The Dish that Keeps on Dishing


There were things in my fridge I wanted to get rid of.  These were some of those things.  Also, I was cold, so I wanted to turn on the oven.  Also also, scatter-brained and needing to do a ton of work, which is when doing things with yeast is awesome (because there are interruptions, but deadlines by which things must! be! done!)  This led to one of my more prolific experiments.IMG_6746

I wound up chopping up and sauteeing all the ingredients for the stuff in the bowl individually.  I let the onion get a good carmelization, cooked the sausage all the way through, and left the celeriac in the skillet for a really long time since it kept smelling nice and I have no idea what cooked celeriac looks like.  I think it looks like raw celeriac, except more fragrant.

The leftover squash-chip attempt that hadn’t yet been turned into scrambled egg filling got thrown in, too.

Incidentally many of the world’s tastiest cuisines are just a way to get leftovers out of your fridge.  I remind myself that leftover maintenance is what brought us jambalaya and garbage pizza every time I start to wonder whether I’ve lost my mind.  Incidentally, I spent an awful lot of time thinking about jambalaya and garbage pizza.


I used a recipe for Parker House rolls, which are super buttery dinner rolls, to get some dough ready to go. Then I rolled them out into little rounds, put the sausage mixture into it, and folded up the edges.  IMG_6750

Mmm, raw dough filled with (hopefully) yummy things.

The roommates came home to me going, “I’ve done a thing, it has caused food.  I’m unsure whether or not it’s dinner.”


They seemed to find it to be an adequate dinner.  I was unsatisfied.  They were tasty, but seemed more appropriate to lunch or a snack to me.  I have been informed that I have funny ideas about dinner.

But wait, there’s more!

I filled up the baking tray before I used up all the dough, so after dinner I went ahead and turned the rest of the dough into rolls.  We then ate the rolls, because rolls.


But wait, there’s more!

I didn’t nearly use up all the filling, either.  So the next day I made a pie crust.  And then I put the filling in the pie crust.  And then I covered it in a pile of sharp cheddar.IMG_6756

I liked the pie a whole lot more than I liked the filled buns.  I also liked that one flailing kitchen experiment gave me three different dishes.  That’s efficiency at its tastiest!

Kale and Squash Salad

When I go to potlucks, I tend to make brownies.  Or pie.  Or tarts.  Or…you get the idea.  I like being the one who brought the thing made of sugar and chocolate.  It’s a cheaters way of getting people to like you.  But last week I went and the request was, “Vegetables.”  Well, I can help with that.


Technically, our CSA is over.  There was no delivery last week.  Never fear, though, because we’re addicts.  We signed up for the winter share, and we’re going to pre-register for next year.  The vegetable onslaught has been, to put it mildly, a roaring success.  So that kale isn’t actually CSA kale, it’s “Are you just going to leave that kale in your back yard and not do anything with it?” kale I rescued from a friend.  I figured that since we didn’t have a CSA delivery last week I could do that without my roommates murdering me.  I’m still alive, so I think I was right.IMG_6722

I knew I was going to do some sort of warm salad because kale is just too sassy tough to eat raw.  And I knew I wanted to put squash on it because squash.  So far this year we’ve braised squash, mashed it, roasted it, curried it, and souped it.  I decided to see if I could make squash chips.  I sliced as thinly as I could, tossed them with olive oil and some salt, then slapped them in a very hot oven.IMG_6725

That’s all the kale chopped up and tossed with oil.IMG_6729

And that’s what it looked like after I sauteed it.  Cooks down a bit, yes?IMG_6730

The squash came out quite tasty.  It wasn’t chips, but they got super sweet and tasted like, of all things, apple.  No complaints here.IMG_6732

Since everything else was getting a trip through some oil and heat, I went ahead and sauteed the carrots, too.  And then I pulled out some old candied pecans we’ve had in the pantry forever and needed to use, chopped them up, and tossed them in. Just because I was bringing the vegetables did not mean that I couldn’t bring sweets.IMG_6734

I’m not really the person to go to for expert salad construction.  I wind up just piling everything in, then stirring and hoping the good bits don’t clump at the bottom.  Some day I’ll develop an advanced technique that is awesome.  Then I’ll take over the world.IMG_6737

Blue cheese, because blue cheese is awesome on everything, especially warm salads, especially warm salads with apple flavors and pecans.

