Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomatoes and Corn

I started writing this post pretending that what we had for dinner was really good. I'm not sure why I did that. It should have been yummy. But it was icky. Don't run away!!! It should have been yummy. So try it anyway.

Here is the fascinating story of how I decided to make Buttermilk and Corn Popovers, and tomatoes and cheese for dinner:

I love, love, LOVE August at the Farmers Market. Tomatoes and corn. Two years ago I made this pie from Smitten Kitchen. It was friggin' amazing, even though I used a frozen crust which was soggy. In my typical fashion, for some ridiculous reason I decided to make this one from Epicurious despite the proven genius of the SK recipe. Belatedly, I realized it had no corn. So I thought I'd do this one. But, um, I didn't leave enough time for the crust and I wanted to use the buttermilk I'd purchased. With that in mind, I went back to Smitten Kitchen and searched "tomato and corn pie." The way those crazy little interwebs spiders work, they brought back this recipe for Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popovers....which has nothing to do with tomatoes. But it got me salivating.

As luck would have it I got some yummy, yummy smoked brick cheese from a new-to-me dairy in northern IL that would go great on the fresh tomatoes. I tasted it at the market, asked for a small package, toted it home….and it’s not smoked brick. It’s smoked swiss. Which didn’t taste good with the fresh tomatoes.

And I’m coming to the realization that I can’t bake. I suck at baking. My popovers didn’t pop:

They are sad. Very, very sad. They’re kind of muffiny. Eh.

But this is all my fault. So I still think you should make the popovers. And I still would like some fresh tomatoes with brick cheese. Just sayin’. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Time

I didn't want it to be hot again. I really didn't. I wanted it to be fall. The child started school. There are a few leaves on the ground even. So why the hell is it 90 degrees? Answer me, Al Gore, WHY???????

However, since it's hot I found this Ceviche Verde. You're welcome.

You don't have to turn on the oven in the original recipe. But if you Morganize (yeah, you can make a lot of "morga...." combos. Guess which immature one they called me in high school, despite being the anti-slut)  it, then you quickly boil some shrimp instead of using the fish, because then you can use the plain shrimp to pacify the picky 4 year-old.

And if you further Morganize it, you add an extra avocado, because you love avocado. And then you eat it with Garden of Eatin' Multi-Grain Everything Tortilla Chips. And drink it with See No Pinot boxed Pinot Gris. And then your family sings your praises, treats you to a spa day, and cleans the bathrooms for you. Or not....more likely they just say, "Yum," which sometimes is just as good.

No. That's a lie. It's nice, but it's not as good as all that other stuff.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Graduation Party Beans

My baby's graduating!!! Sad face. Well....she's not really my baby. Technically she belongs to the neighbors. And she graduated a while ago. But there's a party! And she chose a theme. This hurts me to say....I am trying to be very culturally aware when I say this. To recognize that I am a child of the 80's and she's a child of the 00's. But I'm not sure I can forgive her sweet little 18 year-old heart. She chose......Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.   Gah. I can barely type it. Sigh. I guess there's no accounting for taste. But anyway, the sacrilegious theme did allow me to make Red Beans and Rice to go with the Cuban pulled pork her actual parents made.

Overall, it was a hit - unless they were all just being nice to me! I thought it was good, not great. But everyone else seems to disagree, and who am I to go against the crowd? I skipped the bacon to make it veggie, the flavor of the bacon really would have made the dish I think. I upped the beans by a quarter and I still think it could have been more beany. The smoked paprika is key, and I might even go as far as to double it next time.

I made this for about 40ish do that I sauteed the veggies in Crisco in my dutch oven, then added the spices and let it meld for a few minutes before adding a can of tomatoes and chopped chilis instead of tomato paste. Then I emptied half the veggie/spice mix into a pan, added all the beans, and popped it in the oven to heat through. Meanwhile I added the rice to the dutch oven, stirred to coat and added twice the water - I'm not sure why they have so little water in the recipe, but I've learned the hard way that it doesn't matter what the recipe says, you must use double the measure of rice. So because I used six cups of rice, I used twelve cups of water and it was perfect.  When the rice was cooked, I mixed it all together, took it to the neighbors, and drank mojitos. Many mojitos.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We spent a week in Michigan with my extended family. Well, it wasn't really Michigan -- but Indiana is waaaay less glamorous sounding. Seriously. You might not realize this if you're not from the Midwest. But trust me. It's true. And we did go to Michigan. For ice cream. Twice. But on this trip I realized why the cooking gig didn't work out for the Cousin and me (it just kind of harm, no foul). But here is the reason, crystallized in one picture:

Aren't they beautiful?????? They are like little fairy berries. They make me want to go to Fairyland, eat some of these berries, and stay for an hour, but when I come back the world has been going on for 20 years. I should have used something for perspective, but that's a pint. So they're tiny! and sweet-looking! and dainty! and pressssshus!

So Cousin and I were at the Michigan Produce Mart in some town that starts with an "S" (I'm not being coy, I really don't remember where we were), when I saw these translucent, enticing little things. They were white currants. I asked, "Hey, have you ever had white currants? Let's get some and try them!" To which Cousin replied, "But what are they? What are you going to do with them? What's your plan?" I, of course, did not actually have a plan, and the berries are totally tart. And when I Epicurious-ed them (totally a verb, shush) at Cousin's prompting, there wasn't really anything. So they got, tossed - she was right. But still. I think that's what happened to my short-lived cooking for fun and  profit career. I'm a little hit and miss in my cooking, a little too distractable by the romantic stories I tell myself about fairy berries.

Anyway, on a related note: after a week of meals for 20 (everyone took a night; I made grilled glazed salmon , the cucumber-avocado soup, and cold green beans with feta and pecans), we were in the mood for something with a little more .... zing. So the menu this week started last night with Rachel Ray's Curry in a Hurry (chicken and sweet potatoes sauteed in jarred curry paste; add other vegetables - like onion and peppers; add 1 tbsp flour to thicken; add a couple cups of chx broth, a cup of cream, and 1/4 of jarred mango chutney), stuffed peppers tonight, buffalo taco salad tomorrow, and then shrimp fried rice.