Taste Test

For Thanksgiving we’re going to visit some friends, and I’ve been asked to bring an appetizer.  I’ve decided on kale chips and apple chips, both of which sound cheap and sophomoric, but they’re both actually quite delicious.  The kale chips were successfully batch-tested last week, and got a thumbs up from the husband who is notorious for hating most edible things green.  Their deliciousness factor was boosted by the fact that they were oven fresh, and the warmth added an extra depth, the way warm buttered popcorn is so much tastier than cool or room temperature popcorn.  Both great, but better when warm.

Today I hope to batch-test another run of kale and see how it holds up overnight.  Probably best not to put it in the fridge, but it only took twelve minutes to make one pan so that can always be made the morning of.  I’ll also need to find a container large enough to hold both appetizers, as there should be enough for ten people.

The apple chips are from this glorious recipe, crafted by my talented friend Denice, whom you should prepare to hate.  My first batch came out nothing like her batch, beautifully brown and professional looking.  My first batch came out looking like perfectly even little slices of charcoal, and I don’t know what her oven runs on (besides magic) but cooking those bad boys for half an hour at three-fitty was definitely not the best approach for what I did.

Note: I had to use tinfoil, as I was out of non-stick spray.

Next batch: took a dozen slightly larger slices, re-seasoned (sea salt, cinnamon sugar, nutmeg) and sprinkled liberally but evenly, and put them in for ten minutes at 350.

That batch came out better – there was an interesting texture, similar to the bags of dried apple slices you can buy, but they were still mostly stuck to the tinfoil.

So I’m off to buy more apples and kale and non-stick spray and donate books and get an eye exam and also maybe hopefully new glasses and ship a Super Secret Package, and tonight I’ll test more stuff.  I should also be making a list of stuff to test in the (new!!!) crock pot, as *that* in itself will be an adventure, because I’ve never used one.

Notes for the next batch of apples:
– slice thicker
– less salt
– nonstick spray
– flip half the batch at 6 minutes

Please let it come out looking mostly like this:

I like kale, kale-y, kale-y, kale.

KALE!

So, I’m a little behind on the Kale Train.  When green smoothies started taking over the planet a couple years back, people swore by it.  Kale, KALE!, they said. You put that leaf in your mouth, you’re gonna rule the world.  Even though it’s kin to the cauliflower, which I hate because all I can think of (when thinking of cauliflower) is the steamy smell of it floating through my house growing up.  It just smelled….bland.  If aging yellow had a smell, that’d be it – hot, bland, and not nice.  These days I eat many MANY types of fruits and veggies, but cauliflower is one I’m putting my foot down on.

I always enjoy trying new recipes to keep up my motivation for healthy eating.  The more delicious stuff is, the more likely I am to eat it until I get burned out.  During our yearly bout of hot, where summer extends its reach into October and everyone forgets why they moved here, I tend to eat lots of salad-style items and things that require minimal cooking.  My go-to recipe was one I discovered while visiting a friend over Memorial Day weekend, and has now been adjusted to my own personal preference.  I emailed it over to a friend, so here’s Recipe #1:

“My current favorite recipe is quick, easy, summery, delicious, healthy, and totally vegan if that last bit is important at all.  It’s also kind of addictive.

Summer Quinoa Salad [you can make a giant batch ahead of time]
Ingredients:
quinoa
heirloom tomatoes
cherry tomatoes (or whatever those little baby red and orange ones are)
black olives NO PITS
limes (minimum 2)
garlic powder
celery salt
black pepper
sweet onion

1) Make a bunch of quinoa.
…a] 2 cups water + 1 cup quinoa is a decent size serving for one meal
…b] combine the water and quinoa in a regular pot, bring to a boil
…c] when it starts to boil (usually about 7 minutes) bring the heat down super low and cover the pot

…d] another six minutes or so and the quinoa will start to turn translucent and you’ll see the spirals come out. it’s done then.
…e] at this point the water will have mostly boiled off. stir it all up, drain any remaining water

2) Combine the quinoa into a big mixing bowl with a few dashes of black pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt.  Stir it all up.
3) Cover the mix and pop it into the fridge overnight.

THE NEXT DAY…
the quinoa should be nice and cold, and have a mild seasoning flavor.
4) Prep the heirloom tomatoes

…a] chop them up into medium-sized chunks, a fist-sized tomato should give you two handfuls when you’re done. don’t dice it.

5) Prep the olives
…a] the canned black olives work just fine; chop into chunks.

7) Prep the sweet onion
…a] dice the crap out of it
…b] you can substitute using those pre-minced onion in the seasoning bottles if needed

8) Limes!
…a] 2 limes for every 1 cup of quinoa you’ve used.  Squeeze the limes into the quinoa, stir.  Taste test. The flavor should be cold and bright, not overpowering.

9) All the other stuff!
…a] dump in your tomato chunks / tomatoes / black olives
…b] maybe add some mozzarella if you’re feeling the cheese need
…c] stir it all up

10) OM NOM NOM

 

So, there’s that.  I’ve also recently been buying bundles of kale but have been scared to try it, thinking it would be bitter and terrifying and taste of dirt.  You guys, color me effing WRONG, because it’s fantastic!  I even am okay with it raw, although there is a more defined bitter taste then.  However if you chop it up finely enough and blend it with enough other stuff, you’ll be fine.

That said, I’d like to tell you YOU CAN MAKE KALE TASTE LIKE POTATO CHIPS.

What’s this wizardry, you ask?

Well, I found this recipe (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/06/panfried-kale/) which looked simple enough, and decided today was the day kale was going in my mouth.

I have a gas stove, so this was over fire on top, I didn’t try baking it (although that’s apparently great as well).   From my Facebook post:

  • I broke up a bunch of kale, drizzled olive oil over it, tossed in a handful of garlic powder, and covered it for about three-ish minutes, or however long it took to turn bright green. Then you flip it around a bunch, and during this time I also cut up a bunch of tomatoes and mozzarella for a little side dish thing. By then the kale was starting to saute nicely and had some crispy brown edges going, so I figured it was done at that point.

That. Was. Delicious.  The crispy brown parts tasted like pop chips. Oh my goodness gracious.  And now I understand the love of Baked Kale in replacing potato chips, and when the heat breaks I’ll be doing that.

Now, tonight’s kale did not come out awesomely. I had a bunch of reddish kale, added a healthy splash of veggie oil over it, then started chopping tomatoes and avocados while the kale was covered and sauteing in the oil.  Squeezed 1 whole lemon and 2 limons, added a spoonful of butter to the juice, and warmed it up in a skillet until the butter had melted.  At this point the kale had wilted up nicely, so I dumped all the juice in and stirred it all around for a minute or so.  All done – add it to a bowl with your tomatoes and avocados.

Ladies and gentlemen, do NOT use that much juice unless you are a fan of biting into a full lemon.  Argh!  I was able to eat about half of my bowl of kale, but the lemon juice taste was really putting me off.  Overkill.  That said, now I know better.

I made that little concoction after seeing this:  Babble.com’s recipe for a summer salad of wilted kale and tomato.

Photo courtesy of babble.com

For a moment I thought I spied some asparagus in there, which – when done properly with just the right seasoning of black pepper – would probably launch this bad boy into the most delicious realms of outer space.

So, test it out, have yourself some healthy, easy, quick meals, and thank me later.  And if you’re still scared of kale – don’t be!! If you like eating spinach / romaine / salad mix / lettuce / etc, this will give you that great feeling with good texture.  And apparently energy, which is a nice little bonus I’m feeling about twenty minutes after eating half a bowl.

Yum!

Monday Night Meatloaf

It really was Tuesday Night Meatloaf but that’s alright.

I’m going to go out here on a limb and say that I can make FANTASTIC meatloaf. One of our new-home-wedding-random gifts from the mom-in-law was a spiral bound copy of Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two cookbook.

I don’t even like meatloaf, but J (who almost just got referred to as ‘the hubs’ oh lord please smack me if you ever hear me say that) has been helping me develop recipes for us to eat. You know, like a …meal plan. Apparently this is what grownups do – they have a ‘food budget’ and a ‘weekly meal plan’. Said budgets/plans are designed to save us money and you know… time going through the drive-through. They don’t really account for how delicious carne asada fries can be, but that’s because when you’re An Adult, all the fun gets sucked out of life. You’re relegated to searching through your pantry (because you get a pantry right around the time you get a Responsibility Award) for ingredients that you will turn into some sort of Meal. There will be an entree, a side of something, maybe a beverage other than a can of soda.

Responsibility Awards look something like this, in case you’re wondering:

Anyway. My pantry was coughing up things like eight bags of varying bean varieties, cans of diced tomatoes, dried seaweed strips, rice, old bread, and other items that only one of us in this household would consider crafting into something edible. It was then I decided to stop shuffling around and make A Meal Plan because it’s either eat nothing or go through the Wendy’s drive-through yet again, and in all honesty, their new buttered buns make things kind of gross and messy. If you eat a Wendy’s burger right now, your hand feels like you just stuck it into a tub of movie popcorn after somebody stopped off at the salt-and-butter stand. They should knock it off.

We sat down and made a list of six potentially-dinnertime meals that are tasty, easy and that both of us would eat. The goal here is to save money and try to eat healthier. It makes sense: spend a hundred bucks on groceries every other week, or $200+ during each *work*week on fast food and snacks? It terrifies me to think how much gas gets wasted, but I’ve done well at turning a blind eye to that for a solid decade. I’m not ready to look just yet.

Also, I’m in the middle of crafting up a 2012 budget for myself, by the by, so in a short while I’ll have the frighteningly exact figures on how much will actually be saved. The present conservative estimate is about 40%.

Budget… estimate… plan …… DAMMIT, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!

*sigh*

It’s for the best. I’ve heard.

PS: Tonight’s dinner was pancakes and turkey bacon. It was my first attempt at making pancakes, don’t tell anyone. The food turned out more like failcakes and charcoal, which is really disappointing because normally I’m a decent cook, but I’ll try again in another six days or so. If this were The Sims (something that’s getting a lot of playtime around here), it would have been in the ‘horrifying quality’ category for sure.

All I Wanted Was Some Pho

I once said (out loud) that I wanted to learn to make pho. A friend of the Asian Persuasion – in between laughing – begged me to stop even CONSIDERING that nonsense and hustle on down to the local Pho King or Pho Hoa or Pho Cali ….anywhere but my own kitchen. The hassle wouldn’t be worth it.

Today was all about recuperating from some weird bug. Skipping the details of how my stomach decided to randomly empty out everything in it, my food/beverage choices were limited for the day to things of bland and simple variety. Some toast with apple butter, some tea, some udon noodles with sauteed mushrooms.

It’s such an easy dish. You boil water, you drop the noodles in for four minutes. Mushrooms are sauteed in a little veggie oil and soy sauce. When your noodles are done you drain them and toss in the mushrooms and ta-da: a small bowl of easy-on-the-tummy food. Nothing major, probably far better than canned chicken noodle soup, but not terrible. Still not feeling great but we’ll see how the evening goes.

I’m trying to feel better for this art show on Friday. It’s a low-key evening but I still want to be able to feel social. Also I really need to complete this robot painting, which means I have one evening, maybe two.

I just found ballet classes at a nearby place ($96 for 8 classes per month), and really would like to attend. Of course they’re Tuesday & Wednesday nights, so … if my stomach gives me the thumbs up then I’ll be doing that tomorrow night until 8:15. I really do miss dance classes. But I may skip it until next week and spend the extra day trying to work on finishing up this less-than-halfway-done robot. Robanesh, I’m calling it.

All I feel like doing right now is finishing this glass of water and going to sleep. Awesome! I leave you with a recent Freshly Pressed Link of Win:

Still Life

http://allrainydaysarentgray.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/still-life/

Bucket List Checkbox: Obtained

I’ve been making notes throughout the week when an idea for a post strikes me, and trying hard to not force a post. The plan for the evening was to come over here and talk about debt or exercise or my cat or post a sketch or something. Speaking of debt, remember how my other post was about trying to get out, right? Well, one version of my commute takes me past Spreckels, and I totally almost hit some pedestrians because of the marquee:

Immediately the words came out of my mouth: “Oh HELL yeah!” There wasn’t anyone in the car, but the people I nearly crushed in the crosswalk probably heard me. My one-sided conversation in the car on the way home (a regular occurrence) was trying to figure out how to explain to Jason, in a reasonable decibel, that this was a mandatory event. If he didn’t want to go, then he’d just get to hear about how great it was, because it wasn’t an option for me to not go.

I get home, I research tickets. The first option is “VIP”. For a laugh, my selection was for 2 VIP tickets – just to see the ludicrous cost and what constituted “VIP”, exactly. Here is what that entails:

VIP Packages include : (1) VIP Seating Ticket – Ticket exclusively located within the first 5 rows, Exclusive access to post-show reception meet & greet with Anthony Bourdain. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres at reception. Limited edition Anthony Bourdain poster (numbered exclusive to ticket packages). Limited edition VIP tour meet & greet laminate.

Anyway, when you’re in debt, the reasonable thing to do is to stay far away from researching (let alone purchasing) some $175-each tickets to anything like that, which is exactly why Jason and I both have VIP TICKETS TO IT AND WE’RE SITTING IN ROW D ORCHESTRA PIT AND WE GET TO MEET ANTHONY NO BIG DEAL RIGHT.

I'M DOING THIS RIGHT NOW BUT WITH LOTS OF LOUD SQUEEEEE

It’s very hard for me not to start calling everyone in my phone to shout the news, because none of my friends – except maybe Ivonne – would get as excited as me. Except she’s in Jersey and already met him, so at least she knows. Bucket list indeed!!!

For those of you who don’t understand, this past post of mine kind of sums it up.

Jason will be going with me, because I bought us both tickets. So while it’s super cool that we’ll get to experience that together, this means that any overt fangirlism is going to seriously need to be kept in check. He knows I’m excited, but I don’t think he …understands. Past people that have been on my “Need to Meet” list have included: Art Alexakis, Dave Navarro and Mike Ness.

I met Art. He was kind of an asshole.
I’ve never met Dave in person, but we emailed back and forth a few times in the late 90’s. He was very nice.
I almost met Mike. He seemed nice; waved at me, gave a smile. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.

I have never had the full experience of meeting someone like this.

Bourdain has basically changed my entire life so there’s that.

After Googling – and talking with – some people who have met him, everyone has great things to say about the guy. This is like … next level excitement. I mean, what am I going to say to him? Please don’t let me stutter. Or faint. Or get sick the day before. :(( Maybe I’ll invite him to the Sod, haha!

Oh lord, what am I going to *wear*?!?!

Okay, I need to go do some deep breathing and think about how much $$ I just put onto my credit card but OMFG WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cookie Brownie Victory

Every time I start a post, it’s with the anticipation of getting a feeling out of my head and onto paper. Yes, it’s digital, but it’s still the same principle. So why is it that every time I open a new screen, all the words in my head go away? They’re like kittens, shying away into the darker corners under the bed.

You guys know what else? IT’S FALL. I’m not going to Google the exact date, but I think it happened somewhere around September 21. My favorite favorite season ever, and it only seems to last for a few brief weeks before it’s cold and awful.

Wait, who am I kidding? I live in San Diego!!!

It sometimes gets down to a blustery 40 degrees here, which is cold for SD but tropical for the rest of the country when you’re comparatively speaking about January evenings. When the weather is chilly enough to make me swap my flip-flops for socks, that means it’s time for one of my favorite activities: BAKING. I started it up early this afternoon by trying my hand at some Cookie Brownies. They’ve never been attempted or tasted in my home before, so there’s no time like the present.

Will they come out the way they do on the box? Who knows. Half of the fun was taste-testing the batter, which was delicious, so they hopefully will turn out to be edible. I accidentally added an extra egg, which makes for an eyebrow raise.

Let’s go check on them, shall we?

OM NOM NOM.
For a first attempt, not bad at all. They are a smidge on the less-chocolate-y/dry side, but with a cold glass of milk they’re pretty wonderful. Note to self: only 1 egg, not 1 egg per layer. Next up I’ll attempt a fudge marble cake.

I also did apparently jinx the labyrinthitis by talking about it. The past few days have sucked royally. Today isn’t really much better.

Of Hurricanes and Graphite

My social networks are a huge conglomeration of everyone I’ve ever met, and some I haven’t. Primarily it’s a West Coast feed, as most East Coast people I – for some unknown reason – have kept on to pseudo relate with. Excluding a select handful, any East Coast peeps still in my periphery are there for entertainment value or to remind me of how far I’ve come. The majority of their feeds are hidden from my daily view not just because of terrible grammar but because of their extreme lack of giving a fuck.

LIEK, OMG! SOMETHING! IS! IMPORTANT!!!!

I don’t care about your new purse. I don’t care about your drama. I do care about why you’re still a waitress (not a manager) at the same diner you worked at 15 years ago, and why you’re going on 30 with your priorities being more “Which club should I go to next and what bus will still run after 11pm” instead of “Will I ever get a driver’s license” or “Will I ever move out of my mom’s house”.

Their feeds are hidden because of stuff like this, copied verbatim (edited for names/addresses):

——————————

“It cud always b worst.”

“I’m face book how lol comment me back”

“Lol!!! A drunk aint shit”

“Ok cuzzo…squad up….lol…”

“Is blessed…bout to start my Sunday Din din…sauteed in C.Of.M. bone/skinless chkn breast..mac and cheese..green beans…stuffing and yams..yummy:)!!”

