Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Fail

This one is for all you math people out there.

That's how many pounds and how many ounces? Is Turkey weight measured differently?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are we ready?

Well today is Wednesday, and cook I did, although I'm not really sure if this counts or not since I wasn't really trying out new recipes from my cookbooks, but instead making the old standbys that have graced our Thanksgivings for frogeye yeah.

Actually, recently my Thanksgiving specialty has become Pecan pie. I made one for Thanksgiving a few years ago, and my dad has been raving ever since, and thus my calling in life has been found. I figure, though, I'll make him as many pecan pies as he wants as long as he's around to eat them. Eating pecan pie won't be the same without him.

Pecan pie itself is one of those recipes that really impresses guests, for some reason, but is, in fact, the easiest pie to make, ever (unless you count those pudding pie things in pre-made graham cracker crusts, but I'm going to have an elitist moment and declare that those don't count). The trick, I think, is to get really fresh Pecans and be generous with them. The best source I've found is a little shop called Kitchen Kneeds, but it's very local. There's one in the middle of Ogden and one on Redwood Road in the Taylorsville-ish area. There may be more, but those are the only ones I know of. (ok scratch that, the best source is my Grandpa's tree in Arizona, but since he passed away a few years ago, that became less of an option) Anything sold in a grocery store probably won't cut it.

The other reason my dad rants about mine, I think, is that it's my mom's recipe from a cookbook from the 1950's. Man, those guys knew how to use fat in their cooking. None of this lame-wad low calorie crap. You can compare recipes from the 1953 version of the Better Homes and Garden's cookbook and the current version, and one now will have half the fat, skip a bunch of steps, and not taste nearly as good. Of course, if you want to live past 60 without having a heart attack, maybe this is not such a bad thing, but here's what I figure; if you're eating dessert, make it good, make it satisfying, and only eat a little bit. If you're craving something, eat it--so you don't go around eating everything else and not being satiated.

So, anyway, here's my version of Pecan Pie.

Crust: from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 195? (it doesn't even have a copyright date)
This is from the How to make plain pastry directions.

2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening
6-7 Tbs cold water

I'm not actually going to write out the directions, but I also added 1 egg yolk and a splash of vinager, and it worked pretty well.

The filling is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Dessert Cook Book 1965

Southern Pecan Pie

3 eggs
2/3 C. Sugar
Dash Salt
1/2 C light corn syrup
1/2 C. dark corn syrup
1/3 C. Melted butter or margarine

1 C. (lots of handfuls) of pecans

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell.

Beat eggs thorougly with sugar, salt, corn syrup, and melted butter. Pour into unbaked pie shell and sprinkle pecans over the top until there's enough to fill the top layer of the filling. Push them down into the filling with a spoon so that they are just coated.

Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 50 minutes or till knife inserted halfway between the outside and center comes out clean. Cool pie before serving.

Their version vs. my version.
See, there you go, peice of, pie.

Incidentally, I did actually make frog eye salad as well, for the first time on my own. Which also went pretty well, but I think I sort of scrambled the eggs into the sauce. :P Once we got the whip cream in, though you really can't tell.

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, go eat some turkey.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Back in the Saddle...what is the kitchen equivalent to a saddle?

Ok, folks, I know I've really dropped the ball, in fact, I don't know that I was ever really carrying the ball to begin with, but I just saw Julie and Julia, which was such a great movie. It really made me happy. Really. Freakishly so.

I guess maybe it just reminded me of something I love that I've forgotten lately, and that is the joy of cooking. Not the cookbook by that title, necessarily, in fact I've never even owned a copy, but just how much I love to cook, and eat a really great dish.

I kinda want to start something like Julie does in the movie. What she does is make something from Julia Child's cookbook every day for one year. I can't afford this, but I have so many awesome cookbooks that I never even open that I want to push myself to use them and discover what secrets they have to offer. I think I want to make a goal (how's that for commitment) to make something from one of my cookbooks that I haven't tried at least once a week, which means that I'm going to have to invite people over a lot, or die of left-overs. It also means I'm going to have to plan ahead, and budget better so I can afford something besides eggs and ramen, which do make a rather interesting combination, but are sort of nasty nonetheless.

