Saturday, October 31, 2009

You're stranded on a desert island...

Have you ever been asked what top 10 items you'd bring along with you if you were ever stranded on a desert island? Books, albums, movies?
I have a friend who adores food and cooking and relishes variety, and the other night, I somewhat sharkishly asked her what 10 food items she's bring with her. We spent the next 2 hours discussing and making our lists.
Here was mine:
- cashews
- a goat (for yogurt, cheese, and milk)
- oranges, watermelon, or strawberries
- steak
- dark chocolate
- squash
- mushrooms
- tomatoes
- eggs
- crusty bread

Here's the thing: I treated my top 10 as my grocery list the next time I was at the supermarket, and I had the most satisfying food week ever using up those groceries. I enjoyed frequent breakfast omelets, made a nice pasta primavera using sauteed squash and mushrooms, which became lunch and dinner, and I had yogurt and berries and nuts to snack on between meals.
I guess really it was a meditation exercise that helped me discover what my staples are. My knowledge grows....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicken Stock

I have bones! I have bones! About two chicken's worth, in my freezer.

Anyone know a basic recipe so I can attempt my very first chicken stock?

Cooler Weather = Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Everybody knows this--it's hard science, folks.

Cooking's been a nemesis in my family for generations, probably. But baking? Baking's never been a problem. And everybody I talk with lately has the same thing on their mind: chocolate chip cookies.

So today I did the deed. My friend mailed me these three recipes that vary slightly depending on the desired outcome. I tried the puffy ones, except I just used butter instead of butter-flavored shortening, which I know will probably make them less fluffy.

The dough is chilling tonight and if I manage to make the cookies before I and other "enthusiasts" in my household "sample" all of it (it's happened before), I'll report on the resulting puffiness or lack thereof.

Monday, October 19, 2009

tasty marmalade cookies

So, Erin and I slaved over a hot stove for many hours on Saturday to make our delicious satsuma marmalade.

But, it gives me heartburn (probably the white sugar). So what to do? Make cookies!

From here, except I didn't have any chocolate chips so i dab a little faux Nutella on them. I've been using farm-fresh eggs and they taste really different - can taste it in the cookies. They're very soft and fluffy. The marmalade is very subtle, and I like that they're not too sweet.


  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk (or one small egg)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade (this is the only sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • [1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips]
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  • In a small bowl, cream the shortening, egg yolk and marmalade until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
  • Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 2 dozen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Red Bean Baked Mochi Cake Auntie #4, one of the great cooks I know besides my mom, told me how to make the cake from memory, so I did my best to try it out today, since I had all the ingredients at home. It came out deeeelicious! Because it's made mostly of mochi, it's got this tasty, chewy texture on the inside; the outer crust, because it's baked, is sweet and cakey. And, you can never go wrong with red bean filling, of course. =) I think she made the red bean mixture on her own, but I cheated since I had a can of sweetened red (azuki) beans in the pantry. ^_^

You'll Need:

-1 pound of Sweet Mochi Flour (I use Mochiko)
-1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
-1 Cup White Sugar, or 2 Cups of Brown Sugar (I used the white sugar, as it was handy, but the brown sugar is what she used, and it makes the cake more brown colored...which I kinda preferred. Brown sugar for me next time!)
-2.5 Cups of Milk
-3/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil
-4 Eggs

-1 Can (18 oz) of Sweetened Azuki Red Beans
-1 egg, beaten, to brush on top of cake
-Sesame seeds to sprinkle (I use toasted ones; next time, I'll get some of the black ones and have a mix of white and black sesame seeds on top!)

*She said that one can always reduce the sugar, so if you're avoiding too much sugar, you may want to go that route.


- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

1) Mix everything together, except for the last three ingredients. If you want a fluffier merengue-ier cake, you may want to beat the egg whites separately until stiff, and fold them in.
2) Pour half of the mixture into a 9" x 13" pan, lined with parchment paper or foil.
3) Bake for 20 minutes.
4) Take the cake out and spread all the red beans evenly on top, and then pour the rest of the mixture on top of everything.
5) Bake 15 minutes. Brush the egg wash on top, and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
6) Bake another 5 minutes or so, and remove. Let it cool on a rack.

Though tasty, chewy, and warm from the oven, it's just as good, if not better, after you let it cool to room temperature. =) Easy to make, and easy to eat...^_~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creole seasoning

I've had the Tony Chachere's bottle for at least a couple years, as honestly I don't use it often.

But why not make my own?

There's this blend from Emeril. Though, I would omit the salt and pepper (add it to taste later) as well as the garlic and onion powder (put in fresh onion/garlic instead).