I mixed up a dressing out of sriracha, a nice vinegar, a bit of soy sauce and some lemon juice.  Then I tossed it on at the party and did my stirring.  It was good.  People seemed to like it.  I liked it.  It was consumed in quantity, but I managed to snag leftovers.

IMG_6739Which I promptly ate for lunch the next day.  Recommended.


When the CSA Attacks Your Dumplings…

But first, an object lesson.  I made cupcakes for Sylvie’s birthday.  To be precise, I made matcha coconut (with a bit of jasmine) cupcakes with coconut matcha buttercream frosting.  I started with the Joy of Cooking yellow cake recipe and tinkered from there.  That recipe claimed that you don’t actually need to use cupcake wrappers in the cupcake pan so long as you grease and flour thoroughly.  The wrappers we had on hand didn’t fit very well into the pan, so I figured that might be easier.  Here’s how that first batch turned out.IMG_6691

Here’s how the second batch turned out, after I decided that maybe Joy of Cooking didn’t know what it was talking about and went ahead and used the wrappers.IMG_6693

Same amount of batter per cupcake in each batch, but these turned out taller and, dare I say it, prettier.  Use your wrappers, people.

Now, on to the main event.  I’ve been making chicken and dumplings for years.  It started at this recipe, but I’ve mixed up how I do it pretty thoroughly at this point.  The recipe for the dumplings themselves is unaltered in my typical use, but I shamelessly change everything else.  This time, went so far as to leave out the chicken and do sausage instead.  (Grilling season ended while we still had a ton of brats on hand.)


That’s a bag of chopped kale.  There was a squash thing that called for one bunch of kale but which I decided meant 2/3 of a bunch of kale.  And celery root instead of celery.  But that’s a regular carrot, and I also chopped an onion to throw in.

The recipe calls for making a broth by boiling the veggies with the chicken.  Boiling brats struck me as…unappetizing.  So I decided to caramelize things before throwing them into the broth to cook down and get tasty.


Oh, and I also added a clove of garlic, because garlic.  It’s in there.

I didn’t wind up cooking the carrots enough to get them particularly soft or caramelized, but they got a good sear on the outside.IMG_6704

And that’s a plate full of chopped up sausage that’s been skillet fried.  The fact that the sausage started life as a brat is very Wisconsin, but other than that, sausage is legitimately Southern when thrown in with gravy and biscuit-like objects, so my sacrilege score on this particular meal is quite a lot lower than has been usual.IMG_6706

That’s what the dumpling dough looks like before you add the liquid ingredients.  If you’re thinking “Wow, that looks just like biscuit dough at that stage,” then, yeah.  It pretty much is.IMG_6708

And that’s the final stage of the dough.  The recipe calls for rolling it out and then being orderly about cutting out dumplings or pinching off chunks.  I’ve never had the patience for that – rolling out biscuit dough makes a mess because it’s sticky.  I pinch the dough right out of the bowl, roll it in my hands a bit, then toss it into the boiling, milky broth.IMG_6710

Speaking of the broth, I should mention the other thing I ignore the recipe on.  It calls for removing the carrot, onion etc., from the broth and discarding them.  I started making this recipe in college when grocery money was a seriously challenging budgetary item.  I was not throwing away vegetables.  And I like my broth more gravy-like in consistency than this recipe will give you if you follow it strictly.  So instead I take the immersion blender and puree the vegetables.  Before I encountered the supreme joys of the immersion blender, I’d scoop them out, regular blend them, then throw them back in.  I’ve also used cream instead of milk, cream of mushroom soup instead of milk, sour cream, and several other things.  Someday I might do a cup of cheese soup, just to see what happens.IMG_6714

Speaking of liking the texture to be gravy-like, are you aware of this product?  It’s like corn starch, except easy.  It flour.  But magic flour.  Magic, makes everything thick super-fast and without lumps flour.  The name would be unforgivable if it weren’t so darn accurate.IMG_6716

Here’s where I made my major departure from status quo.  You don’t want to eat kale raw; it’s too tough.  But that toughness means it stays green and sassy when you do something like toss it into a pot full of sausage, boiled dumplings, and gravy.  It’s like a pop of lovely nature in your bowl of delightful cardiac arrest.IMG_6718

Mmmm, bowl of cardiac arrest.  This was good.  And a nice switch up for a recipe I’ve been making nigh unto a decade now.  Adding the kale here was brilliant, and the sausage substitution did not detract.  Would do again.

