Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Season has begun!

And tradition dictates that we put up the Christmas tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving. We have always used an artificial tree (and probably always will do to allergy issues), but I've been wanting to get a new tree lately. So this past weekend we have been going to store after store trying to find a tree that I love at a price that I can afford. This proved to be harder than expected, and by this afternoon I had resolved that I would not be getting a new tree this year. Perhaps after Christmas, I can get on on clearance for next year. . . yes, I am that cheap. During nap time, Robert decided to go and hang the lights up around the tree so he went to get them out of storage. Lo and behold, guess what he should find. A brand new Christmas tree in the box! Obviously, I've been wanting a new Christmas tree since last year and I really did go get one on Clearance after Christmas! It's a good thing I didn't go buy a new one this year!
After nap time, the girls and Robert started putting up the tree. They were really big helpers and surprisingly good at it! We didn't put ornaments on yet because we hadn't bought the ones for this year. We will decorate our tree tomorrow!

C.H.O.P.

He he he, it's like IHOP, except it's Crystal's House of Pancakes. Sadly, we don't even have an IHOP around here. Everytime we go out for breakfast, Gabrielle always insists on ordering one of those gross, gigantic pancake faces. Sure they're cute, but they're rarely good. . . or eaten. I woke up this morning and knew that Robert would want pancakes for breakfast. It's one of his favorite weekend breakfasts. This morning, he requested chocolate chip pancakes, so I decided to spice things up a little. :-) See if you can guess who's pancake is who's? BTW, I didn't make one for myself. . . I really cannot stand to eat giant face pancakes. Amazingly enough though, Gabrielle ate almost all of hers. That was a REALLY big pancake!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving!

Ahhh Thanksgiving. . . the day to be thankful for having an opportunity to cook your heart out. Of course I have soooo much more to be thankful for, don't get me wrong. But I think I'll save that out of this blog because we don't want me getting too sentimental and it's much more fun to talk about food instead. Instead we'll just talk about the strangeness of spending an entire day cooking for the sole purpose of eating this gigantic meal. Anyway, after pretty much 8 straight hours of cooking, my family sat down for Thanksgiving dinner with our guest, The Geren's. When I finally sat down to eat, I was almost feeling a little disappointed. After all that work, this was all there was to show for it? I suppose it was a lot of food. I made turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce (for Robert), cranberry relish (for me), and homemade rolls. Jessica was kind enough to contribute corn bake, broccoli/cauliflower salad, and mashed potatoes. I think everything turned out really well, and there was definately enough food to feed another family. Later that night, Robert laid out a dessert spread for us. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies (courtesy of Jessica), and a new addition this year, Indian Pudding with homemade cinnamon ice cream. Jessica also brought over some delicious mini pumpkin cheesecakes, but I was unwilling to share :-), so we couldn't lay it out on the table. Can you tell I REALLY like pumpkin? The Indian Pudding is definately interesting though. Even though it seems to be rather popular here in New England, I've never had it myself. For those that are wondering, it's basically a baked pudding of milk, eggs, cornmeal, molasses, maple syrup, and spices. Topped with a dollop of ice cream, it's pretty tasty. . . and unlike anything I've ever had before, making it very difficult to describe.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumpkin, cont!

I forgot to mention yesterday that my batch of ice cream left me with half a can of unused pumpkin. Not wanting to waste it, I made it into lunch for today. . . pumpkin soup. Yep, by the time this winter is over my family is going be all pumpkined out. And this morning I woke up thinking about pumpkin cheesecake (yum!) and I haven't even made my pumpkin fudge yet this year. But I did happen to whip up a batch of regular fudge (rocky road, minus the rocky parts)... which I blame primarily on Jessica for having even mentioned it to me. Yes, it's like that. . . if I get the idea stuck in my head and I have all the ingrediants on hand to make it, then BAM! it's made. And because I keep a VERY well stocked pantry, I almost always have everything on hand to make whatever I want. In fact, I tend to get VERY irritated when I realize that I actually don't have something. I don't know if it's possible to become addicted to cooking, but pretty soon someone's gonna have to sign me up for C.A. (I won't tell you if I do though, cause it's supposed to be anonymous :-) Also, for those of you that are wondering if I just stay in my kitchen and cook all day, the answer is a definative "no." I do have a life, I have two kids remember, I'm taking 3 classes this semester. And just to prove my point, I only spent one hour in the kitchen at lunchtime, to make the soup and the fudge, and not even an hour at dinner time to make dinner (tacos, yes I make normal foods too!) Anyway, for those of you who like to try pumpkin in a savory way, I would recommend the soup, it's very warming. Of course, I'm a bit of a soup person myself. This picture really didn't do it justice.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 can (14 1/2 fluid ounces) chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (15 ounces)pureed Pumpkin
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated Milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
MELT butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and sugar; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft. Add broth, water, salt and pepper; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, evaporated milk and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

