Thursday, May 24, 2012


 Tonight, we're introducing a special guest:  the recipe.

Recipes and I have a complex relationship.  It's love and then it's hate, spiraling together in a dust cloud.  We're... frienemies


Mostly this twisted affair goes in one direction.  By that I mean that recipes, like those friends whose incredible selflessness you almost don't trust, have always been really accessible and helpful to me.  While I, a jealous and ungrateful storm of pride, discredit the recipes' superior experience, ignore their obvious suggestions, and instead, senselessly blaze toward an ill-conceived finished product in complete denial of my crippling hubris.

If recipes are Abel, I am Cain.

Which works as a metaphor in another sense:
                                                             in that I often kill them.

Tonight, things are gonna be different.

Tonight, I'm taking Cooking Light magazine's lead by momentarily believing in a thing such as a '20-minute meal'.   

Suspension of disbelief, folks.

Here's the objective:
"Tilapia Piccata"or, "Cheap white fish with an Italian-sounding name."  

Okay, okay, I'll try not to be too judg-y.  

For me, following this recipe will be an exercise in both humility and patience, two qualities which I am quick to proudly assert that I already have enough of, thank you.

Keep calm... and....


then, get your shit ready.  that's what the directions are for.

okay, look at everything so ready to be delicious! 
 (Many thanks to my Aunt Jeanne for the pig timer... and for the love for butter and sweets.)

Note:  while it may look like it in the image, I did NOT use the $9 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for cooking.  She's just posing for the picture.  I DID use a $2.29 bottle of salt water from Kroger's that stole the label from a bottle of cooking wine.  "Chablis," it says.  Or, if you don't speak French but are still gay enough to make anthropology jokes, "Homo Chabilis."
 The most fun part, as always, was getting to 'deglaze' the crusty pan with wine and lemon juice*.  Mostly because I think I sound like people on the food network when I say words like 'deglaze'.  That, and it makes a really nice sizzling sound.

*pro tip:  i actually used lemonade instead of lemon juice, because that was what i was drinking at the time and WHO has two seconds to cut a lemon!

My finished product:
Not a half bad forgery.  

Although, if I'm allowed to make a critique,
flavor-wise this is a little.....Light.  As in, light on flavor.
Remind me, next time, to make something out of Cooking for Aspiring Fatties.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

chiles rellenos

Okay, Wasn't it Cinco de Mayo recently?

Whatever, it's always Cinco de Mayo in my life, since I'm pretty sure I spend 50% of my life pretending that I'm Mexican.

Let me poorly imitate a cuisine classic que me encanta.

Enter chiles rellenos inautenticos.  For the lazy.
Yeah, that lazy.

 Also known as "cheating".


And that.  Although this is Kroger brand and all wrong, it's cheaper than imported and the label is in Spanish, rite??

Still not exactly Aaron Sanchez-approved.
 Just look.
Eh, throw it in, whatever whatever. IMG_1885 IMG_1888 IMG_1896 IMG_1906
Light everything on fire IMG_1910 
Consume; act like you just beat America in futbol; don't tell anyone that what you're covering up with Herdez salsa is actually factory processed.   ¡Buen provecho!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

frog on a log in a bog

Here's a phenomenon that I'm not sure if you're aware of (because I wasn't):

say what?
Not this Bog of Eternal Stench.

BOG is a delicious dish from the South.  It's sssortof like jambalaya, in that it has chicken, spicy sausage, heavy seasonings, [sometimes] seafood, and rice mixed in.

But, instead of being accompanied by a feathered bra and a tacky fake-voodoo cure for a hangover.....
  Bog is more likely to be found under the shade of a tall tree, wearing a Civil War-era hoop skirt and a drinking a glass of sweet tea.

It all starts here:

The slow cooker.  I'm using chicken thighs because the dark meat chicken has that richer flavor, and more likely to pull apart once it cooks down so you can shred it easily with a fork.  Bones and skin on.  'Cause, for 8-10 hours in the crock pot, you really want all that flavor to soak in to the meat.  It creates a delicious and tender situation.

Throw 'em in, cover with water, and then wait

Go out for the day.  Cast your sails?  Go out into the...uh, fields?  Tour a historic log cabin (that's what I did).  Wave your rebel flag around (I didn't do that).

After a long, sultry day, settle in for a steamy and gut-filling dinner.
That'll plug the pocket of your gastric cavity for a spell
 The water boiling with the chicken all day has resulted in a nice stock.  Don't get rid of it, it's important for the flavor and besides, you've been working hard on it all day.  Cook some rice in the chicken water while you use two forks to pull the meat off the bone.
Add other stuff of importance.  Sausage and serrano peppers.  I stirred in celery at the end, and I've also seen it with fresh sweet corn.  My sources tell me that Old Bay is a must.  Let your imagination run wild.  All the flavors are there, it's just up to you to assemble the bog to your heart's content.


Bog is a simple dish, and deserves to be appreciated for being just that.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


This post is Part II of recovery after a week of eating buttery, dripping New Orleans food. Proving that I still vaguely know how to cook and eat vegetables.

Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, and russet potatoes.

roasted up with a little bit of olive oil, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic.
topped with shaved parm and a hard boiled egg to give it substance
Just as good leftover for a Sunday snack.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grill it

Just got back from a week eating my way through the Big Easy. Spring break for grown-ups. I tried many new things: turtle soup; oysters on the half shell. But the common thread in my vacationing was, as it usually is, major indulgences. Beignets, dude. Fried chicken. Chicken fried LIFE. Pralines.

My body ... craves ... vitamins. Like I've never needed them before. Detox.
Strangely, it's very nice to be back home from vacation. Routine dishwashing doesn't seem so painful anymore. That could have something to do with the warm spring weather so easily lifting everybody's mood.
It's a beautiful day today. We normally don't have days like today (sunny, in the mid-70's) until late April. But sure enough, spring has sprung at the Park Hills apartments and we are firing up the grill!
bottoms up.

Grill smoked camera

A Pre-grilling snack--Katie's imitation of the sesame cucumbers at P. F. Chang's. It couldn't get any better than this!


Did I just heave an accidental sigh at how delicious that was? Excuse me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vegebul Soup


Grapeseed oil, Garlic. Leeks. Potatoes, already baked in the crock pot. Barley. Lentils. Frozen peas. Sweet corn. Carrots, Celery. Chicken stock. Cooking sherry. Herbs, spices.

Whatever I feel like.

Steamy. So you can see what it smells like.
Dig in.

Smooth Criminal

It is a cold, cruel world out there.
So this blog is about feeding myself, right?

Proving that I am (mostly) taking care of myself in regards to sustenance?

Not simply letting myself waste away on 99-cent Crazy Bread from Little Caesars (except on Mondays)?
homemade crazy crazy bread
somehow this is not me, even though it sure looks like it

Turning a combination of raw materials into something edible, for the purpose of this blog post, totally counts as cooking.

Look, Ma, I'm eating breakfast.
Smoothies are the easiest thing to do, really. Some combination of frozen fruit mix + bruised bananas + yogurt + honey + refined sugar + whatever old fruit/fruit juice is in the fridge, a couple seconds in the blender, and you have yourself a nutritious and fruity start to the day.

So that even when the morning looks like this:

Your breakfast can look like it's summer:

All thanks to the wonders of freezing and trucking.
God Bless America.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Galbi Jjim

In the grand tradition of pretending like I know anything about other countries, I have selected "Korean" as a flavor palate for Saturday's game night fare.

[On a side note, game night= what happens to you when you are a couple. You end up seeking other couples to do activities that involve staying in. An ethnic cooking challenge and elaborate beer tasting menu become your only consolation that you might still be somewhat young/hip or adventurous.]

Galbi Jjim is Korean for tender beef short ribs with a delectable glaze of East Asian flavors.
You see, the Koreans have developed this exotic and mysterious food ritual where they smoke ribs on the grill using a tangy thick brown sauce mainly composed of sugar, onions, salt, and spices.

Image from Grit
It's really weird.

Being a formerly-lifelong vegetarian, my venture into something as ubiquitous as good ol' BBQ is, by necessity, just as anthropological as it is culinary.

Image from Travellious

Sometimes I feel like an outsider even in my own country.

"You've NEVER had barbecue ribs?!"
a girl from Austin, Texas asked me incredulously. About eight months after I had, at the age of 19, literally taken my first bite of chicken ever.

"No, I've never had barbecue. I don't even really know what that is."
My parents were Yankees.
In addition to being raised on Taco Bell Gordita Supremes with beans instead of the meat (you can just imagine the hundreds of confused cashiers), what exposure would I have had to ribs on our northbound drives to visit family?

"What about when you GO to a barbecue?"
I guess barbecuing in Texas is about as popular as, well, barbecuing in Kentucky. Except not at my house.

"At cookouts we always ate Smart Dogs®."

I guess if you have any frame of reference for imitation meat, or even just click on the link for Smart Dogs®, you'll know just how hilarious and preposterous that is.

Being as accidentally mis-cultured as I am, I am somehow more comfortable trying a recipe from the other side of the earth than I would be venturing into the sacred folklore of what is, for the vast majority of folks, a down-home American tradition.

Saying that I'm eating Galbji Jjim or Bulgogi makes me feel as if my totally dense and meaty dinner plate is somehow more sophisticated. I got the ingredient list from NPR, for Buddha's sake.

Fine. It's well established that I am all backwards in life. Let's skip down to the pictures.



Daikon is really, really fun.
With honey and chili paste.


Stewing in the pan with the chili daikon and marinade, then later sprinkled with baby bok choy and chopped leeks
Note: I did not fire up the grill. These ribs were actually braised in the oven for about 3 hours on low heat. The first time I made them I used the crock pot, which is still the fan favorite.
[the photos are blurry because i was eating it so fast!]

Half of the daikon I cubed and braised with the beef and marinade, and the other half I grated into my citrus carrot salad.

Carrot salad
About 3 carrots, 1/2 of a large daikon radish, and a bit of purple cabbage and white onion grated finely, stirred together and seasoned with chopped cilantro, rice vinegar, white sugar, sesame oil and key lime juice.

Tomorrow, maybe we'll tackle this totally enigmatic phenomenon known as "barbecued ribs and cole slaw." Naaawww, I may not be ready for that.