So, here goes...I think I'm going to make Wednesdays my cooking nights since the rest of the week is filled with things like church activities and swing dancing. Tomorrow I shall choose my first recipe, and post what the plan is.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Prophet?

'Cause nothing says reverence like an effigy in squash.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cowboy up and take it like a man made out of chocolate.

What do you know this single's ward stuff actually works; I went to ward prayer one Sunday and found the perfect man sitting on the kitchen counter. Dark, mysterious, sweet looking, and I bet he'd just melt in my arms if I held him long enough.

Yeah, I don't know where this came from, but my first thought was '?!'

Who wants a lousy old Easter bunny or Santa when you can have your very own chocolate cowboy (as long as it's not a chocolate cow pie I suppose). I thought he'd be an appropriate post, it being nearly Pioneer Day and all, but the weird thing is that I took the photo in the middle of winter.

Now if only he were life-sized.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Finally, another restaurant review (Pics coming as soon as I'm not on an iPhone)

So we're trying something new today and I'm posting via my iPhone while I guard the front gate of the pioneer village. Yeah I know I'm supposed to be doing something period, but you can only crochet for so long before your eyes fall out or something. Anyway, I took these photos quite a while ago when my collegues and I decided to have an after school shindig and go out to eat. My good friend and fellow food finder Maribeth Clarke suggested we go to Asain Star on Fort Union. I have to admit I wasn't absolutely sold on the idea since I really have to be in the mood for Chinese and going to eat out with Emily usually fills that quota pretty fast, but I had not yet learned the ways of Maribeth and her mad retaurant finding skills, seriously, every place she's taken me to has been incredible, another of which I intend to post about, but you all know how that goes.

The restaurant itself is rather chic and kind of overlooks a long hill. It's really not what you expect a restaurant to look like, with huge 2 story windows and sort of modern styling. The interior is very clean feeling with two huge well-kept aquariums. The hosts were very cordial, and seemed to recognize that Maribeth is a returning customer and I feel they grated us well.

The parking lot is pretty horrendous since they're on a funny-shapped lot and have a funny-shaped building and people in Utah like rediculously large cars. I admit, I never understood the SUV craze, even though my parents have two of them. *shakes head

Anyway, as it turns out the parking lot is worth braving. I loved that it had all the usual dishes found at the every day Chinese joint, pus dishes from Japan, ant I think other cultures as well. Like I said it was a while ago, and we stuck to the common stuff, and the sushi. Mmm, sushi. They had flying fish eggs on their California rolls, I love that.

Some of the must haves at this place are the lettuce wraps, the honey chicken or pork, the gyoza, and above all the Walnut shrimp, which is really saying something considering how I feel about walnuts and shrimp; although my caution is to plan on sharing the shrimp, since I think a whole order of it would be a bit overwhelming, simply because it's fairly sweet, and quite rich. You need something to cut that sweetness.

I have to give them full marks for presentation, too. The garnishes were quite stunning, large flowers that looked like they were made from a shaved jicama or something and died lovely colors. We took them back to school to show the culinary students we liked them so much.

The icing on the cake, or maybe the fortune cookie in this case, was that we had a leftover buffet of awsomeness the next day. This is a real test, I think to have food that will stand up to a night in the fridge and the microwave. All in all this place gets a pricey thumbs up.

I think the best plan of attack for this restaurant is to do like we did and go with several friends so you can do it family style and try lots of things. Also, make it a special occasion because cheep is one thing this place is not.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sorry excuse for a post

Yeah, I'm lame, but I saw this, and it has to do with food, and I love love LOVE Louis Armstrong. So there.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A South African meal, with a Botswanan show.

