Friday, July 31, 2009

holla.

machobonanza

So, I just pulled the ads off the sidebar. Aside from them not generating much revenue (which I expected), I was feeling a lot of pressure to keep this thing updated as much as possible and the sad fact is I just don't have that much to say, haha! Anyone who is paying attention (and that isn't very many people, considering how many emails I get asking for baking advice) might have noticed that my former blog partner, Summer, is pursuing her own blog full time, with ads and fancy stuff like that. It's her job, I guess- but the thing is, this blog is NOT my job, and it probably never will be. I have a "real" job, working weekends at a small cafe, I'm a full-time mother, and I do a shitload of freelance work, which means I'm basically working all day, every day. (Oh yeah, I babysit, too.) So, if a week goes by and I realize I haven't updated this thing, I don't want to feel weird about it, like I should just throw something up to keep my hits level so I keep generating ad revenue- that's wack. Plus, it's an ad network so occasionally I get these emails asking me to contribute to some weird Betty Crocker website with like, "Your favorite Bisquick recipes!" and I'm all, "BISQUICK? Bitch, plz." I don't cook like that, sorry. My focus here has always been on making shit from scratch, because it's more fun, more interesting to read about, and better for you. The more focused I am on my health, the less interested I am in eating stuff from a box. So, as pumped as I was to be invited into a fancy ad network, I'm wussing out.

Anyway. I'm making sushi later. You'll probably hear all about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

asian noodle salad

noodles4


Let me start by saying that WHENEVER I make/eat/see something that is like, "ASIAN BLAH BLAH BLAH!" I can't help but think of Margaret Cho's 'Asian Chicken Salad' bit and it cracks me up. It does seem kind of silly to just throw a blanket over your dish by calling it "Asian," since Asian food varies so greatly from region to region, but once I start breaking out the fish sauce, it's certainly not my Aunt Margaret's pasta salad.

noodles2

So, OH HEY! Did you know that it was 105ºf here in Portland today?! Yeah. So, this morning, when I woke up (to my still-sweltering hot apartment, WTF?!) I cooked a big pot of noodles in preparation for tonight's dinner, so I could have them cold and ready to go without having to turn on the stove at all.

noodles

Dumping of many condiments and chopping of many vegetables later, I had this bomb noodle salad that my husband and I sucked down in moments, relishing a cold but filling dinner on such a gnarly day. Even my son had some, and he's sort of picky about what happens to his noodles.

noodles3

So, you should make this tomorrow because it's supposed to be over 100 again. PFFFT!

Aaaaaasian Noodle Salad?

About a pound of spaghetti, cooked and chilled. (I know this is a no-brainer but rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process or else the noodles will get mushy.)
1 large carrot, grated
1 small/medium zucchini, grated
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 or 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 whole bunch of scallions
a handful of chopped fresh cilantro

For the dressing:
(I actually measured this out while I was making it FOR YOUR BENEFIT.)

2 tbsp. sesame oil
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. fish sauce (you can use a little more if you want, but I usually go easy because it's so high in sodium)
juice of one small lime (my lime wasn't very juicy though. maybe like half a lime?)
drizzle of honey
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 chunk of fresh ginger, finely minced (like a tablespoon or two's worth?)
1/2 tsp. sambal olek (chili sauce)

Mix together in a small bowl with a fork, and taste to make sure it's delicious. Adjust as necessary. Mix all the other stuff in a large bowl, then dump the dressing over it and combine. Top with toasted cashews and more chopped scallions, and try to pretend like your ass hasn't melted into your chair.

Finish with a trip to the gelato shop down the street, and eat the leftovers at 11 p.m. in your underwear. Ta daa!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

garden fresh.

cuke

Let me be blunt. I am melting into my chair right now. I mean it's wicked hot in my apartment, I got up at 6 a.m. and worked a long busy shift, came home, jumped around my living room for 20 minutes (what was I thinking?!) then spent several hours this evening wrangling my nephews along with my sleep deprived, sweaty, grumpy toddler. 3 sweaty, hot, grumpy little boys, and me. (And my poor husband- who was probably thrilled to be hanging out with 3 tiny grumps and one giant one.) SO ANYWAY.

