Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A quick update

After weeks of being ill (18 days to be precise), my doctor finally put me on antibiotics the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (a week ago yesterday). I am almost recovered - just a slight residual cough due to some congestion.

I haven't really felt like cooking much because I've been so tired and, frankly, couldn't taste much anyway. I'm starting to get my interest back and anticipate getting caught up on my outstanding My Kitchen My World countries soon.

On a happy note, today was the LAST day of law school classes and therefore my last day of law school classes FOREVER! I just have to finish writing 3 four-page papers and one take-home final exam and I'll truly be done. Yay!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Puerto Rico Trip Postponed

The cold that derailed our trip to Ireland last week is also interrupting this week's trip to Puerto Rico for My Kitchen, My World. Stay tuned, though, as next week's trip is to Iran!

Even though I cannot travel even in the culinary sense, my cold apparently can: from sore throat, to head cold, to chest cold, to conjunctivitis with a lingering cough. Ugh.

I'm just focusing on trying to get through my last three weeks of school. Then, I get three weeks in December to do absolutely nothing until I start bar exam preparation in January.

Nothing sounds blissfully divine right now. I wish it were December already!

Friday, November 14, 2008

This typo courtesy of The Seattle Times

From today's Seattle Times:

Wapato teen dies after being shoot from a car
A 16-year-old boy has died after being shot by occupants of a car during a confrontation on a street in this small town outside of Yakima.

WAPATO, Wash. —
A 16-year-old boy has died after being shot by occupants of a car during a confrontation on a street in this small town outside of Yakima.


They might fix their error after figuring out that "shoot" is not past-tense. They got it right in the first sentence of the article, quoted above, so I have to categorize this error as being strictly a typo. Still not acceptable in a major newspaper, IMO. I mean, words are their business.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another American Monstrosity - The Donut Burger

This is something I just couldn't let pass by without comment. I have seen several blog postings over the past month about the donutburger a/k/a the Luther Burger. One might think the name is a reference to the devilish or gluttonous quality of sandwiching fatty ground beef between two donuts, but rather the name refers to Luther Vandross who apparently invented or popularized this monstrosity.

I hate to be crass, but I'd like to point out that Luther Vandross' Wikipedia page states (citations ommitted here):

Vandross had diabetes, a disease that ran in his family, as well as hypertension. On April 16, 2003, just four days before his 52nd birthday, Vandross suffered a stroke in his home in Manhattan while eating a Luther Burger. Though the cause of Vandross' stroke was not specifically attributed to diabetes, diabetics have been identified as being much more susceptible to strokes than non-diabetics.

You can see a video about the "Where is your God now? Burger" on the Serious Eats website here, created by writers and producers Christopher F. Smith and Jeremiah Birnbaum of San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking.

In fact, if you want to fast-track yourself towards heart-disease, here is a recipe for a glazed doughnut bacon egg cheeseburger from Serious Eats reader, Chris Zelenak, here.

Let me just say for the record that I think this - like the socks-and-sandals phenomenon, dipping your french fries into a milkshake or the McGriddle sandwich by McDonald's - is just wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another error from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I know I shouldn't be pointing fingers. Goodness knows that I probably have typos in each and every blog post. However, I also don't employ a staff of proofreaders. Also, since most newspapers in the United States (probably excepting the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times) are written at an 8th grade level, shouldn't we expect that they manage that without error?

In an article this morning from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is yet again another grammatical error:

One person was killed around 2:30 a.m. in a single car accident on the 1600 block of Aurora, their car splitting in half, after striking a light pole, Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

The victim's identity has not yet been released and police are continuing to investigate. The victim was the only person in the car, Witt said.

Did you catch it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Ireland Trip Postponed

Last week's My Kitchen My World voyage was to Ireland.

Unfortunately, debunking Marlo's theory that once one is showing symptoms one is no longer contagious, and thus it is safe to cough on one's mother, I caught her cold and have been very sick since last Saturday. Don't get me wrong, laying around the house in my bathrobe is a dream, but I really don't have time to be in a Nyquil-induced coma right now.

Plus, my sore throat really hurts. Anyway, with no signs of getting better by now, I'm postponing the Ireland trip. This week's trip is to Puerto Rico, but my participating will depend upon whether I beat this cold in the next couple of days. I'm crossing my fingers...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dispatches from France re: The Election

When I was 16 years old, I lived in France for a year as an exchange student. I kept in touch with my family and visited them again during the Summer of 2007 (see prior blog posts here). My American family is very conservative (as in Fox-News-Watching, Rush Limbaugh Loving, Armed and Dangerous Conservative) so it is a comfort to me to at least have one set of parents that are aligned with my desire for social justice in the world.

In the past two days, I have received the following message from my French sister-in-law, Marie-Helene, who is married to my brother, Olivier:

Yesterday morning I cried but my tears were full of wishes.
I am very happy for you and your country .

And the following message titled "America is back!" from my French brother-in-law, Bernard, who is married to my French sister, Pascale:

hi dear roxane !
congratulation for this victory !
obama is elected , fantastic !!!
really that's great for your country and your people , you are a great people indeed !
forget mister busch and now with obama god bless america

bernard , pascale and sons

By contrast, my naturalized American mother, who was born and raised in Cairo, emailed me a quote by George Washington about good rising out of despair. I think she's trying to console herself after the Republicans' defeat. I can understand how she feels as I cried for months following the election of 2004.

I also feel like telling her she's right in a way, that a black man had a chance of being elected President in America because the last white man with the job bungled it so badly. I hate to say it, but I think America is still racist enough that if Barack Obama was running against Bill Clinton in 2000, that I don't think he would have had a shot. This truly was good rising from despair. Our country has taken a great leap forward, although there is still work to do for true equality.

Nonetheless, I'm extending my American family the courtesy they never extended me in the past eight years. I'm not gloating to them about this fantastic win. I'm just quietly celebrating with my French family and happily thinking about what's possible for America's future.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Senior Night

On Friday instead of celebrating Halloween by opening my door every two minutes for trick-or-treaters, I went to "Senior Night" at the football game at Marlo's school. The seniors on the cheer squad and football team were escorted through an honor guard of athletes as their names were called.

Marlo was escorted by her Grandma Lydia and her Grandpa John, accompanied by a dozen pink roses and a balloon bouquet that I bought for her.

I think she was really happy to have had such a nice fuss made over her, which she deserves.

My Kitchen, My World - Germany

I picked the My Kitchen My World destination this week. In honor of Oktoberfest, I selected Germany.

I made Hofbrau Beer Brat's from Trader Joe's (who I love, love, love), with roasted potatoes, carrots and onions, served with with pub beer mustard.

First, I browned some onions and carrots.

Once the onions and carrots were softened, I added diced potatoes that I pre-cooked in the microwave.

I then removed the vegetables and browned the brats.

