30 September 2007

Pork with Honey-Garlic Sauce, Cucumber-Tomato Salad and Cabbage Rolls

I bought the laziest thing the other day - a microwave pork loin. (You can cook it in the oven as well, but apparently they tend to toughen up in the oven.) It was $8.50, and I had a $5 coupon, so I figured that even if it wasn't that great, for $3.50, it'd be good enough. It was actually pretty tasty. Tender and flavourful (though a tiny bit cold, I should have cut it sooner after taking it out of the microwave).

My sister made the cabbage rolls. They're stuffed with ground pork and beef, rice, and a whole lot of garlic. I haven't had cabbage rolls in a while, so that was nice to have.

26 September 2007

I didn't cook this either

This is another dish that my sister made, which I had a few bites of yesterday. She doesn't like to cook, and doesn't think she can cook, but she's been trying to cook, and I've been helping her a little here and there. (If my schedule were more stable at work, I'd cook for the three of us living here in exchange for her always doing the dishes. It's a trade-off we could both live with, but I like to eat weirder things than she and her husband do, sometimes, so I don't know that it'd work out so well for her husband.)

Anyway, this is a pretty basic stir-fry, but it's so beautiful and bright. I love the mix of colours and looking at it makes me wish I were eating it (even though I only ate a little while ago and am still full).

Sesame Sole with Sautéed Green Beans and Wild Rice

This is the first time I've cooked fish. I mean, fish that didn't come out of a can or a box. At least I think it's the first time... Anyway, I've never had sole before, so I was worried that it would have a strong taste, but it really just tasted like sesame. Sesame oil and sesame seeds.

I was worried about either over or under-cooking it, but I think it came out just right, by some miracle of lucky timing. (I tend to overcook meats because I worry too much about them being raw.)

I did a tiny bit over-cook the beans - you can see scorch marks - but they were so so so so tasty. I love fresh green beans, just steamed and then sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes. Spicy and a little crunchy and better than practically anything.

Another first: wild rice on it's own. Usually I only eat wild rice in blends, but decided to give it a go. I didn't like the smell while it was cooking, but I love the texture and taste of wild rice, so I was happy with it.

24 September 2007

Orange Chicken with Steamed Kasha and Sautéed Escarole

This dinner came out a little bit hit and miss - I really enjoyed the chicken, found the buckwheat passable but not fantastic, and despised the escarole.

So, from the left. Buckwheat is an odd sort of grain, or at least it's odd to someone like me who'd never had it before. I'm not sure if I overcooked it a bit, but it sort of reminded me of a slightly mushier cooked barley (which I love, but nearly never eat, and can't anyway for the next little while). I've also made buckwheat as a hot breakfast, with cinnamon and banana and I really prefer it that way, so I think part of my reaction was disappointment that it wasn't as good as it was at breakfast. It was a passable side dish, though. Just boring.

The chicken was very nice tasting, though surprisingly sweet. It was made with a lot of chicken broth (Campbell's Organic, which I found on sale for the first time ever, and found to taste much more like a homemade broth than their regular broth), orange juice, orange zest, Dijon mustard (the crunchy kind) and figs. I was meant to use fresh figs, but couldn't find any at the market this week, so I bought and used dried instead. I suppose the sweetness came from the fig, which I'd never had before (except in a fig newton). Anyway, I'll be eating that again for dinner tomorrow, which is fine by me because it really does taste quite good.

The escarole, on the other hand... not so good tasting. I've never had escarole before, so I didn't really know what to expect. It was much more bitter than I like. (I can't imagine what I'd think of the more bitter varieties of endive, if escarole is not so bad as Belgian and curly endive.) I sautéed it with a bit of garlic and... ugh. I'll be throwing away the rest of the head of that stuff and eating some sautéed spinach tomorrow instead.

23 September 2007

WIP: Sunlight and Shadows

These are the first 16 blocks (of an intended 56) for my Sunlight and Shadows quilt.

I mentioned in my first entry (and in the following ones) that I'm a member of a group on Livejournal where were exchange quilt blocks on each member's birthday, and this is the quilt that I'll be putting together with the blocks I'm receiving. So far, of the 15 blocks I should receive, I've gotten 8 blocks, and I've made most of the rest. (Two of them are blocks I got through a fabric/block exchange.)

