May 15, 2009

If there’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way it’s that risotto is not a weeknight food. At least not for someone who is consistently dead asleep by 10pm. It’s actually perfect for Friday nights for me, because I find the whole process very soothing and I also usually have just enough of that frantic pre-weekend energy to push me through.

Tonight was a good risotto night, as it’s been kind of dark and rainy all day, my back isn’t hurting as much – which is either progress or doctor-approved high doses of Aleve – and, oh yeah, we’re broke and couldn’t go out on a date like normal people.

In case you’re new, you might not know that I do not make traditional risotto because I don’t really like arborio rice. I can’t put my finger on why, but it just never really does it for me. Barley, though, barley is like gold in this house. Gold that sells for 1.31 a pound.

Anyway, it’s made the same way. Let’s take a little journey supplemented by photographs, shall we?

  1. Heat 5 cups of liquid (any combo of broth and water) over medium in a saucepan.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add about a cup of chopped onion (embarrassingly, I didn’t have an onion on hand, or even frozen chopped onions, so I had to skip this step).
  4. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and heat until fragrant.
  5. Add a little over a cup (probably about 1 1/4 cup) and cook, stirring, until coated with the olive oil.IMG_2199
  6. Add about 1/2 cup of dry white wine.IMG_2200
  7. When the wine has cooked down, start adding the broth. Add about 1/2 cup at a time and let that absorb before you add more. Repeat until all of the broth is absorbed. This usually takes about 40-45 minutes.IMG_2201
    Okay, true confession: sometimes I just dump all five cups of the broth in with the barley and let it go. I know, I know. They’re going to take away my home chef identification card. To my credit, I did it the right way this time.
  8. I made spinach risotto this time around, so I added 1/2 a bag of frozen cut spinach when I poured in the last of the broth.
  9. When all liquid is absorbed, add salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese to taste.
  10. Stir and heat over low until all cheese is melted. IMG_2202

I had mine with baked tofu and some roasted asparagus and zucchini.

I really need to take Food Blogging 101: Plating

I really need to take Food Blogging 101: Plating and Food Photography

I’m having kind of an insane craving for oatmeal cookies, so I think I may need to go deal with that.


Spring cleaning

March 21, 2009

Since it’s officially spring now, and since I’m still trying to clean up my act a bit, food-wise,* I really wanted something green and light for dinner that would still be satisfying. This salad fit the bill nicely:

tuna, asparagus, and new potato salad

tuna, asparagus, and new potato salad

This was adapted liberally from a recipe in the April issue of  Bon Appetit. I kept the spirit of the tuna/asparagus/potato part, but I didn’t have radishes or eggs, or the ingredients for the chive vinaigrette, and I hate capers. So I just made a simple red wine vinaigrette and tossed that with some steamed asparagus, red potatoes that I chopped and boiled until tender, and some chunk white tuna. Delicious. This issue of BA was one of my better airport purchases. It’s got gratuitous pictures of a really awesome kitchen and a recipe for matzo balls that I want to try.

*It’s not really working. In the absence of cupcakes I’m eating anything and everything that looks like it was made with sugar.

File under: fail

February 22, 2009

Ugh, tonight’s dinner literally fell apart, and I have no one to blame for it but Mark Bittman.

Okay, not really, but if I wasn’t reading his newest book and getting all fired up about it, I never would have thought that it would be a good idea to make bean and grain burgers after a very long Sunday, right before a very long week. I mean, really, I only started cooking the pot of beans at 3:30 and suddenly I was hungry and I had to soak the bulgur and mash the chickpeas and mix in the egg and then it was just crazy and my hands were super gross and eggy and I still couldn’t get the stupid things to form into patties. What did I do wrong? I had to omit the onion because, even though I went through all the trouble of dicing and grating it, it was too membraney and really kind of mushy and overly moist for me to use without feeling like I wanted to vomit. I tried to dress one up a little for the picture, but if you look carefully you might be able to tell that it’s broken in three pieces.

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

Matt’s sweet potato fries were good, at least. And, actually, the patties were fine, but only about half of them stayed together. A few also got a little extra crispy because I convinced myself that cooking them longer would make them stay together better. This did not turn out to be true. The recipe can also be made as a loaf, so I may try that next time. When I do this not on a Sunday.

