Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Poached Pears, Oh My

Hello, pear.

I know we're haven't been very close over the years.  In our previous encounters, you've been fresh but kind of ... grainy.  It's a texture thing.  I didn't care for it.  Also, your shape makes you a little hard to hold.  Sometimes I eat my lunch fruit at my desk, so my fruit really needs to be one-hand friendly.  

But I'm still a believer in no bad foods, just bad preparations, so a few weeks ago I bought some Bosc pears, watched them sit untouched on the counter for a few days, discovered we had half a bottle of way-too-sweet for me Gew├╝rztraminer wine left (you don't want to know how many times I tried to spell that right), then poached them exactly as David Lebovitz said to. 

In addition to the wine, I also threw in dried cranberries.  It's an incredibly easy and simple recipe.  The result?

Hellllllo, pear. 

Poaching the pears was transformative.  It made them soft and sweet and smoothed the texture enough to make it totally delicious.  Maybe anything can be good swimming in a sweet syrup, but it really made me like pears for the first time in my life.

The nice thing was that the poached pears sat in my a jar in their syrup for a week, and I could dip in and have a few slices whenever I wanted.  On top of oatmeal.  On top of banana pancakes, as above. Warmed up, by itself in a bowl, along with an episode of Modern Family.  

It's a lovely way to have fruit this time of year, when it's so cold outside (and 45 degrees still counts in my book as SO COLD) - warm, sweet, but not too heavy.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Don't make your oven too hot, and don't be distracted by kids who have managed to find the lollipop hiding spot in the pantry

That, my friends, is an oven baked sweet potato chip.

I've made them a few times in the past few weeks because everyone will eat them.  Because they are chips, and who won't eat chips?  Aliens, that's who.

I found the recipe for them online, but now I can't find the original one I worked from.  No matter, I've had to modify it anyway, because I've learned a couple things in making them.  
  • It can be easy to miss that cooked-just-right sweet spot and end up with burned sweet potatoes. Especially if your oven is 450.  See the photo? 
  • If I brush one side with the butter/syrup mix and then go off to organize a race between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, the mix will have effectively soaked through so it doesn't need to be brushed on the other side.
  • The edges will burn if you wait for the center to get totally crisp.  Once the edges start to look dried out, the chips are done.  
  • A mandoline is my slicing friend, and works best if I don't push down too hard.
  • If I do push down too hard and end up with chips that are way thinner on one side, I can overlap the chips for the thin parts don't cook too quickly.  
  • I really should buy more baking sheets.  I only have one.
Here's how I make them:
  1. Slice one sweet potato.  Thin.  
  2. In a small bowl, mix equal amounts of melted butter (or olive oil, or coconut oil) and maple syrup (or honey or nothing, if you don't want it too sweet).  About two tablespoons of each should be enough.
  3. Brush on one side of the potato slices.   Or just toss it all together. 
  4. Bake in a 375-400 degree oven, for oh, about 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Flip the slices over.  Brush with more of the good stuff if you want.
  6. Back in the oven for 8-10 minutes more, or until the edges look dried out and crisp.  Keep an eye on it!
  7. Take out and cool for bit, and enjoy! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Retronaut Food

You sit down to figure out the Petraeus scandal, and the next thing you know you haven't blogged in a couple of days.  Who did what now?

Anyway, on to more pleasant things.  Lately I have been enjoying getting the Retronaut emails because old photos of odd and interesting things from ye olden times have been far more enlightening and delightful than CNN's headline news.

from WWII, when donuts were  ... healthier?

1951 Donut Queen Kris Nodland and the Gingerbread Donut Boy
another WWII poster, which frankly contradicts the donut one, if you ask me

Superheroes gardening!
the very first McDonald's in 1948
But of course, you can also find photos of a teenage Morrissey, Robert Smith's wedding, the time Cleveland set a world record in balloons, exotic dancers from the 1890s, David Bowie playing ping pong in a kimono (although all photos of David Bowie are pretty much fascinating), and this are-you-kidding-me pro-draft-dodging poster.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter Squash Paprikash (Hey, It Rhymes!)

More squash!

This time, we started with delicta squash, which is the most approachable winter squash there is.  It's small.  It's thin skinned.  The seeds are scooped out easily.  

Even though it was pretty easy to chop up, I opted not to roast them.  Instead, I steamed them until they were soft.  It seemed much more efficient than roasting - faster and requiring less energy since you use the burner instead of the oven.

Then I pureed the whole thing - skins and all.  I froze the puree in a plastic bag until ...

