29 October 2008
I used leftover rice that got really sticky when I thawed it, so I mashed it into the bottom of a bowl until it stuck in the shape of the bowl and turned it out onto the plate. It sort of looks silly like that, really. Still tasted okay, though.
27 October 2008
This, actually, is a five-cheese stuffed pasta shell: Feta, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Ricotta, and Cottage cheese. Talk about a heart attack in a cute little pasta shell. Well, really, I made a four-cheese stuffed pasta shell. I didn't want to buy ricotta, so I used low-fat cottage cheese in it's place, and I had low-fat everything, really. Extra spinach, less cheese, lower fat cheese. But the feta that I had, I didn't notice when I bought it, but it was actually a goat feta. Feta style chèvre.
I'm pretty hit and miss with goat cheeses. Sometimes I like it. It's particularly nice (I find) if you bake it until it's all melty and then serve it on a salad. But I really, really prefer it in small doses and if it's quite mild.
This was not mild. This was full-on goat. All I could taste was goat. You wouldn't think the one thing that I used the least of would be so very over-powering. But.
I need to go scrub my tongue with a wire brush and some bleach because the taste still hasn't gone away.
ETA: I saved four of these and took them to work for lunch - I work in a grocery store so if I still couldn't stomach them, I'd have options. They were much less goaty the second day, somehow. I ate them mostly cold (just barely warmed in the microwave) and they weren't so bad. In the future, I shall try this with regular feta and see what happens.
25 October 2008
Okay. It's not the only thing I remember, but the other things I remember are everyone stealing milk and the line-ups when they served deep-fried clams. I'm rather scared of seafood, but I let myself get talked into eating a piece of deep-fried clam once and I felt like I had little squirmy clams squirming around in my stomach the rest of the day. Yuck.
Anyway, I'm not terribly sold on bacon. I know some people sort of thing bacon is the one thing you can add to anything and it'll always taste better, but I'm not really a fan of it. It's okay. Maybe twice a year. I'm not sure what my issue with it is because it does taste okay, but I really hate the smell and it's so greasy and... meh.
It's really nice with these, though. Here's a quick recipe:
1 wrap, any flavour
2 or 3 slices of bacon, cooked
1-2 tbsp salsa and/or chopped tomato with hot sauce
1-2 tbsp shredded cheese
1 leaf of lettuce, torn
I usually use both salsa and tomato, though I'm not really sure why. I just like it that way, I guess. So I layered this with lettuce first, then cheese, then salsa, then grape tomatoes, then bacon. I used about half to one teaspoon of Caesar salad dressing smeared along the top edge to help hold it together for the photo, but it's not necessary (and didn't really add much taste). Actually, this would probably be nice with ranch or Caesar dressing inside. Hmm.
Anyway, a tasty, easy supper, which is probably more suited to summer than fall and to lunch rather than dinner.
22 October 2008
I think lasagna recipes are a dime a dozen; everyone's got one and none of them are quite the same. I don't think I've ever made a lasagna the same way twice. (And usually I don't use a recipe, I just do them the way my mom did - meat sauce, cottage cheese, lasagna noodles, and grated cheese layered, then baked, the end.) I've made white lasagnas, I've made lasagnas with spinach, broccoli, ricotta, turkey, chicken, vegetables only. I've made individual rolled up lasagnas. I've made them in bulk and froze them. I haven't made one in ages, though. I can't even remember the last time I had lasagna that didn't come out of a box in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. (And they're never that good.)
This recipe was a little different because it uses fresh cherry tomatoes as a layer, and lamb for the meat sauce. The photo was gorgeous. It intrigued me.
I used bison because it is much easier (and cheaper) to get fresh ground bison here than it is to get fresh ground lamb. In fact, the only place I know of that sells fresh lamb is the market, and I'm not sure that the lamb people man their booth during the week. Fresh bison, on the other hand, can be bought at plenty of large grocery store chains nearby.
In this dish, the bison didn't stand out at all. I found the flavour much more of a background thing, rather hidden by all the cheese and the gorgeous tomato. It's not such a meaty lasagna as some that I've had, but it doesn't taste or have the mouthfeel of a vegetarian lasagna either. It was a much more creamy lasagna than I've probably had before, soft and smooth. And delicious, really.
As I said, I don't typically use a recipe for lasagna, but I might revisit this one anyway.
20 October 2008
Some sad carrots in the bottom of the vegetable drawer, cooked, with a bit of a butter and parsley. Tomatoes and cucumbers with the most delicious lemony, garlicky dressing ever. A small baked potato with slightly spicy salsa. In other words: Vegetables! Just what I've been missing this past week.
I mean... my last photo was on the 14th, when I did have vegetables. But then after that was at least a day or two of nothing at all, one McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries dinner, a meal at Nicastros (potato skins - hold the vegetables! no onions or peppers - and chicken fingers), canned beans on toast (the kind with tomato sauce, but no meat products), and pizza, which did have spinach and mushrooms on it.
