31 August 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: like you was so high and mighty

It was then that Calpurnia requested my presence in the kitchen.

She was furious, and when she was furious Calpurnia's grammar became erratic. When in tranquility, her grammar was as good as anybody's in Maycomb. Atticus said Calpurnia had more education than most colored folks.

When she squinted down at me the tiny lines around her eyes deepened. "There's some folks who don't eat like us," she whispered fiercely, "but you ain't called on to contradict 'em at the table when they don't. That boy's yo' comp'ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear?"

"He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham--"

"Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo' folks might be better'n the Cunninghams but it don't count for nothin' the way you're disgracin' 'em-- if you can't act fit to eat at the table you can just set here and eat in the kitchen!"

-from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I love Calpurnia.

29 August 2011

one killer salad

Savoy Cabbage Drumhead
Well, really, it's all about the dressing. I could eat this all day.


Vietnamese-Style Chicken Salad
(loosely adapted from here)

1/2 a Savoy cabbage, shredded*
2 medium carrots, grated
3-4 green onions, sliced thinly (include some of the green part)
1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 cups cubed cooked chicken**
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil***
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1) Toss together all salad ingredients, except peanuts, in large bowl.
2) Shake together dressing ingredients in small jar or bottle. Pour over salad and toss to coat.
3) Divide between three bowls or plates and garnish with peanuts. Serve.


This salad is beautiful! It also travels well, even if you've already added the dressing; the Savoy cabbage does not wilt like lettuce would. Leftovers are equally delicious.

*This was about 6 cups of cabbage for me.
**Left over from a roast chicken, perhaps, or you can quickly poach a couple thighs or breasts.
***If you don't have sesame oil, improvise with an additional tablespoon of olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds. But the sesame oil is really the best!

{image credit: Campobello Island}

27 August 2011

Weekend linkage

The hubs and I went to see Le Vent du Nord last night. It was a concert at Longwood, free since we're members there, so we just went on a whim. Quebecois music? That sounded cool.

Okay. So. They were AWESOME. Amazing musicians, and such fun on stage. It was like four (incredibly talented) friends were jamming in the living room. Here are three songs: Les Amants du Saint Laurent, Tour a Bois, and Lainlaire. (In Lainlaire you can see Olivier doing foot percussion, which is totally sweet; here is a video in which he "explains" it.)

I would definitely wear this shirt.

Mmm... tasty.

An obituary slash mini biography of Nancy Wake, "White Mouse" of WWII. My goodness.

25 August 2011

on the coconut bandwagon

Bright, Tropical MYD Coconuts @ Malaysia
Yes, I know: all. the. real. food. blogs. are. doing it. But now that I am doing it too, (like everyone else) I have my own particular method. And it's a pretty exciting thing to make!

So. Bandwagon or not, this warrants a post. Let us proceed.

Easy Homemade Coconut Milk 

2 cups dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)
5 cups hot water, divided

1) Process coconut and 3 cups water in blender for 3 minutes-- in the Blendtec I run it on the lowest speed, which is still very powerful, so in a typical blender you'd want a medium-high speed. (You are going for "finely chopped coconut" rather than "completely pulverized," so no need to put the thing on full blast.)
2) Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve and press on chopped coconut with a spatula to squeeze out the coconut milk you've just created. (If it is not white, you just need to process it some more.) Make sure that your milk is thoroughly strained, which may take a few pourings through the sieve.
3) Now put the coconut back into the blender and add the remaining 2 cups water. Process and strain as before. Now you have a good 5 cups of delicious coconut milk. Ta-da!
4) Pour coconut milk into a glass jar or pitcher and refrigerate. The coconut oil will rise to the top, and you can skim that off before using the milk. Use the oil as you would butter or olive oil in cooking.

As for the chopped and squeezed coconut, you could put it in cookies or granola or what-have you-- either dry it out a bit first or reduce the liquids in the recipe. Personally, I am working on figuring out how to make coconut flour. :)

{image credit: thienzieyung}

this is for the ladies

One of my new favorite things . . . it's rather luscious. My goal is to have fewer and fewer "conventional" products in the bathroom, the kind with five hundred unpronounceable ingredients, and replace them with the simplest elements (like pure almond oil) or homemade blends like this one. 