Foodgoat decided to make squash paprikash.

Because there's no reason that paprikash needs to be made with chicken.  Remember?  He made Italian Bean Paprikash already.

Here's his recipe for Chicken Paprikash.  Can you just substitute in the two cups or so of frozen steam squash puree for chicken?  Maybe!  I'm not really sure!  I assume so!

I didn't actually watch him cook it, so I don't know.  I would have liked to watch him cook it, and I would have liked to taste it along the way, and I would have liked to have a glass of wine at the same time, but sometimes I don't always get what I want.

Mmmmm, creamy squash sauce
I did get a delicious squash paprikash though.  Super creamy, a nice balance of sweet and spicy, with comforting dumplings.

It has become one of my favorite versions of paprikash.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dumplings and Broccoli and ... Cheetos


I don't think there's enough beer in the world to inspire the use of Cheetos in his cooking.

Nope, the inspiration for this came out of the 2010 Saveur 100 issue, the Chef's Edition.

In that issue, Chef Craig Koketsu of New York City's Park Avenue Winter provided his recipe for Broccoli and Cheetos.  

Apparently foodies in New York will pay for anything.

Anyway, it's basically steamed broccoli with a cheese sauce, topped with crushed Cheetos.  

Foodgoat's version had a cheddar sauce (instead of a mostly Gouda sauce) and joined it with bacon dumplings.   

I'll be honest, I'm not sure that Cheetos will become a staple of the Foodgoat kitchen any time soon.  They weren't bad on broccoli, but I'm not they added much except a crunchy texture and a sense of culinary slumming.  
It makes a nice photo, though, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Future is Ponies

Whew, it's starting to really sink in.  The election is over.

Are you happy? Are you sad?  Optimistic?  Proclaiming the decline of civilization via Twitter?

Either way, it's time to focus on other things now.   It's time to look to the future.  A positive future, based on something that can unite us all, rather than divide us into reds and blues.  Something in which we ALL can win.

I'm talking, of course, about the new season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic starting on Saturday.

Honestly, I'm so excited.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Squash Bread & Thoughts on Mixing

I am really beginning to really admire quick breads for their ability to easily take on almost any kind of fruit or vegetable pulp and transform it into a sweet and delicious baked good.

Here I had some roasted and mashed squash - I don't remember what kind - just sitting in the fridge, cold and a little sludgy and not very appealing.

Then I used My Baking Addiction's recipe for Butternut Squash Bread and voila!

Of course I used a lot more squash puree than was called for (I was determined to use up what I had) and I put raisins in and I had to bake it longer than the recipe said ... but I'm happy with how it came out!  Super moist and tasting very seasonal.  

Of course, I did under-mix it a bit.  I am always anxious to avoid over-mixing a quick bread, since that causes gluten to develop, making the bread tougher instead of more tender.  But under-mixing means ingredients do not get well incorporated, and lucky Foodgoat gets a mouthful of baking soda in his slice of bread. 

Now that I think about it though, I guess I could have mixed the baking soda well into the flour before I had to mix in the wet ingredients.  Just like the original recipe said.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night Stress Eating

There is hope in this endless, bitter war!

No, not Melody Pond.  I wish.  No, it's finally election day!  Soon we can put to rest what has seemed like the longest, most endlessly prolonged, most annoyingly partisan election season ever.

I will never be so happy to see local carpet cleaning commercials.

But first I have to get through the day, and even worse, the night.  A night of being glued to the news channels and their needlessly high-tech maps and their commentators of varying (but mostly low) tolerability.

I'm trying not to be too emotionally engaged in this, but I can already see it's going to be a bad day for stress eating.

Consider the circumstances:

  • We have a ton of leftover Halloween candy.
  • And a box of Mozzarella Cheez-Its. 
  • Ohio is a swing state.  THE swing state. The one it always comes down to.
  • Ohio can go either way.
  • The freezer is really full, and two ice cream cartons are taking up a lot of room.
Oh yes, it's going to be ugly.

Tips managing the election night emotional binge eating:
  • Focus on what you can control:  I voted, and things may go my way, or they may not.  Now I will focus on not eating another Twix Fun Size bar.
  • Know your triggers:  Some things just might cause an uncontrollable upsurge in stress.  Please, please do not me hear Sarah Palin talking on TV. 
  • Relieve the stress some other way:  Take deep breaths!  Vent something you may later regret on Facebook!  Do push ups!  Ha ha!  Got you on the last one.  Like I would do push ups.  Foodgoat will be the one who does all the crazy push up variations just for fun.
  • Drink black tea instead: Black tea, according to one study, reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels and helped men de-stress more quickly.  Black tea doesn't sound nearly so satisfying, though, as a salad made primarily of Cheez-Its. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

It Doesn't Just Remove Staples!

