Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Forbidden Beans and Rice



So, it was actually just regular Beans and Rice, 'cause it was jasmine rice, but I did purchase "Forbidden Rice" (www.lotusfoods.com) which according to the packaging is the same strain of rice that the Emperor of China (no info about actual dates or emperors involved on the box or product site) ate exclusively. I bought it 'cause it's pretty and black. Apparently it turns purple when cooked, which isn't nearly as cool.

A quick wikipedia search has shown that Emperor Kangxi of the Quing Dynasty, ate it and thought it was rad.

The Beans and Rice recipe was again courtesy of Alton Brown. I suspect that I need to learn how to scale his recipes down though, because I still have a "whole mess of beans". I'll try to convince the Boyfriend to take some for lunch.

The interesting thing about Beans and Rice is how it takes bits and pieces from the various cultures that were in the same area. Like the slave population came with the beans, then the east Asian workers came with the rice, and the Spanish population with the spices. or at least that's how I vaguely remember it.

The Boyfriend's comments basically boiled down to that it was very filling.

Let me know if you've messed with either beans, white rice or forbidden rice...!

The Almost Daily Sarah

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pot stickers and Dragons

The Boyfriend and I and a bunch of friends went to see "How to Train Your Dragon" today. It was really much better than I had thought it was going to be, which made it seem even better because I've felt that the last couple movies that I watched were just ever so slightly disappointing in ways that are hard to quantify.

The directing team for the movie was the same as for "Lilo & Stitch" and boy did Toothless (the dragon) resemble Stitch. It's a pretty lovable character, to say the least.

Anyway, since we were watching the movie around dinner time, we had pre frozen pot stickers with a ginger, garlic, lemon, vinegar, soy sauce. I usually leave out the lemon and have sliced green onions instead, but there wasn't any in the fridge. It was a nice sauce, but it's really not the same without the green onion bits to scoop up with your pot sticker and crunch but you do what you can with what you have.

I'm a little tired of the lack of quality in the produce that my store. I mean, I buy a bag of potatoes and there are deep scars in them that have mold in it, I buy garlic and it's sprouted, and I bought a hand of ginger yesterday and I notice today that it has mold growing on a broken piece. It's not a matter of not using it quickly enough either because I try to buy small portions and such. It's especially frustrating because the only other grocery store in town has such a high ceiling with exposed rafters that birds have taken up permanent residence above their produce section. This means my two choices for fresh fruit and veg are old and moldy or new and susceptible to bird shit. In the words of Bart Simpson "Ay carramba".

I just wait and pray for the farmers' market.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Running off them pot pies

So, you know when you bake a whole chicken, and you have like only two eaters and you're really bad at eating left overs? Yeah, that's when it's time to bust out the pot pies. This is my "Sort of Lazy but really Tasty Chicken Pot Pie".

Ingredients:
cooked chicken (roughly a breast's worth)
one cup onion (diced)
oil (1 TBSP)
butter (2 TBSP)
Mixed veggies (2 cups)
AP Flour (3 TBSP)
Crescent Rolls (1 package)
Milk (1 cup)
Chicken stock (1 cup)
Salt (to taste)
Curry powder (1 TBSP)
garlic (2 cloves smashed then thinly sliced)

Equipment:
large skillet
spoon
1.5 qt casserole dish
oven
knife (if you don't have one shame on you)

I boned and skinned a chicken breast and cut it into chunks, then set it aside. Then I finally diced some onions and sweated them (that means cook slowly on low heat until transparent. Any noise from your pan means that you're frying). I would have sweated some celery with it, but I forgot that I was out of it. I used grape seed oil to sweat the onion in because it was closer, I mean because it's super healthy and has a ridiculously high smoke point.

Next I added the rest of my veggies into the pan (I used frozen corn and canned green beans) and let them heat up. Then I added butter, let it melt, and added the flour, stirring constantly until it browned a little. After that I added the liquids and let them evaporate and thicken. The curry powder and garlic joined the sauce.

Because I'm a genius, I forgot to add my chicken until my sauce thickened. Luckily, it already had curry paste on it from it's first dinner incarnation, so it had plenty of flavor.

The next step was scooping the delectable mess into the casserole dish and topping with the crescent dough. The Pilsbury Dough Boy brand was actually cheaper and had fewer unrecognizable ingredients than the store brand.

Since all the ingredients but the dough were already cooked, I just put the whole thing into a 350F oven for 15 minutes.

The Boyfriend said "The seasonings were really good Sarah!"

of course, after such a luxurious meal (and a ((small)) bowl of peanut butter chocolate ice cream) I had to go for a run. And run I did. I think I was able to push myself a little harder than last time, so hopefully I'm getting healthier. I certainly breathe better after I've been running. Which isn't to say immediately after, because at that time I'm often doing my best "fish out of water" impression.

