Sunday, March 25, 2007

I just quit eating for a while...

Pft. No, I didn't...but I've been trying to do a billion things in the span of 3 minutes. The kitchen is in no state to cook, mostly because it's packed up for the renovation. Coming home to a new kitchen is going to be nice.

However, for anyone that may ever glance this way, I promise there will be plenty of new entries and pictures in the next few weeks as I embark on my trip to Oregon and California. I've been tweaking my plans a bit, and it looks like I'll be spending a night in Sonoma. I am hoping to splurge there and find a great tasting menu to experience...however, I'm torn because I've heard wonderful things about Aziza in San Francisco...but I get a better hotel deal in Sonoma. Yeah, poor me, right?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Eggs of Shame

I'm off my game right now. I have a twitchy eye, chest congestion, parent conferences and a major trip coming up. I've never been the type to stress, but I think I am. In turn, I've basically given up on cooking anything remotely interesting or delicious this past week or so. I'm too cranky or tired so I'm resorting to easy things like cereal, oatmeal or my newest discovery (which isn't new, just to me) scrambled eggs via microwave oven. It's kind of like a Lifetime Network movie. Microwaved Eggs: My Hidden Shame.

To be honest, I've always poo-poo'd microwaved eggs. I have a vague memory of my mom (I think) exploding some in the microwave when I was little and another vague memory of...well, I don't have another microwaved egg related memory, but somewhere along the lines I formed a belief that they turned out gross and rubbery. I'm not sure how that myth was perpetuated, but I finally dispelled it in a fit of SUPREME laziness. I didn't feel like washing the pan for the eggs, so I just decided to nuke a mug, because that was all that was clean.'s that bad for me sometimes.

I was in uncharted territory. I rarely COOK in the microwave. It's used for heating up frozen dinners or warming a cup of water (which I don't even do now thanks to the best electric kettle ever). It was almost ridiculous how easy this was. Two eggs in a mug, splash o' water, lightly mixed...I put them in and set it for a minute, fluffing them up every 15-20 seconds. I'm weird and kind of like my eggs on the "rare" side...meaning a little runny, but not TOO much. I even buy pasturized eggs which are specifically designed for this type of thing.

Anyway, to my complete and utter shock, my eggs came out fluffy and perfect. I like them better than stove-top to be honest. They don't stick, the fluff factor is much's perfect. I usually microwave a bowl of instant grits and mix the eggs in with a little cheddar for good measure. It's unfortunate how easy this is, because it's all I have the energy for lately.

I'll be cooking tomorrow for two, so I hope I can get my act together. Eggs of shame and giant bowls of grapefruit aren't exactly well rounded meals.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I've always been a kind of "weekend eater outer". Nice phrase. But I'm trying to do that less and I also have a fridge full of fresh produce that I must eat or I'll feel guilty for letting it go bad. So Friday night, I just pulled all the drips and drabs I had left and threw together a salad. I had some frozen veggie things that Morningstar Farms makes. One is like spinach and artichokes and I think the other is broccoli and cheese. They make a nice addition to a salad. I didn't take a picture, but I'm also in a citrus phase. I've been cutting up navel oranges and red grapefruit (something my grandparents seemed to have an endless supply of growing up) and keeping a big bowl in the fridge. Citrus has been iffy this season though. Stupid Florida weather.

When I'm roaming through the farmer's markets, I'm always excited by the foreign items. I normally don't know what a majority of them are, but they are always interesting...especially when you start dealing with various pickled items. On a whim, I picked up some non-threatening buckwheat soba noodles and made a homemade veggie lo mein. I used one of those pre-made stir fry mixes and added my own zucchini, which I'd been using ALL week. I bought two and diced them. I think I used them in every meal I made. I digress. I spiced the flavor up by using some chili oil and sesame oil and a little soy sauce. I was impressed...not as heavy in flavor and oil as most chinese restaurants and no mushy vegggies. Yay!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hello Pasta

Last night I made a really easy pasta sauce. Remember those little tomatoes? I roasted them with some olive oil and italian seasonings. Then I crushed them and tossed them in with some sauteed zuchhinni. I cooked some garlic and basil linguini I got from Trader Joes and tossed all together, but decided I wasn't hungry. So I put it in a container and had it tonight. It was worth the wait. This was definitely a dish that got better with age. The pasta absorbed the flavors along with it's own and it was quite nice. I will grate fresh parmesan over anything and this was no exception. Paired with some more fresh greens, the addictive garbanzo beans and some super sweet snap peas, this was another easy, quick, healthy and flavorful meal.

