Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ice Orange Honey Nog

I just invented a great dessert. Egg nog ice cream with Mandarin orange slices and honey drizzled on top. Perfect! I finished off the whole can of oranges, I think they're better than fresh ones. And I'm totally in love with honey these days, how do those bees make it SO good? Maybe we really are exploiting them...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rockin' Stew

This is one rockin' stew! Okay it's actually Moroccan but I misheard Sarah over the phone and I think it's a better name anyways. No offense to the Moroccans. It has all kinds of things in it: squash, chick peas, non-chick peas, tomato, chicken, you name it. I did kind of a mish mosh of a bunch of different recipes for it and it was really a success! This is something that could become a household staple I think. The best part about learning to cook by myself: guaranteed NO raisins and NO hot pepper. We had it with couscous which was exciting. One great thing about stews is that it doesn't seem to matter how long you simmer it for. If you're not sure it's done, just simmer a little longer. And bite size chunks seem more reliable anyways, I don't have to worry about peeking in the middle or the juices running clear or any of that. The other cool thing about this dish is that I got to use spices! I'm starting to build a spice collection (I think I might even need a spice rack), and though I don't even know what most spices taste like, they definitely make things taste good. So, yay for (Mo)rockin' stew! The perfect dinner on a horribly slushy winter day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Veal Parmesan

I'd never even eaten veal parmesan before but today I made it and it turned out pretty good! I surprised myself this time and it's all thanks to Uma who gave me the idea and the instructions. I was pretty worried for a while there because I didn't know what cut of veal to get. Cutlets? Chops? I stood in front of the meat shelf for a good long while debating it. Finally I went with the cheaper one which had no bones and was called veal flank steak. When I got home I looked it up and read that it's not very common so I figured it must be terrible and that's why no one used it. But lo and behold it turned out just fine! Tasty even! Though the fluorescent orange oil in the picture makes it look kind of gross.

Question: Most of the recipes I looked up online said to first fry it (brown it) in a pan and then bake it. This seems to be standard protocol. Why do you have to do both? What is the point?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Tonight was my first attempt at pork chops. They came out tasty but I failed at cooking them. I like baking because if you follow the recipe exactly, it almost always works. But frying meat on the stove is the opposite. I do just what the recipe says and it's all wrong. For those of us that don't know how to cook, there is no way to know how high to put the heat or how long to cook the meat. People who cook just seem to magically know. This and the spattering oil that burns me are the most frustrating things about cooking and the main reasons why I have avoided frying things until now. See, I had the chops in the pan on medium heat like the recipe said and after the 5 minutes, they were already burned. I turned down the heat then and after 5 minutes on the other side I had no way to know if they were cooked through. LZ came and cut them all up then declared them too pink. They took a looong time after that but I was totally at a loss and he finished cooking them. Sad.

So: How do you know what heat to fry your meat on before they burn?
And: How can you tell if its cooked through without mangling the meat?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pesto Presto

Today I attempted to make pesto from scratch. I had a ton of basil because when I bought it the other day it was 2.50 for like 5 leaves or 2.50 for a big bouquet. And then I happened to run into Giada's pesto recipe in her book which I borrowed from the library. I figured it was fate and I was meant to try it. Giada said to put it in the blender which I did but it didn't get chopped that well. Some leaves stayed whole no matter how much I tried to push them down. I can't imagine it ever getting as small as the store-bought. How do they do it? It still came out tasting pretty good, I thought, but LZ says he prefers the store version. :-(

So that's my pesto story. At least I didn't burn it. But then I made it into pesto pizza which I did burn. Typical. It wasn't actually the pizza though, something must have burned on the pizza stone even before I put the pizza in. Who knows.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Brown Sugar Rocks

So, you have these hard brown things. So hard that you can't even bite into them. Why is it that brown sugar gets this way?

Turns out, brown sugar has molasses added, and it is that molasses which has just dried out, and needs to be re-hydrated. (Fun fact! Dark brown sugar just has more molasses than light brown sugar.)

