Can’t take me anywhere

After a pint-sized tantrum last weekend, when I complained bitterly that we don’t go anywhere interesting to eat, thus depriving my brain of opportunities to ponder new culinary concepts, we decided to go out somewhere decent tonight. We chose a restaurant called Silo Elevated Cuisine that had come highly recommended by the locals. I had wanted to go there another time when some drug reps had held a dinner there, but we had a conflicting schedule that night. So this was a make-up session.

The restaurant also had the selling point of offering a prix fixe menu, which is a feature that I absolutely adore for one reason and one reason only: there is no dithering about after the meal with me desperately wanting to order dessert, while some douchebag (and there is always at least one) loudly announces “Oh my goodness, I couldn’t possibly. I’m just STUFFED.” Yeah, you know what? How about you just GET stuffed? Because now I cannot possibly order dessert, since you’ve already told the waiter you want the tab and everyone is shuffling around in their wallets for currency. It ALWAYS happens.

And then if you have the audacity to say “Um…I’m not stuffed. It turns out I still have a whole bunch of room in my dessert-belly, even though my savory-belly is full” people look at you like you’re some kind of raving glutton. And then, if you suffer the indignity of giving the waiter an additional order after he’s already printed the tab, the looks of people thinking you’re a pig, the stigma of being the dessert-fiend, just to get some of that awesome-looking dessert, the people you’re eating with sigh and take off their coats…AND THEN THEY TRY TO TAKE BITES OUT OF YOUR DESSERT!! The waiter always brings a whole handful of extra forks to facilitate this, and that also pisses me off, but what am I supposed to do? “Yeah, can I have the lemon chiffon cake with the white chocolate pastry cream and just the one fork so these vultures can’t make off with it?” No. It’s ugly. With prix fixe, you always get dessert, and everyone always gets their own. And I like that.

I also liked that they had their menu posted online, so I could sit and mentally figure out exactly what combination I was going to order during the day. The thing I was the most excited for was the chocolate mousse with salted caramel and cocoa nibs. Drool. I decided to go with the house salad instead of the Caesar, and the raspberry-chipotle glazed pork loin with ancho-cherry sauce, garlic spinach, and green chile mac n’ cheese. Only I wanted veggies instead of mac n’ cheese (you never know when they’ll put bleu cheese in their mac n’ cheese, and that’s not a risk I’m willing to take).

I got ready, wearing my awesome new jeans and some really cute black boots that I got at Nordstroms last year at the end of the season. They’re knee-high leather, and make me well over six feet tall, and I love them. I had never worn them before tonight. I had taken time with my eyeliner, and had done something with my hair, and was feeling all miniature because my new jeans are a size 5 and I had managed to button them without unfortunate muffin-top happening. It was all systems go, which was strange feeling since I haven’t worn anything that wasn’t locatable at Lady Footlocker in months. I mean, shit, I was wearing PANTS. So you can imagine how delighted I was when I stepped out of the car at the restaurant and realized that my heel had broken off of my BRAND NEW BOOT in the drive over. Seriously. I am not joking. Fortunately my pants were long enough that I could just walk on one boot and one tippy toed heel-less boot and nobody was any wiser. But I felt really silly in my soul.

We sat down, and the waitress came over to take our order. She looked kind of sorry for us since we were eating at 6:30 on a Friday night like a pair of sad geriatrics, but let’s be real–I have to run my farthest yet tomorrow morning, I needed to carbo-load (cannot get enough of the carbo-loading, I tell ya), and I am HUNGRY by 6:30. I am usually hungry by 5:00, but manage to distract myself by counting sheep and marshmallows and sheep-shaped marshmallows until prime time television starts. She started yammering about the wine list, so I just picked the top riesling off the list (I know, I know, you wine people are probably cringing) and ordered it hoping she’d make with a bread basket soon. She came back with the wine, and it was sad. I never remember how measly an actual “serving” of wine is. At home, where I usually drink wine, a glass of wine means a glass. Full of wine. Not a small sample to put in my mouth hoping that there will be enough that some liquid will reach my back taste buds before being absorbed into my tongue grooves. See? This was after only a couple of little sips.

