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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Full of WIN

it is!

If Yoda were a sushi-lovin’ Jedi Master, he’d totally be down with this:

 r2soy

DO WANT.

(Note: the engrish employed by the advertising imagery on their page is well worth your time even if R2-D2 isn’t your favorite little droid in all the ‘verse).

-jer

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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Things Geeky

 

Emeril

I was never really much of an Emeril fan back in the day. By back in the day, I mean a few years ago when I was living with my parents and we had extended basic cable, complete with the Food Network and HGTV. All that ‘Bam!’ and whatever. Not my thing.
However, I am completely addicted to Emeril’s new show on the Planet Green channel. It’s called Emeril Green and he focuses on recipes that are healthy and use organic ingredients. He also highlights food producers that practice sustainable agriculture. The show is a constant commercial for Whole Foods, but eh, whatevs.
I’ve tried a few recipes from the show and while he seriously failed me with his heritage grains recipe, his soups have been fantastic. The Beans and Greens Stew is super healthy and suprisingly delicious, and a real hit with the friends. The other night I tried his chicken chili with root vegetables, and I cannot get enough of it. I’ve been alternating soups for lunch at work and they both leave me happily satisfied and energized for my afternoon. I highly recommend.

Chicken and Root Veggie Chili
adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Emeril Green
 
Emeril adds jalapenos and bell peppers to his chili, making it a lot spicier. I didn’t have a jalapeno and Jer is allergic to bell peppers, so neither made it into our version, making this soup less spicy and more hearty, but feel free to experiment as you see fit.
 
One each: rutabaga, turnip, parsnip
Two carrots
Two cans beans (or 3-4 cups beans cooked from dry), either black, red, or a mix
1 can diced tomatoes (you could get tomatoes that have jalapenos in them for easy added flavor)
One small or half large onion, diced fine
One garlic clove, minced (you can add more if you are a big garlic fan)
3-4 chicken thighs (boneless skinless is easiest, but use what you have. I like to scour the ads and find deals on organic free-range meat. Central Market usually has the best choices for free-range poultry)
4-5 cups chicken stock (canned is fine, but it’s better to make your own!)
Paprika
Chili Powder
Cayenne
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
 
Chop root vegetables in one-inch chunks (try to keep them fairly uniform). Finely dice onion (see this post for great tips) Season chicken thighs by sprinkling with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot and sear chicken thighs on all sides. Remove to plate or cutting board. Add onion, root veggies, and a dash of salt and pepper to stockpot and cook about 5 minutes. While veggies cook, chop chicken into small pieces. When onions have softened, add garlic, a teaspoon each of paprika and chili powder, and a dash of cayenne. Then toss in the cut up chicken, along with the can of tomatoes. Cook for a couple more minutes, then add beans and stock. Bring to a boil, tasting the broth for spiciness and flavor. Add additional spices as you see fit: maybe some cumin, a little tabasco or salsa, extra chili powder. Once the soup has come to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer* for 20-30 mins, until slightly thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
 
Emeril serves this with a fancy chipotle crema. I mixed a little tabasco into some plain yogurt and spooned it on along with some shredded cheddar (you could also use sour cream) but really, the soup doesn’t need anything.
 
This will keep for several days in the fridge. I recommend putting it in individual 2-cup containers so they are ready to take to work. It just gets better as the days go by!
 
 
*A simmer means that the soup is just barely boiling-not a full rolling boil, but has some movement. You don’t want to break up the beans and veggies too much, but you do want the soup to thicken nicely.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Things Edible

 

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Making Stock

(Note: while Jer is recovering from the tendonitis, I’m doing the best thing I know to take care of him: make really yummy food and watch sci-fi with him. And pray. Your prayers are appreciated.)

In my quest to be both frugal and creative in my cooking and baking experiments, I am making more and more staples from scratch. Most recently I have begun creating my own chicken stock and vegetable stock. This had always seemed to me to be a huge project, not worth the cost and effort when there were cans of Swanson goodness waiting on the grocery store shelves. But I have seen the light.

