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Monthly Archives: August 2009

My Two Dads

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Eventually I will actually do a post about my dad and my stepdad, but for now, I leave you with this:
I learned today that Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler are married. Do you think they would adopt me? They are just. So. Adorable.

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Faux-late-night thoughts

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Yes, 10:47 qualifies as the middle of the night around here. GP is snoring away, earplugs crammed firmly into his ears, able to block out the sounds (and, yes, smells– they smoke) of our neighbors…while I am not. I had in mind a list, but that dissolved when I began to write what I could remember of it. So, rather than anything coherent, I give you the following.

  • Kevin Smith should stop “acting” and stick to writing. One thing at a time, sir.
  • I think Jennifer Garner and I should be friends. I have thought this since I read that she has a yellow lab named Martha Stewart.
  • That’s enough, Juliette Lewis.
  • I know I am not ready for kids because when I see pictures of the children and dogs of high school friends on Facebook, I am way more excited about the dogs.
  • Kate Spade shipping > Amazon shipping. Witness: yesterday, I bought all of my books for this semester (which, ok, started yesterday) from Amazon, and they have yet to ship…and I just got an email from the Kate Spade website saying my (on super-sale!) passport case and wallet have shipped! Too bad I cannot post on my class discussion boards about newly-acquired leather goods.
  • How is it possible to dislike actual birds so much and still really like them as a design element (jewelry and t-shirt motifs, for instance)? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it is.
  • I am always, always signed out of chat when I am signed in to Facebook. I am definitely past the point where I am ok with random IMs. Mostly, this is because I am a jerk, but it is also partly because I never feel like I can commit to a conversation with about 80% of my Facebook friends (who I just know are yearning to talk to me).
  • Is there anything sadder than homeless robots at Xmas? Only drowning puppies, and there would have to be a lot of them.
  • There is a Love List in the works, but who can say when that will be done.

Let’s accessorize, shall we?

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Now that we are within two months of the wedding (seriously, less than fifty days…let’s freak out for a minute about that), just about all the Big Decisions are made. We have a lovely venue (with two coordinators whose heads I want to just knock together sometimes, they are so frustrating), an officiant, a florist, a (super-ninja) photographer, a DJ, clothing, attendants, the whole shebang. Since I have decided that I do not want to be making decisions about the wedding past, say, mid-September, we’ve begun planning some details. You’ll be happy to know (you will, won’t you?) that we have decided upon a first-dance song (point, Buble!), the ceremony is in a nearly-completed state, bridesmaid and maid-of-honor gifts have been purchased, and, oh yes, there are shoes!

And then, on a recent shopping trip to the Stanford Shopping Center (likely my new favorite mall, luckily–for my AmEx bill–too far away to visit regularly), mom bought these for me:

Cue a teary exit from Bloomingdales– it seems so real when we’re thinking of things like earrings, rather than, “What might be a good month for the wedding?” and “The dress– white or ivory?”

Finally, and most excitingly (that’s a word, right?), The Precious has a new friend:

They look cozy together, don’t they. I’m not gonna lie, GP and I have been “practicing” wearing our rings. We sit around the living room and he says, “Look at me…I’m a married dude.” My future husband, ladies and gentlemen…

Whip It Up! Make Your Own Takeout Edition

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Guys, I think Rachael Ray has a cute/annoying little nickname for this, right? MYOTO? Fine, I confess, I own her 365: No Repeats…in fact, I can see it from where I sit this very second. Luckily, my recipe this week did not rely on a “30 minute” time frame (which, come on Ray-Ray, let’s be honest, is completely unachievable), and so I sought inspiration elsewhere. A staple when we are trying to eat through what’s left over in the fridge before a trip to the market is pizza– and no Boboli for this girl, I usually use a super-easy from-scratch recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The problem with this is that, with yeast involved, there is a lot of (albeit hands-off) time involved (while I wasn’t in a rush this week, I am too impatient most of the time to allow things to rise adequately). The solution? Something that I’ve enjoyed in many store-bought pizzas and have been itching to try myself: cornmeal crust! I combined a couple recipes that I found online, with delicious results…

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Sausage and Mushroom Pizza with Cornmeal Crust


Ingredients
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

Place the polenta, flour, baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt onto your work surface. You could also combine the ingredients in a food processor or a bowl.

Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil.

Combine and knead for about 8 minutes until the dough is elastic and shiny.

Top pizza and bake on a baking stone or greased pizza sheet in a 400 degree oven for 15–20 minutes

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yup. You can’t beat a 6-ingredient recipe!

Did the dish taste good?
Certainly. I loved it (I’ve eaten many cornmeal-crust pizzas– blame the uppity Italian grocery store where I worked during high school for that one), and even got GP’s grudging approval (I made him his own traditionally-crusted Smitten Kitchen-style pizza). If you’re not an absolute pizza purist, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this (bonus: it is wonderful for the more impatient among us).

Would you make it again?

I certainly plan to! Pizza is one of our go-to recipes, and I’m happy to add this variation to the rotation (I am less pleased about my accidental rhyme there, but what are you going to do?).

