Saturday, December 29, 2007

Instead of Barley

This is what I made's kind of an Indian mashed potatoes. I think tomorrow I'll make patties and fry them, but right now I am being lazy. (I also made a giant batch of green beans, similar to yesterday's recipe, except minus the carrots, and with a few chiles. And cooked for about 45 minutes.)

1 small cauliflower, chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped (about equal to the amount of chopped cauliflower)
1 minced Thai chile
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp powdered cumin
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of dried fenugreek

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add potatoes, and cook about 12 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook about 7 minutes more. Cauliflower will be tender and potatoes will be done or a little "overcooked" -- that's OK. Drain, reserving a small amount of water. Pour into a bowl and immediately add the minced chile. Mash roughly -- you don't want it to be entirely smooth. Add ginger, cumin, salt, and fenugreek and a little water if the mixture is very dry. (I totally didn't measure these...I'd actually start with 1/2 tsp each of ginger and cumin and go from there.)

No Barley

After speaking with Kabs earlier, I was inspired to make barley soup. Hasn't happened yet -- might tomorrow, not sure. Here's why:

1) No barley. I thought that I had some, and there's still a possibility that there's a box buried somewhere in my (very disorganized) pantry. However, I vaguely recall knocking said (open) box off the shelf awhile ago. I went to the grocery store and bought barley, but then I also wanted to go to TJs and Jay's while I was out, and that turned into about a 2-hour excursion.

2) Bucket of beans. I went to Soulard, and one of the produce stalls had a half-peck of green beans for $5. (This is about 2 paper grocery bags full...I don't have a scale at home, but it seems like about 10 lbs.) Took me about 2 hours to trim them all. I really need a person to accompany me when I shop. Not to carry my bags, although that would be great, but to tell me when I don't need to buy stuff. Course, the conversations would go something like this:

Me: Ooooh, green beans! Look, only $5 for 10 lbs!
Personal shopping assistant (PSA): 10 lbs is a lot of beans. Don't buy them -- you don't need them.
Me: Yes, I do.
PSA: No, you don't.
Me: You know, you're right. Pauses, then dashes off frantically to buy the beans. You're just mad that you have to carry the bags!

So yeah. Make beans, not barley :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

I <3 Green Beans

I really do. I bought them nearly every week during the summer, and then they disappeared for a while from the market. And then they returned, and I rejoiced. Sadly, I doubt that they are locally grown. They're also not as sweet and tender as the summer ones. Just as inexpensive though -- I don't understand it, but I'll take 3 pounds.

I was going to roast them, but decided instead that I wanted to braise them. However, I didn't want to cook them for 3 hours. I stumbled across this recipe, and felt that it had promise. Here's my version:

2 T oil
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 inch fresh gingerroot, minced (probably a little less than 1 T)
1/2 c water (plus a little more if necessary, see recipe)
1.5 T soy sauce
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 lb trimmed green beans
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

pepper to taste

In a frying pan with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high. Saute garlic, onion, and ginger, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and cover. Lower heat to medium-low (liquid should be simmering). Stir every 5 minutes, and add a couple of tablespoons of water if pan becomes dry. Cook 20-25 minutes; vegetables will be very soft. Add lots of pepper, and adjust seasonings as necessary -- I sprinkled a little extra vinegar and soy sauce on mine, and you'll probably need more if you serve this over rice or noodles. I'm almost definitely going to make this again; I think that it would be great with some cubes of tofu added with the veggies...and maybe some broccoli, a little bit of minced red chili pepper, bamboo shoots...

I loved the simplicity of this, but now I'm getting carried away with possibilities. Ah well, the more the merrier :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Warning: Linguistic Sacrilege Ahead :)

Yeah, if there's a hell for people who love bad puns, I'm so going there. (Course, if that "sins of the father" stuff is true, I was damned the day that I was born. My dad is the bad-pun master.)

But anyways, we had the day off of work today, and I still have the stupid cold, so I decided to cook fake-chicken soup. Veggies, water, wheat gluten, and seasonings, all that you need to make...wait for it...

Seitan on Christmas.

Shame on me, and happy holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I'm very excited to be having "Christmas Eve" dinner tomorrow with Nupur, her husband, and their dog. (I say "Christmas Eve" because no one present actually celebrates Christmas. Of course, it is Christmas Eve regardless of whether we celebrate it or maybe I should remove the quotation marks. Nah.)

So, just in time, I finished the last-of-four Odessas. There are clear beads on it, even though you can't tell from the photograph.

I also made Carrie's biscotti. I substituted dark chocolate bits for the semi-sweet mini-chips. Next time, I'll search out the semi-sweet chocolate. I loooooove dark chocolate but I think that it overpowered the rest of the flavors in the cookie.

I'm bringing a bottle of wine too. I don't really like wine (I think that it tastes like gasoline with a little battery acid), and I've decided that my New Year's resolution will be to learn. (I've done this successfully with several foods.) So I also bought wine for me! We'll see if I can taste its promised hints of chocolate and cherry and other wonderful things.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food and Music

I am constantly amazed at how much I eat. I am lucky to have reliable access to inexpensive fresh produce, and I take full advantage of it. (I've never had problems with quality either. Well, except for last week's mangoes. The produce guy said that they were "hit or miss", and implied that I shouldn't buy them. I interpreted that as "very very ripe, need to use them quickly, too much for one person", and in reality, 9 were entirely rotten and the other 3 were rock hard. I threw those out too, because I'd already cut them and so they wouldn't ever ripen. Out $2, no big deal.)

