Friday, October 31, 2008

Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie

Why yes, I too am amazed that I managed to work politics into a food blog…

In all seriousness, I don’t usually wear my politics on my sleeve (or on my buttons or my graphic print t-shirts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But in the case of Sarah Palin, I can’t help but loudly declare my distaste. Her hate-mongering and feminist-squashing scare me and my ladybits. So it might sound strange that I decided to make a pie with her moniker dominating the title.

Believe me, I have my reasons and my inspirations. Actually I had two extra pie crusts and some frozen peach slices from the farmer’s market chillin’ in my freezer, and I thought, “Hey! I should make a peach pie!”

Please keep in mind that I had never made a pie before, and…I don’t really like fruit pies? Chocolate pie with meringue, however…

Anyway, I had set my mind on making a peach pie, even if I had very little desire to eat it. Plus, I was inspired by the film, Waitress, an adorable movie about a waitress (played by Kerri Russell) with a miserable life and a knack for making pies. While the pies in the movie mostly look delectable (especially the one with blackberries and raspberries in a chocolate crust), one of the best parts of the film is the pie names. A few favorites: “I don’t want Earl’s baby pie,” “Baby screaming it’s head off in the middle of the night and ruining my life pie,” “I can’t have an affair because it’s wrong and I don’t want Earl to kill me pie.”

Hence, my very own pie named after an incredibly resilient source of misery—“Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie.”

It would be awesome if people took this pie to their election night parties next week! And for all of you going to a McCain/Palin election night party, you could change the name of the pie to something Palin positive…I guess…if you absolutely had to.

Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie

From All Recipes (the recipe below is a combination of this recipe and Laura M.’s comment)

1 package pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie (or just buy two pie crusts like I did!)
1 egg, beaten
3 cups sliced, peeled peaches
2 cups blueberries (You can go with all peaches—you’d need 5 cups—or add the blueberries for a twist. I really liked the subtle sour taste the blueberries added.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line your pie plate with one crust and brush with some of the beaten egg. Place the sliced peaches and blueberries in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches and blueberries and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges under. Flute the edges to seal or press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in egg. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam (or a heart like I did. I think it makes the whole thing seem a little less malicious and more "folksy!"). Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents. If the edges brown to fast, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking. Cool before serving. This tastes better warm than hot. I actually preferred it when room-ish temperature, but everyone has their pie preferences! Enjoy!

P.S. I sent in my absentee ballot today! I'm no longer a voting virgin!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It’s Officially Pumpkin Season

I don’t do pumpkin pie. I don’t like to eat it, and I don’t like making things I’m not going to eat, so…I don’t do pumpkin pie. BUT! I do love pumpkins. It’s a superficial love, since I mainly value them for their decorative and carving possibilities, but it’s something. In fact, I made the BF drive me all the way up to Yorktown Heights (about 30 miles upstate) to handpick my pumpkins this year. We went to a delightful (and ridiculously crowded) apple orchard, Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm, where they grow their own fruit and firs, and they throw pumpkins from giant crates into a field for an “all-natural” pumpkin patch! Whatever, I was still pleased. A fake pumpkin patch is still more exciting than the pumpkin bin at A&P.

(Jon checking out the selection of mini-pumpkins)
So we carved them a few days back, and while I’m not quite obsessed-enough to carve out the insides and make a pumpkin pie, I did scrape out all the seeds to roast! They turned out SO yummy. I used a recipe (kinda) from All Recipes. I love these websites because there are tons of great recipes, but also because people can leave comments with crucial tips and suggestions that can make the end result better and my life easier. So here’s a mash-up of the recipe I looked at, and a comment by a pumpkin seed connoisseur, Tracy.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds (however much you can dig out!)
Salt (or any other seasoning. The recipe suggests Cajun, which sounds kinda awesome, but I just used salt.)
Vegetable Oil or Pam spray

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Smooth out seeds onto baking sheet. You can rinse the seeds if you want, but I left mine with a little pumpkin goop for added flavor. If you don’t rinse, just make sure you get all the strings and most of the gunk off of the seeds. Then coat the pan and seeds in either Pam or vegetable oil. Add desired amount of salt (or other seasoning) and mix. Pop them in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or so, taking them out occasionally to stir. Turn off the oven and leave them in for another 30-45 minutes while the oven cools. Then consume heartily.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haha! Get it? No? Oh.