Creamy Body Butter

3/4 cup raw shea butter or kpangnan butter
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon arrowroot
2-3 capsules vitamin E
1 tablespoon essential oils, your choice*

1) Melt shea butter and coconut oil together on very low heat, just until liquid, stirring frequently. Don't overheat or the mixture may become gritty.
2) Pour into stainless steel bowl and add remaining ingredients. (Puncture the vitamin E capsules and squeeze out the contents into the bowl.)
3) Using electric beaters, whip ingredients together for 1-2 minutes. I just use my stand mixer for this.
4) Pour mixture into a pretty glass jar and screw on the lid. Place in freezer for several hours until body butter has firmer consistency, then store at room temperature, where it should have a soft and creamy texture. Use as you would any all-over moisturizer.

*I used a combination of lavender and ylang-ylang.

24 August 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: the first fine careless rapture


O, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

-"Home-Thoughts from Abroad" by Robert Browning

{image credit: Chaffinch by Grant Glendinning}

22 August 2011

Necessity, being the mother of invention . . .

. . . has given birth to copious peach-related ingenuity in the past five days. I'd say the threat of rotting peaches is a clear case of necessity.

First I flash-froze thin unpeeled slices for quart bags.

Then I did the same with halves, but wrapped them individually in plastic and stuck them in gallon bags. These will be perfect for smoothies. Just pull out a peach half and unwrap! I wish I had thought of this earlier.

Then, tired of neat slices and the painstaking use of parchment, I just diced 'em up and packed them into quart bags. They're ready for a January cobbler.

Then I roasted quarters with a sprinkling of raw sugar, 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees-- they're delicious and I am eating way too many of them. I will try freezing some because I think they would make a great ice cream topping, thawed and reheated (also because if I don't they will all disappear into my mouth).

Tomorrow Mom and I are making jam, trying out this tempting recipe.

I also did this. After all, I already had the vodka . . .

Of course that's not to mention the many smoothies, the Dutch babies, the whipped cream bourbon concoction, and the crisp that all showed up over the weekend. Oy. In the end we kept 150 pounds of peaches from our haul on Thursday, and good golly Miss Molly, there is no way that's happening again.

(Until we have eight children and three freezers, that is.)

Peaches peaches peaches. Why is it that for most of the year, you can't find a good peach for love or money, and then once they come in, you drown in them?! Whatever health benefits reside in peaches, I've had my allowance for the year.

20 August 2011

Not really a recipe, I suppose

Jim Beam
More like "delicious things thrown into a bowl." 

Boozy Peaches 

2-3 ripe peaches
bourbon (we used Jim Beam)
4 oz heavy cream
powdered sugar

1) Wash and chop peaches, and place in bowl. (Peeling is optional. We never do.) Splash in some bourbon; here is where your personal preference comes in, whether you like a little or a lot! Anyway, stir peaches and bourbon together, mashing peaches slightly.
2) Pour cream and a tablespoon or two of sugar into bowl of electric mixer. Whip on high until forms stiff peaks. (You could spike this with bourbon too.)
3) Divide your bourbon'd peaches and whipped cream between two bowls. Enjoy!

{image credit: Lee View}

Weekend linkage

Why I try to buy good-quality poultry.

This looks good! A cookbook of salads.

I'm having lindy withdrawals. So here are not one, not two, not three, but four fantastic lindy hop routines.

And don't forget the Charleston!

Haha... I need to stop saying "awesome."

Oh please tell me this is not really how guys modify their conversations. (Is it?)

19 August 2011

pounds and pounds of peaches

Scale 1

We finally got around to it yesterday morning. I and my four youngest siblings piled into the station wagon and drove up to Brecknock Orchards in Mohnton-- it was high time to get us some peaches. The trees were lush, the morning was beautiful. Wanna know how many pounds we picked? Just in one hour?

Three. Hundred. And. Sixty. Five.

Now, keep in mind that we were also picking for other people, so approximately 175 pounds went to various friends and family. We joked that we should start charging interest. :)

But still.

That leaves me with 190 pounds of peaches on the kitchen counter. (And floor.)