Once the brats were browned, I put both the brats and the vegetables into the oven. Why? Because I had to go pick up Marlo from work and I wanted dinner to be ready for her when she got home after her long day. (On occasion, I can be a nice mom...)

And Voila! Dinner was dished up within minutes of getting home. Marlo loves mustard in all forms so she really liked this meal. I enjoyed it too.

You can see what the other Chefs with Passports have created here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sometimes simple things are the best.

One of my favorite breakfasts is what Marlo and I call "Dipping Eggs." The British call these "Eggs & Soldiers." That is, in American Speak, soft boiled eggs and buttered toast cut into strips for dipping.

If you haven't tried this, and enjoy sunny-side-up or over-medium eggs, you'll like it. If you are a "my eggs have to be cooked until they resemble hockey pucks" type of person, you'll probably want to pass this by.

Quite simply, you boil eggs for 3 minutes if using large eggs, or 4 minutes if using extra large eggs. While the eggs are cooking, toast and butter your bread. When done, put into egg cups, slice off the top and add a little salt.


This is what Marlo and I consider breakfast comfort food.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Cambodia

This week's My Kitchen, My World flight headed to Cambodia. The destination was selected by Lauren of I'll Eat You who is the new My Kitchen My World moderator.

In order to better understand our trip, I have obtained the following information from Cambodia's wiki page (and see original wiki page, linked above, for all citation sources):

The first civilization appeared in Cambodia in the 1st Millenium AD. In its more recent history, Cambodia was a protectorate of France from 1863 to 1953, administered as part of the colony of French Indochina. After war-time occupation by the Japanese empire from 1941 to 1945, Cambodia gained independence from France on November 9, 1953. It became a constitutional monarchy under King Norodom Sihanouk.

Unfortunately, Cambodia's happy independence was quickly interrupted by the Vietnam war, which spilled over into Cambodia. The communist Khmer Rouge fought for control and finally reached Phnom Penh and took power in 1975, changing the official name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea, led by Pol Pot. The Regime, heavily influenced and backed by China, immediately evacuated the cities and sent the entire population on forced marches to rural work projects. They attempted to rebuild the country's agriculture on the model of the 11th century. They discarded Western medicine, destroyed temples, libraries, and anything considered western. Any person with trained skills, doctors, lawyers, teachers, were especially targeted. With that result, hundreds of thousands died from starvation and disease there were almost no drugs in the country.

Estimates vary as to how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime, ranging from approximately one to three million. This era has given rise to the term Killing Fields, and the prison Tuol Sleng became as notorious as Auschwitz in the history of mass killing. Hundreds of thousands more fled across the border into neighbouring Thailand.

In November 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia to stop Khmer Rouge incursions across the border and the genocide in Cambodia. Violent occupation and warfare between the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge holdouts continued throughout the 1980s. Peace efforts began in Paris in 1989, culminating two years later in October 1991 in a comprehensive peace settlement. The United Nations was given a mandate to enforce a ceasefire, and deal with refugees and disarmament.

On March 17, 2003, the United Nations reached a draft agreement with the Cambodian government for an special criminal tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. The agreement came after five years of negotiations and 24 years after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power. Under the agreement, the panel of judges will include a majority of Cambodians. Human rights groups argue that the government's ability to impose its will on these judges poses an unacceptable obstacle to justice. On the other hand, with many likely defendents over the age of 70, time is running out for justice to be served. (Source: Global Policy Forum.)

The first trial is expected to begin in early 2009.

Despite its recent tragedies, Cambodia is a historically rich country, which is reflected in its cuisine. Many recipes have influence from Vietnam, Thailand and also its French colonization. Ultimately, I selected curry, mostly because I had most ingredients on hand.

First, I cut peeled and cut white pearl onions into quarters. Then, I sauted them in oil and butter with two teaspoons of minced garlic. Even though I was following the recipe's instructions on this, if I could do it over again, I would begin by sauteing the onions well before adding the garlic because the garlic began to brown and burn well before the onions were soft. Also, I grated a teaspoon or so of fresh ginger before I realized that ginger wasn't on the ingredient list (brain was running on slow-mode that day). So, I went ahead and added it. Good for flavor, but a big mistake to add it when I did because ginger browns and burns even more easily than garlic.

Anyway, before the onions were really soft, but before the garlic and ginger were too far gone, I went ahead and added the coconut milk, meat (I used pork) and potatoes. I then simmered it very gently for a long time (lower and slower than called for in the recipe since I was using pork). I think that if I had used chicken instead of pork, the meat would have been done long before the potatoes. Another addition I made to the receipe was to add petite green beans a while before the meat was done simmering.

My friends, Anjali and Jeff came over for dinner. We all really enjoyed the curry, served over brown rice. I will say, though, that after cooking the recipe, I realized that it couldn't possibly be that authentic. Why? Because each serving has a whopping 1,200 calories. Holy cow! Needless to say, although the curry was supremely tasty (with all that fat, what wouldn't?), I won't be making it again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Failed, but not from my lack of execution.

Last night I made a steelhead fillet for dinner. For those of you not familiar with steelhead, it apparently is related to trout, but has a nice red firm flesh very similar to salmon. I put it in a shallow baking dish, topped with lemon slices, pats of butter and a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Baked 10 minutes per inch of thickness at 400 degrees.

I bought the fillet from a local grocery store, not normally where I buy fish, because I just don't think their fish looks that good. However, this one appeared fresh in the package, and had just been packed the day before. Big mistake. The fish wasn't very fresh and had a very fishy taste, which is unusual for good, fresh fish.

Anyway, had the fish been fresh, this would have been a fantastic dinner. I served the fish alongside steamed green beans and couscous. Couscous is so very easy to make when you want a side dish that takes no time at all. You just pour boiling water over the couscous grains and let sit covered for five minutes and then fluff with a fork. You gotta love any recipe that ends with instructions to "fluff."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash & Carmelized Onion Galette

I subscribe to several cooking blogs. On Saturday morning as I scrolled through the unread items in my Google Reader, I saw a recipe for a Butternut Squash Galette, which is a free-form tart. I cannot remember whose blog it was at this time, so you'll have to hit Google for the exact recipe.

It looked so good that I just had to make this recipe! I had all the necessary ingredients, except for some Fontina and fresh sage leaves, which Mom sent over from her fridge (the cheese) and my sister's herb garden (the sage, obviously).

First, I peeled and cut up a butternut squash. Then, I roasted it in a 350 degree oven until soft.

While the squash was baking, I sliced a Walla Walla sweet onion thin and then carmelized it in a cast-iron pan. If I re-do this recipe, I would use a regular yellow onion to provide a bit more contrast to the squash's sweetness, especially since carmelizing onion makes them sweet as well.

I mixed the squash, onion, shredded Fontina and chopped sage leaves in a bowl.

