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.