TRANSFER mixture to food processor or blender (in batches, if necessary); process until smooth. Return to saucepan. Serve warm.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bippity Boppity Boo!

Hey, if Cinderella's fairy godmother could turn a pumpkin into a carriage, then I can pretty much turn a pumpkin into anything else. . . bread, pie, ice cream, ball, soup. You get the idea. Jessica had another wonderful and highly enjoyable pot luck/playgroup at her house today. Theme: Thanksgiving. My contribution: Homemade pumpkin ice cream & triple layer pumpkin spice pie. For those of you with an ice cream maker, I'm posting this recipe because if you like pumpkin ice cream, then this recipe is heavenly. Technically, it's more like a pumpkin gelato, which is all the better in my book!



1 c. canned pumpkin


1 tsp. vanilla extract


1 c. whole milk


1 c. heavy cream


3/4 c. brown sugar


2 eggs


1/2 tsp cinnamon


1/2 tsp ginger


1/4 tsp salt


dash nutmeg




In a bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.




In medium saucepan, combine the rest of ingrediants with a whisk. Heat over medium low heat, stirring continuously, until until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW THE MIXTURE TO BOIL! (I accidently let it happen twice because I wasn't paying attention and my cream curdled. That does NOT make for yummy ice cream.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.


Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.




Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and allow to ripen, at least hours. Enjoy!
And here's pic of the pie that I made, which is a great alternative for those without an ice cream maker. The recipe can be found here http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/triple-layer-pumpkin-spice-pie-107943.aspx Hey, I don't ALWAYS make everything from scratch :-)

Another Bun in the Oven!

Ha ha ha, I can only imagine the reactions to that title. I'm actually referring to bread though :-D. I think I'm quickly on my way to never buying a loaf of bread again. Truth be told, we've had the same half a loaf of bread in our fridge for at least two weeks now! The girls and I never eat sandwich or toast. . . so I guess a loaf of bread can go a long time. Well that batch of friendship bread that Jessica gave me never made it's way to my friends in the way of starters. . . mostly because everyone I know either has one, had one recently, or would rather prefer to the just get the final product. I on the other hand am having so much fun! I finally used one of the starters to make a traditional loaf of friendship bread. . . which really is so so so so good! If you ever get a starter, I think it's totally worth the 10 days! And I'm not the only one that feels that way. Each of the girls had three slices for breakfast! Then to spice things up a bit, I used another starter to make cranberry nut bread (sans nuts of course. . .which I guess just make it cranberry bread. But that doesn't sound as cool.) It made 4 cute little mini loaves, which are also being devoured, although I did give a couple away (specifically to those friends who said they'd prefer the finished product). It's amazing how differently they taste even though they are basically the same ingrediants. Hey, if anyone wants a starter, let me know! I've got more coming in 5 days. . . and look I've already given you 3 things you can make with it. I'm thinking home made cinnamon rolls next. . .after Thanksgiving though.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Biggest Bed Ever!

Usually, parents are complaining about how they can't get a good night's sleep because their kids are always coming in their beds in the middle of the night. Well, I am the exception to that rule. My girls rarely wake up in the middle of the night, and since they've moved to their own beds when they were babies, I could probably count the number of time that they've slept with me in my bed. In fact, Leila's only done it once since she moved out. So I've actually been complaining lately about how I never get to sleep with the girls. It doesn't help that we have a queen sized bed which really isn't big enough for everybody. . . especially not without me worrying about someone falling out. So we're doing something a little different and fun tonight. . . slumber party in mom's room! And my solution to the bed being to small: bring in another bed. I actually moved Gabrielle's twin sized bed from her room to mine, which was a little bit of an ordeal. But the girls think it's awesome! Perfect for watching a movie in bed :-) It's nice to just have a little fun every once in a while.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Observation Day!