Just an FYI, if you don't happen to have a bottle opener handy, one of these will suffice:

Just try not to get root beer all over your desk, your day planner, or the documents you printed out for the meeting in five minutes.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

For Some Reason, I'm Really Hungry Now

I presume it's only a matter of time before the food blogs feature not only professional, stylized photographs for each step in the recipe description, but animated gifs too.  

They're so mesmerizing, aren't they?  
why anyone would prefer a raw food diet, when heat can do such magical things?

this looks exactly like the mac and cheese Foodgoat makes, right down to the  boing boing pasta.   Has he been foodblogging on tumblr without telling me?

as you can see, I've got a thing about melty cheese

the bulb in my oven burned out long ago, so I find this fascinating

okay, this one is actually a tiny bit gross, but it's still mesmerizing

What are you making for dinner, Foodgoat?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Thing I Don't Need: A Banana Slicer

Far be from me to judge other people on the kitchen gadgets, but this one really does seem particularly unnecessary:

It's $10, and it slices bananas.  

It also looks terrifyingly dangerous.  

The reviews on Amazon, though, are pretty hilarious.  

Happy Birthday Matt Smith!

Why Matt Smith, Mr. 11th Doctor, did I forget it was your birthday on Monday?

Happy 30th birthday!

because everything is better as an animated GIF

I feel a little better that not even the Chin Boy got a Dalek cake for his birthday.  For while I thought about trying to make a Dalek cake.  I have seen some wonderful Dalek cakes that people have made, but I think that for me to attempt it is just a recipe for one epic cake wreck.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winter Squash: The Risk, The Reward

I usually avoid winter squashes altogether.  Not because I don't like them, in fact, I think they're delicious.  No, there are three reasons:

1.  I am afraid of suffering bodily mutilation in the process of cutting them up.  Butternut squashes, in particular, mock me with their hard, hard shells.  Sometimes I think I should try to take a power tool to them, but then me + power tools does not necessarily reduce the likelihood of bodily injury.

But thanks to my CSA, we amassed a collection of large and small winter squashes and I either had to admit that they were just there in a feeble attempt at autumn decor or go ahead and cook them.

So I took the acorn squashes and the hubba hubba squash and the other varieties I don't remember the names of (seriously, there are lot of different kinds) and cut them up with the sharpest knife we had.  Then I tried the heaviest knife.  And I think the heaviest knife is the one to go with.

Because I didn't want to spend any more time with the knife than I had to, I just cut them half and roasted them with olive oil.  And there's the other reason I generally avoid the winter squashes.

2.  They take FOR-EV-ER to roast.  Like an hour, at least.  

 So I had a bunch of roasted squash halves, finally.  Now what?  Enter reason #3.

3.  I have no idea what to do with cooked squash. 
Having exhausted all my cooking mojo just cutting up and roasting the squashes, I don't know what to do with it now.  Eat it like that? Stick it in the freezer until inspiration or an appropriate recipe crops up?

Fortunately Foodgoat stepped in.

And just like that, he whipped up a roasted squash dumplings with one kind of squash, with a squash sauce made with another kind of squash.  

Has this ever been made by anyone, ever?   I have no idea, but Foodgoat just made this whole dish up on the fly, and it was sooo delicious.  

It was totally worth the risk of bodily harm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pretty Refrigerators

I had no idea that West Elm had kitchen stuf...

Wait, is that a Smeg refridgerator?  In ten different colors?
I like the red one!

No wait!  I like the orange one!

 Let me check the dimensions ... in pink!
OMG, it's adorable!

It's tiny!  57 inches tall! 

It's like the Vespa of refrigerators.  

So not practical for a family though.  Not like this fridge, by the :

This one is by Meneghini, an Italian company, and starts at ... I have no idea, and it doesn't matter, because this is a fridge that's out of my league.

Nice, though, isn't it?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Unexpected Menu: Hobbit Food at Denny's

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense that The Hobbit would team up with Denny's to promote the upcoming film with Tolkien-themed "second breakfast" items. 

On the other hand, ewwww, Denny's. 

Shire Sausage Skillet: Yes, this does look like something Samwise would make.
Though I seriously doubt the actual Denny's dish really looks like this.

