Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not Spending Money

So, Mister and I are not going to spend money on things other than groceries for the month of August. I didn't want to have it start before then because of such fun purchases as new car and ring. :-P

We did well for a week of not going out to eat -- we just need to do more of it. The fact that we have two kitchens is really hindering us. Just this morning, I was like "do you have bread?" He said that he had a piece. And I was like "Damn, I have bread, and eggs!" He said that he had cheese, but so do I.

So, we're going out to equip HIS kitchen instead of going to mine.

Apparently Mister considers himself more of a cook than I, and that he does more of the cooking in general. I'm kinda offended by this, as it appears to discount any cooking that I do. But, again, I feel like I do a lot of cooking at my apartment, which he doesn't necessarily see. On the other hand, the amount of leftovers that I often have would imply a fair amount of food.

When I commented about how it was strange that he felt he cooked more than I, he was like "well, I do more involved cooking than you." When I allowed that much of my cooking was throwing stuff in a pan to heat and eat it, he commented that he didn't consider that cooking -- just eating.

Grr. Not happy about this lack of recognition. But let the month of non-spending begin! We shall see who does the cooking. :-P

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Follow-up of Brunch -- Strata and Spicy Apple Dumplings

So J and her roommate M came over for brunch. (Of the massive horde that I invite... sheesh.) Due to my loving to work last minute coupled with their arrival 10 minutes early, even the coffee wasn't ready (but the kettle was already on the stove! ... and things were ready in 10 mins).

As I had to be at home from 8-12 for the RCN guy to show up (if he'd shown up at 8 I was going to punch him), I had to be here early. But, as it was RCN that was showing up, our internet was down. And where did I post all of those lovely recipes I wanted to try? My blog. Where did I leave the book they came from? Mister's house.

Luckily, I typed all of the damn things in, so remembered the basics of what I wanted.

Half of it turned out as delicious as I wanted. The other half... I'll explain.

Based upon my half remembered Basic Breakfast Strata.
Strata Recipe:

-- ground pork
-- bread (preferably day old, but I dried out regular bread)
-- garlic
-- oil
-- spices
-- 6 eggs
-- milk
-- 8 oz. block of cheddar cheese

I fried the pork with garlic and spices until appropriately browned. In a greased casserole dish, layer 1/3 of your bread in torn up bits. Add a layer of half of the sausage. Add 1/3 of the cheese. Another 1/3 of bread. The second half of sausage. Another 1/3 of cheese. Final 1/3 of bread. Leave final 1/3 of cheese off. Mix eggs with milk, and VERY VERY VERY SLOWLY pour the egg/milk mix over your casserole, allowing it to soak in everywhere (if you don't pour slowly, it bounces off the bread and onto the counter. Don't ask how I know). Let sit for an hour. Add final layer of cheese, and bake in 375F for close to an hour, or until done.

Verdict? Delicious.

Based upon my staring at this recipe a lot -- I looked up a recipe for the dough in the King Arthur Flour's Baking Companion.
Spicy Apple Dumpling Recipe(Picture above):

-- 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
-- sugar
-- vanilla
-- choc. chips
-- cinnamon
-- garam masala
-- 2 c. flour (+ more for rolling out)
-- 2 tsp. baking powder
-- 1/2 tsp. salt
-- 2/3 c. shortening
-- 1/2 c. milk

In a med. sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, blend in shortening until crumbly. Stir in milk and form a soft dough. Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic, and refridgerate it while preparing apples.

Prepare apples as listed above. Throw in a bowl with a bunch of sugar, and, remembering that Garam Masala is cinnamon and a few other spices, toss a boat-load in and consider it a job done. Mix, and realize apples are spicier than an apple has a right to be. Throw in vanilla, cinnamon, more sugar and finally, chocolate chips in an endeavor to fix said spicy apples. Consider it as good as it's gonna get.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out small balls of dough (<2" diameter in ball form). Place a spoonful of apple mix in the middle, and fold dough over into little purse-shapes. Place dumplings seam side down on a greased pan.

Bake for 45-50 mins.

Verdict? Spicy. I keep trying to convince Mister to come over and eat them. He's entrenched at his apartment, and not budging (nor am I being a sweetie and bringing them to him).

All in all, a fun morning drinking coffee and discussing musicals and odd bits of youtube.


Sometimes, I wish that whatever change we'll see happens NOW. And immediately. I want to have to make a decision and stick to it -- not through strength of will, but because it's the only working option. I want my family to be full-time on board, and my fiance to not have stupid fights with me about the usefulness of pantries (for "there will always be grocery stores").

How long did it take for the Depression to be in full swing? Were there people who never noticed? Were there people immediately effected with their neighbors confused?

I'm reading old posts of Sharon's blog, and it just makes me long for a farm. The chances of my having a farm? So slim. But I want it. I don't know what to do with it, but I want it.

I keep trying to dive into activities that I KNOW need wading. So I buy too many seeds, and plant none of them. I lust after canners and jars, but have no produce or recipes to use. I keep saying "next year I'll..."

When will next year arrive? Please let it just arrive with a big crash. I don't want to be alone with this.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Carrot Tops

Interesting blog post on how to use carrot tops.

I'll Win the War

This is Sharon Astyk's newest baby goat. I saved said picture, and called Mister over.

Me: "Are you ready?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "You sure?"
Him: "Yes."
(*click on link)

Him: "... yes it is."
Me: "Doesn't it make you want a baby goat?"
Him: "No."
Him: "No, I don't want a baby goat."

I have promised myself to convince him that he wants a baby goat. He knows this. He uses this knowledge to his own advantage to make me eat things I would normally avoid (like dishes with goat cheese).


Addendum: I sat looking at pic for a while longer, and I have to gush.

Him (from the other room): ... the baby goat?
Him: Baby... (*sigh)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sticky Buns

Ingredients for Buns:

-- 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
-- 1/4 c. warm (105-115F) water
-- 1/2 c. cake flour
-- 1/3 c. sugar
-- 1 tsp. salt
-- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
-- 1/4 c. milk
-- 1 tsp. vanilla
-- 2 c. bread flour
-- 6 Tbs. very soft butter

Ingredients for Topping:

-- 1 + 1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
-- 8 Tbs. butter
-- 1/4 c. honey
-- 3/4 c. chopped pecans (*opt.)
-- 1 Tbs. melted butter
-- 2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine yeast and warm water in mixing bowl, and let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 mins.

Add cake flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix by hand or on low speed until blended. Gradually stir in bread flour. Mix for 1 min. until dough comes together. Knead by hand for about 10 mins or with the dough hook on low to med. speed (**For KitchenAid stand mixers, only use dough hook on speed 2) for 5-7 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl.

Add butter. Vigorously knead in the butter until completely incorporated and the dough is once again smooth. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75-80F) until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours. [N.B. -- this may or may not be in the directions: Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and refridgerate, covered until doubled again, 4-12 hours. Punch down the dough and shape it. If it has not yet doubled, let the dough finish rising in a warm place, punch it down and refridgerate for 30 mins.]

Meanwhile, butter a 13"x9" baking pan.

Bring 1 c. brown sugar, butter and honey to a boil in a small saucepan over med. heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir in pecans.

Pour the hot syrup into the baking pan and spread it evenly. Let cool.

Roll out the dough to a 16"x12" rectangle. Brush the dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with 1/3 c. brown sugar and cinnamon.

Starting from one long side, roll up the dough as you would a jelly roll. Cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange the slices cut side down in the prepared pan, spacing the slices equally in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake until the buns are golden brown and the syrup is bubbling hot, about 30 mins. Let the buns cool in the pan for 5 mins, then invert the pan onto a baking sheet to collect the hot syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 buns.