There's this blend.

Here, from Cooking Louisiana.

Basically I'll put together: paprika, cayenne, basil, oregano, and thyme. Maybe I'd add the garlic & onion powder if giving as a gift.

OK, I'm hungry!

cornbread muffins

From here (with a couple changes).


* 1 cup all-purpose flour (next time I'll use whole wheat or a mix)
* 1 cup yellow cornmeal
* 1/3 cup white sugar (or brown or whatever) - or less
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 egg
* 1 cup milk (or I'll try buttermilk when I have it on hand)
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil (haven't yet tried my usual 1/2 applesauce trick)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a muffin tin (12 muffins).
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins come out clean.

These are great! I could probably cut the sugar even more. Sweet cornbread is for Yankees, though I'm still chasing memories of an amazing sweet cornbread I had in Ghana cooked by a Liberian.

I prefer muffins because unless I'm serving to a bunch of people who will eat a whole pan of cornbread, I have a bit leftover - which gets dry, is hard to freeze (too crumbly, can't be toasted well), etc. The muffins curb my eating (stop at two, not half a pan) and freeze well.

And they're cute.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

white beans: it's what's for dinner

Around here, we have many special days. Red beans and rice on Mondays. Seafood on Fridays. Rules that most people observe (but I still forget).

I don't remember if there's a day for white beans, but since I missed red beans (and then heard about it from Ms. Makeda) this week, I got to craving some white beans.

I didn't get the Camellia beans, which was my first choice. I was at Whole Foods so just grabbed some white navy beans. That makes me sad, but at least they're organic.

And this video is pretty much exactly what I'm doing.

I did a search and found this and it tickled me because it was exactly what I'd planned on my own. Does this make me even just a little bit Cajun, that I cook like 'em? I just will use Crystal hot sauce instead of Tabasco (a little too vinegary). I'm not using Tasso like they're not because I have some andouille frozen that I got on sale.

So, to quickly state:

Soaking about a pound of white beans overnight (after cleaning).

The next day, saute the trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) and garlic. I'll saute the andouille in there to give a rich flavor.

Add all that to the beans in the crock pot, covering with water (not too much water though - not making soup).

Add some Tony Chachere's or other Creole seasoning, some bay leaves, some black pepper, some hot sauce and/or cayenne pepper.

Cook about four hours on high, check (beans should split a bit), adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve on rice with cornbread.

Oh soul, now I'm hungry!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eating on the go

The thing about food is that you have to think about it constantly. As soon as one meal's finished, it's time to start thinking about the next. Some days, I wouldn't mind having a food tablet I could just swallow with water to take care of my hunger and nutrition without spending time and energy thinking about it.
It's been a busy week, and I've been eating on the go. Buying lunch at work, and eating fast food in my car (parked!) because there's no time to go home before rushing to (insert extracurricular activity here). It's not satisfying.
Part of my education here on this blog is remembering to schedule time in not only to cook food, but making time to buy it, and before that, spending time thinking about what foods I'm going to buy.
Going after a good relationship with food, I think, will change my whole lifestyle--slow it down some. Which is a good thing. It's making me think about my health first--not only in terms of nutrition, but in terms of time. I think making my meals--which if done thoughtfully enough, is kind of meditative--will actually help me cut out other stressers.
No time for BS--girl's gotta eat! Well!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The second time I tried out my new sautee skills, I was put in my place. I sat too long on the mushrooms, and by the time I was ready to cook with them, they were too gone. My heat was a tad too high, so the squash and zucchini were browned in places--not as tasty as the first time, and not as good without their mushroom friends. I also got bored of eating my leftovers that week.
It all felt like the anti-climax after teaching a new course: So much preparation and thoughtful energy spent and after that first, fantastic lesson is over and done with, you realize you have to do it all over again fifty more times.
In any case, time to try a new dish, I think.
One dinnertime hurdle I'm dealing with right now is the change of seasons. The highs have been boomeranging a gamut of about 40 degrees for the past week. That makes it hard to think about what one would like to eat. A salad sounds great one day, but the next day, chilly temperatures have me craving soups and stews.
Think I'll troll the site for some ideas--maybe pasta?

Friday, October 2, 2009


I always overorder!
I want pizza. A medium will do just fine for two or three meals, but what do I do when I order? Get a large! Why??!! There's something about that moment when I'm asked what I'd like, and I just kinda panic.
I know a big part of my food issues has to do with fear of being hungry, and I've gotten portion sizing under control--I've mostly stopped over eating at meals--but I still overdo it with ordering!
Now I have a big, expensive pizza heading my way. Sheesh.