Squash and Eggplant Curry with Flatbread Experimentation

The vegetable onslaught continues and I’ve begun experimenting with flatbreads.  I made a dinner a few weeks ago I really wish I’d taken the time to photograph so I could blog it.  I didn’t, so you’ll have to settle for peeking in on my second crack at flat breads.  The first turned out phenomenally well, so the bar was pretty high for this second attempt.IMG_6639

We had an eggplant and a couple squash from the CSA, so I decided to play with this recipe.  And to go with it, this recipe for chapatis.  The lack of yeast in the chapati recipe was particularly appealing since that cuts a lot of time out of the preparation, and while I had time to futz with dinner, I’m still catching up from things I let slide while I was in Richmond and have about ten other things going on I’d like to keep on top of as well, so quick was appealing.IMG_6642

The dough is extremely simple.  Mix water and flour.  That’s it.  Awesome.  My favorite part of the flat bread experimentation so far, though, is that they tend to call for wheat flour.  I bought a 25lb bag at Costco a while back on a whim, because I thought it would lend itself to making more interesting bread.  It resoundingly had the opposite effect.  All the un-fun things you associate from eating lame wheat bread growing up, none of the toothsome texture or depth I expect from wheat bread.  It’s working great for the flat breads, though.  Impulse purchase of bulk ingredient validated!IMG_6643

The part where you toast the spices is probably my favorite part of cooking.  It smells so good it’s like getting a reward just as you start.  Good job, you can heat oil and pour powder into it, have aroma of awesome!IMG_6646

I tossed in the last two of the CSA tomatoes, which upped my vegetable count.  We’re out of CSA onion, so we’ve had to switch back to the bag of grocery store onions I got just before the CSA started delivering.  I may someday go back to the grocery store for produce.  Weird.

This is what he bowl of roasted eggplant and squash looked like when I finished peeling them.  The eggplant was actually pretty easy to do once I stopped burning my fingers on it.  The squash was much more complicated, probably because it took a detour from oven to counter and visited “smashed on floor because Anaea’s a clumsy oaf,” land, which had rather unfortunate consequences for its structural integrity.  IMG_6651

Mmm, curried mush.  And that’s basically what it is.  I wound up adding a bit of cinnamon and chicken stock to it, just because upon tasting I decided it needed something to round out the flavors a bit – the eggplant and squash weren’t quite working together as team players.  IMG_6653

The chapatis turned out to be not at all faster than a yeasted flatbread.  In fact, they took up about four times as much of my time as the pita bread I made last time.  The pita bread needed more time for rising and whatnot, but much less time from me futzing with the dough.  These chapatis are all about no ingredients but lots of time consuming technique.IMG_6655

Remember, the dough is just flour and water.  Part of the rolling out process is folding in oil, while folding up the dough.  This is where the flavor comes from, and the air trapped between the layers of dough is what’ll eventually give it its lift.IMG_6657

That’s all dough, with the edges pinched to keep the oil in.  They look like baby samosas to me, which got me to craving samosas.  Alas, there were no samosas in this dinner.IMG_6660

And that’s what the chapati looks like when you roll it out and don’t much care whether you get it perfectly round.  I did that twelve times.  Half way through I switched to doing it assembly-line style, though, which sped things up considerably.  IMG_6667


That looked to me very much like success.  I suspect the ring around the air bubble from pinching the edges together to seal in the oil.  Something to be cognizant of while doing that.IMG_6669

They got a really pleasant char on them while in the skillet.  It looked very much like what I expect a chapati to look like, which is always a good sign.

This is also where my biggest complaint about the chapati recipe comes in.  Cooking each piece individually in the skillet is slow.  My kitchen is very straight and clean now, but that’s not what I had among my goals for the evening.  The char is pretty, but I don’t really feel like it was worth the time commitment.  But that could be the part where I wound up serving dinner an hour and a half later than I’d wanted to talking.IMG_6671And that was dinner.