Whip It Up! Favorite Chef Edition

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This week’s WIU “assignment” was a tough one– so I went with the chef whose recipes I find myself making most frequently. They’re generally easy, tasty, and impressive despite the short time it takes to make (most of) them. Also, I am not sure whether she qualifies as an actual chef, but I do know (from her Chefography, yeah shut up) that Giada De Laurentiis does have actual culinary training (unlike, ahem, Sandra Lee), so I’ll just call her a chef for brevity’s sake.

We had some salmon on hand, so I settled on her recipe for salmon baked in foil.

Ingredients
4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

I served it with an orzo salad from Cooking Light, which was sort of meh but will improve with some doctoring.


Was the recipe easy to follow?

Oh yes. This is one of her simpler dishes– and handily involved only dried herbs and other things I had on hand. Super, super easy to put together ahead of time and then just pop into the oven. GP was not thrilled with a 400 degree oven on an 85 degree day, but he didn’t have to make dinner, so he was quiet about it.

Did the dish taste good?
Yup. I am used to a lighter, lemonier salmon, so this was a fun departure. I feel like this would be a really good and cozy dish, especially in the winter.

Would you make it again?
Certainly. Maybe when it has cooled off a bit, and I am getting fewer glares when I turn on the oven…

Soundtrack

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With exactly two months until Wedding Day, we have yet to choose a first dance song. While GP is not in most ways a “music person,” he does have the occasional opinion, and I am all about the music and lyrics. This does not mean, however, that either of us has any idea what song will be the soundtrack to our first official husband-and-wife dance. I’ve been mulling this over for months and months…and here are the finalists, in no particular order:

Forever and a Day (Always) – Jewel
I Only Have Eyes for You – Jamie Cullum
You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
God Only Knows – Joss Stone
All the Things You Are – Ella Fitzgerald
It Had to Be You – Harry Connick, Jr.
L-O-V-E – Joss Stone
Never Had Nobody But You – M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
I Will – The Beatles
Your Song – Elton John
To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens
Everything – Michael Buble
They Bring Me to You – Joshua Radin
Everyday – Vetiver
Melt With You – Nouvelle Vague
Nobody Knows Me – Lyle Lovett
Question – Old 97’s
Real Love – Regina Spektor

Thoughts? Suggestions? Also, don’t be bitchily judge-y. Now is not the time.

Whip It Up! Two-fer: Spicy and Appetizer

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Last weekend, we took a trip to Tahoe. As is my habit, I commandeered the cooking duties, such as they were: dinner on Friday night, and a couple of fairly easy breakfast items (really only eggs and biscuits, because I am weird and enjoy custom-cooking eggs). The only wrinkle in this plan was that half of our group would be vegetarian– I had to think of something that was palatable to all and a good fit for the non-meat-eaters. And an entree (and corresponding appetizer) was born! (Or conceived of, whatever.)

From the magic of the internets, we have a recipe for samosas. I’ve served them as both appetizer and side, and they are delightful either way. This recipe was the first time I’ve made them from scratch (minus the wrappers, which turned out semi-disastrously when I tried making them myself– just wrap the filling up in triangles of store-bought puff pastry).

Ingredients
1.5 cups peeled, cubed, and boiled potatoes
.5 cup peas
2 tbsp Amchur powder or Chaat masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste

Grind together: .25 cup fennel seeds, .25 cup coriander seeds, 4-5 red chilies, 3-4 curry leaves

Method
Mix together all of the above ingredients. Use as much or as little of the ground spice mix as you’d like– the above amounts make quite a bit, so it might be too potent depending on your taste.

Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the filling into each puff pastry triangle.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

From my Bon Appetit “Every-Night Cooking” cookbook, we have Peas and Potatoes Masala (the carnivores had to deal with sauteed chicken breasts), a dish that is spicy only in that it contains spices, but I had little to no hope of making something with any degree of kick if I wanted anyone to eat it (yeah, I know that sentence was longer than it needed to be).

Ingredients
.25 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 6- to 7-oz. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into .5-inch cubes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
12 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, drained well and cut into .5-inch pieces
3 cups frozen peas, thawed
.5 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method
Heat oil in a heacy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until golden– about 6 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices, potatoes, cumin, and allspice. Cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender, stirring occasionally– about 8 minutes.

Add tofu, peas, and cilantro. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender– about 6 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

And now, the wrap-up for both:
Were the recipes easy to follow?
Yep– each left a good amount of room for improvisation, and I felt comfortable doing so because there wasn’t any mystical cooking technique going on. It all amounted to “cut up some things, measure out other things, mix them up, add heat,” which makes for an easy-to-follow recipe and plenty of room for variation.

Did the dishes taste good?
They were both hits! Even for a crowd that had some members that were wary of Indian cuisine, they scarfed it right down. Fun tip for cooking for a bunch of people: wait to serve dinner until about 9, and make sure they have had plenty to drink. They will love whatever you cook! Seriously, though, it was just as good– nay, better!– the next day.

Would you make it again?
Absolutely! I might leave out the tofu and include a few more veggies– there were a lot of peas involved. Maybe some eggplant or squash next time?