I roasted a chicken the other day (another cooking activity which is much easier than I always thought it was) and set about carving the bird and using the carcass for stock. Literally, it is as easy as cutting the chunks of meat off, tossing the carcass in a big pot with some herbs, onion, garlic, celery, and carrot, bringing it to a low boil, and then simmering for a couple hours. Let cool in the fridge, and the next day you can skim off the fat and strain the broth. Not only is it super flavorful, but you can easily get a couple of quarts of broth for practically nothing. (On average, cans of broth are usually around a dollar each for 14-16 oz, or about two cups. I made about 10 cups of stock with leftover veggies and bones. The chicken itself was less than a dollar a pound and the four pound bird lasted for several meals.)

After that great success, I decided to try out another tip. To make stock, you don’t even need vegetables in good shape. You can use tops of celery and carrots, tops of onions, the tiny little garlic cloves from the center of the bulb, and other random bits. You can also check the fresh herbs section at the store and see what they have-I got a couple packages of fresh oregano and marjoram for 49 cents each (regularly $2). I started keeping cutoff parts of vegetables from my everyday cooking in a tupperware in the fridge. After a few days I had a nice little pile of castoffs. I tossed them in a pot with some of the herbs and a little salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, simmered for 45 minutes, then cooled and strained (you can strain it right away since there is no fat to skin off). Voila-vegetable broth from what would have ended up in the garbage or compost.

I’m a believer. No more canned broth for me!  And this success in the ingredients-from-scratch field has emboldened me to try other ideas. Check out this article on homemade pantry staples. I think I am going to give homemade yogurt a try!

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2010 in Things Edible

 

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Diagnosis: Tendonitis

So the Doc says I have bi-lateral tendonitis. That explains why both my wrists hurt (though the right moreso than the left). Armed with drugs and wrist braces, I soldier on!

Your prayers for a rapid recovery are requested!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Dvorak, here I come…

dvorak

This post will be brief because I am typing it entirely in dvorak. A week of moderate wrist discomfort has led me to make some changes; hopefully, they will avert or abate any long-term RSI or carpal tunnel.

Switching is slow going but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do (after all, Piers Anthony uses dvorak). I’m also going to see several doctors this week to get a diagnosis and begin appropriate treatment.

Prayer is always appreciated!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2010 in Computational Engines

 

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The Problem of the Radish

One of the mixed blessings of belonging to a CSA is that you get all sorts of produce that you might not normally buy for yourself. This means that you get to try new things but also that you occasionally receive items that you don’t like so much.
 
Take last week’s box, which contained radishes. I’ve never liked radishes, their bitterness marring my salad experiences. I’ve actually never been one for the bitter section of the palate, trading sweetarts for chocolate at any opportunity. Even in chocolate, I prefer a nice dark but smooth blend of about 60%. Bitter coffee, bitter chocolates, bitter vegetables-these I do not enjoy.
 
So what to do with these radishes? I hate to waste food, and it was too late to substitute something else. The small red bunch arrived in the box, looking up at me, daring me to enjoy them.
 
And then, my food blog obsession saved the day. Linking through post upon post I discovered that versatile site The Kitchn of Apartment Therapy had posted this recipe for braised radishes. Braised? You mean, you can cook them?
 
Now, I had already discovered that the dark leafy greens which I used to turn my nose up at were in fact the greatest thing to happen to my soups in a long time. Cooking these greens mellowed their bitterness but retained good flavor, and suddenly kale and chard were my new favorite vegetables. But could cooking the radishes have the same transformative effect?
 
I was making butternut squash gnocchi for dinner, so while the squash baked, I went to work on the radishes. Onions were sauteed, radishes were placed in the pan, balsamic vinegar and homemade chicken stock were poured in (yes, that’s homemade chicken stock, I’ve become a real cook at last). The cover was placed on the simmering vegetables and the timer set.
 
When Jer sat down to his dinner, he found a plate of gnocchi in parmesan bechamel sauce and a pile of unidentified light pink vegetables. Taking a bite, he had to ask what they were, and was rather incredulous when I told him they were radishes. Turns out he was never a big fan of them either, but you couldn’t tell by the way they disappeared off his plate.
 
Final verdict? If you think you don’t like a vegetables, try it cooked: either roasted, braised, or in a soup. You will find that flavors mellow and deepen, and items you never thought would grace your shelves will become pantry staples. This recipe is proof, because now I can say I like radishes.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Things Edible

 

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