Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sushi and eggs

Just a quick update on the produce I got on Thursday night: green beans, red beets, cucumbers, eggplant, green leaf lettuce, purple onions, oranges, apples, and cherry tomatoes. I think I'm going to make pickled beets using a Martha Stewart recipe I found that looks pretty simple. Yum, pickled beets! Course, my husband with have none, as he despises all things pickled, the poor guy. He's really missing out on so much. Not sure what to do with the eggplant or green beans yet, as I don't usually cook either of them. Also, the eggplant it nice and tiny, so it shouldn't have any seeds, or at least R tells me so.

So last night Kyle and I went out with R&A for supper good, affordable sushi. Oh, the joy of living in San Diego: all the sushi I can stuff my face with for less than 20 bucks! We got some standard goodies, such as a mixed rainbow roll and a spicy tuna roll, but also a less traditional roll named the Hot Hot CA roll. This roll is basically a California roll smothered in a hot sauce (mix of chili paste and asian mayo), heated in a broiler till toasty warm. Soooo good! And of course, I had my yummy salmon roe nigiri, which is basically just fish eggs on rice. Good and salty, with a fun bursting sensation in your mouth when you eat on. Mmmm, sushi is so good!

What else, what else? Made a smoked salmon frittata tonight, which turned out really well. Also steamed some asparagus I had gotten on special, so it was still a pretty healthy night greens-wise, even with all the eggs. Speaking of eggs, I tried my hand at making hollandaise sauce with my mini food processor, and it was so easy! There's this little set of holes on the lid just perfect for dribbling in fat to sauces so that a nice emulsion is formed. At least one sauce fear is conquered, although I'll be trying it again soon to make sure I have the by-hand technique down (ie the whisk). But now I shall sign off, and watch "From the Earth to the Moon" with my hubby, the Tom Hanks-produced mini series on space travel.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fuschia fun

Lots to tell so far, at least cooking-wise. Didn't do too much last weekend, but Kyle made me some yummy baked pork chops with plums and green chard, which was good as we had more chard than I knew what to do with. In fact, on Monday I made a frittata with red chard, thyme and yogurt cheese, which was quite tasty if a bit dense. Of course, it was dense because I forgot to add the milk to the egg mixture, so the resulting frittata had an odd texture. And I finally used the red cabbage to make borscht, a tasty cabbage beet soup popular in Russia and Poland. Turned out there's hundreds of ways to make borscht, much like chicken soup, but the version I tried was pretty good. A bright fuschia color, thanks to the beets :) However, since the version I tried left me with tons of soup, I think I need a break from pink soups, at least for a bit. But the pity is that I still have half of a head of red cabbage, and no idea what to do with it. Maybe I'll just try braising it or something.

Friday, September 30, 2005

More yummy produce

We got our second allotment of produce this week, as you can see in the pic. More chard, yummy oranges, some salad, heirloom tomatoes, and some really green celery plus other stuff was what we got this week. One thing about this, it means I sure am eating my greens :)

Tonight Kyle and myself and a bunch of friends are going out for Mexican food and to see the new movie Serenity! Yay!!! Finally get to see the Joss Whedon movie we've been waiting so long for. For those who don't know, I am a huge HUGE Joss Whedon fan, and I LOVE his shows, especially Buffy and Firefly. In fact, I'm just a tad obsessed at times.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pate , etc.

Whew! It has been a busy week so far, at least cooking-wise. On Monday I made sort of a stir-fry with the mizuna, some purple bunching onions, somen noodles, ginger, and soy sauce. It was quite good, nice and light especially since Monday was pretty hot here in San Diego. The mizuna had a light taste, slightly spicy like mustard, but mostly it just smelled really fragrant. And the purple onions added a nice flavor, a little more like a cross between green onions and shallots than like a red onion, which is what I was expecting.