My mom gave me some cucumbers from her garden the other day, and while snacking on a few slices, I thought to myself, "This needs something." So I put something on it.

cukes2

OH, YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT I PUT ON IT? Rice vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, and some toasted black sesame seeds. It's as close to 'cooking' as I'm going to get in this wack-ass heat, and it's satisfying in sort of the way salty potato chips are, without like, giving you cancer or whatever the hell it is potato chips do these days. And also it's cold. Did I mention it's really hot outside? It's supposed to be really hot all week. Expect me back here, in the same spot, continuing to complain about it, at least one more time this week. Tschau, hundz.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

morning beverage of choice.

smoothie

It tends to come as a shock to people who know me when they find out I don't drink caffeine. I'm a pretty high strung individual, I guess you could say I'm kind of hyper. I'm also a morning person! (Right now, most of you are probably mentally punching me in the face, like "SCREW YOU ASSHOLE! YOU GET UP AT 7 A.M. AND THEN DON'T DRINK COFFEE AND STILL GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?") I know. It gets even more irritating though- I'm a BARISTA- I have been for over 6 years now. I get up at 7 a.m. and then I go MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COFFEE. On top of that, my husband's in the coffee business as well. I'm worse than a bald barber- I'm like a barber that just shaves her head for the hell of it, because WHY NOT? WHO NEEDS HAIR? NOT ME!

But seriously, caffeine wacks me out and makes me jittery, so I don't drink it. Sometimes I get decaf (but people kept asking me if I was pregnant, augh!), or I'll grab an iced americano, sip about a 3rd of it, and then give it to my husband when I'm done. Lately in the mornings, I've been eating pretty light breakfast, and it isn't quite enough to keep me going until my mid-morning snack, so I've been making myself smoothies. The best part about this is that my son thinks he's getting milkshakes for breakfast and he goes NUTS.

smoothie2

Everyone has their own smoothie preferences, but mine are totally infantile and weird. I have a ton of dumb texture issues, because I'm a recovering picky eater. I can't handle it if my smoothies are too runny, have giant chunks in them, or aren't very cold. I know, I'm like a 3 year old. Actually, I'm worse than a 3 year old, because my 3 year old doesn't give a shit, he just chugs it down like it's the nectar of the gods no matter what I put in it.

I used to be way too lazy to make smoothies for a really stupid reason- my blender sits way back in the far end of the cabinet and I'm too lazy to drag it out, use it, clean it, and put it away. I mean, that's pretty dumb, but not as dumb as when I realized that this whole time, I've been pulling out my CUISINART, moving it out of the way to remove the blender, then putting it back, then using the blender, then removing the cuisinart AGAIN, etc.- when OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN JUST USE A GODDAMN CUISINART TO MAKE A SMOOTHIE. AND IT DOES A SUPERIOR JOB. I don't mean to freak out, but how could I have not noticed this? Our cuisinart was like the holy grail of our wedding gifts (Thanks SO MUCH, Jason's old coworkers at The Paradox, for providing us with quality kitchen equipment.) and it is the second most-used kitchen gadget in our kitchen, sliding in close behind the rice cooker. That means it's always front and center and IT ALSO GOES IN THE DISHWASHER, so what the hell? My cuisinart is now also my smoothie-maker.

Anyway, because I'm a giant picky baby about my smoothies, they MUST have the following to be delicious: 1 or more bananas (maybe 2!), frozen berries, plain yogurt, and honey. I will deviate from this formula only to add additional fruit, like if I have a nectarine lying around, that basically makes it perfect. Then I blend it into oblivion and chug it as fast as I can because it's delicious. I wish I was drinking a smoothie right now, instead of this crappy white wine I picked up at Trader Joe's for 5 bucks.