I noticed last time it was the day after the day after my last run that I really felt sore. I wonder why that is? Maybe I wouldn't have felt sore at all if I had run that next day :P Always a lap ahead of sore limbs.

Now I'm going to reward myself with a movie, so I'm signing off.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Road House

Tonight was my friend Matt's birthday dinner, so a bunch of his friends got together and had dinner at The Road House which is in a building that was built for the Red Robin corporation and serves food of the same kind of menu a Red Robin would serve. I had an open face sandwich with chicken, pesto, and deep fried artichoke hearts. I think the sandwich would have been much better if they hadn't deep fried the artichokes, because the breading was so salty. The Boyfriend and I shared some potato skins which were pretty tasty, if a little over done. To be fair to the kitchen staff, there were like twenty of us and they got our food out pretty quickly, all things considered.

I noticed the waitress squat down to take our orders and I remembered a statistic on www.graphporn.com (a totally safe for work website) that said that servers often get a bigger tip if they squat. I kind of wonder why that is. Do they look like they're working harder if they squat? Are they removing a sense of authority (and therefore emotional distance) by "coming down to our level"? I'm probably over thinking this, and if most servers know they get bigger tips by doing it they probably do it with no other intention or thought about it.

Anyway, I have to be at work at six tomorrow, so I'll sign off here.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Friday, March 26, 2010

More chicken

Tonight's dinner was another butterflied chicken. It was still disturbing to hear the metal separating the bone and flesh, but not as much this time. It might've been because I was super hungry, and therefore hard to gross out.

This time the under the skin rub was red Thai curry paste, with extra ginger and garlic. The Boyfriend said it had a barbecue like quality, but I'm not too sure myself. It was pretty tasty though.

To accompany the chicken we had arugula salad with red bell pepper slices and a dressing made by mixing mustard and pan drippings together. Surprisingly, I thought the dressing could have used a little more salt, though the chicken proper didn't seem to need it.

We also had bread and potato and leek soup. My basic recipe for this goes along these lines:

Ingredients:

potatoes
leeks
garlic
chicken broth
butter
salt

Tools:
spoon
knife
pot
pan
blender

1 leek for every four potatoes

cube the potatoes and cook in enough chicken broth to cover.

In the meantime, roughly chop the leek(s) and separate the rings with your fingers. Sautee gently in butter.

When leeks are soft add 2 cloves of garlic (minced) to every leek.

After the garlic has warmed and the potatoes are soft, add the leek/garlic mixture to the potatoes. Blend with an immersion blender or ladle it into your stand blender. If you're very patient and don't have a blender, you can mash the potatoes, but you'll still have chunks of leek.

Salt to your taste.

I know most recipes call to bake potatoes then run them through a ricer, but the truth is that I don't have one of those. So, this is how I do it.

Let me know if you try it out!

The (Almost) Daily Sarah

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rearghghghgh and other such noises

Had a crap day at work today, so the Boyfriend treated me to dinner.

Now, to cave to pandering just six posts in:



It's all for you Lisa, it's all for you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turning into a ruminator

Lately I've been thinking (ruminating) about eating more salads (ruminating!).

I've copied the Boyfriend's mom's salad to the best of my ability, having just seen it and not actually tasted it. It appears to be a mix of baby spinach, grapes, red bell pepper, and feta cheese. I think I heard her say something once about tomatoes, but tomatoes tend to hurt my mouth when I gorge myself on them, so I've substituted avocado slices instead. It's pretty tasty, and helps deflect some of my pizza guilt.

Another thing that I did today was running. I've never really been into exercise for exercise's sake, but then I realized that all the pants I can both fit into and afford come with a "tummy hiding panel" which pisses me off for a number of reasons. I could blame genetics and the corn industry, but all solutions start with the self, right? In that spirit, I took a run on a local school's track, breaking between laps to do some sit ups and push ups.

Fear not gentle readers, the recipes I give are generally healthy, but I have a really bad sweet tooth which the Boyfriend doesn't discourage. I'm trying to turn to fruits (oh beloved strawberries) so we'll see how that goes.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

So easy, even a Sarah can do it!

So, I went on a "let go out of town for a couple hours!" kind of date to Yakima. The main reason was to go in search of kitchen shears that separate (as I have raved about in the last update). I'll be upset if I have to go to Seattle just to find them. Very upset :(

Anyway, while we were there, we went to a restaurant called "Super Mongolian Grill". The food wasn't great. The soup was pretty bland, the desert item (aside from cut fruit) was bananas in strawberry syrup, and the build your own BBQ itself was less than tasty. Yes, it was my bad decision to put Polish sausage in a stir fry, but they were the ones who made it an option. The Boyfriend and I were both disappointed. Also, a man in a backwards Pac Man hat (which was pretty rad) and a "God'z Gang" jacket (I disapprove of intentional mispellings) came over and tried to sell us a Christian rap disc and was pretty hard to shake. He kept going on about how if you give them God will make you "win the lottery tomorrow" and citing how when he gave a homeless person $20 his aunt who never gives him money gave him $300. The owner was standing within ear shot of all of this and should have told him to stop soliciting her customers, but I'm not sure if her English was good enough.