I also made a chicken liver pate on Tuesday night, which turned out pretty well. Again, reading Julie Powell's blog and also Julia Child cookbooks inspired me to give it a shot. I think it turned out pretty well, and people seemed to like it at our dinner party tonight. Speaking of our weekly food/America's Next Top Model/Lost night, this week it was our turn to host. I made minestrone soup in the Crockpot, which was super easy, and I also made panna cotta. I have been wanting to try panna cotta for so long, but everytime Kyle and I try and order it at an italian restaurant, they're out. It turned out really well, nice and creamy with a texture similar to flan. I also made insalata caprese, a tomato, basil, mozzarella starter that went so well with the last of the heirloom tomatoes I got from BeWise Ranch.

All told, it was a great night, filled with lots of friends, wine, and wonderful Lost, which of course didn't really reveal anything else about everyone and the island. Grr! Well, the mystery is part of why I like the show so much

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CSA produce

Thursday was the first week of our CSA produce pick-up. CSA (community supported agriculture) is a great program where the people in the community can pay a small amount each quarter and get fresh produce weekely straight from the farm. We got a lot of stuff, some of which I'm not sure what to do with. We got yummy heirloom tomatoes, mini tomatoes, limes, lemons, red chard, red cabbage, some purple bunching onions, and something called mizuna. Mizuna is apparently a mustard flavored green that's usually placed in salads. Not sure what I'm gonna do with it, maybe a stir-fry of some sort? Also have no idea what to do with a whole head of red cabbage. One of the nice things about the CSA deal is that I can try new, strange types of produce, and try more thrown-together dinners

Monday, September 19, 2005

Garlic and Sapphires

I just got done reading a wonderful memoir of sorts by Ruth Reichl, the former New York Times restaurant critic, and now editor of Gourmet. She has such an enchanting style of writing, and her descriptions of food make your mouth water. But more than that it's the simple, straightforward manner in which she writes, such that the reader always feels welcome and part of her world. Half of the book excites me to try fancier, gourmet food, but sadly only as a restaurant critic or VIP. It seems as if in general normal people are treated with disdain at many fancy restaurants, which is very sad to me. I want to think its just a New York thing, but probably not.

In other sad news, Kyle and I finally finished off the lovely bottle of Solera Cream Sherry we have been savoring these past months. We grabbed a bottle at the Mount Palomar winery when we went wine tasting in Temecula with R&A, and it is some of the most fabulous fortified wine I have ever tasted. Sipping it really makes me feel like a genteel lady in English drawing rooms at the turn of the century, so luxurious. But Kyle and I have been discussing another, more prolonged trip to Temecula as a getaway this fall, so hopefully we'll be able to grab another bottle.

Otherwise, as the lazy sod I am, I never got around to baking bread this weekend, but I did finally roast the chicken that's been in the fridge all week. It's amazing how simple and delicious roast chicken with potatoes can be. Alas, another long week of work and getting up early awaits. I sincerely miss sleeping in.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Two nights ago I went to what was supposed to be the first week of my Breadmaking class. The lady who teaches is quite nice, if a little too mild-mannered and soft-spoken for my tastes. She went over, in great detail, the basics of a white bread recipe, explaining about proofing yeast, measuring flour, etc. Sadly, the class in future will no longer be held, as there weren't enough people who showed up the first time. Apparently, 15 people need to show up to the first class, and we only had 10. Which really sucks, as this was the only cooking class I could take due to it being at night. Every other class takes place in the middle of the day, which I obviously can't do as I work. But she did have some good tips, so it wasn't all a waste. I think this weekend I'll try my hand at breadbaking, without using the KitchenAid! I fully expect disaster, but it might be okay to hand knead the bread. At least my arms will get stronger :)

Monday, September 12, 2005


Tonight I tried my hand at crepes, with the batter recipe taken from the dear Julia Child. Basically just a mix of flour, milk, water, eggs and a bit of butter whirled together and placed in fridge for about 30 min to allow the gluten to rest before cooking. Then you get a small nonstick skillet fairly hot, so "water dances on surface", which is such a perfect description of what it looks like. One of the reasons I love Julia Child is her beautiful descriptions, but also that she lets cooks know why to do what she tells them instead of just following the recipe. So anyway, after you pour the batter in, and swirl a bit and let the bottom cook, you flip it on the other side. Which finally (yay!) I was able to do just by sliding the pan out and back, doing the flip that looks so cool and efficient on TV. Got pretty good at it too, and even Kyle got into trying it. Then I just filled most of the crepes with a cream cheese/sour cream mix, some green onions, and smoked salmon. Very tasty, especially once you put just a bit of jam inside the crepe. Next time I'll have to make more just so I'll have crepes left for dessert.