Dwarves Turkey Dinner:  Sure, I suppose.

Wait, do dwarves eat turkey?  Or would they just eat the potato?  Hold on while I google "what do dwarves eat". 
The Ring Burger: Get it, onion rings?  But wait, onions rings on burgers are delicious.  I'll go with yes.
There really should only be One (Onion) Ring.  Unless these are the three Elven Rings of Power, but they don't appear in The Hobbit.  Or they could offer Nine Rings, since this is a dish for Men.  In which case we'd get a lot more onion rings, which I'd prefer over those weird looking French fries.

The Hobbit Slam breakfast, okay.  Mostly.
Please don't tell me that's frosting on the bread. And that is a lot of butter for two pancakes.


 Gandalf Gobble Melt:  Ugh, no - based on the name alone. Gandalf the Grey may have liked sandwiches, but he would never call it a Gobble Melt.  A little respect, please.
What's in that bowl back there?  Gravy?  Denny's gravy?  

Hobbit Hole Breakfast:  I don't know what this is, I don't know what it means, and it sounds all kinds of wrong.  
Seriously, what is that?

 Lonely Mountain Treasure:  What is this?  Croutons?  Served on a bed of rocks?
Oh God, it's even worse than I thought: French toast with a side of cream cheese icing. 

 Radagast Red Velvet Pancake Puppies: Now that's just embarrassing.  Radagast the Brown/the 7th Doctor merits something that at least visually approximates real food.
It gets worse:  those are white chocolate chips inside. 

I don't know, I have great love of Tolkien, but I'm not sure he intended me to eat at Denny's.  Nor do I think he intended Middle-earth to have rampant rates of heart disease.             


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kale Chips and Mac and Cheese

People keep talking glowingly about kale chips, but it never sounded very tasty.  "Kale" + "chips" doesn't have the ring of deliciousness that, say, "wweet potato" + "fries" does, or "honey" + "butter", or "bacon" + "[whatever]".

That's because it's kale, and like all greens, it's not that exciting when it's all by itself.  It can be good, but it usually needs a team to help it out. 

Kale came in the CSA, so let's try it. 

Fortunately, it's very simple to prepare.  Wash kale.  Dry kale.  Cut off the hard stems/ribs.  Toss and coat kale in a spoonful of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Bake at 300 degrees in a single layer for about 20 minutes until crispy.

I finally figured out that the easiest way for me to dry a bunch of greens is in a big old bath towel.

 They came out little green, flavorful flakes.  By themselves, they were fine, but I really liked them sprinkled on top of the mac and cheese.  There, they added a bit of a crunch and the roasted green flavor went well with the creaminess of the cheese and spicy of the sriracha. 

You have no idea how much I appreciate it when we can change up the mac and cheese, a dish we have every week, just a little. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Citrus-Cured Salmon

Ever since he was Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Cleveland episode, making pained faces at having to eat at a Cincinnati chili chain restaurant, I've increasingly become a fan of Michael Ruhlman.  The writing on his blog is enthusiastic and engaging, and is now one of the few food blogs I actually read these days. 

So I checked out his book, Twenty, at the library, and I may actually have to purchase a copy of this one.  And I don't buy cookbooks.  It made me feel like I, a non-cook, might, possibly, maybe, actually could learn to cook.  By distilling cooking into twenty essential concepts, he makes cooking seem approachable. 

This book includes a recipe for citrus-cured salmon.  I love cured salmon.  When I attend a catered event and find cured salmon served, my day is made.  Because that's the only time I ever have cured salmon.  I'm not even sure where to get it if I wanted some right now.  The grocery store?  I have no idea.

His recipe looked so easy.  And then salmon was on sale at Whole Food.  FATE.

The recipe is posted here, and I followed it pretty much to the letter, so I'm not going to reproduce here.  This is the final product:

Cured salmon, so tasty with cream cheese and a bagel!  At home!

It worked! 

I think!

I don't know! 

Curing salmon means packing it in salt and sugar and seasonings, and refrigerating it for 24 hours.  And then you can eat it. No heat applied.  Is that cooking? 

Is it safe to eat?  Well, I ate it, and I didn't die, so there's that. 

It tasted right.  In fact, it tasted pretty good.  I'm not sure why I felt hesitant about it, when I am an enthusiastic consumer of sushi, after all.  