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Buttermilk Crackling Corn Bread


-- 4 oz. fatty salt pork
-- 3/4 c. cornmeal
-- 3/4 c. flour
-- 1 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
-- 1 Tbs. sugar (*opt.)
-- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-- 1/2 tsp. salt
-- 2 large eggs
-- 1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Rinse salt pork quickly, then pat dry. Slice off and discard the rind, then cut the pork into 1/4" dice. Turn into a heavy 9 or 10" oven proof skillet, preferably cast iron, and cook over med. heat until very brown and crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Whisk dry ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Whisk in the buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in the cracklings and all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the skillet. Set the skillet over high heat until the fat smokes. Remove from the heat and pour in the batter all at once. Immediately set in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted comes clean, 15-25 mins.

Serve at once, either plain or with jam or sorghum syrup.

Serves 8.

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Grilled Bananas


-- 4 ripe bananas
-- 1/4 c. honey
-- cinnamon
-- ginger (opt.)

Either a) prepare a med. hot charcoal fire or b) heat a ridged cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking.

Cut bananas lengthwise in half, and each half until 3 pieces (6 pieces per banana).

Heat honey until very fluid. Toss the bananas with the honey in a shallow bowl until they are all coated. This can be done 1-2 hours in advance.

Arrange the banana pieces cross-wise on the grill (or skillet). Grill until marked on the bottom. Turn and grill just until the second side is marked, 30 secs - 1 min per side. Arrange on a platter and dust lightly with spices.

Serves 4

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Swedish Rice Pudding


-- 3/4 c. white rice
-- 1 1/2 c. water
-- heaping 1/4 tsp. salt
-- 4 c. whole milk
-- 1/2 + 1/3 c. sugar
-- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
-- 2 large eggs
-- 1 c. heavy cream, cold

Have serving bowl or ramekins ready.

Combine rice, water and salt in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the milk and 1/2 c. sugar.

Cook, uncovered, over med. heat for 30-40 mins, stirring frequently, especially towards the end of cooking. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and 1/3 c. sugar thoroughly. Gradually stir 2 c. of the hot pudding into the eggs, then stir the mix back into the remaining pudding.

Cook, stirring constantly, over the lowest possible heat just until it begins to thicken, 3-5 mins. Do not allow the pudding to simmer, or the eggs will turn grainy.

Immediately turn the pudding into a serving bowl, then press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin. Refridgerate until cold.

Whip cream until still peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cold pudding. Serve at once or refridgerate up to two days. Spoon into bowls or goblets. May be served with chopped nuts or fruit sauce.

Serves 8-10

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Custard-Topped Spoon Bread


-- 1 c. flour
-- 3/4 c. cornmeal
-- 1 tsp. baking powder
-- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
-- 2 c. milk
-- 2 Tbs. warm, melted butter
-- 2 Tbs. sugar
-- 1 1/2 Tbs. white vinegar
-- 1/2 tsp. salt
-- 2 tsp. butter, softened or melted
-- 1 c. heavy cream

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place an ungreased 8x8 baking dish in the oven to heat.

Whisk together thoroughly first four ingredients. Whisk next six together in a large bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir just until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. Add 2 tsp. butter to the heated baking dish and tilt to coat the bottom evenly.

Scrape the batter into the baking dish and spread evenly. Set the dish on the oven rack. Pour cream over the batter slowly, without stirring.

Bake until the custard layer on top is puffed and golden brown but still quivery and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 mins. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 mins. before serving. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 8.

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]



-- 1/2 c. water
-- 4 Tbs. butter
-- 1 Tbs. sugar
-- 1/2 tsp. salt
-- 1/2 c. flour
-- 4 large eggs
-- 2 tsp. vanilla
-- powdered sugar
-- oil for frying

Preheat oil for frying to 365F.

Combine first four ingredients in a med. saucepan and bring to a steady boil. Add in the flour all at once. Stir vigorously, without stopping, over med. heat until the mix comes together and takes on a shine. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 2 mins. When you remove the pan from the heat, you will notice that the flour has formed a light crust on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mix to a bowl. Add eggs, one a time, beating on med. speed for 2-3 minutes after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

The mix should be smooth and shiney and should fold over on itself into a ribbon when the beater is lifted. Beat in the vanilla.

