Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Cook When my Husband Isn't Home

Dear Turkey,

Actual conversation:
Me: what should we make this week?
Honey: I don't know.
Me: how about black bean soup and cornbread?
Honey: I'm not really in the mood.

One week later:
Me: what should we make this week?
Honey: I don't know.
Me: how about black bean soup and cornbread?
Honey: I'm not really in the mood.

One week later: Honey is at work. The baby and I have just cleaned the house, done the laundry, gone for a hike, and taken a two hour nap (him), and watched Downton Abbey (me). What's next?

In a bowl, combine

1 c sugar
1 c whole wheat flour
2 c cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t soda
2 c buttermilk, soymilk, or breastmilk (still reading?)
3 T canola oil (use some to grease one loaf pan)

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes

Black Bean Soup:

Chop or dice:
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
2 serrano peppers (or to taste)
5 shallots
Stems of about 1/2 c Italian parsley

Sautee this in a big pot with plenty of oil, salt, pepper, the juice of one lemon.
If you have it, add this secret ingredient:
1/2 c pickled onions and their pickling liquid (like the ones that you picked a few weeks ago in rice vinegar, lime, and salt).

Then add a few tablespoons each of honey (buckwheat is really awesome here), cumin, and chili powder.

Cook this for a few minutes; you don't need to cook off all of that good liquid. Then add one big can of black beans and one "regular" can of white beans, rinsed and drained. Cook for a few minutes, stirring.

Add about 3 c of water and simmer, covered, for about an hour. Then adjust the seasonings and add the leaves of the parsley.

Puree the soup so it's about two-thirds blended.

Top with feta.

At this point, your house will smell like a BBQ joint. When you husband walks in the door, he will suddenly be in the mood for black bean soup and cornbread.

I moss you,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Magical Irish Soda Bread

Dear Turkey,

Good thing not too many people read our blog, because I'm about to tell you a secret:

Assemble these ingredients:

5 c whole wheat flour
2.5 c white flour
6 T sugar
1.5 t salt
1 stick butter softened or melted (use some to generously butter two loaf pans)
2 t baking soda
2 c raisins
2 2/3 c buttermilk, soymilk, or breastmilk (just seeing if you're paying attention)
2 eggs

Mix them all up with your hands until everything is incorporated and a ball forms. Divide the dough in half and put it in the greased pans.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Give it to people. In return, they will drive their trucks over to your house in a snowstorm and help you take your trash to the dump (excuse me, transfer station). They will watch your baby  for three hours while you run ten miles, change a headlight bulb in your car (for the first time, so they will have to wait while you google how to do it first), and give your husband a haircut. Outside. In the driveway. In a snowstorm. Then they will keep watching your baby while you warm up in the shower. You can give it to them plain, or with butter, or jam.

If you are wondering how it tastes with this much butter: about like you would expect. 

I don't know what it is about Magical Irish Soda Bread. There is no magical ingredient, but everyone loves it. I'd also like to tell you that I loved this pasta (but I've plagiarized from Deb Perelman enough for now).

I moss you,

Friday, February 22, 2013

True, Kind, Necessary: NOT the Story of Doing my Taxes

Dear Turkey,

I just read this awesome parenting book, and it inspired me to ask myself the following questions before saying something: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Well, just ask my husband how well I did yesterday; the day that we did our taxes. Maybe not the best day to start policing my word-vomit. Let's just say that lots of un-true, un-kind, and un-necessary things came out of my mouth and caused problems (mostly for me, since then I had to follow the un-spoken follow-up rule of this mantra: if you break it, feel guilty afterwards and punish yourself [leave it to me to invent a follow-up rule like that]).

Anyway, after the taxes, I decided to make some cookies. Don't ask me why I chose a recipe that (in my handwritten version in our cookbook) included "patience," "skills," and "dust-buster." Probably not a good plan for a day of un-true/kind/necessary-isms. However, I managed to find my Zen while making these, and just let them look how they looked, instead of perfect like if Deb Perelman had made them (I think the Zen was somewhere in all the cookie dough I ate).