There was one other problem, though, which is that I'm the only one here who apparently likes cured salmon.  Citrus-cured salmon for one, this is not.  And even though I liked it, it's not one of those things I can eat all day long.  Not like coffee.  Or Cheez-Its.

Fortunately it seems to freeze well. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When the Preschooler is Better at Making Cakes Than the Mother

You would think that a good three years after my first attempts at making cake from scratch I would be better at it.  My first cake was as ugly as a Cleveland sports team and not very good since I used the wrong kind of cocoa

My recent attempts at cake-baking in anticipation of Princess Goat's birthday have had equally  unimpressive results.  You should be glad I didn't take a photo of the latest batch of chocolate cupcakes.  They were sad.  I don't know what makes me feel like a worse mother, the fact that Princess Goat gets ugly cupcakes on her birthday or the fact that the Goatling doesn't even have a sensory bin.

 But here is the cake made and decorated by the now four year old Princess Goat. 
 Not bad, huh?  All the details were all picked by her, and she made the cake herself, with some help, of course. 
And yes, it even tasted good, especially the next day. 

The kid has got cake cred already. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tiny Stuffed Peppers

We have received several bags of tiny sweet peppers in our local farmshare.  They are called sweeties and they are adorable.  

But what to do with them?

The best that Foodgoat could come up with was tiny stuffed peppers.  There's cheese somewhere in there.  Delicious!

The best that I could come up with is to toss them in the freezer with all the farmshare corn until something good pops up on Pinterest.  By the time I get around to printing out whatever that good thing is, it might be spring.  Or never.

This is why Foodgoat does most of cooking.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Doctor Who's Christmas List

BBC Worldwide has launched a line of products called Doctor Who Home, including the Dalek teapot above, to address what they call a market gap for 16-60 year old Dr Who fans. 

And yes, I would totally buy that.  But then I am tempted to buy all manner of nerdy Doctor Who things on Etsy, too.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Is Weird

You roast the squash in the oven, and then when you pretty much just poke it with a spoon it all comes out just like that, all noodle-y and spaghetti-ish. 

I think it's weird. 

Is spaghetti squash some kind of scientifically designed, genetically engineered fruit-pasta hybrid?

No, just a squash variety that came out of Manchuria in the 19th century.  During World War 2, victory garden "vegetable spaghetti" became a popular homegrown substitute for Italian spaghetti.  (Once the war ended everyone went back to eating real pasta, because of course they would).  Then in the 1960’s, those crazy hippies embraced the spaghetti squash again, the unprocessed natural alternative to the overly processed spaghetti. 

Is plain ordinary pasta considered processed food?  It's not that much processed, is it?   It's just flour and water.

Anyway, now spaghetti squash is in any grocery store.  It's not as delicious as real pasta tossed with butter and garlic, but hey, it's squash and it's pretty good. 

But that natural spaghetti-like texture?   Can't get over it.  It's weird.  I don't think vegetables should do that. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

I Suppose I Should Have Cooked the Corn Sooner

I had no idea corn would just start sprouting like that. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Doctor Who Dinner

Fish fingers and custard, for the 11th? Using Alton Brown's recipe, check.
Banana, for the 10th? Check.
Celery, for the 5th? Check.
Jelly babies, for the 4th? Well, jelly beans. Close enough. Check.
TARDIS and Dalek? Check and check.
And that is how we welcomed in the new season of Doctor Who.
Any other Doctor Who foods we're missing?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How To Order a Vegetarian Sandwich, Foodgoat-Style

Foodgoat's favorite sandwich recently at Melt is one of the vegetarian options - the Big Popper, which is a crispy battered and deep-fried sandwich with jalapeno peppers, cheddar, herbed cream cheese, and topped with mixed berry preserves.

As is it's good but Foodgoat makes it better.  He orders it with bacon.  It's spectacularly good. 

That's how we order vegetarian.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Random Things About Wendy's

  • They have a secret 1 lb. burger not listed on the menu known as the Home Run or the Grand Slam that has four meat patties.  
  • Thomas was sent by the Colonel Sanders family in the mid-1960s to help turn around four KFC stores they owned in Columbus, Ohio. While there, he invented the KFC paper chicken bucket and increased sales so much that he sold his share in them back to Sanders for more than $1.5 million.  With that money, he was able to start his own restaurant: Wendy's.  
  • The chili is made from frozen leftover burgers from the day prior.
  • Wendy’s offered the first value menu in 1988 - everything was 99 cents.
  • In 2005 a man named Ronald MacDonald robbed a Wendy's.
  • Best review of Wendy's ever: