Sunday, July 25, 2010


this about sums it up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

my brand of summer reading...

This is an ultimate.

There are different ultimate cookbooks out there. Those great "sink your teeth into it", super full, amazing cookbooks.

I think some people feel that way about "The Joy of Cooking" or Julia Child's masterpiece, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I'm personally a big fan of her "The Way to Cook". It taught me how to make my Coq au Vin, Brandon's favorite. But, to be honest. Julia's writing style wasn't my favorite. Many of her recipes involved referring back to other recipes and it can be a nightmare if you want to follow one recipe verbatim.

OK, this sounds like I'm not a Julia fan. I really am. I promise. I've taken to watching reruns of her show on the new "Cooking Channel" every day. I'm impressed daily by the leaps and bounds we've taken in cooking shows! 1970s food photography was pretty disgusting. And, don't even get me started on hygeine. Hello cross-contamination!?!?

But, I love to learn her classical techniques. There's a lack of classic technique being taught today. Everyone is so focused on 10 minute dinners, or super frugal cooking. What they fail to mention is that, a good basis of the tried and true techniques allows a cook to prepare faster. And, knowing what to buy store-bought and what to make yourself can save a cook hundreds of dollars a year! But, I guess that style isn't very vogue these days.

This all brings me to this book. Darina Allen (also known as "The Julia Child of Ireland") has compiled these skills into a book: "The Forgotten Skills of Cooking". Her theory is that the skills taught by her grandmother's generation are being lost generation through generation.

Brandon surprised me with this. Just because. Single girls (heck- non single girls) take note, settle for nothing less.

I have loved her approach. I have learned so much from reading already. The woman makes her own pruscuitto. You have no idea how badly I want to try that!

I highly recommend this book. I think you'd like it. If you are a little more than the average casserole chef, and want to delve deeper.

Recipe review:

I made Allen's basic cupcake recipe. I think it is definitely a more Irish style cupcake.

By this I mean, the cupcake was very dense and sturdy. I made an equally hearty nutella icing to top the cupcakes. Delicious, but not a great match. They were delicious, but made a good coffee dunking cupcake. Kind of like a pound cake. Not one I'll be using a lot. I think it might taste great soaked with irish cream, or some other liquid. Maybe espresso. But, it's just not the type of cupcake an American gal is used to.

I'm still enjoying the book, and hope to share some recipes soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

back to the land of the living...

After having spent about a month sick with various ailments, I'm back. Back to the land of the living.

Things had been terribly out of wack. I wasn't at church as much as I usually was. I wasn't cooking. I wasn't cleaning. Laundry was only getting done when Brandon needed work clothes, or we ran out of underwear.

Out of wack!

I'm back now. I feel great, and I was itching to get this house back in order. I got it clean. And I even cooked, baked actually! (More the first baking in a later post.) I haven't kept up with my menu boards lately, and it has shown in our quality of eating and in the budget! I plan to return to it next week.

Yesterday, a friend from church sent me a message asking if we'd like some produce from his garden. I said MOST DEFINITELY!!! So, he brought it to us last night.

HUGE, I mean MONSTER sized zucchini! Eggplant! White eggplant! Tomatoes! Cucumbers! Banana peppers! Yellow squash!

Who needs to join a CSA when you've got sweet friends like that?

We've been inundated with gifts of food since we got married. We were well stocked with cheese for over a month, because my wedding caterer forgot to put it into the grits. (That's a problem Southerners have- forgetting to cheese their grits.)

My parents gave us tons of the leftover food from the reception. Our friend Mary recently gave us vegetables and some fresh eggs from her chickens. And, my sweet friend Robert, gave us some tomatoes. (Robert is the kindest most precious cashier at SuperLo, the one off of Spotswood. He gave me some huge tomatoes from his garden a few weeks back. Love him!)

I can't wait to work our menus around this great food. We love eating vegetables. Love them. But, we aren't gardeners. So, we have to buy them. I can't afford to always shop the farmer's market. So, we end up buying them at the grocery. Still expensive, but I do keep up with the discounted produce carts at Easy Way and Superlo.

Anyway, I now have 5 large cucumbers sitting on my dining room table. I started thinking about ways to cook with them. I love roasted vegetables, so that's one way. A rattatouille is definitely in our future. I'm thinking of shredding some up to add to a meatloaf I'm making tomorrow, to stretch it and add some extra veggies.

And zucchini bread! How could I forget about zucchini bread!

My mom always made us the fabulous bread when we were kids. And, I still love it. I feel good about eating my vegetables in a sweet quick bread. Makes me feel much better about eating dessert for breakfast.
Mom gave me the recipe, my Grammy's recipe. I thought you'd like it:

Zucchini Nut Bread: By my Grammy.
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
3 tsp. cinamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp. vanilla
Beat eggs and add sugar. Beat until fluffy, then add oil. Continue beating. Add zucchini and mix. Add all dry ingredients, vanilla and nuts. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until done. Batter will be thin. Store in refrigerator or freeze.

(I also put mine into some muffin tins (in lightly sprayed papers) and baked them for 30 minutes.)

My Grandaddy and Grammy, this past Thanksgiving. Grammy now lives in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's disease. I love them both so much!

Friday, July 09, 2010

you've got to start somewhere.

Well, it's been a really long time. I hate it when that happens. But, in order to blog again, you've gotta start somewhere!

Due to me being sick for about a whole month, extremely busy, and a newlywed, I haven't blogged or cooked very much. (I don't quite get the newlywed excuse, because life is pretty wonderful, but whenever I can't get something done people say: "It's OK, you're a newlywed." So, I'll embrace it.)

I must, must, MUST tell you about the most exciting thing to happen to us in the past week.

WE GOT A DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've been begging for a long time. But, before we were married Brandon didn't like the idea of me walking a pup at night by myself. And, since he didn't yet live here, he wasn't always able to assist me. So, he told me to wait until after the wedding.

I waited.

Until we were in the car on our honeymoon. I started begging again, but he said he didn't really want to get a dog.

I stopped begging, and moved to simply asking occasionally.

About two weeks ago I got it out of him. He told me he was working on my birthday gift. And, in a moment of weakness, he told me what it was! A PUPPY!

Some of our friends foster dachshunds for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue. He had been talking with them. We then went and visited to choose our new pup. We fell in love with a "mostly dachshund" named Vera. We were able to have a two day sleepover with her to see if she liked it here. She did, and so this past Monday, we adopted her.

We changed her name, because Brandon doesn't like people names for pets. And, there's a wonderful Saint by the name of Vera. So we started thinking of new names.

Since I work as a chef, and the dog is black, we came up with Peppercorn. Plus, she's tiny, and pretty spicy- like a little peppercorn.

Dear friends meet Miss Peppercorn:

She's a little over a year old. And just plain adorable. She weighs only 12 pounds, and looks like a puppy. She is such a cuddle-bug. I'm quite taken with her. (And I think Brandon is too.)

We had a little bit of an open house to welcome her Monday evening. My friends Abby and Michele along with her fiance, Josh came to visit. And then Chase, Gigi, and their pup, Piper came later. We all had fun with the meet and greet. (You know me, any excuse for a party!) Tonight we're having a play-date with Marjo and Billy's dog, Mabel. (And getting to hang out with new baby Joseph John!)

Please feel free to stop by anytime to meet Peppercorn anytime! You know I'll feed you if you visit. (I've even got homemade puppy treats that I made with Cailyn and Jake this week for the 4 legged friends.)

Talk to you soon!