Honey Almond Swirls (adapted from this classic crunchy-granola cookbook circa 1983):

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (or in the bowl of someone who has a lot of elbow-grease), combine:
1 stick marzipan
1 c honey (buckwheat, please)
1 egg
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1.5 t almond extract
2 c whole wheat flour

Mix until dough forms. Then remove half the dough and add 1/2 c cocoa to the rest. Mix until combined. Okay, this is where the patience, skills, and dust-buster (and a husband to hold the baby) comes in. Basically, you need to roll out both halves of the dough (separately), stack them on top of each other, roll that up, and slice it into cookies. You will then back them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (they brown fast, be careful!).

After yesterday, I have some tips for you: use wax paper, use way more flour (over and under the dough, on the rolling pin, anywhere you can) than you think you would ever need in a million years, chill the dough as many times as you need to. Here is my master tip: the chocolate half was way easier to handle than the non-chocolate half. I think that it was because the cocoa made the dough drier and much less sticky. So, I think next time I will add another 1/2 c flour to the non-chocolate half. That might render the other tips unnecessary.

You will bake these cookies and say, okay, these are decent, but they took way too much time. Then you will eat them tomorrow and you will change your mind. They are way better the next day (after your taxes are done).

You think this is enough flour. Fools. 

Okay, maybe not the swirl-iest, but you get the idea.

Eat that, IRS.

These cookies really are true, kind, and necessary. 

I moss you,

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Best Pancakes Ever

Dear Turkey,

Sorry about the messed-up fonts. I predict that is going to start feeling bad really soon and sponsor some awesome giveaways on our site in penance. 

I don't really like pancakes. Usually I end up eating way too many of them and I just feel gross after and wish I had ordered oatmeal. Except for these. They are so good that my dad AND sister requested them for their joint birthday celebration (oh, and we got to go out the night before where my husband and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner). They are so good that we used to eat them all the time for dinner when I was growing up, and they were as close as I had to a "craving" when I was pregnant. My mom will also add that they're healthy, since they have cottage cheese in them (she's right -- except, honey, not when you use them as a canvas for two tablespoons of butter and a quarter cup of maple syrup and get a headache after, just saying). 

They are also super-easy to make, and super-vintage. Just check out this recipe from a Styrofoam egg carton from before I was born:

I will translate in case you can't read fronts from 1983:
In blender, combine:
1 c cottage cheese
6 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 c oil
1/4 c milk
1/2 t vanilla 

Blend. Make sure your griddle/pan is really hot. You won't need much oil. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if my mom hadn't bought that particular carton of eggs. 

These aren't dense and doughy like regular  pancakes. The outside is almost crispy and the inside is soft and melty, which is why you need to let your pan get hot.
I like them with jam (that's how I've always eaten them since I was a kid), but, honey, it's your preoperative how you eat them, just don't come to me for sympathy when you're in a food coma. 
I moss you,

Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm Not Corny

Dear Turkey,

NB: what is the deal with these font errors? I'd rather bake something than waste my time fixing this, 

When I was little, my mom used to do all kinds of corny crap that I hated. Like, for Valentine's Day, she would put out a special snack and probably even cut some hearts out of paper and draw pictures of us on them. How embarrassing. 

Well, I'm a mom now. And this is the story of how I made a special Valentine's Day snack for my family, complete with cut-out-hearts with pictures of us on them. 

First, the cookies. I saw chocolate crinkle cookies at a bakery one day and I knew that I needed to add them to my repertoire. They are what we call "adult cookies," because you should only enjoy them with your valentine after engaging in some rousing...oh, no, that's not why; it's because they're rich and not too sweet. Although I'm sure they'd taste really good after any kind of physical activity (actually, for MY Valentine's Day present, my husband left work early so that he could have fun with our baby and I could go for a run, [and eat ten cookies when I got back]).

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies:
7 oz unsweetened chocolate and 7 T butter
To that, add: 
1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 t baking powder
Pinch salt

Form into balls and place on a baking stone covered with parchment paper (or skip the balls and just drop them with a big spoon like I did). Sprinkle with a little more salt and lots of powdered sugar. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

Then, arrange them in a tableau so that they can be part of this complete Valentine's Day snack:

The cookies, dates with goat cheese and honey, Toblerone, pear nectar and sparkling water, flowers that your mom got you THREE WEEKS ago and are still beautiful

and some hearts that you cut out of post-it notes and drew pictures on
Don't you wish you were my valentine? 

I moss you,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Tell On the Rise That I Have Their Recipes

Dear Turkey,

Once upon a time, before I had wrinkles, there was an awesome bakery called On the Rise. It  was a very-hip, woman-owned, collective, vegan, no-processed-anything, no-refined-sugar, gluten-free, fair-trade, organic, no-cruelty-to-animals, etc. type of place (or at least a couple of those things). But, eventually, the burden of being some or all of those things got to be too much even for them, and they closed. 

Fast-forward a few years: I have one or two wrinkles, but not as many as I have now, and an anonymous person gives me an unsolicited present: a photocopy of the entire On the Rise cookbook -- like the one that they actually used to make their righteous recipes (maybe they are so liberated that copyright infringement doesn't bother them; either way, I will keep my source secret).

You might think that the On the Rise recipes would have an unpleasant aftertaste of healthfulness, wholesomeness, and morality. Au contraire Turkeyman. It turns out that all of those good attributes, combined in the right proportions, can trick your mouth into thinking you're eating butter and sugar (not that there's anything wrong with that, either).

Yesterday I made barley shortcakes. They're kind of like what would happen if a scone ate a biscuit: brown crackly outside, smooth flaky inside. 

In a giant bowl, combine: 1/2c canola oil, 1/2c maple syrup that your friend made, 1c soymilk  or milk of your choice, 1/2T vanilla, 3c barley flour, 1/2c oat flour, 3/4c cornmeal, 1.5T baking powder, 3/4t salt. Do not overmix.
I made two batches and divided 24 shortcakes on two baking stones lined with parchment. I spooned a little jam over the shortcakes on one stone just for an experiment (success).

Bake at 400 degrees

for 14 minutes.
Enjoy right then

or arrange on a beautiful platter for your husband's viewing pleasure when he gets home.

While you're on a platter kick, slice one red onion, two tomatoes, one cucumber, some parsley, and  dress generously with the juice of one lemon and lots of salt, stand a few minutes before serving (we call this Ethiopian Salad because they used to serve it at one of our favorite Ethiopian restaurants [sadly, also closed -- now if I could only find their cookbook]).

Serve with everybody's new favorite breadtomato jam,

and Finding Nemo Soup.
The next day, bring some shortcakes to work with you so you can eat them and re-live it all while you write your blog post. Just don't put a sentence like that in your blog if your boss is a subscriber.

I moss you,

Monday, February 11, 2013

Finding Nemo Soup

Dear Turkey,

I have called this post "Finding Nemo Soup" because we were supposed to get a big giant snowstorm called Nemo, but all we got was this:

which is what it looks like all the time

except usually you can't tell where the sun is
So, to celebrate, we watched one of my favorite movies. Just kidding. My husband has this thing about not watching movies over and over, and I have this thing about watching movies over and over, so that is something that I have to pursue in my copious amounts of alone time. Actually we did something even better: we got our leaky kitchen sink fixed.

To celebrate our un-dripping sink, and the liberation of the bowl that had been trapped underneath it since October, we made one of our favorite soups. Every time I eat this soup, I wonder why I ever want to eat anything that's full of fat, sugar, and salt, when fresh veggies are just that delicious.

then my mom brings this for dessert and I remember what it is about fat, salt, and sugar that is so tasty

[Attn: the eight people who actually read my blog: yes, I have all eight of my bowls back in circulation, and after you see this soup, you will probably want to run right over and have some. Reservations required. Dessert not included.]