Today was observation day at Gabrielle's dance class, which are so much fun because each time I'm always so impressed by how much she's learned. Except everytime we go watch her she always looks like she's having a miserable time. . . never smiles. But she always loves going to dance class and always says she has fun. So who knows with her. . . but anyway, here's a little video from when they were having scarf dancing (which is like free time in dance class).
video

That's What Friends Are For

Phone calls to rant and rave, a cup of sugar, someone to watch your kids in the case of an emergency, and Amish Friendship Bread starter. . . which Jessica happened to bless me with 10 days ago. I am a big fan of AFB, so I was delighted and excited to get it. Personally, I have no problems squishing it and feeding it over the 10 day period. But this was the first time that I've gotten it since I've really gotten into cooking, and the more I thought about it the more the starter reminded me of sourdough starter. Which gave me this great idea. . . I bet I could make sourdough bread out of it. Need I say more? Results below :-) I will definately be making this again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Turkishly Delightful!

Or rather just turkish delights. You know, those chewy candies made famous by the book and movie, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." C'mon, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. . . it's what Edmund asks the White Witch to give him to eat when she picks him up in her sleigh. Then she made a bargain with him -- more turkish delights when he brings his siblings. Turkish delights are good. . . but not good enough to be a traitor for! Well I've had turkish delights on the brain. .. and I know of no place where I can buy it around here. Robert once brought me some back when he came back from deployment. He must know me and my love for chewy, gummy candies so well. For those wondering, turkish delights are the basis for the inside of jelly beans. Easy to eat. . . not so easy to make.



I found several different recipes for them. Most using the traditional combination of sugar and cornstarch. Others using gelatin. I decided to try both. Because I don't have any rosewater (the traditional flavor of turkish delights) I decided to make orange, lemon, and mint flavor. I made the orange ones using the recipe that used gelatin. And made the mint and lemon flavor with the traditional ingrediants. Well in the end the orange flavored ones ended up tasting like
candy orange slices. And as for the mint and lemon ones. . . excellent flavor, the girls thought they were yummy, but they never set properly. And they didn't ever get that chewy texture. Instead, Robert said it felt like he had just eaten a piece of flubber. . . he just said that cause it was green. Oh well. I guess the next time that I want some Turkish Delight, I will just tell myself to suck it up. But if I get a taste for orange slices. . . well then I'll whip up this recipes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Minty Refreshment

I am sure that it has become apparent by now that I tend to be a rather spontaneous chef. I get a taste for something, or I see something that looks really good, and next thing you know (or I know) I'm making it. I especially tend to be like that when I'm in a good mood. It used to be that I would only bake when I was having a bad day. One time Robert came home to see me baking and said "Have a bad day?" "How'd you know?" I asked. His reply: "cause you're baking." Well nowadays I bake just because I want too. And usually I have to be in a good mood to do it. Anyway, today I had a taste for mints. I think I'm sorta catching the holiday spirit even though it's only November. Well I had a taste in mind, but in the end I couldn't decide what kind of mints I wanted -- so I made two different kinds. White chocolate mints with a bottom coating of crushed candy canes, and cream cheese mints that look like they got a little too much green coloring. I ended up liking them both, which is always a good thing. There's so much that I think everyone in the house needs to eat one after each meal. Maybe I'll even give Copper (our dog) a few. Goodness knows he needs em! I guess everyone will be having minty fresh breath!

Wasting away again. . .

in Margaritaville!!! A Margaritaville was recently added to the Mohegan Sun Casino near us, and Robert and I finally got the chance to go. Margaritaville is something of a tradition for us, we've been to the ones in New Orleans, Orlando, and Charleston. . . and we've collected salt shakers from each one. Anway, I had a blast!!! One could argue that I don't get out much, which is pretty much true. So I had a truly good time. The restaurant was sooo nice, with all its decorations.
They had men walking around on stilts making balloon hats for everyone! I had to flag the man down because I was not going to be happy unless I got a hat!!! And of course, Robert had to get one too. After all, we couldn't come home with just one balloon hat. His is a shark fin.I couldn't resist ordering up some conch fritters. Especially after the fiasco that I had with them (see Bad Cooking Day). I finally got my taste satiated. The first thing I said when they brought them out: "Mine weren't burnt after all!" This was how mine looked too, but I was sure they were burnt because that is awful dark. Anyway, Margaritaville's fritters were a whole lot tastier (and spicier) than mine were.And then it turned out that the pretty, whirly, tornado looking thing on the ceiling was for more than just decoration. It was their "nor'eastern." At the top of the hour, a big nor'eastern comes, making it light up green and smoke.But the best part is what comes out of the Nor'eastern cloud! Yep, it's raining tequila into a giant shaker glass! After all this is Margaritaville!
I had such a blast! We'll definately have to come again. Maybe next time, we'll bring the girls. . . I bet they'd love all the things that were going on. Hey! It's not like they KNOW what's in a margarita.