Immediately drop the dough, a scant Tbs. at a time, into the deep fat, Fry 4-5 beignets at a time until puffed and golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes about 15 beignets

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy


-- 1 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
-- 1 fully cooked ham steak (~2 lbs), sliced 1/4" - 1/2" thick
-- 1 c. brewed coffee
-- 1/2 c. heavy cream
-- salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over med. high heat. Add the steak and saute until nicely browned, 3-5 mins. each side. Remove to a warmed platter and season with pepper to taste.

Return skillet to heat. Add coffee and boil, stirring, until it turns slightly red. Add cream, reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Basic Breakfast Strata

-- 1 1/2 lbs. bulk sausage
-- 2 c. sliced mushrooms
-- 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
-- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
-- 2 c. milk
-- 1 large loaf day-old bread, cut into 18-20 slices, crusts removed, buttered if desired
-- 1 1/2 c. grated Swiss or Cheddar cheese

Butter a 2 1/2 quart souffle dish or casserole. Heat a large, heavy skillet over med.-high heat and add sausage. Brown the sausage for 5 mins., breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook for 5 mins., stirring frequently. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and milk.

Layer 1/3 of the bread in the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the sausage mix and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of bread, the other half of sausage, and another 1/2 c. of cheese. Cover with a third layer of bread. Slowly pour the egg mix over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let strata stand for at least 1 hour or cover and refridgerate for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Set a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven to catch any drips and bake the strata until the top is nicely browned and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Serves 6-8

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Tortilla Espanola a.k.a. Potato Omelet

-- 2 Tbs. + 1/4 c. olive oil
-- 1 large onion (~8 oz.), sliced 1/8" thick
-- 1 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, peeled and c ut into 1/8" slices
-- 6 large eggs
-- salt and pepper

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onions are soft and golden, reducing the heat as they cook, about 20 mins. Remove to a large bowl. Heat in the same skillet 1/4 c. olive oil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until golden brown, 10-12 mins. Reduce heat to med.-high if the oil gets too hot and smoky. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Set aside the pan with the oil in it.

Add to the onions eggs, 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle the potoates with salt and pepper to taste. Add the potatoes to the egg mix, and toss to coat the slices well.

Return skillet to high heat to heat the remaining oil in the pan. When hot, add the egg mix and immediately reduce the heat to low. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the eggs are 2/3 - 3/4 set. Shake the pan from time to time to make sure the omelet does not stick.

Place a lightly oiled large heatproof plate upside down over the omelet and flip the skillet to turn the omelet over. Slide the omelet back into the pan to cook the second side. COok until golden and set, 2-3 mins. more. Shake the omelet loose from the pan and slide onto a clean plate. Cut into 6 wedges and serve hot or at room temp.

Serves 6

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Savory Cheese and Herb-Filled Souffleed Omlet

-- 4 large eggs, separated
-- 1-2 Tbs. butter
-- 2 Tbs. chopped herbs
-- 1/4 c. grated cheese
-- salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine and whisk until thick and light egg yolks, salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the yolk mix gently into the whites.

Melt butter in a 10" ovenproof skillet over med. heat. When the foam has subsided, pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, and smooth the top. Shake the pan after a few seconds to discourage sticking and then cover the pan with a lid whose underside has been buttered to prevent sticking. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and sprinkle the top of the omelet with the herbs and cheese.

Place the skillet in the oven until the top is set, 3-5 minutes. Either folk the omelet in half or slide it out onto a warmed plate and serve with tomato sauce or salsa.

Serves 4

[taken from Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast & Brunch by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker]

Brunch on Saturday

So I have to be home from 8 am - noon on Saturday for the RCN guy. If he shows up at 8, I'm gonna pop him in the nose.

But I decided it would be a great idea to have a big brunch with girl friends. Looking at a breakfast cookbook, this is what made me drool:

[hmm... eggs in a basket...]
Savory Cheese and Herb-Filled Souffleed Omelet (pp. 32)
Tortilla Espanola a.k.a. Potato Omelet (pp. 33)
Basic Breakfast Strata (pp. 35)
Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy (pp. 39)
Pommes Anna (pp. 45)
Beignets (pp. 71)
Custard-Topped Spoon Bread (pp. 76)
Swedish Rice Pudding (pp. 79)
Grilled Bananas (pp. 89)
Buttermilk Crackling Corn Bread (pp. 109)
Sticky Buns (pp. 124)

So much looks good! I'll do a post to link each of these items, as they're tasty-looking.

