Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I moved!

I've taken my little blog in a new direction... please refer to the new address!!

The Bull's Nest

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm alive.

I just have no free time. At all. Ever.

I'm fairly certain that I'm still getting married on time... but you know that feeling when you feel like you forgot something, then as soon as you get to work you realized you forgot, like, your underwear? That's how I feel.

I've never forgotten my underwear. But I feel like it's possible, especially with my current burnout.

So, craft news:
- I got a job! (Not craft news, but because of said job, I can afford fabric and other things) For all interested parties, it's 7th grade math. I honestly can't imagine anything else I would rather do. I love seventh graders and I love teaching math. The end.
- I have been documenting delicious meals with my camera, just have had no time to post. Check back in June. ;)
- I have lots of pictures of handmade things I did for the wedding. Again, June.
- Because there is no fabric store in Del Rio (the sewing section at Wal-Mart does not count), I'm on a mission to find affordable online fabric stores. Suggestions welcome!
- I have a craft room in the house and Del Rio. It's confirmed. There is currently a person living in it, but unless he wants to become Dupree he will relocate one of these days.

I just wanted everyone to know I haven't neglected my crafting on purpose, I'm just so consumed with school right now I think I might completely freak out if I'm assigned one more thing in my life. I will have my teaching certificate in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS, so after that, give me another week to get married (small errand), about a month to have an emotional breakdown and buildup about the overabundance of change in my life, and then I will return. I don't start working until August, so I will have lots of time and energy for fun things. And I'll have the kitchen of my dreams, which will also encourage activity. Oh, life is good good good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steak, with the most delicious sauce you will ever make.

This one is for Kelly. And Nadine.

My friend Kelly, fellow UD grad and teacher, who I have known for years, is a newlywed and is just beginning to experiment in the kitchen. She gave me a good what-for about not updating my blog, and gave me a few suggestions about what she would like to see. I believe she used the word "tough" to describe what she really wanted, steak done sans grill. Of course, you know me. I can't turn down a challenge. And even though my family has been trying to get healthy lately, I figured we could stand to splurge just this once.

Also, my great aunt Nadine passed away today at the youthful age of 101. Even though I have no idea if she liked steak or not, we ate this meal in honor of her. Cheers, Aunt Nadine.

Oh, be still my heart. This was the richest, most delicious meal I've had in quite some time. I gathered these recipes from a variety of places. The asparagus is a recipe I use over and over again, given to me several years ago by our good family friend Kathy. It's always a huge hit. The steak I learned from Omi, my grandmother. The sauce, which is the best part, came from Pioneer Woman. I'm not sure what I did before Pioneer Woman. Ate less delicious food, I suppose. The rest, of course, I made up. I do that at times.

Start off with a few necessities: olive oil, butter (I use the fake stuff), blue cheese, parmesan cheese, cream, tomatoes (these are heirlooms! Sometimes I use cherry), asparagus, cauliflower, onion, and a few room temperature rib eye steaks.

I also used garlic salt and garlic pepper, FYI.

And, oops, there's some Lindeman's over there. You don't need that for the recipe, just for fun. Try not to judge me.

The first thing we are going to do is to make a dish that can truly substitute for mashed potatoes. If you are on a low-carb diet, or just want to incorporate more veggies in your life, try this. Or you can used mashed potatoes. I'll never know.

The easiest way to separate cauliflower that I know is to turn it over and go at it with a knife. If any of you know a better way, please feel free to comment. I'm all about education here.

See? Pretty. It doesn't really matter, since you are going to boil the business out of these anyway, so don't stress.

Get a relatively large pot and boil some water. Just before adding the cauliflower, generously salt. You'll thank me later.

While the cauliflower is boiling, grab your asparagus. It's January in Ohio, so the asparagus is a little meager here. What you really want in a bunch of asparagus is super thin stalks. The thinner the stalks, the more flavorful the asparagus. Because we doctor these up a bit, it doesn't really matter. But whatever you do, for the sake of everything good in this world, do not get canned asparagus. I do not know whose idea it was to ever can asparagus, but I dislike them greatly.

Test your asparagus by holding onto both ends and bending until the asparagus snaps.

Wherever it breaks, take the head (the flowery part) and line it up with the other heads and cut. You're getting rid of the thick, woody stems, which generally provides for tastier asparagus.

Lay out your asparagus on a jelly roll pan, as close to a single layer as you can get. Because these asparagus were so thick, less came in a bunch, so it wasn't difficult to line 'em up.

Next get your tomatoes. I usually use cherry tomatoes and chop them in half, but when I went shopping last weekend I saw these babies. Heirloom tomatoes! Heirloom is a particular type of non-hybrid tomato and they usually don't have them around these parts. So I figured I'd use them! Aren't they pretty? Use whatever tomatoes you like.

Give 'em a good rough chop. It definitely doesn't matter what these look like. Get as close to bite-size that you can.

Douse these guys with a little olive oil...

