Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Farm fresh

I am becoming a regular at the Farm! I bought, sweet potato, and artichokes last weekend. I love that they sell seeds too, encouraging others to farm and garden where they can.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Black Pepper Biscuits

Black pepper biscuits from Mr. B's Bistro Cookbook. Easy and quite good. The picture does not do them justice. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Memphis

Whenever I am in Orange County and not craving Mexican Food (in which case I go to Taco Mesa because it rules) I try and make it to Memphis. It is delicious, with a cool vibe, and a southern twang to the menu. I intended to get a big salad or sandwich, but when I walked in recently on a chilly Saturday afternoon, the gumbo was calling my name. It was the kind with seafood and okra, different than the one I make.
I love this restaurant, and if it were closer to me, I would be a regular. You'd hear them shout my name when I walked through the door, a la Norm on Cheers.

turkey burgers and roasted veggies

pretty easy and delicious, great mid-week stuff

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

cake

I just felt like making a butter cake with chocolate frosting, so I did! I used two new recipes that sounded like they'd fit the bill. And, well.... it turned out to be not so much the cake I wanted. It was very simple-tasting, as if it was store-bought. Would be perfect for children, who generally don't care that much about depth of flavor. A couple of critiques: first is that when making the cake, and creaming the butter and sugar, it said to mix for 4-5 minutes. I thought that sounded like too long. Typically you don't want to overwork these things, or else you change the consistency. And when the cake came out of the oven, it had the consistency of poundcake, kinda crumbly, not butter cake (with lots of holes in it). So my suspicion about mixing for too long may have been accurate, and caused this result.

Then there's the frosting. I probably should have chosen milk chocolate that I knew I liked before starting, but I was in a hurry so grabbed what was there. Well, I think the frosting turned out exactly as it was supposed to, but being that I don't prefer this flavor of milk chocolate, the frosting wasn't my bag either.
I write about it because I still consider this recipe a success in that I learned from it. I learned that my instinct about the cake was spot on! That ingredients matter. That, as green as I am, my experience and knowledge are growing. I am getting better at this!
Plus my coworkers don't care. They gobbled it up!

**NOTE: I was rereading this post, and now I know my suspicion was wrong. I actually should cream butter and sugar for a long time. It's when the dry ingredients go in, that you don't want to overwork it. 4-5 minutes seems pretty long, but I will try it next time.
**Another side note: I have been struggling lately trying to figure out why my cakes at home aren't rising like I expect them to. In the case of this one, I'm sure the insufficient creaming time was mostly to blame. But I really need to look into this further, because I am often expecting a different result. It may be time to call an oven calibrator in...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Home-made oatmeal 'energy bars'

I made these oatmeal bars from Heidi Swanson's cookbook Super Natural Cooking, as a replacement for the store-bought bars I rely on, especially as a snack before a workout. They are pretty darn easy, and yield many bars. They are really more like a treat! I should probably do a side by side nutritional comparison with the RAW bars I typically get, and make sure that they don't actually land in the category of dessert. Anyway, for now, I'm thrilled to have these home-made snacks!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Farm fresh chicken dinner

There's hope that I am actually hitting my stride in the kitchen! I feel like I have had so many hit or miss dishes. And tried not to get discouraged by it. With this meal, I have to say, EVERYTHING turned out wonderfully!
First thing is that the produce I used I had purchased that day from the local farm stand in our neighborhood. This lettuce was beautiful, fresh, hearty, almost tough because it was so packed with good stuff. Some of the leaves were wine-stained looking. Gorgeous. I tossed in some shallot vinaigrette, goat cheese, and toasted pecans. A recent standby preparation that is just perfect (and easy).
Next, I was inspired by the fresh kale and sage I purchased at the local farm stand. I made farro and kale salad with brined then barbequed chicken breasts, and chermoula sauce on the side. Recipes courtesy of Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks and this great book on grilling and barbecuing.
This was the scene, a nice lazy day of cooking, hanging out, and enjoying the out-of-doors. Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! And a repeat of this scene.