On Doin’ the Thing.

October 4, 2014

Yo!

I’m eating my delicious post-yoga breakfast in front of my rainy window writing this after having survived my first week on this $50 grocery budget experiment. I don’t know why more people don’t eat fried rice for breakfast, it’s awesome.

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Mostly, it was awesome and easier than I thought.

SUCCESSES:

+ I actually ate everything I bought! There are relatively no wilting vegetables in my fridge, and i’ve got just enough leftovers for dinner tonight.

+ I spent seriously less cash than usual.

+ I ate way more home cooked food than usual.

+ I realized that making due with what I have is a fun challenge, even if it sometimes feels like settling. Like, these zucchini pancakes would have been better if I had stopped off for a $9 wedge of Parmesan cheese to grate in, but they were totally delicious without that.

+ All those food bloggers who have their shit together and swear by Sunday meal prep are totally dead on. Coming home to a bunch of half started meals seriously took the pressure off.

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CAVEATS + ADDITIONAL SPENDING:

+ WINE! How did I not budget this in. Whatever. I need wine to live. I’m giving myself a $20 budget for this a week. I spent $18 on a perfectly delicious 2011 Bordeaux this week and braised beef with it and drank the rest.

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+ Chocolate. Sorry, not sorry. I needed this. It was $3.49.

+ Meals out. I had one lunch and one dinner out. Which feels pretty good for someone who was doing way more than that previously. I think that’s a general rule i’ll try to keep. I spent $32 on those.

CHALLENGES:

+ Sometimes eating leftovers sucks, no matter how good they were the first time around.

+ I didn’t really think about how eating chili for four days in a row would effect my guts/butt. I’m eating a lot of beans and veggies these days so, i’m feeling jet propelled.

+ I’ve had some kind of monster sinus thing all week, so sometimes I really just wanted a bowl of hot spicy thai takeout for dinner instead of cooking.

WHAT I MADE:

+ Chili with turkey, beans, sweet potato

+ Salad with olives, hard boiled eggs, tomato (2)

+ Braised beef with onions over roasted butternut squash

+ Garlic roasted brussels sprouts

+ Kale and eggs

+ Roasted chicken thighs with kale, chickpeas, wine, mustard

+ Fried rice with broccoli, peppers, egg

+ Zucchini Pancakes with spicy paprika tomato sauce, egg

(This was absolutely the best thing I made all week!)

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THE CAKES:

1 large zucchini, grated, salted, and squeezed (like really, really squeezed)

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 clove grated garlic

salt and pepper

Mix that batter together (it will look loose) and shallow fry in oil of your choice. I just plopped big teaspoons, and then flattened them with the back of my spatula.

I cooked some crushed tomatoes down with vinegar, paprika, and chiles, and put the cakes right on top. And then on top of that a crispy fried egg, because duh.

On Week One

February 20, 2013

As of the publishing of this post, i’m halfway through my 21 day adventure in abstinence! I’m alive! And fairly well, I must say. I only cheated once, when I drank a tiny tin cup masala tea with milk in it, because I didn’t have the heart to send it back!

I wanted to check in, and give you all some of my more successful recipes for tasty vegan grub!

Mind. Ok. I wasn’t really prepared for the caffeine headaches. I will say that. I likely should have weened myself off instead of going cold turkey. I had gorgeous blood orange tea while a friend drank a flat white, and I wanted one so bad! Also, I formally disagree with anyone who has suggested there is some kind of mental acuity associated with hunger. I miss things (good bread and cheese seem to top the list), but that’s to be expected, and I spent about 45 minutes salivating over the St. Anselm menu yesterday. But  going without has helped me realize that I should stick to eating the best bread and cheese if I love it so much, which doesn’t include deli egg and cheese sandwiches on hard rolls. Dealing with the stress of work and life without a glass of bourbon (or four) to come home to has been a challenge, one that i’m better off for attempting. I am astounded at how productive I can be in a weekend sans-hangover.

I made myself these avocado chocolate mousses to celebrate making it through my first week!

Recipe, here, except I used unsweetened chocolate.