I'm freezing like mad: washing, slicing in thin wedges, and laying them out on parchment-lined cookie sheets. I do a few layers and then stick the whole lot in the freezer. Five or six hours later, they are ready to pop into quart bags. If they don't get horrible freezer burn, we should have sliced peaches for smoothies, cobblers, fruit salads, and compotes all winter. And yes, I think that the two of us will eat them all! If it turns out to be too much for our freezer, we'll pawn them off on somebody else, but everything that stays in our house will, in all likelihood, be consumed. We love peaches.

{image credit: Scott Everett

17 August 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: dwindled to a husk

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears.
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me. 

-"A Better Resurrection" by Christina Rossetti

16 August 2011

In like Flynn

After much deliberation, the birthday betta has been christened Flynn.

He may or may not be named after Errol.
(I have a weakness for swashbuckling, okay?)

"Leroy" can wait for our firstborn son.

15 August 2011

As they are meant to be enjoyed

"It is all a question of measure and self-control. It is a sin to be intemperate, to throw oneself into a hunt for limitless pleasure. It is not a sin (indeed it is temperance, a cardinal virtue!) to enjoy wine and food as they are meant to be enjoyed. Not for nothing is the word il bendidio (God's abundance) a synonym for food in the Italian language."

-from Slow Food: The Case for Taste by Carlo Petrini

Pick a Peach

Peach picking tomorrow, if all goes according to plan. Last year I froze some thirty pounds-- and if anything, our peach consumption will go up this year (thanks to my new passion for smoothies)-- so I am aiming for at least that much this time around.

Freezing peaches is a wonderful thing and I'm so thankful for the technology that makes it possible. All the same, nothing compares to a fresh peach dripping with sugar-sweet juice. That is how it is "meant to be enjoyed."

{image credit: mybluebirdgifts}

13 August 2011

a pet

"I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy."

I have a fish! A lovely little betta, with carmine red fins and a dark purple body. He was a birthday present from my siblings. :)

Currently residing in a voluminous fishbowl with plenty of grass and gravel, Squishy seems pleased with his surroundings and is darting about in an exploratory manner. We'll see how he takes to us.

p.s. Squishy is merely his interim name. I need to consider my options. Blakeney and Carlyle are currently the front-runners. (Jared suggests Leroy.)

12 August 2011

Weekend linkage

So if you have ever played Kubb-- and if you haven't, oh, you should-- here is how to make your own set.

Ahhh this is tres wonderful. Little tiny people and food! The teacup scuba divers are my favorite.

I'm on a musical kick this week. Some favorite songs for ye: from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Newsies, and Into the Woods.

Speaking of musicals, a little something from Design Sponge to help you live in The Sound of Music.

Another game for the nerdier among us: Agricola. You can pretend to be a Roman farmer. It's like the wacko homeschooling family's version of Settlers . . .*

When we have our wall-to-wall Beauty and the Beast library, you can bet there will be a few of these tucked away on the shelves.

Bahahaha. "It's gettin' real in the Whole Foods parkin' lot."

Crazypants people, ballooning to the North Pole.

Even crazypantsier people, time-traveling to medieval England.

I would like to go to this Gap store and drive this truck . . . both designed by The Official Manufacturing Company, otherwise known as OMFG. :)

*I say "wacko homeschooling family" with all respect and affection. We were one.

11 August 2011

on Volvos and salmon

". . . we [modern American prigs] cherish a myth of conversion in which we throw off the character our society gives us and put on a new one in all ways vastly superior. Normally this great change is achieved by education, enhanced by travel, refined by reading certain publications, manifested in the approved array of scruples and concerns, observed ritually in the drinking of water, the eating of fish, the driving of Volvos, and otherwise."

-from "Puritans and Prigs" in The Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson


Hmm. Color me guilty. I love self-improvement and I love thinking of myself as "vastly superior."

Of course, I do believe that the drinking of water and the eating of (wild-caught) fish are wonderful things.* (Also, I wouldn't say no to a Volvo XC.) Usually I roast my eggplant or make my kefir with motives of health, taste, environmental responsibility, frugality, and flat-out aesthetics. Forget about the snob factor-- I just want those free-range eggs for the golden yolk!