*The photo-uploader is currently not working so pictures will be coming eventually.*

My very good friend and former roommate Brittany just got back from serving a mission in Johannesburg,South Africa and has happily moved back to Utah, well I'm happy she's back, I don't really know how she feels about it, but we'll assume, for good measure.

Anyway, She wanted to make a typical South African meal for all of us old roommies that used to live together in the Green House, and Melanie. Sadly, I missed all the prep because I was stuck at my high school's graduation (as in the one I teach at), so I can't say too much about that, which is really unfortunate.

The staple food is a thick corn meal paste, kinda like polenta, only not quite as thick, called pap (prounounced pop, I'm sorry I can't do the IPA symbols, my brain is too tired for that at the moment). With that we had beans and sausage in a sauce, which Brittany keeps saying there isn't actually a name for since it's different every time you make it depending on what you have around. She calls it garbage sauce, much like when I make fridge soup with whatever vegetables I need to use up. On the side we had mustard greens, in place of rape* greens, since those are hard to find here in the United States, probably because of the name.

According to Brittany Africans have a distinct lack of silverware, so we all ate with our hands to enhance our dining experience. First, Brittany presented a large bowl of hot water and using a cup poured some over each diner's hands before we began. After all, who want to eat with dirty hands if you don't have any silverware.

It's interesting to note there is a polar opposite of this eating culture, China. They find it incredibly dirty to touch any food at all with their hands when eating, and will even eat hamburgers and fries with chopsticks. Then there are the myriad of cultures who range in between, like ours that switch between using utensils and picking food up. I'm inspired to do a study of food borne illness among cultures and see if there is a correlation, or if we're all just germ-o-phobes for nothing.

To actually eat the meal one takes a small amount of the pap in one hand and forms it into a small ball and using it as sort of a scoop for the other parts of the meal. The pap is sticky enough that it makes a good base for scooping and absorbs the sauce. Actually getting into your mouth, however, is a little more tricky since in order for the scoop to be effective, I found it had to be slightly more than I could politely fit into my mouth, but if you tried to bite the scoop instead of just eating the whole thing, it would completely fall apart. Brittany likened it to Sushi that way. You really have to stick the whole thing in your mouth all at once.

The meal itself was very tasty. The beans and sausage had ample spices and a hint of curry. The pap is pretty bland by itself, but the sauce was potent enough that they balanced each other nicely. The greens were also very good, but I'm a sucker for greens, and therefor may not be able to be trusted. I really enjoyed all the flavors, and am very disappointed I missed all the prep, so I'll have to bug Brittany for instructions on how to recreate the meal. To drink we had orangeade, since, according to Brittany, they're always drinking something orange flavored.

I was a little surprised how much Brittany served us since the food was very heavy and quite filling. Not surprising considering the heavy starch and carbohydrate content, not to mention the protein. She ate about twice as much as the rest of us and told us that the Africans would serve even more than that, but she was used to it. Amazing.

The only unpleasantness of the meal was that the starch of the pap would dry on my fingers between bites, especially at the end when we were struggling to finish, and leave a crusty sticky feeling, which Emily delighted in smearing all over my arm. No, we aren't actually in Junior high, not that you'd be able to tell. Em had just come from a wedding so was less hungry than the rest of us or something, and decided to make a pap man with the leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers, the bean/sausage stuff kept fairly well in the refrigerator and made several tasty lunches and breakfasts, but we had no more pap, so we tried it on rolls, whole wheat bread, alone, and found that without the pap it's a little too intense, but will keep you from getting hungry for a good long while. Perfect before a hike or something, except that curry flavored beans and sausage for breakfast is a little much.

We also watched an episode of Lady's Detective Agency while we were eating since it's a very popular show in Botswana, where Brittany spent much of her mission. It's about two women who run a detective agency and solve mysteries. Kind of a fun show.

Thus ends my South African experience, though I'd love to experience the real thing at some point, since I've wanted to go there ever since I was little. Someday, someday.

