Daring Baker #8 Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

>> Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh for heaven's sake. You'd think I'd know better than to try to make a cake that takes up EIGHT printed pages on a weeknight. A weeknight that just happens to be the deadline. A weeknight when the temperature in my kitchen is hovering right about 87 degrees. Because I live in the desert. And it's hot. And the oven on for 2 hours - no does help.

But tomorrow is Boo's birthday, and even though we'll be having some toxic colored cakey masterpiece this weekend when all her little hoodlum friends come over I thought it would be nice to have this one for the actual day. This chocolate ganache covered Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. Ha! Joke's on me!

Did you know that a cake can be STICKY and SLIPPERY and CRUMBLY - all at the same time? Do you have any idea what a huge ass pain it is to try to squish apricot preserves through a sieve? How about peeling hazelnuts? Ever done that? Or melting dry sugar? Culinary napalm indeed! And even after all that, it turns out I am just too stupid to read and understand the recipe. I swear on a stack of Oreos I just could NOT figure out the assembly of this monstrosity. And even if I could have figured it out I think I'd need about 3 more hands to keep the whole mess from collapsing into a sad (but tasty) heap. Could be early Alzheimers, could be late ADD, either way I admit defeat. I'll just finish it however I want. And right now what I want to do is let the damn thing sit in the fridge until half past Armageddon, but I'll probably go ahead and try to square it up and put the ganache on eventually. But probably not tonight.

UPDATE 7/30/2008 11:31

It is done.

And here's the damn cake.

UPDATE 8/1/08 1:38 am

I've just sat down with my second slice. The damn cake tastes good!


A Good Lunch Poorly Presented

>> Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1. chicken curry on rice
2. mixed pickle
3. herby raita

Sometimes I like to toast and grind and simmer and stir and repeat and wait and on and on and on, and sometimes I use a jarred cooking sauce. Blasphemy - I know! And invariably one child or the other will say "this is the best curry you've ever made" whenever I break out the Patak's. Now keep in mind I'm still very much a learner in the ways of the curry so the praise may be more of a reflection of my lack of skill than the goodness of the Patak's, but still. Cheap, good and easy. Kinda like me.

Anyway. Here's the secret.

Plan ahead a bit and cook an onion (or two) in a couple of tablespoons of ghee. You want to do this slow, slow, slow until you end up with a whole mess of soft sweet golden onion love. I usually do this while I'm cooking dinner since I'm there anyway. Let the onions cool to room temperature then dump them in your crockpot. Cut your meat or vegetables into bite sized pieces and put them on top of the onions. (I often use a family pack of chicken thighs, usually 6-8)Now dump in a jar of cooking sauce, slap the lid on and put the whole thing in the fridge. When Boy gets home from school he takes the crockpot out and starts cooking it on high. I come home, put on some rice and maybe make a quick side, brew some tea and get out the pickles. 30 minutes later - dinner is served. Leaving you plenty of time to relax and write haiku.


Steak, Salad & Seduction

>> Sunday, July 27, 2008

1. sliced ribeye on salad
2. Japanese sweets
3. little bottle of love potion

Do you know Tigers & Strawberries? If you don't you should. Go there now - this can wait.

So here's the dealio. I was reading Barbara's post titled Seduction on a Plate: Fraises a l’Aziz and became completely and totally enamored of the idea of a vinaigrette made from pomegranate molasses. Meaning that I had to have it, and I had to have it NOW. Seduction indeed! So I decided to grill a steak, slice it thin, and serve it on lettuces with walnuts and raspberries and dress it all up with a fabulous pomegranate vinaigrette. Sounds lovely, no?

Well yes, in theory anyway. In reality the damn molasses wouldn't blend. I mixed and mixed and mixed and blenderized and blenderized and blenderized until it damn near boiled and I'm pretty sure that my blender was whimpering. I gave up. I tossed the salad in the nicely flavored oil and drizzled the gloopier stuff over with a spoon. SO. disappointing. But you know what? Still tasted fan-freakin-tastic. If anyone tries this and figures out a fix - please let me know. Please. I need this. Please.