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I’m lucky to have a cohort in cleansing, Ms. Katie Hards, who has been great! Supportive without taking this ish too seriously!

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BODY. I seriously feel awesome. I have a crazy awesome amount of energy. I’ve been moving more – from walking home from work to taking dance classes. Samba this Saturday was really a blast. It was fun, and a serious workout shaking it to live drummers for an hour and a half. My pants fit better, and it seems like I lost about 8 pounds in the first 10 days, which is crazy.Also, my skin looks fantastic.

WALLET: In Week One alone I saved $50 by bringing my lunch every day, and an estimated $120 on bar tabs. BUT there is a definite time cost incurred to prep all that delicious grub.(This is a huge problem I have with the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan. Eating cheap AND healthy can be seriously time consumptive. Luckily, I really like doing it. Getting my mis-on is serious therapy for me after a long day behind a computer. I also spent more on groceries than usual, and got a mani/pedi on Saturday, because, duh, TREAT YO SELF.

CULTCHA: I’ve been trying to keep busy, but work is kind of starting to get a little crazy town, so I don’t have as much free-time as I thought I did.  I saw Toro Y Moi with Wild Belle on Valentine’s Day with my favorite lady, who made me a great dinner. Going to a concert sober was pretty interesting. I was able to stand right up front because I wasn’t concerned with being near a bar! The dance classes count as culture, right?

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The Grub. Ok, so my cookin’ has been on point! I ususally have a green juice or oatmeal for breakfast, a salad or leftovers for lunch, and then concentrate on making myself really nice dinners. Here are two especially good ones, with recipes! You’ll notice that they have a lot of the same ingredients, cause I made a huge pot of black beans and a big bowl of cashew cream last week!

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Black Bean Quinoa Burgers with Avocado Mash and Cashew Creamphoto(6)

Click through for recipes!

Read the rest of this entry »

I eat meat. And I enjoy it.

However, I think that I misrepresent just how much meat I eat on this blog. That’s because when I do eat meat, it’s for a celebration, or an elaborate Sunday dinner, and those are the ones that make it up here, because they are special and well-planned.

I have lots of vegetarian friends, and lots of vegetarian friends that read this. I was a vegetarian for a long time, myself.

(See, i’m a good liberal! I have VEGETARIAN FRIENDS.)

I have a particularly awesome vegetarian friend, who has in passing sent me messages saying things like, “That sounds delicious enough for me to suspend being vegetarian for a day”, and “I just wish I wasn’t a vegetarian so I could benefit from your foodie ways”. This makes me feel squirmy because I don’t see myself as a very serious carnivore, and I wouldn’t want to portray myself as one. (I recently figured out that my spirit animal is an egg.) I don’t think meals need meat to be substantial or delicious.

So, this recipe for quinoa squash boats goes out to all y’all veg-heads. You might notice the filling is similar to another quinoa post, but just ignore that, ok? I whipped this up for dinner last night, and drank some badass Chablis with it. It was springy and lemony, creamy and crunchy, and really really nice.

Quinoa Stuffed Squash

You NEED:

3 summer squash (I can’t wait to make this as hors d’œuvre with my garden’s little patty pan)

1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

1/4 cup goat cheese

juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1 tablespoon herbs de provence

1 carrot, diced

1 pepper, diced

1/2 onion, diced

2 handfuls kale, minced

1 tablespoon good French mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup good bread crumbs

1. Boil your quinoa with a pad of butter half the herbs de provence, cook until a little al dente, as you don’t want to mangle it when you toss with other ingredients.

2. Sautee all of your veg until almost cooked through, keep a little bit of bite there.


3. Toss finished quinoa with the sauteed veg, goat cheese juice of 1 lemon, mustard, remaining herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.


4. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out seedy center with a little spoon.

5. Fill those babies UP with your quinoa filling.

6. Melt butter, and combine with bread crumbs. Season with a teaspoon of lemon zest, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over squash.

7. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until brown on top. Finish with fresh lemon.