*The seeds of which being what Canola oil is made from, so the plant is not wholly unknown to us American's it's just not used by us to its full potential, just like beet greens. Honestly, when will we learn that there's more to greens than iceberg lettuce?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cacophonous Crudités

So I'm home sick of, ironically, food poisoning (most likely, you can never really know for sure, but the symptoms are all there, and statistically speaking there are way way more cases of food poisoning than actual stomach flu) So, I'm poking around on youtube, and I found this:

I love this, it combines two of my loves, Jazz and Food! Does it get any better?

Actually, this isn't the first video I've seen where people take vegetables and turn them musical, here's one of a whole vegetable orchestra:

These guys sound pretty good, though I imagine the whole tuning thing is a bit tricky.

And now for my favorite veggie, Broccoli, not to mention I find this guy inexplicably adorable.

And now for something completely different.

Yeah, I know, there's no food in this one, but I love bagpipes, and I bet that's a food service quality latex glove he's using...anyway, just go with it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh the cuteness!

As I was reading my favorite blog today, Cakewrecks, I happened upon a link to the blog of a 16-year-old who is really talented in the field of cake decorating, and fell in love with her little robot cup cakes. It's not the first post on the page, so click the link and scroll down. I didn't want to steal her pic and post it though, so here's the link:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Allergy thy name be Banana.

So, for any of you who are allergic to a food that you like, this post is for you.

Today in Foods we started our pie unit, and as such it was my obligation, and pleasure, to offer a demo on how to make a pie crust. Since we had plenty of pies for the kids to devour at the end of class (which they did; I love teenage boys for that reason, they always appreciate and subsequently get rid of whatever you make) I got to take two empty pie crusts home.

As I was pondering what to do with said pie crusts the thought of banana cream kept filling my head, which is odd for two reasons.

1. I don't like cream pies
2. I'm allergic to bananas

Now, my banana allergy is really very un-severe which I find very fortunate and am grateful for. I can eat them as long as they're covered with enough flour, fat, or sugar that my stomach doesn't notice they're in there, and they really only make me slightly ill, and only if they're spotty. So the trick, I guess, is to get green ones and hide them well.

But I just couldn't shake it, so I went to Harmons to get bananas. They had strawberries on special, and I being the impulse buy-er I am thought that sounded like a good combo. So I decided to try it. I had a great debate in the pudding isle, but decided to shun the evils of instant and even cook 'n' serve. Sorry Jello, but box-pudding can never compete with home-made. Which is pretty much true of anything, really.

The recipe I found in my ancient (or I suppose Vintage is a better term) Better Homes and Gardens tome told me I should use 3 egg yolks in the pudding for the filling, and use the whites for merengue on top. The last time I've bothered with a merengue was in junior high, so I thought I'd give it a go. If only I had a kitchen torch. *sigh*

My roommate's fiancee came over during the course of the evening and had to comment. We sort of have this running gag that when he comes over I'm always making the house smell good. Yup, apparently my calling in life is to make people hungry.

Anyway, I thought it turned out quite nicely:

Although it needs more color. Maybe I should get one of those cool ceramic pans that have the pretty blue or green or whatever color glaze. I actually have a theory that the crust would bake slightly differently since everything bakes better in ceramic, right?

I was a little worried that since I had to re-bake the thing with the fruit inside that some of the moisture from the fruit would seep out into the pudding or crust causing it to do the whole syneresis thing (when the starch releases the trapped water and you get the clumpy pudding with the water in the bottom of the pan after a day or two) prematurely, but we'll have to see about that tomorrow. There was some excess moisture from the strawberries on the top, but it seems to be ok.

See, you can kinda see the little tiny puddle in the crust there. I hope it doesn't get too soggy by morning.

So, speaking of food allergies, I meant to post this photo a while ago, since I found it tragically amusing.

So the story goes, part of my family and I were at one of our favorite restaurants of all time, Maddox. We've been eating there since the dawn of time, and I think hamburgers are just about my brother's favorite thing in the universe. Ever since he was little. And Maddox hamburgers are the best of the best, heck they have the cows right out back (you think I'm joking? I'm not.) So for the first time in years we go to Maddox and he, of course, orders a hamburger.