Yep! Robert Cooks Too!

And he also has a flair for the unusual and non-traditional. He decided to make dinner tonight which I was very appreciate of because I was busy writing a term paper. (That's what I get for procrastinating.) Well Robert made something pretty traditional -- it's something of a staple in our house, Basil Chicken. But he decided to spice things up a little bit and try something very different. When dinner was served, I noticed that the rice was yellow, had craisins in it, and smelled like cinnamon! Yep, his version of saffron rice with currants. (Yes it's strange but we did just happen to have saffron in our cupboard.) It like a kid friendly, easy, and very aromatic version. I loved it! And so did the kids! The cinnamon was very subtle, but definately added something to it. So while the basil chicken was good, the saffron rice definately took center stage. And it is nice to be able to eat some good cooking. . . not cooked by me. :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not Fried Rice!

Like many others, when I am sick and not feeling well, all I want to eat are comfort foods. For me, that would be chinese food. Foods that when I eat them I can say "this reminds me of my childhood." Unfortunately, I am not referring to the type of chinese food that you order from the take-out down the street. I want the authentic stuff, like my grandma used to make, which is considerably harder to come by. Lucky for me, the last time my mom was up she brought me one of her VERY old chinese cookbooks. That thing is older than me! Even better is that it's in both Chinese and English, meaning that it's an authentic cookbook with recipes that I want in a language I can read. I've been sporadically making some of the noodle recipes (like yesterday) because the girls love noodles. Today I had made the decision that I wasn't making dinner. But with a lack of a better alternative, I reconsidered and ended up looking through this book that my mom gave me. I found a recipe for Rainbow Rice, which I had all the ingrediants for and looked pretty yummy! Although it looks like fried rice, it's actually steamed. The vegetables are first stir-fried and seasoned and then the rice and water is added. Steaming everything together gives the rice a very aromatic and subtle flavor. I thought it was delicious. . . and may never go back to fried rice again!

Chopsticks for Children

Ha ha ha. . . sounds like some sort of exchange program. But really they're just trainer chopsticks. For dinner today I made chinese noodles/soup because I was sick. . . and cold. . . and hungry. . . and Gabrielle requested noodles yesterday. To make them even more appetizing, Robert let the girls use their little chopsticks. They actually did surprisingly well with them. . . I was surprised. Food was actually getting from their bowls to their mouths, which is a big accomplishment for chopstick wielding kids. I'm pretty sure I didn't learn how to use those things myself until I was 5 or 6, and even now I'd much rather have a fork. Unfortunately there's no good picture of Gabrielle, but trust me, she was like an old pro. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Logistically Speaking

Like with every other parent in the world, my kids often do things that surprise me. It's often hard for me to remember that they learn more and more everyday and I'm often surprised at the amount of knowledge they have. Today though I was surprised with not what they know, but how they figure things out. Deductive reasoning at its prime. While driving by the river today Gabrielle asked how a buoy floats. Since I am no engineer and Robert is, I happily deferred the question to Robert who's answer was "the same way a boat does." Wow, that was helpful cause every four year old knows how a boat floats. Well then Gabrielle says "Is it because of it's hump?" We were confused. Then she elaborated. Boats have a hump or hill on the bottom, and she wanted to know if that was how it floats. When we answered that it was, then she said "well then the buoy must have a little hump on it too." By this time I was in shock. My four year old had amazingly enough related the form of the boat to it's function, and then she had deduced the form of the buoy based on it's function. Who does that???? I'm a grown woman and truth be told, I've never thought about how the shape of the bottom of a boat helps it float. Well in the end she'd pretty much answered her own question with an answer that made more sense then her dad's. As for me, well I'm just in shock. And know I know how a boat floats.

Not to be outdone, Leila later showed that she too has great deductive reasoning abilities. She had been wanting a snack, and kept asking us for one even though we kept saying 'no.' Finally she asked if she could go wash her hands. I said "sure, of course you can." After all, I'm all for good hygiene. Well she proceeded to the bathroom where she washed her hands, dried them off, turned off the light to the bathroom, closed the door and made her way to the table where she got up in her seat and said once more "snack please." What???? Well we gathered that her thinking was "we always make her go wash her hands when it's time to eat, so if she washes her hands then it will be time to eat." There's logic for ya.

Bowling



We decided to take the girls bowling today since both Robert and Gabrielle had the day off. It's great going the moment that the bowling alley opens in the morning. We had the whole place to ourselves. Gabrielle had a really great time. . . she loves going bowling. But this is the first time that Leila has really gotten into it. Even still, after 7 frames Leila was done and refused to bowl again. She spent the rest of the time eating. Oh well, after we left she said she had fun bowling, so I'll take her word for it.
I just had to add this last picture because I felt like it really said something about Leila -- diva in training perhaps? Who bowls with their sunglasses on anyway?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Music to my Ears!

The girls love music. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE music. It's probably our fault (me & Robert's) or rather mostly Robert's because that man can't take two steps without having some sort of music on. Our lives pretty much run to a soundtrack ALL the time. Personally, I don't mind one way or the other. I could live without the music, but it certainly doesn't bother me either even after hearing the Sesame Street CD for the 12th time in the row -- believe me I've done it before. The girls. . . well they're like Robert. They sit down at the table to eat breakfast (or lunch or dinner) and almost immediately say "music please." They need music to eat, to play, to ride in the car (I once had to listen to a song on repeat in the car 16 times in a row -- I counted.), and most definately to dance. . . which they also do a lot of. I guess music and dancing go hand and hand. Well these videos are for their Aunt Ashley who has just been begging me to put up a video. . . so enjoy! video
video

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holy Frijoles!

and enchiladas and spanish rice and sweet corn tomalito! Yeah, it was Mexican night at our house, and I may have gone a little overboard. I was only planning on making chicken enchilidas . . . easy enough. Then I decided I wanted beans and rice. And then 2 hours before dinner I decided that I wanted some of that delicious corn mush (that's what it looks like to me)that I've eaten at various Mexican restaurants. That immediately caused problems because I didn't even know what it was called -- I've just been calling it corn mush stuff. Well I finally figured that out (sweet corn tomalito), and found numerous recipes for it, but alas, I didn't have the corn flour that the recipes called for! No need, I'll just improvise. And it came out delicioso!









The meal was an overall success. It was a bit of a surprise because I didn't think the girls would eat the enchilidas, and instead fill up on rice and beans. As you can see by the before and after pics from Leila's plate the enchilidas disappeared and the beans and rice remain untouched. Both of the girls had seconds on of both the enchilidas and the tomalito. And Robert, who had looked skeptically at the cooking tomalito, took a bite and said "Mmmm, this is good!" He was actually surprised. He he he. It is really good though. And for those of you wanting to make it at home, here's the recipe that I ended up using with what I had on hand. 10 minutes to put together, an hour to cook. Plan ahead, it's worth it!

1 box jiffy
6 tbsp butter, softened or melted
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 can creamed corn
2 tbsp half & half
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Combine jiffy, butter, sugar and water in mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer until smooth. Add rest of ingrediants and mix until smooth. Pour into an 8 inch square baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Place dish over saucepan of boiling water and steam for 50 minutes to an hour. Scoop out in spoonfuls.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cordon Bleu -- Tres Magnifique!

Is chicken cordon bleu really a French dish? Because if so, then I am just all over the place, aren't I? Truth be told, I'm easily bored when it comes to food so am always jumping all over the place, in case that isn't obvious yet. And chicken cordon bleu is also one of Robert's favorite dishes. It's actually a relatively easy dish to pull together. I served it with a side of couscous (it's an east meets west meal :-P) which turns out is not Robert's favorite. In fact, to put it lightly, he's pretty much stated that he "will never eat couscous again." Which I don't understand, everyone else liked it. But anyway, the great thing about the chicken cordon bleu is that even though it sounds like such a fancy dish, it's actually really kid friendly, and the girls just went to town! I've been getting some requests for recipes. So here it is. This is a really good one, it's really easy to make.

4 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 lb high quality ham, thinly sliced

1/2 lb swiss cheese, thinly sliced

flour for dusting

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. Panko bread crumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, & parsley

oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place each chicken breast in between two layers of plastic wrap. Pound until 1/4 inch thick. Layer chicken breast with ham and cheese, and roll up like an eggroll. Heat oil over high heat in heavy skillet. Dust each roll in flour, dip in eggs, roll in panko crumbs to cover, and place in hot oil. Fry each piece on all sides until each side is brown. Then place entire pan in oven for 25 - 30 min. Enjoy!

P.S. -- Thanks to my honey for this super great picture. I'd eat it! Hee hee hee!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Bayou Classic

Took a little trip down to the Bayou today. . . no, not really because that would pretty much be impossible. But as with most types of food, I really enjoy eating Cajun food, though I often find the preparation to be tedious. Anything that requires me to make a roux requires me to be in a special frame of mind. . . or stomach. Yet those roux containing classics, like gumbo, are so worth the work, effort, and waiting. Today was not gumbo day though. (We'll save that for another day) Today was grillades & grits! Yummy! I know what you're thinking. . . what the heck?!?! Well it's hard to explain the dish really, but grillades (pronounced GREE-ahds) is basically like a cajun meat stew. . . sort of. It's chunks of meat (I used pork cause, well cause I like pork) basically slow cooked in a roux based gravy. But what makes it delicious in addition to the simmering of the meat in the sauce/gravy/stew is full of all sorts of yummy flavors like beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, basil, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, and a can of Ro'tel. That's right, a can of Ro'tel. And when it was all cooked, I served it over a nice bowl of smooth, creamy, hot grits. And for those of you not from the south, grits is basically like cream of wheat except it's made with corn. So it's like cream of corn. The picture does not do it justice to just how good this dish is or how savory it smells. . . especially on a cold dreary day. Just warms ya to the bones! It's traditionally eaten for brunch, but like all good foods, I say that you can eat this anytime of the day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bad cooking day!

Every once in a while, I have one of those where deciding to cook is just a bad decision. This was one of those days. I started out by making pumpkin bread because. . . well, because everybody loves it and it makes tasty breakfasts and snacks! Well all went well until I took my loaf out of the oven thinking it was done. Then when I went to go flip it out of the loaf pan, I suddenly saw this goo on the counter. Apparently my loaf wasn't done yet and it was leaking uncooked batter. Yuck! So I stuck it back in the oven, and by the time I was convinced it was done, let's just say that it was a little brown around the bottom and edges. :-( The bread's still good though, but I pretty much have to trim every piece. At least it's cooked.

Then, I made conch fritters. It was more by necessity than choice though because the conch was just sitting in the fridge and really needed to be cooked. For those wondering where I got conch in the first place. . . why the Chinese grocery store of course! If you're ever feeling culinary adventurous you should visit the Chinese grocery store as you'll find some of the most interesting, unusualy, and dare I say gross things there. Anyway, so I made the fritters but they turned out to be a complete and utter failure. Burnt on the outside, not cooked on the inside, and all together gross. They even smelled kinda weird. Eeeeew! The whole batch ended up in the trash, which pretty much put me in a foul mood for the rest of the afternoon. Guess I should stay away from the Bahamian cuisine.

At least dinner turned out well though! I made ribs in the slow cooker. I kind of turned the slow cooker into a smoker though, by wrapping wood chips in parchment paper and putting them on the bottom of the slow cooker. Then I rested the ribs on top of them and they slowly cooked/smoked for four hours. They were moist, tender, and falling of the bones! Truly decadent. And even though I'm not much of a dry rib person myself, I ate my share without any sauce. The only mistake I made regarding the ribs was that I didn't make enough! Apparently the girls REALLY, REALLY like ribs. But then who doesn't right? Redemption at last, hopefully tomorrow the cooking fairies will sprinkle some fairy dust on me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On to Japan!

In continuation of our Asian cuisine tour (yesterday was the Phillipines. . . we had chicken adobo which was delicious and the girls ate it all, but sadly there is no pic because it was so busy), today we had a warming Japanese dish of Tempura Udon. It was a very simple meal to make as it consisted of only three parts, the Udon -- or noodles, the Tempura -- fried shrimp and vegetables, in our case carrots, zucchini, and onions, and the broth that it all sat in. The hardest part was making the tempura batter and frying everything up. It was actually a surprisly light but extremely feeling meal. It's definately worth a repeat because everybody ate their food with very little complaints. . . after all who can resist noodles, right?