She finally came to take our order, and mispronounced fois gras, at which point I interrupted her and told her exactly what I wanted for all three courses. Chris did the same (he ordered almost exactly what I did, only kept the mac n’ cheese) since the only other options were seafood (which isn’t our favorite) and a vegetarian risotto that boasted pea tendrils. I get that pea tendrils are delicate and sweet and delicious, but all I could picture at the time was a green octopus rising out of a sea of white risotto and reaching its tentacles/tendrils at me. Must have been that tablespoon of wine…

We got an appetizer of arancini, because I love arancini. I knew it was just the leftover risotto from the night previous, fried into a ball with some goat cheese in the center, but it sounded great. It was, even though Chris totally bogarted the artichoke off of the top. And I don’t like goat cheese.

Our salads came next, and were kind of “meh.” My dressing was decent, and the tomatoes were very sweet, but otherwise it was unimaginative and the croutons were like hard white bread with no flavor. Chris’s was a typical Caesar salad, with a parmesan crisp (OH! How avant GARDE!)

Next, the entrees. Again, they were almost identical, except that mine had asparagus and his had the green chile mac. His green chile mac was, to the best of my deductive abilities, just orzo with green chile cream. Nothing cheesy or hearty about it. Lipton could have pulled this off and called it Lipton Orzo n’ Sauce. Maaaaybe a semi-imaginative combo, but certainly not a brain-buster. My asparagus were cooked expertly, I will say that. Crisp-tender and flavorful without any limp bits. I’m not usually an asparagus lover, but this was a great substitute for the mac. The plating was kind of sloppy and unimaginative, and I was pretty sure I could do a better job, so I did. Meet “Aspara-Gus.” Chris didn’t look ashamed, not even when I pulled crusty pieces off of my pork to make eyeballs. His only remarks were “What are you? Tom Hanks? Is that your friend?” and “I think it needs a corncob pipe.” He even donated a piece of orzo so that our friend could be gifted with the power of speech. And that’s why I’m marrying him. Shortly after this photo was taken, Aspara-Gus was in a tragic accident and somebody ate all of his limbs. Oh yeah, and the pork was a very nice degree of doneness, but the flavorings were slightly muted. It could have been executed with a bit more panache.

Finally it was dessert time. Joy unbounded!
She brought over my chocolate mousse with salted caramel, whipped cream, and cacao nibs.
She brought Chris his trio of sorbets (passion fruit, raspberry, and coconut–which I got to eat since Chris hates coconut). Both were festooned with mutant mint leaves that were large enough that I started to suspect they had been grown in nuclear ooze like the Ninja Turtles. Chris tucked into his with gusto, while I examined mine and got closer and closer to tears. There was no salted caramel. None. Nada. The waitress finally came over and interrupted my mourning to find out if everything was okay. I told her there was no salted caramel, and she said, “Oh, it’s just at the bottom.” It was a clear dish! So I lifted it and showed her, still sniffling and sounding panicked, and she said “Huh. Looks like they forgot. I’ll go get some.” She sounded flippant, and that pissed me off a little because HELLO?! It’s salted caramel! That’s WHY I ORDERED IT! Plebes. It came back with its rightful saucing, and I thought it a bit mean that the chef didn’t give me extra, since it was his screw up. I ate all of the caramel, much of the mousse, and then put pepper in the dish so I wouldn’t feel compelled to eat all of the whipped cream. I have to vandalize my food when I’m full, or I will just truck right through it and end up uncomfortably full.

While we were waiting for the waitress to come back with our tab, Chris added, helpfully, “if this room lost its gravity, we’d still have seats.” I looked up. There were padded hangy-things that did look remarkably like benches. Excellent observation, honey. I took a picture of the benches. And him, because I like his face.

Fraudulent Fridays

That’s really what I should call my Tuesdays with Dorie recipes, since I always make them for the Friday before to serve to the docs for grand rounds. This has the benefit of leaving me extra money to buy those Seven jeans I told you about in the comments on my last post, as well as making Chris’s coworkers think that I am an imaginative genius who manages to bake something different EVERY WEEK. Thanks for that, Dorie.

While I can’t post the pictures of the dessert portion until Tuesday (communist rules), I CAN show you the savory bites. Seriously. How cute are those? (Answer: They’d be a lot cuter served up with a modicum of modesty, Kristie, you whoring braggart). It’s garlic-oregano polenta rounds, topped with rounds of roast chicken that are glued on with basil pesto, and then finished with a “star” of roasted red pepper.

