Operation: Eat the Freezer

July 13, 2011

This summer we are a bit overwhelmed both by my A-exams and by the fact that I have managed to fill a chest freezer with both my stress-cooking and my overzealous food purchasing. So for now, we are eating the freezer. Nothing has been photo worthy, but it has been tasty.

Promissory note: next post will contain a photo of Dog #2. She is roughly as cute as Dog #1, so extreeemely cute.


Episode V: The Entropy Strikes Back

September 8, 2010

The semester started out so well! I put on my grown-up costume and brought my lunch and everything!

This is my grown-up disguise.

I apparently took pictures for step-by-step instructions for building my lunch:

Step 1

Black bean soup from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Step 2

…and a cheddar chive muffin. It’s the “cheese muffin” from Joy of Cooking but with fresh chives added (and, as always, made with GF flour).

Step 3

A donut peach from the CSA and local gouda-esque cheese from the farmer’s market. The donut peaches are odd and flat, but very tasty!

Step 4

AND. An apple. I’m pretty sure it’s a Gingergold from Black Diamond farm.

So as you can see, I meant business! I continued to mean business when I made another beans and greens thing from MRCaH and roasted several eggplants and served them with feta:

Veggie Plates

And when I made a Moroccan Fish Tagine (from Best-Ever Slow Cooker, One-pot & Casserole Cookbook). The harissa could have been spicier, truth be told. Mostly this tasted of lemons. Not complaining, though. It was deliciously lemony.

Moroccan Fish Tagine

And then I made the Tarragon and Cider Chicken from the same book. And it was astounding.

Tarragon Cider Chicken

Seriously, go make this right now! It’s so good!

But be warned, if you are like us. Be careful not to do this, as this was our downfall:

Too sexy for this table

Already you can see, around the edges of our balanced meal, the clutter is creeping. Near the salads, a book that has not yet been returned to its rightful owner. Near the nice bottle of Bellwether Cider, a problem set lurks. And so it begins people. Your life comes back and says: “YOU CANNOT HAVE NICE THINGS.”

And so I didn’t cook for a while, and we descended into eating leftover (which were thankfully plentiful) and Mr. Piggy groused much about all the CSA things that were not eaten. And then the heatwave came and sapped any desire I ever had to be anywhere near the stove. And then came the work. And the clutter, and the annoyance. And then came MORE veggies from the CSA

To Be Continued…

A pig’s breakfast (and lunch and…)

August 24, 2010

After several days of only having kefir and coffee for breakfast, I was feeling very slow and “off.” I’m not really a morning person, and I have trouble eating a lot before I’ve been up and had my coffee, but on my trip I had found a nice peace with the morning and was really getting stuff done before 10am. So, to get my British morning mojo back, I returned to the breakfast of choice of the scene of the crime.

Mini Fry-Up

CSA tomato, with a free-range egg and pre-cut mushrooms from Wegman’s is apparently the recipe for my morning energy. Add whole wheat sourdough toast and coffee and eat. (Better than the bizarre, huge breakfasts they used to show in the ads, no? Not a frosted mini-wheat in sight!)

Part of this complete breakfast!

We’re also sticking to our resolution about packing our lunches. So here’s my lunch, all packed up and ready to go and looking like a confused stop light. Packed last night and photographed this morning in the light streaming in from the kitchen window.

Mixed-Up-Stop-Light lunch

The beets and gratin are, of course, from Sunday’s extravaganza. The beans in the middle are left over from the veggie side from last night’s dinner.

Piggie with a Pot Roast

Although the white balance is kinda FUBAR, I made the Rosemary Beef Roast from Better Homes and Gardens Simple Slow-Cooker Recipes. I think I’ve been underrating this book in my mind somehow since the first few things I tried from it came out a bit like 1950s food. There are some real gems in there, and this is one of them. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s local, wandering-the-hills, farmer’s market beef. That gives any pot-roast an advantage. But the rest was just normal mushrooms and onions and bottled roasted red peppers and canned tomatoes. Maybe it was the fresh rosemary that made a difference? At any rate, I’d serve this one to meat-eating company with no qualms. I replaced the cous-cous with quinoa, which I think was an improvement, even gluten aside. The roast itself is very rich and I think couscous would have made the whole thing too heavy. We had it with a Sangiovese and CSA green beans sautéed in olive oil and just steamed in apple cider vinegar. Classy piggies!

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

August 23, 2010

Although basically vacuous, I’ve always kind of liked that saying. It’s got so much hope. You can change the shit that goes wrong and you are not stuck in your patterns.

