Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spare ibs

Do you remember in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when Tumnus the faun mistakes Lucy saying "spare room" and thinks it is "Spare Oom" of which she speaks? Well, now you do. (Around 6:50) I'm not sure how to explain the cut of meat that I used for this sparerib recipe, other than to say go here, where Simply Recipes described it originally.
The would-be competitors
Two positive factors were working in the recipe's favor: 1) I had just seen Monica cook up ribs in a hour or two in her oven, and 2) this recipe looked darn good and darn cheap. I had the BBQ sauce (but got another kind for reinforcements and variety, it turned out it accomplished neither function, but oh well), I had the time (oh lordy), and I wanted to make something that fell apart ingratiatingly when I stuck a fork in it. This fit the bill.
I don't think I did anything differently this time. I faithfully 'painted' the BBQ sauces over the spareribs at 90 min, and 4 times thereafter, before sentencing it to the broiler for caramelization.
I stowed the pieces away in 3 separate containers, knowing that I would be giving away at least one, and labeling them carefully. :-)
It made my heart lift a little to do just that. And then, since it was 10 PM and I shouldn't be eating right before falling asleep, I only snatched a few cracklings for the emptied roasting pan. Talk about heaven. I can empathize with Bo-bo.
My work station

Work Station? Or work of art? Hehe...
I highly recommend this one- go to!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where (and How) the Magic Happens...

Mixing the ooey-gooey for Peanut Butter MAGIC Bars
Back in June (yes, still in the past), I had just commenced the frantic stage of a work project that involved not only an online election, but an offline election as well, to be managed in tandem, for all intents and purposes, by me. June was a bit of a blur.
Cookie-crumb crust-- nothing but the best!
But one of the silver linings was that I got to work with 2 computer programmers from Tennessee who were pretty dang chill. I was in a situation where I needed to funnel a lot of information to them and see it go up quickly online, and they were so smart and responsive about it, it just took a load off my mind. Plus, they have a great sense of humor. So I decided to send them a care package for all their (overtime-inducing) hard work-- baked goods!
I was inspired by the recent candy theme of this particular recipe, which was at the time on the blog of my friends Katie and Becky Bignell: Sunday Treats. This is a another pair of really wonderful people, in this case, twin sisters, who have only recently started their baking blog, but have obviously long been pliers of the trade.
She's drowned, captain! (in sweetened condensed milk)
I also added my own version of Midnight Chocolate Cookies from Love and Olive Oil. Here, "my own version" means that I had to tweak a lot of things because I didn't have exactly what she add, but I was aiming for the same effect: TOTALLY CHOCOLATE-Y. I figured that flavor has an audience, somewhere.
Troops ready for battle/ Care Packages ready for assembly
And then for good measure, I rounded it out with something vaguely healthy: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, which will do for the less exuberant connoisseur of chocolate. This recipe came from another one of my favorite blogs (but whose author I don't personally know, to my chagrin): Pink of Perfection.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First pizza and other creations - from June

Pappardelle (from Smith Meadows) with Chermoula and fresh tomatoes. An artful mix.
And this is what I did with that pizza dough from a few posts down: I plunked some seasoned, smashed tomatoes on top of it and baked it! As suggested at In Praise of Leftovers (one of my favorite blogs), I just turned over a baking sheet and used that as my peel and my pizza stone- if only it didn't have that habit in hot ovens of warping a few minutes in... It came out a little dry because there was no cheese or caramelized onion layer, but it was fine as a sort of pizza bread- much better than the ones you'd get with a Domino's pizza, par exemple.
And finally:
Michelle's evidence that I have been using her birthday present! more to come on what that eventually turned into...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Visitor

Keeping with my theme of random selection (see, I can be consistent!), I had a lovely visit back in June from my friend Sarah. She was able to take a long weekend from work and fly out to stay. I've only seen her once since graduation, so it was fabulous to be able to catch up and have it be like old times, with so little effort. I love those kinds of friends, don't you?
We had breaded broiled tomatoes with chermoula, orange-nut couscous, and a green salad dressed a la francaise.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Skipping around...

This post actually goes with the Virginia Foray one below, chronologically. But the photos weren't Liz- or food-centered, so I didn't include them there. Lucky for you, I'm sticking them here! Without further ado, Shenandoah State Park countryside:

A plant that smelled heavenly, but not sure what it was... something in the honeysuckle family?
A very interesting plant- different colors indicating seeds ready for flight or not... any clue? It reminded me of a belly dancer's waist 'necklace' the way the seeds dryly rustled against each other.
And me, getting "down in the weeds" as a corporate type might say.

Working backwards

 Hi there! So the title is just a new quirk I'm trying- since I haven't been able to catch up and keep 'er steady, I'm going to randomly fling up photos and recipes I've done here, so that at least there's something new and entertaining when you come to check this place out, dear readers...