I've decided that I need a bit of structure and purpose to my cooking/baking, so I've decided to be more systematic, as inspired by Julie Powell. I want to master the basic types of sauces, which I should have already done, but there hasn't been much call for thickened sauces when I usually cook. In fact, I was trying to make a sauce from the left over juice in the pan of the pot roast, and it was totally hopeless. I realized that I really have no clue how to thicken sauces, make sauces, add depth to sauces, etc. So next it's all about tackling sauces. Speaking of, here's a pic of my lovely new Dutch oven.

So I'm not sure what else to tackle besides sauces, so if anyone even reads this, a few suggestions would be nice. There are definitely a few recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I want to try, mainly due to the descriptions given in Julie's blog.

Plus, every Tuesday I'll be going to a Breadmaking class given by the local continuing education center. Tomorrow's my first class, hopefully enough people will register so the class can be continued and not cancelled. I think another bit of a project, mainly because of the class, will also be breadbaking and possible basic pastry/baking techniques, like making pasta or souffles.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Julie /Julia obsession

So lately I have been more than a little obsessed with reading all the past blog entries (and yes, most of the comments) on the Julie/Julia Project blog, over at where the brilliant Julie Powell has chronicled her feat of cooking through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" all in one year, taking many stops to discuss Spicy Thursdays (her break from French food which her husband cooks), the joy of Buffy, many vodka tonic drinks, subway rages, and just life in general. This woman has fully inspired me to take a deeper look at French cooking and not be so intimidated by foreign words, pate, or liver. In fact, I always liked liver, but have not had it in ages. Yum! Of course, I have a very definite feeling my husband would not be partaking, as I still can't get him to eat anything pickled, or olives or corned beef. Sigh. Well, at least now he loves mushrooms and is even eating fresh tomatoes with more acceptance. Soon, soon I will have him eating pickles! Of course, thanks so much to my mom, who brought the Julie/Julia project to my attention in the first place, without which I never would have discovered the joys of Better Than Bouillon or started to search for truffle flour for the day sometime in the future when I attempt some of the actual French recipes.

With an update, the pie dough was excellent, which means I finally have a pie dough winner from all my many recipe cards! Especially as I tend to get the craving to make pie when it's hot out (silly me!) and also overwork the dough just a tad, and this pie dough was nice and flaky, but tasted yummy and didn't fall completely apart. Otherwise, I tried to make the mini quiches by placing dough in the mini tart pans for the initial baking, but as the pans aren't very deep, I don't think they'll hold quiche filling very well. Instead, I made a large quiche in my 9.5 inch pie plate, a yummy onion-bacon-Gruyere quiche that turned out just right, if a tad too eggy. Next time, instead of 6 eggs I'll just use 3-4, and I think that will help.

And with the rest of the dough, I finally made an apple pie. Very yummy, even if the apples weren't as crisp as I'd like, so they kinda fell apart inside of the pie. But the dark rum caramel I made for sweetening the apples turned out well at least. And for dinner, Kyle made Portuguese Pork with Clams, which was quite yummy. On a side note, it took me trips to 5 stores before I finally found clams. Sad, as I live fairly near a beach of active clamming, or so Google informs me. So the solution...clam digging! Yes, apparently you can go clam digging, mussel hunting, and lobster diving all for free and in Southern California, as long as you obey standard rules to protect the species (ie not too tiny, not too much, etc). So once clamming season begins in November, I'm hauling myself, Kyle, and a picnic lunch up to a suitable beach for clam digging. It may be a day wasted in vain, but after paying a buck a clam for this recipe, I figure an afternoon of fun at the beach and free clams and mussels will be well worth my time.