This is random, and has nothing to do with food. I simply feel the need to share the reasoning behind some of my pop-culture references in various posts. Memory is a bizarre thing, triggered by strange, sometimes seemingly unconnected words or events. Associations with food and smells are especially strong for most people, so most of the time I have no control over what springs out of my little brain. Some references are so obscure that you wouldn't know what I'm talking about unless you frequented the Malvern, Arkansas Western Sizzlin' in the 90s and played with the fortune-telling quarter machine in the front entrance. And some are more obvious, especially if you love David Bowie. This is the song from the 1986 cult classic, Labyrinth, that I reference in my Chili post label. Is there a method to the madness? I like to think not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Drumroll, please!

I now give you…

the first recipe!

I’m not sure why I haven’t posted a recipe yet. I’ve been cooking up a storm since June. Better late than never?

Anywho! It’s starting to get chilly in my neck of the Hudson, which makes me a wee bit sad, but there’s always something good that comes along with the cold—hot, gut-warming, slurptastic soups.

In this case, it’s not quite a soup, but a chili! I’ve already made this particular recipe twice in the span of a month or so, which probably has something to do with its name—3-bean Chili. I have a soft spot in my heart for beans. My sister, Kirby (who also took the picture below), and I made this chili as an early birthday treat for our dad on my recent trip to Colorado. Kirby had something fancier in mind, but once I mentioned to Dad that I had a recipe for Mexican Cornbread, all bets were off. We had to switch gears and find an entrĂ©e suitable enough to grace the table with the precious cornbread.

Read on for this simple, quick chili recipe and a cornbread concoction that both my father and my boyfriend can’t stop raving about. (Seriously, you should have seen their faces. Ecstasy.)

3-Bean Chili

From the September issue of Family Circle. Find the recipe online here.

Makes: 8 cups Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 19 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 sweet bell peppers
1 medium-size zucchini, trimmed and diced
1 can (14½ oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) no-salt-added tomato sauce
¼ cup ketchup
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Grated cheddar cheese (optional, but totally recommended!)
(Also, if you want to add 1 lb. ground beef or turkey like we did for my dad, be sure to add another can of tomato sauce and some water, as well as extra seasonings.)

Heat oil in a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add peppers and zucchini and continue to cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup and oregano. Cook 8 minutes. Gently stir in the beans. Cover pot and continue to cook 3 minutes. Serve with cheese.

I love that magazines are providing nutrition info now too!
Per Cup: 203 calories; 4 g fat (0 g sat.); 11 g protein; 39 carbs; 12 g fiber; 678 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol.

Spicy Skillet Cornbread

I think this is from an old issue of Working Mother magazine, circa fall/winter 2007, while I was an intern there.

Makes: 8 servings Prep: 10 minutes Bake: 20 minutes

2 medium-size ears of corn (or about 1½ cup of kernels…sometimes I get lazy and use canned corn, which tastes just as good!)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 jar (2 oz) pimiento, drained and chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet (I totally use a cake pan!) in oven to heat. Cut kernels off corn and set aside. In a medium-size bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine milk, buttermilk, butter and egg; add to flour mixture and stir until blended. Fold in corn, pimiento, jalapeno and cayenne and stir. Using a hot pad, remove skillet from oven and coat generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into skillet and spread to edges of pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden and slightly cracked. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.

Per Serving: 143 calories; 4 g fat (2 g sat.); 4 g protein; 22 g carbs; 2 g fiber; 364 mg sodium; 36 mg cholesterol.

May I interest you in an intestine? Ogre finger, perhaps?

I LOVE Halloween.