On the bright side, I did a lot of food prep for this week – we’re currently worth our weight in bulgur and chickpeas.

Oh, and I actually cooked Friday and Saturday nights as well, against all odds.

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

I usually hate peas, but they were actually pretty good here. Or, it was 9pm and I was really hungry.

baked penne with asparagus

baked penne with asparagus

The market has had fresh asparagus pretty early this year for $1.99 a pound, so I’ve been trying to take advantage. It was good with the pasta. And, of course, so was all the cheese.

And now, I’m exhausted, so it’s time to clean the kitchen and get ready for my crazy week. I think I’m going to need a cupcake bowl.

Dinner and a Movie: Eagle vs. Shark

February 15, 2009

I’ve decided that this blog is not gimmicky enough. So here’s a gimmick: dinner and a movie. Last night I made dinner specifically to complement  the movie we were planning to watch. And it was fun. Plus, Matt assures me that it’s plenty gimmicky, so I think I’ll do it again sometime.

I’ve been wanting to see Eagle vs. Shark since I saw a preview for it in 2007, but somehow I never pushed it to the top of the Netflix queue. Matt, thoughtful partner that he is, moved it up this week so that we could enjoy it for Valentine’s Day. So, the “movie” part of the whole thing was already planned, but that left me with the other half: dinner.

It’s hard to theme a meal based on a film you’ve never seen, so I took the easy route with this one and planned a meal based strictly on geography. Eagle vs. Shark takes place in New Zealand, so dinner would just be something inspired by the cuisine of New Zealand. Easy, right?

Except that I didn’t know anything about New Zealand, save for what I learned from this other movie. Which basically just taught me that sheep are to be feared, and didn’t give me much help in the way of menu planning. So, I had to do research.

After a few failed Google searches (seriously, I cannot even comprehend how many lamb recipes there are in existence), I managed to remember that I work in a library, and I found a pretty awesome series of cookbooks with a few examples of meals from basically every country in the world. And thus a dinner was born: asparagus soup and baked fish steaks.

Sounds good, right?

I bet it would have been, but I didn’t exactly make it. I was too tired after a long and exciting Valentine’s day of tacos and cookies and Valentine’s tea gifts from Adagio and basketball to bother with a soup that required actual attention, so instead we had baked fish steaks and asparagus. A fine compromise.

baked salmon, roasted asparagus, and brown rice a la New Zealand

baked salmon, roasted asparagus, and brown rice a la New Zealand

This fish recipe pretty much rocked my face off. I was nervous at first, because the salmon had to be marinated in milk, which I’d never heard of. Apparently it’s normal and it’s meant to take some of the fishy taste out of it, and it worked beautifully for these salmon steaks. After they marinate in milk for an hour, you transfer them to a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, throw on some bread crumbs, and put them in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Something else I might try would be to use a white fish of some sort with crushed pecans and some olive oil instead of bread crumbs.

I also had a gigantic frosted heart-shaped sugar cookie and some ice cream for dessert, but that’s unrelated to New Zealand.

As for the movie, I really liked it. It was quirky and funny and sweet. Actually, for the first twenty or thirty minutes, I was convinced that it was going to be the best comedy I’d ever seen, but then I had beef with some of the subsequent events.

The See Food family’s totally unbiased and very scientific ratings on a scale of five:

Dinner: 5 stars (it’s the milk, people)
Movie: 4 stars

And now I’m off to tackle a monstrous to do list and hopefully get some yoga in because I think I’m addicted to it now, which is probably a good thing because I may or may not also be addicted to stress, and they seem to balance each other out to some extent.

Also, I think it’s making me stronger because I went to this insane class at the gym the other night that involved torture instruments like jump ropes and step benches, but during the push up and plank portion of the class, which lasted for five minutes or hours or something, I only thought about crying once.

Why am I awake?

June 21, 2008

I hope that being unable to sleep past 6:30 on a Saturday morning is not a symptom of my new life as a married lady. That would be uncool.

Yesterday, we got married, and it was the best day ever. I got to marry Matt AND there was no weird weather, no timing issues, no one forgot a ring or anything, I only laugh/cried once during the ceremony, dinner was great, and the cake was awesome.

Since it was my wedding day, I felt fully comfortable taking food pictures at dinner. Here’s some Prosecco and our table’s bruschetta appetizer. Both were amazingly good.