Anyone who sees me probably assumes (if they think about it at all, which I doubt) that I'm buying food for an entire family. But no, it's just me. Here's what I got this week:

1 pineapple: $1
1 lb cherries: $3
3 lb green beans: $2
3 heads cauliflower: $1
3 heads lettuce: $1
10 oranges: $1
1 bunch celery: $1
a lot of onions: $3

And something else I'm forgetting apparently, because I'm short $1. Or maybe I'm just off on the price somewhere.

I'm also a little in love with a couple of cheesy songs that I heard on the radio yesterday. (That's 2 confessions in one, people. Yes, I listen to the radio -- there's no CD player in my car -- and yes, I have a soft spot for cheesy music. But only some of it. Feel free to lose any respect that you may have had for me.) Here's one:

And the other has embedding "disabled by request", so you can see it here. And happy Solstice/early merry Christmas/late happy Hanukkah/enjoy your random non-holiday!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And the Heat Goes On...

Yep, I caved, and turned on the heat this morning. It was at 60F but that was too warm (totally not kidding), so now I've set it to 55F and it's great. I really truly thought that I might make it through the winter, but several things happened recently to change my mind.

1) It snowed, and for some reason, that makes it feel a lot colder.
2) Kabs informed me that my pipes might freeze. And that would suck. A lot.
3) My fingers were getting too stiff to knit. And that did suck. A lot.
4) Last night, when I got home, the dog was shivering. (Poor baby...I felt like a terrible mom.)
5) I'm sick. Nothing major, just a cough and sneeze with a little bit of a sore throat, but I figured that hanging out at 48F (yep, the thermostat finally dipped below 50F) wouldn't help things at all.

And I now get to look forward to a nice high gas bill.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Most Expensive Farmers' Market Trip Ever least for me. I've seen people buy way more. But whatever, here's today's haul.

1 2'x3' photograph -- a storefront in Seville with a dressmaker's form out front (sounds stupid maybe, but it's very cool) -- $50

Everything else was multiples, and significantly less expensive.

2 cantaloupes - $1
3 little butternut squashes - $1
2 lb of yams - $2
a thingie of celery (a bunch? a head?) - $1
2 orange caulflowers - $1
5 bunches of green onions - $1
12 mangoes - $2
fresh gingerroot - $0.65

The cantaloupe and mango will probably become fruit salad for a potluck tonight. The squash and the yams will hang out for a while -- they're relatively nonperishable. The celery and onions will likely end up in soup. The cauliflowers...roasted, fried? Anything but raw.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Boxes and Contents

So, now that 3 of the 4 recipients have told me that they've gotten their boxes, I can talk a little more about the cookies that they contained. There were peanut butter cookies -- recipe straight from the Jif PB jar, except that I used almond milk instead of dairy milk. I used eggs, but I've made the cookies vegan before by using 2 T mashed banana or flaxseed egg substitute equal to one egg. There were also "Crackerdoodles" -- to quote beast, they're like snickerdoodles, with crack. I intended to make gingersnaps (I can post my mom's recipe if anyone wants it), but I accidentally forgot to add molasses. (I also used 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar instead of all white sugar like the recipe called for.) These also used eggs, but you could substitute 2 T applesauce or 2 T pumpkin puree per egg.

The last cookie is kind of a 2-for-1. My mom calls them fruit bars, but that makes me think of fruitcake, and I don't like fruitcake. So I call them pie bars. They're ridiculously easy, and I just made them again for 2 potlucks that I'm going to this weekend.

1.5 cups Crisco

3 cups sugar

6 beaten eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla

3.5 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oats

2 cans pie filling of your choice -- I used one apple and one cherry

Beat shortening and sugar well. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, salt, and oats. Split dough into 2 equal portions. Place 3/4 of each portion in a foil lined and greased 9x9 inch pan, and spread out evenly. (Dough is sticky and may be hard to work with.) Spread with pie filling and top with spoonfuls of the remaining dough mixture... it will spread out during the baking time. Bake 375 degreesF for 40-45 minutes, until top is lightly browned.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Boxes of Joy

The focus of my weekend:
The top envelope contained these:

And unfortunately, they don't photograph well. They're a yarn snob's nightmare -- 1 strand of acrylic (Caron Simply Soft) held together with one strand of novelty yarn (Bernat Boa eyelash yarn), crocheted in mesh stitch. I think that I chained about 24 to start, but I can't remember for sure. The scarves turned out really well, and got the most compliments of any project that I've worked on in public. (Fun Fur: knitters hate it, non-knitters love it. Go figure.)

The rest of the boxes contained cookies -- not telling what kind, don't want to ruin any surprises. One also contained this blue Odessa, and one went to the person who absconded with my maroon Odessa.

There was also a box-not-pictured, because at the time of shipping, the lovely green Odessa was as-yet-unfinished. The box-not-pictured also contained the mix CDs Volume 1 and Volume 2.

I hope that all of the packages arrive quickly and unharmed. (And I hope that I remember to mail the last one tomorrrow!)