So, all you have to do is put some moisture back in. My favorite way has always been add water and microwave for 30-60 seconds. Sure, this makes brown sugar soup more often than not, but you were just making chocolate chip cookies anyways, right?

If soup isn't your thing, here are some other tips:

Here's what the brown sugar BAG says what to do:
  • Place your brown sugar rocks into a microwave safe conatiner
  • Wet a paper towel and place over the container
  • Stretch a piece of plastic wrap on top of the paper towel
  • Microwave for 30-45 seconds, check the sugar, microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds & check again.
Here's what people on the internet say to do?
  • Chisel your rocks into tiny pieces and put in a sealed bag with a piece of bread. (Really) Next day or two, it should be all soft and ready to go
  • Buy one of these oval clay tablets that are especially made to keep brown sugar soft always and forever. (You can buy them at any kitchen shop)
  • Nuke it.
  • Keep it in the fridge.
  • Keep it in the freezer.
I guess we'll see what Lou decides to do...


Look. What is this? Rocks. Brown sugar rocks. How does brown sugar get like this? And how can I get it back to normal? Or at least keep it from getting like this next time? They don't even break up when I bang them, what's going on?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I don't have any pretty pictures to add, but I figured I should post something!

Thanksgiving was a week off for the chefs (J and I) as we drove to Pittsburgh to see J's grandparents. Since going to college, I've been a thanksgiving orphan but lucky enough to be adopted for the big meal. I've seen many different variations on Thanksgiving dishes. But, one thing that is totally different with J's family is the addition of one special dish: deviled eggs.

Apparently over 10 years ago, he started making deviled eggs and now they appear at each thanksgiving meal. Here's J's preferred recipe for perfect deviled eggs:
  1. Hard boil eggs (think 1 whole egg per person)
  2. After eggs are done, peel and cut in half (Hint! Running cold water on the shells helps to peel the shells in larger pieces)
  3. Spoon out the yellow yolks into a bowl
  4. Mix with mustard and mayonaise. (J recommends 1tsp mustard and 3tbs mayo for 6 eggs. If you want fluffier eggs, add more mayo)
  5. Bonus: Curry powder (a dash to 1/2 tsp) or relish (any kind) adds some extra kick. (Hint! Strain the relish in a little sieve to keep mixture from getting too runny)
  6. Refill empty egg whites with mixture
  7. Sprinkle with paprika for color and taste
  8. Enjoy!


I have discovered that one of the hardest parts of cooking is chopping. The recipe can look so simple but it takes forever to chop everything up, and that's before you even start cooking! Jeez. But, look at how great I chopped everything today! Everything I learned about knifework I learned from Ratatouille.P.S. Don't you love my piggie cutting board? My grandpa made it in shop class.


Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving at our place this year! Mom made the mashed potatoes, grandma made the gravy, and I made the rest from varying levels of scratch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving Dish #1: Cranberry Sauce - check!

The cool thing about cooking is when things totally transform, its almost like magic. How did all these hard cranberries suddenly turn into sauce just by boiling them? I barely even had to help them along!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

False Alarm

First post, yay! Let's begin with why we're starting this blog. I'm totally clueless when it comes to food. But since I have a real kitchen now I decided to go on a mission to learn to cook. I figured I could learn by jumping right in and trying different recipes. This was not such a good idea as I found out the hard way when I accidentally invited the Cambridge Fire Department over for dinner one night. I was innocently melting some butter in a pan when it started to burn (as per my superpower, see sidebar). This set off the fire alarm for the whole building which you can't turn off by yourself. So all I could do was call 911 and get the firemen over here to turn it off, even though I knew there was actually no fire, just a really bad cook. All the neighbors were gathered outside and I was mortified. That day I gave up on my mission and swore off cooking forever.

This proved to be a problem because people who can't cook get hungry too. The only one in the house who can cook is too busy to do it, and you can only live on bagels for so long (about a month or two). So after some encouragement and a couple weeks of stomach growling, I have decided to face my fears (and my embarrassment) and get back on the horse. But I'm not alone this time because I have Sarah, and GastroFabulous, here to help me on my mission.