Sunday, September 30, 2012

Unpacked!

This is officially the slowest I've ever taken to get a kitchen unpacked and under control, and for that, I apologize. Part of it was that I was waiting for new appliances. You see, my friends helped me get a great discount on GE appliances, so I replaced the refrigerator and oven for better, more efficient ones. They got delivered yesterday, so I finished unpacking. Ready for the magic?

This is the pile of kitchen stuff that I took out of boxes and put on the floor in my dining room (apparently a huge pile of stuff is less stressful to me than cardboard boxes everywhere):
chaos

But then the appliances came! I put pretty drawer liner and contact paper in all the drawers and shelves, and I managed to organize everything into the kitchen. Everything. That whole pile from the previous picture is now tidily placed into cabinets and drawers. The only thing missing is food. I do not have a pantry in this house, so I am going to fashion one from something at IKEA most likely. Whatever. It's a start. So this is the kitchen now, full of things!
kitchen

I also went grocery shopping for pretty much the first time yesterday and bought all the staples: flour, sugar, oil and vinegar of all varieties, Sriracha, sambal oelek. You know. Basics.

So hopefully now things will calm down enough that I am actually able to cook again!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moved!

Alright, you guys.

I'm here. I moved. I bought a new house, and I moved into it. It is taking me forever to unpack. I don't have nearly as much space in the kitchen so it's overwhelming me as I try to figure out where everything is going to go. I have a plan, I just need to purchase some things. So for now, this is what's going on in my kitchen:

kitchen

Boxes.

I promised my friend I would make her some unicorn poop cookies tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I can do that. We'll see what I'm able to unpack by then!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Moving Update

I've been slowly packing up my house over the past month or so to prepare to move. I'm selling this one and buying a new one closer to work. The excitement of decorating a new house is overwhelmingly joyous to me and I am looking forward to trying to fit all of my kitchen stuff into the new kitchen.

Especially since it took 13 boxes (13!!!!) to pack up all of my dishes and appliances.

Crap.

Both closings are on Tuesday. I'm hoping to be unpacked and settled by the weekend, and I've already promised my friend Lauren-Squared that I will bake her a batch of Unicorn Poop Cookies on Sunday to make up for missing her birthday.

So I will check in once I'm all moved in!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Oven-Fried Okra

Fried food is delicious. Part of the reason it is so delicious is that it keeps things - and forgive me for using this word - moist. I remember one year my family deep-fried a turkey for Thanksgiving. Not only did it cook in a fraction of the time, but it was reportedly very moist - a stark contrast from the dry turkey that comes from the oven. (Note: I haven't eaten turkey since I was 13, so this is all based on my family's accounts.) The Texas State Fair teaches us that with the proper batter, all kinds of things can 'successfully' be fried, including beer, butter, and Kool-Aid.

That being said, fried okra is a wonderful Southern treat, along with fried pickles. I am a fan of okra in general (particularly pickled!). But you know I don't fry things at home! So I was very exciting to see this oven-fried recipe on Pinterest! I even got fresh okra from the farmer's market to use in this recipe.

But as I said, the wonder of frying is that it keeps things moist. And since this is baked, this recipe absolutely fails at that. Because what happens when you roast okra for 40 minutes? It shrivels and dries. It becomes tough and weird and small. It is not terrible, but it was certainly not as good as it could have been. I was not really a fan of this and would not make it again.

okra

Oven-Fried Okra
Cookin' Cowgirl via Pinterest

16 oz bag frozen sliced okra, thawed {about 3 1/2 cups}
1 teaspoon Cajun or creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Canola oil spray
1 gallon ziploc bag

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Turn the zip-lock bag inside out and spray with canola oil spray.

2. Pour the okra in the bag along with the Cajun seasoning and garlic salt. Seal bag and shake vigorously. Let rest for 10 minutes so the juices extract from the okra.

3. Add the cornmeal to the bag and shake up again. Let rest 10 more minutes. Give the bag one more good shake. Pour okra over a strainer or colander {either over the sink or over a bowl} so the extra cornmeal will fall off. Spread the okra over a foil covered baking sheet and spread out evenly. Spray okra with canola oil spray.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, flip okra over, lightly spray again and return to oven for 20 more minutes. And that's it!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bhel Puri

Tonight for dinner I made Bhel Puri to use up the remainder of my Bombay mix and the remainder of my tamarind chutney. I just love it so much. In the interest of full disclosure, particularly regarding a post I made a few months ago about How Not To Burn Stuff, I will inform you that more often than not, when I make this, I forget the Bombay mix is in the oven and part of it totally chars. Then I give it to the bunnies outside in my yard and I salvage what isn't burned. Nearly every time!