However, I readily admit that less worthy motives creep in, not the least of which is this proud desire to be "vastly superior." A good reminder to check my heart as I check my grocery list.

*In fact, we had pan-fried tilapia for dinner. Accompanied by water . . . oh, and Chardonnay.

10 August 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: tunnels and candlelit caverns

I thought that was an awful lot to remember from something as simple as lightning in a snowstorm, but Dr. Nokes laughed and said one day I too would remember hard winters in detail more voluminous than anyone would care to hear. I suppose he was right and you don't give a chipped dime for December of '62, but it was an epic season all the same, the drifts rising eventually past the kitchen window and up to the very eaves. In the afternoons Swede and I, in layers of pants, would step from the highest snowbank onto the roof of the single story addition, then climb to the peak and go skidding down the other side to land with a poof in the front yard. How we missed Davy! In such snow he'd have led us into all sorts of thrilling and jeopardous traps-- our backyard would've been veined with tunnels and candlelit caverns; our snowball wars would've been prolonged and ferocious.

-from Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

09 August 2011

when grains eat milk

In America, homemade ice cream is commonplace. Cheesemaking, though less common, still has a cool vibe to it. Even making your own yogurt is not unheard of, and at the very least, lots of people here eat yogurt.

But making kefir . . . that's weird. I mean, seriously, who drinks kefir?

In Eastern Europe, lots of people. In America, only the weirdos. And as a weirdo extraordinaire, here is how I make milk kefir.*

1) Find a source of milk kefir grains. This is the hardest part. You can't use storebought kefir as a starter, like you can with yogurt; you actually need "grains," gelatinous, funky-looking lumps that are in fact complex collections of bacteria, yeasts, lipids, proteins, and sugars. When used to make kefir, the grains aren't incorporated into the milk. They stay in their little clump while doing their culturing work, and are then strained out for future uses.
By the way, if you have texture issues, do not try making kefir. The finished product is silky smooth, but the kefir grains look like jellied cauliflower, and while I find this (as most things) oddly amusing, those with more delicate sensibilities will probably be skeeved out.

Anyway, suggestions for where to obtain kefir grains: Craigslist, this forum, this woman, or a friend who is also weird enough to have them on hand. That's what I did. :) And I actually have enough to give away right now, so just ask if you would like some.

2) Okay. Now that you have obtained kefir grains, the rest is easier than burnt toast.

Place 1/4 cup of kefir grains in a quart glass jar. Pour in 3 cups of whole milk, screw on the lid tightly, and shake thoroughly. Now loosen the lid and set the jar out on the kitchen counter. Check it 24 hours later, shaking again to see if it has thickened and acquired a yeasty aroma.

(The kefir may have separated a bit, with thicker curds on top and a thin layer of whey at the bottom, like this.
Shake it up regardless.)

The consistency should be thinner than yogurt, but thicker than buttermilk. Perfect for smoothies, which is generally how I use it! If still too thin, loosen the lid again and let it culture longer, but if it is ready, pour through a fine mesh strainer to separate the grains from the kefir. It will be smooth and thick, like this.
Refrigerate the kefir (and grains).


Kefir is an acquired taste because it's so strong and tart-- not a typical American flavor. I have always liked it in fruit smoothies, but I might venture to drink it straight now, months after first tasting it. :) It works well as buttermilk too. Give it a try-- make a smoothie with 1/3 cup kefir, 1/3 cup plain yogurt, a banana, a peach, a splash of vanilla, and a dollop of raw honey. See what you think, and bump up the kefir to yogurt ratio next time.

As for your grains, just keep them in a little glass jar till you are ready to make more kefir. I never rinse them off and everything has worked out fine. Also, they will grow as you continue to use them, so you can share them too!

For more information visit here.

