Cookery Shmetrospective

It’s been a week since my last post, and guys, I cooked so much! With beans! And other things! I can’t wait to tell you all about it in detail, but for now, I’ve decided to start a new segment here on Cookery Shmookery: a weekly Recipe Retrospective, where I give you a tour of the food I made over the past week that may not have gotten its own blog post. Which isn’t to say that none of it WILL get a more detailed post. Ohh, I’ll write about some of this stuff, because I love talking about food, particularly my food (as those of you who know me are fully aware of – hi Jenny!). But a weekly retrospective is a good way for me to keep track of what I made (and what I remembered to take pictures of). If you have a favorite item, or are dying to know how I made something, leave me a comment and I’ll make sure to elaborate. Your wish is my command!

But enough babbling, on with the stuff I made!

***

I have the best mother-in-law ever. She’s a really good friend, and we do girl things together, and we like a lot of the same things. Well, she found a recipe for Limoncello, the Italian lemon liqueur, and promptly decided to make it. Aaaand obviously, I had to make it, too! Behold:
Two fifth the strength of Everclear is still pretty damn strong.
I made Limoncello, you guys! It took two weeks of shaking a bottle of lime rinds (I used limes, the result was about the same) in Everclear, but it was so worth it. This stuff should last me into 2011. Maybe. It’s so good! It’s yellow, and sweet, and smells like lemons, but not like bathroom cleaner. What more could you ask for in an alcoholic beverage?

***

I have this constant goal to cook light and healthy. I really try. But sometimes light just isn’t what I want, and when that happens, I try my damnedest to at least stick with healthy. And sometimes that works out… half-way. Enter the Tuna Pot Pie:
Do I look fat in this pie crust?
Tuna, cauliflower, peas, spring onions… all good, healthy things! And cream of celery soup! The skinny bitch of cream soups! But then, all of it is stuffed into a GIANT MOUNTAIN OF BREADY DELICIOUSNESS! THAT I DIDN’T EVEN MAKE MYSELF! Ahem. Anyway, I feel bad even about the cream of celery soup, since I usually try to avoid canned soups, or at least try to use organic stuff. But you know what? It was good. So sue me.

***

Sometime last year, I bought a sprouting box, even though I had successfully grown sprouts on a plate between paper towels, as well as in jars. But this seemed less hassle, and it was. Slightly. But it made me sprout more, so I threw that one on the Success pile. At least for a few weeks; after that, the poor box went in the cupboard never to be seen again. Until a couple of weeks ago. And boy am I glad I got it back out. Because I love sprouts and I want them on everything, even though they make stuff taste hairy.
Like cute little tentacles, reaching up to get you.
Almost done eating this batch, and almost done growing the next!

***

I recently discovered that a lot of things taste a million times better if I manage to sneak falafel mix into the recipe. Sometimes this works out great in ways I fully expect, like when I make falafel-crust pizza. But sometimes, falafel works in mysterious ways. Like in this case, where I made a meal that was based, believe it or not, on a quiche recipe.
Quiche? No. Bean stirfry in a giant monster falafel prison? Yes.
The falafel mix stood on the counter for a bit too long and was then too thick to really flow into the stuff below. I could have fixed this by stirring it all together, but stirring is for the faithless. I was sure the oven temp would take care of it. Except falafel dough doesn’t get runnier in heat. It gets solid (SOLID!) as a rock. Long story short: it was still tasty, but on the dry side.

***

About every other lunch I have is a quick veggie soup. Like the one that led to the unfortunate Soupcake Incident a couple of posts ago, only usually a lot better. This one, with a miso broth as its base, was one of my favorite soups I’ve made in a while. So satisfying, so quick, so filling, and so light. And also pretty! Damn, I’m a little bit in love with this soup.
Miso vegetable soup? That a really interesting name. Do you come here often? You have very pretty eyes.
I really need to buy miso paste again so I can make this from “scratch”, if you can call miso paste that. Until then, I will be seeing you in my dreams, soup.