The chapati recipe is an excellent recipe for chapatis.  I miss the yeast and higher oil content in these compared to the pita, though, which just means I like pita bread better than chapatis, which I already knew.  The curry was tasty but not mind blowing – then again, I expect it’ll be better tomorrow.


Squash in my Sister’s Kitchen

imageThis week I’m in Richmond visiting family.  The Arkansas branch of the family is in town, too, and so the large gatherings around food have been copious.  I didn’t see why leaving my kitchen behind in Wisconsin should stop me from contributing, so I went to the grocery store and actually entered the produce section. (Don’t tell my roommates, but I bought produce)  Pretty, pretty squashes.  We picked up two, and I set to work. image  One squash at a time, I threw them in high-sided pan that already had hot oil in it.  Then I doused the squash with soy sauce, sprinkled on some all spice, and added chicken stock until the bottom quarter or so of the squash chunks were covered.  Slap a lid on that, and let it cook.  The pan was a bit overloaded, so I kept an eye on it and stirred, just to make sure things cooked evenly and all the pieces got exposed to all the good bits. imageIt took about twenty minutes, if even that much time, for the squash to turn into mushy caramelized yum.  I hit them with a bit of balsamic vinegar when they were done, then tossed them into a Tupperware container to go over to the gathering and feed the people.  The people were pleased.



Latin American African Asian Chicken Peanut Dinner

Saturday night, my kitchen was a study in the culinary consequences of Imperialism.  I started with a recipe out of the same Latin American cook book the empanada pie came from.  This recipe was from Brazil, and is described as having been an African dish adapted to local ingredients.  Looked good to me.  Though I did, of course, start almost immediatly with ignoring the directions, breaking out a package of boneless thighs rather than cutting up a whole chicken.IMG_6599

I let that marinade in lime juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper for a couple hours.  Interesting tid bit about marinading things: many years ago now my Dad explained to me, while prepping a marinade for a steak, that he never put salt in his marinades because salt will make the meat tough.  Look at its historical use as a preservative he said by way of further explanation – it dries out the meat.  He was right on the historical (and still current, actually) relationship between salt and meat.  But he was wrong about not putting salt in your marinade.  You need salt to trigger osmosis, so that the liquid from your marinade will get into the meat you’re soaking it in.  That’s the whole idea behind brining a turkey.  So whatever else you’re doing with your marinade, make sure it has salt.  (If you’re using soy sauce, you’re good)IMG_6605

In addition to the chicken thing, I pulled a recipe off our CSA’s site for kale potato pancakes.  We have a lot of kale, you see, and I was pretty sure we were going to need something starchy to go with dinner.  The recipe claimed it made six servings, and since I was feeding two people I halved the recipe.  It also said to finely shred the kale.  I was feeling lazy, so I experimented with using the food processor to shred.  I suspect the configuration you see is not how it’s meant to work, but my kale wound up shredded, so if I did it wrong, oh well.IMG_6607

Those potatoes are so getting boiled!  And then fried!

And then eaten.


Back to the chicken.  First step: cook onion.  The recipe called for a whole onion, but the only onion we have left from the CSA was HUGE, so I used half.  That is half of that onion.  The smaller half.IMG_6613

The recipe called for chilli peppers.  I used what we had instead, which weren’t as spicy as what the recipe called for (as in, weren’t spicy at all) but I was way more interested in racking up points on the “Which veggies did you use” card than in being faithful to the recipe.IMG_6616

Meanwhile, sear the outsides of that chicken you’ve been marinading and get it all brown and tasty on the outside.  At this point I had three of four burners going on the stove.  And I still managed to unload the dishwasher while cooking dinner.  I’m very proud.IMG_6618

That’s the onions, peppers, and paprika.  So far, it looks like a standard stir fry.  It smelled quite good.  This is the part where I started getting really creative with my tinkering.  The recipe called for using dried shrimp and peanuts.  I did not have dried shrimp or peanuts.  Instead, I added fish sauce and…IMG_6619

Yeah, that’s peanut butter   I just mashed all the continents together in one skillet.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you globalism in a photo.IMG_6623

This is where i got smugly excited about dinner.  Because man, suddenly i have a skillet full of veggies cooking in peanut sauce.  What’s tastier than peanut sauce?  NOTHING.

