Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I had a baking emergency this weekend.

Julia had a dinner party at her house on Saturday. I was asked to bring something, and mid-way through the day, Julia decided dessert would indeed be best. I didn't have any ideas, but had already been to Reading Terminal Market that afternoon and was between yarn stores, planning to head to the grocery store later. I figured inspiration would strike.

It didn't. But I remembered I had 6 apples I got earlier in the week from Reading Terminal and Everyday Food in the front pocket of my backpack. So I made John's Three-Layer Apple Cake. I won't reprint the recipe for you here because the only substitutions I made were a sprinkle of nutmeg for the ginger, and about two tablespoons dark brown and white sugar for the light brown sugar in the icing.

The icing is what nearly killed me. Never mind there's three sticks of butter in there--I don't have a handmixer. So I had to make buttercream icing by hand. That's a total of about 20 solid minutes with a whisk on "medium speed". My forearm is going to be huge. I also didn't have the light brown sugar to actually make it (neither did Food-Way, 7-11, or Rite Aid). I contemplated a caramel sauce or a peanut butter icing, but since we didn't have milk either, I would just go for it.

The cake was delicious, though. That's all I really cared about.

Today Nina and I went to the best Italian grocer in Center City. DiBruno Brothers was a culinary experience unlike anything else. We pretty much ate our way though the store. I walked out with some roasted turkey and Vermont cheddar for sandwiches (which I already got into--a-mah-zing). We got samples of parmesiano reggiano wrapped in prosciutto (made JUST for us by a very attractive butcher), I ate a lot of cheese thanks to a woman standing next to me who kept asking to try things, and Nina shared her house Latte with me, which had marscapone cheese and figs in it. (Alex, when you come visit, we'll be spending time here.) I spent half as much as I spent on groceries for the week, pretty much.

This week has a bunch of exciting things in store, food-wise anyway. We'll be eating sweet potatoes with adobo sauce, some peanut-citus soba noodles, and black bean stew. Keep a look out.


The words Guru, Swami, Super Swami, Master, Teacher, Murshid, Yogi, Priest,

most of those sporting such a title are
just peacocks.

The litmus test is:
hold tem upside down over a cliff for a few hours.
if they don't wet their

maybe you found a real

Kabir (1440-1518)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jumping the gun.

End of Summer Vegetable Soup. Not the best photo ever, but just about as the leftovers were about to go in the fridge.

Sometimes I do things backwards. I couldn't wait for fall to get here, jumping on the apple pie as soon as the Fair Trade Farmstand had apples. Keep in mind, there was still 80 degree heat, and I slaved away in the kitchen wishing for the leaves to change and cider to be widely available. So about a week later, this past Wednesday, I made a soup with some leftover cabbage, potatoes and white beans. 101Cookbooks led me to the recipe, and while a bit bland (Parmesan cheese helped immensely), it seemed the perfect soup to curl up with during an early February snowfall. Rustic Cabbage Soup was all about the staples, though. Onions, white beans, potatoes, and cabbage and vegetable stock cubes (which I was so impressed with--I had never used one before) are all things you can find all year round. I'll have to bookmark this one for later.

For this season, however, I have found a perfect solution. I treated myself to "Everyday Food" (a Martha publication, naturally) yesterday and included was this recipe for End of Summer Vegetable Soup. It elicited two helpings from my RA who stopped by to drop off a bowl from the cookies I made our floor last week, so I suppose it was pretty good.
End of Summer Vegetable Soup
Serves about six, or 4 hungry boys with one helping of leftovers. Would serve more with a crusty bread on the side.
2 Tbs. EVOO
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 celery stalks
1 clove garlic
2 cans vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken, but added a vegetable stock cube in with the water)
2 cups water
8 ounces green beans
1 can diced tomatoes
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used my mandoline slicer...of course)
1 cup and a handful rotelle, or whatever pasta you have on hand

1. Sautee the onion in the bottom of the pan over medium heat, using the EVOO. Season well.
2. Add the garlic, minced, and the celery, chopped well. Let 'em sweat it out for about five minutes.
3. Remove the stem ends from the green beans and cut them into thirds. Slice the zukes.
4. Add the broth, two cups of water, and (though this is not what I did, probably a good idea) the canned tomatoes (I think the extra heat will help break them down). Bring to a boil.
5. Add zukes, green beans, and pasta. Simmer until the pasta is cooked and the vegetables have softened up a little bit.

I hit the mark yesterday too, with a grilled ham and swiss on homemade wheat with mustard and caramelized onions. I'm not going to include a recipe with this because I think y'all are smart enough to figure this out--make bread, slice, caramelize onions with EVOO, pile with ham, swiss, and onions, slather one side of bread with dijon mustard, slather outsides of the bread with margarine, grill over medium heat until golden brown.

I did, in fact, break out the bread machine for this. But I know for a fact WholeFoods has a lot of good options.
I just finished baking up my first batch of banana muffins this year. I am oddly disappointed--they seem a little flat and I think I may have short-changed the flour by half a cup. I've only messed up muffins one other time in my life, but I can't complain.
Fresh out of the oven, these are awful good with vanilla ice cream.
Matt reminded me of this one today, which is ironic and funny (as is the poem):
I was invited
to an important conference
where many learned men from different countries
were all going to address the topic:
Where is God?
I was wearing my best clothes and had even fasted for a week,
hoping to help sharpen my mind. Just before I was to leave though,
I felt powerfully drawn to a little shrine in my bedroom,
and I went there and knelt to pray.
I could not believe what happened:
Kali threw her arms around me and started tearing at my clothes,
and she started throwing delicious food into my mouth,
purposely missing several times it seems,
thus soiling my pundit attire;
and then she made me perform many times as if I were her
husband; then she said, "Now Kabir, don't be late for that big talk,
and don't change your clothes--I love that love-stained look;
maybe it will become chic?"
I arrived just as it was my turn to stand before this august crowd,
and apologized for my appearance.
"Where is God?" the head of the conference says to me.
"Well (well, I stammered) if you really want to know the truth--if
you hurry--you might catch Her legs still spread
back at my
Kabir (1440-1518)

Monday, September 15, 2008

New York

I said I was going to start quilting at the beginning of this year, but thus far my schedule has not permitted it. To add to my despair, it appears I'll be home three weekends in a row in October (thanks church!), which means I might have to further prolong it. But I don't think I can resist this fabric. Mermaids? Octopi? Seahorses? I'm enthralled by under the sea things already, but the colors look like they'd match these atrociously tacky and wonderful pillowcases I found at my grandma's, never opened.

I saw this fabric at Purl Patchwork over the weekend whilst in New York. The store is the size of a good walk-in closet and absolutely enchanting. I feel like most modern quilting stores are.

So there's that little bit of love. Then there's this:

Here's a collection of embroidered text messages tracking a romantic relationship from start to finish. It isn't stereotypical, its real--messy, lingering, etc. I think the concept is great too--romanticizing something (using embroidery) that isn't typically considered romantic. But come on, I know you're a sucker for messages left on your cellular telephone typed by that person's thumbs.
Believe it or not, I still have work to do. There hasn't been much by way of food going on lately, mostly because Marc and I were away in New York (seeing "Perez Hilton Saves the Universe" and "Legally Blonde: The Musical", visiting friends, eating expensive food, etc). I did, however, have the best creampuff of my life and spent the next half hour euphoric and covered in powdered sugar. We're also not grocery shopping until Wednesday, and even then, I'm not sure what I want to make exactly. I haven't run out of steam or ideas, time seems to be the issue now.
I think I like the idea of sharing a poem from a religious mystic at the end of these posts. Keepin' the Jesus a part of the blog. These poems are from a book called Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. I find them charming, relevant, and deeply significant.
and I have become
like two giant fat people living
in a tiny
keep bumping into
each other
Hafiz (c. 1320-1389)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Week in Food.

Charlotte Charles' Apple Pie with Gruyere Crust 101 Cookbooks' Lemony Chickpea Salad (subbing zukes and cabbage for the tofu and kale)
Chickpeas roasted in a little olive oil until they're golden...heaven. Could have gone without the zukes, though.
Asian Dumplings loosely based on Alex's recipe and solid instruction

The filling and assembly yielded these, most of which I froze:
Sydney helped make the dumplings. She wore my Martha apron.This week has been off-the-charts ridiculous, so I leave you with this. Another poem:

If you cried in heaven, everyone
would laugh

for they would know you were just
St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Monday, September 8, 2008

My sweet mandoline

Mrs. Hunter gave me a mandoline slicer for Christmas. I never really used it until now, but since breaking it out of the box and reading the instructions, I can't imagine living without it.
We've been using it so much because of the bounteous zucchini crop I brought to school. Six gigantic zukes sat on the counter for a week before I decided exactly what I'd like to do with them. We still have one or two I think, but for the most part they've been sliced through the mandoline.
The first recipe was an experimental one. I was inspired by Orangette's recipe for Braised Onion Sauce and, of course, the produce on hand. Zucchini has good, solid body but little actual flavor--its really what you add to the zucchini that counts.
Zucchini and Onions over Pasta
Makes enough for you, a roommate, and lunch the next day.
1 good sized onion, shoesting sliced with a mandoline or diced
1 zucchini, shoesting sliced with a mandoline, or chopped to the size of matchstick
Half a box of Rotelle
2 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Half a lemon

1. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the olive oil and the onion. Sautee until soft over medium heat.
2. Add the zucchini, after chopping and patting dry with a paper towel.
3. Sautee enough so that the zucchini bends to your will, but not so that it turns to mush. It should cook down quite a bit, maybe to about half of what it was.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente.
5. Plate up the pasta with a heap of the onion and zuke mixture on top. Throw in a lemon wedge and a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese. The lemon really cuts the onion and is a great contrast to the parmesan.

So then last night, I made a quiche. I am famous for my quiche amongst old, wealthy women who came to the Women and God retreat at Lancaster Theological Seminary. I got up at the crack of dawn (like, 5) to make three quiches with Courtney Harvey. They were all incredibly delicious, if I do say so myself.
This is a variation on Paula Deen's Hash Brown Quiche and Gourmet's Zucchini, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche (Dec. 2005).

Zucchini, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche with a hashbrown crust

Serves about five or so. Or did in my case.
3 cups frozen hashbrowns (cheaper at Whole Foods!)
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1/4 lb bacon, chopped
1 abnormally large zucchini, or 2 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups half & half
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 eggs
2 oz Gruyere, grated

1. Preheat oven to 450. Thaw and pat your hashbrowns dry. Mix with butter and press into either a 9" pie plate or 9x9 baking dish. If you use the baking dish, you may need a little bit more hashbrown.

It should look like that. Throw it in the oven for 25 minutes or until it sets and the edges look crispy.
2. While the crust bakes, grate the cheese, slice the zucchini the size and shape of matchsticks or in ribbons, as the Gourmet recipe suggests, and cook and chop the bacon.
3. Whisk the eggs, half & half, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Stir in the zucchini, bacon and cheese.
4. When the crust comes out of the oven (careful! It will be hot), pour the mixture evenly into the crust.
5. Bake for 27-33 minutes, or until the filling has set and appears fluffy, lightly browned, and no longer wet. Let it cool for at least ten minutes before slicin' into that baby.

So this isn't the greatest food photo I've ever taken, but it'll have to suffice for now. You really can't go wrong with this flavor combination. Trust me.

Nina and Courtney Brown seemed to enjoy it (in a shamefully dark photo).

Friday, September 5, 2008

A lazy excuse.

School started this week and blogging has gone to the bottom of my list of priorities. Eventually there will be 2 recipes using Gruyere and excerpts from a essay written by a priest on sex (what he lacks in practical knowledge in more than makes up for in ideologies).

Classes have been good, though I have come to loathe the bookstore. Since when was it okay to charge $130 for a book? Aren't we, as college students, smart enough to fight this? I feel they probably inflate the prices because we need the books, and when there is high demand (real or constructed), we know that prices inflate.

Maggie, our big yellow dog, was put to sleep this week, too. She had torn her ACL, and when it got worse, they took her for x-rays and discovered she had cancer. So they put her to sleep. She did, however, live 10 really awesome years and host many a good party with, greeting people with saliva and dog hair.

Adelaide is coming to visit this weekend, and we plan on going to First Friday and doing touristy things tomorrow. Though I've already been this week, I hope there is some Banana Leaf involved. That Malaysian food is out of this world.

Oh! And remember that stitch pattern I was talking about a few entries ago? The guy who made that amazing neck warmer was nice enough to send it. I'm still trying to figure out how it works (it looks too easy to be real) but I'll be sure to let you know about the end result.

This was going to be a short, short entry followed by a poem I wanted Alex (and everybody else) to have, and befits my attitude, so without further ado:


My Lord told me a joke.

And seeing Him laugh has done more for me
than any scripture I will

ever read.

(Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328)

Monday, September 1, 2008

I think I'll stay

I didn't think much about the shape of these cookies prior to making them. I didn't realize that the heart shape could be a play on the of "the city of brotherly love". I really only had two choices of cookie cutter--heart shaped or gingerbread man. The heart shape was closer to "round", which was the instruction in the recipe.

Yes, these are the cookies from 101Cookbooks that I was talking about at the end of my last post. I was told to bring something to a reunion party at Julia's new apartment, and since these intrigued me so much, I thought they'd do. They were meant to be, in a way. Heidi said in the post she had planned to make them for a trip to Philadelphia. I also found the Whole Wheat Pastry Flour at the Reading Terminal while buying vegetables. Serendipity?

So here's the recipe, rewritten, in case you want to try this for yourself (Alex).

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (they were cheaper at Whole Foods then Supahdupah Fresh, I don't know what that was about, but look forward to more poppy seed recipes--I'll have them all year, I'm pretty sure.)
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, or uh, margarine if you're cheap
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large egg yolks (I must have misread that, I put the whole egg in. But just do the egg yolk, I thought my batter was a little sticky)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
6-7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or half a bag of Whole Food's dark chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy and creamy. Add the sugar and mix some more, scraping the sides of the bowl once along the way. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again if needed.
4. Being careful not to over-mix, stir in the flour mixture by hand (Don't screw up the gluten!). If the dough is on the dry side stir in the milk as well (This didn't happen for me. But you'll need that milk for another step).
5. Throw the bowl in the fridge with a damp towel over it for at least half an hour--or as long as you can wait. I was in a time crunch, but believe me, let that dough chill for as long as you can. It will make your life so much easier.
6. Turn the dough out on to a well floured counter top. Kneed it a little. Cut the dough into four quarters, then shape each piece into a ball. Throw the other three back in the fridge while you work with the first ball.
7. Flatten the dough to about an 1/8". This is "wafer thin", but since I'm not Catholic I'm not sure what that means exactly. You're going to need lots of flour on your rolling pin. Cut out your cookies.
8. Load up the baking sheet with parchment paper and send them into the oven for 7-8 minutes, until they're golden on the sides.
9. Using a double boiler method (ghetto!) throw the chocolate in the bowl once its been heated a little by the hot water. Stir constantly, as nothing is worse than burnt chocolate. Add a few tablespoons of milk and whisk, so you have a stiff ganache. Don't add too much milk, as you don't want a milk chocolate center.
10. Quickly spread the chocolate on the flat side of the cookie and sandwich them together. Cute, right?

They were too healthy tasting for Sydney, but everyone else seemed to enjoy them. The light, subtle cookie complements the dark chocolate in an almost savory way.

Tonight I made a lentil stew (which, the last time I made it, people skipped school to eat) for the biddies, and of course, a Jesus-Approved Peach Cobbler. The original plan was an apple pie with Gruyere baked in to the crust (a la "Pushing Daisies"), but due to labor day and the Reading Terminal being closed, I settled with Jersey peaches from Whole Foods.

I have been doing other things since I've arrived, like buying a pie plate and setting up the apartment (read: the kitchen). I guess if you really wanted to know, you could watch Marc's video blog. I warn you, the dancing may shock you.