*Kefir 101: as in yogurt, the kefir bacteria and yeast break down lactose and distribute probiotics in the milk they culture. (There are far more beneficial probiotics in kefir than in milk.) Kefir is thinner than yogurt. It has a distinctive yeasty aroma. You can also make kefir with coconut milk, water, and probably other things I don't know about, but I stick with cow juice. :)

{I didn't take the photos, but alas, I don't remember where I found them}

06 August 2011

Weekend linkage [birthday edition]

Today I turn twenty-four! In celebration, we went to a Cherish the Ladies concert on Thursday night. Oh happy me. They even brought an Irish step dancer along with them. He was great. So, also in the Irish dancing vein, this is most fabulous. (Duh. It's Riverdance. I still get chills remembering the live performance I got to see last year.)

Birthday dinner? Well, we had it last night, because today we're running around like crazy-- partially due to Charlotte's Web (you should come!!!)-- and won't have time for a leisurely meal. We did salmon steaks with a delicious butter sauce. I added chives and garlic. Wow. It bears repeating . . . often.

Someone else had a birthday recently. Prince Philip and his foot-in-mouth issues. Tee hee.

And the requisite bit of humor: this week, as so often, from Wondermark.

05 August 2011

and give them gladness for sorrow

Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”

For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, 
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say, 
‘O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth . . .
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, 
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, 
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob 
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”

-from Jeremiah 31

an announcement!

No, not that announcement. Gotcha. :)

Ahem. This is simply to say that everybody in Lancaster should come see Charlotte's Web on Saturday afternoon. This musical is a Central Lancaster County Homeschool Music production, which means it will be great.* Performances are at Grace Baptist Church on Marietta Avenue, at 3:00 and 7:30 PM. Tickets sold at the door, $5 each. Come out and enjoy a fun show!

*I'm slightly biased, currently having four siblings in CLCHM. But really. They're good. And there are a bunch of little kids in this one, which makes everything even better.

04 August 2011

she went to her cupboard

Old Mother Hubbard, she went to her cupboard
To give her poor dog a bone
When she came there the cupboard was bare,
And so the old dog had none.


I've been thinking about what I consider "essential" in my kitchen. If I had to move and restock my kitchen from scratch, what would I get first? If I were taking food on a trip, what is most important? If I have a limited amount of grocery money left this month, what takes priority?

These, I think, are what I'd consider my pantry essentials. That is, if we happen to run low they immediately appear on the grocery list. :)


Tea and coffee. It's a sad day when we run out of either. (That doesn't happen often, believe you me.)

Eggs. We blow through an insane amount of eggs. I usually buy three dozen at a time-- I've never had one go bad. :)

Whole milk. From cereal to white sauce to yogurt to kefir, I think we average 1.5 gallons a week. Sometimes it's more like 2.

Cheese and sour cream. The two dairy products I don't make from scratch. Yet. ;) For cheese, I like to have Parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella.

Meat. I would say that if I have a whole chicken, some ground beef, and a few links of sausage in the freezer, we're good to go for a while. Canned tuna and salmon are also staples.

Flours. White whole wheat and unbleached white, ever and only from King Arthur Flour.

Rice. Long grain for some things, shorter and stickier basmati for others. Always brown.

Nuts. We eat a lot of almonds and walnuts-- nut butters, candied, granola, trail mix, coffee cake. Whoop for portable protein.

Beans. Whether dried or canned, I like to have chickpeas and black beans in the cupboard for quick lunches or bulking up tacos and soup.

Apples (usually) and bananas. We love a variety of fruit but heaven forbid that bananas should not be on hand. During the fall and winter there are always apples, though not as much in summertime, when melon and peaches take their place. :)

Broccoli, lettuce, carrots. Though I try to keep a rainbow of seasonal vegetables in the fridge, with these three basics I can do plenty.

Onions and garlic. Life ain't worth livin' without 'em.

Potatoes. Especially now that I am avoiding grains, I cook with potatoes even more. Reds and russets are great.

Butter. Biscuits, sauteed onions and mushrooms, brushed over a roasting chicken, melted on hot toast, et cetera. We looove butter.

Olive oil. Anything from salad dressings to pizza dough to carrot cake. (I try to stick with butter and coconut oil for high-heat uses, as they have higher smoke points and less chance of oxidation.) Extra virgin for most uses and "light" for mayonnaise.

Coconut oil. I don't use much of this at a time, as it's pricey, but it is great for Asian dishes and for seasoning my cast iron.