Here are my secrets:

1-I LOVE polenta. I don’t know that I like it loose (or as we call them down here, “grits”), but I certainly am fond of the firm, cakey version. I think I just like the texture, maybe. And I love corn. The best part is that it takes all of 15 minutes to make, and a 5 lb bag of the stuff from our bulk section of Whole Foods is, at most, $3. Which makes approximately 1 bazillion servings. So I make a lot at once, use what I please, and then cut the rest into cubes. I then toss the cubes with olive oil and bake them until they turn into texturally interesting croutons. They go well in a salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
2-The roast chicken is actually Boar’s Head roast chicken lunchmeat from our deli. I got them to slice it ultra thick, then used my teensiest biscuit cutter to make rounds. Saved me a TON of time and effort (pounding out chicken, seasoning it, cooking it, cooling it, etc, just to make some appetizers for people who are not myself), and was pretty cheap. I then took the scraps and put them in the aforementioned salad. Mmmmmmm.
3-I used jarred pesto. But it was very GOOD Alessi jarred pesto I had gotten on clearance at TJ Maxx. I am so not ashamed to tell you I buy my salad balsamics and any jarred pesto/tapenade at TJ Maxx. They carry the expensive gourmet brands for basically no money. I got a $45 bottle of 20 year balsamic today for $8.99. It’s gorgeous. I am a cheapskate. Note that I would use “real” pesto if I were eating it myself. I’m one of the very few people who will put more effort into their own food than they will into other peoples’ food. As long as I’m in a relationship. When I’ve been single in the past I’ve survived on a refined diet of Skol vodka, Coors light, pink boxed wine, smoked gouda, and various salumes on roasted garlic Triscuits. I operated on a very concise ratio wherein I consumed 80% of the food, and located the other 20% in my cleavage when I changed. This is because I always ate while I slouched in front of the tv, balancing a plate on my chest. Now that I’m getting married, I get/have to put most of the food in my mouth, as well as make actual meals of ingredients. There aren’t usually crumbs in my cleavage, but there is still, more frequently than not, ice cream in my hair at the end of any given day.
4-The roasted red pepper was from the olive buffet at the store, and I cut it using the little star attachment that came with my Linzer cookie kit. I have never once made Linzer cookies, yet have found AT LEAST 4 other uses for the cookie cutters. Because they’re microscopic.

Now I will leave you with this:

It’s Willie’s new “Dogloo” since he’ll be outside during the day while I’m at school. School starts next week, finally, though I have to spend the first 6 weeks taking gastronomy and culinary math classes (i.e. math for people who require a calculator to figure out tip percentages. i.e. morons. i.e. my classmates). Anyway, he loves his Dogloo very much, and stole one of Chris’s old insoles to hide in it. This is probably because Chris’s old insoles smell like a bag of weasels and were thus very exciting.

Smokin’ Pot….Roast

Men are into women who make a bitchin’ pot roast. One could argue that WOMEN are into women who make a bitchin’ pot roast, but this post isn’t about sexual preference (I’m still reeling from the fact that Peter is a hetero). There are men who would marry a woman solely on her ability to pull off a pot roast that is better than his mother’s, but those are typically the kind of men who are only into missionary position (and still, you have to outperform his mother). I’m just saying, it’s kind of important to be able to make great pot roast. Another important one, according to my own personal mother, is that you have to be able to make pie. Even though I’ve pointed out to her that I didn’t make Chris a pie until after we were engaged.

Yesterday I made a pot roast that outperformed even my own personal bests in the arena of roasting, and I have to brag about it. I bought two roasts, since one of them was for a client, and seared them in a smoking hot pot with olive oil until they were crusted and the kitchen was threatening to be engulfed in flames. I then poured in some beef stock, broke up the fond (crusty parts stuck to the bottom of the pan), and added cubed red onion, yellow onion, raisins and bella mushrooms. And roasted garlic paste, and herbs de provence. And bay leaves. And chipotle paste. Pretty much whatever I could find. The whole shebang got put into my crock pot and left for about 8 hours. Toward the end of the cooking process, I peeled and quartered some small white potatoes, a parsnip (a vegetable I don’t understand or trust, but felt right), and some whole carrots. Those got tossed in olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt and pepper, and spread out on a cookie sheet to live in the oven for an hour or two.

