I love Webers

That’s our new baby. The Weber Spirit E-310. I couldn’t be more excited, since it’s been AGES since we had a grill at all, and even longer since Chris’s bachelor grill was really usable. I can’t believe we survived it. I absolutely adore grilled food, as it cuts costs and calories out of meals like some sort of Wal-mart-issued whirlwind. Only instead of having to shop at Wal-mart, which I can’t seem to bring myself to do, you get to eat succulent meats and veggies that are smoky and hot and good. Hooray!

We went with a Weber that had a slightly smaller surface area and far fewer bells and whistles than its elaborate counterparts because the Weber grills are designed well, built well, and will last for ages. The difference in evenness of cooking between this one and, say, a Char-Broil are astounding. A side burner is an attractive thing to have on a grill, and it comes on a lot of the more cheaply built grills in this price range, but to get stronger construction, I’ll go ahead and walk the 15 feet to my kitchen and use my stove burner.

We didn’t end up grilling meat outside last night, since I have been kind of laid up with a muscle injury in my right shoulder blade area for the last 3 days (only yesterday got flexeril and percocet, which have helped IMMENSELY so I’m able to type). I had put some leftover meatballs from the freezer on the stove so that Chris wouldn’t have to cook anything for my gimpy ass. But then we put the grill together, and neither of us wanted meatballs. We wanted steaks and burgers. A compromise was reached, wherein we ate the meatballs and penne for dinner, but then grilled dessert. So here you have it: grilled white and red plums with honey, vanilla malt ice cream, and a grilled pound cake crouton. Mmmmmmm.

Dinner follow-up

Roasted veggie puree soup: Good flavor, but the pureed corn left little fibrous niblets floating around, which I’m pretty sure got stuck in my teeth. Also, it was difficult to convince myself that my version of soup was as good as Chris’s (which had been adorned with sweetcream butter and shredded cheddar cheese. Mmmmmmmm. Low-fat sucks deez nutz.

Dessert made up for it, though. Two ice creams from late last week were unearthed from their tupperwares in the freezer to make banana splits. Chocolate mousse with peanut butter cream cheese swirls and vanilla bean malted milkshake ice cream from my inexplicable hankering for malts. It’s because we live near a street called Jones-Maltzberger (STUPID.FUCKING.NAME). I get really, really hungry for burgers and malts at the weirdest times.

Chained to the stove…

Hangover breakfast. That’s all I was supposed to be making. Chris and I had an eventful, exTREMEly caloric fourth of July, and were both feeling dehydrated, hungry, nauseated, and achy. I volunteered to go into the kitchen to rustle up some food. What came out of the kitchen shows that I might be a little compulsive. Mexican vanilla pain perdu (french toast) with maple syrup, chicken and apple sausages, balls of shredded vidalia onion, russet potato, and poblano pepper, flavored with cumin and white pepper, sauteed on the electric griddle, then balled with a ice cream scoop and fried until the outsides were crispy. So much for keeping it “light.” We also had a spare melon on the counter (my bras only accommodate two) so that got cut up. It was a type of melon I’d never had before called a “temptation melon.” I guess it’s supposed to be a hybrid between a cantaloupe (muskmelon) and a honeydew. Either way, it’s bicolored and dripping with sweet, honeyed juices. I figured it would help rehydrate us, along with the assistance of the sparkling raspberry juice “float” with lime sorbet. ACH. In fairness to my own restraint, I only ate one full slice of french toast, limited my maple syrup in a way I didn’t think I was capable of, ate half a sausage, and didn’t drink a float. Go me, right? Wrong.

See that? I had leftover raspberry juice, which got combined with pectin and sugar and lime powder to make little, puckery-tart raspberry gelees. Like a vegetarian gummy candy. I ate ALL of the scraps from cutting them, which was probably a solid 1/2 cup of sugar. You’d think I’d stop at this point, while I was only looking at a solid week on the treadmill, but you’d be dead wrong again.

That nestled nugget of frozen delectability is the result of leftover temptation melon and a little bit more raspberry juice. It’s a raspberry temptation sorbet, sitting on a slice of temptation melon. It literally was just chunks of melon and raspberry puree and a few tablespoons of raw honey to sweeten it. After straining out the pulp, the mixture went into the ice cream maker, and I ended up eating the strained pulpy stuff, only because it tasted JUST like applesauce. Which was weird. Anyway, that was all fibrous stuff from the melon and berries, so probably had zero calories…hopefully.
Because it’s almost dinner time, and I have a feeling I’ll be eating again. I made some more loaves of sourdough with my starter, and decided to roast all of the leftover veggies in our fridge from the week (parsnips, carrots, corn on the cob, artichokes, garlic, shallots, and leeks) and immersion blend them with chicken stock and a touch of balsamic and cream. I’m hoping this makes a very veggie-intensive but hearty soup to dip the sourdough. Possibility B is that it will taste like dick because of the random veggie couplings. I’ll let you know…

Air Force Cookies

I decided to make some really sweet Fourth of July cookies for Chris’s allergy class. I figure the majority of them are kind of hoo-rah military folks, and the rest will appreciate the tragic irony of Chris, who is a tree-hugging, militarily-avoidant liberal, bringing sugary patriotism in for his friends. I especially liked the part where I got to ask “Hey honey? How many kids are in your class?”

