sweet chocolate to the other third so I could decorate with it. Next time I made it I would just cut the frosting in half or 2/3. I used an electic mixer which made it very light and fluffy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bean Explosion

I am not sure if I am brave enough to try a soup called Fourteen-Bean Explosion, especially when it is posted by someone called fluffster. But if any of you are, let me know how it goes.

Weird and crazy uses of blue cheese

Did I ever mention I love blue cheese? I do. I really really do. I found Rogue Creamery blue cheese at the local Whole Foods. Was very excited. Then I read the label and realized it was the smoked kind. I don't understand why they smoke the blue cheese. It just tastes like smoked cheese and you miss all of the subtle undertones of mold. So here in the heart of hell (as my Guate friend recently labeled DC and maybe a tad dramatic), I stick to my Maytag blue cheese or sometimes get a little more adventurous. Here is a recent invention:

Raspberry Blue Cheese Tortillas

1 yellow corn tortilla
Some crumbled blue cheese
Good raspberry jam

Run tortilla under water and shake off excess. This helps to soften the tortilla and make it seem fresher. Put blue cheese on the tortilla. Place tortilla in toaster oven and melt the blue cheese. Take it out and let cool a tad. Smear with jam. Eat.

Variations: Put rasberry jam and blue cheese on toast or bavarian bread.

If you know where to get Bavarian bread in the heart of hell, let me know

Monday, September 17, 2007

Green Gazpacho or what to do with those green tomatoes

Green Gazpacho

This recipe comes all the way from the Enchanted Broccoli Forrest (aka Hippy Cookbook). Made this with green heirloom tomatoes but I think straight up green tomatoes would be delicious as well. People at the farmer's market will be trying to unload the green ones when the chance of frost increases.

3 green tomatoes
1 med. green bell pepper
I med cucumber
4 scallions
1/4 cup minced parsely
(I added: 1/4 cup cilantro)
juice of two to three limes mixed with one avocado (keeps it from going bad)
2 med. cloves garlic crushed
3 cups cold water
1 tsp salt
Lots of black pepper
1 tbs fresh basil
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbls honey

Coarsely chop everything that will tolerate it. Put in a blender for 10 seconds so that it isn't completely liquified. Chill.
When serving: put something bright on top as a garnish (minced red pepper, etc.) and sour cream if you want it. Serve with hot corn tortillas with melted cheese. Use tortillas to scoup up soup. Wonder to yourself why you don't live somewhere with a garden...

Note to those tempted to blend in something that is not green: red and green makes brown. Green and alot of colors makes brown. Eating poop like food is no fun.

Black Pepper Pasta and Fall Vegetables

Someone in DC actually let me cook for them! Well, it ended up being more of a group effort. Apparently, to use the pasta machine my dad and I used when I was three years old, you need at least two people. Someone to hold it down and someone to crank it out. I am not sure how this worked when I was three.

I made a variation of the fresh pasta recipe I posted earlier.
I added one tablespoon freshly bought, finely ground black pepper to the recipe.
I also substituted half of the white flour for whole wheat flour.
I had to add about 2 1/2 teaspoons water extra. Maybe because whole wheat flour doesn't hold together as well?

To go on top:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon or so salt
One whole shallot, minced
One green zucchini. cut into thin disks
One yellow zucchini, cut into thin disks
One cob yellow corn, with the kernels cut off

Heat oil on medium heat. Add shallot and salt. Cook until it is a little browned. Add zucchini and corn. Turn heat up to medium high. Cover for about two to three minutes. Stir occassionally. Make sure the vegetables are hot all the way through, slightly seared, and crunchy.

Put on top of pasta.

I like to add a little butter or fresh olive oil to the top as well. It gives it a nice clean flavor that you don't get when the oil or butter has been cooked.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Japan is the best place ever and I haven't even been there!!!

The first person to correctly guess what this is will get a really great surprise in the mail from yours truly. All contestants who have been to/lived in Japan are excluded from this little game. Sorry, boys.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Black Beans beans. Everyone has a recipe. Mine comes from the past. Got it a couple of years ago. Thanks, W. I cannot take credit for it or the writing that is about to follow. Hope you don't mind I am posting it...

"Soak the beans over night. Drain out water in the morning and rinse beans.

"Put the soaked beans in a soup pot, with about a finger's worth of water above the beans. Boil the beans for one hour.

"After half an hour, start sauteeing onions and green peppers in a shit ton of olive oil (as much as you can stand to add). They shoul be bathing in it. Cook them down until soft. AFter the beans have been boiling for an hour, add the onions and peppers and all the oil that they wre cooking in.

