Thursday, May 22, 2008

Favorite Things: containers

When I first moved to my little apartment I found some magnetic spice tins at Ross and I fell in love with them. I could not find the same tins anywhere though to increase my collection! I looked thoroughly through the kitchen section of every Ross I entered and only managed to find three more - giving me a total of 9 spice jars. Well, this past weekend my mother and I were at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and she spotted my spice tins! They typically come in a set of 9-12 with a little magnetic board - - but I don't use the magnetic board. However, BB&B was selling them individually! So happy. I bought all but five of them.

The original set I bought at Ross had some labels - and I found a few more removable labels at World Market.

Aren't they just lovely? This is perhaps my most favorite thing in my kitchen. I love that they easily stay organized and in reach. I even have seven extras at the moment for when I buy more spices.

These lovely little things do not have to be used for spices of course. I'm considering using them in my office to store some craft things like beads, eyelets, buttons, etc. They're also great for office supplies (push pins, paper clips, rubber bands)

And, I know I'm a couple of weeks behind on my CSA postings. I must admit I'm a bit disappointed in the fact that it's almost always types of leafy greens. I like salad - - it's just not a very fun blog topic. Hopefully I'll be getting some other types of vegetables and fruits soon and I'll have more to write about besides "had salad again. . ." Or, when I'm finally done with work for the school year I'll have a chance to try some fancy salads.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Favorite Things: Cookbooks

This idea for a weekly blog “series” has been in my head for a bit. Weekly “favorites” of mine will be posted mid-week each week (at least that is the plan).

Topic for Week One of “These are a few of my favorite things”: Cookbooks

First up we have the book that gets its merit based in nostalgia.
No matter what we were cooking growing up – my mom or I would say “get the Betty Crocker cook book!” – it has this fabulous little spice chart in the front for all types of food. I don’t even look at the recipes – just the spice chart.
There are surprisingly few editions of a Betty Crocker cook-book that has this spice chart in it - - but my mother and I searched yard sales and ebay and I had my own copy on hand when I moved out so I didn’t have to steal hers. We found a couple more so my sister-in-law has one as well and there’s an extra one sitting in my closet for when we decide we need to gift it to some other deserving cook in the family.

Second is the book I actually use the most - - America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.
It is full of helpful hints born of their cooks cooking the same recipe over and over and over again. It also has these great charts. (I like charts, can you tell?).
I’ve never had a recipe from this book fail me – and it’s often my first consult when I’m trying to find a new recipe to make.

The third book is here because it just makes me smile – it earned itself a front and back cover picture.

Yes, a cookbook for how to cook in a trailer – RVs, the kind you hook to the back of your truck to go camping, etc. Complete with a picture of the author on the back in her motor home kitchen with Bundt cake in hand. This book was published in 1970. The inside is filled with fun trailer-cooking drawings and helpful hints (many which are helpful in kitchens located in a kitchen that has no wheels.) Doesn’t it just make you smile? This was an antique store find that I just had to have. I like to collect unusual cook books or cook-books with fun covers. One of these days I’m going to decorate a dining room or kitchen in cookbooks.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Few Recipes

First of all, I'd like to say that I think arugula smells really weird - however, it does taste good in these recipes.

One and the winner of this batch: Veggie pizza with Goat cheese.

Brush a pizza crust with olive oil, spread 6 tbs sauce on the pizza, crumble/spread 4 oz of goat cheese over the sauce. Slice a tomato into thin slices/small pieces and layer on top of cheese. Sprinkle with 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, sprinkle on a few chopped onions to taste, top with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Bake according to pizza crust directions. Coarsely chop 1 cup of arugula. With 1 minute remaining of cooking time sprinkle arugula over the top of the pizza, finish cooking.

This was AMAZING. I unknowingly bought enough for two pizzas - - so I'll make it again in a couple of days.

Recipe Two: Penne with arugula, tomatoes, and goat cheese.

In a large bowl mix together 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula, 2 tsp sauteed minced garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked, drained pasta (8 oz) - toss, and serve.