I placed the filling in the center of a pre-made Trader Joe's pie crust, leaving a margin around the edges. I folded the dough up over the edge of the filling, pleating it as necessary to make it fit. (It is at this stage that the photo was taken.)

The tart is then baked at 400 degrees for about a half hour until golden brown. It was heavenly and, again, smelled so good that I forgot to take a final photo.

My cousin Julie had some into town to stay the night, and Marlo graced us with her presence for dinner (sometimes a big victory with teenagers on a Saturday night). Everyone enjoyed it very much.

Julie ate some of the leftovers for lunch on Sunday, and I had some for Monday's lunch. It wasn't nearly as good re-heated, but still very tasty.

Will you marry me, Joe?

I've written before about my obsession with Trader Joe's, but last night's dinner really cemented my love affair.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the required fixings for pizza such as whole wheat pizza dough, shredded Italian cheeses, pizza sauce, and these spicy chicken Italian sausages. Yesterday was the expiration date on the dough so I placed pizza squarely on the menu for dinner last night.

This was so easy, yet so good and satisfying. All I had to do was spread the pizza dough out on a pan. (I used a sheet pan, but it would have been even better with a pizza stone.)

Then, I spread out the pizza sauce I bought from Trader Joe's. This pizza sauce was so much better than canned and way better than anything I could have made myself. It had a long-cooked tomato flavor, nicely spiced, with a hint of sweetness.

On my last trip to Trader Joe's, I had picked up a package of grilled zucchini and eggplant from the frozen vegetable section. I defrosted several slices of each and then cut them up with scissors for the top of the pizza. Originally, I was just going to lay them whole across the top, but once they were defrosted I realized that they were much more liquidity than I anticipated. I thought whole slices would have made the pizza soggy, so I cut them up into small bits.

Then, on one half of the pizza, I laid slices of the chicken Italian sausage, and on the other, julienned strips of salami. (This is the stage at which the photograph was taken.)

A sprinkling of cheese over the whole thing, baked for 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees and Voila! (Okay, that's French, but I don't know the equivalent expression in Italian.) Fresh pizza for dinner in less time than it would have taken for delivery and at far less expense.

It smelled so good when it came out of the oven, I forgot to take another photo! Marlo thought it was really good and preferred both sides of the pizza equally. I preferred the side with the Italian sausage as the salami didn't end up having as much flavor as I would have liked.

I actually wish I had bought two pizza dough packages because I have some leftover pizza sauce and cheese, and this seems to have triggered some sort of wild pizza craving. Maybe they put some addictive pizza chemical in the sauce?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Argentina

Yes, yes, sometimes I am just very lame. This week's My Kitchen My World foray is a good example. Theresa of I'm Running to Eat selected Argentina as the country of the week.

Now, all I know about Argentina can be summed up in a few sentences:

  • It is a South American Country.
  • My dad used to spend weeks at a time teaching there for Boeing.
  • A military Junta ruled the country and caused the "disappearances" of thousands of people. The Junta would come in the middle of the night driving green Ford Falcons, the sight of which still causes a jolt of fear in the hearts of Argentineans.
  • Nazi's escaped from Europe after WWII and sought refuge in Argentina.
  • Argentineans eat beef - lots of it.
I googled the Internet a bit searching for recipes. Meanwhile, I asked Dad to bring over some beef since I don't normally cook it at home unless it is in the form of Beef Burgundy, Pot Roast or Burgers. He dropped off some steaks.

Saturday, I made several loaves of no-knead bread, and a butternut squash & roasted onion galette (blog post coming soon). By the time evening came around, I was too beat to find an Argentinian recipe and make it. So, I ended up frying the steaks in a hot cast iron pan, served along side green beans, a slice of the galette and the fresh baked bread.

Considering these were the first steaks I have cooked in my own house, by myself, for at least 5 years, I'm considering the consumption of unadulterated cow my nod to Argentina.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Morocco

I made last week's My Kitchen My World recipe tonight - late because I have been sick since last Friday. I made Moroccan chicken as Morocco was the country selected by fellow Chef with Passport Judy.

This was a great recipe. I modified it only by cutting way back on the cayenne pepper from 1/4 teaspoon to a dash since I didn't want a repeat of my Curried Zucchini Soup over-hotness. Also, the recipe says to brown the chicken until nearly cooked, to simmer the mix after adding the tomatoes for 10 minutes and then for another 15 minutes after adding the zucchini. I added the tomatoes, chickpeas and zucchini at the same time and then cooked until the zucchini was done. The chicken was perfect and not overcooked, which I think would have happened had I followed the recipe exactly. Also, at the end I thickened the sauce up a little bit (very little) with cornstarch. I served it over couscous.

Marlo said, "It was good, fresh and colorful. The only thing I would suggest is to cut the ginger very fine or you'll be chewing little bits of it."

Monday, October 13, 2008

MKMW Update

I haven't gotten this week's My Kitchen, My World recipe done as I have been ill all weekend. This week is Morocco and I was supposed to make a Moroccan stew to take to an all-girls retreat at my friend Karol's family's lake house. Not only did I not get the stew done, I also missed the retreat.

As soon as I'm well and done feeling pathetically sorry for myself, I'll make the stew and post about it. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Ecuador

This week's trip around the culinary world from the My Kitchen My World blog was Ecuador, selected by Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. Mom sent me a bunch of links of recipes she found, but none of them appealed to me exactly. However, I noticed that some of the recipes featured quinoa. I was intrigued. Why? Because I've had a box of it in the pantry for a long time. I googled "Ecuador and Quinoa" and found a recipe for Ecuadorian Quinoa Soup in The Atlantic.

It doesn't sound appetizing to say, but the most appealing thing about this recipe was the number of ingredients it was going to use up from my fridge and pantry that needed to be used: Green onions, cabbage, 1/2 a yellow onion in a ziploc bag, the aforementioned quinoa, avocado and russet potatoes. I only had to borrow some cumin from my mom since I wasn't going to the store.

The recipe is simple (I'll let you get it from the Atlantic since it is copyrighted material):

I started by sauting the green and yellow onion with the cumin and paprika. I cheated a little where the receipe called for dried oregano and used Herbs de Provence since I had forgotten to borrow some from mom.

After the onions are soft, you add the quinoa, potatoes, cabbage and water and cook until done.

We topped ours with diced avocado, but you can also use cilantro or peanuts.

I shared this meal with my wonderful friend Theresa who came over to go shopping at Ikea, and Tristyn, a lady that I had hired to help me get my house cleaned and organized following the move. We needed to add more salt and pepper to the soup, but all of us found it very tasty.

Click here to see what the other Chefs with Passports have created.

(Because I'm up blogging at 2:30 a.m., I can tell you that next week's country is Morocco!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Super-Easy Flavorful & Healthy Dinner

Tonight, I made taco soup. Instead of using the standard recipe floating around the Internet, I made up my own so that I could use up a bunch of ingredients that I had in my freezer and pantry.

I had about a pound of leftover turkey taco meat in my freezer that I had previously browned and made using a commercial taco-seasoning mix. I popped that into a soup pot, added a large sized can (28 oz) of pinto beans, a normal size can (~14 oz) of diced tomatoes with jalepenos, and a can of whole kernel corn. I let it simmer while I finished baking the no-knead bread dough that I had mixed up yesterday night before going to bed.

Marlo came in while I was cooking and asked me if I'd make some roasted garlic to go on the bread to eat with the soup. I had exactly enough time to roast the garlic while my Le Creuset dutch oven was pre-heating for the bread and the bread was baking.

I can't believe how easy it is to roast garlic, and it was so good to eat! I cut off the tops of two heads of garlic, peeled away most of the paper skin around the heads, drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then wrapped them in a foil packet. These took about an hour because the garlic heads were extra large. We then pinched out the cloves and spread them on the no-knead bread just out of the oven. Nummy!

I garnished the soup with diced avocado and sour cream, but you could also use cilantro, salsa or shredded cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's official. The world is going to pot.

See if you can spot the grammatical error in this newspaper article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Robbers leave loot because getaway car to small
Last updated September 29, 2008 8:48 p.m. PT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Two armed robbers hijacked a security van with $1.3 million inside but were forced to abandon more than half the cash because their small getaway car could not carry it all, Malaysian police said Tuesday.

The robbers and their compact getaway car were still at large with $524,000 following Monday's heist near Kuala Lumpur, said district police chief Shakaruddin Che Mood.

The robbers stole a small car then held up guards in the security van at a shopping mall. One robber drove the van away and the other followed in the car, Shakaruddin said.

The van was recovered nearby with nine bags containing 2.7 million ringgit $786,000 inside - evidently because they did not fit in the compact car, the police chief said.

"The bags are quite big. I consider them quite stupid. Their planning was very shortsighted," Shakaruddin said.

The five security guards in the van have been detained for questioning. Police suspect the robbery may have been an inside job, Shakaruddin said.

"This thing was done in an easy manner," he said.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sweet 100

I thought I'd give this list that is circulating the blogosphere a try. I like sweets a lot so this is a list I can get into! This was originally on Cakespy.

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten--or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat. (I don't know how to cross out in a blog so I made them blue text.)
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava (Pluh-eeze, my mother is Egyptian. Of course, I've eaten Baklava. I've made Baklava.)
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut (They have these at a stall at the Pike Place Market near DeLaurentis. They are fantastic.)
12. Scone with clotted cream (At the Empress in Victoria for afternoon tea.)
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah (See note above re: Baklava, except I haven't actually made Halvah.)
15. Macarons (Given the spelling, I'm assuming these are the French almond cookies versus the American over-sweet coconut ball cookies.)
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
18. Dixie Cup (You mean this isn't a waxed paper cup one drinks out of? It is an actual food item?)
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream (When I was 15, a 10 year old I was babysitting made me one. His father was from Brooklyn originally.)
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte (I'm not marking this one off until I have this in Vienna.)
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Crème brûlée
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie (This is both bolded and blue text because I've had it, but won't again. Ick.)
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire's Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

I've had roughly 45 out of 100. I have to admit that many of these I've tried courtesy of Trader Joe's freezer section, but many others I've actually had at the source - like Tres Leches cake in Mexico and a Religeuse in France.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - India

This week was my first week participating in My Kitchen, My World. The blog's premise is to experience other cultures through food. I love the idea, as it reconciles nicely with my Unified Food Theory that one can tell how well a culture has been accepted within another by how accepted their cuisine has become, and that food may be a way to bring cultures closer in understanding.

Anyway, with My Kitchen, My World, each week one member selects a country. It is then up to each individual blogger to find a recipe from that country, make it and blog about it. This week's country was India. I made Curried Zucchini Soup and Tandoori Chicken.

I selected this particular Curried Zucchini Soup recipe because many of the others online were made with Zucchini as well as apples. I didn't quite get the idea of apples in my curried zucchini soup. Plus, I liked how this recipe, from Emeril, finished the soup with a little bit of cream, which would give it some body and a nice mouth feel.

It was a very easy recipe to make. First, you saute the onion in a soup pot until it is soft.

Then, you add the curry powder, salt and a dash of cayenne. This is where my first misstep was made. I added two shakes from the cayenne spice container. Note to self: two shakes must equal far more than a dash because the soup ended up very spicy.

Once the spices have cooked for about 30 seconds and become aromatic, you add the zucchini and cook until softened. Then, you add the chicken broth. I was lucky and used some homemade broth that my mother had sent over. The zucchini-curry-broth mixture then cooks for another 20 minutes until the zucchini is very done.

Then, you blend the soup using either a regular blender or an immersion blender. I used an immersion blender because that is all I have. It does a good enough job. You trade the velvety smoothness of a regular blender for ease of clean-up with an immersion blender. A quick rinse under the tap and you're done (unplug it first, of course).

The blended soup had this ugly olive hue, with a yellow overtone. Kind of like if you swathed an Army tank with yellow film. Once I added the cream though, it took on an appealing color.

Overall, the soup was decent, but way too spicy. I kept one two freezer containers and gave two more away. I just wasn't feeling the love enough to keep four freezer containers of this soup for myself and Marlo.

The tandoori chicken was likewise very easy to make. You just mix up the spices with the yogurt, leave the chicken to marinate, cook it and you're done.

I modified the recipe a bit because I couldn't find the little Ziploc of powdered mustard that my mother had sent home with me. So, I used prepared spicy brown mustard instead. I didn't have cardamon, so I omitted it. Instead of regular ground cumin, I had unground black cumin seeds in my cupboard. Of course, because I am still moving households, I am sans mortar and pestle. I tried grinding the seeds against one another between my palms and did a fair job.

After the chicken had marinated for about six hours, I removed it from the marinade. I had only marinated two boneless skinless chicken thighs. There was so much marinade remaining, and I hadn't reached the maximum 24 hours of marination time, so I added another package of chicken to the remaining marinade and put it back in the fridge. I'm glad I did because once I ate a piece of the cooked chicken, I realized that six hours wasn't near long enough time to have the flavors meld properly.

Anyway, the recipe calls for baking the chicken in a baking dish. However, my oven was being used to make nectarine crisp (separate blog post coming soon). So, I dredged the chicken in flour and fried it in my cast-iron pan. Unfortunately, my cast-iron pan and I are still having an alpha-dog fight about who is in charge. Crispy bits stuck to the pan in quite a few places. The chicken was far from ending up the nicely golden brown I imagined. When I cook up the remaining chicken I have marinating, I am going to use panko instead of flour. I also may try yelling at my cast-iron skillet since seasoning it well with vegetable oil isn't working. (I've found yelling sometimes works with my computer so I'm going to see if the same applies to kitchen pans.)

Anyway, I enjoyed my meal of curried zucchini soup and tandoori chicken well enough. I think both recipes are good and that it was my execution that was less than stellar.

I can't wait to see what next week's country is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Guest blogger and celebration of food and final terms

Hi. This is Karol Brown, writing as a guest blogger on Roxanne's Road Rules blog. I came to Roxanne's house to celebrate the first day of the last term of Roxanne's law school career. Hooray! We toasted with champagne, flavored with Creme de Cassis liquor.

One of the most irresistable temptations for me was that Roxanne agreed to cook for me. For those of you who know me, that in itself is enough to have me travel far outside my normal routes. Compared to the Lean Cuisine dinner that was waiting for me at home, the Chicken with Mushroom Sherry Sauce was a gourmet delight! Now, that is not a fair comparison but it has been some time since I had a home-cooked meal that involved more than four ingredients.

For those interested in trying this delicacy for yourself, below is the link to this recipe online:
Chicken with Mushroom Sherry Sauce

And for those of you keeping track, Roxanne now has 10 weeks of law school to go. She'll be done with her last round of finals by Christmas of 2008. She'll then have a short vacation to recuperate before diving into the bar review course. The bar exam is in late February, and (assuming all goes well) she'll be a full-fledged attorney by May 2009.

As Roxanne says (and we all echo), "Oh Thank God!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A mix of good and bad.

Good - I slept in until 10:45.

Bad - I was still tired.

Good - I made more No-Knead Bread for Dad.

Bad - the dough stuck to the towel during the second rise, despite the fact that I floured the heck out of it.

Good - It tasted great anyway, according to Mom who called me about 15 minutes after I dropped it off.

Bad - Jonathan didn't come to paint for the second day in a row and my house is half-painted, not moved into, and is making me crazy.

Good - I had a quiet day at home by myself since Marlo was at work.

Bad - School starts tomorrow.

Good - I only have ten weeks more of school to go.

Bad - I only lost one pound this week.

Good - I'm still 3 lbs ahead of schedule.

All in all, it wasn't too bad today. I made a vegetable frittata again today for lunch. This time, only a tiny bit along the edge stayed in the pan when I turned it over onto the serving dish. I think my cast iron pan is becoming better seasoned. Maybe next time, the frittata will drop out like a dream. Tasted good anyway.

When Marlo came home from work, we had soft tacos made with ground turkey and whole wheat tortillas. Over the summer, she developed a liking for avocados and sour cream - both foods she wouldn't touch before. So, we were able to include those. However, Marlo still won't touch raw tomatoes. I had an heirloom tomato I tried to get her to taste, but she refused. However, I'm taking the avocado & sour cream shift as a sign of hope.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

As it should be.

I had great success in my kitchen today.

I began the day mixing up some cinnamon streusel quick bread, so Marlo could take it to the neighbors to make up for the party that she threw the weekend before I came home from Oklahoma. I admit it - this was from a mix so it was pretty hard to mess up.

Yesterday, I mixed up the dough for No-Knead Bread. Today, I finished the last few steps and baked it. (See The Steamy Kitchen blog for pictures and directions so easy a child could execute them.) I used my new Le Creuset red 5 quart dutch oven and it worked like a dream!

About the same time I was baking the bread, Dad came over to put up a new kitchen light fixture that I bought last week at Lowes. (The old one barely put out more light than a child's night-light.) Anyway, I took the bread out of the oven while he was still standing on the step ladder fighting with the light. It was wonderfully crusty and light and smelled like heaven. I cut him a chunk of the bread to take home for he and Mom to eat at dinner. About an hour and a half later, I got a call from Mom to tell me that the bread was really good and that Dad wanted me to make them a whole loaf if it wasn't too much trouble.

No trouble at all! This bread is seriously easy so long as you can just let it sit and rise for 12-20 hours. Since tomorrow is Sunday, that works for me. I've already got Dad's batch mixed up and rising.

I'm frustrated though that I cannot find my camera battery charger after the move upstairs. I wish I could right now!. I also made an Italian Plum Clafouti. This picture isn't mine - I borrowed it from the web - but mine turned out just as beautiful!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm chasing chickens, she says.

Painting is coming along like a breeze. Jonathan is Mr. Speedy, which is good on one hand. However, with speed comes a certain amount of imprecision, which is bad. But, he's never professed to be a professional painter and I'm on a tight budget (the unemployed law student budget) so I'm happy anyway. All of the ceilings are done, and the final coat of paint in the bathroom. Tomorrow, he'll knock out the final coat of paint in the kitchen, my bedroom and probably most of the living room. Makes me happy as a clam!

After I drove Jonathan home, I returned to the house and decided to try my hand at No-Knead Bread. The recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast. I had to call Jamie to ask her about the multiple packages of different yeast she left in my freezer when she moved. I called. She said, "Hurry up, I can't talk. I'm chasing chickens." Yet again another sentence from my twin that I am absolutely positive I will never, ever speak.

Anyway, the trick to no-knead bread is that time replaces kneading. So, I'm letting the dough rise 12-18 hours and will bake the loaf tomorrow afternoon. I have high hopes for this recipe, but will report in and let you know how it turns out. I have my butter knife at the ready.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another list of 100 - Books to Read in a Lifetime

Another list of 100 (this time books to read in a lifetime) from Ashley at The HamiHarri Update:

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Put an asterisk next to those you started but didn't finish.
3) Italicize those you intend to read (or have started and intend to finish).
4) Red the books you LOVE
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte *
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible *
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte *
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy *
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller *
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare *
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (in English and in French.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (Isn't this a duplicate of #33?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres * (loved the movie, not the book)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold *
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas * (In French)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker *
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett *
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert *
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In English and in French)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas * (In French)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

It seems to be working.

In yesterday's New York Times, there was an article that discussed a new trend among dieters that focuses more on what to eat, rather than what to avoid. This seems to be working well for me. I'm not avoiding anything, but rather focusing on eating a variety of foods with lots of vegetables. If I want cake, I eat it. However, I eat a little bit and not typically two days in a row.

Yesterday was another busy day. Marlo's school starts late on Wednesdays so I made her breakfast - scrambled eggs with cream cheese, bacon, and brioche. It was nice for her to eat a good breakfast before school instead of a cereal bar or instant oatmeal. Then, I hired a friend of a friend to come and paint the new apartment. He's pretty fast and fairly neat so that seems to be going well. He just may have the whole place done by the end of this weekend before school starts. Yay! The only bad thing is the massive headache induced by paint fumes (and thus, the blogging at 3:00 a.m.).