And finally, in response to Kathleen. Yes, I do know who you are, as I believe you and myself are the only chemists my mom knows who also share an interest in food :) And as you mention it, I just returned Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" to the library, and it was a great read. More and more I am reading book about food, be it fiction, science, critiques, or cookbooks. I'm not sure why this fascination has risen so much over the past year or so, but I find that I do a great deal of cooking and baking. For example, last night I made a tasty red lentil soup, and roasted and peeled some chile peppers R had given us for later use so they wouldn't spoil, and grated zucchini for 4 loaves. Turns out I grated enough for 10 loaves, but at least I can freeze it. This morning, quite soon after getting up, I proceeded to make zucchini bread, which was worth it, and a bit later started my pot roast for dinner. Which actually, I was able to bake in my fancy new Dutch oven which I got from a genius potter named Dan McMullin who sells pieces and teaches classes at the UCSD Crafts Center. If it were not currently dirty, I would post a pic. Well, time for that later.

I must say, I like everything about cooking. Well, not everything. Not dishes, that's for sure, and not the mess I make when I'm done, which of course needs to be cleaned up for me to cook something else the next night. And everyone always says "But you have a dishwasher! It should be easy!" And to that I say, yes, it is, for the plates and glasses which are so not the problem but the pans! My God all the pans and ladles and pots and assorted items that need to be handwashed and invariably have some such thing stuck to them. I am convinced that anyone who thinks having a dishwasher should make doing the dishes painless obviously does not cook much, or else they would also face a sinkful of pots and pans and moan pitifully just like I do.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hot summer nights

Things have been going well, although very busy. So well, that Kyle and I finally purchased a car (a silver Mazda 6) so that I can drive instead of taking the bus to work. I don't mind the bus so much, if its on time, and that's a big if. But it has been nice to get around on my own without always relying on my hubby:)

I just got done reading this great cookbook (yes, I read them cover to cover) by Steven Raichlen all about BBQ sauces, rubs and marinades. Many great ideas to try even though I'll be roasting and broiling instead of grilling. In fact, I recently tried my hand at authentic (almost) North Carolina pulled pork, complete with slaw and everything. The pulled pork from NC is smothered in this delicious vinegar pepper sauce, and the slaw to top is just cabbage that has been soaking in the same sauce. Soooo good! My version turned out pretty well, although I had to go for oven roasted instead of barbecued over coals for a long period of time. Someday, we will have a barbecue, and I can finally do all this cooking outside.

Which would be especially nice right now as the weather has been horribly hot, and no AC to speak of. Which means everytime I have to cook even a bit, it heats up the whole house. Even just steaming some rice and corn, and broiling salmon quickly for dinner tonight heat up the kitchen tons.

Otherwise, I also made a big batch of pie dough. I grabbed a lot of yummy apples on same at Henry's which I'm looking forward to making apple pie with. The Baking with Julia cookbook I recently got from the library had a great recipe that's large enough for 4 pie crusts, which should give me enough for one apple pie plus some dough for quiches and such. Speaking of, I finally got mini tartlet pans so instead of making a whole quiche, which is quite rich for two people, I can just make mini ones and freeze them. Plus, each one can be a different kind!

Otherwise, I made some yummy coconut ice cream, which when topped with the homemade kaluha, was so good. Kyle and I first tried that dish on our honeymoon, and it was so refreshing and creamy at the same time. And tonight for dessert it's fresh raspberries and blackberries, which were also on sale at Henry's and at their peak. Yum! By the way, I love Henry's and Trader Joe's! So nice to have stores of quality where things aren't outrageously expensive like dairy and chicken broth. Also, being able to buy items in bulk, like red lentils for cheap and flour for 29 cents/lb, and many types of spices for pennies, is so awesome. I really hope these stores pop up all over the country, or at least in New Mexico and Colorado, soon. I have hope for NM, as Trader Joe's is expanding into that state, so we'll see.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cheese and Sushi

So finally I get a chance to update this blog. Work has been pretty busy, but in a good way. And of course instead of writing about food so much, I've been making it. Last Saturday I went to a sushi making class that my old coworkers purchased for me. It was so much fun, and I learned a lot about making sushi and sushi etiquette. Plus, I got to make and eat tasty sushi, which is always fun. The class was in this cute little shop called Kitchen Witch with lots of fun cooking and baking supplies to tempt me. But I was fairly good, and I only grabbed a few things like dried lavender and bittersweet chocolate.