This was really good when served - however when I took leftovers for lunch it wasn't all that great. So, if you're going to make it make sure there are enough people to eat it all at the first setting.

I give this an "ok" - nothing too spectacular, but it was easy and different.

These are some snap peas I did last week. The recipe called for you to brush them with olive oil, and then sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, onions, and garlic. In retrospect - since I didn't have very many and most of the seasoning ended up on the pan - - I'd toss them in the seasoning mixture in a Ziploc bag and then put them on the cookie sheet - they still turned out pretty good though - very flavorful. You cook for 5-8 minutes at 350.

The sweet tooth section. Here is the recipe for the carrot cake.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup applesauce (for a fluffier cake - use veg oil)
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated

adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350.
lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper

whisk flour through salt together in a medium bowl, set aside

whisk eggs and sugars together in a large bowl until frothy and sugar is mostly dissolved, while whisking, slowly add applesauce and whisk until smooth. Whisk in flower mixture until no streaks remain. Stir in carrots

pour batter into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes


I just made a tomato and goat cheese omelet for breakfast - - sprinkled with kosher salt and free ground black pepper. The eggs were from free range, organic chickens, and I used organic heavy cream rather than milk.

It was GOOD! mmmm

(side note: I have now become a major kosher salt fan. So much better than the other stuff!)

So I feel like after such a gourmet breakfast I should be dressing in high-fashion for a high-power job somewhere. However, I'll put on the School Spirit Tee for dress-down Friday and spend my day trying to keep teenagers awake while they watch Mel Gibson star as Hamlet.

I've got a number of pictures of recipes I've recently cooked on my computer - I'll try and get a recipe post up this weekend. I did not, however, take a picture of my amazing omelet this morning.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm going to be prepared this time!

First of all - a number of you are missing out! You've never had home-made carrot cake? You're missing out! I don't even like store-bought carrot cake because I always remember the yummy icing-less variety my mother made when I was a child.

From the CSA newsletter: What’s in the box this week? English Peas, Arugula, Green Onions, Chard, Kale, Turnips and Lettuces of various varieties.

I have prepared a grocery list (see picture for evidence!) and will actually make new and interesting meals using my very cool veggies this week! I am determined! We'll just call week one a flop as I wasn't prepared - the next 17 weeks will be better! CSA pick-up is literally next door to the grocery store I like - so I have no excuses.

Ok, so, menu plans for the week:

recipes from the CSA newsletter:

"Turnips and Onion Gratin" and "Green Tacos" (I'll post the recipe if they turn out well)

and recipes I found on my own will include: Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza with pesto sauce, Arugula and goat cheese over penne pasta, Sweet and Savory Kale, Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans (note to self: add Garbanzo beans to grocery list.)

That leaves the peas. I'll probably just throw them into the Chard and Beans thing.

So here's hoping to a more successful CSA week #2!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Carrot Cake

About the only notable thing that happened as a result of my first box was a carrot cake. I am just not a southern cook - - I don't know what to do with all those green leafy things! Part of the problem is I am a Crazy Busy Working Woman who does not have a ton of time to go to the store to get the supplementary ingredients for all the yummy sounding recipes. And, I put the greens in the fridge because the box said "refrigerate" - - but then when I took them out they looked funny - so I left them out for a bit - - and they looked even funnier. So. No greens this week. Next week I'm promised more greens - and since the grocery store is right next to the CSA pick-up I'm going to head straight there and get those supplementary ingredients and try to make something other than cake this week.

The carrot cake turned out quite well though. The last time I made carrot cake I was in college and didn't have a grater so my roommate and I cut up the carrots into very small pieces using a knife - it was interesting. My mother took pity on us and bought us a grater after hearing that story. I think with the small size of carrots - I prefer a food processor to grate them - but my grater worked.

I'm looking forward to summer when I'll have some time to really dig into the boxes each week and turn out some new recipes. For now though, nothing too exciting to report.