While Jonathan painted, I tried to focus on cleaning the apartments. Let me just say that I love the smell of Pine Sol. :) Dad came later in the afternoon and he and Jonathan switched the refrigerators between the apartments. The one I had them bring upstairs is one I own, and is much nicer with glass shelves, etc. than the one that Jamie left here.

Marlo got home from work today around 8:15 p.m. so I wanted to have dinner ready for her. I made a zucchini and potato frittata. It tasted fantastic, but wasn't so pretty. When I went to turn it out of the pan onto the serving platter, the bottom didn't drop out. I was using my cast-iron pan, but I don't think I had it properly seasoned before starting. Oops.

Then, because dinner was so healthy, we had a little strawberry layer cake from Trader Joe's. Num. I hope to begin baking, but in the meantime, Trader Joe's desserts are lovely and not too expensive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It doesn't bode well.

I had a busy day today. It was the first day that the Center for Human Rights and Justice's bookstore was open so the incoming 1L class can buy their books. Then, I had a hair appointment at Marlo's new work. They both went well. All I had for breakfast was 1 1/2 slices of brioche with creamed honey, and I was too busy for lunch. So, by the time I got home today at 5:30, I was really very hungry.

For dinner, we boiled some pasta and dumped a few Trader Joe's turkey meatballs into canned pasta sauce. While that was cooking, we had some ceasar salad. It was a decent dinner, but not anywhere close to being as good as the meals I made in the past few days.

I'm really hoping that it is not a sign of how things are going to go once classes start up again.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here's a list that is making its way around the blogisphere, along with a vegetarian version.

Here’s what you do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at Roxanne's Road Rules linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (I haven't eaten actual steak tartare, but steak hache in France is raw in the middle and seared on the outside. I feel like I should get participation points at least.)
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (I believe that black pudding is the blood sausages that Pierre ate last summer when I was in France. I should have asked him for a bite.)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Mrs. Larson down the street used to make dandilion wine. Too bad I was only nine years old or I could have tried it.)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (Almost makes me want to go back to Italy - now!)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (I had these for the first time this summer. I don't think I'll ever go back to regular tomatoes again. I'm actually hoping that these will get Marlo over her life-long aversion to tomatoes.)
22. Fresh wild berries (We used to pick huckleberries in Montana, in case the blackberries that grow rampant around my property and all the roads in Western Washington don't count.)
23. Foie gras (I had the real thing. A homemade fois gras from a lady who lives in the southwest of France.)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (My mother is Egyptian. We have Baklava at our American Thanksgiving dinner often.)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

On this list, I am: (1) surprised by the number of things I've eaten (approximately 45%); and (2) surprised that there are lot of things I consider to be "normal" on this list - until I consider the eating habits of middle America, exemplified by my sister Shawna who lives in Tulsa - which makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in Seattle which is so culturally diverse.

Pictures Pending

I can't find my camera's battery charger in my move. Once I do, I'll start taking pictures of the things I'm cooking and some of the steps along the way in the recipes. I've noticed that I enjoy reading other food bloggers' posts much more when they use pictures.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Healthy Comfort Food

Marlo woke up with a head cold this morning. Of course, I thought, "I need to make soup." So, before I even jumped in the shower, I threw my hair in a ponytail and ran up to the grocery store to buy some dry Great Northern Beans. I threw them in my slow cooker with 8 cups of water, a diced medium onion, diced carrot and diced celery. I then minced two cloves of garlic and added two ham hocks that Jamie left in the freezer when she moved.

I then went about my day and when I came home this afternoon, the bean soup was cooked and ready. In fact, when my dad and I pulled into the driveway at the same time, so when Dad came in, he sat down and had a bowl of soup. Again, like yesterday and the Italian sandwich, that says a lot because he normally doesn't eat lunch.

The bean soup was really good, but needed salt and pepper of course. I also threw in a few sprigs of thyme for flavor. Marlo said that when I make it next, it'd be nice to have carrot slices cooked with the beans so that you're eating more than just beans and ham. I'll try that on the next batch.

Because the bean soup is healthy, I decided we had room for a little dessert, but still wanted to stay fairly healthy. Therefore, while I was at the grocery store I picked up the fixings for apple crisp. The store had these new Gingergold apples, which are a cross between Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. I cut up the apples, peeled and cored them. Then, I mixed them with a little sugar and pumpkin pie spice (I was going to use cinnamon and nutmeg, but couldn't find my little grater for the nutmeg due to the move). I mixed one cup of rolled oats with one cup of flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and some cinnamon. I cut in about 4 tablespoons of cold butter and topped the apples with the mixture. It baked at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. When I checked it, the topping was still very dry and floury. I think that is probably due to the low moisture content of these apples, which held their shape very well. So, I melted a little more butter and drizzled it on top and cooked it for another 15 minutes to brown it.

When I ate the apple crisp, my first thought was, "This needs more sugar." However, as I ate a few more bites the complexity of the flavor really came through and I found that it was sweet enough. I do need to find my nutmeg grinder, though.

On a side note, I sent some of yesterday's Beef Burgundy home with Dad. He called this evening to tell me that he and mom had added another cup of wine, some more carrots and potatoes and then cooked it for another hour until the veggies were done. He said it was very tasty.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beef Bourguignon

Today is my first day home from Tulsa, which I am very happy about. It is good to be home.

First a quick update about my eating plan progress. When I weighed this morning, on a different scale becuase I'm home, but one I know is accurate because it matches my doctor's office scale, I was down another 4 lbs, with jeans on. This means that I am two pounds ahead of schedule overall and on-track to get to the weight I want by my birthday in December.

I am in the process of moving from my little apartment to a larger apartment, which will give Marlo and I more space and the ability to co-exist more peacefully (I hope). I have a week before school starts up again - for my last quarter of law school - so I started today out at 5:30 a.m., already hitting the ground running and trying to get everything done before then.

I drove Marlo to work this morning at 8:00, then spent a hour with my parents before heading to Trader Joe's for grocery shopping to restock the house. I think if I am ever looking at moving anywhere, the deciding factor will be whether there is a Trader Joe's close by. Not only do I like shopping there - the fact that they cater to a particular type of clientele is probably a good indicator of whether I will like the place. Obviously, Tulsa doens't have a Trader Joe's.

I got back home around 11:30 and began cleaning. Once Marlo got home from work with my dad at 1:30, I made lunch, which was my take on Subway's Italian BMT (but way better). I made it with Rosemary Diamante bread, with avocado mashed onto one slice and a French mustard called Savora on the other. (You can't buy Savora anywhere in the states - I brought two jars back with me from France last year and am hoping the second jar lasts until next Spring when I return. It is very good - Marlo absolutely loves it too.) Then, on the sandwich we added Genoa salami, Sopresetta, and Mortadella, along with red, yellow and orange peppers, thinly sliced red onion, shredded basil and tomato for me and jalepenos for Marlo. Topped with very thin slices of Asiago cheese. It was great. Even my dad who started out my telling me, "No, I'm not hungry enough for lunch," saw Marlo's sandwich and said, "Gimme a slice of that." :)

Then, after lunch I began cooking tonight's dinner, which was Beef Burgundy, made in my new red Le Creuset pot. (I'll update the post with pictures from Marlo's camera tomorrow.)

First, I browned and allowed the fat to render from 4 oz. of thick-sliced, diced bacon. I removed the bacon with a slotted spoon. I had salted and peppered one-inch chunks of chuck steak and then dreged them in flour. I browned the meat in the bacon fat in the dutch oven on the stovetop in small batches. Once the meat was browned, I sauted until translucent one medium onion, one carrot and one stalk of celery (mirrepoix) all diced. After that, I added two cups of burgundy wine and deglazed the pan. After that, I added three cups of beef stock, tarragon, chopped garlic, salt and pepper, a bay leaf. I returned the meat to the pot and brought it to to a boil. Then, I put the lid on the pot and put it in to a 350 degree oven. After an hour, I added halfed red potatos and chunks of carrots. An hour after that, I tested the meat to make sure it was tender and then added a bunch (sorry - didn't measure) of small white button mushrooms. I let it cook for another 1/2 hour. In a separate bowl, I mixed two tablespoons of butter with three tablespoons of flour. I then spooned some of the juice from the pot into the bowl and mixed until smooth, adding additional liquid as necessary. I mized the flour mixture back into the full pot and brought to a simmer for 10 minutes. I served it with sliced baguette.

Oh my gosh - it was INSANELY GOOD. I don't think I have ever made anything this good in my entire life. Marlo loved it. I have some leftovers in my fridge for Dad to take back to Mom tommorrow since they are the ones who gave me the meat for the dish in the first place. Next time though, I am freezing the leftovers for sure so I can take them to school on a cold fall or winter day.

Nummy, nummy, nummy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A quick update: the good, the bad, and the not so bad.

I last posted on Sunday, when I was happy to report that I had lost anywhere from 2.5 to 4 lbs the previous week, allowing for scale variations.

Since that time, I have kept going with my eating plan for the most part.

On Monday, I had:


Fiber One & a small banana with milk


Tomato & basil with olive oil & balsamic vinagrette
Homemade Italian sausage
1/2 cup pasta


My sister, Shawna, and I tried a new restaurant here in Tulsa called D'Novo Lean Gourmet at 61st & Yale. The great thing about this restaurant is that nothing on the menu is more than 500 calories, and their entire premise is that it is fantastic tasting, yet healthy, food. I liked it.

We shared:

Steamed chicken potstickers. They were good, but personally, I'd skip this in the future. It was $6.95 for three potstickers. Good nutrition, bad price. It would be more reasonably priced at $3.95.

Green salad with pears and pecans, very lightly dressed. It was good because the dressing didn't overpower the salad, which so often happens.

Salmon with wild rice and asparagus. The salmon was perfectly cooked, just slightly underdone and very moist. Wild rice is actually a grass, not a grain, and has a lot of fiber and not a lot of carbs. Very tasty. The asparagus were small, shriveled and not very well cooked, although Shawna liked them.

Rock shrimp and avocado flatbread. This was the best part of the meal. It was a very thin crust - thinner and crispier than a thin pizza crust, topped with some kind of pesto, rock shrimp, fresh mozzarella (very little) and fresh avocado. I loved this and would order it over and over again.

Overall, the portions were very reasonably sized. Enough to not be hungry, but not really enough for leftovers either. I'm not complaining though - I liked it that I was in a restaurant and didn't have to be on guard the whole time for overdoing it or having to cut my meal in two and ask for a to-go box when dinner was brought to the table.

Then, Shawna and I went to see a movie. She had called me in the afternoon and I tried to talk her into going to see a French film at Tulsa's independent theater, the Circle Theater. However, the idea of reading subtitles didn't appeal to Shawna. So, I picked another movie, based on the actors. I haven't watched much TV for about six months now so I don't see previews. I picked Mamma Mia! with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. Note to self: When Fandango says, "Based on the musical," the movie, too, probably is a musical. Ugh, fun story, but I really don't like musicals and neither did Shawna. This movie was like an ABBA nightmare where every three seconds in the movie, some character was bursting out and singing an ABBA tune. This was worth missing, although my friend, Rina, really loved it. I don't know why.  (2010 update - I now love watching Mamma Mia.  Somewhere along the way, I started enjoying it a lot.  I think that the reason for my initial dislike may have been (1) I wasn't prepared for a musical; (2) Meryl Streep can't sing; and (3) Meryl Streep was in desperate need of hair mousse during the entire movie.)

On Tuesday, I ate:


Greek yogurt & honey

By the time lunch came around, I was very hungry and had:

Roasted cauliflower soup, which I made this past Sunday
Shredded carrot salad, with olive oil & balsamic vinager
Roast chicken breast
Green beans

Then, midway through the afternoon, I shared a Three Musketeers bar (130 calories for each of us) with the Bailiff. I also snacked on some almonds and pistachios during other parts of the day. I don't know why I was snacking, but I just felt hungry. I did try to keep the snacking to a minimum and probably only ate an ounce of nuts.

For dinner:

Zucchini soup, also made on Sunday (this was just a taste that was left in a small container)
Leftover low sodium ham and feta cheese
Roasted pork loin
Roasted cauliflower
Three tea cookies

Today, I ate:


Fiber One & a peach with milk


Zucchini soup
1/2 homeade lamb sausage. This reconfirmed my belief that I only very rarely like lamb, and usually require mint sauce or something with it.
Spinach souffle. This was Stouffers, although when I get home I am going to try my hand at making souffles. Supposedly they are easy to make, so long as you eat them right away before they fall.
Small slice baguette & brie

I worked all day and am not feeling very well. The left side of my throat and my left ear hurt. So, today for dinner I had chicken soup, with a kaiser roll and butter.

I've now taken two Nyquil geltabs and am heading for bed early. I've got too much work to do between my two jobs in my last ten days in Tulsa (hooray!) to be able to miss any time.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Like a busy little bee

Yesterday morning, I wasn't able to get on the scale until I had drunk several cups of coffee, eaten breakfast and was dressed. So, I decided to weigh in this morning instead. Depending on which number you go with, I have lost between 2-1/2 and 4 lbs this past week. No matter how you look at it, I'm ahead of target. Of course, my target is an average of 8 lbs every 4 weeks, so I'm not re-adjusting the end goal unless I consistently stay ahead of target for several weeks.

A quick recap of yesterday's food diary - as you know, Friday's dinner was a bit on the high-fat side, so I tried to compensate (according to the French principles) by eating a bit lighter yesterday:


Greek yogurt & honey
Honeydew melon
1 slice sprouted wheat toast


Tomato, cucumber & tuna lemony-salad


Cold corn soup
Roast chicken
Brussels sprouts
Ginger carrots
3 tea cookies

Today's menu is:


1/2 croissant
1 scrambled egg with a little cream cheese
Sliced tomato (locally grown - very good)

My original lunch plans were:

Sliced cucumber with a little hummus and a few olives
Turkey burger w/ tomato (no bun)
Small slice baguette with feta cheese
Fruit (not sure what - I have some grapes and peaches)

However, I found some leftover low-sodium ham that needed to be used up (while the turkey burgers are frozen and aren't going to go bad). So, I ended up having:

Blanched green beans
Small slice baguette and feta

I wasn't hungry enough for an entree or fruit - probably due to all the tasting that occurs while one is cooking (see below).


Cold zucchini soup (see below)
Roast pork loin
Roasted cauliflower (see below)

Today, I am spending some time cooking things for this coming week.

First thing I did this morning was put the carcass from my roast chicken into a stock pot to make some chicken stock. This is still simmering as I write this. It smells heavenly. As soon as it is done, I will strain it, put it into the fridge and then skim any fat off of it.

Also, right now in the oven, I have cauliflower roasting. When it and the chicken broth is done, I am going to use half of it to make roast cauliflower soup, which unlike the other soups I have been making, is served warm.

The other thing I am going to use the chicken broth for is to make a cold zucchini-basil soup.

The final thing on today's menu for cooking is to make some more of the lemony-potato salad that I made last week, which is a few yellow potatoes boiled and then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, green onion and Italian flat-leaf parsley.

So far, I haven't burned Renee's kitchen down (crossing fingers here). And, the food has turned out really good. I just wish that Marlo were here to witness it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another day of feeling desperately homesick

Just thought I'd warn you with the title that this is not likely to be a cheerful post. I really just want to go home. If it wouldn't prevent me from graduating from law school in December, something I actually hate more than Tulsa, Oklahoma, I'd pack up right now and get on a plane. As it is, though, I'm sticking it out.

Today's food diary is:


Vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. It was grainy and didn't taste very good. I prefer plain Greek yogurt to which I add a drizzle of honey on top.

Lunch (this was almost entirely comprised of little bits of leftovers):

Leftover shredded carrot salad (shredded carrots, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper)
Leftover homemade sausage half
Leftover ham, pasta & peas from dinner the night before (a few mouthfuls of each)
3 Asparagus spears


Pea, prosciutto & pasta salad - about 1/2 cup
Spinach & bacon quiche
Blanched green beans
1/4 cup ice cream with 2 tea cookies crumbled in

I got everything except the dessert from the deli that is attached to the Stonehorse Cafe here in Tulsa - one of the only good things about this city. Really great, restaurant quality food at not crazy prices. No bargain, mind you, but much better than eating out. For example, everything I got for dinner was a little over $7. More expensive than home cooking, but I am the only person eating and it seems crazy to make an entire quiche just to have it go bad in the fridge.

Anyway, for some reason their blanched green beans are always much better than the ones I make at home. It didn't make sense to me since blanching veggies isn't exactly rocket science. I talked to the nice girl at the deli, Emily, who told me to salt the water "like the ocean," salty, but not offensively so. Boil the green beans for 6-8 minutes and then shock them in ice water when done. That's the step I've been missing. So, now I'm ready to try it again. The green beans end up cooked, but still firm, not crispy yet still green. Nummy and very good for you.

Tomorrow morning is the one-week weigh in and like I said yesterday, I am feeling very optomistic. I felt like slacking off on drinking water today, but picked it up when I remembered that tomorrow is the day I get on the scale. So, I'm slugging down as much as I can stand - I'm still probably running "a quart low," as my dad would say.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tonight's Check In

I've had a long day working and am feeling very homesick. I miss my own house, my own space, my friends and my cat. I want to go home. However, I have two weeks left here in Oklahoma so I just have to keep moving forward. I really do love working for the judge and I do think that experience makes this all worthwhile. I'm just ready for it to be over. 3 months is a long time to be away from home.

Anyway, today's food log is:


Fiber One cereal with milk and a cut-up peach


Chilled corn soup with baby shrimp
Asparagus spears with balsamic vinagrette
Roast chicken breast
1 small slice of baguette and some brie


Shredded carrots with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Low salt ham
3 tea cookies

I'm doing really well and am looking forward to my weigh in on Saturday. I feel like I'll be right on track. I do need to increase my activity level a lot and continue to drink lots of water. However, for right now in the situation I am in, I am pleased.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping 'round the world made easy.

Last year when I was in Amsterdam, my friend Frank took me all around and made my stay fantastic. As a thank you, before I left, I got him a season of Seinfeld on DVD. Of course, I needed to make sure that the DVDs were European-compatible, and I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for shipping. So, I got the CD from Amazon's UK website.

This week, one of my French sisters, Pascale, sent me her first-ever email (I am so proud to be the premiere recipient) and told me that they were going to have a party in October to celebrate my French parents, Jacqueline & Pierre's 50th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, I cannot go to the party, but I wanted to send a gift. Pascale said I could send something to her house and she'd wrap it and take it to the party with her. So, I went shopping at Amazon's French website and bought a great Emile Henry teapot (theiere, en francais), with free shipping due to the price of the item.

Considering that last year the postal service did away with surface mail shipping, buying from Amazon's European sites (they also have one for Germany) is a great bargain. In fact, if you cannot navigate the language for the foreign sites, the UK site still ships to continental Europe for great rates.

Something good about law school (at last!)

When one becomes a law student, one instantly becomes a "market" for various producers - study aids, textbooks, computers, etc. Of course, one also gets caught up in the war between Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Personally, I prefer LexisNexis for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that LexisNexis isn't stingy with handing out points for using their program, and the points are redeemable for great stuff. (Personally, last I looked I could get a mug from Westlaw with my points so long as I'm okay with the mug being imprinted with the Westlaw logo. I'm not so my points sit unused while I take my business to LexisNexis.)

By the end of last school year, I had over 10,000 LexisNexis points. So, a couple of days ago, I went shopping in the "redeem points" section of their website. I'm not certain, but I am pretty sure they are hooked up with Amazon so one can buy just about anything. First, I looked at blenders, but my sister Jamie told me that she has one I can have. Then I looked at bread machines, but Jamie informed me that she got hers for $5 from the Goodwill and that people were always dumping off bread machines after realizing that they just gathered dust.

I ended up buying a red Le Creuset dutch oven, which retails for over $200. Personally, I don't think I'd ever plunk down $200 for a pot, but I have wanted one of these for nearly two decades. So, I decided to go ahead and use my points to get myself one. After the hell that is law school, I think I deserve it. Plus, the pot is a great fiery-hell red. Appropriate, I think.