It’s not that hard to cook…

January 28, 2010 § 3 Comments

Alex and I have been going on quite the food adventure lately.  While I’m sorry to say that I have no pictures to prove it (camera malfunction), I do have words to describe these dishes. So I will use them. Bear with me, if you’d care to.

#1:  Bagels

On Saturday, we made bagels.  Basic how-to — Mix yeast, warm milk and a bit of bread flour in a bowl. Let sit. Add more bread flour, egg yolk, oil, sugar, salt. Let sit for longer, preferably somewhere warm. Roll dough into balls and poke out center. Let sit. Poach bagels (place in simmering water for 3 minutes each side). Brush with egg white and whatever flavor you want it to have.

Alex and I made 16 small(er) bagels in 8 flavors:

thyme, dill, oregano, cinnamon/sugar, salt, garlic salt, raisin, & cumin/oregano.  They are delicious. Warm with butter.

#2:  Slow-cooking. Simple instructions and few ingredients –   mix together dijon mustard and orange marmalade and pour it over pork-chops with thyme, salt, pepper, and a little bit of water.   Cook it on low for 6-7 hours. (Because our work days are more like 10 hours, I made this the night before and let it cook while we slept. Discovery: Cooking pork is NOT the first thing you want to smell at 6 in the morning).

#3:  Weeknight dinner by myself. Cooking just for myself allows me a little more freedom, as I don’t have to worry about accidentally feeding Alex things he might not like.  I can…experiment more.  So tonight for dinner I decide to try my luck at poaching an egg.  I had decided this before randomly coming across an article in a food magazine on how to poach an egg.  I knew it was fate.

For all the hype (see “julie & julia), it really wasn’t that hard.  I think the secret is (which my cooking magazine let me in on) to break the egg into a ramekin before you slip it into the boiling water.  Then, as you are placing it in, be careful to let water into the ramekin as the egg slides out.  Makes for a smoother transition, I think.  Once you have it in there, you just have to control the whites so they don’t spread out all over the pan. The only thing I would adjust next time is the length of time I leave it cooking.  I probably left it for about 3 minutes, but the yolk was very runny. Please imagine the rest of the dinner with a firmer set yolk. Please do not interpret that last sentence in any way but that which I intended.

The rest of the dish? Polenta fried in olive oil with tomato sauce, edamame, and cooked cabbage.  Seasoned with – dill and garlic salt (really, I use dill and garlic salt way too often for seasoning. But we like it. and it was good for the polenta/veggie mix). Oh, and just regular salt and pepper for the egg. Can’t be too creative the first time you poach an egg.

It’s health food, people, and it’s good. and economical. and not that hard to cook.

Weekend Getaway (with a focus on food)

January 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

This weekend Alex and I had the chance to get away to Cayucos, a small, sleepy beachtown just up the coast from Pismo and just south of Cambria.

How nice it is to leave town, even for a couple of days.  Alex and I spent Friday afternoon driving, and arrived Friday night with just enough time to peruse the tiny grocery store and pick up a few essentials (essentials, for us, were tortilla chips, corn tortillas, hummus, apples, bacon, milk, eggs, cheese (gouda and cheddar) and butter. Oh, and two pints of icecream. we also brought popcorn and candy. Not the most well-rounded diet. so what.)

Saturday we perused antique shops and went wine-tasting. And then we went out for dinner. And oh my, was it delicious.  And affordable.

Every January, the upscale restaurants in the wine country area participate in something called restaurant month.  In this, the restaurants offer three course meals with wine pairings for only $30.  This is a good deal, people.

My meal consisted of (sorry for the absence of wine pairings, I can’t remember any of them):

1st course: baby greens tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, with a warm goat cheese round, tomatoes, cooked onions, and HALF A BULB OF ROASTED GARLIC (with a miniature fork to remove the cloves).

2nd course: salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes (probably my favorite part of the meal), green beans, and cooked spinach

3rd course: ginger creme brulee. with fresh berries. and orangey spicy jelly stuff.

There you have it. A memorable meal.

Alex and I thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing weekend away. And after a drive back on wet roads, with rainfall and traffic, we are safely home.

On making our home.

January 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

Deer <A hoofed grazing or browsing animal, with branched bony antlers that are shed annually and typically borne only by the male>.

::: This is our deer, Harold. I painted his outline on our kitchen wall. A friend gave him fur and spots.

This is our couch.

These are our blinds at 2:45 in the afternoon after I hit them with my hand to make them move around (attempt at photographic art #3).

I have rearranged 9 times in 6 months. I guess shifting all our stuff around to different positions in our place has eventually made it a place I like to be.

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

Here we are: 2010. A decade ago I remember celebrating new years as an eighth grader, welcoming in the millenium with drama and attempts at dancing. This year I spent new years eve with close friends, drinking sangria, eating ceviche and playing games. Anyone who knows me knows I love Christmas. But this year I have decided that New Years is also a day worth celebrating.

Alex and I very much enjoyed our first Christmas season together.  It was fun to attend the work Christmas parties and nice to have an excuse for extra gatherings with friends. Alex  surprised me this year with tickets to the Nutcracker at UCLA – the first time I have gotten to see the Christmas classic. We spent the holiday itself with his family in Fresno, got to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, feasted plenty, and had enough time to complete a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Sweet, sweet rest.

And now, it is time for a new year. Resolutions come first. Then lots of cleaning and reorganizing and simplifying. Time for reflection on all that took place last year, and time to look ahead and anticipate the next year. I love it. Maybe its because I love cleaning, and love restoring order. But there is also something so right about having time and space to acknowledge things that have happened, to prepare for more things that will happen, and to consider ways that we can make adjustments to ourselves to let in the richness of life. So here are a couple things I will share related to the New Year:

This is the pumpkin pie oatmeal recipe I had been wanting to make since my sister posted about it in October. Well, I made it. On December 31. It was sort of a pre-new Year’s resolution to make it, because I couldn’t see myself wanting to eat anything pumpkin flavored once the Christmas season officially ended.

This is the secretary Alex and I are the proud inheritors of. You  know what I like about antique, older furniture? Compartments. None of these OfficeDepot desktop storage things, no, this furniture’s organization is BUILT IN. And organization is to me one of the more satisfying tasks of life.

One of my projects was to reorganize our pantry. I went to Savers and bought several glass or tin canisters. Now we have cute, neat storage places for rice, flour, etc. I also threw out old frozen leftovers that were no longer worth eating. And I created a google document of recipes I want to try, that includes a column for the category the recipe falls into (soup, vegetarian), the season the recipe would most appropriately be consumed in, and the ingredients included in the recipe so that going to the store for them is less intimidating.

Finally, Alex and I are hoping to make progress in several projects this year. He is setting out to learn (master) French. I dreamed about a dress, and now want to make it. Of course, there are plans for improved physical fitness (as most all of us make after six weeks of feasting. Really, what would most New Years resolutions be if the new year fell in April or July instead of right after Thanksgiving and Christmas?) And, of course, we continue to look to God for his plans for our future and anticipate what steps we might take in 2010.

Welcome to 2010. Happy New Years, everyone.

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