As perpetual students/people on the academic path, Mr. Piggy and I celebrate New Years in late August or early September. This is when we start over, get a clean slate, make our resolutions and take a breath before the year ahead. Things have not been easy. We were both in a set of bad patterns last semester and we have vowed to try harder and concentrate on life and not let it get away from us (and take our A-exams. We’re both going to take our A-exams. You heard it here first.) So we’ve lived this weekend as the beginning of the new pigs. New! Improved! Sty-cleaning! Less-procrastinating! Does-not-live-on-take-out-Thai-food! And we are trying very hard not to turn into this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html. It is hilarious, and genius and ENTIRELY TOO CLOSE TO HOME. But so far so good.

We brightened the sty up a bit. In the middle of cleaning, we went to pick up the CSA and found that they had Pick-Your-Own flowers (as well as cherry tomatoes) and we couldn’t resist. So even though the living room is still largely a mess, there are fresh flowers.

Flowers from the CSA

One of my most significant resolutions had to do with food. I have taken over the cooking. Sharing it was simply not working because Mr. Piggy doesn’t like cooking (although he loves baking) and would simply avoid cooking in favor of continuing to do physics until his hunger and exhaustion drove him to either order Thai food or cook pasta sauce at midnight. This made no one happy. Ben would rather do tasks I find abhorrent and disgusting than make dinner. So today, he fixed the broken toilet, and I went to the farmer’s market and made dinner.

Since it’s Sunday, I was a bit ambitious.

Summer Squash, Herb, and Rice Gratin

I absolutely adore Deborah Cameron’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I think if I had infinite time, I might try to make everything in that book. I made the gratin above to try to use up summer squash. I used yellow squash rather than zucchini, and, of course, made the bechemel with gluten-free flour. My first bechemel! I also used fresh herbs and shallots and the flavor was surprisingly mild as a result. I offer one correction to the description in the book. It describes this as “filling but not at all heavy.” That’s a lie. It’s heavy. Wonderful and amazing, but rich and heavy.

Vinegared Beets in a Nest of their Greens

To go with that, I made the Beets in a Nest of Greens from the same book using farmer’s market beets bought this morning. At the end, you sauté the beets in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the vinegar turns into a glaze in the heat. They’re amazing, and you have just cooked and eaten a whole plant. Efficient!

I may have gotten just a tad carried away by the joy of being back in my kitchen after being away traveling, researching and helping out with Nana’s move. After dinner, I made muffins. 43 of them, to be precise.

Gluten-free bran muffins

They’re the Joy of Cooking bran muffin recipe, using Bob’s Red Mill GF flour and rice bran, and I added Thompson and golden raisins in equal amounts. Mr. Piggy says they are slightly better than “other bran muffins,” but I’m not sure whether to believe him since he hasn’t eaten a bran muffin in years owing to them all containing wheat. So if anyone wants to be a more reliable witness, we’ve got 30 of the suckers in the freezer and 8 on the counter.

While all the above food was happening, Mr. Piggy was fixing the upstairs toilet. Around 9pm, he announced that it was fixed. We rejoiced. At 9:45pm I decided I would clean the downstairs bathroom before I blogged and went to bed. At 10pm, the downstairs toilet broke. We had two functioning toilets for 1 hour. I guess we know how Mr. Piggy’s going to spend his Monday evening…


March 27, 2010

We’ve mastered the art of rice pasta preparation at last. It’s finally really enjoyable to have pasta again.

Turkey Meatballs, Peppers, Mushrooms etc.

This pasta revelation also means that our freezer full of pesto is coming in very handy. The CSA had pick-your-own basil going last fall and we brought home more than a shopping bag full. We turned it all into pesto. We haven’t even made a dent.


The pasta there is also spinach brown rice pasta. So the pesto isn’t actually contributing all the green-ness. The shirt in the background is currently my favorite tee-shirt. Sadly I don’t have one of my idol Miss Piggy from the Muppets. I’ll have to ask for that for my birthday.

While we were taking other photos outside, Ben took some of Mabel. Somehow he caught her mid-woof.

I leave you with that.

Summer dress, winter weather

March 27, 2010

So I finally finished the McCall 5061 (vintage 1978) dress that I started in January. The end result is quite nice.

McCall's 5061

(It was 26 degrees F out when we took this picture, but I really wanted to have a daylight picture.)

Getting it to work took some doing. Between fitting and sewing up the dress and putting the finishing touches on it, I lost about 12 pounds. In the end, I had to add extra darts in the back. Once I’d done that, it meant I had to redo the bust darts. All this was after I had already sewed the buttonholes by hand because I still can’t find a replacement for my buttonhole foot.

Next time, I’m going to do more of a sway back adjustment and an FBA on a smaller size bodice.