Sorry you got such a boring post out of me, I've been eating nothing but salads and hippie chow, in response to the warm weather and also because I'm on yet another health kick. Good vibez, y'all. Wooooo, hippies!

Also, speaking of hippies- what raw foodies refer to as smoothies are actually just disgusting babyfood, y/y? Kale blended with water and ice? AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

oh, holla.

Just wanted to pop in and say I'm not dead, haw haw. I shot a wedding this weekend, and I make it a general rule not to take any new photos until I'm done editing what's in front of me, which, in this case, is like 400 photos that each need to be edited individually. So, I'll have something exciting in the next few days. And by "exciting" I mean "marginally interesting."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

barbecue & noodle salad.

spread

Tonight our friends had us over for a lovely mid-week barbecue. On one of my favorite food blogs, the hilarious Sunday Williams wrote about not understanding the big deal about bbq. Let me lay it out for you, homegirl:

yum

Cheers. Nothing compares to kicking back in someone's backyard at 6 o'clock on a weekday, sitting in one of those fugly fold-up camping chairs with the cup holders with a boozy cool beverage in one hand and a sloppy plate of something in the other. (Can you tell I was picking at roasted beets?) I mean, in this case- we really didn't even need to fire up the grill. Jason and I were coming off a week of some heavy meat dishes and neither of us were in the mood for something meaty, and one of our buddies is vegan, so the only thing we actually grilled was slabs of fresh-picked zucchini and some heads of garlic.

wtfbbq2

It's not about the food, although everyone knows that almost anything tastes better licked by flames and smoke, carcinogens be damned. It's about relaxing and talking smack with people you like and enjoying beautiful summer weather.

Also, look at this rad plate:

plate

Anyway, as usual, I hustled around my kitchen trying to think of something nice to bring, and of course, I fell back on a delicious noodle salad. It just seems so RIGHT when you're eating a plate of something grilled to have a cold pile of noodles on your plate. I managed to cobble together this salad from a bunch of stuff I had on hand, and it came out awesome!

wtfbbq

It's just cold cooked noodles (like 1/2 a bag), chopped tomato, cucumber, parsley, and roasted red pepper (actually, it was an orange pepper). I added a can of kidney beans, and then I made a dressing with a large dollop of tahini, thinned with lemon juice, a splash of apple cider vinegar & some olive oil. There are a lot of tahini dressing recipes online (I did a quick google search before I made it to give myself an idea of what I wanted to do) and they all thin the tahini with water, but I decided to use olive oil because I wanted the noodles to stay coated with the sauce, and I figured if I used water, it'd all soak in and they'd end up gummy and dry. Finished it off with a bunch of salt & pepper and it was awesome, mega stoked.

Friday, July 10, 2009

pizza pockets!

kitchenwench

Oh, hi. Here I am, grimacing in my somewhat cramped, (well, large for an apartment at least!) messy, humid kitchen. Today was a stupid day to make pizza pockets from scratch (like 85 degrees and humid, ugh) but it was on the menu and it sounded good, so I did it anyway. I fortified myself with a good afternoon snack (HA) and set to work making my pizza dough using this recipe.

stuffing

Last time I made pizza, I made of spur of the moment decision to make a calzone, and it came out pretty darn delicious. This time I decided to make little hand-sized pizza pockets, mostly for fun, but also because this pizza dough recipe always makes way more than we need, so I knew I'd have enough to make extras to freeze for another day.

guts

Making pizza pockets is pretty straightforward, but it kind of takes a long time, so I recommend two things: get your stuff prepped as far in advance as possible, and try doing it on a day that you don't mind having your oven cranked up to 500ºf- we're still recovering. Like, the middle of July might not be the right day for making pizza pockets. OR MAYBE IT IS, WHO CARES IF YOU GET SWEATY?