Speaking of seduction, there's still plenty of time to Haiku that Blog!


Shillin' for Zatarains Without Apology

>> Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let me say right up front that I have received no promotional consideration from Zatarain's, McCormicks, or the Bush administration. Please note however that I have no particular qualms about accepting "gifts" from either of the first two - Bush administration? Not so much. Enough about politics, let's get on to the eatin'!

1. black beans and rice
2. cherries
3. carrots

This black bean and rice recipe is totally semi-HO-made, but don't think Sandy, think Amber or Ashley. Amber doesn't know it, but I luff her. She makes all sorts of yummy looking things including her own sandwich buns and pita bread but makes no apologies for serving Cool-Whip with pie made from blueberries she picked herself. That's just how freakin' cool she is. And Ashley? I luff her too. This girl cooks recipes off the backs of boxes and cans and makes it look totally gor-may, and she looks really hot with a green tongue.
Anyway, a co-worker asked to sample my lunch and didn't get around to eating it so she took it home, shared it with her husband and immediately phoned me to tell me to give her the recipe. Her marriage depended on it. I thought about typing up some crazy long recipe that involved digging up and grinding sassafras root but in the end my inherent laziness won out and I spilled the beans, so to speak.

Rice & Beans

1 onion
1/2 rotisserie chicken
1/2 pound of smoked sausage
12 shrimp
Zatarain's Black Beans & Rice

If your shrimp is frozen take it out now and put it in a colander in the sink. Run some water over it and let 'em sit there. They'll be ready when you are. Peel the onion and cut it in half, then slice thinly so you end up with half rings. Cook in the onion in a biggish pot with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, slice up your smoked sausage and toss it in with the onions.
When it all looks goldeny brown and starts smelling like dinner add 3 cups of water and one box of Zatarain's Black Beans and Rice. Crank the heat up to high and stir pretty frequently until it starts to boil, then turn the heat back down to medium and smack a lid on top. It's gonna need about 30 minutes to cook and you only have about 5 minutes worth of work left so this is a good time to go sit a spell or put together a salad.
Sit for 20 minutes, or you know, whatever, then pull the meat off your chicken and shred or cut it up in bite sized pieces, dump it in the pot and stir. Peel your shrimp and devein them if your squeamish that way. Throw them in the pot, stir, put the lid back on and then take it off the heat. Pour yourself a big glass of tea and call the kids to the table. Dish it up and feel proud to live in America where you can buy a box of Zatarain's for 2 bucks at your local supermarket.

Speaking of shilling: Did you Haiku that Blog!?


Jerky Pork & Mustard Beans

>> Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1. jerky pork
2. potato salad
3. tomato
4. mustard beans
5. peaches

The jerky pork is just slices from the rest of last night's pork chops that were marinated in a psuedo-jerk seasoning and grilled. I pretty much want to lick my screen thinkin' about it. Oh, and don't tell me you don't know what mustard beans are!

Mustard Beans
One can of good ol' Pork & Beans, drained and dumped in a pan. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and about 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard. Heat and eat.

No really, it's good!

While you're sitting there ponderin' the goodness that is mustard beans, why not pop over here and Haiku that Blog! Mimi is waiting.


Haiku that Blog! v1.03 Take 2!

>> Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shall we try this again?

It's time for the third installment of Haiku that Blog!

This month we will be creating word art celebrating Science, Food, Art and Music: The meanderings of a Wannabe Wildlife Filmmaker. The incredibly fortunate Mimi carries out her experimentation in St. Thomas, and was the winner of Haiku that Blog v1.02!

Here's what you have to do to have your own blog immortalized in verse -AND- win a cool prize.

1. write a haiku about Mimi and/or her blog
2. post it in the comments on this post
3. wait to see if you win

Easy huh?

What do you mean you don't know how to write a haiku? Haven't you people heard of Wikipedia?

The winner will receive their very own licensed Sanrio Hello Kitty insulated collapsible lunch bag! Or 6 pack holder! Wooohooo! The winner will also have the option of having their very. own. blog. featured in the the next edition of Haiku That Blog. If the winner does not have their very. own. blog. they will be strongly encouraged to start one. Failing that, the winner will be allowed to choose the next blog to be featured.

Entries will be accepted until midnight or so July 30, 2008. Winner will be chosen by a panel of people and or animals who live at or are visiting or walking past my house. Prize package worth less than $15. Anonymous entries have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of winning, so please help me find you. Now get Haikuing!



Turkey Burger - Yeah, You Heard Me

1. turkey burger
2. nectarine
3. grapes

So all the chicas at work have been passin' around some turkey burger recipe somebody got from Oprah. I assume Oprah the show, not Oprah the person. Anyway, it had apples and chutney and had been known to cause gastronomic apoplexy. Okay, I made that last part up, but still, the chicas were diggin' it, so I decided to make it. Except of course I didn't actually HAVE the recipe, but I try not to get bogged down with a lot of details.

I dumped this stuff in a bowl.

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 grated Pink Lady apple
1 big spoonful of mango chutney
2 green onions finely chopped
salt and pepper

And made it into 5 patties and cooked them in a lightly oiled non-stick pan on one side until they were nice and brown and then flipped them and when they got brown on that side I moved the pan off the heat and let them cool down a bit before I moved them.

The turkey mixture was really wet and I didn't think they would hold together, but they did, and I didn't really think they'd taste good. but they did. It's the chutney no doubt. We ate them on seeded buns with thin sliced onion and thick sliced tomato and a big slick of mayo to counteract the low fatness of it all.


Yay! I'm Older! And I totally thought that song was about me....

Yeah, so I've been kinda depressed. And I really didn't know why. Then my birthday came, and my birthday went, and you know what? Not so much depressed anymore. So that makes me what? Superficial? Out of tune with myself? Shallow, much?

Check out this birthday cake!

Have you ever seen anything as ghettotabulous as that? For realz.

And this? Well, this is my new knife. I'm going to marry it.

And this is me. And the boy. I came home from work to find flowers. A clean kitchen. A trimmed tree. And a new blind on my kitchen window. Hand carried home. On foot. In Phoenix. At noon. In July. And the boy? He did it all. 'Cause it was my birthday. And he loves me. Couldn't you just puke from the sweetness? Seriously. Am QUEEN!


Homage to the Shack Tater

>> Sunday, July 13, 2008

Other than my family there ain't a whole lotta stuff I miss about Arkansas. Catfish would be one thing, good barbecue would be another. Oh the barbecue. And when I say barbecue I mean pork. Pulled pork. With a vinegary sauce. And cole slaw. Put in on bread and it's a sandwich, put it on a spud and it's a Shack Tater. I do big pink puffy heart love the Shack Tater.

I still can't get catfish here, but thankfully Joe's came along or I might've had to move back. Joe's pulls some good pork, and makes a real nice sauce, but I sure do wish they'd learn to make good slaw. I've learned to love a slaw-less sandwich, but the tater? Needs the slaw. Sometimes, when you want it done right, you just gotta do it yourself.

1. baked potato
2. pulled pork
3. coleslaw
4. butter and sour cream
5. bbq sauce

Radishes are not a traditional accompaniment but do a fine job of filling up an empty space.


What if you threw a party....

>> Wednesday, July 9, 2008

and nobody came?

It saddens me to report that there is no winner for

Haiku that Blog! v1.03.

Because there were no entries.

And that of course means that there will be no Haiku that Blog! v1.04.

And that saddens me.

Because I thought it was kinda fun.

But at least I have a new lunch bag.



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