Chicken and beef stock. Whisked into omelets, cooking liquid for rice, and of course soup. The freezer almost always has a quart or two tucked away.

Spices. Here's what is in my spice cabinet: salt, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, dill, tarragon, chives, cardamom, coriander, cumin, parsley, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, bay leaves, five spice powder, garam masala, curry powder, sesame seeds, vanilla extract, peppermint extract. It took me a while to build up that collection! Salt, pepper, garlic, basil, thyme, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract would be my basics. (SAF instant yeast probably fits in this category too. I keep it in the freezer. Baking powder and soda get put in the spice cabinet.)

Sweeteners. Wet: local raw honey for "uncooked" uses, pasteurized (cheaper) honey for baking, molasses for the holidays and for chili, maple syrup on occasion. Dry: raw turbinado sugar for most things and refined sugar for the times when nothing else will do. 

Chocolate. We must have chocolate on hand at all times, or we are doomed. Truth.

Cereal, Caesar dressing, tortilla chips. Because I do like to keep the husband happy. :)

Nonstick spray and parchment paper. Aluminum foil and plastic wrap also, in moderation. What would I do without these brilliant inventions?


A few other things are also very useful, but don't quite make it onto the Must Have List for one reason or another. To wit: pasta, rolled oats, canned tomatoes, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, vinegars (apple cider, red and white wine, balsamic), heavy cream.

What do you think? Have I left something off the list?

{image source}

03 August 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: but it wasn't a recollection

And I looked up into the mirror of the bar and saw Anne Stanton come in the door. Or rather, her image come through the image of the door. For the moment I did not turn to face the reality. Instead, I looked at the image which hung there in the glass like a recollection caught in the ice of the mind-- you have seen, in winter in the clear ice of a frozen stream, some clean bright gold and red leaf embedded to make you think suddenly of the time when all the bright gold and red leaves have been on the trees like a party and the sunshine had poured down over them as though it would never stop. But it wasn't a recollection, it was Anne Stanton herself, who stood there in the cool room of the looking glass, above the bar barricade of bright bottles and siphons across some distance of blue carpet, a girl-- well, not exactly a girl any more, a young woman about five-feet-four with the trimmest pair of nervous ankles and smallish hips which, however, looked as round as though they had been turned on a lathe, and a waist just the width to make you wonder if you could span it with your hand, and all of this done up in a swatch of gray flannel which pretended to a severe mannish cut but actually did nothing but scream for attention to some very unmannish arrangements within.

-from All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

02 August 2011

he does love me, I swear

But you wouldn't know it from the names he calls me. Specifically, I've been the subject of more animal comparisons in the past 19 months than in my entire life beforehand. A choice few:

puffer fish
disgruntled owl
nibbly rabbit
hoarding mouse
busy ant
"one of those little cleaner fish that latch onto sharks"

I love you too, babe. :)

01 August 2011

well, that took me long enough

I like chickpeas.

I like making things myself.

I have a pot and I have a stove.

Why did I not cook my own chickpeas before?

Well, I'm on the bandwagon now. Freshly cooked chickpeas are creamier and better-flavored than those from a can. They're cheaper. And they take a measly 10 minutes of active time to prepare. Do it.

Thanks to Kitchen Stewardship for the basic instructions. 


How to Make Freshly Cooked Chickpeas

1) Sort through dried chickpeas for any gravel or other oddments. Place in pot and cover with water, with the water level an inch or two above chickpea level. You can cook any amount of chickpeas at a time, but make sure that your pot is large enough to hold (potentially) three times the volume of dried beans. They will expand!
2) Cover and soak overnight on counter (8-10 hours).
3) The next morning, remove lid and add more water if needed to bring water level an inch above chickpea level. Bring to boil and let boil for 10 minutes uncovered; skim off any foam that rises to top.
4) Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Check to see if they are tender enough for you, and if not, keep simmering and checking. (I cooked mine for 1 hour.) Drain off the water, and consume chickpeas at your leisure.

I grew up with my mom cooking her own beans-- most of the time-- yet somehow it never occurred to me that I, too, ought to give it a shot. Duh.

Next up, black beans. :)

{image credit: bour3}