"After one more hour, add equal amounts salt and sugar and twice that of white vinager.

"I don't have particular amounts for any of the ingredients, because I always buy the beans in bulk, but I think my mother told me originally for every pound of beans add:

"3/4 c oil,
one medium onion and
one medium pepper,
2 tblsp of both salt and sugar;
4 tblsps vinager.

"I think that's it. Oh, after you've added the sugar, salt and vingager, cook for another hour. Make sure to watch the pot every now and then to make sure that the water doesn't boil all the way down. In the end, I like the beans when they're soupy, but when there's no broth apart from the beans. You can add as much water as you like, though.

"Let me know if any of this is unclear.

"bon apetit"

Things I have learned cooking this recipe:
I usually use about 1/4 cup or a little more of oil. I am a wimp I know, but it is all I can stand.
The vinegar makes it taste a little tangy. Kind of a poor man's substitute for using real lard or bacon. Great for vegans. Real nice flavor. When you don't add the vinegar, the beans have a nice, rich smoothness to them. Just depends what you are in the mood for.
Soaking the beans and then draining them is very important. It gets rid of the weird white foam that forms when you are cooking beans, and it helps break down the enzymes that cause excess gas (aka farting).
Using a red pepper makes the beans too sweet so you can use a red pepper and it adds a nice flavor but cut back or eliminate the sugar.
I like to add garlic. This time I added half a head and left out the vinegar. Very rich.
When I cooked the beans completely in a pressure cooker, I just use it to cut down on the time before you add the pepper, onion, etc. You could probably just add the pepper and all that fun stuff at the beginning and leave the beans in a little longer than an hour. I may experiment with a crock pot...
Wnari also taught me the beauty of freezing beans so I cook a whole recipe just for me and then I have beans for a month.

Salsa recipes to follow...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to the Grind and I Bought a Bike

Update on life:
A poem

I went back to work.
I moved back to my house.
The oven doesn't work.
There are mice in the kitchen.
I bought a bike.
It is a touring bike.
I am in love with it.
Roommates taught me how to shift gears.
I am planning on biking across the US.

The end.

PS More to come soon. I cannot bake or cook for a couple of days. Big paper due.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arepas or Venzuelan Corn Cakes

Wnari taught me to make these. They are a recipe from her Venezuelan aunt. Two secrets exist to these little corn cakes. 1) it is what you put in them that makes them amazing. 2) The flour is special and hard to find. If you live in PDX, you can find it at 31st and Glisan on the east side at an international market. It is the only place Wnari has ever seen it in the US. It is P.A.N. Pre-cooked white corn meal. It is made in Venzuela. I bet you could find it online or if you asked around in a international or latino market.


Pre-cooked white corn meal

Preheat 375 degrees F

The ratio of water to corn meal is about one to one with slightly more water.
The salt is to taste. For two cups of corn meal, I used more than a tablespoon. You should be able to taste the salt in the dough. My recommendation is taste the corn meal before there is salt and then afterwards so that you know what it taste like with salt. The salt is REALLY important, because there will be dough in the middle of the Arepa, and if it isn't salted, it is bland.

When mixing the dough, it should be the consistency of play dough. After the dough has been thoroughly mixed by hand, you a piece of dough that can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. It should definitely be smaller than a tennis ball. You pat it between your hands to get all of the cracks out. In the end, you should have a nice round ball with no cracks. Then start to rotate it between your palms while your palms are cupped. It should look kind of like a toy top. The flatten it out and it should be about 3/4 inch thick in the middle and a little less at the corners. The edges shouldn't be cracked. If they are, the dough isn't wet enough. the dough will dry out as the cornmeal absorbs the water so just add a little water if you need to while forming them into discs.

Heat a non-stick skillet or a well-seasoned caste iron skillet (i.e. HR and MA style) over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, put the arepas on and brown the outsides a bit. They should be a light brown with a few patches slightly darker. This is the give the outer part a nice crunch.

Then put them in the over 20 minutes before you are ready to eat. I didn't get the exact time they should be in the oven. So I would check them at 15 minutes. They should sound hallow when you thump them. I didn't believe it would work, but it did. Also, they should be cracked around the edges.

NOTE: These are best served straight out of the oven. If you have left overs that have already been baked, forget it. But if you have ones that have only been browned, you can cook them the next day. They should be served on the table in a large bowl with a hand towel lining the inside and covering the top to keep them hot.