The holiday has nearly perfect timing. When the weather starts to change, officially marking the end of summer, I start to mourn for my popsicles, summer dresses and days boating around the lake back home in Arkansas. And then Halloween comes to my rescue.

Part of the awesomeness comes from the way adults are allowed to run around like lunatics (especially in NYC), dressed up as Superman, a giant baby or the ever-popular Slutoween variety costume. It’s the one day of the year where it becomes socially acceptable to revert back to childhood and play dress-up (unless, of course, you work in Hollywood, where it’s Halloween everyday!). I lean towards homemade costumes, just because it makes the process more festive (plus, you won’t show up to an event in the same pirate wench getup as someone else).

And then there’s the food.

Talk about creative. People go all out when concocting Halloween treats. Back when my bestie, Courtney, and I were in 7th grade, we decided to throw a Halloween party. We put plastic spiders in the ice cubes, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. If I had a party to go to this year, I would definitely be making one of these horrific/awesome dishes they've rounded up over on the FoodieView blog. I mean, Slime Filled Cupcakes from the Black Lagoon?! Nutella-filled pastries shaped to look like intestines?! Brilliant. Just brilliant.

I’ll be going out in my homemade ladybug costume to mingle with the rest of the crazies in the city, but maybe next year...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Terminator, Meet the Margarator

My dad took me to see a Terminator movie once. I literally don’t remember one thing about it (sorry, dad), although that was when I was a teenager and hadn’t fully realized my genetic predisposition to like science fiction, fantasy and other geekery. These days I’m not totally embarrassed to admit I tune in weekly for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but it’s still not my favorite show. That prize goes out to the dearly departed Gilmore Girls, among others. (You can expect I will be seeing next summer’s Terminator Salvation installation, but that’s more of a testament to my Christian Bale fangirldom than anything else.)

Okay, marching robotically onward towards the point—last week, while chilling with my dad, he introduced me to Terminator’s distant cousin, the Margarator.
Much like the Terminator is not your ordinary Jetson’s domestic robot, the Margarator is not your ordinary blender. It grinds up your margarita mixture and spits it out at the perfect consistency (and through its spout) and with half the hassle of your, or rather MY crappy old p.o.s. of a blender, which is why I’m filing this under kitchen covet. It is definitely making the Christmas list.

Here’s the smoothie recipe my dad and I came up with while experimenting with the Margarator. Let me know how it turns out…and if you had to toss your conventional blender afterwards to justify stepping over to the steel side.

Mango Smoothies

1½ cup Mango (frozen)
1 cup Pineapple (frozen)
½ cup Strawberries (frozen)
1 Banana
2½ cups Apple Juice
1½ cups Water

Blend well and serve immediately. If your conventional blender has problems with blending so much frozen fruit, try to use mostly fresh fruit and only add enough frozen fruit to get a slushy consistency.

Makes approximately 5 servings, which is about half as much as what's shown in this picture. Don't be fooled by the overflowing last cup, people!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let me come visit you and stuff my face. Mkay, thanks!

Did you know that you have to cook things differently in higher altitudes? Well, that’s what my Colorado-dwelling dad tells me anyway. I didn’t have any cooking troubles while visiting the Mile-High City this past week, but I also didn’t cook so much. Which is not to say that I didn’t eat.

A lot.

Because I did.

A lot.

In fact, that’s the very first thing that I did after I landed, grabbed my bags from the carousel and plopped into my dad’s car. I was starving because the airline that I flew with doesn’t serve peanuts for free anymore. PEANUTS! for peanut’s sake. I don’t even like peanuts, but I was hungry. I would’ve eaten them. But, noooo, all they had were “lunch boxes,” which cost actual money, of which I only had three lonely little dollar bills, because I already had to pay 15 bucks to check one bag. So I subsisted on the free beverages (cranberry juice for me!) and my travel toothpaste. When my sister, Kirby, and my dad came to pick me up, the first thing we did was eat.

Later that night, I was majorly craving some Krispy Kreme (I associate the delish donut chain with Denver since that’s where I first sank my sweet tooth into one of the confections.), so we drove 30 miles to find an open one.

