Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pride & Joy

Ok, so I'm kind of a dork about kitchen stuff.

I don't get really excited about fancy gadgety things. I do, however, get VERY excited about workhorse-type tools. I love to cook - but I'm not very speedy & I make a serious mess. So items that improve my efficiency in the kitchen are a big deal.

And if they happen to have the added bonus of looking good...? SOLD!

With that in Kitchen Aid stand mixer has gotten a bit of an upgrade. While it was simply lovely on its own - powerful, efficient & easy to clean - now, it is also a thing of


I may not cook quite like my hero, Alton Brown - but there's no reason I can't be just as sassy while making the attempt.

P.S. I just added a new link to Fridgewatcher. I think it's absolutely fascinating, your mileage may vary...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chapter Three - You say tomato & I say...Roasted Tomato!

Finally, here is the last chapter. I know you all (hi mom!) have been hanging on my every word.

My mom used to roast tomatoes a lot when we were kids. She'd take a regular tomato & slice it up - add a pinch of this & that (in her house, "this & that" also equals garlic salt & basil) & throw them in the oven. Being on the receiving end of some plum tomatoes (also from Aunt Phyllis & Uncle Jeff) I thought I'd do the same.

But someone I know does not like tomatoes. He eats them as sauce or ketchup - but on his sandwich, no way. And my fresh salsa...*sigh* I notice he lets his chip get some juice on it, but steers away from most of the bits & pieces.

Because I knew I could not keep all these tomatoes in a decent raw state for very long, I asked this someone how he'd feel if I cooked them. "They taste like pizza!" I say enthusiastically. He looks at me suspiciously & says he'll try. That's all I can hope for I guess.

And away we go...

Plum tomatoes - halved
olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic salt (or granulated garlic), dried basil
grated cheese

Pretty simple stuff here.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the tomato halves cut side up in a pyrex baking dish (on a sheet, they'll roll around a lot).
Sprinkle the halves with a bit of olive oil, then salt & pepper, garlic salt (or granulated) & basil.
Then cover each half with grated cheese.

Pop these little devils in the oven & hope for the best! Honestly, there isn't much need for hope because this isn't exactly difficult. But if you take a few good ingredients & do something you hadn't thought of before - with delicious results - well, that's as close to magic as I can get you!

Anyway, my little to-mah-toes were in for around 20 minutes - give or take 5. They were just as lovely as I remembered & they really do taste like pizza.

And yes, Will did eat a couple. I don't think he's going to be begging for me to make them again - but they were soooo tasty, I'm going to do it anyway. ;)

P.S. Please don't make my tomatoes suffer because of my awful pictures. I am not good at this part! You simply would not believe how many pictures I take just to come up with 3 that actually have SOMETHING in focus. It's not always what I want in focus, but I can't really be too picky at that point.
Pretend it's art.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chapter Two – And then there were BEETS!

The beets came from Will’s Aunt & Uncle’s really big garden just outside of Albany.

As excited as I was, I had no idea what to do with them until his cousin told me to roast them like potatoes. Roasted beets!?!? How very sophisticated that sounded! Especially to someone like me who is easily impressed.

(And just so you all know – I keep typing beAts. Ummm…yeah.)

I’ve had plenty of beets in my day. Just open the can! We always ate them dressed with oil & vinegar. Tasty, but now…it seemed mundane. If it doesn’t to you, by all means, give it a try – just a little olive oil, red wine vinegar & a pinch of this & that. (In my world, “this & that” equals garlic salt & basil.)

But this time there would be no can. This time? This time there would be roasting.

After a good soaking (beets are dirty!), I trimmed off the greens. Aunt Phyllis did tell me that I could cook the greens but they were looking a bit wilty. So I nixed that for now – there was plenty of excitement already!

While the oven was getting itself up to 400, I got to the peeling & cubing. (Look how pretty they are!)

Olive oil, salt & pepper were added & then because I can’t leave well enough alone…a few shakes of a bouquet garni herb blend. Why? Well, I really don’t know. For some reason, I was feeling very European about the beets. DON’T LAUGH.

Then I covered the dish tightly with foil & stuffed them in the oven. After 45 minutes or so, I uncovered them but they stayed in for about another half hour.

The verdict…Will loved the beets. Loved them! He kept telling me how good they were. I desperately wanted to love the beets. I kept eating them & thinking “this will be the bite where I love the beets.” That didn’t so much happen.

The beets were just Ok. I think that I may have overstepped with herb sprinkling – but it seemed so harmless at the time. They had a bit of a bitterness that I couldn’t account for otherwise.

On the other hand, they did have a great deal of sweetness – kind of like sweet potatoes - which I am going to try to play off of next time. Yes, there will be a next time. I didn’t hate the beets – I just don’t think I did them any justice. I am going to look for some recipes – or I may treat them more like sweet potatoes rather than regular ones. I promise I will keep you all posted.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Roasted Veggies – An Adventure in Three Chapters

Hi everyone! (Or just Mom!) I’m back!

I haven’t been here in awhile. I am always cooking something new or good (or both new AND good!) but it seemed like I would take a bunch of pictures & then not feel like posting anything. The process here is a bit tedious – but I think I’ve figured a way around that so hopefully I’ll make this all regular or something.

Anyway, this roasting of was done on different nights with different vegetables. As far as cooking goes, they are all pretty similar but I am excited about them for different reasons.

Soooo...there will be 3 different posts - kind of like a mini-series! I really know how to turn up the excitement - don't I??? Wheeeeee!

First up – String Beans…

This has become my new favorite way to eat string beans. The fabulous thing about it is that the beans don’t have to be the freshest to come out tasting wonderful.

Does anyone else leave produce in their refrigerator a little too long? Can't be just me...can it? Noooooooo! I refuse to believe that.

So let's just pretend then, that you are rummaging around, looking for something else to go with your teriyaki pork loin when suddenly...GASP! THERE IS A BAG OF STRING BEANS!

You vaguely remember purchasing this bag of string beans & you are sure when you made that purchase, they were lovely. But you have since forgotten about them & they are looking a bit…well…peak’ed.

Well, I can save your string beans. YES I CAN. Now that may seem like a fantastic claim - but it is true. Or mostly true.

Actually, Cooks Illustrated can save your string beans. Just like they saved roasting. Sounds unconventional, doesn't it? It is. And we like that around here.

So here you go...

1 lb. of string beans - cleaned
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with foil (this is really just to help with cleanup).
Cook the beans for 10 minutes - then flip the beans and cook for another 10.

Ummm...that's it. I SWEAR THIS IS REALLY GOOD!

They are going to look kind of shrivelly - but they are supposed to. And they are going to taste quite different than you are used to. Sweeter & a bit nutty. Very interesting.

I have noticed that sometimes they come out a bit on the crunchy side & others they are just, well cooked. And sometimes – you get them both ways in the same batch.

I would imagine it will vary a bit depending on the state of your beans to begin with. Either way, they are quite lovely.

The other thing that's pretty cool is that you can still make string beans this way even when it is no longer string bean season! The roasting brings out their natural sweetness. I'm even going to attempt this later in the season with frozen ones. I promise to let you know how that goes.

The magazine gave a few different options for topping these if you want to be all fancy. And they did sound me. But there is another member of my household & oftentimes, as tasty as something may sound TO ME, this other person (who shall remain nameless) will make squidgey faces.

So my beans remain plain. :) They are still fabulous! But if anyone is interested - leave me a comment & I'll post the fanciness just for you!

Stay tuned for Chapter 2! BEETS! (Oh yeah, NOW you are excited! Hee!)