And then I dumped everything from the cast iron skillet full of chicken into the pan, swapped burners so that this one went on the back of the stove, and left it to simmer while I ignored it in favor of starchy things.

I was skeptical about these pancakes pretty much from the moment that I noticed the recipe called for half an onion, but never actually told you to put the onion in the dish.  I’ve been less than impressed across the board with the recipes provided by the CSA.  They’re decent for blandish inspiration, but trying to actually follow them is going to lead to tragic disaster.  They’re consistently wrong about proportions, timing, miss steps, and forget to season things.  But did I mention that we have a lot of kale this week?IMG_6630I’m pleased with the chicken.  Next time, I’d vote for more lime juice thrown in at the end, and not forgetting to toss in cilantro and parsley, but as Nick commented over dinner, “It’s hard to go wrong with peanut sauce.”  The potato pancakes were bland – really could have used that onion it called for but didn’t include.  I wound up throwing some hot sauce on them, which fixed them right up.  The kale did cook up nicely in them, though, so as a launching point to further experimentation, it wasn’t a bad start.

Two peppers, half an onion, half a bunch of kale, and half a pound of potatoes.  Veggie score: Awesome.


The Empanada Pie Disaster of 2013

IMG_6535 That, ladies and gentlemen, is a pile of thinly sliced pork.  I needed to turn it into dinner.  One of the roomies is quite fond of pork.  The other has been burned by dry, flavorless pork one too many times.  It needed to be good.  Also, it needed to use vegetables.  So I turned to Leith’s Latin American Cookbook (which I picked up at a used bookstore in DC last time I was there due to poor impulse control) and decided to do a thing.

There’s a recipe in there for shredded pork which looked really good.  It even called for three pork tenderloins, which is what I had when I started.  Also, it suggested at the end that it could be used as empanada filling.  So I looked up the only recipe in the book under empanada.  It was for an empanada pie with a vegetable filling.  Recipe mashup commence!IMG_6538

I started by utterly ignoring the instructions for the pork preparation.  The recipe called for searing the tenderloins, then cooking them, and then shredding them. But I had few out of the house commitments for the day and mostly planned to grind away at my intimidating to do list, so there was lots of time.  I sliced the pork.  Then I marinated it.  I took my cues for the marinate prep from the recipe, though.  There was oregano and garlic, as suggested.  A bit of canola oil.  A bit of honey (because.), some salt, and a healthy dose of curried meat seasoning mix since it had cumin in it, the recipe called for cumin, and I didn’t feel like grinding our cumin seeds into straight cumin.  Laziness, it leads to flavor!IMG_6541

That’s a skillet full of bacon fat left over from brunch that morning.  Woe is me, for lo, bacon fat is such a pain to clean out of a skillet.  It is, however, mega tasty for cooking pork in.  So it was that many hours after sticking the pork in a bag full of tasty marinade, the pork got thrown into a skillet full of a sibling’s stomach fat.IMG_6544

Yum, incestuous cooking.IMG_6551

For the vegetable part of the filling I did some mucking around with the recipe, too.  This picture is here mostly because I’m so proud of the knife technique demonstrated.  Look at those thin, even slices of onion.  I remember the first time I chopped an onion.  It did not look this good.  Learning curve, you are defeated!IMG_6553

Mmm, onion cooked in leftover pork goop.  IMG_6560

The recipe called for canned tomato.  We had fresh slicing tomatoes from the CSA.  I considered grabbing a can anyway.  Then I stopped being a crazy person.  The recipe did not call for any peppers.  But the filling paired with the empanada pie recipe did.  And we had a jalapeño from the CSA. That got tossed in, too.IMG_6562

The recycling of dishes used in making this is really awesome.  Especially since I get to blame it all on good culinary technique (the things are cooking in the juices of the other things!) rather than outright laziness and the fact that I ran the dishwasher three times that day as it was.