When the roasting veggies had started to get golden and crisp around the edges, I tossed them with parsley and set them aside. I pulled the meat (which was at this point shredding apart at the slightest touch) out of the crock pot, removed the raisins one by one (because while they add a nice sweetness to the jus, I can’t bear to eat meaty raisins), and poured the liquid into a pan to reduce. While it reduced I made a quick, light roux out of the fat I had skimmed off the top of the reducing jus and some flour. When the liquid had reduced to about half, I stirred it into the roux and allowed it to thicken while I shredded the meat.

Normally I just serve the roast in its own jus and cook the veggies with the meat, but these two extra steps made a HUGE difference in flavor payoff. The gravy was thick and rich and satisfying, and the veggies had a certain chewiness instead of just dissolving under the pressure of a fork like they do when crockpotted. Overall, a huge success.

I felt it appropriate to go all “American Dream” with dinner to eat during the debate. Turns out I’m not really an American because I’m not a plumber. And how come I haven’t heard of the “pro-abortion” movement until now? I’ve met LOTS of people–adults–whom I think should be aborted RIGHT NOW. How do I hook up with these activists?


I was walking through the store yesterday and saw a big basket of green plantains. I’m pretty sure they’re always there, but this is the first time I gave them a second glance, and the only reason I gave them a second glance is because I thought “those look like giant bananas.” I know they aren’t anything like bananas, but they LOOK like bananas. Anyway, I then pictured a giant monkey holding a plantain while a tiny monkey held a tiny yellow banana, and the tiny monkey looked all sad while the giant monkey looked powerful. And I like feeling powerful, so I bought a plantain.

I got home and Googled plantain recipes, and I noticed a common complaint was that green plantains are incredibly difficult to peel. This got me pretty concerned, because the description of filberts suggested they were incredibly EASY to peel, and that task almost made me lose the plot entirely. So I grabbed a paring knife and I DOMINATED that plantain. No trouble at all. The interior looked just like the interior of a banana, only somehow plasticine and fake. Like at the furniture stores, when they have plates of pretend food on the tables and you get really excited that they’ve started offering refreshments during the boring trek through the aisles, and then you touch one and it’s not real. This thing looked like one of those.

I still had no idea what I was going to do with the damned thing. Most of the recipes for green plantains suggest frying them. Some boldly suggested DOUBLE frying them. I wasn’t so much feeling the frying of fake bananas. I did find a recipe for mashed plantains on a Cuban food website, and I thought, “Hey! Fidel Castro looks kind of like a giant monkey. I bet he knows EXACTLY how to handle a plantain.” So I made mashed plantains by boiling the plantain in water, putting in a tablespoon of roasted garlic puree I got at Williams-Sonoma, and adding butter. It was a-ite, although I much prefer mashed potatoes. Chris ate it without complaint, so that was good.

I also marinated a prime sirloin steak in my version of a chimichurri, which is basically just parsley, cilantro, fresh lime juice, approximately 2 billion garlic cloves, salt, pepper, champagne vinegar and olive oil put in a blender. It ends up being more of a vinaigrette, I guess, but that just makes it easier to eat TONS of it without the harsh bite of raw garlic that you get with the chunkier chimichurris. And I like vinegar, what can I say? So the sirloin marinated and then got grilled, rested, and sliced. Sirloin has always been, in my experience, a sub-par steak. It looks like a regular steak, so people buy it for the grill, only to discover that it’s texturally very different from a strip steak or ribeye. I’ve gotten around this by purchasing the prime cuts from the butcher counter. It’s still way less expensive than the steakhouse-type cuts, and is tender and flavorful.

Then I put some black beans with cumin, lime juice, lime zest, salt, and sauteed onions and peppers on the stove. Pretty healthy, high in protein, high in fiber, low in fat, but really satisfying. Oh, and I made some cheesy bread just…cuz.

Here is Chris’s plate:

And here is my plate, which is more of a salad since I wanted to deliver maximum chimichurri payload into my mouth. And it’s good for me:

I followed it up with homemade vanilla ice cream topped with a vanilla-rum-intensive bananas foster. I thought the tiny monkey should be represented as well.

Now I have to stop typing. I’ve got a decent case of tennis elbow from my kickboxing class, and I’ve taped it thinking it would make me look tough as well as take some of the strain off of my tendons. In reality, I’m pretty sure it just makes me look like a bag of douche with a self-gratification habit. But whatever. Everyone needs hobbies.