 

In an old life, I helped slaughter and process 50 chickens a week. I also fed and moved them over pasture every day. I also picked them up from the post office as chicks and put them in their little incubators. I also kind of hated them. Given all the room they needed they still trampled all over each other. They were dumb, and ugly. They paled in comparison to the adorably awkward baby turkeys who cooed all the time, and somehow maintained some kind of dignity (until they were mostly eaten by coyotes.)

I really thought that the slaughter process would bother me, effect me on some kind of moral or emotional level. It didn’t. The smell of hot wet feathers is pretty gross, but aside from that, I almost kind of liked the whole deal. (Morbid?) I liked the teamwork, and how quickly they turned from looking like animals to looking like food. I liked seeing and participating in a process that is so cloaked in secrecy in so many ways. I liked eating what I grew.

Now that I am not so hands-on with my chicken, I rarely eat it. Partly because it kind of grosses me out because i’ve seen how yuckster of animals they are even in the best conditions. Also, it doesn’t even taste good.

But really, occasionally, what is better than the perfect-Sunday-buttery-crisp-skinned-roasted-chicken-that-tastes-like-chicken?

Ferreal.

So, I am going to give you my perfect roast chicken recipe, but first we should get Footloose.

Feet.

This awesome local farm-chicken I got at the Park Slope Food Coop after being snuck-in. I didn’t notice that it still had the feet attached because they were tucked ever-so-gingerly inside. Most people would have been taken-aback maybe, everyone in my family was grossed out. I was happy to do any kind of at-home butchery because i’m a weirdo. They don’t want to see that a chicken is a real animal that walked around on feet. Really, the fact that the feet are on this chicken and in such good condition, is a testament to the animal’s healthy raising.

Ok, on to the recipe.

Seriously Perfect Roast Chicken

(in a country French accent)

1 5-ish lb free range chicken from your favorite farm market

2 lemons

1/4 stick of goooood butter

5 cloves garlique

4-5 stems of thyme

1 onion

s + p

1. Preheat oven to 425. Rinse and dry your chicken well. Place butter in a bowl on stove to soften.

2. When the butter is soft, zest a lemon into ze butter. Squeeze ze garlic through a press into ze butter. Gingerly remove ze delicate thyme leaves from zeir fibery stem. Incorporate well. Spread this all up under the skin on ze breasts, and over the remainder of the chicken. Stuff ze halved onions, ze lemons and garlic inside.

3. Roast ze bird at 425 degrees F for an hour and a half uncovered.

4. Let rest for about half an hour before carving.

On Rub

March 17, 2011

Boner.

Being as into snacks as I am prompts people to ask me some version of the, “What’s your favorite food?” question. I never really know what to say. I usually say, “Good, crusty bread.”

But this weekend I think I figured out my favorite bite. It’s one part spicy smoky pork, one part vinegary sweet barbecue sauce, one part crisp, creamy slaw. That’s it for me. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my favorite meal is quintessentially American. I have always been such an America-nerd. Barbeque is part-and-parcel of the westward moving, get outside, rugged individualist (think about how prized secret, separate BBQ sauces/rub recipes are!), abundant, Thorea marrow-sucking American identity. I want to listen to fucking Bruce Springsteen when I eat this.

I think I found the perfect pulled pork rub.

I cooked this 5 1/2 lb pork shoulder in the oven, as the makeshift smoker we rig in the Weber grill is currently shed-ridden. I cooked it on low, around 300 degrees for about 5 hours. It was totally perfect. Seriously. Get on this.

 

Rub It!

RUB THIS ON STUFF

3 tbs sea salt

3 tbs fresh ground chipotle

2 tbs cracked black pepper

2 tbs garlic powder

1 tbs ground ginger

1 tbs dried mustard

1 tbs paprika

It is smoky and a little spicy. The spice enlightens pork with a nice fat content. I’m obsessed.

Whole House Smells Like Pork and Chipotle

Boner.

Yes.

 

 

I have been a crazy woman with the school work combo, so i’ve asked one of my favorite ladies to share her ballerest Salsa Verde recipe with you.

There are a lot of reasons that I love salsa verde. It’s smooth texture and light color play to my vanity. I love that tomatillos come in their own dainty packaging.