I made the dough according to the recipe, and then rolled it into a rope which I divided into 8 portions. I rolled out each little ball into a nice oval, like so:

fold

and filled it halfway with the stuffing, which was a mixture of finely chopped cooked chicken, roasted broccoli, and roasted red peppers, stirred together with pizza sauce and some chunks of fresh mozzarella (grated probably would have worked better, though). I chopped everything pretty finely because I didn't want to run into the problem of taking a nice bite only to get a huge chunk of some searingly hot chicken or pepper or something that is too huge to fit in your mouth and then it just plops down in front of you and you're going FUHFUHFUHFUH trying to cool off your mouth- god, that sucks. If everything gets chopped up, you can take reasonable bites without hurting yourself. (They do get really hot, though.)

pockets

So, I made 8, split 6 of them between the 3 members of my family and popped 2 (uncooked) into the freezer for a day that I'm feeling too lazy to make lunch. Win-win situation, in my opinion. I baked them in a 500 degree oven on a cast-iron skillet (dusted with cornmeal!) for about 5-7 minutes, then I flipped them so the tops would get a little brown and let them cook for another minute or two. Next time I might use some sausage or ground beef, because let's face it- what I'm really trying to do here is replicate those ridiculously terrible/delicious pizza pockets that you get in your middle school cafeteria for like 50 cents. I lived off of those things in the 8th grade, even when I was "vegetarian" and i'd just bite off a corner of the pocket, squeeze all the sausage out, and then eat the cheesy, saucy bread. That stuff is the bomb! And I love the idea of basically having homemade hot pockets in my freezer, because I'd never BUY something like that (ew ew ew) but I secretly love to eat stuff like that. (because I'm still mentally like 10 years old.)

OH, and today, a good friend of our family and longtime graphic designer (he is the friend who helped me design my book of photographs), Hank Schmidt, sent out a preview of some cupcake wrappers he designed with a friend. I loved the idea and told him I wanted to design one, and he sent me the template! If you're familiar with my drawing blog, you'll know that I do freelance illustration, so I'm totally bubbling over with ideas for something to slap on a cupcake wrapper. Feel free to leave a comment with something you'd like to see wrapped around your cupcakes! You can see some of his existing designs here. (although I'm trying to convince him to open an etsy shop for these, I think it'd sell in a heartbeat.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

in defense of snacking.

snackattack

Well, I haven't been up to much the last week or so- I was laid up with a snuffly cold (that I think I'm finally getting over) and then friends had birthdays and I had a wedding to shoot and phew- wasn't 4th of July fun? God, I love hot dogs and setting stuff on fire.

Anyway, uh... SNACKS! The virtues of snacking have been lost on me over the years. Having a kid has dramatically altered my eating habits in a variety of ways, but the most important has been that I've finally learned the importance of snacking. Not like, sneaking a candy bar on your lunch break, or "Whew, I'm hungry! Let's pop into Taco Bell and get like 3 soft tacos!" but like, the kind of snacks that sustain you between meals and don't make you feel like garbage.

I'm a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic. I know that most people wah-wah-wahhhhh at the words "self-diagnosed," but whatever, I don't need to have blood sugar monitoring in a doctor's office to tell me that I become a complete basketcase when my blood sugar plummets, it's really, REALLY apparent to the people around me. You can ask my close friends, my coworkers, my poor, dear, unbelievably understanding husband- any of them will tell you to shove a cookie in my mouth and run screaming when I start freaking out.

It starts innocently enough- usually I won't even realize I'm actually HUNGRY- I'll just start to feel weird. Then, when I start to get a little shaky and realize, "Oh shit, I need to eat, like RIGHT NOW." I begin attempting to formulate some kind of snack idea, but I start getting flustered and suddenly NOTHING SOUNDS GOOD, and I CAN'T EAT SOMETHING IF IT DOESN'T SOUND GOOD, AND OH MY GOD I NEED TO EAT RIGHT NOW AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON! In really dramatic instances, I start to get chills and I get really dizzy- I've even convinced myself that I'm coming down with the flu (my hypochondria might be the subject of another post) because I felt so sick, only to feel perfectly fine about 15 minutes after eating my first bite of food.