It's good that I was eating fruit and salad at work for lunch, but still. That's just kind of ridiculous. It's no wonder I've been feeling so rundown. It's no wonder I kept piling more of the salsa on my potato.
Anyway, the pork part of tonight's dinner was ever-so-slightly overcooked, but was based off a recipe in Sandi Richard's newest book, which might maybe be called Dinner Survival. It's actually a recipe for an all-day pork roast, but I don't need a roast that serves 8-9 people, and I don't think a single pork loin chop would do terribly well in the oven all-day, even at low low temperatures. So I gave this a quick browning on the stove top and then finished it in the oven. I left it a bit too long as I based the cooking time on a recipe I made half an age ago that had a much thicker chop. It was pretty tasty, even over-cooked, and of course the vegetables were divine, so I'm happy anyway.
16 October 2008
I don't usually decorate for Halloween, but somehow I got the urge this year and I thought... garlands. A garland would be nice. Then I whittled down potential images to these three - bats, ghosts, and pumpkins.
Altogether there are three full strands of them - ghost, bat, pumpkin, ghost - plus a fourth smaller one. (I messed up one of the pumpkins and threw it away, so the fourth string only has a bat and two ghosts - I had a lot more white felt than black or orange.) The third strand isn't visible in the picture, and the fourth isn't hanging up right now. I want to put it in the skinny window beside the front door, but I haven't figured out how to attach it yet.
I sort of think they look like drawings a kid in elementary school would come up with, but that's okay. It's Halloween! And also, less morbid than the decorations in front of this one house on the way home from work: they've got toddler sized chalk outlines of bodies on their sidewalk.
14 October 2008
I was going to make a pea pilaf, with cumin and onion, but I forgot the cumin and it turned out I had no peas. Huh. I could have sworn... Anyway, it was fine with just the onion in the rice, even if it was more boring that way. Peas probably wouldn't have suited the ginger-lime anyway.
This is another recipe from that new cookbook I've got by Sandi Richard. It's still in the kitchen (and I'm still not) and I still can't remember what it's called. But one of these days I'll remember to make a note of it so I can mention it here.
I'm sort of slowly working my way through the first week of recipes, this and the potato soup and a chili sauce to serve on pasta, which I ate on a baked potato and didn't photograph because... it's chili. Tomorrow will be pork, though I'm going to do a pork loin chop rather than a proper pork roast, and then after that another of her ugly (but usually tasty) chicken dishes of indeterminate origin containing dried fruit and condiments like salsa. With any luck, it'll be interesting, anyway.
11 October 2008
I think I would have preferred a soup that was more potato based, a bit more like a chowder, maybe, with just a touch of cheese instead of a cheese soup with baked potato in it, if that makes sense? I suppose I just need to keep looking for different recipes.
Tonight my brother-in-law is making Sour Cream Chicken, which is this slightly nasty looking dish made of chicken legs (skin on, bone in) and cut up potatoes cooked in a whole lot of sour cream and hot sauce/soy sauce/Worcestershire sauce. It tastes ridiculously good and I half wish I'd skipped my soup and stole some of his and my sister's dinner instead.
10 October 2008
This card is a pretty good example of that, I think. In the original artwork, what you see is a woman with her arm bent back, as if she's scratching her shoulder, but here it looks almost as if she's got an arm amputated at the elbow. She's also wearing a skirt, but her legs look awkward because you don't see anything to define that big blob below her waist. I maybe should have treated her as if she were nude or in a bathing suit and cut in a gap to show the shape of her folded in leg. This one was also a good object lesson in colour - I should have given her a hat that would stand out more against the background, rather than making the flower stand out against the hat. It would have had more impact if she'd worn, for instance, a white hat with a purple flower. Still, I like it. The more I look at some of these cards I'm not totally sold on, the more I like them and am less bothered by these flaws that I can mention.
It was a little bit sad to leave my Varga girls behind when I moved on to my final collection of cards. I think they turned out amazingly well. I've had more requests for the woman in the polka dot sweater than I quite know what to do. If only they didn't take so long to sew.
05 October 2008
I had never made ribs before, but a good friend of mine has this recipe for ribs that she (and her mom) swears by, and so I got it off her this summer to try out when, someday, I finally got around to buying ribs.
I think I must have got scared about the end of barbecue season because I finally bought a package of ribs a couple weeks back when my work had them on sale, even though it was raining and it clearly wasn't going to happen just then. Fortunately, we've had some ridiculously good fall weather and I did manage to get them in.
Anyway, here is the recipe. Honestly, I can't explain just how good these were - the rub kind of tastes a lot like salt and pepper wings from the pub and the barbecue sauce, which tastes far too sweet before you cook it, complements it perfectly. So. Good.
Faye's Mom's Ribs Recipe
2 racks back ribs (~2-2 1/2 lbs or 1kg)
2 oz. rib spice (~60g) (About half of the following recipe, but I used about 3/4)
2 cups water (500ml)
Spice ribs liberally on both sides with the rib spice. Place ribs in shallow pan, bone side down. Add water to the pan, cover with foil tightly, and place in a preheated (300F/150C/Gas Mark 2) oven and bake 2 hours.
Let ribs cool for 10-15 min and sauce both sides. Wrap tightly with wrap or store in a container and place in the fridge until you're ready to grill them or barbecue on medium heat until re-heated through, adding more of the barbecue sauce as you go.
2 tbsp salt (30ml)
1 tsp cumin (5ml)
2 tbsp packed brown sugar (30ml)
1 tsp onion powder (5ml)
2 tbsp sugar (30ml)
1 tsp garlic powder (5ml)
2 tsp paprika (10ml)
1/2 tsp cayenne (2ml)
2 tsp black pepper (10ml)
Stir ingredients together until well blended.
3/4 cup ketchup (175ml)
1/2 cup maple syrup (125ml)
1/4 cup oil (50ml)
3 tsp bourbon (15ml)
2 tbsp cider vinegar (30ml)
3 tbsp dijon mustard (45ml)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp pepper (5ml)
Whisk together ingredients until well blended.
So my changes. I notice as I'm typing this up that I forgot to include the paprika. I didn't notice anything off about the taste, so I guess if you haven't got any, I wouldn't rush out to get it. It certainly did well without it. I skipped the bourbon because we had none and I didn't want to drive over to the liquor store to see if they had any tiny bottles of it, just for this. Again, I wouldn't rush out to get it. It probably adds a nice flavour, but I don't think it's hurting anything without it. And we didn't have any cider vinegar, so I used rice wine vinegar instead. I don't know why I used that, rather than any of the other vinegars we've got (two different balsamics, white wine, rice wine, sherry wine), but it did work well.
04 October 2008
This last grouping is called 'String Theory' for two reasons. First, this is string quilting - strips (or strings) of fabric sewn one onto the next. Quite typically, they're made of squares where the strings are on the diagonal, and then you sew them into boxes. (Like in this example.) The second reason they're called String Theory is that I was watching Season One of Criminal Minds as I worked on these cards and I happened to be watching... Derailed, which is an episode with a schizophrenic unsub, and Reid starts talking to him about String Theory. So there the name was.
In any case, one of my favourite string quilts that I've ever seen online, well, I can't find now, but it was done in long strips with horizontal strings, so this first postcard is kind of an homage to the gorgeous quilt. Someday I'll do a full-size quilt the same way, but probably far off in the future.
As I was making this card out of primaries, I got stuck on the idea of grouping my colours together, so I had one stack of red scraps, one of blues, one of yellows, greens, purples, browns, black/whites, oranges. Which is more or less what you'll see in the following cards.
03 October 2008
I found this particular image of a woman sunbathing surprisingly difficult to execute. Somehow I made my template too large, so I had to resize her feet. I completely flubbed her fingers. And then, too, my attempt to stitch on the bathing suit (if you click through the photo, you can see a larger version of the image which shows more detail) was only somewhat successful. I thought this very basic shape would be so easy, but... not so much. I love, still, the blue background because it looks almost like water, like she could be lying at the beach or beside a pool and thinking about something cold and sweet to drink.
01 October 2008
I've talked before about how my mom didn't really like to cook, and so I don't remember a lot of what she made when I was a kid. I remember tuna casserole and breaded chicken cutlets and sometimes fish and chips from a box and I remember roasts, sometimes, and stew and chili. I also remember macaroni and cheese with fried sliced hotdogs or fried bologna.
I think a little bit that my mom's aversion to cooking, and getting so much of the same thing so often, is part of what really drives me to keep trying new things. I hate the thought of just rotating the same 10 or 12 meals. I'd rather have 10 failures in a row than the same 5 things twice over.
But comfort food seems often to mean things from childhood. Roasts and stews and chili are comforting, but so is that sort of generic fake cheese taste of macaroni and cheese from a box. I so rarely eat the stuff because I really do think it's quite disgusting, but a couple times a year I'll think, yeah, mac and cheese sounds good.
I think the only way to eat a hotdog is either to singe it over a fire or to fry up slices of it. I don't eat hotdogs anymore, at least not the ones made of the crap scrapped up off the killing room floor, so I had to make a bit of an adjustment to the standard "recipe." Instead, I fished a spinach and feta turkey sausage out of the freezer and fried that up instead.
It wasn't at all delicious, but it sort of tasted good anyway. Not that I'm likely to eat it again for, oh, ages, but...