Strudel, you my only friend

This morning I went to the King Arthur Flour website to try and find a recipe for a breakfasty baked good that could rise while we ran and then be baked into warm, gooey goodness when we got home, while I was washing the dirt, sweat, and rain off of my body, with minimal effort and maximal payoff. The website is a treasure trove of really good baking recipes, as well as a giant .com money suck. Like having a membership to an internet pornography site that charges based on how many pictures you click on…kind of. I cannot visit without buying things. Right now, I’ve got a crazy hankering for some maple sugar, and I think I accidentally brought my Visa inside the house with me. *coyly* Ooops! *eyelash fluttering*

The point is that I found a recipe for something called a “cheese-filled sweet braid.” Yeah, okay. Sounded pretty damned good, and it called for Fiori di Sicilia, which is an extract I purchased on one of my many KAF stops and haven’t used nearly enough. It’s kind of like an orange-creamsicle extract. Anyway, I made the dough and refrigerated it, and when we got home I put the braids together. The tricky bits were that:

A) I didn’t read ahead enough to see it would require a second hour-long rise after being assembled


B) I didn’t refrigerate the cream cheese filling after assembling it (because I wanted to bake it RIGHT NOW, duh!) so it was very loose and oozed out of the braid as I was making it.

I elected to just skip the second rise since the first rise had been such a slow rise in the fridge. I figured that would develop the flavor enough. Actually, I wasn’t thinking much at all at that point, just lusting after sweet baked treats.

I rolled out the dough into two rectangles:

Poured on the vanilla cream cheese filling:

Attempted to braid the dough while scooping the filling back in as I went:

And then baked them. They turned out AWESOME, if a little wonky looking. I covered them in a vanilla cream glaze just to add flavor to the places where too much filling had left the building, and to make it prettier. We ate about half of one of the loaves (mostly me, if I’m being honest). The other 1.5 are now sliced into strips and getting sent to work with Chris tomorrow. He has to present some journal articles or something, so feeding the other docs will keep them from listening to his words too closely, thus allowing him to spend more time playing Star Wars: Force Unleashed on the Xbox.

I might have to go eat another strip now, just for quality control to make sure that they haven’t gone soggy or something. It’s the hallmark of a dedicated baker.

And then there was Sunday…

So I’m back. Watched more House, ate a bunch of things, did some commenting on other peoples’ blogs, opened the dishwasher (but did not commence with the actual “unloading” portion of the festivities)…

Yesterday was the post-run day. A day of rest, you would think. You would be dead wrong, because according to my ill-begotten training chart, I was supposed to run a 6-mile “recovery.” I guess it gets all the lactic acid out of your muscles, allowing you to do such acrobatic things as tying your own shoes or loofah-ing your own butt in the shower un-aided (things that are impossible after a long run). Chris and I celebrated this fact by eating (late lunch of spicy chicken and lettuce wraps with a quick buttermilk honey-mustard dressing–very tasty), sitting, and driving up to San Marcos to purchase most of the interior of the UnderArmor Factory House outlet. New running gear, we figured, would give us the giddy-up we needed to do our recovery run in the evening. I got some really awesome running shorts in turquoise/black and fuschia/pink. I can’t wait to show them to my best nameless friends at the gym. BTW, I did some recon, and I think the guy who requested the cookies is named “Frank,” but I’m not sure. I also got some shirts and a hat at the Nike outlet. Chris got a lot of things, too, one of which being a pair of the teensiest running shorts I’ve ever seen outside of my own.

MY running shorts are so short that when I run by old ladies I hear them commenting to one another “My, my Gladys! Look at that one go! She’s going to have a difficult labor when she starts having children. See how her uterus is all tilted backwards?” But it’s totally allowed since they’re running shorts. The best thing about running shorts, something Chris only first experienced this morning, is that they have a wicking liner that allows…nay, COMMANDS you to go without any wonderpants underneath them. It’s super. You feel like you’re running completely nekked, yet nobody is allowed to write you a citation for doing so.