Golden Thai Curry with Green Beans

I had all the produce required for this recipe (well, I had sugar snap peas instead of green beans - give me a break), and I figured I'd use up some of the coconut milk I have hoarded in the basement. I really expected this to be like Yellow Curry, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it's basically a stovetop version of one of my very old, very good standbys: Vegetable and Chickpea Curry (a crockpot recipe). Wow! I haven't made that in forever.

Let's talk ingredients: I didn't have coconut oil and the move is imminent so it's not time to buy any new oils. Therefore, olive oil. I couldn't find yellow curry paste, but I did find a packet of yellow curry sauce, which listed "yellow curry paste" and "water" as the main two ingredients. Thus, I used that instead of the paste AND the water. And finally, if you don't want to commit to buying a jar of cashew butter (again, I am not wanting to buy any new condiments right now), I actually found a little individual packet of it in the organic section of the grocery store. There are a few varieties of nut butters that they're selling in single-serving packets to be used for lunches. So for 89 cents, I got some cashew butter. And while the kaffir lime leaves were pretty, and I have a whole jar of them in my refrigerator, I really don't like them at all. Oh well.

I actually liked this more than the crockpot recipe! With the one in the crockpot, everything cooks down and cooks together (as would be expected... since it is a crockpot). I liked the addition of the cashew butter because it gave an extra little flavor. I would definitely make this again, probably replacing the crockpot recipe entirely (a twist!).

curry

Golden Thai Curry with Green Beans
Vegetarian Times, March 2012

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (2 1/2 cups)
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick half moons (1 1/2 cups_
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
2 1/2 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1 tablespoon cashew butter
1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon sugar or palm sugar
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves or 1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook potatoes 7 minutes; remove with slotted spoon, and drain. Add carrots, cook 10 minutes; remove with slotted spoon, and drain. Add green beans, and cook 5 minutes; remove with slotted spoon, drain, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 7 minutes, or until starting to brown. Stir in garlic, curry paste, and cashew butter; cook 1 minute. Add coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and sugar; bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in potatoes, carrots, and bell pepper; simmer 10 minutes. Add green beans and basil, and cook 2 minutes More. Stir in lime leaves just before serving.

Servings: 6

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Composed Salad with Pickled Beets & Smoked Tofu

OK. This seems like a weird salad, I know. It has a lot of weird ingredients. The dressing was a little thick, even when I tried to smooth it out with some extra lemon juice. I did not love the dressing. The salad itself was pretty good. It wasn't as weird once I started eating it. I doubt I would make it again though.

I also have to note: seriously, if you aren't buying farm-fresh eggs, you really need to. They are just so good. There is a difference. Trust me.

salad

Composed Salad with Pickled Beets & Smoked Tofu
Eating Well

This composed salad is an artful arrangement of greens, hard-boiled egg, smoked tofu, beets and snap peas drizzled with a cool, creamy dill dressing. It’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. We like smoked tofu, but any flavored baked tofu would work well in this recipe. Serve with iced tea.

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups torn Boston or Bibb lettuce
2 cups torn radicchio
4 hard-boiled eggs -- (see Tip) peeled and quartered
2 medium tomatoes -- cut into wedges
8 ounces baked smoked tofu -- diced
1 cup diced pickled beets -- (see Shopping Tip)
2 cups sugar snap peas -- trimmed and halved

Combine sour cream, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Combine lettuce and radicchio in a large bowl; divide among 4 large plates and top with equal portions of hard-boiled egg, tomato wedges, tofu, beets and snap peas. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of dressing over each salad.

Servings: 4

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Catching Up

OK, you guys. I went through 1800 posts, changing links to all of the photos. It was tedious and stupid and took almost a week. But it was kind of interesting because I had to travel through seven years of recipes, all the way back to the very first day, when my first post was just a list of crappy food I'd eaten throughout the day in an attempt to log the food I was eating and figure out how to eat healthier. I started posting recipes a few days later and it just snowballed from there.

I am also always shocked at my evolution as a cook. It makes sense that, as a college student, my cooking in 2005 was Not Awesome. I was learning, living on my own for the first time, and didn't really know what I was doing. I'm thrilled that at 28 I now feel somewhat accomplished as a cook. I still don't know how to cook things without recipes, but with a recipe there's not a whole lot I can't do.

Anyway. Over the past week I only cooked a couple things. I made a huge batch of Wheat Berry & Barley Salad with Smoked Mozzarella using fresh corn, cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market, and smoked mozzarella from the Amish market. My goal was to take it all week for lunches. I did not do that. It was a hectic week and I just didn't feel like eating much. I still have most of it in my refrigerator. Oops!

I also made my most-favorite Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta Salad. Something else I noticed on my blog is that I go through periods of repeating a small number of recipes over and over and then never make them again. I hope I continue to make this sweet potato recipe. I just love it so much!