They cooked down quite nicely.  I was a little concerned since it looked like the filling in the empanada pie recipe wasn’t going to be very liquidy – there was a note about it looking dry and that being ok – and I didn’t want a soggy empanada.  But it wasn’t too bad, and I was pretty sure I’d ruin the filling by cooking it until there wasn’t any liquid left.IMG_6566

The recipe called for a tart pan, which I suppose means this is more properly an empanada tart.  I don’t blame them for calling it a pie instead, though.  Who would take an empanada tart seriously?IMG_6567

I did not manage to fit all of the pork into the pan.  I didn’t try.  We’ll make rice and beans later this week and recycle the leftovers into a whole new meal. You’ll note a theme for this week.  It is “lazy.” Intimidating to do lists will cause that.IMG_6569

Then I carefully spooned the vegetable bits onto the pie, leaving as much liquid in the skillet as I could.  I didn’t use all of that up, either.  See above for why this is totally okay.

I made the dough for the empanada crust.  Wound up being pretty much just like any other pie crust dough, except a bit grainier from the corn meal.  I continue to like putting dough into tart shells more than pie plates.IMG_6573

Flubbed the top crust just a mite bit, but that was okay.  I wasn’t trying to impress anybody with how pretty dinner was.

You’ll note the relative smooth sailing and lack of disaster or hilarity so far. Don’t worry, I didn’t lead you astray.

Remember that soggy pie and liquid filling concern I had?  Well, ten minutes in to baking the pie what do I hear but the sizzle of juice dripping down from the shell onto the floor of my oven.  I wouldn’t care, except for the part where that leads to oven use causing smoke and filling the house with the smell of burning things.  Okay, I care.  So I did the responsible thing.  The grown up thing.  I decided to put a pan under the pie.

What do we remember from our previous discussion of tart shells?  If you said, “They come in two peices, with an outer ring that slides up from the bottom,” you might be able to suspect what happened next.

I didn’t move the pie shell very well, because the pan was trying to come apart.  And then it was failing to slide over the lip of the pan the way it ought to.  And then…

And then it was on the floor of the oven, half slid under the element, and burning into place there. Uhm.

There was cussing.  A whole lot of cussing.


Remember how I didn’t mind how ugly the empanada was, so long as it tasted good?  I lied.  There is such a thing as too ugly.  You’re looking at it, broken, deformed mass that it is.  I am angry with this pie. All that work, all that support, I gave it the best hours of my day, and what did it go and do to itself? Mutilation, that’s what. How is a cook supposed to feel when their dishes go and self-mutilate like this?IMG_6579It did taste good. Though I think half the praise from the roommates was that despite the interlude of extensive cussing, dinner wasn’t delayed as they were hungry.

I will tackle you again, empanada pie. And you will come out with pleasing superficial aesthetics. Grr.

Black Rice Stir Fry


It’s with great sorrow and not a little shame that I must report that this week, we had our first bona fide CSA tragedy.  The CSA delivered unto us a watermelon.  It was the second watermelon it had delivered.  The first was phenomenally good, consumed at a picnic prior to taking in some outdoor theater.  I was eager to eat the second.  I’d look at in the fridge and go, “Oh, yes, the watermelon!  We should slice that open and devour it all!!!”  Ten days later, we finally did.IMG_6502It was no longer watermelon.  “Limp” is the best word.  It was too funky to even turn into a beverage.  We’d let the melon down.  Fruit failure.  Produce penalty.  And so, when it came time to cook dinner the next night, it was with the tragically wasted watermelon in mind that my mantra became, “No more!”


My mission: Use as much of all of this as humanly possible, without creating leftovers.  (OMG, fridge so full of leftovers, omg)  My original plan was to do flatbread pizzas in the oven.  I even put warm water in a bowl with sugar to start the dough for the flatbread.  But then my phone rang.  A new prospective client wanted to talk.  For half an hour.  About a property that isn’t for sale.  He doesn’t even live in Wisconsin.  Is this man ever going to buy a house?  No, he’s a scam.  And he used up the very small window of time I had to get dough started and not have dinner ready entirely too late.  Crabby Realtor was crabby.  And changing plans.IMG_6509

New plan.  Saute vegetables together.  Make rice.  Throw them together with the parsley and cheese and do a rice and vegetable salad thingie.  It’ll be awesome!  Because.  That was my whole plan.  Because.IMG_6510

But then I added green curry paste.  Now my plan was curried Because.  Better plan.