*An aside: Chris and I have been watching Food Network Star, and have a lot of opinions about it. Like, for example, that Kelsey should be forced to mainline valium before she gets on the t.v., or, alternately, that she should die. I was eating the other night while we watched it, and had just taken a big bite of food when Chris asked “what would your show be called, if you had one?” I answered, through a full mouth, “fuck you, I’m awesome.” It’s actually brilliant, because then when they criticized me or asked questions I could just respond “fuck you, I’m awesome.” I may make a video blog called this, involving me, drunkly, cooking and talking to the camera. It’s in the works.*

Back to the story at hand:
I needed some practice piping and flooding with royal icing, so this was a great opportunity to do so. It got progressively much easier to control the piping bag as I went, showing that I’m going to just have to spend a LOT of time frosting anything that will hold still before the wedding cake debacle next May. Oh, and I have a beginning cake decorating class at Michaels that starts July 6th or 9th…I should look into the specific date. I’m really excited to make inappropriate shapes out of fondant. Which leads me to the final project from last night’s cookie-making frenzy:

Chris only took the stars with him. Apparently the military frowns on humor and/or joy. I especially liked the cookie apostrophe. I had a comma in the works, but it fell on the floor and Willie ate it.

Where’s Willie?

Here is a picture of what our puppy, Willie, does while Chris does the dishes at night. I won’t pretend that I don’t have an awesome life. I get to stay in the kitchen and cook whatever I want while Chris studies allergy or plays video games just a few feet away, stopping periodically to taste what I’m making and offer feedback. When I’m done, he comes in and does dishes. I’m basically a lucky, lucky bitch. Our puppy always hangs out in the kitchen with me in his downstairs bed. He eats whatever I drop on the floor, and offers an air of general cuteness (and probably some airborn puppy fur, but whatever) to the operation. He’s my sous-puppy. But when Chris comes in to do his thing, Willie has taken to hiding the top half of his body under the dishwasher, splaying his legs out froggy-doggy-style, and waiting it out. I can’t figure it out. Maybe he likes the sound of the dishes hitting above his head? Eh, I guess he runs with gangs and can do what he wants…

“Healthy Living”

I’ve been feeling fat (I think the extra 5-10 lbs gained during the two months Chris has been home have gotten to me). Part of the problem is that we eat A LOT when we’re together, and part of the problem is that it’s been difficult to run because my knee is a big piece of shit. I finally went to the doctor yesterday (ironically got someone who has less medical expertise that Chris and a lower rank) to get drugs and a referral to the orthopod. I’ve been trying to run anyway and just cutting back, and it’s not helping at all. I’m a total gimp. The nub and crux of the matter is that the doctor was a big, fat waste of space and my time, and told me nothing I didn’t know. So I guess I’m going to keep running on it until something snaps and I can show up with a diagnosable problem. In the meantime, in order to try and get my ass in check, I’m going to try making slightly healthier dinners and slightly fewer cakes. This will probably last all of three days, but I have a wedding dress to think about.

So last night was pretty easy and tasty. Toasted israeli couscous with carmelized garlic, sundried tomatoes, roasted leeks and mushrooms, and leftover pieces of fried chicken and naan. OOOH, and some gorgeous manchego cheese from C.M. Tasted all kinds of healthy and Mediterranean.

And, since I was disappointed in my lackluster performance camera on the iPhone, Chris decided to help take pictures, resulting in a very serious piece of art to include on my blog:

Sweet, right?

Breakfast Orgy

I get very excited about making elaborate breakfasts when Chris is home and we don’t have anything big planned for the morning. On this particular occasion, he went out and mowed the lawn like the caveman provider that he is, so I felt like he should be rewarded with more than just eggs or granola and yogurt (the stuff he’s normally fed). I’ve never made a hollandaise sauce before because I think it’s repulsive to eat just butter and egg yolks and it has 800 calories in a cup of the stuff. But Chris’s body could burn entire sticks of butter like they were gallons of gas in an ’88 Chevy pickup if I fed them to him, so it really wasn’t an issue. Oh, and BTW, how much does he suck for having that kind of metabolism?? Ugh.

Anyway, we didn’t have time to make up some english muffins, but I did have leftover tortillas, which I fried into rounds, topped with eggs that were poached in chicken broth and jalapeno juice, and covered in crispy bacon, green chili hollandaise, and additional fried tortilla strips. I threw in a latte and a glass of orange juice for good measure. All-in-all, his breakfast weighed in at 2100 calories. Awesome, right??

Then we were going to make a peach tart to bring over to a friend’s house. Peaches are in season, and the ones from Texas are juicy and sweet. Mmmmmm. So we assembled the peach tart, I set the sucker on fire with my BLOWTORCH and some sugar, and then we ate it because it was too delicious to give away.

So piles of peach tart and vanilla bean whipped cream were our lunch, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier…except maybe the next morning when we made cinnamon pancakes and topped them with leftover peach tart filling and whipped cream with maple syrup. Because that was the things that dreams are made of.

Timmy and the Magic Camera

My friend Tim came down from Austin for dinner on Sunday (and the subsequent SeaWorld adventure the following day, which resulted in me being so drunk that we ate Chipotle for dinner, but I digress…) He’s a fellow Colorado transplant here in the Sombrero State, so it was nice to have someone who felt like home. It was even nicer that we had to drink 4 bottles of wine to wash it all down (kidding, it was very tasty). Anyway, his camera has a macro feature that allowed us to take some pretty graphic, up-close, food porn shots. Enjoy! Oh, and the menu was caramelized cornflake fried chicken (marinated in ranch dressing and sour cream), homemade brisket baked beans with corn and jalapenos, Texas sourdough in all its newfound glory (the sludge worked beautifully and lives on in my fridge waiting for the next batch), honey-chili butter, mesclun salad with apple cider dijon vinaigrette, and the second limeade cake (made differently, slightly tarter, but still very good). Here are some tastefully nude shots of the new cake:

The main meal was more of a gritty photojournalism piece about life on the inside…of my belly: