Saturday, December 26, 2009

oh, the lack of decent food!

You'd think that working two jobs would give me more money to get food with, but you'd inexplicably be wrong. The reason I haven't posted anything in so long is because we've been soooooooooooo poor that we haven't even been able to buy groceries, and therefore we haven't made anything in ages (well, we made fried chicken last night, but I forgot to take pictures because I was so unused to the idea by now).

I plan to scrape up money for the holiday baking I didn't get to before Christmas, but who knows if I'll be able to-- I also planned to make preserves and didn't.*

I want to bake cookies. This has been such a crappy year that I'm craving all things normal and traditional that will assure me that life is moving on and that things still flow as they should. ::sigh:: I want my mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sugar cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies. And I want sugarplums, which I managed to make three years in a row, but couldn't afford this year. And I want to try new things, like fruit candies and new flavors of cookies.

So we'll see how the new year goes. I've got to save up for School and a Laptop and ICFA and running shoes and school loans and paying off the backlog of bills I owe my room mates, but maybe I can manage it... Flour and sugar are cheap, right? And I've still got all those acorns to make into flour, and there's going to be rowan berries as soon as the frost makes them edible...

* This is why I'm extending my Year of Living Seasonally-- to fill in the gaps I couldn't make work this time, and the hardness will work into the text. Also, I need to get all my research and interviewing done.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

carribbean mash

Last night, we had porkchops cooked with one of those ready-made seasonings-- the citrus one-- in a roasting bag, and for a side, we had this amazing and original mash that D discovered in a dream:

He took red potatoes and boiled them with green plantains, to start, adding the plantains a few minutes after the potatoes because they don't take as long to cook. He said that they boil nicely, but they make weird black bubbles that are kind of alarming, though they drain away like any other boiling water.

While they were cooking, he sautéed peppers, onions and garlic.

Once everything was done, he mashed it all together with salt and pepper, and it was really amazing. The red potatoes already make a pretty smooth mash, but the plantains made it almost creamy, and gave it a little tang like they'd been made with buttermilk. The slight fruityness of it went really well with the citrus porkchops, and mellowed the onions and garlic so that all the flavors blended better than they do with just potatoes. And they tasted excellent with the citrusy meat-juice left in the roasting bag.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

crisis food

You know how when things get really tough and then something breaks and you have the whole world tumbling down around you, all you want to do is eat? Well, I do. I'm totally a stress-eater, which is even worse of an idea than otherwise, because I pretty much lose my appetite and forget to eat when I'm lingering around hospitals and propping up others' wellbeing and not sleeping.

But last night, we had a lovely, hearty and sleep-inducing meal of rotisserie chicken, potato salad and mac and cheese, provided by the lovely E and her generous trip to the Publix Deli-- because she didn't have time to bake a casserole, and food is what you bring to a house with Bad Things Happening. And before that, it was midnight Steak-and-Shake with lots of fries and extra fat and salt. Does stress use up your electrolytes the way being sick does? Salt was the main reason for eating that night.

When I was living at home with my sister and my mom, crisis food was crepes with Nutella and strawberries. I've been craving it since we came home that day when Bad Things Started, and if I ever have free time again (or if I just can't handle trying to get the editing or the writing done between my two jobs), I think I'm going to plunder the fridge for some eggs and see what we can do... Strawberries aren't seasonal, but neither is crisis, and it's better to break an eating habit than to die because I forgot to eat or couldn't have the only thing I wanted.

Monday, October 12, 2009

seasonality for wk 42: second week of october

Hello my lovelies! It's been ages, I know, but I've got a series of posts about the Epcot Food and Wine Fest that we went to last weekend that should make up for it. But now, Seasonality:

It's definitely getting Fall-ish here on the List. Citruses are slipping, and berries are all but gone, except for Rowan, Juniper and Elder, which are coming on. Persimmons, Pomegranates, Figs and Dates are all in season, so it's starting to feel pretty exotic around the produce aisles. Stone fruits are still around, but they're not so common on the lists, and will probably be gone soon, so make your peach jam while you can; I'm seeing if I can manage it in the super-tight budget. Squash and Zucchini are still around, but they're more likely to be the huge monsters that happen when you can't eat them as fast as they grow, and Winter Squash is moving in-- I think I'm going to try to make pumpkin butter this year, and when we carve the halloween pumpkins, I'm making more of the pumpkin broth we made from the scraps last year, because it was awesome with sage and thyme as a soup base.

What else? Herbs are still going strong, but the tenderer ones are giving way to the hardier ones like Sage and Rosemary. Nuts are coming in, and I couldn't be happier; alot of my protein comes from them anyway. I'm keeping an eye out for Chestnuts, and I wish I had the ability to grow the seeds here, so that I could have them all the time (in fall) for free. Meats are almost all in season now, and the hunting seasons are all on; I should see if there's somewhere around here where I can get rabbit or venison or something exotic to the city like that. Tomatoes are moving down the list, but will likely stay available here in Florida until, like, Christmas. Yay mild winters! Boo continued oppressive heat!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

seasonality for wk36: first week of september

New:Cranberries!, Pears for sure now, Partridge, Turkey, Celeriac is back, Pumpkins and Quince are coming in, Rutabegas, Elderberries, Juniper Berries, Durians, Endive, Acorn Squash, Diakon, Ginger, Huckelberries are on more than just the one list now, Kumquats (even though I think they've been in people's yards here for a few weeks), Persimmons, Pomegranates!, Jujubes, Guajes (the pods of a leguminous tree), Soybeans and Edamame, Lemongrass, Spiny Lobster, Broccoli Raab, Escarole

Nectarines are sliding off a few of the lists, Sharlyn Melons, Chioggia Beets, Shallots, Samphire, Watermelon except here in the far south, Dab, Longans, Key Lime (and I didn't even make one pie), Ackee, Cherries, Whitecurrants, Elderflowers

All and all, it's starting to look like fall, but the list is still growing more than it's losing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My 100th Post!

And what am I going to do to commemorate it? I'm going to tell you about our Ethnic Market haul.

At the Indian Market:
- Rose water
- Ribena
- Rose petal spread
- Smarties
- Bueno Bar
Total: 14.50

At the Asian Market:
- Six different Mi Goreng meals
- A box of oolong
- Soba noodles
- A bakery-fresh bean bun
- A bakery-fresh pork bun
- A bakery-fresh purple yam bun
- Two different kinds of aloe drink
- Young coconut juice
- Roasted coconut juice
- A huge tub of miso
Total: 20$


And we ate at India's Restaurant, and tonight we're eating home-made beuff bourgignon, and I'll have posts of those excellent meals later. Now, I'm exhausted and I need a nap.

Happy 100th Post!

Monday, August 17, 2009

loaded yellow rice

Start by boiling a whole chicken, then use that broth to cook the rice-- adding chopped tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, a can of drained corn and a can of drained black beans. When it's ready, sred up the chicken you made and mix that in with about a cup of shredded cheddar and pepper to taste.


tandoori chicken

We had these packs of tandoori sauce mix that H had picked up at the Indian market, and we were low on foods, so he decided to make them. I slivered the chicken-- a few boneless breasts-- and he marinated them in the mix, lemon and lime juice and some cider vinegar (because we didn't have as much juice as the recipe called for), and sour cream (because we didn't have the plain yogurt the recipe called for). An hour or so later, he made little tandoors out of tin foil, and baked the chicken in the packets. Then he steamed edamame, and made rice with a bullion cube, black pepper and cilantro, and we ate it all together.

It was delicious. Spicy, but not too hot to eat, filling in small amounts, and good for us.

experiments: home-made rose tea

I've randomly found a good spot that my rose plant likes, and it's been putting out one or two roses all summer. Not quite the profusion our friends E and D around the corner have with their roses, but enough for me, who wants them, but has never been able to grow them. So this most recent round, I let them bloom, then when they started looking too-open, I clipped the rose, pulled off the petals, and layered them in a jar with China Black tea that I'd bought in bulk a while ago.

The first infusion seems to have been a success; when I added the second-rose's worth of petals, i dumped the whole thing into a bowl and all teh petals were dried and curled, not gross, which I'd almost feared they would be. I treated the old flowers like tea leaves and re-layed the tea in the jar. I figured I'll do this a few more times, let it mellow a bit, and then see how well it worked.

I'll keep you updated!

spagetti and meatballs!

Classic, all the way.

H made the sauce, and I made the meatballs, and then we had a lovely get-together. The sauce was a crock-pot deal: the night before, H sauteed onions, garlic, minced celery and carrots, and minced mushrooms, and then food-processored them for ultra-fineness and dropped them in the crockpot. Then it was a few cans of dixed tomatoes, at least one of which was fire-roasted, some more garlic, a little red pepper, salt, pepper, and the dry herbs-- basil, oregano and chili powder. Then it was hours of taunting me because the kitchen is next to my room. The next day, sometime before dinner, he got fresh basil and rosemary from the yard and threw them in, and adjusted the seasoning.

Meanwhile, about three hours before dinner, I made the meatballs, much the way I make them for Swedish Meatballs, like so: The meat, about two pounds, went into the bowl, while a cup of Italian breadcrumbs soaked in about as much milk, and I sauteed minced onions and garlic-- then both go in with the milk, an egg, salt, pepper, basil and oregano, and get all mushed together by hand until they're blended evenly. I made the meatballs pretty big and out them on a cookie sheet and left them in the fridge to firm up ( I think the milky breadcrumbs AND the egg were too moist, but they turned out fine after I let them sit ). Preheated the oven to 350, then baked the meatballs until they were done through, and dropped them into the sauce to mingle while the noodles and garlic bread cooked.

Then there was much nomming. Om nom nom all over the place.

The meatballs were done that day, but the sauce lasted for three days as leftovers, and was great as a dipping sauce for the leftover bread. Plus, we jarred some to use later. Brilliant!

Taco Night!

We are big fans of Taco Night. Every few months, we get that urge to get together a bunch of people and a bunch of food, and make ourselves fat with much noshing. This time, we had the following: picadillo-seasoned beef, refried beans, yellow rice, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, freah home-made salsa, taco sauce, Tobasco chipotle sauce, cheese, onions, green olives, soft flour tortillas, hard corn tortillas, and nacho cheese sauce. Lookit this spread.

This was taco #1 and 2: beef, rice, sour cream, guac, cheese, salsa and olives. After that, it became sort of a blur of refilling my plate. I think I had another soft taco, and then abandoned the shells and just ate piles of filling with a fork like a delicious salad.

Toward the end of the feeding frenzy, H started making Tiny Taco Salads, which I love and wanted to make, too, but I'd burned the roof of my mouth earlier that day, and it made it hard to eat crunchy things, so I just took pictures of his, instead. Mmmmm, taco variations.

Most of the stuff was store-bought, which is fine for Taco Night, because you're building your own food from the pieces provided. We cooked the meat at home, of course, and A thinned the sour cream with some milk so that it was easier to glop onto a taco and closer to how it is at Chipotle's. We'll probably thin it more next time. I'd like to add chicken to the meat selection, and H wants to make carnitas for next time. We talked about having thinly sliced cabbage instead of lettuce, and going for more of a baja feel next time, which I'm all for.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

seasonality list for wk33, aug 9 to 15

The lists are starting to drift into Fall produce. New Potatoes are out on all lists except one. Lots of tropical fruits are ready for eating-- and alot of them are ones I've never seen in person, but I'm totally going to keep an eye out for at the farmer's market!

New: Brill, Pilchard, Goose, Longan, Summer Savory, Tamarillo, Daikon, Choko, Fairy Ring Champignon Mushroom, Soybeans, Mustard Greens, Local Honey, Buddha's Hand Citrus, Burdock Root, Cactus Pads (which have probably been in for a while, but are new to the list), Cardoon, Key Lime, Lavendar, Ackee, Guinep, Breadfruit, June Plum, Soursop.

It's starting to get really loooonnnng. And I've found so many new lists to consult for the Master List that I need to go back and fill in the old weeklies to show what new info I've found before I finalize the lists for the book. It's getting pretty awesome.

Choko = Chayote
Fairy Ring Champignon =

Buddha's Hand Citrus =
Burdock Root =
Cardoon =
Ackee =
Guinep =
Breadfruit =
June Plum =
Soursop =

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farmer's Market Haul, last week of July

I went in with 25 dollars, and that's all I had to spend, and I came out with the following:

A masssive mango
A bunch of celery
Three big carrots from the lady before who had the best carrots I've ever had
Three fat little prickly pears
A bunch of seedless red grapes
A pint of little concord grapes that really do taste like Welch's
A pint of red pear tomatoes
A pint of sugar snap peas
A pint of rainier cherries, even though I have red cherries still in the house, because I really love them
A pound to two of the tiniest little baby white potatoes ever
Eight oranges
Five sweet peppers
And four honey sticks

Not a bad haul, if I do say so myself. I'm loving that there's a honey stand there now, and I hope they're still there next time I go back. And the same lady with the prickly pears and the wonder-carrots had longans! I didn't have the money to spare to get them, but they were lovely-looking, and maybe they'll be there when we get back too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nut Butters into Nut Milks!

I'm not a fan of cow milk. I'm allergic to it, for one, and I think it tastes bad for another (I think part of the allergy is an aversion; I can't tell the difference between fresh milk and bad milk by smell-- it all smells bad to me), plus, it's full of unhealthy things that I'd rather not attack my thyroid with.

Soymilk is tasty, especially the asian beverage kinds, but it's soy, and soy is full of estrogens that my body gest way-too-easily hooked on. Almond is good, but sometimes hard to find and / or expensive, and rice milk tastes watery, and like the bowl after you've had Rice Krispies.

So when I read that you can take pretty much any nut butter and make it into milk, I was thrilled! We've got a scratch and dent grocery here, and there's always leftover health-food-store nutbutters at, like, 1.50 instead of 5.99, so I got myself some cashew butter and some sunbutter (made of sunflower seeds, which I actually like better than peanut butter these days).

Here's how it goes:
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of nutbutter, all natural and not emulsified-- so look for the kind that separates, and stir it up before you use it
1-2 tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

You're supposed to blenderize it here, but ours was on a shelf I couldn't reach and it was during a thunderstorm anyway, so I put it all in a jar and shook it like I was making butter out of milk. In the blender, it's, like, two minutes or something until it's a milk-- the color lightens and the solids are mostly dissolved. In the jar, it's more like fifteen or twenty minutes of vigorous shaking, which is good exercize and kind of zone-out and zen time. It won't lighten so much, and it won't be as thick, but it's prefectly drinkable and just as tasty. Either way, there'll be sediment-- all the fibers that are fine on a sandwich, but kind of gross to drink. If you let it sit for a minute, they'll settle out, and you can pour off the tasty tasty drinkables. The fiber is good for the compost heap.

Cashew milk tastes alot like soymilk, but without that cardoboardy after taste that soymilk tends to have, and without that feeling of dryness in your mouth. Roasted cashew butter is nuttier, but still mild. It's harder to mix by hand, though, because there's more solids in it. Sunmilk smells a little odd, but tastes great, creamy and smooth and like a sunflower seed, but also with that milkiness you're looking for, and after you sip it, the smell isn't even an issue-- it just smells like sunbutter.

Next trip to the scratch and dent, I'm going to pick up some tahini and try sesame milk-- I think it'll be awesome, and starting from a smaller, softer source, it should be easier to mix. And I really want to try hazelnut milk-- or even just hazelnut butter-- but it's usually expensive, even at the discount grocery, and it's not always there. I might also try peanut milk if I can find some good, natural peanut butter-- Jiff and PeterPan just have too much hydrogentated veggie oil these days, and don't even taste like much to me anymore. And they won't blend well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

linky links: food edition wk26

This week's fun food things, all in one place, and now with 57.2% more of my own personal ramblings!

An Edible History of Humanity-- I love food and I love Anthropology, and this one covers both bases! I love the idea of a book all about the persuit of food and how it shapes history. I haven't managed to get it yet, what with being so friggen poor, but I hope there's a sizable discussion of paleogastronomy. I want to be a food historian / nutritional anthrolologist.

A discussion of crops fro flavoring Gin. Personally, I dispise gin, can't stand it, but the discussion talks about flavoring vodka to taste like gin (bleh) and from there, goes into neat-sounding herbal vodkas that I now want to try out. After I make appertifs and digestifs. After I have the money to buy vast quanitites of cheap vodka.

Home Made Irish Cream: Now this, I do like. Alot. And it's so expensive to buy. I wonder if I could fake it with soymilk or almond or cashew milk?

Raspberry tart-things that sound awesome: They include pumpkinseed-marscapone mousse.

Did you know you can eat cherry pits? Neither did I, but apparently they're like tiny, very intense almonds, and here's a recipe using them in icecream. I really really really need an icecream maker.

Pates de fruits: Some of the first candy! And they look way better and more intense than gummies ever were. Plus, they appeal to the same parts of my brain that like making jam (which I haven't done this year at all yet), and even though they're time-consuming, they look pretty easy. Think of it: solid fruit ones (strawberry, raspberry, apple, grape, apricot), mixed fruit ones (strawberry-rhubarb, cranberry-cherry, plum-apricot), herb-scented ones (strawberry-rose, plum-thyme, starwberry-basil, apple-rose, peach-ginger)...

This lovely lady makes sweet white ceramic icecream cones. Which is both awesome and a little sad-making, but probably better for making cupcake-cones in than real ones.

yay linkies!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What To Do With Leftover Punch

We like our easy punch: rum, sprite and sherbet, the cheaper the better. This time it was raspberry. But after the party (Memorial Day), there was still most of the second bowl left. What's a group of eaters to do? A, brilliantly, poured the whole thing into a freezer box, and kept it for several weeks, until we were over for Game Night and decided we wanted something boozy to drink, but there was nothing in the house with which to make our usual Lolly Holloways (like a banana daquiry, but cooler). So we pulled out the frozen old punch, blended it with fresh ice, and had probably the best mixed icy drink ever. It tasted like pink lemonade and still had enough punch that the one cup each of us got was more than enough.

Yay summer and frozen drinks!

Birthday Dinner: Portuguese

Since I was sixteen, on the day of my birthday-- or as close to it as we can manage, since my b-day tends to fall very close to Memorial Day and that sometimes gets in the way-- I go out with everyone I can get together, and we find a new ethnic food that I've never had before. last year it was more traditiona Japanese than just sushi at a place called Kokoro (there was ggoey rice!), the year before that was a new Indian place where I had tandoori goat, and this year it was Portuguese. A place called Taste of Portugal in Palm Coast.

The meal started with this lovely lentil soup: carrots, celery and onion in what I think was a beef broth with bacon or salt pork or something to flavor it. It tasted like bean with bacon soup like I grew up with, only better, and obviously home-made.

A and D ordered red snapper, L ordered this pork and mussel dish that seemed really interesting and had an amazing gravy, Auds ordered a red almost-curry with rice and C ordered paella that came with literally half a lobster as well as whole shrimp and clams and mussels. I ordered bacalao, because big white fish are in season, and I usually order chicken or salmon and I wanted something new. The fish was preserved, which I think is standard for the dish, so it had a different, firmer texture than usual fish, and it still had bones in, which the waitress was worried would bother me, and showed me how to get the meat out around them. It was sitting in garlic olive-oil with the mildest onions I've ever had, and amazing little roasted new potatoes and green peppers. It was pretty good-- the flavors were simpler and milder than Spanish cooking tends to be (at least that I've had over here), and I think it was meant for a higher-quality olive-oil, but overall it was very good and remarkably filling.

And it finished up with flan, because my Cuban genes do not allow me to not eat flan when it's available, as those flan-selling Hogar Boys know. As you can see, there wasn't even time to take a picture before I ate it all. It was amazing. Much thicker and denser than any flan I've ever had (and I've had LOTS of flans), but still somehow as creamy and amazing as it should be, and none of that grainyness that happens when parts of it cook faster than others, with both the cooked-on-the-bottom burnt sugar crust and this separate sauce that she spooned over it that I could live off of like a hummingbird with nectar-- it was the single best sugar-sauce I've ever had. I'd go back to this place just for that flan.

Japanese-Syle Fish Stew

Sonetimes, I get really tired of the same thing all the time, so I change things up. Sometimes, I come out with something different then I thought I'd have. This was supposed to be braised veggies, but I put too much liquid in, and it wound up being stew. Oh well.

The basic recipe comes from Maki over on Just Hungry:

Potatoes stewed with fried tofu and green beans

I did it this way:
Sautee an onion in a mix of olive oil and a teeny bit, less than a teaspoon of sesame oil, then trow in the potatoes, and sautee them a bit. The recipe calls for fresh greenbeans, which I didn't have, so I used leftover roasted asparagus that was in the freezer and some stirfry-intended brocoli. I should have added them in closer to the end, though; as you can see, the asparagus kind of melted. Tasted fine, but left it sort of... unpretty.

Then top with the water, which I topped too high, and throw in two tablespoons of sake (we always seem to have sake, even though none of us drink it), 3tbsp soy sauce (I added extra, because I like it), 2 tbsp maple syrup and some pepper. Boil it until the potatoes are starting to get edible.

Then I added the fish, which was already fillet-ed and frozen (you can get it packaged like that, and that's awesome), dropping it in whole and cooking is about half way, and mixed in some red miso for extra measure. Continue cooking until the fish is done, leaving the lid off so it'll evaporate some and thicken up, and then nom nom!

It tasted pretty authentic to what I remember Japanese cooking tasting, and I didn't change the recipe too much from Maki's, so I'm assuming it's pretty close. And it was delish. The leftovers were good cold for about two days (after that, the potatoes melted and the fishiness got overwhelming). Definitely a keeper.

Late Spring / Early Summer Pasta

This really should have been posted weeks ago, but there you are. This is C-Food! Which is always quick and honest and lovely. Cooked pasta mixed with garlic-sauteed broccoli, asparagus, onions and olives, shredded up smoked salmon, and tons of grated parmesan. No sauce but what the veggies and the fish make for themselves, and most of the flavoring is already there because of that. A little pepper, and there you go! Quick, easy, and really flavorful. And pretty healthy, too!

Summer Food

The best thing about summer is the absolute abundance of fresh, wonderful foods. It's just amazing. The worst part about summer, at least here in the South that's further south than the Deep South, is that there's just so damned much heat. So I tend to use the one to deal with the other.

I've switched to my Summer Diet, which in days before my metabolism slowed, would help me drop 15 lbs every summer; we'll see if it works this year. See, teh heat makes me not want to eat. It doesn't just kill my appetite, it kills my desire even to have an appetite, adn if I'm not careful, I tend to forget to eat at all, which isn't healthy. So to get myself through the day, I eat a raw veggie diet, then at night, a few hours after dark (ie: somewhere around nine-thirty), I'll eat something full of protein and the day's starches. Salads, yes, of course, but when I say 'salad', what I really mean is this:

Not the pile of anemic lettuce that people try to tell me is a salad these days. No way. I much prefer a pile of veggies, and if they're really good veggies, I don't even need the dressing. If there's lettuce at all, It'll probably be a single wedge of something interesting, eaten with my fingers the same way.

And for breakfast, I switch to Sami Snadard Breakfast #1: fresh fruit and yogurt. Mmmm, yogurt. And I've missed peaches, plums and necatarines to an obscene degree since I started this Year Of Depriving Myself Of Out-Of-Season Foods.

Barring that, there's always Alternative #1: fruit and cream. I use Nestle Table Cream (comes in a little half-size can and costs less than half a dollar in the same section as the other canned milk-products) mixed with a quarter cup of powdered sugar, which is just enough that it testes like something other than thickened milk. And it's processed enough that I don't get all lactose-intollerant-y over it, which is awesome, and allows me to continue to get a little protein and calcium during the day.

And the rest of my diet consists of shaved ice and beach sand and more water than would take to water our lawn.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

experiment: perfect puff pan

For my birthday, A got me a Perfect Puff Pan, which I've been wanting for AGES, and I set about to make it work, because as I've mentioned before, Everything Is Better In Bun Form.

Experiment 1 was made with Manichevitz Brownie Mix, because it was on sale for 50c at the Scratch And Dent. Lemme just say, this is the most amazing brownie mix ever. It's rich and uber-fudgy and even when it's cooked into charcoal briquettes, it's amazingly chocolatey. I should have just eaten it with a spoon, because, as you can see, the mix did not like the Puff Pan, no matter what the poorly-worded flier says about being able to use any mix. They burned before they were cooked enough to flip, the little flip-stick didn't work, and I had to flip them with a spoon, which scratched the pan and managed to knock half the batter out of each puff. but they were still tasty.
Experiment 2 went much better. I decided brownies were too ambitious, and I scaled it back to the pancakes that were in the title-- just a normal bisquick pancake mix. I turned down the heat one notch, oiled it with butter instead of spray, and I didn't fill the little wells as high, and voila! Almost-Perfect Pancake Puffs!

I want to try it with eggs, and with little pellets of potatoes stuffed with cheese, and maybe with cookie dough, and I have a muffin mix I want to try, too. I'll keep you posted.

The main problem, once I figured out how not to make charcoal, is that they don't cook very fast; there's only seven at a time, and by the time numbers 8 through 14 are done, numbers 1 through 7 are either nibbled away or stone cold. So I wouldn't recommend this for anything requiring a hot meal, but pancakes are reheatable, and other baked goods are just as tasty at room temp, and I think it'll be okay.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

School Lunches in Other Countries

Okay, any of us who have had school lunches here in American schools know that the food is crap. Half my elementary school years were in Scotland, and while the UK has notoriously bad food in their schools (at least until Jamie Oliver fixed it in the last few years), I can tell you from experience that the American schools I went to right after had much worse food. Squishy flat pizzas that taste like plastic and ketchup? Cardboardy hamburgers? Slimy salads that do nothing at all to convince kids to eat veggies? No thanks!

And then, there are articles like the one listed above that talk about food in other countries, and it just pisses me off. I'm glad I don't have kids, because I don't have the time to devote to making them have better food and organizing a school garden, and if I did have kids eating school lunches, that's exactly what I would have to do, because I just can't allow my kids to have heart attacks at age ten because of school making them fat.

Did you know that in Italy, France and Japan, lunch is part of the curriculum, teaching kids about good manners, nutrition, local produce, local foodways, food history, food production, organic growing, civil responsibility, and any of a number of other things Americans could use some schooling on? I didn't. And now I'm really upset.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I've been sick lately-- stomach sort of sick, and we haven't been cooking much. I've got a few pictures, but I'm tired now, so they'll have to wait a bit. Maybe later today...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Warning Labels

So, I’ve been out of work for two weeks as of yesterday. Amongst other things, it means I’ve been baking. It’s like my go-to for filling time and burning off anxiety. And what that means is that I’ve been reading a lot of labels, and nothing gets my goat-shaped-cookie like stupid warning labels on food. I mean, seriously. Are you really so dumb, so disconnected from your foodsources that you don’t know that butter contains milk? That peanut butter has peanuts in it? That whole wheat bread contains wheat?

Here’s where my social Darwinism tendencies start showing: If you’re a full grown person and you don’t know these things and you have the sort of allergy where you should know them, maybe you aren’t meant to be alive. How can you be that helpless? Who was already that helpless that someone got sued and had to add these superfluous warnings?


I just had to vent. Because it’s stupid.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

review: georgie’s diner


We used to have this little silver diner. It was good basic diner food, and they’d let me have the kids meal pb&j when I was sick or poor. And then they got bought out by a Greek restaurant, and I hadn’t been back.

I really should have tried sooner.

Because what they did was combine the diner food with the Greek food, and it resulted in this excellent breakfast you see here: Gyro Omelet with Feta. They don’t skimp on the gyro meat, and the egg is nice and fluffy and well-browned, and the feta is creamy and strong, but not overpowering. The hashbrowns are excellent (you can judge the quality of a breakfast plate on the quality of their hashbrowns), and the biscuit is light and very buttery and perfectly toasted.

They’ve also got a spanikopita omelet, and the more usual breakfast items and some sandwiches, but I’m glad I picked this one: it was exactly something different, and that’s what I was wanting.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fennel and Sausage Pizza


My friend L is a whiz with home-made pizza. It’s never less than amazing, but this most recent time, we tried something new: Italian sausage, fresh fennel sauteed in butter, and roasted red pepper paste mixed into the sauce. It was delicious. The cheese was the moderate-quality mozzarella, the kind that stretches when you try to cut it and shreds when you use one of those cheese-slicer things. And it’s my new favorite fancy pizza.

Honey Taste Test

It’s always amazing to me how different honeys can taste when you taste them back to back. I mean, I grew up with Clover Honey and when we moved to Florida, I sort of knew that Orange Blossom Honey was different, but I never really thought about it until I went to the South Florida Renaissance Festival a few years ago and devoted my whole attention to tasting the different honeys back to back. I bought a bunch, and then I didn’t think about it again.

Until lately, when I’ve been riddled with allergies and balancing on the edge of a sore throat.

Our last food drop gave me a bottle of Tupelo Honey, I bought my usual North Florida Wildflower Honey downtown, and when we cleaned out the kitchen recently, we found all the tail ends we had lying around: standard Clover in the little bear jars, Killer Bee and  Heather from the Bee Folk, Buckwheat from the Scratch and Dent, and a little bit of West Virginia Wildflower from our trip through to Ohio. Here’s a not very pretty picture of all the honeys we have:


(that’s, from top and the crystallized one and moving clockwise: Clover, Tupelo, Buckwheat, Local Wildflower, WV Wildflower, Killer Bee and Heather in the center.)

My personal opinions: Clover is standard honey, but in comparison to the others, it’s not as complex, and it’s kind of… acidic? Something in the range of too sharp. It burns the back of my throat, and always has. Tupelo is very sweet and very light, almost floral, a little acidic. It’s got that song claiming it’s the sweetest, but that’s not true. And it’s supposed to be rare, but as it’s from this basic area, it’s not all that rare for me. Buckwheat tastes roasted, almost like molasses, but much smoother. I like it on whole wheat pancakes, but it’s too strong for yogurt. Local Wildflower is a good, well-balanced honey, rich and deep, but nowhere near as deep as the Buckwheat, moderately floral, and not very acidic, though it does sort of make the top of my mouth feel tingly and crawly the way good live-culture yogurt does. WV Wildflower is lighter than ours, and there were walnuts in this one, so maybe that’s why it’s a little bitterer. It’s also a little more… honey-like? Closer to Clover, I guess, so maybe they have more clover than we do. It’s definitely greener there, and it tastes ever so vaguely more herbal than ours. Killer Bee honey seems… zingier than regular or common honeys, and that might be just knowing where it comes from, but at the Rennfaire, we tasted them blind and it still seemed zingier, tarter, but not really sour at all, and not with the burning of Clover. It has bite, maybe. And Heather honey is very floral, very rich, and much more bitter than honey usually is, sharp in a non-acidic way, with a definite woody taste in the background. It immediately makes me think of summer in Scotland, with the flowers blooming and the cold stone and peat still underneath. It tastes like the air there.

Out of the honeys I don’t have on hand, Gallberry is my favorite. It’s exactly how honey should taste, smooth and rich and not throat-burny at all, and on the thicker side, but never crystallizing. And I’m also a fan of Arrowleaf honey, which is white and solid at room temperature, and as mellow as turbinado sugar, prefect for tea and for holding together things like peanut-butter balls and sugarplums. Mint Honey is on the darker side, a shade darker than Wildflower, and tastes like mint; I guess the pollen has the same menthols in it. I’m allergic to Radish honey because it’s got the same allergens as radishes have, and it burns a little in that same peppery way, but it’s tasty. Orange Blosson Honey has a definite citrus quality to it, but it’s more like the flowers and less like the fruit: pretty floral and a little acidic. I haven’t managed to get my hands on Lavendar Honey or that Hawaiian White Honey, but they’re on my list.

Here’s a prettier picture that I didn’t take:


Monday, May 4, 2009


I knew you could make dandelion wine (which I mean to look into this year if I can afford it), but here's a post about making dandelion breat and muffins that I seriously want to try out!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leftovers: Fishpocket Miso Soup


Remember the fishpockets from the grill? Even after D made the stirfry, there was enough leftover for one little packed lunch: Miso soup with the leftovers.

I get my Miso from J-List (which I’ve probably mentioned before). It’s a moist instant, not a powder*, and all you need is hot water. It lasts for ages and doesn’t need refrigeration, too, so it’s perfect for lunches.

I added sesame seeds, Kastuo bonito furikake and alfalfa sprouts, then mixed the miso and added the grilled veggies and catfish, and there you go! Lovely lunch!


*Here’s what it looks like:

miso_soup_a71 (1)

Search For The Perfect Rootbeer: Boylan’s


I had to give up soda about… something like fifteen years ago when I first realized my stomach didn’t work right (it’s since been diagnosed as a malfunctioning stomach valve, after previously being diagnosed as IBS and realizing it was much higher than that. the two sides of my upper stomach valve get out of whack and pull against each other instead of working together, and fizzy drinks are a good way to set it off). But I miss rootbeer, and I let myself have one once in a while when the urge strikes me and my stomach is not too upset about whatever I’m doing lately. But see, not having had rootbeer in almost a decade before I started drinking it again, I have this idea of what it should taste like, and most rootbeers don’t taste like that, so I’ve decided to try all of them and find the best one.

This is Boylan’s, and it’s pretty close. It’s all natural cane sugar, not HFCS or anything (which I try to avoid because it’s bad for you, no matter what the Corn Council says, it tastes too sweet, and it’s a risk factor for other health problems I have). It’s sweet in that creamy way that rootbeer should have, and it tastes like rootbeer, not like licorice or like artificial rootbeer flavoring, which is flat and goes too far. I hate the idea that rootbeer should have ‘bite’—it shouldn’t. It just shouldn’t bee so freakishly sweet that you feel the need to add acid to balance it (poorly and lazily).

It comes in a glass bottle, which I think makes for a purer taste, and a brown one at that, so there’s no chance light can damage it (I know that happens to milk; I have no idea if it happens to soda, but I wouldn’t be surprised). And best of all, it’s not desperately fizzy like so many mainstream sodas! It’s got the sparkle, but it doesn’t overpower, and it doesn’t cause a lot of gas in my broken stomach, so I can drink this one entirely while it’s still cool, instead of waiting for it to de-fizz, and therefore having to drink warm soda.


That’s my shop in the background, where all my pack lunches are eaten.


    (imagine the upside-down ! there at the beginning)


Every time I hear the name Sponch, my brain drops it into the Flash Gorden theme song (Sponch! Aww-wwww! He’ll save every one of us!); must be the exclamations…

Anyway, we found this on a display of Hispanic snack foods, and with a name like that, we just had to try it. It’s a cookie, like a Maria cookie, but softer, with marshmallow, strawberry jelly and coconut. There is nothing not to love about this snack. You get six in a pack and diabetes on the side, but who cares! It’s like a Snowball on a cookie, with jelly!


And then we found out that it came in grape, too…


… and were sad that it isn’t as good. The grape flavor is overwhelmed by the other flavors, as the strawberry is not, and it’s almost too sweet, as opposed to just sweet enough.


But it’s still pretty.

Tapas Dinner

D loves tapas, so he made us a whole meal of lovely little bite-size foods:


1. Gazpacho with grilled salmon and celery:


2. Sautéed spinach wrapped in the awesomeness of bacon, and tipped with roasted sesame seeds:


3. Stuffed mushrooms filled with the mildest, creamiest blue cheese I’d ever tasted (seriously, it was like feta, only a little different, and nothing at all like metal feet):


4. Whole wheat crackers with sautéed onion, Swiss cheese and sliced red apple:


And all together it looked like this:


I think the spinach could have used a little more seasoning before being wrapped, but other than that, it was all amazing.



See what H is building there?

That’s right girls and guys, it’s warm enough down here to grill. Has been for a month, and we used the household fund to buy a real propane grill with propane and propane accessories, and we’ve been grilling at least once a month since. Here are the lovely things we’ve made:

First up, we made burgers. Lovely juicy burgers. Like, three times in two weeks.

Then we got adventurous: Fish pockets with roasted vegetables and grill-baked potatoes.


The fish was catfish, and some of the pockets actually had chicken to stretch them, because more people came then expected and the catfish was a little expensive. Veggies were zucchini, summer squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic with dill and lime.DSCF3701


See how excited D was? He made the leftovers into a magnificent stirfry that was super-easy, since all the meat and veg were already cooked: rice, oil and a little soysauce, then tossed with the leftovers.

After that, we made kebabs that I didn’t get pictures of because I was too busy stuffing my face: beef and chicken were marinated in soysauce, lemonade, butter, garlic, salt and pepper, then skewered with mushrooms, peppers, onion, apple, carrot and tomato, and grilled. We had M’s yellow rice on the side, and grilled pineapple for dessert.

And most recently, we made teriaki chicken:


… with lime-cilantro and sazon rice, butter-steamed fresh greenbeans, asian slaw and watermelon. h marinated the chicken in Soy Vey kosher teriaki, then made his own teriaki from soysauce, sake, sesame, garlic, ginger and sugar, and a little rooster sauce, and brushed that on while they were cooking:


Mmmm, the first watermelon of the season…


And for dessert, E’s mom, R, made us the best banana pudding ever: Mix the banana pudding with the milk, like usual, then mix in a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and a whole tub of Cool Whip, and layer it with sliced bananas and Neko Wafers:


Practically deadly, it’s so delicious. We’ve got tentative plans for a Bring-Your-Own-Steak party, and I want to have a block party to get to know the neighbors, and at some point this summer, we need to make roasted corn. Seriously.