But I finally got a chance to make lavender pound cake from a recipe I had, which sadly sounds better than it actually tastes. It's pretty good, but not as fluffy as I thought it would be. Also, I added some lavender to honey to make lavender honey for use with hot tea, and it already tastes yummy.

Also had R&A over on Sunday for dinner and Firefly watching. Made a lime-ginger salmon and a side of warm potatoes with basil vinaigrette. Tried my hand at making yogurt cheese from the tasty French-style yogurt from Trader Joe's. It was quite easy, just a matter of draining the yogurt on paper towels in a strainer, then hung in a ball in cheesecloth. It turned out creamy and slightly tangy, sort of like goat cheese.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Knife class

Last Saturday I had the fun opportunity to take a knife skills cooking class. The teacher was a funny, talented chef who teaches other people that cooking can be a fun, easy way of life. We mostly went through the basics, such as types of knives, sharpening, cutting boards, etc. Of course we also went though slicing, dicing, julienne, and chiffonade techniques. Then using these wonderful skills, the class split into 4 teams and each made a yummy recipe. It was so much fun, and best of all, free! Well except for cost of food stuff ($5 ea) which is practically nothing when you look at prices for S. California. I'm really looking forward to the next class, all about spices and flavorings.

In other home news, my coffee liqueur finished steeping. It was so easy, took only 2 weeks, and it's very tasty. Gave some to friends again, so I hope they'll let me know what they think. Our friends, R & A, are great to hang out with as they love food just as much as we do. In fact, A loves to cook as well, so she went with me to the cooking class, which made it even more fun to have someone else to cook with. Over the last year at least, if not longer, us couples have traded off preparing supper and watching shows together like Alias, Firefly, and America's Next Top Model. It makes a great break in the monotony of the week, and also lets each of us try out new recipes for more than just 2 people. Last time I made a bacon-rosemary wrapped pork chop in sherry-garlic sauce that turned out well. I'm not sure what to make this week, I'll have to see what in my "To Try" section of the recipe file has.

I did make risotto for the first time last night. It was pretty good, but I think I added too many porcini mushrooms, as it was quite heavy and earthy. Of course, next to a side of fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella with balsamic vinegar, what wouldn't be ? ;) Nothing like fresh herbs and veggies. Just wish I had more than a few pots of herbs and more sun at my apartment to grow.

Friday, July 01, 2005


My impatience took over, and I tried my limoncello. It tasted quite good, so I decided to bottle it. Gave a bottle to my friends, and I hope they like it. Making your own liqueur is actually quite easy, if you're patient enough to wait:) I think next I'll try a coffee liqueur, but this time I'll make a much smaller amount. Speaking of, with a few days off before I start my new job, I'm looking forward to experimenting a little in the kitchen. I'm planning on baking a Wiliamsburg Orange cake (courtesy of Betty Crocker, my husband's favorite cake) in tiny size, one for my friend who just got job offers, and one for my husband. Hopefully I can try a few new things with chicken as well, maybe even bake some bread.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cookbooks and memories

Today I got offered a job! It's so nice to know, and not have to do job searching anymore, it has been a big pain. Last night I had a girl's night at my place with a few friends, and it was great! We just sat around and chatted, helped with some wine, but it was so nice to talk with women again. So much understanding that guys just don't get. Like the joy of a "good cry", and how cathartic it can be. In fact, a few friends are joining me tonight to watch The Notebook, as they assure me that it's too sad to watch alone :)

Ate the last of my Mexican wedding cookies that I make a few days ago (or Russian teacakes, if you prefer). Got the recipe form a great old Betty Crocker cookbook. When I was growing up, I learned to cook at my mom's side, along with her trusty Betty Crocker and it's white vinyl cover. So many memories are associated with that great cookbook. I still remember each recipe that I made, especially the times when I tried to make dinner for everyone in the family. It still amazes me how easy going my mom was with me cooking, especially as it could be quite dangerous. In fact, most of the injuries I've had since being a kid have been cooking related. I have nicked, zested and burned my fingers and arms more time than I can count, not to mention just tearing up constantly around onions, and cutting chile peppers and rubbing my eyes like an idiot.