Anyway, once we got home we realized that it was getting near dinnertime, and the responsible thing to do would be ordering Indian food. So we did. Tandoori chicken, rogan josh, basmati rice, roti, mixed vegetable curry, raita, tamarind sauce, cilantro sauce, and galoob jamun (sweet milk doughnuts soaked in rosewater syrup that Chris too one bite of and then nearly spit out–meaning I got to eat all of them, which was pretty much what I was expecting/hoping for). I had to drive 20 minutes to find a decent Indian restaurant, but whooooooo doggy! It was exactly what we needed. There is something about good Indian takeout that is just so soul-satisfying and comforting. We used to do it all the time in Colorado, since we lived next door to a great Indian place, but this is the first time we’ve gotten takeout in S.A. I searched for hours to find a good recommendation online, and it was spot-on. Thank you, city-data! We gorged until we were uncomfortably full, then I complained that I had eaten too much and wasn’t feeling well, then I soothed myself by eating a fudgesicle, then we watched Ironman and Chris brushed my hair (my favorite thing on the planet). I fell asleep toward the end, and Chris asked if I wanted to go up to bed and we could watch the rest of the movie in the morning, at which point I got really aggressive and said “I’m WATCHING IT, okay? Am I looking too comfortable for you? Am I? Here! I’ll sit up at attention for the rest of the movie!” I’m not super-reasonable when I’m awakened, it turns out.

The run? It never happened. Which is why we had to go out in the pouring-ass rain today and run 5 miles, until my new Nike t-shirt was so wet that you could see my heart beating through it, at which point we got in the car and went to the grocery store so I could spend the rest of the day making fun things. Life is good.

Should’ve driven…

What a weekend this has been! I know I did a lot of posting on Friday, but I feel way behind now since I was neglectful on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve got a full baking day today, so I should have lots to report. And to eat, and that’s really why I’m here. As I type, I have a delightful attempt at a strudel going in the oven. I’ll take pictures when it’s done. It’s my first strudel attempt of EVER, so we’ll see…

Saturday morning we got up nice and early and went for our dreaded run. I know I’m not technically supposed to be posting my exercise information on a food blog, but I am far too lazy to do a whole ‘nother blog for free, so I’m writing about it here. 16 miles. 16. That is so many miles, I don’t even know how to adequately portray how hard it is to run that far. Suffice it to say, it was difficult. We were fortunate enough to make it the whole way without any bathroom emergencies, which was really nice, but we did get incredibly hungry around the 8 mile marker, even though we were downing packets of Gu like it was our job. Gu is a glucose/electrolyte gel that tastes like a packaged slug trail if you eat it in real life, but somehow becomes the most delectable, flavorful, desirable treat in the world after you’ve run enough miles. We had both vanilla bean and tri-berry flavor packets along with us, and my indomitable food-spirit had me angling with Chris to open a package of each and squirt some of each flavor into our mouths to see if we could make something that tasted like berry cobbler. It didn’t, in case you were curious. But it was delicious nonetheless and provided my bloodstream with just enough glucose to prevent me from falling into a coma in an intersection along the way and being run over by a redneck driving an ’86 Chevy truck topped off with siphoned gasoline. So that was good.

When we managed to get our crippled bodies home and out of the car, I set upon trying to find food that I could put in my mouth at a rapid enough speed that I wouldn’t die of malnutrition, but wouldn’t regret wasting my calorie deficit on things that I really didn’t want to eat. I learned my lesson at Chili’s that day. I settled on flaxseed waffles (Kashi-not homemade) slathered in honey, peanut butter, and banana slices, and a good ol’ fashioned fry-up of potatoes, onions, and turkey sausage. And a honeycrisp apple, since I can’t function without three a day in the fall. I have never eaten food that quickly in my life. Ever. And it was soooooo good. Elvis-approved, too! We watched old episodes of House that were on the Tivo and lay there until we could move enough to head to the Starbucks for some study time.

When we got home, I found some spaghetti sauce in the freezer and made a carrot vinaigrette to live on a bagged salad. Uninspiring, no? Frankly I couldn’t be bothered to do much else. Oh! And I came up with a new Starbucks combo that I was pretty pleased with. I don’t “do” coffee, so I’m constantly challenging the poor Starbucks kids to make things that I like that aren’t the equivalent of a meal-replacement shake. This time I went with a grande skim milk steamer with one pump of white chocolate syrup and two pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup. Hot damn! It was like eating melted ice cream. I recommend it if you’re ever in the mood for something warm and soothing that won’t keep you up at night.

Okay, I’m going to go check the oven.

Po’ guy!

Here is some stuff I baked and packaged to take to our neighbor who got his door kicked in and his computer stolen. He’s a hefty guy, built kind of like a mediocre high school football player who only played because he was built like a football player, but then didn’t do football in college, drank a lot, got an office job and let his body go to seed. Does that make sense? I’m guessing mid-thirties. He seems affable enough, lots of round cheeks and avoiding eye contact because I’m a blonde girl and he isn’t real sure about girls not being mean just yet. He’s definitely a bachelor and has a black Chevy pickup. Okay, the scene has been set.

Anyway, I figured he’d need something to comfort himself since his only means of accessing internet pornography had been stolen by my future murderers, so I baked him some treats. I had leftover pumpkin pulp from when I made something pumpkin related for Chris’s work. It was in the freezer, so it’s not like I just had some random crap in my fridge for 4 months or anything. I also had Craisins because at one point I thought I’d like to put them in my oatmeal, but it turns out that oatmeal and Craisins are natural enemies, and I would have known that had I watched more National Geographic channel. So I made sweet and spiced pumpkin-cranberry mini-bread loaves. I don’t really like pumpkin, as has been previously pointed out, but OH MY GOD!!! It might be that I used apple pie spice. It might be that I loaded it down with sugar. It might be that I made a frosting of cream cheese, cinnamon-sugar, and real maple syrup. I don’t know, but I would eat that bread like it was my JOB.
So what if I frosted this piece to take a picture but then I started eating it before I could locate my camera? What are you? The friggin’ dessert police??

Chris also doesn’t like pumpkin, and he made noises after tasting it that, if I had heard them from the bottom of the stairs after coming home early from work one day would have had me very, very upset. If you know what I’m saying.

Anyway, I took it all over to the neighbor’s and he blushed profusely and thanked me. I went home to eat the loaf that I kept despite meaning to give it all to him. A girl has to have priorities.

I’m going to publish the recipe because I want to remember it and, I’ll be totally honest with you, I’m a little drunk. Which doesn’t bode well for our run tomorrow. Ah, well. I’ve got a calzone in the oven that says I’ll be juuuust fine.

So here it is:

Kristie’s “Sorry you got robbed, dude. Here’s some karma to make sure it doesn’t happen to me” pumpkin-cranberry bread:

1.5 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t apple pie spice
1.5 C turbinado sugar
2 eggs
8 oz pureed pumpkin
1 C oil
1/2 C Craisins

Preheat oven to 350. Stir together dry ingredients. Beat sugar and pumpkin in a mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Add oil to egg/sugar/pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until thoroughly moistened, and pour into either 1 large or 3 miniature loaf pans (greased). Bake until a twig inserted into the middle comes out dry (between 30 and 50 minutes, depending on oven and pan size).
Serve warm with frosting (1 block cream cheese, 6 T sugar, 1/4 cup real maple syrup beat to shit) See? I got a picture of this one before it (regrettably) got eaten by either myself or Chris. I’ve got an empty bottle of Pinot Grigio here that says I can’t remember who ate it…

Not so native

As I sat in the kitchen yesterday, pondering what I could make for dinner out of an avocado, two mangoes, a red onion, a seedless cucumber, a cantaloupe, and ground beef, something that wouldn’t directly plagiarize a dinner someone else has recently made, I had a stroke of awesome. Not the embolism kind, but the other kind. I was getting ready to suck it up and make some mango salsa, knowing it couldn’t really go with ground beef, but also knowing that I needed to use up my produce and meat purchases before I could shop again. As I diced, I also realized that I had nothing to dip in the salsa, unless I wanted to make fresh tortillas and THEN fry them, and that seemed like an awful lot of work for very little payoff. So I started to wonder if I could eat it with a spoon, and then thought to myself “Sure! As long as it’s in soup form!” I must have been in a decent mood, since typically I’d just think to myself “Huh! Fuck!”

I whipped out my immersion blender, threw in a jalapeno, and called it soup. I tasted it and it was kind of flat. Fresh, for sure, but flat. After rummaging around in my spice cabinet I unearthed a partially used baggie of tandoori spice, which was thrown in with a cup of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt (Athenos). I brandished the immersion blender again, like friggin’ Zoro in an apron. At last, I had a delicious, fresh soup that tasted exactly like fresh Indian food should taste. I’m telling you, the complexity of the spices in the blend (turmeric, curry powder, coriander, garlic, etc) with that particular combination of fruits and veggies was out of this world. I put it in the fridge and tried to figure out what would happen to our ground beef.