Eating them: When you get them out of the oven and are ready to eat, Slice the edge of one and through the entire inside while leaving most of the sides intact. It should look like a whole pita. Then fill it any combination of:
Homemade black beans (recipe to follow)
Tillamook cheddar cheese
Nancy's sour cream
Homemade salsa
Homemade peach salsa with cucumbers
Plantains fried in butter
Or anything you can think of

The other combination that is really good is butter and jam. Usually that is my last arepa.

If you want to know more about them:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh, how you make my life complete, Advanced Capitalism.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Ironic" Cake #2: Yellow Cake

For cake #1, see joseph's blog around April.
It was L's birthday, and since I haven't figured out how to silk screen yet, the cake had to do. After the interpretive dance I did to the song, the matching birthday cake was brought out...much laughter ensued before and after.

Here is the recipe:

Rich Yellow Cake

Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day. page 528

4 cups sifted flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter (room temp.)
1 3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yokes, well beaten, (room temp.)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk (room temp)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter, flour 2 8-inch cake pans. (I didn't do this. I had to use pie pans, but I did butter and flour them) Line with parchment paper. (I didn't do this either, because last time I used parchment paper it started burning in the over. My mom came over and said next time I should do it and that it works really well.)
Sift flour and baking powder. (I never do this. I have never owned a sifter.)
Cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yokes and add vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir the batter until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 45 minutes. (The cake rises a lot so don't fill all the way to the top.) Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes and then cool on the counter.

Thoughts and feelings: Really dense and a little flavorless. Next time maybe cream the butter more??? Also the recipe called for 2 tsp vanilla and I used about 3 tsp vanilla. If I make it again, I will use 4 tsp vanilla. I am not really sure how to fix this recipe...maybe a kitchen aide or electric mixer??? We didn't have ice cream. That might have helped, but a good cake should stand on its own. Especially this one.


Dark Chocolate Ganache

Recipe: America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. A friend is letting me borrow this. I love the show but haven't ever used a recipe.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used about 7 or 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon cognac (I used rum)

Bring cream and butter to simmer in saucepan over medium-high heat. Place chocolate in blender. Add hot cream and rum. Blend for about three minutes or until it is smooth. Transfer to bowl. Let sit at room temp for an hour.

Thoughts and feelings: we used semisweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli. They recommended Hershey's Special Dark. The icing was thin but good. I think we should have just eaten it and skipped the cake. A good variation might be to add a teaspoon or so of finely ground coffee beans depending on what kind of cake you have.

Other things I learned: I need a piece of paper so I can keep track of how many cups I have added. Someone once told you are either a good cook or a good baker. I wanted to prove them wrong. To be a good baker, you have to be very exact and precise. I think I am going to have to work on that...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pasta or dinner for a woman named after a river in India (Wnari)

Wnari has been needling me to cook for her for awhile. And since I can never say no...

What I made:

Fresh Pasta

Recipe from: The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day. Say what you will about her but I love this cookbook. It has little instructional and is basic. A good alternative to the Joy of Cooking, etc. etc.

3 cups flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
(Plus a teaspoon of water if you lose some egg white. Will explain.)

Ms. Stewart wants you to make a mound of flour on the counter and dig out a hole in the middle. In this hole, you put all of the wet ingredients. Then you slowly stir it with your finger or a fork (I tried both in desperation neither really worked). Needless to say, I got a little bit of egg white on the kitchen floor. Next time I am just using a bowl. Novel, I know.

When it is all mixed in, kneed it for about 10 minutes or until it is elastic. It should be very stiff. If you lose any egg or liquid, the dough won't come together. Add a teaspoon or less at a time.

Roll out the dough. A mason jar is not a good implement to roll out dough with. So if you don't want to invest in a pasta machine, get a rolling pin. Luckily my dad called during this whole process and I finagled the nine month loan of the pasta machine we used to make pasta together when I was three years old.

Roll it really thin. It plumps in the water a lot. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough. Hang it to dry.

When cooking, boil water. Add salt to the water. It should be enough to make the water taste like salt. Add pasta. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute after water returns to boil.

Pesto or something like it

This recipe is all me. Never made it before. Of course, it turned out looking like poop. I am not exaggerating.

Olive Oil (1/3 cup)
Pasta water (1/2 cup) I was told that this is the secret to all good pasta sauces from two reliable sources.
Three red peppers, roasted
1/2 head of garlic, roasted
Four cloves garlic, raw
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts
2 bunches of basil (about three cups packed, I think)

Blend it all together. Toss on hot pasta.