Guess I've always had a fascination with food and color and texture. For a long time I poured my creativity into writing, and then oil painting, but now it's mostly cooking and baking. Of course, it's hard to really paint when you have to worry about a rental deposit, and I do so much technical writing that it's not as much fun anymore. Of course, this blog has been pretty nifty so far, mainly just because it's fun to post memories, thoughts, and feelings somewhere. And I know my friends and family are getting tired of hearing about my obsessions ;)

Anyway, back to the cookbook. So my mom had this great cookbook with so many memories tied to it, and I really wanted a copy. Turns out, they're kinda rare and go for a lot of money on eBay all the time, even without the special white cover (it's usually a red pie cover, even though the cookbook's exactly the same). Being a sweetie, my mom offered me hers, even though she still uses it all the time. After some watching on eBay (and sniping, it felt so wrong!), I finally found it. Well, technically the 11th ed. instead of the 10th ed., but basically the same, especially down to the white vinyl camper. Such a flood of memories, holding that cookbook in my hands, and weird to realize that when I cooked with it as a child, my hands could barely hold it, the book was so large. I have this great picture of me on my fridge of when I was 2 years old, taking hot cookies off a baking sheet with a spatula and potholder. I hope the cookies turned out well :)

Now, I have my own favorite cookbook that I pick up whenever I have a general question ("How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman, a fantastic book to learn all about food itself, as well as cooking). In fact, now I have lots of cookbooks with different themes and styles, like all my New Mexico cookbooks (best food ever!), my Indian cookbook, plus all the baking and Alton Brown (best at explaining science behind cooking, really the why to everything). But somehow, the white Betty Crocker will always have a special place in my heart, and I'll probably use it often enough to leave pages spotted with food and notations in the margin. One day far in the future, I'll have my children at my side, learning to cook just as I did from Betty Crocker plus the other cookbooks on my shelf. Seems silly, but I love the thought of passing on my love for cooking from my mom to me and to my children in the same way.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Spent the day cleaning the house in prep for a long awaited girl's night tomorrow with friends. With my hubby gone for a few days, it will be nice to have the place to myself. But actually, it's already feeling a bit empty and lonely, generating random crying at movies already. Decided to make chicken parm tonight, and it turned out pretty well. Guess it's a dish hard to mess up, just like salad :) However, I saw a really interesting stuntwoman documentary tonight on PBS. I kind of take for granted all the stunts done on TV and movies, and it's easy to forget that these real people can be really injured. Tonight I have a rare bout of insomnia, even though I'm dead tired, I just can't get to sleep. I should hopefully hear about the job I interviewed for soon. I really hope I get it, as not knowing where I'll be over the next few months is very nerve-wracking. Anyway, lots of usual rambling from me in this post, as will be common in the future ;). Guess I'll try getting to sleep again, maybe read a few boring books to help me along.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Thought I'd try this blog thing that's been all the rage with my buddies. A friend of mine just went to Europe for post-doc job stuff, and it's been a blast living vicariously through him by virtue of the blog. Mostly though, I'm just hoping for a tiny piece of the internet to share my love of all things cooking with anyone who cares. I get the feeling most of my friends are worn out listening to all my discussions of food, although they seem to like the food itself pretty well :) Speaking of, I've been baking for anyone of my group that gets a job offer, which has been quite a bit of people lately. The most recent baked good I tried was Mexican wedding cookies. Very yummy, and kind of hard to part with. Luckily, I made two batches, so my husband and I can devour a batch all on our own. Which reminds me, some baking is due for my Europe friend with a current total of 3 job offers now. Hmm, that means 3 new things to try :)