Eventually I will be creating more complicated recipes, but I'm working with what I have now and ease is the key. Hopefully I'll be baking soon as well.

Guac and Roll

A simple lunch.

1 bagel
1 Morningstar Griller patty
Fresh guacamole
Cherry tomatoes
Fresh greens

I took a tip from Pink of Perfection and tried this delicious guacamole. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize (it takes patience) fresh cilantro, chili peppers and lemon juice. When you have a nice paste like substance, add to the avocados. SALT. You will need some to bring out the flavors. As you can see here, I just toasted up a bagel and layered some guac on the griller and added some cherry tomatoes. I did add some spicy mustard as well just for an extra kick.

I recommend following this meal up with one or four Girl Scout cookies.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Veggie Tales

Cooking for yourself can be fun if you do a little prep work and are willing to experiment. It doesn't have to be hard and it doesn't always require a lot of work, prep time or equipment. The really tasty dinner pictured above was quite simple.

The salad is just a store bought bag of greens that I added some diced seedless cucumbers, tomatoes and a little freshly grated parmesan to.

The garbanzo beans are from a recipe I found on Orangette (see my links). It's so easy...a can of garbanzo beans, a little olive oil, some lemon juice and yet again...all the freshly grated parmesan you can handle. I add a little salt and pepper as well. I've actually been known to eat this for breakfast. And lunch. For a snack. I'm addicted.

The veggies were super simple. I prep my veggies when I have extra time and put them in plastic baggies to make life easier. I started with some red onions in a little olive oil. After they cooked a little, I tossed in some yellow squash and zucchinni. I sprinkled with some sesame seeds at the end and let them toast up a little.

So simple, so good and so pretty! I like my food to be attractive. I didn't add it in the picture but I also had a little rosemary and garlic ciabatta bread that I toasted. Not bad for a Monday night, I must say. Plus, I don't feel as guilty about buying 286 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. DAMN YOU, Samoas!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Photo Food Fun

This is the tea that I'm addicted to. It smells as pretty as it looks and it's like drinking a floral bouquet...but not in a bad way.

I made some black bean hummus, garnished with spanish olives,tomatoes, olive oil and some fresh mozzarella. Those are my easy and delicious whole wheat pita chips, which I'll post the recipe for.
These are some delicious little tomatoes I just bought! They are so cute.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Cooking: Why is there a screwdrive in there?

Learning to cook is probably easier for some than others. I think, like other skills or gifts, you are born with it. Let me rephrase that…I think people are born with more “potential” in some areas. Not everyone can draw or paint or play a musical instrument. Just ask anyone who attempts to draw a frog that is immediately considered a piece of toast with legs. In my defense, I know I’m better at cooking than drawing, so perhaps my art manifests food-like products, hence the toast. Not everyone can become a great athlete or actor or plumber. The same can be said with cooking and baking. I will never be an Olympian. I own colored pencils that like to sit and judge me. My only attempt to play a musical instrument was through 3 misguided middle school years when I pretended to play the flute. Perhaps I should have gone to band camp.

Point being, cooking is my thing. I can detect flavors in foods, I have a good idea of what flavors go well together and I’m not afraid to experiment. I love cookbooks and food blogs. I like trying new restaurants, but I’m fairly alone in my desire to try the new and unusual. I’ll probably try ANYTHING once…I mean, I have limits but I’m pretty daring when given the opportunity. I will play it safe in restaurants many times, but I do yearn for the adventure of spending an evening doing one of those tasting menu ordeals, complete with wines for each plate. ONE DAY!

This blog will be a buffet (oh look, i incorporated a food term to be clever) of memories, recipes, pictures and general discussion regarding my life with and love of food. Mangia!

P.S. There IS a screw driver in my cabinets (see it next to the bread?). It just occured to me that there is a kind of parallel there. A screw driver is a tool as are the ingredients in my pantry. I'm not trying to be symbolic and I'm not even sure why the screw driver is even in there...but I felt like pointing that out.