So, you get the idea. Needless to say, when I was pregnant, (and hungry EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY) I was not very fun to be around. Eventually, I had my kid, slowly weaned myself off of junk food snacks, and learned to keep my house stocked with healthy stuff. I started carrying a jar of almonds & raisins with me in my purse EVERYWHERE I GO, and I learned that my son turns into a cranky pile of crap when he doesn't snack, either. So, my day goes sort of like this:

8 a.m.: Breakfast!
10-10:30 a.m.: SNACK!
12ish: Lunch!
3p.m.: SNACK!
5-6ish: Dinner!

and then usually another small snack around 8 or 9 if I stay up late.

The morning snack is usually just a handful of crackers, a piece of fruit, or some nuts and raisins, but the AFTERNOON SNACK is the most important snack of the day for me. The afternoon snack can MAKE OR BREAK me by dinnertime, seriously. If I don't have a nibble around 3 or 4, by the time my husband gets home from work around 5 or 6, I'm usually flying around the kitchen, on the verge of tears, trying to figure out how to get shit done in time to eat dinner, and it is NOT pretty. There are so many times that he has had to pry a frying pan out of my hyperventilating grip, steer me away from the kitchen and quickly pull together dinner, it's not even funny.

So anyway, keeping nuts, fruit, and cheese in the house at all times saves me on a regular basis. It keeps me from freaking out and running to the store for a candy bar or something gross in a package, it keeps me from losing my shit on my poor unsuspecting family, and I feel like almost everyone could benefit from a good afternoon snack.

Keeping it under control, y'all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

summer salad.

saladthing

This will be brief, as I'm currently languishing on my couch in a pile of self pity, struck down by some weird cold/allergy combo that is keeping my eyes nice and puffy and my chest somewhat rattly. The other day, when I was feeling 100% awesome, I called my parents to hang out and they invited me over for a nice little summer barbecue. They always tell us not to bring anything, but it always feels better to show up with a side dish, so I threw together this weird little experimental sardine/noodle-y/salad whatnot.

I have never been really into those giant buckets of mayonnaise-drenched noodles and tuna that sometimes show up at barbecues. It's not that they don't taste good, and they get bonus points for being familiar and nostalgic, but for some reason my brain screams, "FOOD POISONING!!!!" even though I know that it's not that dangerous. Anyway, on a hot day I don't really feel like chowing down mayo, so I like the lightly dressed salads with oils & vinegar.

Sardine & Noodle salad:

1 half a cucumber, seeded & diced
1 carrot, diced
1 or 2 celery stalks, diced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 small shallot, diced
a handful of chopped fresh basil (parsley would be good, too)
1 tin of sardines packed in olive oil (or water, if that's what you like)
olive oil, a splash of vinegar (this day, I used apple cider, but if I'd had rice wine vinegar I probably would have tried that, to match up with the fish better)
salt & pepper to taste
cold cooked noodles

Mix it all together in a bowl, dress it with oil & vinegar until it tastes good, and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.

I made another batch of this yesterday for dinner, but since I literally could not smell or taste a thing all day yesterday, I cannot tell you if it was worth my trouble to make a small amount of garlic paste (made by smashing garlic up with some sea salt) and throwing it in, or if using a small amount of balsamic vinegar instead of apple cider made much of a difference. I am like 80% sure it was delicious, but alas- I could not taste it.

The reason I use tinned sardines instead of cans of tuna is that sardines are lower in mercury and considered generally more 'sustainable' than tuna. Plus, I just like them. They aren't fishy and weird, they aren't salty like cured anchovies, they just taste like flaky, slightly tuna-y canned fish. And, there's 26 grams of protein in one package, isn't that crazy!? I've been on a big sardine kick lately- they do an awesome job of keeping me full and happy for a long time, which is a really big deal for someone who is hypoglycemic and experiences blood sugar crashes pretty frequently.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sip hot chicken broth and stare out the window at the beautiful weather, hopefully I'll be feeling better by this weekend.