So the fit ended up being a bit of a hack, but it’s completely wearable. Next time I wear it, it won’t be below freezing!

Pigs Like Food

March 15, 2010

One of my favorite things about Ithaca is that despite the cold climate, it’s possible to get healthy local food here pretty much all year round. (This actually used to be my favorite thing about Ithaca, but after living here a few years it’s been beaten out for the number one spot by “My friends live here.” This tends to happen if you stay in one place and are not a complete hermit.) It would probably be possible to be pretty happy on the 100 mile diet here. We don’t actually do this, but we do try to eat as much as possible from local sources, especially the CSA. The CSA is amazing, but it’s more vegetable matter than two pigs can eat the week we get the box. So we make soup. At the beginning of the semester, we went a bit nuts and we’re still eating our way through the soup that resulted from a weekend of (possibly manic) behavior from me, aided and abetted by my visiting parents.

Cabbage, Beetroot and Tomato Borscht

From Best-Ever Slow Cooker, One-pot & Casserole Cookbook, this soup is AMAZING. It was really easy in the crock-pot. It’s a tad on the sweet side without the sour cream, so I might cut back on the brown sugar next time. We ate this tonight, inspiring me to write this post. It’s just as good after freezing and thawing.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

From the same book, but not quite as phenomenal. It’s good, tasty soup, but it’s not as “spicy” as “Spicy Pumpkin Soup” should be. We used a lovely musque de provence, and mostly it tasted like squash. I think we’re going to mix it with boiled black beans, up the cumin and add hot pepper flakes on the reheat in an attempt to mimic the Farmer’s Market “Pumpkin Black Bean Soup” that is an Ithaca classic. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Gingered Carrot Soup

When people hear we live in Ithaca, they invariably ask “Do you go to the Moosewood Restaurant a lot?” The answer? No. But we do use the recipe books often. From The New Moosewood Cookbook, this one was another hit. With the addition of the cashews, it makes a full meal with protein and all! I actually ran a bit low on carrots and added a parsnip to make up the volume. I think it really added a nice kick to the flavor, but the extra matter wasn’t necessary. As you can see from the ladle indent above, it was rather thick.

Swedish Cabbage Soup

So we get a LOT of cabbage in a winter CSA share. A lot. Luckily, this soup from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is very good and uses up cabbage quite quickly. The color on the pic above isn’t quite right as the soup is not nearly this green, but the background does show the mostly empty wine glass, so you can tell that this was really a soup-making party.

French Lentil Soup

The last one, and maybe the best, was from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/French-Lentil-Soup-236772. The picture above is NOT overexposed. Those are actually yellow carrots. Yellow carrots are a bit less sweet than the orange ones and they were great in the soup. Sadly, there isn’t much of this one left in the freezer since we liked it so much that we’ve been eating it up. I’ll just have to make it again soon.

Burda 7861

March 14, 2010

I made this in January, but here it is:

Purple wool skirt

It’s a purple wool flannel, so it’s wonderfully cozy and warm. I probably won’t get too much more wear out of it this year. It was, however, already worn clubbing in LA. So. That tells you something about…something. The pockets are made of the left-overs from a dress that has been almost done for over a month (damn broken button-hole attachment!).

What has it got in its pocketses!

As you can see. It is very pretty fabric. Let’s hope it appears here as a dress sooner rather than later.

Recipe for a Perfect Saturday

March 14, 2010

Step 1. Wear something you like. If you’re a sewing sow, you’ll probably wear something you made.

Yes, I wear dresses over pants. And I'm not about to stop.

This is a New Look 6860 that I made several years ago. It’s nice to see that stuff I make holds up so well!

Step 2. Go to acting class and throw yourself into it. Leave feeling like “THAT was four hours? No!”

Step 3. Take the dog for a long walk. A very long walk. Well over an hour.

Completely gratuitous Mabel pic because I figured out how to put photos on the blog.

Step 4. Spend the afternoon knitting with friends. Finish a hat. Okay, so it would have helped if I had finished this before it got warm enough for hour+ walks with the dog with no more than a light jacket, but, you know, academia called…

Who? hat from penguinpurls on ravelry

The pattern is from Penguin Purls and is available at http://penguinpurls.blogspot.com/2008/12/who.html. I love the pattern. I also used orange to outline three owls and I gave these same ones eyes made from old shirt buttons. The pattern calls for giving one owl eyes, but Julie thought two together would look nice, and I thought, why not three? I am a creature of excess.

One little orange owl.

Step 5. Order Thai food, curl up on the couch and watch Labyrinth. Muppets are just about the perfect end to a perfect day.

Let’s try this again

February 1, 2010

Reboot. Let’s go. This time I’ll write something.