My first piece:

There were many more. Hey, it was my day.

Dinner was Rainbow Trout with red pepper aioli and pecan foccacia breading. So bascially, the greatest food ever.

The fish actually isn’t as big as it seems. I did not eat a whole fish, they just slice the filet or something and lay it out, kind of butterflied. Anyway, I ate half of the fish, some rice, and all of my asparagus. I’ll finish the rest in a few minutes today.

Matt had the Alakan Halibut special:

And there was a decent bit of this:

And after all of it, I looked like this:


But I still found the strength to come home and eat our AWESOME cake, designed and executed by Donna.

PB&J cake:

Sorry for all the extras in the picture. I probably should’ve at least put away my oat bran. But I wanted you to see the scale of it, compared to our microwave.

I told Donna we liked chocolate and fruit and she came up with this wonderful cake. Each tier is chocolate cake with two layers of filling: one raspberry jam and one peanut butter based. All topped with buttercream and raspberries. THE GREATEST WEDDING CAKE EVER. Also, HFCS and trans fat free. Unlike my birthday cake will be next week. We froze the top tier for our first anniversary but we still have almost the whole bottom tier. I wonder if it’s bad luck or anything to eat it now?


If you don’t, what I mean is that I might need it for breakfast. To round out the trout.
Speaking of breakfast, I think I’ll go eat that now. If I’m going to be up at this ungodly hour, I might as well eat from my swanky new married dishes.

99% local

June 9, 2008

Well, we ate local and I have the bruises to prove it. You’ll see.

I was really productive today and checked off maybe 42 things from my to do list. Granted, I’m one of those people who adds things they’ve already done, just to check them off. But, whatever. I’d say that 47 or however many things is still a lot.

After kickboxing, I had to go to Target to get a new prescription filled and to pick up some absolute essentials like conditioner and Now and Laters. By the time I got home I thought I was going to die, and Matt was wasting away on the couch so I made my quick local dinner. Things got thrown off track when the local cheese I already had on hand turned out to be bad (which I didn’t know until I ate some of it). I had to run to the grocery store. I literally ran. I was that hungry. And still in my gym clothes so it looked normalish.

Anyway, here’s what we had:

Spinach/tomato/cheese/egg scramble with a strawberry salad w/ honey dressing and kale chips. The 1% non-local food was a little olive oil. I need to do research, but I’m guessing we don’t have olives here.

What would have made this perfect would have been some goat cheese. I know there are goats around here, so I’m going to have to look into that.

I went back for seconds on the kale chips and the salad, and while I was eating the salad, I also, inadvertently, ate half a bug. The other half is on the floor somewhere, where I threw it, screaming. I was screaming, not the bug. That would have been horrifying.

Matt was in charge of washing the greens. That’s all I’m going to say.

His response? “Like my dad always said, bugs indicate freshness.”

I’m trying to work through it.

Last night we had balsamic chicken with steamed green beans/asparagus and whole wheat couscous. See:


Miss Rap Supreme is on, so I’m outta here.

Guess what? We had pasta and veggies again.

June 6, 2008

After last night’s state of events, I woke up to a really shockingly beautiful day. I mean seriously, when my alarm rang at 6:15 there were birds chirping. It was ridiculous. So, anyway, that meant that I didn’t have to cancel my rheumatologist appointment in Topeka, so I checked my oil and went on my merry way.

My rheumatologist didn’t have a clue about all of my recent health issues, which was a surprise to me, as my pulmonologist was all “Oh, we must keep your other physicians apprised of this situation” (no lie, that’s how he talks). So anyway, today my doctor said “Let’s find out what’s going on,” which was really comforting until the lab assistant came at me with the big needle and took half of my blood. I ate a snack but I still felt woozy. LUCKILY, there is a Kohl’s nearby where I could wait it out. And buy some shoes.

Then I drove back and went to work, after which I forced myself to go to the gym because I felt guilty that I didn’t really get any exercise yesterday.

Wait, does RUNNING FOR MY LIFE count? Man, I really could have used that earlier.

Then we played mini-golf and came home for an exceptionally late dinner of pasta and tuna and feta and a ton of veggies that were on their respective ways out. I bet you wish I had skipped that whole first part and just gotten to the point.

I think we really nailed the whole colors of the rainbow thing.

Now I’m watching The Tudors. So far, it’s pretty dirty.