Friday, January 28, 2011

A longing, a desire

Do you know what this is? It's a Cherry Red, Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 7 1/4 Quart Round French Oven.

From what I understand and reading various reviews, it's the brand that makes the best quality in the business. Lasts for many, many years (translation: decades, minimally). I had looked at this in this past, drooling. Mind you, I am not a hedonist. Not that I don't enjoy pleasures every now and again, but it is neither the focus nor the purpose for which I live. But, the price, even at its discounted price, is way beyond the price range of what I can afford. Recently, at least a couple of blogs have included mention of it: Manda's blog and Ree's blog. I place a comment nearly every time Ree offers a giveaway, but my chances of winning a Le Creuset oven is slim to none.

I do loads of cooking and love it, unlike many people with whom I am acquainted in my generation, and a Le Creuset would sure get plenty of use in my lifetime. Plenty.

Julie Powell, as portrayed on Julie & Julia, sure seemed to gather lots in her readership by blogging after blogging about each of Julia Child's recipes. I have no where near the fan base Julie Powell had, at least to my knowledge. But a blogger can dream right? Perhaps there are loads of blog fans that simply don't leave comments. Maybe even some of those fans love me and are very generous and desire to make this dream come true.

The Le Creuset brand. 7 1/4 quarts is great. The Cherry Red is my preferred color. But, Cassis (the purple one) will do as well. Amazon has a decent discounted price and it offers free shipping for the item. Any takers?

Addendum: Wow, I just read an Amazon review that said there's a 101 yr warranty on the Le Creuset.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegetarian Chili


Vegetarian Chili

An individual who became my best friend in the 4th grade recently purchased a Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Meals book. Partially inspired by Julia Powell as portrayed in "Julie & Julia" and mostly inspired by a long-lasting growing friendship. My plan is a bit slower than that of Julie, one recipe from not Julia Child's book but one recipe from Vegetarian Meals per week. This is my revised version of recipe #1 in the Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Meals cookbook. [ADDENDUM: I just realized on February 2, that this recipe is actually recipe #3 in the recipe book.]

Of the various spices that go into different versions of chili, this is, by far, my favorite. Per usual, I turned the written recipe into something else and made it my own, some changes including using different kinds of beans to adding tomato sauce and water. Anyways, I am proud of the concoction that resulted.

One change I would make is: use LESS salt. The vegetable broth, I suspect, is already plenty salty; didn't taste it ahead of time and wish I had. I ended up eating mine over rice; surprise, surprise.

Here's my version of the recipe.

  • 1 large red onion, cut thinly (perhaps diced would have been a good choice)
  • 1/2 of a 32 oz bag of small carrots, cut into thirds or fourths
  • 1 medium organic butternut squash, peeled and cut into small squares
  • 3 green onions, washed and cut thinly
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15.5 oz can of dark red kidney beans, without the juice
  • 1 15.5 oz can of black beans, without the juice
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (this is what I would recommend after using more than 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp red sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • In a pan, with olive oil, cook the red onion on medium heat until transparent. Then set aside.
  • In a pot on medium to high heat, throw in the carrots, butternut squash, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, green onions, vegetable broth and water. Once the carrots are more tender, add in the sugar, sea salt, and chili powder. Leave simmering for awhile.
I've got to confess that the aroma from the soup leaves me salivating and wanting seconds and thirds, even though I am full to the brim. Enjoy, my friends.

By the way, I'm not sure you can tell from the photographs, but steam is rising from the bowl of soup.

Shiitake Mushroom, Udon Soup


Shiitake Mushroom, Udon Soup

I love, love, love udon. Anyone else? Am also a super huge fan of shiitake mushrooms. Thought of it as a treat whenever we had it growing up. They were usually dried, but I've been getting mine fresh, at Sunflower Farmer's Market. Compared with other types of mushrooms, this one's expensive. . . something like $9/pound. But, I usually buy four or five at a time, which is affordable. Perhaps some day I can grow my own; for now, I have Sunflower Farmer's Market.

Here's a simple recipe I can offer. None of that caramelized, Americanized stuff Noodles & Co. offers.

Udon is needed.

Doesn't this look heavenly already?

Here's what the shiitake mushroom look like.

  • udon
  • water
  • chicken broth
  • green onions - sliced thinly
  • shiitake mushrooms = sliced thinkly
  • garlic - diced
  • sea salt
  • soy sauce
  • Bring water to a boil. Boil the udon for six minutes.
  • Dump out a fair portion of the water (not all) and add some chicken broth, green onions, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms. Once the green onions and garlic have had a chance to boil for several minutes, add some sea salt and tid bit of soy sauce.

Baked wild rice & veggies

I've taken a shining to wild rice for some time. This is a relatively simple dish to satisfy any wild rice cravings. Though this dish is meatless, it is not vegetarian; I used chicken broth in it.

This is totally my own creation. Inspiration from no other source than me. I'm a bit fuzzy on what I put in, but here's the general idea.


Wild Rice & Veggies

  • 1 32 oz bag of small carrots, cut into thirds or fourths
  • 1 thing of celery, washed and cut thinly
  • 1 red onion cut thinly
  • butter, no more than 2 tsp
  • 2 6.0 packages of Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice Original Recipe
  • chicken broth
  • water
  • milk, perhaps 1/2 cup
  • sea salt
  • parsley flakes
  • several cloves of garlic, diced

  • In a pan, with a bit of olive oil (perhaps a few tablespoons of olive oil), on medium heat, cook the red onion until it's transparent. Then set aside, leaving behind any olive oil or onion juice.
  • In the same pan, throw in the garlic. After the garlic has been sizzling for half a minute to a minute, add in the carrots, celery, some water (around a cup), milk (approx. 1/2 cup), and chicken broth (maybe 1/2 to 1 cup). Place the lid on the pan. Season with sea salt and parsley flakes in the cooking process. Cook 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While the onion is cooking, in a separate pot, cook the long grain and wild rice according to the directions on the box(es).
  • In a 9 x 13 rectangular stoneware, lay all the vegetables, including the soup and broth, across the bottom evenly. Next, layer on the onion. Finally, spread out the long grain and wild rice on top evenly. Sprinkle with shredded cheese if you like. Cover and cook at 350 degrees in the oven for an hour.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds


Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds

I apologize for the many slightly blurry photographs below. Perhaps I could blame it on my broken camera flash. Or maybe it's an artistic rendering for how we, as adults, watch life and time fly away.

This recipe isn't mine. Not at all. But it is one, the only one, that I have borrowed and used from Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen: Burnt Almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln), provided by Birgit Kerr. Thank you, Birgit. I got loads of compliments on this, as I gave it to people as part of their Christmas gifts and made it for my parents the day they arrived this most recent trip.

I changed the name of this recipe because my version wasn't burnt. Not at all. I also didn't cook mine for 20 minutes, like the recipe says. But then again, I'm always making up my own stuff.

Again, since this isn't my recipe and I didn't really manipulate and morph the ingredients and stuff into my own take, I'm not going to restate the recipe here. Click on the above link, if you'd like to see the recipe.

Ingredients are simple and few:

1. water

2. raw almonds

3. brown sugar - the recipe only said 'sugar,' but I took the liberty of using brown sugar

4. cinnamon

5. vanilla extract

Here come the blurry photographs. Again, my apologies. Here was my cooking process.

Brown sugar

and cinnamon and water in first.

Stirred, stirring on medium heat. Brought to a boil.

Drop in the raw almonds. Constantly stir (or everything will hug the pan), cooking until the water gets absorbed or evaporates.

Finally, add a little extra brown sugar and the vanilla extract.

The directions said to spread the stuff in parchment paper, but I had none. Aluminum foil sufficed.

Viola. Tasty treats that continue their beckoning call, day after day.


Potato & Egg Burrito

I'm back. First, my laptop's screen / monitor decided to retire without permission. Then, a desktop computer decided not to recognize my camera or any of the photographs on it. Attempting to sabotage my blog posts, perhaps, but only temporarily. I'm back. But watch out. . . I have a number of food blog posts for you.

Potato & Egg Burrito


It's unfortunate that I'm finishing up this post as my stomach churns, churns, and churns with hunger. Unfortunate for you, because I'm likely to skimp on details.

I cooked the eggs and potatoes (I believe these were made with red potatoes) separately. Some diced garlic was involved. But make sure the garlic is well cooked in the olive oil to avoid burning your mouth with raw garlic.

For seasoning? Sea salt, Hungarian paprika. I can't remember what else. Give a break, will you? I get a little hazy on details.

Gave mine a bit of ketchup before consuming.