Friday, January 3, 2014

OK...So 2014

Happy New Year everyone!



So, a lot of people are making resolutions, espousing about their upcoming year and generally trying to make themselves out to be some sort of psychic sooth-sayer. Not me!

I have no idea what the upcoming year holds for me...and I'm ok with that. I have never been one to chart or attempt to map out where my future is going.

Chances are, that I probably won't lose anymore weight, quit smoking or quit drinking. These are all things that have become a part of me. Where would all of you be without my food and drink posts? This blog would get pretty boring...real fast!

What I may try to do is travel more, focus more on work and try to stop hitting the Snooze Button so much. I say try, because I doubt very much is going to change. I have spent years getting to where I am in this life, and I like where I am. I like where I am very much.

So, take your best shot 2014, I can handle it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Blast From The Past!: More From the Old Apartment

More pics from the old apartment! I'm sure I said before that so much of what you see here influenced my design aesthetic of today. The idea that you can take a barren old space and create something entirely new has followed me here to the church I now own. Again, I apologize for the quality of these photos. They are from over 20 years ago and digital photography was in the single digit megapixels.


We filled empty spaces with items that delineated the space. Stained glass...who knew I would wind up with so much of it now!


This is a desk made entirely out of windows. You might say we had a window fetish. We found a lot of them at an auction...something like 30 windows, and we paid $20 for them. What a bargain!!!


Another view. The one draw back to a mostly glass desk we found, that you are always dusting it.


One of the many bathrooms. Oy, cleaning them all was such a chore! Again, we used old windows as the shower doors.


Another bathroom! This one has record covers as the flooring. Many coats of polyurethane were needed so that it could be mopped.


And yet ANOTHER bathroom! This one has a painted floor and again, old windows were used for the shower doors.


Here's a beauty shot of the window desk. What you can't see in this pic is that this room was also a closet. All of the clothes are suspended from the ceiling on racks that are attached to a motorized wire system. That way, when you needed to get dressed you just lower the racks and otherwise, they are out of the way. It was a great system until one night we heard a huge bang. One of the hook systems had come out of the ceiling, and there were clothes and destruction everywhere. Yes, the window desk met it's demise that evening. It was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soup's On! - Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup

Look everyone! A new feature!!! I know I've been gone for a bit, but what better gift upon my return than to introduce a new feature? I have to preface this post with a bit of background. 

I've never made soup. Let me rephrase, I've never made soup that didn't start out by opening the can and finished with the words "Add water". I was raised on Campbell's! It's all I knew. Many years ago someone (I have no idea who) gave me an entire cookbook full of nothing but soup recipes. That book has sat on the shelf with the rest of my cookbooks for well over 20 years.

Now that I'm single again (long story, short Post-It Note!), I thought this would be a great time to attempt to dabble in the liquid food arts (Liquid food arts that didn't involve cocktails, I mean).

Being that I am following a Low-Carb lifestyle at the moment, this has meant that I need to stay away from noodle soups and anything that might incorporate dumplings of any size, shape or texture. I did some online research and found some amazing soups that I am going to try and then share with you here. Yes, the cookbook is still on the shelf. I just find that the internet has a lot more lurking out there than any book could provide me. That, and you can't Google search a book!

My first foray into the hot and bubbling liquid food arts is a Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup. Granted, the recipe called for aged white cheddar cheese, but I am a huge fan of smoked gouda so I went with that. Other than that change I followed the recipe to the letter (Something, I don't usually do). I didn't want to screw this up by attempting "Flair!". You will find the recipe at the end of the post, but first, lets talk about the process and see some pictures.

Roasted Cauliflower goodness!

I have never been a huge fan of Cauliflower. I mean, any vegetable you have to cover in cheese to tolerate, can't be all that great. Roasted tho, it is amazing! For this recipe, you toss it in oil...salt and pepper it and let it roast for 30 minutes in the oven. What you get are toasted nuggets of goodness that I just wanted to eat off the pan.

You could stop right here...but you don't!

You add the roasted Cauliflower to onions, garlic, Thyme and chicken stock. That combination gets cooked for 30 more minutes until the Cauliflower is soft and then you grab your Immersion Blender and go to town! 

I had bought an Immersion Blender years ago, and it has languished in the "Special Utensil Drawer" forever. I never had a chance to use it...until now! Once you blend up the soup you then add the cheese and cook it without boiling it any longer until all the cheese is melted. What you wind up with is this...

And yes, you then add some bacon to it!
What I wound up with was an incredibly creamy and delicious soup. Till all is said and done, you don't even really taste the Cauliflower. It lends a delightful bulk to the dish which makes it quite filling.

Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda Soup

         
         Ingredients

               1        small head cauliflower- cut into florets
               2        tablespoons oil, additional oil for saute
               1        medium onion diced
               2        cloves garlic chopped
               1        teaspoon thyme chopped
               3        cups chicken stock
               11/2   cups smoked gouda cheese grated
               1        cup milk, cream or half & half
                         salt & pepper to taste

         Instructions

1.  Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil along with salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
2.  Roast the cauliflower in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown. Approx 30 minutes.
3.  Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Approx 5-7 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
5.  Add the broth, deglaze the pan, add the cauliflower, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
6.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is of an even consistency. Reduce stove heat to insure the mixture no longer boils.
7.  Slowly add and stir in the cheese.
8.  Add the milk/cream/half & half, stirring constantly and ensuring that the soup doesn't boil or burn.
9.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve, adding crispy bacon or addition cheese as garnish (or both even!) 

I hope everyone enjoys this recipe. Let me know if you try it out and what the results were in the comments section.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hawaii In The House!

I was in Hawaii a few years ago for work, and as I was leaving I stumbled upon a shop in the airport that sold plant cuttings. You could purchase them, take them home and possibly grow a bit of Hawaii in your den. I am certainly not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I bought some of the cuttings anyway.

I don't know what I was thinking. I knew I would never plant them. Maybe I thought I would give them as gifts to those with a more "green-thumb" inclination than I. Enter The Hubby...he can grow anything! I am convinced that you could provide him with a slab of concrete, some seeds and in a few weeks there would be a budding, glorious garden blooming.

Now, keep in mind...these cuttings sat in a drawer for a few years until the time that I met The Hubby. He took them, threw them in pots, cared for them more than I care for my own teeth, and they began to bloom. What is even more funny is that he set them outside all summer long in the heat and humidity that is a Maryland summer and nothing happened. They grew and gained more leaves, but they didn't bloom.

Cut to two weeks ago. He finally brought them inside because the weather has been getting cooler and placed them in the bedroom. What happened then? BLOOM!!!

Hawaii at home!

I wake up to these every day now. In addition to the 5 blooms you see, there are 14 just waiting to show up. The blooms last a few days and then are replaced with another. This has been going on for a week now. Thank you Hubby for bringing Hawaii to the bedroom.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cookography: Fried Green Tomatoes

I am a somewhat "genteel" southern woman at heart. I love my southern cooking. Be it a good spicy gumbo or boo fries. I really enjoy the huge comfort content of dishes served in the southern states.

This past weekend I took a stab at fried green tomatoes. One of my coworkers had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and was lamenting how many of them were green, he doubted that he could get them ripened before they rot.

Me to the rescue! I told him I would take the green ones. I'm sure he thought I was crazy...but then, people often do. So, I brought them home, sliced them up and let the magic happen.

The assembly line!

So yes, a few of the tomatoes managed to ripen a bit before I got to them, but I decided to slice them up too. I prepared my buttermilk and egg bath (one egg and buttermilk to cover) and combined a "Shake & Bake" package with a healthy helping of Parmesan Cheese as my crispy goodness.

Then, I grabbed my extra large skillet and placed about a quarter of an inch of oil in it. Use whatever oil you like...I went with Canolla. Once it was hot, I took each tomato and dipped it in the liquid, and then heavily coated it in the crumb mixture. Into the hot oil they went...SIZZLE!!!

Crispy tomato goodness!
I fried them for 2 minutes on each side. You don't want the tomato to become too soft and mushy. The trick is to get them brown and keep the tomato a little firm. So, vary your cooking time with that goal in mind.

In the south, they also serve these with a spicy remoulade (aka...dipping sauce). To replicate this, I took a couple of tablespoons of mayo and added a healthy few shakes of Tabasco sauce to it and mixed it up.

Fried Green Tomato HEAVEN! These make a great side dish to any meal. I coupled them with a roast pork I had slow-cooked in the crock pot all day long. The combination of the fall-apart-in-your-mouth pork and the crispy tomatoes was fantastic!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tipos/Typos

We've got a new game at work. When we moved to the new office it came complete with it's own cafeteria. This has been a wonderful blessing. The last thing I want to do on a rainy day is forage for food.

The cafeteria ladies are a delight. They're all sassy latino women (Latinas?) and always happy to handle any special request. Extra tuna? not a problem. More bacon? Pile it on! No onion? You got it! Their command of the english language isn't the greatest and that has made for humorous lunchtime encounters for me and my fellow coworkers.

Back to our new game...it's called "Spot the Menu Typo". On a weekly basis the cafe distributes a menu of the weeks options, seen below.

Do you see it?
Now, I am not making fun of anyone's spelling ability here. I'd be lost without spellcheck, I mean...how many S's are there in occasion? Had spell check not just auto-corrected that for me it would have been wrong.

It's just become a running gag around the office (ok, in all fairness...perhaps just my circle of office friends). The first person to find the typo then sends out the pic to the rest of us.

I will say this tho...that Phylli Steak and Cheese sandwich was delicious!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blast From The Past: The Grandparents

I am still scouring these back-up CD's I found. There is a ton of stuff on them that I had completely forgotten. Here are a couple of very old pictures of my grandparents. I had been restoring these for a Mother's Day present for my mom way way long ago.

On her wedding day.

I don't know the date of the above picture, but I am guessing it was the early 1900's. She was quite beautiful, but I still see a bit of that sassy smirk that always crossed her face.

I'm guessing he's swimming or something aquatic.

I never knew my grandfather. He died in his mid 30's of something heart related. Ya know...back then they pretty much called everything a heart attack. Everyone says I look like him, but I don't see it. I mean, look at those ears!!! Not to mention the muscles and the obvious athleticism. Soooo not me! That being said, his knees do make those little "Old Man Face" squinchey things like mine do when I straighten out my legs. He also has way more hair than me but then again, I don't know how old he is in this picture.