Obviously, we needed some of these donuts.

The donut documentary we were watching on the travel/discovery/history channel immediately before the donut pilgrimage really didn’t help us to forget our donut longings either.

Now I have decided I need to visit Portland, Oregon for the sole purpose of getting a voodoo doll donut from Voodoo Doughnut, where “The Magic is in the Hole” (Uh huh, that’s what she said).

In the meantime, I can hit up the equally-fantastic-looking Donut Plant, which is right here in New York in Manhattan’s Lower East Side!

So, I ate a ton of food, hung out with my family and indulged in a much needed break from job-searching. Plus, I rode a rollercoaster (yay!), which I followed up with a bag of cotton candy (double yay!). In other words, you can expect to read a lot more about all of my Colorado cooking (and eating) over the next few posts.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Give Me a Quarter, I'll Tell You Your Fortune!

I’m not wild about Chinese restaurants that have the word “buffet” anywhere in the neon title. Nor am I a fan of Chinese food that you can order by number and have delivered straight to your door at midnight. I think it partly goes back to being a kid and ending up in the restaurant bathroom anytime we ate Asian cuisine (thanks, Irritable Bowel Syndrome!).

MSG be damned though, because I still eat the stuff. I can chow down on most Asian foods now (I go crazy for pan fried dumplings), and I’m even able to stomach the crappy Americanized buffet versions—if only because I love my boyfriend and he needs his General Tso’s Chicken fix every few weeks.

But I’m not gonna lie—I do it for the fortune cookie, that cardboard and sugar buttcrack of a cookie that contains the cryptic and curious answers to life’s big mysteries (and some lucky numbers and language lessons, if you’re really lucky).

I had some egg drop soup and chicken fried rice the other night. The food was meh, but I got a good fortune and I’m sharing:

“Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

Perhaps this is a good omen for my never-ending job hunt? And maybe for all of the other people out there who can’t find work while our economy slips further and further into the vat of Chinese buffet chocolate pudding.

Remember Wall Street, giant vats of pudding are kind of like quicksand: the more you struggle to get out of the mess, the further you slip.

Hey! Now that I think of it, that sounds like a pretty good fortune.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mah Boook

This (points left) is mah boook. In my previous life as a college student, mah boook was just another notebook, albeit much hipper than your average 3-ring binder—note the super kawaii Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls gracing the cover. It was lugged about to classes in my pink backpack and filled with notes about…important things that have already exited my memory (thanks 5-figure education!). Of course, since the notebook is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, Zac Efron or Hannah Montana juvenile binder, I was obligated to find a higher purpose for Gwen and her girls after my educational journey had ended.

Now it is mah boook for all things coook. Since the beginning of June, I have been filling my little plastic sheet protectors with every recipe I can get my grubby, non-note-taking hands on. I’ve been pulling recipes from magazines (Family Circle is my fave for easy, yummy recipes). I troll around on Simply Recipes and All Recipes specifically to add to the growing collection. Sometimes I call my mom and jot down an old favorite I’m dying to make. I don’t type it up later either; I just throw in the handwritten note to add character to mah boook. It’s a never-ending work in progress. I hope someday mah boook resembles my mom’s book. She isn’t a cook either, but she has a book. And every time we bring out a certain recipe, I’m always surprised to find a little kid’s scrawl of various numbers on the back of the handwritten ingredients and instructions. My mom wasn’t too picky about typing up her recipes either; she just threw in the version written on the back of my third-grade math homework. The best books aren’t just a compilation of all the best recipes, they’re almost like time-capsules of good memories and friends and family dinners.

So, I know it’s not the most original cooking tip in the kitchen, but I think there’s a reason it’s repeated so often. Start filling up your own book with favorite recipes. I slip mine into plastic protector sheets and organize with colorful tabs according to meal course, but the best part is testing out a new recipe and writing down your rating in the margins! And 10 years from now, you may just pull out a recipe and be surprised at what you find hiding behind it.