***

Sometimes when I’m not very inspired, I go back to meals I know I enjoy very, very much. Salmon on top of sauteed veggies or salad is a standby that’ll probably be there for me for the rest of my life. This one in particular is just not very exciting.
I love you, but I'm not *in love* with you.
I make much better salmon than this, which I will attempt to prove sometime.

***

Remember how I have a freezer full of beans? Well, Melody over at Melomeals posted this wonderful recipe for super healthy apple oatmeal breakfast cookies that were made with BEANS! How could I not try them? The had beans, they had my beloved oatmeal, and they promised to be a good, quick breakfast for days when I don’t have time to actually cook oatmeal.
Three things about these cookies: 1) They’re freakin’ fantastic. 2) Melody is not kidding when she says they’re a breakfast item, not a dessert. If you want them sweet, POOOOUR SOME SUUUGAR ON IIIIT! Or in it. Or wherever you want it. 3) She is also not kidding when she says they’re better the next day. I think I didn’t leave mine in the oven long enough, and they came out a bit too soft. But the next morning, threw a couple of these babies on the Pizzazz (don’t make fun of me – it’s a fully functional and practical kitchen appliance!) until they were really crispy on the outside, and they were ah-mazing with my cup of coffee.
I like my baked items really crispy. But they're not burned. That's just the lighting. Shut up.
Thank you, Melody! Oh, and Misty, I know it’s not an entree, but you asked for something made with beans that you can make in advance, and that is in the category of comfort food. I fully realize that these cookies are kind of not at all what you asked for, but: they are COOKIES! Made from BEANS! You can sweeten them a bit more, and you’ll have a good, nutritious breakfast snack that even packs some protein.

***

Sometimes I’ll be sitting at my computer, and B will be in the other room at his computer, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I’ll hear his voice say, “Tacos!” And I know it’s time for tacos. Sometimes I make them with Morningstar Farms fake beef crumbles, and sometimes I’ll make them with fake chili mix from the co-op’s bulk bin. This time, I made them with lentils, because I had just cooked a giant batch. They’re keeping the beans company now. Anyway, These were spectacular, and possibly my favorite meal this past week. Don’t tell the soup.
I love tacos that are soft and warm and soak up the delicious sauce.
B loves tacos that crumble to pieces in your hand as soon as you first bite into them.
We had some of every topping left over, so we had these again for lunch. Double win!

***

And that was my food. We spend the weekend in Baltimore, by the way, so there was a lot of eating out. And I also often forget to take pictures of what I cook. But yep, that was the bulk of it. Good times, no?

Posted in Recipe Retrospective | 3 Comments

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Soaked

Tons of beans and nothing to do with them. True story. Here’s how it happened.

I bought a pressure cooker a while ago, because I fell in love with the thought of making tasty veggie stews in no time at all, cooking potatoes super fast to cut down on mashed-potato-making time, and especially cooking big batches of beans and lentils and stuff to store in the fridge or freezer and use them at my leisure. It was a great plan, and finally, after having the thing for a few months, I soaked a pound of beans overnight to cook the next day.

Firstly, a word of warning. If you’ve never soaked beans before, please know that they’re not kidding when they say that the dry beans expand to up to three times their size. Luckily I soaked mine in a bowl that was huge, and luckily I filled this huge bowl with water to the brim.

Let me illustrate what happened during a 5-hour soak.

M-m-m-magic!

Man, I was lucky I only soaked a pound. Cause I had bought a 2 lbs baggie, and I was tempted to use all of it, because it looked so liiittle! But no. I’m glad I didn’t. Cause, man.

You can run, but you can't hide, becasue I will find you and SIT ON YOU!

Aaanyway. They went on the pressure cooker for 3 and a half minutes, which turned out to be a tiny bit long I think, because they came out slightly on the smooshy side. Still good and solid, but since I was planning to store them and use them later, I think 3 minutes would have been enough.