Eventually I decided to just make a meatball out of the stuff and put in some coriander with the eggs and breadcrumbs, et al. I fried them in a pan and then added some crushed tomatoes and madras curry paste that I picked up when WhoFo was getting rid of that particular product and clearanced it out. Good heavens. It was some of the best meatball I had ever had, and while I realize that the Indian people aren’t necessarily jiggy with the whole “eating cows” idea, this was almost good enough to question that practice. Almost. That piece of sacrilege aside, I’m sure it would also be delightful with lamb. Or even tempura tofu, should you swing that way.

Before we left for our bike ride, I put some brown rice with salt and turmeric in the Zojirushi rice robot. Served with some reheated tortilla, this was in and of itself a meal. But with the soup, well, I was in heaven. My only criticism of myself (odd, I know) is that I think the soup would make a better appetizer course, served in a ramekin as a smaller portion with maybe some pita bread. It was really good, but a little overwhelming in the quantity shown (served with sliced avocado, cilantro pesto, and some rock salt).

I don’t like avocado, so I drizzled some fresh carrot juice in mine and it seemed like it fit just fine. Anyway, give it a shot. Curried fruit soup is the new black…er…something like that.

Catching up

I have an actual blog to write for today, but realized that I have a lot of pictures that are backing up on me from the last week, and I should post them before they’re too stale to enjoy.

First: My Italian phase. I am really craptacular at making homemade pasta. It always ends up thicker than it really should be, which I blame entirely on the fact that I have a hand-crank pasta roller and also that I am Norwegian. I’m pretty sure that I could become significantly more talented at this if I had the Kitchenaid pasta attachment, but I sadly do not. Don’t worry, I registered for it. Here we have garlic portobello ravioli. Yeah, I know technically there should be ricotta inside, but I loathe ricotta so I put cheap mozzarella instead. That’s the beauty of working in a restaurant called “my house.” I don’t have to prepare anything I don’t want to eat.

I also put together a caprese salad of sorts for the lady I feed from Chris’s work. It’s pretty simple, with pearl mozzarella de bufalo, sweet grape tomatoes, fresh lemon basil from my garden (WHICH ISN’T DEAD YET!!), olive oil, sea salt, and aged balsamic. I let Chris have a bite, which he got really excited about, and then told him we couldn’t eat any more because it was for my cheffing gig. He looked appropriately bereft. I made her a tray of baked chicken parm, and I made two of those, so Chris did get to eat some of it. Damned good. And I used some of my canned tomatoes and voila! No botulism!

With the leftover pasta dough, I just rolled it out and sliced it up with a mezzaluna to make pasta rags. It got tossed with a white wine and lemon sauce and served with haricots verts and breaded lemon chicken. Cuz’ waste not, want not, you know?

Here is a non-sequitur picture of my dog. I wanted to see what Alton Brown was doing, so I paused the tv on a commercial to run into the kitchen for something. I heard Willie barking like crazy and walked over to see that the DVR had paused on a Men’s Wearhouse commercial, and Willie DID NOT LIKE the cartoon. Not one bit. The doorbell rings, though, and he can’t be bothered to get up off the floor, which would be nice except that our neighbor got his front door kicked in this morning in broad daylight by thugs, so stay tuned for a story about me getting murdered by vagrants…

Let’s see…what else… OH! So the lady I cook for requested almond cookies a couple of weeks ago, and I had forgotten to make them until midnight when I reread her order. Sucky. So I went to the kitchen to see what I could pull together. I had the stuff for sugar cookies and a bottle of almond extract and a half a tube of marzipan in the freezer. I made sugar cookies with a butt-load of almond extract, then put a layer of melted marzipan, and then drizzled with a “frosting” of extract and powdered sugar. I was ashamed of my slackery, but it was too late to do anything else. Well, she LOVED them. She calls them my “bomb-ass” cookies. Yeah. Apparently 40 year old female doctors say “bomb-ass” now. I was also surprised. And she’s requested them every single week since. It’s a miracle.

And the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies I made for the trainers at the gym because they’re like, my best friends in San Antonio even though I don’t really know their names…

Oh, and a steak dinner of t-bone glazed in a sweet-chipotle relish, buttered garlic peas, and pasta-caesar salad just for kicks:

Okay, that’s it. I’ll unload the dishwasher and punch down my pizza dough and be back to write about last night’s food.