The two people that saw this pesto in the daylight commented on its diarrhea like appearance, but it tasted really good. Solution: Serve pasta by candlelight and no one can tell what it looks like. Maybe that is why restaurants are always dimly lit...Next time, I just have to remember that red and green makes the color brown and this is not always a good thing when you are cooking.

What I did really like about this recipe is that the roasted garlic gave it a nice rich flavor and the raw garlic added a light spiciness. Thanks, M.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Road Bike

I want to buy a road bike. Light. Not fixed gear. Fast. $800 or less.
Any suggestions? Any must haves?
Purpose bike to work. Any suggests on how to carry my stuff to work? I usually have some books, some work out clothes, a pair of shoes, and food. It rains and snows where I leave. Sometimes, there are even hurricanes although I probably won't go to work on those days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chili: The first try

Minus the time for soaking beans, this recipe takes about four hours total. But it is great if you have other things to do around the house or are near a lake where you can swim during the simmering time...


1. Package raw black beans
Soak beans for four hours. Cook for two to three hours simmering. Add enough water so that the beans never burn. (One time I burnt pinto beans and the smell stayed in the house for days. Bad times.) Maybe three or four inches of water over the beans. Add more as needed.

2. Two to two and a half hours into it or about a half an hour before you think the beans are going to be done...
Three pounds chicken, 1-inch cubes
One to two tablespoons butter

Brown chicken. Saute chicken until meat is cooked. Pour off some of excess fat, juices, butter. Brown the meat. Stirring as needed so that meat doesn't burn.
When meat is browned add a little bit of water to get the browned goodness off the bottom of the saute pan. Then add...
One red onion, chopped
One yellow onion, chopped
One head garlic, pealed and diced
1/4 cup olive oil

Salt, to taste
(I added celery and garlic salt too so if you don't like it salty, be sure to use the salt here sparingly.)
Simply organic vegetarian chili flavor or something similar

After onions are translucent, add..
Three large carrots, sliced
One green pepper, diced

Cook five minutes, covered if needed.

3. When starting to cook meat, I added straight chili powder, about a tablespoon or so, to the black beans to give them a little flavor.

4. When beans are cooked, add:
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
Stir fry

Four to six ounces of tomato paste

(Not too much. You want it to be thick. The black beans will start to break down to add thickness as well.)
Chili powder, to taste, roughly one to two tablespoons or more

Cayenne, to taste
(I was once told this was the secret to what makes chili taste like chili.)
Celery salt, to taste

Garlic salt, to taste.

The cayenne and spices will even out a bit as it simmers.
Two 16-ounce cans kidney beans
, you can make these fresh two if you want. If not, just rinse them.
Simmer one hour.

Good accompanyment: Cornbread
Topping: Chives and cheddar cheese. Adds a little color.

Feeds: Three grown men, three 12- to 13-year-old boys, three grown women with enough for three servings of chili with fried eggs for breakfast or lunch the next day.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Camping: The Basics

I tried to go camping. Rule number one: Just because your dad climbed mountains a couple of decades ago doesn't mean you shouldn't help with the preparation. Rule number two: don't let your brother pack for you. Rule number three: bring sleeping bag on every camping trip.

So we tried. We really did. The roads were against us. The weather was against us. We camped one night, my dad and I, in a very small tent. Good times. Then we got a 100 dollar hotel room with the soft beds and fake rustic wood frames. Then we drove to Idaho to spend time in a nice warm house on a lake with the rest of the family.

Things I got from the trip: nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia and lots of time with my dad. Things my dad got from the trip: some kind of viral rash all over his neck. Things we both got from the trip: we need a list for next year. And here it is...

1. Tent
2. Sleeping bags
3. Tarp
4. MSR Stove Kit with fuel
5. Towel
6. Metal silverware
7. Leatherman or cheap rip off
8. Soap (dish washing/armpit washing)
9. Apples for lunch
10. Waterproof matches
11. First Aid Kit
12. Target Fruit Chocolate Trail Mix
13. Camelbacks
14. Bug spray
15. Sunscreen
16. Lightweight hat
17. Wind Shirt
18. Three pairs socks
19. Plan meals
20. Sunglasses
21. Camera
22. Eggs
23. Dry Hummus
24. Tortillas
25. Oil
26. Cards/Backgammon
27. Scrubber for pots
28. Dish for person not using MSR
29. Coffee Mug
30. Powdered Gatoraide or Tang
31. Beano but probably better Gas X
32. Plastic Panchos
33. Tent cord for hanging food/tying down fly
34. Blister Kit
35. Ibuprofen
36. Toothpaste/toothbrush
37. Deodorant

The end.