“Im gna say this once!! ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SAY SMTG ABOUT ME OR WANTS TO KEEP LYN TO PPL ABOUT ME U CAN CALL ME OR SEE ME IT GOES FOR EVERYONE!! DONT BITCH UP NOW BITCHES…”

“Hey its me XXXXX’s niece i had to log on for him but i wanted to put the word out on his profile for everone he said if anyones waiting or trying to get in touch with him can write him at THIS ADDRESS XXXXX XXXXX ###### Depart of corrections Green Rock Correctional Center [edited address]”

“Yoo….to all my yurp squad n yace squad members we will be performing at the XXXX XXX in the city in july….hit me up or XXXX n let us know if u tryna perform…..”

“Now its time to take care of me!! Not everyone else excpt my kids.. So every one else can kick rocks and fuck off!!!”

“just lettn it be known to certain ppl… im actn up today!!! Past week…lol”

“Its not what we do that defines us, but how we rise above every situtation tht may be thrown are way!!!!!”

“dont blame me for what u cant acheive im jus me and do me ill slap a b*****””

“I’m 30… N still sh*tin on u! I am me… Lol somethin u’ll never b so hate on haters! ;D” (Seriously, that is the title of one of her photo albums. All bathroom mirror angle shots.)

“MY HATERS ARE MY MOTIVATION. YOU CAN SAY WHAT YOU WANNA SAY ABOUT ME BUT ONE THING THAT YOU CANT SAY IS THAT IM A BAD MOM. BEEN DOING IT FOR ALMOST NINE YEARS NOW AND MINES DOESNT WANT OR NEED FOR A DAMN THING. SHE WILL HAVE BY ANY MEANS. BELIEVE THAT. SO GET YOUR INFO STRAIGHT BEFORE YOU TRY AND TALK ABOUT ONE OF THE WORLDS GREATEST MOTHERS. PEACE AND BLESSINGS HATERS”

“FUCK ALL OF YOU HATIN ASS BITCHES AND NIGGAS. NOW RUN TELL THAT”

“washing clothes today and spending time w/ donna i enjoy coming up here its relaxing….cant wait to go to grams tonight and spend time w/ my family miss u dad and sissy hope u guys are doing well…”

“on our way to gram and paps for dinner our favorite day of the week sure wish u were there mama. on our way to stop and see u at the cemetary love u our angel”

“JESUS IS ALWAYS A FRIEND FOREVER, ITS THOSE DEVIL FRIENDS WHO WILL KILL YOU AND FORSAKE YOU…JESUS COMFORT FEELS IN FOR HUMAN ABANDONMENT….JESUS”

“Each & Every Saturdays ALL NEW! #1 SPOT CLUB BABE’LON A.T.L (MNL) & DEM RADIO BOYZ OF THE JUICE WILL BE IN THE BUILDING HOSTED BY: JROC & KAJ BOOGIE (NO SWEATS NO TEES 1$ SHOTS FREE DRINKS @12 IN VIP FOR LADIES VIP IS AVAILABLE! *POWER HOUR 1030-1130 DON’T BE LEFT OUT FOR VIP SATURDAYS!”

——————————

Anyway. The short version is that A) Facebook is turning into Myspace and B) reading all that hurt my brain. If you’re updating your status via phone, just take a minute to give a shit, that’s all. It’s not hard.

Before that rant, the point I wanted to say is that all my East Coast peeps are up in arms about the hurricane a-comin’ and I’m having a really hard time even considering telling people (individually) to stay safe, because it’s 90 degrees in my house and I’ve been sick for like, a month.

Growing up, storms – mild and bad – were a part of life. You batten down the hatches, you put things away, you have your flashlights in working order, and you sit on the porch to watch the storm roll in. When it’s rolled close enough thankyouverymuch, you head inside. If it’s really bad, you head down to the fruit cellar. You wait, you read, you go to bed when the last hint of daylight goes away. You get through it. Trees fall, basements flood, roofs get torn off. Glass breaks. It’s scary – for real – but it stops eventually. There’s something to be said for the smell of rain, before and after a storm.

Not saying that people shouldn’t prepare, or be cautious, or worried. They should do and be all of those things. But I don’t have the mental energy right now to do what so many others are doing and start the whole “OMG BE SAFE BE CAREFUL” on everyone’s Facebook or Twitter or where have you. I’m just drained. The media is playing up all the fear. So if everyone could just take a step back and realize that they don’t need to start a riot, that would be nice.

Consider this your mass “Hope you guys get through it alright and there is little to no damage. Best of luck.” post.

Speaking of getting through it, my illness relapsed today, which was lame. That whole no sugar or alcohol thing is tougher than I thought, because a beer sounds AWESOME right now.

Actually, Oreos with a glass of cold milk sounds even MORE awesome, so there’s that.

Then I found Oreo Cupcakes With Built In Milk Cups and almost died.