January, 2006

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Broken dishwashers suck
Jan 30th, 2006

I cooked a lot this weekend - sometimes I'll get this itchy feeling around 3 or 4 in the afternoon which means I must pull as many cookbooks as possible onto the dining room table and then throw on my raincoat and sprint to the Red Apple. You see if I don't do this I start hearing voices from inside my refrigerator. "This is the broccoli speaking. I've been in this stinky fridge for a solid week now and no-one has done a thing with me. I'm about to start getting slimy and smelling spectacularly bad unless someone COOKS ME!" This weekend along with the broccoli there were some Meyer Lemons calling out to me - these were causing me particular stress because they're the first Meyer Lemons I've ever had and I only had three. So I felt both compelled to use them up and not risk them going bad, and also the pressure to make them into something glorious.

Isn't it lovely how I can manage to be neurotic about practically anything?

Then there's the fact that my kids won't eat any dish with any kind of flavor or more than one ingredient in it - and you'll start to understand the mountain of food that issued forth from my kitchen the last two days.

For dinner Saturday I made: eggs, bacon, waffles (all for the kids of course), broccoli quiche (used broccoli and a squeeze of the Meyer Lemon, well done there), and refried rice with pork and broccoli (took care of the rest of the broccoli, but was a bit of a bewildering addition to our breakfast for dinner themed meal).

On Saturday Jim and I had more quiche for dinner along with Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins with Meyer Lemon Zest, and Fruit Salad with Meyer Lemon and Thai Basil Syrup. The kids had pork chops and muffins.

All in all it was a very random array of food. But the fruit salad in particular was quite good. I saw the lemon and basil syrup idea online while searching through Meyer Lemon recipes. The full recipe was for a muffin or cake that was soaked in the lemon basil syrup. It sounded awesome but not something my kids would eat. But I had the idea in my head so when I started making a fruit salad to use up the Mango that was also relentlessly jabbering at me from the fridge, it seemed like a good idea to adapt the syrup and make a tropical fruit salad.

To make the syrup I just juiced and zested a lemon and simmered both with minced Thai basil and some sugar in a small pan. I added sugar until I could taste some sweet but the syrup was still fairly sour. Then once the syrup had cooked down to a viscous consistency I poured it through some cheesecloth to get out the floaty bits. For the fruit I combined mango, grapes, clementines, a bit of grapefruit, and a bananna. The syrup was divine, the basil wasn't that assertive, but it provided a very fresh taste that really perked up the fruit. A final sprinkling of fresh basil on top of the orange, pink, and yellow salad was very pretty. I think this would go very well with grilled chicken or any kind of Caribbean inspired meal.


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Oops
Jan 27th, 2006

Note to self: baking soda is not baker's sugar.

I attempted to make this Black Bean Soup recipe linked below. It looks fabulous, but I still don't know whether it's a good recipe or not because at the very last minute, after spending ten minutes crying and chopping onions, after 3 hours spent simmering the beans, after sauteing onions and herbs and blending them in my blender, after all that I added baking soda instead of sugar to my oh-so-close-to-complete soup.

There are many mistakes you can recover from when cooking, that isn't one of them. Unless you like a soup with an uncanny resemblance to black bean flavored baking soda toothpaste.

Maybe someone out there can try this recipe out some day and report back. I'll be home trying to soothe my wounded pride - and relabeling my baking supply jars in REALLY BIG letters.


Gloria’s Black Bean Soup

1 pound dried black beans
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 ˝ tbsp sugar
1 red onion, diced, for garnish
8 ounces sour cream, for garnish (optional)


Place the beans in a nonreactive pan. Cover with the 3 quarts water, add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans for 2 ˝ to 3 hours, stirring frequently and adding more water if necessary to keep them well covered.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet. Saute the bell peppers, shallots, and onions over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, dried and fresh oregano, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

When the beans are almost tender, add the pureed mixture, sugar, and salt to the beans and cook until just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust the seasonings, garnish with the red onion and sour cream, and serve.

-Nuevo Latino
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