 

Photo by Ms. E. Elizabeth

There are a lot of reasons that I love Ms. E. Elizabeth. She has duck fluff hair. She makes brilliant jewelry that is charming and irreverent. I love people who truly love where they live, and Liz loves Providence. In high school we had a fake electroclash band. Her appreciation of history, small dogs, and eye wear are astounding. Really, Liz and I have the best talks about things. I think that her work, and my food reflect our shared attitude of appreciating good design, but rejecting the neo-consumerist side of American craft/food with its buy-to-DIY mentality. Her post on the function of jewelry is really bright, and a good example of this notion.  Check her out. Anyway, without further ado, here’s here story, recipe, and photos. Take her grilled cheese pairing suggestion (summer +fall)!

Honestly, you can just ignore everything I just said and oogle her most epic of juicers below, if you want.

LADY LOVES PINBOT

Liz writes, “My favorite salsa verde recipe dates back to sophomore year of high school. A small taco shop had opened in the very back of what, just a year previous, was my favorite vintage clothing store. It was run by a very, very Christian couple from Texas who served up kind of flavorless flour tacos filled with equally flavorless pinto beans. But the salsa- oh man- the salsa. It was like nothing I had eaten before simply because, yeah, a teenager in late 90s, suburban New Jersey had no business knowing what a tomatillo was. But friend, it was love.

Flash forward to 3 years in my 20s when I was busied by slinging tacos in the best damn taco shop in Rhode Island. This is my ode to those old days.

Notes: This recipe is fairly easy and quick so feel free to throw a record on the turntable and get rocking. You’ll be able to flip it over after you’ve chopped up all your ingredients. I like to defer to some solid, spirited rock. Electric Light Orchestra and King Khan and the Shrines are classic cooking favorites in our house but I’ve been known to get down with Sleep’s “Holy Mountain”, too. Oh, yeah. Read the rest of this entry »

On Jarring.

September 26, 2010

My new found hermitage has afforded me with long warm Saturdays in the kitchen.            (Except yesterday, which I spent getting the season’s last sunburn on the most epic of injun summer beach days.)

And so with my sunny Saturdays, I move between kitchen and porch, stirring and sitting, simmering and reading, and being generally satisfied in my domestic cloister.

Last weekend was the perfect time for experiments in jarring. I am into jarring for a myriad of reasons. I like it because it’s like a science experiment, all the vinegar pectin, all the careful measuring. I like it because I like slow cooking fruit into a taste concentrated tizzy. I like it for its simply reductive quality; in this case it turned super cheap nectarines, and garden surplus hot peppers that might have been wasted into something that could be in the pantry all fall (if neighbors/friends hadn’t caught on to the process and started requestings jars). See, I even like the communal quality of jarring. Beautiful jars of hot pepper jelly just look like gifts, they are meant for giving. (And when you give out hot pepper jelly, you get more hot peppers in response, and are nudged back into the kitchen for second and third batches.) And I like it for the dialing back, for creating the feeling of being part of an old food tradition. 

Here are my recipes for Hot Peppa Jelly and Ginger Nectarine Buttah.

Ginger Nectarine Buttah

8 lbs. peeled, cored, and diced Nectarines

2 inches grated fresh ginger

1 heaping tablespoon of ginger

1 cup honey

1/2 packet of fruit pectin (i eyeballed it, just to add a little stability)

This is the easiest thing ever. Have you ever used a crock pot? Because I never have until I made this recipe. Just dice up all the nectarines, throw them in a crockpot with the honey and spices, and let that mother cook overnight. Give it a good twelve hours. Give it an hour with the lid off to get rid of some of that extra liquid. Puree it in the blender (I just got an immersion blender just in time for soup season, and i’m psyched.) Ladle into freshly boiled mason jars, and process in boiling water for a good ten minutes.                                              This makes about 6 little darling eight-ounce jars.

Encourage those you gift it to to try it in their oatmeal. (That’ right!)


Hot Peppa Jelly

2 1/2 cups diced sweet peppers

1/3 cup diced medium hot to hot peppers, sans seeds

1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 cups raw sugar

1 1/2 1.79 ounce packets of powdered fruit pectin

Literally nothing in the world could be easier than this. Dice your peppers, and bring the vinegar to a boil. Add the peppers and boil for 2 minutes. Pour in the sugar while constantly stirring, and then add the pectin. Let it boil for 2 minutes. Ladle into freshly boiled jars and boil for a good ten minutes.