I really love seeing progress pictures like this because I can see the quilt taking shape and how beautifully it's going to come together. I'm not very good at putting together colours (I worry too much about having things work perfectly, so scrappy is really hard for me to do) so seeing something like this is so reassuring. It looks fantastic now, how much better will it look with another 40 blocks? (I better get sewing - I have to make 30+ of those 40 blocks!)

Probably this quilt will be taking up most of my sewing time for the next while, but I'm not going to post individual pictures of the blocks as I make them, I'll just update whenever I've got another clump of them made.

22 September 2007

Tarragon Chicken Salad with Pears and Pignoli

I took this to work for lunch yesterday, which worked out much better than I thought it might, except that the pears got a little brown around the edges after waiting the few hours till my lunch break. I didn't take a picture yesterday though because I wanted to make it as pretty as I could for a photo (and I knew I'd be having it again today).

I'm not a really big fan of tarragon in general, but it complemented the pears and pine nuts perfectly, so I'm really glad I tried it in spite of my reservations. This is definitely something I can see myself making a regular lunch staple.

20 September 2007

I didn't cook it.

My sister did cook it, though. And it's so pretty that I almost wish I had made it - I'd be happy to claim that as mine, with the vibrant orange and green of the carrots and spinach.

It was my sister's first time cooking scallops, and it was my first time tasting one. (I didn't eat any of the pasta or vegetables, just one single butter-drenched scallop.) I don't think I've got the palate for seafood, since it pretty much just tasted like calamari to me. Something vaguely ocean-y. A very different texture than calamari, but more or less the same taste.

The smell keeps assaulting me every time I go into the hallway. But it sure did look pretty.

Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Cauliflower

This is what I had for dinner last night, for day one of my detox. And then I had it again tonight, though I didn't take a photo this time. (I actually had only leftovers today - Amaranth for breakfast, Bean Salad for lunch, and Chicken for dinner.)

This was a pretty good meal. Good enough that I'll make it again, I think, though I do think it could have stood a lot more spice. There were no spicy additions to the recipe - you use garam masala, but no other spices. I think next time I'll build it up a bit more like a curry to give some more flavour to the dish.

I think I'll also add a touch of turmeric as well, because there's no sense in being such a muted, dirty looking shade of yellow when it could be bright and vibrantly yellow. (I apparently love yellow food. I'm sure there are a few yellow things in the backlog of this blog where I've probably mentioned whether or not I was pleased by the shade of yellow that I acquired.)

I forgot to put cashews on this when I first made it, which is a bit of a disappointment, since I'm such a fan of cashews. I did remember today though, so that was a tasty addition (if an unnecessary one).

I once again used Eden organic brand beans and was once again really pleased by the quality and taste of the product. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to regular canned beans/chickpeas. The chickpeas are so much nicer in texture than any other brand I've tried and they haven't had their taste dulled by too much sodium and/or preservatives or whatever is put into regular canned beans.

White Bean Salad

This is just kind of your average white bean salad. It was very nice tasting, but I do think it could have used some more herbs in the dressing. (I ground a lot of pepper over it, which helped, but more herbs would not go amiss.) It was also far too much food for lunch, but it was tasty.

Tasty enough that I'm having it again for lunch tomorrow. (And also, I didn't want to throw out half a can of beans just because I don't have a use for the rest of the can at the moment.) I am hoping that some of the garlic flavour and the parsley will get a bit stronger tasting while sitting overnight.

The beans that I used today were an organic brand, Eden organic navy beans, which I really only bought because they were in a conveniently smaller can than average. They were probably the nicest tasting beans I've ever had from a can - they're made without added salt and didn't have that processed taste (or that nasty paste you usually have to rinse off canned beans). Very highly recommended, and in spite of the slightly higher cost, I do think I'm going to keep buying them.

Apple-Walnut Amaranth

Today I started doing a week long detox program that eliminates food allergens like gluten and eggs and dairy and so on. And this was my first breakfast. (Oh how I shall miss my Fibre One/Cheerios with milk each morning...)

It looks kind of gross - very bland colour and the texture doesn't really look that great either - but it was quite tasty, and very filling. This cooked up quite a bit like rice, though it doesn't absorb quite so much liquid. It reminded me a bit of oatmeal, but I suppose that's only because it's the nearest comparison that the average North American can probably make. How often do we eat cooked grains other than oatmeal?

I cooked this with chopped apple (and cinnamon), but I think when I make this again, I'll stir in fresh apple after it is cooked - I think I'd prefer to have a crunch of apple rather than the soft bits of apple you get from cooking it.

19 September 2007

Autumn theme gift block

This block is another that I made for a member of a Livejournal community that I'm a member of, Birthday Blocks. There are 16 members and we make one block, to request, for each member for her birthday. (You can read about my requested blocks here, but I'll also be updating every time I get a few more blocks together for the quilt.)

The request for this block - which is late! eep! - was for something autumn (but not Hallowe'en) themed. I did a Maple Leaf block for a previous request and didn't want to repeat myself, so I thought this block would look nice with a leaf print.

I'm not completely happy with the way it came out - hindsight being 20/20 and all that - because the gold blends too much with the leaf print, but on the whole I like it much more than I thought I would. I've never been a particular fan of themed fabrics, so I was expecting to hate whatever I came up with. (I really, really do wish I'd reversed the green and gold fabrics, though. Or used a darker brown in place of the gold...)

16 September 2007

Yellow Watermelon

I was sitting in the living room watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares when my sister screeched at me to come to the kitchen and wanted me to look at the "I thought it was a watermelon!" on the counter.

Yes, darlin', it is in fact watermelon. Just... yellow watermelon. (I had to look it up on Wikipedia just to prove it wasn't some strange fruit they'd bought by mistake.)

It smells and tastes pretty much the same as any regular watermelon. In terms of sweetness, it reminds me a lot of Dulcinea watermelon, just... yellow.

15 September 2007

Garlic Chicken with Sautéed Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Toasts

This was really good, though the chicken got a little dry and the larger cloves of garlic didn't really get quite roasted enough. (And I wish I'd had something other than whole wheat bread - a bit of baguette or something would have been nicer for the roasted garlic).

Anyway, I could eat broccoli cooked like that every day and never get tired of it. (Maybe.)

12 September 2007

Cat Block - Designed after Laurel Burch

This block is one that I made today for a member of a group on Livejournal that I'm part of - Birthday Blocks. The request for this block was for a cat block - something I had absolutely no experience in making and no real desire to make, alas. (I'm not a big fan of animal blocks or fabrics.) The recipient had no requests for fabrics or colours, but did mention that she really likes Laurel Burch cat fabrics.

A friend was kind enough to send me a fat quarter of LB fabric, and I designed this paper-pieced block to be as similar as possible to the Laurel Burch style. (Not quite so much the cats in this fabric, as the cats in this one.) There are a few things I'd change, if it weren't so much of a hassle to do - like adding a black bit at the bottom of the nose to differentiate between the nose and the body, and also adding a slump to the shoulder, so that it wouldn't be quite so square. And probably I should have used a darker colour for the eyes.

(I think the recipient could add some stitched whiskers with gold embroidery thread, though, if she wanted, and that would help out with the nose thing.)

Anyway, I can't say I really *like* this block, but I'm actually pretty impressed with myself over it. For a first attempt at pattern design, I think it came out pretty good. (Even though I did forget to reverse my pattern, and thus got a cat sitting in the opposite direction of what I'd intended. At least it didn't involve anything where the direction would matter, like a word.)

Florentine Meatballs with Marinara

More tasty goodness. Turkey meatballs with spinach and a marinara sauce (from a can) on noodles.

So very, very good. This is a variation on a recipe by Rachael Ray, just done a little more low-calorie (and a much smaller portion size - her portions are absolutely massive).

Fried Eggs with the Blood of the Innocent (on an English Muffin)

Fried eggs and ham with ketchup. On a whole wheat English muffin.

Lazy, tasty goodness.

10 September 2007

Ham Sandwich with Carrots, Cucumber/Tomato Salad, and Cantaloupe

Just another work lunch/snack, along with the water I took for work. Nothing interesting to see here...

I forgot to put the cold pack in my lunch today. Oops. It was all fine in time for lunch, but I'd saved the tomato-cucumbers for my second break and then didn't eat them because I was worried they'd have gone bad after 7 hours without refrigeration.

09 September 2007

Curried Root Vegetables

So tonight's dinner attempt was a failure. It was meant to be Curried Root Vegetables, and in theory it sounded pretty tasty, if a very (very) lazy way to make a curry. I was a bit put off by the "cooks fast in the microwave!" claims, but decided to try it anyway.

So not worth it. The carrots and parsnips were undercooked (except where they were severely overcooked), the turnips were almost but not quite cooked and the sweet potatoes were for the most part overcooked to the point of being limp. The flavour was boring, sort of generically sweet without any more complexity, and pineapple + curry powder does not a curry make.

I should have trusted my instincts about the microwave part of things, and at least just done it on the stove. It wouldn't have been fantastic that way, but at least I could have adjusted the cooking time better and wound up with something edible (if uninspiring).

06 September 2007

Vegetable Frittata with Spicy Tomato Salsa

I was going to make garlic chicken and steamed spicy broccoli and rice for dinner tonight, but the simplicity and tastiness of eggs won out. I like making eggs because they're just not complicated.

The entire recipe for this is "chop up some vegetables, sauté them, add eggs, cook and then eat." Basically, I mean. This particular frittata has onions, garlic, yellow peppers, and mushrooms sauteed together until they're all soft and lovely. Then tomatoes and cooked potatoes are added. Then eggs with rosemary, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese were poured over top. And then it's just cooked on the stove top and then briefly broiled until finished.

The salsa is homemade as well - chopped tomatoes with garlic, a few dashes of hot sauce, and some parsley.

I'm going to be so disappointed when winter hits and the only tomatoes available are mealy and tasteless.

04 September 2007

Turkey Pizza with Fruit, Salad, Chocolate, and Cookies

Another of those Flat Out flat-breads converted to something (hopefully) tasty - turkey pizza made with turkey, bbq sauce, and cheddar cheese.

You probably can't really see them, but there are three thin ginger cookies hiding under the chocolate.

(I don't think I can actually remember if that meat was turkey or chicken. I've been going back and forth, I think, in my descriptions on the photos I've taken while using it. I think it's chicken.)

03 September 2007

Baby Steps

I had thought about starting out with a kind of.. this is who I am and this is what this blog is about, sort of post, but then I thought... nope, I'm just going to jump into the middle of things.

This isn't where I usually work on my quilting, but I live with my sister and her husband, and the day I was cutting these out, he was home and in the basement. He's a smoker (and I'm not) so I prefer not to work downstairs when he's there. My usual set-up usually has a table-top ironing board across the top of the table, and my sewing machine would probably be on the floor near my feet (if I were sitting).

All those squares of fabric up top are eventually going to be sunlight and shadows blocks - just like the blocks on the left. And just like these blocks here:

I'm a member of a group on Livejournal called Birthday Blocks, which is an exchange group. We make a block for each member's birthday, and in turn on our birthday, we get a block from everyone else. (A week late, though, and I've only received three of fifteen blocks.)

I requested these Sunlight and Shadows blocks because I wanted to try something I've never really done before - a repeating pattern, no sashing, full-sized, and scrappy. Although I'll only be receiving 15 blocks from the exchange group, I'm planning on making a quilt using 56 blocks, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.

It's really hard for me to make a scrappy quilt because I want badly to make everything match perfectly. And these blocks are difficult for me because I always want things to be symmetrical. So this quilt pushes some of my quilting buttons, and that's what I wanted, so that's a good thing. (Here's hoping I love it when it's finished...)

Chicken Burger with Corn on the Cob and Romanesco Concerto al Limone

That is one of my favourite side dishes ever, so tasty. It's a recipe from the back of the package of vegetables - Romanesco Concerto from Europe's Best - which is lemony and mustardy and delicious.

Boring Lunch Number Eleventy Billion

Wow, this was a badly taken photo.

Um... turkey roll-up made with the flat-bread. A kiwi, sugar snap peas, carrots, and a couple squares of dark chocolate (one of which I gave to a co-worker).