Now, in the past few years the poor guy has developed an allergy to Sesame seads, and any kind of nut under the sun (which has some poetic justice since he used to torment me about not liking walnuts and them always being in Mom's cookies). So, he goes to do something that's so second nature to him, and is greated with the perfect hamburger on a fluffy sesame seed bun of certain doom. Tragedy has struck.

Here's the face of realization:

Well we solved the problem by switching the bun on the hamburger with the bun from my neice's hamburger since the kid's sized ones were sans sesame, which is why the burger in the picture is so disproportioned.

I suppose the point of all this is to say that, my heart goes out to all who can't eat the foods they love because they're body disagrees with their tastebuds...and maybe to show off my pretty pie.
Now I'm going to go take some benedryl and have a slice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Look at me!

So, once again I have failed to write something interesting about a restaurant or bakery or anything of the sort, and am now going to toot my own horn at you all, but I'll bet some of you will read this anyway, because now you're probably curious...ha. Or maybe I'm just a little tipsy off the Swedish 'non-alcoholic' cider* and rum flavoring I was using earlier. last week was my niece's birthday and this particular niece wants to be a chocolatier when she grows up, which as the foodie I am (even though I sort of hate that term) I think that's pretty darn awesome. Especially since she just turned 7. So I like to encourage this behavior in her, and one day I was walking through IKEA, buying the 'non-alcoholic' pear cider that my brother likes and that is now making my stomach a little queasy...or maybe that was the week old quiche...nevermind...and I saw their little interestingly shaped silicone ice-cube trays. They have these cute little flower shaped ones, and I said to myself--chocolate mold. The thought also occured to me that my good friend and former roommate Heidi would use edible glitter stuff on her chocolate creations, and I thought the combination of all these elements (minus the cider) would make a really great birthday present.

So I got the chocolate mold ice cube tray, one for her and one for me, the cider, and some sort of breakfast cereal that's package was announcing rather dramatically that it was good for me, and headed off.

Later I went to Orson Gygi's culinary supply shop for the first time, and I was totally blown away by how big it is, and how much I want at least one of everything in it. I got edible shimmery airbrush paint and little Wilton paint brushes, dipping chocolate, and lots of other things both for her and me (does this make me a spoiled brat?) and ended up spending WAY too much.

The sad part of that was not how much I spent but that somehow I managed to pick out the waxy nasty chocolate they make those little foil wrapped Easter candies from. Blech. I went back and got some Ghiridelli chocolate though, so hopefully that will be better, and I can use the waxy stuff to practice on, and put lots of flavoring in, which is what I did tonight.

I decided to paint dipping chocolate into the flowers and fill the centers with truffle filling--mint and raspberry--and make chocolate dessert cups by painting the chocolate into little silicone mini-muffin cups. While I tempered the dipping chocolate, which if you've never attempted is a royal pain in the head, I made the truffle centers, which is kind of like making ganache, and put the flavorings in. They won't be ready until tomorrow, so I used the dipping chocolate I attempted to temper, which sort of failed, to fill the flower molds for solid chocolates. I flavored them with left-over rum flavor oil from some cake of the past, but I really over did it with the whole bottle. I also put in a good amount of cinnamon to cut the rum flavor, and ended up with kind of a cool flavor combination.

The part is that I got to paint them.
And here's how they turned out:

Hopefully I'll be inspired to write more when I finish the truffles and dip them, and when I fill the dessert cups.

I gave the paints, the brushes, and the mold to my niece on Saturday and she seemed genuinly excited about the idea of shiny pink, blue, and purple chocolate flowers, so I was pleased about that too. What a terrible aunt, encouraging her to play with her food.

*It really is non-alcaholic, and I can't find anything on the label to indicate that it isn't, but I'm sort of wondering at this point. That's what I get from trusting a guy who regularly impersonates the Swedish Chef.