It’s baller on crostini with goat cheese.

This picture is like 5 years old!

Casey Butler has been one of my best pals since I was 8. She is a journalist, a breakfast enthusiast, and one bad ass baker.

I have really awesome food-memories of working at her big kitchen island with her Grandma Noni’s occasionally tempermental  KitchenAid Mixer working to recreate her amazing coffee cake. In elementary school we traded tuna sandwiches on the reg. Once we drank $190 worth of martinis together. She makes a mean cup of Earl Gray, and always offers cookies alongside. Her family is really good at food traditions, something I loved being a part of as a kid.(Kel, if you’re reading this, can I get in on Beach Plum jelly making this year?)

I know i’m bad at sweets, so I got Ms. Caseeeee to share this amazing cupcake recipe. It has BEER AND GANACHE. (Ganache is the sexy older sister of icing, in my opinion.)

O.M.G

Casey writes,

“These cupcakes are not for the faint of heart. With an ingredient list that boasts approximately a half-ton of chocolate, butter, and sour cream, they’re serious diet killers. Add to that beer, coffee, and the raw protein that is the egg, and you’ve also got yourself the ultimate man cupcakes. Okay, anyone who loves chocolate will most likely devour these, but I’m just saying, they’re a more macho cupcake than most. Not only that, but this recipe is a lot more fun than most because you can buy yourself a large quantity of stout in the name of baking marvelousness and, obviously, drink whatever you don’t use.”

 Casey’s Choclate Stout Cupcakes

Read the rest of this entry »

Salsa!

August 5, 2010

Nothing says summer like fresh salsa.

I had a huge bowl of sungolds staring at me. I wanted to make something that would honor their sweetness and color. I kept trying to think of ways to cook them, and then I realized that my favorite way to eat them is raw, popped right off the vine into my mouth. This, combined with the fact that I saw Husk Cherries at the farmer’s market, had me thinking a sweet and spicy salsa would be the ideal fate of these little guys.

(I am obsessssed with Husk Cherries – they are sweet, and come in their own little parchment-like gift wrapping)

This involves a good half hour of prep work, chopping and slicing, which after a long day in front of a computer, is the perfect wind-down for me.

Black Bean Sun Gold Salsa:

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1/4 pound husk cherries (if you can’t find these, maybe try a little bit of pineapple)

1 red pepper, diced

1 small white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

bunch of cilantro

can black beans, rinsed and drained

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 jalepenos, seeded, deveined, and diced

cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste

Sweet Corn Vichyssoise

July 26, 2010

On this week’s “re-run” compilation of Prairie Home Companion (worth a listen if not only for the Wilco set) Garrison Keillor was explaining  how dry hot heat, like we’ve been experiencing this summer,  makes all the sweet corn jump up at once, no matter how you spaced the planting in the Spring. It was an excellent metaphor for the ways in which planners like myself are surprised when life happens outside of schedule.

I was recently presented with the incredibly fun challenge of cooking lots of tasty vegan food, on the occasion that the bestie (from a long line of serious plan-addicts, btdubs) was coming in from Brazil for a weekend with for Ms. Nora Wolf (who’s lovely new beau happens to be vegan).

I wanted to make lots of cool food, as it was hot-as-blazes!My local sweet corn has been off-the-hoooook! And this soup was definitely the star of my menu (which also included mango slaw with baller avocado dressing (I KNOW. Recipe to come, too.) and vegan black bean coconut brownies). The heat drove us out onto the park’s lawn, carrying dishes, uncovered. The mint juleps drove us to acrobatic feats, and freestyle. I could not have planned a better dinner party – setting, company, food- if i tried.

You should make some of this soup, seriously. It was sweet, and cool, simple, and refined. The drizzle of chili oil really added to the complexity.We had it cool, but it would be nice warm too! It’s not a total classic Vichyssoise, but it’s close. Check it! Read the rest of this entry »

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