That’s the whole eggplant, and yellow zucchini  and third of the head of broccoli.  The other two thirds went back to the fridge since I wanted to serve a vegetable medley, not broccoli with some  eggplant-zucchini garnish.  Then I seasoned it.  The green curry paste was a good start, but I’d been a little conservative with it – there needed to be more.  So I threw in some oyster sauce.  Then some “kecap sambal.”  I have no idea what kecap sambal is, other than, “soya beans sauce with relish,” (that label is in English) but I think of it as, “spicy asian ketchup of tasty.”  I stirred.  Then I added more kecap.  Then I stirred some more.

Meanwhile, I had something exciting going in another pot: black rice.IMG_6516

We’ve had a bag of black rice in the pantry for ages.  I mixed some if it into a dirty rice mix ages back and have been meaning to play with it more ever since.  The bag is full of things written in Chinese.  I do not read Chinese.  There are English translations for some of it, mostly the things that tell me how healthy black rice is and how I should make sure to eat a lot of it.  If there are instructions for how to cook it on the bag, they’re in Chinese and not translated.  Fortunately, I have trouble following directions anyway.  I put twice as much water as rice in a pot, brought it to a boil, then threw in the rice and ignored it for ten minutes.  There was water leftover, but not so much that I didn’t just dump the pot into the vegetables.

This was the moment where I realized that I wasn’t thinking very clearly.  I’d forgotten something.  No green beans!  All the other vegetables got chopped up first, and I forgot about the ones that didn’t need chopping when I got the sauteing started.  Oh well.  Less done green beans would just add a nice crunch to the salad.IMG_6518



I took a taste and realized two things.  First, my salad plan was made of dumb.  I was clearly making a stir fry, and if I’d thought about the actual outcome of my original plan that would have been obvious.  Ladies and gentlemen, I cook the way I write.  Pantless.  I mean planless.  I mean…whatever.

The other thing I realized was that I’d perhaps added more asian spicy ketchup of tasty than would be entirely appreciated by people still sensitive to spicy food.  (For some reason, I haven’t been registering spicy food as spicy past the first bite for a while.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.)  I needed to balance the spicy with some sweetness.  I added honey, because I’m still adding honey to everything.  Then I added fish sauce because hey, I’ve admitted I’m making a stir fry, why not?  Then I got clever and went to the fridge for vegetables that hadn’t hit the first tier of urgency.

Carrots are sweet.  They’re also brightly colored, and everything in the stir fry was getting rather brown, what with all the sauce and black rice.  This was the cleverest thing I did over the whole planning and preparation of this meal.IMG_6522

Added white rice, too, because I’d already committed to that plan way back when I thought I was making a salad.  Which is the part where I realized the other massive flaw in my dinner plan.  Have you spotted it?  Think about it for a minute.


No protein.  Well, a smidge in the eggplant, but not enough for three people.  There was going to be cheese, way back when this was going to be a pizza.  Did I mention how irritated I was with inconvenient waste-of-time prospect guy?  Time for emergency planning.  Cheese was not going to work in this.  I had just a few options.

1) Thaw something from the freezer and throw it in, delaying dinner a minimum of thirty minutes, more probably an hour.

2) Scramble eggs and mix them in.  Fast, tasty, but we had egg custard thingies for dinner the night before.

3) Chop up Chinese sausages we keep in the fridge, throw them in.  Mega tasty, but they were in the egg custard thingies we had for dinner the night before.

4) Tofu.  There’s an unopened package of it in the fridge.  Except, I’ve never actually cooked with tofu before – that’s Nick’s thing.IMG_6526

Witness, my first use of tofu as a cook.  Emergency protein, deployed!  More stirring.  And then I declared dinner complete.


How did I do on operation “Never again”?  Well, the parsley didn’t get touched, but I dented the broccoli and the green beans, and utterly depleted our eggplant and zucchini supplies.  Dinner was ready before people started eyeing the cat for her nutritional value.  I think it even turned out sorta pretty.

More importantly, it was tasty.  So tasty that people went back for seconds.  I may have witnessed a rare incident of Sylvie thirds.  Which brings us to the “no leftovers” portion of the operational criteria.

IMG_6532Almost.  And frankly, not bad.