Add the tomatoes, top with a generous handful of parmesan cheese, then pop them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starts to brown. You don't want to overcook it, so make sure the asparagus aren't mushy. I hear no one likes mushy asparagus.

While the cauliflower is boiling and the asparagus is roasting, get your large onion and do like you do. Cut it in half, get rid of the skin, and then slice it into relatively thin slices.

Relatively thin. This isn't Iron Chef.

Get a nonstick skillet, a pretty big one, and melt 4 tablespoons of butter on medium to medium high heat. I use the fake butter, so don't feel guilty if you want to too. Of course, if you want to use half a stick of butter, you go right ahead. My thighs and I will cheer you on and then secretly hex you out of jealousy.

See? Doesn't quite look like butter, but trust me, it'll do, pig.

Drop in your onions and let them sizzle. The smell of onions cooking in butter? Unmatched.

Here's my first caveat: "But I don't like onions!" Yes you do. Yes. You do. Try it.

About this time, your cauliflower will be nice and mushy. Give it a good drain.

Put the cauliflower in a bowl with about a tablespoon of butter. Do it.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted with this cauliflower, so I added garlic salt and garlic pepper. Figured I couldn't go wrong! And I definitely didn't go wrong.

A hand mixer is useful here to get everything combined and light. This can sit out for as long as it takes to make the other dishes.

Speaking of other dishes, hello gorgeous. These are two ribeye steaks, looking delicious. I salted and peppered them for good measure, but really, you could just admire their natural goodness.

Remember those onions? I hope you've been checking on them. They should be getting brown, so move them around a little. If they look "burned," don't you worry... that's how they should be. Say a little prayer for caramelized onions. That's part of the recipe.

Now you need a stainless steel skillet and some more butter. This is for the steak, so don't be shy. Are you seeing why the fake stuff is alright for these recipes? No need to totally give up on a healthy lifestyle. Just set it a side for a second.

By now, the onions should be pretty much done. Turn the heat as low as it goes and add about 3/4 cup cream. Now, I'm lactose intolerant, and I wouldn't think of omitting this step. So you shouldn't either. That said, you could use light cream, or milk, or even beef stock, and you'd be alright. But just alright.

The cream will start to take the brown color of the bits that were left in the pan. Oh, glory.

Get the steaks in the pan with the butter and sear on both sides for about 3 minutes each. Cover and let steam until the steaks are done to your liking. And your liking needs to be no more done that medium.

Caveat #2: "But I like my steak well done! No pink at all!" No you don't. No, you don't. Unless you have some sort of medical condition that disallows you from eating medium rare meat, please try this with at least a little pink. Otherwise, you might as well eat leather for dinner.

Of course, leather mixed with this sauce wouldn't be all that bad. That's how good it is.

Once the steaks are done and off the heat, turn the heat off the sauce. Dump in about a cup of blue cheese.

Caveat #3: "But I hate blue cheese!" No you don't. No, you don't. Try it. Please. Please please please please. Just trust me. Without the blue cheese, this is just an onion cream sauce. Snore. Add the blue cheese, for the love of everything tasty in this world.

After about 20 minutes, the asparagus will be done. Yum.

I served this with a little bit of the cauliflower on the bottom, then the steak, topped with the sauce that will stop traffic. And then I nestled the asparagus next to it all, just for some color.

Oh, my.

Oh, my.

To recap: Onions. Cream. Blue cheese. Don't ignore my sage advice.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's autumn in my kitchen Part... the rest of the parts.

So, I realize that I totally flaked on turning my fall foods experiment into multiple posts during fall... considering it's three days before Christmas and I'm just now getting back to y'all. But I've been busy! I'd love to turn this blog post into an update on me and my exciting life, but let's be honest. Food will always be more important.

Especially this food.

Now, I'll warn you. I had delusions of grandeur that my sweet potato fries, as mentioned in September during my trip to Gracie's in Salt Lake City, would taste like they do in restaurants. They didn't. I baked and fried them, and they both really turned into soggy messes. So, after this wedding business has passed, maybe I can save up enough pennies to buy myself this, and then I will revisit. For now, I'm deleting them from memory.

However, I did make two things that were quite successful: pumpkin puree and pepitas. Instead of pepitas, I could say pumpkin seeds, but the word pepitas is so much cooler. English is lame.

I started off with two pie pumpkins. Aren't they ador?

Take off the top of the pumpkins with a sharp knife. Or a chainsaw. Because they are solid little guys. Good thing I'm armed... with guns.

My mom thinks I'm funny.

Once the tops are off, you'll want to cut them in half. I realize that this photo does not depict half, and that I do math stuff so I should know what half looks like.

Dear 7th Grade Students, this is not what half is. This is what happens when you are really frustrated after lopping off the top of a pumpkin and instead of it being easy and smooth like on TV, you exert all human energy and just hafta stab something.

Just me?

After you take out your anger on squash, which is a total sign of mental stability, you'll get this:

Gutsy, right?

Man, I can hardly stop myself.

Now is the time to gut the little guys. Ina Garten probably would be polite and use a spoon or a knife, or have some fancy gadget do it, but here in 'Merica, we get our hands dirty.

Except during Swine Flu season, then the entire country knows how to cough into their elbows and not touch anything ever.

I digress. Gut the pumpkin.

Put guts, seeds, and everything into a separate bowl (throw them away and risk serious, serious consequences from me). Cut the halves in half (any math whizzes want to tell me what they are now?), and use a knife to cut the rest of the pulp away from the pumpkin flesh.

Line 'em up on the biggest baking sheet you have, and toss them in the oven (I say about 350) until they are golden and the sides start to pucker.

Meanwhile... remember the goo that came out of the pumpkin?

"Goo" being a scientific word, of course.

Give them a really good rinse, and line them up on a cookie sheet too. Do your best to get an even layer, then generously salt. Or don't. I don't want to be bossy.

You can pop these into the oven right along with the pumpkin, just don't let them burn. Then, in a little while, your pumpkin will be done! I don't know how long of a while. Just a while, alright?

(Note: I would have wanted these to be more done, so leave them in for a few extra minutes!)

This is what you're looking for. Puckering, golden sides. But more puckering and golden than this.

When the pepitas smell done, take them out and put them in a dish. And try not to make your next five meals out of them. I said try.

Pumpkin's done. You'll want to let it cool slightly until it's ok to handle, and then peel off the skin. If I would have roasted my pumpkin for a little longer, it would have been easier to peel off the skin.

Place all your pumpkin pieces in a food processor and give it a whirl. You may have to add water or you may not, depending on how watery the pumpkin is. See that logic? I'm wise, I'm just wise.

Up next: pumpkin puree!!

I measured the pumpkin into 2-cup increments, put them into Ziploc bags, and froze 'em. Come Christmas, there's going to be some pumpkin everything, because you know how many bags I got out of those two measly pumpkins?


Nine bags. Eighteen cups. (Again with the math. #1 on my To-Do list for 2010: get a life.) That's a lot of flipping pumpkin, but it's sooooo much better than the canned stuff. So do it!! Today!! Two days before Christmas Eve!! Come on, you know you've got time.

And, just because it's me, every dish in the house was dirty and the entire kitchen needed a deep clean. Nobody's perfect.

Merry Christmas y'all!! See you in 2010!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's autumn in my kitchen Part 1 - Kara's Squash Stuff

So, I got this idea in my head. I wanted to experiment with some of my favorite flavors of fall. This was for a few reasons: 1, I like to experiment with cooking, 2, I'm a little bit crazy, and 3, I live near a delightful farmer's market and I wanted to support the local economy.

I invited my friend Kara over and we attacked. I'm going to turn them into several posts because detailing all of the stuff we made would get overwhelming. And I prefer to just be whelmed.

Just to give you a taste of what's to come, this is what we looked like neck-deep in our day of cooking. I'm not sure why I look like a demon. But yes, that is a deep fryer, in delightful 1970s olive green.

So, today, I bring you Kara's baby. It has no name. It's the "squash stuff" she heard about at work.

Let me tell you why Kara is my friend. It's because, when I invite her over at 3 p.m. to cook, she brings this:

I wish you wouldn't wonder if we drank the whole bottle.

Anywho, the beginning of Kara's Squash Stuff has to do with an acorn squash. They are called this because they look like acorns.

It is written.

If you cut the acorn in half horizontally, the two sides will look like flowers. If you slice it from stem to stern, as Kara prefers, you'll get this:

Like you would with any squash, get the guts out. I tried to get Kara to let me save the seeds and bake them, but she wouldn't let me. So, to get her back, I snapped this photo:

Hahaha. That's me getting the last laugh.

Place the two halves in a baking dish and preheat the oven to 350. Or 375. Or 500. Whatever you are feeling.

In each halve, add some brown sugar. Not a specific amount of brown sugar, just some. Kara doesn't like to measure either. Another reason she is my friend.

Next: some pancake syrup. Kara used the fake corn syrupy stuff, and it offended me. When you make this, use pure maple for Pete's sake.

How about some butter next. Because butter's better.

Is that a slogan?! I just made that up. It's a shame my fantastic marketing skills will forever be lots on middle schoolers.

Once this is all in there, mix it up and spread it out along the flesh of the squash.

You know what would be amazing on this too? Cinnamon. Apple pie spice. Nutmeg. Use your imagination, folks.

Bake until the sides look brown, about 40 minutes. Once it cools a little, separate the flesh from the skin and enjoy!

Or, if it were me, I'd just fork the stuff into my face right from the squash. But that's me. I'm uncouth. I have no manners. I'm banned from the city of Chattanooga.

This would make an outstanding side dish for Thanksgiving. But I don't have to tell you that. You've all had Thanksgiving dinner. Unless you're English. In that case, sorry about that whole Revolutionary War thing.