Broccoli/Potato/Leek Soup:

Chop a few heads of broccoli, as many leeks as you can afford, five or six small-ish red potatoes, and an onion

In a big pot, sautee the onion in a little oil, salt, and pepper
Add the leeks and sautee a little more

Add 32oz veggie broth and the potatoes, cook until almost done
Add the broccoli and cook until just done
Top with pepper and lemon juice

delicious and detoxifying -- whatever that means

I moss you,

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chocolate Figgy Death Bombs

Dear Turkey,

As you know, the first thing that my husband asked for when he went off his diet was biscotti. This is the second thing. He lovingly named them "Chocolate Figgy Death Bombs" the first time that I made them. I had to remember what they were really called in order to find the original recipe from Runners World (I made some changes, like more honey; guess who asked for that?). 

Chocolate Figgy Death Bombs look like brownies and are just as satisfying. I promise. Runners World didn't pay me to say that (but if they offered, I would say anything they wanted).  

what's not to love?

In the microwave, melt:
5 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3c water
3/4c delicious buckwheat honey (or whatever you have)
3 pinches cinnamon
1 generous pinch salt

Meanwhile, in the food processor, process until pretty smooth:
14oz dried figs, stems removed
14oz almonds
1t orange zest

Add the chocolate mixture to the food processor and process until combined, adding water slowly if necessary. Spread/smoosh into a brownie pan and chill until slice-able (may take a couple of hours) [this step is optional, you can just gorge on them right away like I did].

serve for dessert after you enjoyed a panini with queso blanco, dijon mustard, arugula, parsley, and green peppers/zucchini/shallots that you roasted with a little balsamic, olive oil, and salt until crispy, served on squash bread
I moss you,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Post-Dentist Cookies

Dear Turkey,

As you know, I have a little dentist anxiety (well, you wouldn't know, because you've never had a cavity, which is why we're officially not friends anymore). So yesterday I did something amazing: I voluntarily went to the dentist to get some "owies" looked at. I know that a normal person would not expect positive reinforcement for doing something logical, appropriate, and healthy, like going to the dentist. I, however, needed to bribe myself.

So I made a plan to pamper/reward myself for something that I should have done anyway: The baby went to daycare, I went to the dentist, and, after, I went to my parents' house, watched the first episode of Downton Abbey season 3 on their fast internet, and made:

chocolate chip shortbread adapted from Vegetarian Times
Okay, okay, I know that the irony police is about to arrest me because I made cookies after going to the dentist. But let me tell you the best part. While I was at the dentist, like, actually in the chair, who busts into the room but MY MOM!?! She brought me flowers, a beautiful vase, and...a giant Toblerone. So, she really is the greatest mom ever (except for me, of course), because that really cheered me up. And I guess the irony police didn't hunt her down for bringing me a huge candy bar (complete with lots of delicious sticky bits) IN FRONT of the dentist.

I love these cookies because they literally take five minutes to stir up, you just bake them all in a sheet like brownies, they keep for a long time (so I hear...mine are already gone), you can mail them (lucky recipients: you know who you are [PS -- I heart you!]), and you can eat the dough without worrying about giving your baby salmonella (but if you eat too much dough you will get a me).

Here's what you do:
In a bowl, stir together:
4 sticks (!!!) very soft or melted butter
3 and 2/3c flour
1/2c cornstarch
1/2t salt
1c sugar
1/3c maple syrup that your friend made
2t vanilla extract
2 or 3c chocolate chips (mini are also good)

no leavening agents means you can really taste the butter and flour; normally I would say melting the butter is a no-no for cookies, but that doesn't apply here 
then you smoosh the whole thing into a big un-greased pyrex dish and poke holes all over it with a fork
Bake it at 325 degrees for 35 mins (depending on the size of the pan), or until the sides JUST start to brown. Cool and slice.