I'll probably end up cooking an egg dish, a bread-like object, and perhaps a fruit and a potato dish. Looking forward to this Saturday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

OMG I'm in Love

I have never seen anything as amazing as this. Ree Drummond, I love you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random Food

So one of my goals has been to learn random cheap-ass meals. To that goal, I enlisted the help of an Indian friend and she taught me this awesome egg curry thing. I made her version of mushur daal last night (easy peasy folks). Thus far, I am finding cheap ass Indian food pretty easy.

A recent post on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op has a great video for how to make Bi Bim Bop (which is Korean stir-fried rice). It looks really, really simple.

I'm coming the the conclusion that most food is pretty simple to do -- it just requires the effort of doing it! My other highly trained observation is that a lot of the difference between food styles is simply the exact way in which you cook it, and the seasoning/sauce.

If you'd handed me the ingredients that are used in any of the recipes above, more than likely, I'd throw it all in a pot together and call it done. Probably tasty too.

I guess what I'm doing in my quest for meals is not to learn recipes, but to gather procedures. Reading gardener's posts allows me to realize that glut is something I need to know how to deal with. Hopefully, I'll do ok.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At Long Last

I have finally planted the few little seedlings I have! The leeks and cabbage need some more soil, but are in a long planter, the basil is in a cute little round basket I got from a friend, and the broccoli... needs to be planted...

So clearly I'm no where's near done.

Burritos... my doom?

Even though Mister and I have sworn to not spend money, and sworn to not eat out, we both ate out yesterday.

I think my excuse was much better: I called R and said "let's do dinner at my house!" and she said "well... I was kinda thinking Anna's (cheap burrito place)". I say "but I'm trying to save money..." and she goes "it's just that I keep wanting to eat all these things that I'll never have again back home in India!" And that was that. Who am -I- to restrict my friend from cheap burritos when she'll never have them again after 2 weeks?

Mister's co-worker said "have plans for dinner? Come out with me!" And they went and got burgers. NOT THE SAME MISTER, NOT THE SAME. Although, he did meet me with potatoes in hand... He might be slightly forgiven.

Folks, the problem is this: after 3 years of being around Mister, I've gotten into the same habit: "but I just want to eat out. It's nice, it's comfy, the food's good, and we don't have to do anything! [except pay of course]" This is a BAD place to be for a young Doomer.

Granted, I excuse some of it by saying "By supporting this coffee shop with is local, organic, and uses all fair-trade items, I am saying that I support their efforts!" and then I go blow $3 on a small chai which I could easily make at home (and have!).

I just... need to eat the food I buy more often. I think half the problem is that the food is usually in the wrong apartment related to where I'm standing. Whoops?

Need to figure this out...

Apartments Revisited

So, here I am, at Mister's house. Why am I here? Because I usually sleep here. Do I have an apartment? Yes.

So because Mister and I are clearly both idiots, we've got a great dilemma: neither of us want to shaft our LL/housemates by leaving early, neither of us want to leave early because we like our apartments, but we want to be living together sooner rather than later.


I really wish that we weren't so stupid and that we'd figured this out BEFORE I moved into a new apartment. We could then have told Mister's LL that we were to move out soon-ish.

Also, we'd been on a June - June cycle. I don't want to be on a September cycle! I hate September 1st move-ins! Having worked in real estate for two of them, I can easily say that I never ever want to go through that. But, because I love Mister, I'm contemplating that.

And some fun side notes: M has a friend who's looking for an apartment under $600 for November 1st (hmm...), Mister's LL is on vacation for a month and now is prime "looking for a tenant for September 1st" time. And last but not least, we haven't even actually DECIDED if we're going to move out or not.

Want this solved by someone else, preferably last week. :-P