Chowing Corn Chowder

What can prompt a stable, sane, culinary adventurer such as myself (stop snickering!) to do this?IMG_6471

The third delivery in a row from the CSA of this:

I love corn on the cob.  Let’s face it, I’m American; I love corn.  And we’ve been having great fun firing up the grill and grilling all the things.  But there are three of us.  That’s nine ears of corn.  Even if we have friends over, we get five, maybe seven people.  Zucchini overload I expected.  Cucumber overload I was prepared for.  People, we are drowning in corn.

So I did the logical thing.  I decided to get my vengeance and drown the corn back.  Which, as all good plots involving vengeance do, started with bacon.

Once the bacon was cooked I scooped it out of the pot, added some butter, then tossed in half a chopped onion.  The onion is from the CSA, too.  We’ve been getting those slightly faster than we use them, but onion overload worries me less.  Onions keep.  Onion goes in everything.  The corn, though.  Oh man, the corn.IMG_6487

The recipe I was using said it wanted four cups of corn, which I would get form nine ears of corn.  It also gave me the option of using 1-2 zucchini   You’d better believe I opted to use two.IMG_6490

The zucchini went into the pot to start cooking while I cut the corn off the ears.  You know what I’ve never done before?  Cut corn off the ears.  You bite corn off the ear, preferably after grilling it though boiling is ok if you don’t overdo it.  This was near heresy.  My CSA has driven me to heresy.  I’m strangely okay with that.IMG_6494

Also, don’t trust recipes from your CSA.  Corn from nine ears gives you something more like a million cups of corn.  This is what I had left after I couldn’t fit anymore corn in the pot.IMG_6495

This was the stage where I started tinkering.  I already knew the recipe came from fantasy land, so after adding the milk/cream combo I use instead of the called-for half and half, I poured in a bunch of Frank’s Red Hot sauce.  Because that would be better.  I did not pour in enough, though.  That is a huge pot of soup.  Doctoring individual bowls after the fact is highly recommended because mmmm, spicy chowder.IMG_6499Garnished with the suggested basil, which I can do, because we’re also drowning in basil.  I’m not complaining about that, though.  Mmm, basil.

It was tasty.  And, better still, freezable.  I’m going to be really pleased with this some time around February.

The Great Unplanned Vegetable Pie


My roommates have done a terrible thing and left town.  Meanwhile, we’re getting ever further behind on vegetable consumption, even when there are three of us.  Last night I took drastic action.  My original plan was a pizza, because  making pizza dough sounded like fun.  So I mixed up some dough before leaving for work in the morning, then left in in the fridge to rise all day.IMG_6305

As the day progressed, my plans shifted.  It was CSA pickup day, and we still had half of the veggies from the week before.  I’d need to use more than could be scattered gracefully on a reasonable pizza.  So I decided to fake a deep dish pizza, so I could pile a bunch of veggies in, top them with tomato sauce (a donation from some jerk who moved away like a jerky jerk jerkwad) and cheese, and cover over any inadequacies with nostalgia.IMG_6306

I have no idea how one actually makes a deep dish pizza.  I decided to use a pie plate.  IMG_6310

I didn’t quite fit all the veggies I chopped into the plate.  I did get a lot of them in there, though, which was the point.  Also, giving the dough a few minutes to relax before stretching it over the pie plate would have been a good idea.  Fortunately, it relaxed while I stuffed veggies in, which rescued the whole  enterprise from utter disaster.IMG_6313

Topped it with tomato sauce.  From a jar.  Whatever, I was the only one eating it, and it was already approaching eight hours since lunch, so I wasn’t feeling picky.IMG_6316

Then I shredded a whole bunch of cheddar and piled it on.  Eyed the pie.  Added more cheddar.IMG_6317

I suppose this turned out more like a giant calzone than a deep dish pizza.  Oh well.  It was food, and it was full of veggies.IMG_6320

And it baked up quite nicely.IMG_6324It wasn’t the most exciting thing I’ve ever made.  Putting a cucumber in was a mistake – too much liquid, but that poured offf pretty easily.  I think taking the time to pre-cook some of the veggies (especially carmelizing the onion) would behoove a second attempt.  Also, mixing in the cheese more, and having even more of it.  But it was both adequately tasty and filling, and that was what mattered.