 Lighter Banana Muffins
That is not what I'd call these. I would dub these Bananapple Muffins, since I used bananas and apple butter (not actual butter) in these.
First I looked at the overripe but not yet blackened bananas on my counter. Then I went to SuperCook and plugged in "bananas" and a few other things I thought I might want to combine them with. Then I scrolled through recipes until I saw this one. It looked yummy enough, so I checked out the comments, decide to halve the recipe, and add apple butter, which I also wanted to fnish up, because someone said applesauce worked great. And thus, these wonderfully moist (can you see it in the picture?) muffins were born-- no butter or oil used in the process. It's all the mashed banana and apple spread. Healthy? *shrug* Yummy? Yes!
Post Script: here were my departures from the recipe hyperlinked above:
2 bananas
1/3 cup apple butter
1/2 of rest of ingredients
18 min baking time
suuuuper moist muffins!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Random bakery goods and an occasion for rhubarb

Here is that rhubarb-butterscotch sauce I was telling you about, in the making. I'm leading with the pretty photo, and the result you can see at the bottom of the post.

Baked goods! This was a first experiment in pizza dough. The first one was cooked up the next night, and the second one frozen for later use. It was the 'next night' instead of 'that night' because it's really difficult around here to get much done in one night. These days work is pretty busy, so I have a window of about 3 hours at home in the evening before I start thinking about sleep! So: crust one day, topping the next.
And here is the result of the rhubarb butterscotch! Most of the rhubarb available was greener than red (nothing to do with ripeness, just variety), and so it doesn't pack a visual color punch, but let me tell you, even cooked down with sugar, it packs a tart wallop! Hence all the Greek yogurt lurking under the granola- doing battle with the tart topping!
Finally, another baked good: sodabread! After much perusing of recipes and articles arguing about traditional (no seeds, nuts, fruits, or other) vs. new-fangled (caraway seeds, raisins, sugar, eggs and other luxuries) added, I decided to go traditional. This isn't the first time I've made Irish sodabread, but it had been a long time. It was delicious: dense but not too crumby, toothsome (whatever that means to you), and heartily satisfying, epecially with a pat of good butter on top. Also good toasted. How resourceful Irish women were!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Virginia Foray and an Umbrella of Whiteness

This is Liz. Liz is the kind of friend that makes you want to leap in the air and whoop like Katharine Hepburn.

...Well, one fine day, Liz and I decided to go out to Shenandoah together. I wanted to get out of Dodge for some Nature and she was going to a swim in open water to practice for her half-Ironman. (See? She's marvelous.) Anyway, I convinced her that she needn't rent a car at 6 AM; I would drive her out to Luray, VA, she could do her swim, I could laze about like a good old debutante, and then we could go for a hike and explore the scene. Yes, the scene at Luray. I played a supporting role here as Liz's "umbrella of whiteness."
See picture above right. You must admit, this is pretty awesome indicator of the intelligence of native Luraians: an arcade game built around the experience that is a Corvette. We found this at 3 Brothers' Burgers right near one of the entrances to Shenandoah State Park.
You may notice the classic red plastic diner glasses in the above picture. What was in them, you ask? Nothing but the finest, of course! Birch beer floats alone could satisfy the mighty thirst we had worked up while hiking in the hot (and humid, ye Californians) sun for hours... they were delicious!

And then the food arrived. First of all, it was a very fair deal: something like 3.99 for "a 6-dollar-burger" as Carl's Jr. used to say with some very good spiced fries. I got a bacon cheeseburger (oh yes, HOURS, in the SUN, I was making it back), and it was oh-so-good.

Catch-up and Mustard

No, I still haven't tried that down-home, down-east (Maine) recipe for ketchup. But I do have a new round of experiments to share on food. Lots of Firsts!
The first First in the lineup was artichokes. Never having grown them, cooked them, or dissected them, I figured it should be a part of my education to at least get up close with them to see their possibilities beyond the Cholesterol-Odyssey-2001 appetizer that is the normal starter here.
I whipped out the old recipe for aioli (via Pink of Perfection), and got to steaming (which took FOR-EV-ER!). Then came the dissection, which was quite the Discovery Channel moment; the line from Shrek where he talks about Ogres being like Onions, not Parfaits, came to mind. And then the fuzzy little choke, which looked like a dandelion or sunflower. And it was quite tasty too.

Next up were these Rhubard Custards. Sarah (again of PoP) was doing these as part of a long wandering quest to go through the Grand Diplome course books she acquired, but I was just looking for something more interesting to do with rhubarb than the butterscotch sauce I usually make as a sweet topping.

Consider the quest complete! It did involve a little bit of fussiness in the equipment arena (see photo with parchment, foil, and baking sheet), but it was well worth it. I'm not sure if I hit the mark on texture, as I am not an expert on custards. It set up kind of like creamy, frozen-not-floppy, scrambled eggs, if that helps at all. See bottom picture for deliciousness: not too sweet, and a variety of nutrients to boot!