So, after a disappointing shopping/eating trip (though we did get some fun things like socks and stuff) it was nice to be home. I made some dinner by making rice, boiling sausage and making a vegetable gratin (sort of).

It was kind of a half gratin, because after prepping some vegetables (cutting Brussel sprouts in half, trimming asparagus, quartering carrots, and wedging a tomato) I tossed it all in salt and oil, then broiled it with a little Jarlesburg cheese grated on top. According to the interweb, a gratin must also have bread crumbs. I suppose it was really L├ęgumes Gratinee (vegetables with cheese). When the veggies were fork tender, I grated a little more cheese on top, then scooped it all into a white bowl for serving. Like the title suggests, it was super easy.

The Boyfriend doesn't really like tomato, so I should have cut the pieces smaller, but it's okay that we have left over veggies. I'll just cut them into smaller chunks and make omelettes with the left overs. Maybe I'll toss them with garlic and pepper first. That sounds tasty.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today I had a great dinner that was 66% made from "Good Eats" recipes and 33% salad. Although, if you count the dressing, I'm sure the percentages get much more complicated.

There's something to be said for cutting the spine from a chicken. one thing to be said is that I never want to disrespect my boyfriend's mom's kitchen shears. I have come to believe that if I disrespect them, they will cut off one of my fingers. They are truly a tool to be respected.

I've been looking for a good pair of shears for myself, but the local stores basically have glorified scissors. Now, I know that it sounds like kitchen shears are just glorified scissors, but the difference (besides cutting power) is that you can easily disassemble shears and clean in all the nooks and crannies, where as the bolted together models have places were germs can prosper and live happily before the relocate into you. I wouldn't say that I'm a germophobe so much as I don't like chicken blood cross contaminating everything.

So, I made roasted chicken a la "A Bird in the Pan" episode of "Good Eats". This requires "butterflying" a chicken (a.k.a. cutting its spine out and laying it flat) along with stuffing its skin with delicious seasonings. I won't lie, the sounds the shears made as they separated skin and bone were distressing. However, I know that if I can't handle such a measly thing as that, then my hopes of becoming a chef are just day dreams.

For the salad, I threw together some baby spinach, celery, carrot "noodles" (thin carrot slices that were made using a peeler), and avocado (tossed in lemon juice of course). I made a dressing out of the pan drippings, vinegar, and mustard. It was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. I meant to add grapes, but I forgot.

The BoyFriend's comments on this dinner were "It was delicious!" and "Those scissors are not for paper".

Pictures to come when I find my camera's cable.

The Daily Sarah
oh yeah... updating!

So, I have been drawing comics, I just haven't been cleaning up/scanning them, so that explains their absence.

I have, however, become the proud owner of a brand new, pitch black, multi speed immersion blender. It's just been soup city baby!

See, the beauty of the immersion blender is that you can get thick creamy soups without adding actual cream. I've made a batch of butternut squash soup that I wouldn't have made otherwise (adding boiling soup ladle by ladle into the standing blender? That's way too time consuming and messy). I will say however, that I need to become the owner of a splatter guard. I saw Alton Brown (Aruten samaaaaaaaa!) make one out of a frisbee into which he had drilled a hole with a slit to allow the blender inside.

Here's a recipe without a comic (yet?)

Butternut Squash soup

tools:

baking sheet
soup pot
blender (I like immersion, but you can make do with a standing blender)
spoon
basting brush (they make them out of silicone now, so they're easy to wash)

ingredients:

1 butternut squash
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground if you've got it)
salt (if your broth isn't salty enough)
melted butter/oil for baking

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Cut the squash in half. Be careful because it will fight you, and it's a knife fight.
Scrape out seeds (if you're adventurous you can clean and bake them for an edible garnish)
Put the squash onto the baking sheet.
Brush the squash with the melted butter.
Bake for approximately one hour or until tender

When the squash is tender, scoop out the meat and place into the pot. (If you wait a few minutes for the squash to cool, this step is much easier).
Add the chicken broth to the squash. Reserve about a cup.
Turn your burner to medium high heat.
Add tsp of nutmeg.
Cook squash until mushy.
Take the blender to it.
If the consistency is too thick, add more broth and stir.
If the consistency is just right, congratulations, you have butternut squash soup.


I like it with chicken and steamed brussel sprouts.