So, now I had this huge amount of beans (didn’t measure how much exactly), when I realized this: I didn’t actually have any plans for what to do with the beans. Here’s what I had thought earlier:

• bean burgers
• bean wraps
• bean tacos
• bean soup
• bean salad
• bean dip
• bean face mask
• bean doorstop
• bean underpants

Just from thinking through the list made me not want anything made of beans, suddenly. But I HAD to make SOMEthing! So I decided to make something that I could easily save for later. So I made chili.

It wasn’t the most elaborate chili ever made, but man, it actually turned out [SPOILER!!] awesome.

I sautéed some onions in a deep pot and added all the diced canned tomatoes I had in the house (one can of unseasoned, and one can of garlic, oregano, basil ones). After that, I threw in as many beans as the tomato stuff was willing to take, which was about a third of the cooked beans I had, leaving me with [SPOILER!!] a still pretty full Tupperware of beans in my fridge. Dammit.

I added just about every seasoning I thought sounded good for chili, which ended up being, in this order:

• paprika
• some chili powder I bought at a Mexican market in Columbus, Ohio
• and unmarked, slightly tart smelling seasoning mix from aforementioned Columbus market
• a tiny bit of cinnamon, which made my house smell like Christmas
• oh yeah, salt
• and fresh ground black pepper
• dried minced garlic (because I was too lazy to mince some fresh)
• nutmeg (which further christmassified the smell in my house)
• and Worcestershire sauce.

I think that was it. These things were added gradually over the course of about 30-40 minutes while the chili was happily bubbling away on the stove. I sat back and reveled in the delicious scent of Christmas chili. So good.

Fill it into glass orbs and hang it from a tree!

When it was done, I had about 5 cups of chili, which I put into two containers for future lunches, one of which we had yesterday, and it was freakin’ delicious. I added a tiny bit of grade B maple syrup, which added to the awesome flavor, but made it a little too sweet for me. Next time, less syrup, added to more chili. It was still excellent.

So many beans...
... so little time!

So here’s the Bean Development for comparison. If I got my math right, a pound of beans could potentially make me 15 cups of chili. And since I didn’t have any other veggies in the house to throw in (like bell peppers), the whole thing ended up being ridiculously cheap. Like, basically the price of two cans of diced tomatoes, an onion, and a tiny amount of dried beans (the 2 lbs bag coast me about $2). Not bad at all!

But nooow, what do I make with the rest of these beans?? I think I’m gonna make at least half into bean burgers to freeze. Anyone got a favorite recipe?

And for the final third, I will take suggestions/requests. If you comment and tell me to make something with these beans, and it doesn’t require crazy ingredients, I VOW TO MAKE IT! Just don’t link me to recipes. I just want a meal idea, not instructions. This way I have some room to play.

Ok, Go!

Posted in Foods Gone Awesome! | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

SOUPCAAAAAKES

Holy crap – the inevitable has happened. I start a cooking blog, and immediately I lose all ability to make a cohesive, tasty, SANE meal. I don’t know what happened. I think my brain was all: you have a blog now! Throw things together and it’ll work! Everyone will be so impressed!

Well… no.

The day started well enough with my standard breakfast of oatmeal with salt and butter. Not the instant kind – I like to cook my oatmeal, and I like it savory. I also eat about three times the amount that’s normally in those instant packets, so it fills me up for a long time. Big, salty, buttery breakfast of champions! Booyah!

Happy oatmeal!

It wasn’t until 3.30pm that I got hungry again. B comes home from work at 5, so I thought I’d just make something light – a brothy soup! I usually really like my quick brothy soups: just half a bouillon cube in 3 or four cups of water with a few veggies cut into it (usually a combination of kale, cabbage, beans, carrots, celery, etc). So I put some kale and cabbage in some water and stuck that one the stove, only to realize: I’m out of broth cubes.

There are several things I could have done, but for some reason I chose the weirdest possible option. I don’t know what came over me. Well, I do. I recently printed out a recipe for tortilla soup that was mostly made from canned ingredients, and one of the cans was creamed corn. That was apparently all the endorsement I needed.

I put a can of creamed corn in my soup, which at that point was just boiling water with kale and cabbage in it.