1.2 minutes and 5,000,000 calories later
enjoy with a nice side of Downton Abbey and leftovers from your last post...brush your teeth afterwards

I moss you,

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why do I Feel Like I Ate a Ton of Butter and Cream Yesterday?

Dear Turkey,

My husband had a brilliant idea for my parents' anniversary: we would cook them a delicious meal to enjoy at home. My contributions to the idea: they would buy and pay for the food, they would watch the baby while we cooked (like a date!), my mom would make two of the things ahead of time (actually, that was her idea, but I like the way she's thinking), my dad would help clean up (not his idea), and (my best contribution) we would eat the food too [at least I didn't make my mom hold the baby while we eat like usual]. 

It was a bright sunny day (which is why my pictures look almost like they were taken with an actual camera), we had just run ten miles (and eaten an entire brie baked in puff pastry with jam...but that's another story), and we had "dinner" (like my grandmas used to serve -- as opposed to supper) at 3pm, so we were home before fussy time. 

Here's what we made:

Combine: 1/3c sourdough starter (optional), 2c warm water, 1T yeast, 1T salt, 1T sugar, enough white flour to make a dough that comes together, but is a little sticky and not too hard. Knead for 2 minutes until most flour is incorporated. Rise, covered, in a warm place until at least doubled (it won't take that long). Bake on parchment paper on a stone (drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt first [2 adverbs!])  at 475 degrees for 5 minutes, 450 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top is quite brown, almost too brown. That, and the olive oil, will give you a delicious crack-crust (yes, it is made of crack).

Soup (from Real Simple):
Sautee 2 leeks (cut up), salt and pepper, and 4T butter until soft. Add 6c broth, 1 bunch broccoli and one potato, chopped. Cook until done, about 20 mins. Add 5oz spinach and wilt. Puree with your hand blender. Top with sour cream and black pepper.

Pasta and sauce:
Cook one box linguine and toss with lots of olive oil. For the sauce, sautee 2 leeks and 2 shallots, chopped into small rings, 1T minced garlic, salt and pepper, 1t dried thyme, 1t dried sage in plenty of olive oil until just browning. Add 1/2 pint light cream, a few T at a time, alternating with the same amount of sherry (if you use cooking sherry, go easy on the salt), cook on low until just sticky, stirring, 10-20 mins. You can let the pasta and sauce stand on low heat (separately) while you cook the scallops. 

Sautee 2 shallots and 1T garlic, minced, with 3T butter, 3T olive oil, 1t each dried parsley, tarragon, cilantro. Get the pan really hot and add the scallops. Squeeze two lemons over them and splash with 3T sherry. Wait until they are brown on the bottom. Flip. Allow other side to brown. Serve next to the pasta (and pour any extra sauce/crispy brown shallots and garlic over them). 

Chocolate pudding a la my grandma:
This is a classic recipe that my mom grew up with. She also puts this in a pie crust for chocolate pie, which almost makes me like pie. The great thing about this recipe is that it uses an equal number of yolks and whites. In the top of a double boiler, combine 1.5c milk, 1c sugar, 2oz chocolate [this doesn't sound like a lot but it's really chocolate-y], and melt. Beat 3 yolks, 1/2c milk, and 1/3c flour until smooth. Add to the double boiler. Cook until thick and add 2T butter and 1t vanilla. Pour into ramekins or a pre-baked (but homemade, please) pie crust. Then, beat 3 egg whites until foamy [my mom would like me to remind you to always beat egg whites in a metal or glass bowl, never plastic], then beat in 2T sugar (slowly, or it could fall) and 1t vanilla. Gently spoon/fold this on top of the pudding and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes (closer to 20 for a pie). You can make this the day before and leave it sitting at a cool room temp gently covered with wax paper.

top with raspberries for the non-purists like me and my husband
Then, cuddle up with your baby and watch a nice Ken Burns documentary (we are watching two simultaneously...well, you know what I mean), because you will be in a food coma. My parents figured that this meal cost about $50 including wine, which is what it would cost for one person at a restaurant, without tax and tip.

I moss you,