Yep.

You just think about that for a sec.

I tried it. It tasted as if I had heated up the water from a can of regular, non-creamed corn. I made a sad face.

I'm sad cause I suck.

But this isn’t the end of it. After a panicked rescue mission, Worcestershire sauce, quinoa, and a bunch of different seasonings, this abomination of a soup actually seemed somewhat edible. I put some grated sharp cheese on top (of the kind that I at some point grated into some Tupperware and then forgot what kind it was), and then I ate it. It was actually decent.

It still looked gross, though:

Not good corn, Gilbert.

Well, I managed to eat a bowl and a half. What to do with the leftovers? While I happily eat whatever crappy concoction I made, I felt bad saving this weird corn stuff for B, who would possibly eat half a bowl of it to make me happy. And I didn’t want him to suffer for me. So I thought: How can I make weird leftover soup into something better?

And I came up with: veggie burgers. Yes. I know.

I’m gonna make this as short and painless as possible: I threw in some of my beloved oatmeal and cooked it until all the liquid was soaked up, and all that was left was a more gross, gelatinous mass. To which I then added two eggs. Which I then pureed.

It wasn’t pretty.

I swear this is BEFORE eating it.

I heated up a non-stick pan with some veggie oil, and poured the stuff in like I would pancake batter, because this was way too runny to be made into real patties. The result was weird, floppy, lumpy soupcakes.

I'm sad cause I'm ugly.

I tried one, and it really, really didn’t taste half bad. The texture, however, was abominable. Gruesome. No matter how long I left these in the pan, they would not stop being slimy and weird on the inside. So now they are sitting rejected on my kitchen counter. I don’t think anyone is gonna eat them. This will be the first time in many months that I’ve had to throw out something I cooked. God-freakin-dammit.

At least they have each other.

To make matters worse (and weirder), B came home and asked me why the house smelled like fish. I don’t even want to know.

FIN

Posted in Foods Gone Wrong | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Raise The Roof For Food!

Starting this blog has been long overdue for me. For a long time not I’ve been needing a place to keep track of what I eat and cook, of what worked out and what was a kitchen disaster, and a place where I can share my excitement about new discoveries.

What I want this blog to be:
1. It’s a place for me to rave and rant, to plan, to give and get advice and ideas – an informal cooking/food blog for recipes in development, for new ingredients tried, and for any and all kind of experimentation. Stuff that went awesome, and stuff that blew up in my face.
2. This blog will also be my daily food tracker. I like to look back and see what I ate and cooked, and I’ll have a tag for just this specific purpose. Unless you have take creepy, voyeuristic joy in knowing what I eat every day, this one is probably mostly for me. But since I typically track using pictures, it might also be fun. Right? Right!

So, a few things about me. I’m 29 years old, and I’ve been cooking for myself and others since I was 23. I’ve been a pescetarian (no meat, just fish and seafood) for a few years, but I recently started eating a small amount of meat again. I’m doing this mostly because it’s what works for me. Seafood is what I love, and my meatless time got me cooking a lot with tofu, tempeh and other soy products, seaweed, chickpea flour and other flours I hadn’t tried before, seitan (which I make myself), quinoa, millet and other interesting grains, nutritional yeast, and a lot of other delicious stuff I never new existed. Most of these aren’t meat substitutes, but for some reason a lot of vegetarian cookbooks have all the interesting stuff that standard meat-eaters don’t know about. Which is also why I love vegan cookbooks, even though I’m nowhere near vegan (I’m not judging, though). A lot of the meals I make end up being “accidentally vegan”, especially on Thursdays, which is my weekly fruit/veggie only day (you’ll read about this on Thursdays). I’ve grown my own sprouts before, and I’m planning to start this up again (today!) – the plan is to always have sprouts on hand. I especially love lentil sprouts and eat them as a snack.

And this shall be my abrupt ending to my first introductory blog post. Tomorrow: delicious recipes, pictures of my sprouting setup, and potentially a giant pressure cooker full of beans! Whooo!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments