Monthly Archives: March 2010

Solitude, Low-Carb Diets, and Irishness

This past Sunday, I woke up, made coffee, cut an apple and fixed a bowl of yogurt, and took my breakfast to the couch. There I sat and read and journaled for a bit while music played in the background. This used to be how I spent almost every Sunday morning when I was single. Since the advent of life with Jer, however, Sunday mornings usually involve long periods of snuggling, making breakfast together, reading to each other, and lots of laughter. I have to say, as much as I valued those quiet mornings back in the day, I missed my Sunday morning with Jer something fierce.

Jer being off in Vegas means I am back to my single life for a few days until I get to take vacation and go join him. Perhaps some people would enjoy the break, the chance to experience a little solitude, but I am going slightly insane. I planned a lot in five days just to keep myself out of the house, spending time with my old roommates and friends and scheduling appointments after work to delay heading home to an empty house.

I also find it’s much less satisfying cooking an excellent meal for just yourself. All the books with fancy titles like Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant can’t change the fact that food is best experienced as a communal endeavor. So while the following recipe is amazing, and I enjoyed eating it, I am more looking forward to making it for a friend tomorrow night, and for Jer when he is back.

Cauliflower Colcannon

I got this idea while listening to a Splendid Table podcast (they are free on iTunes and my favorite thing to listen to on the way to work). Lynne said that she steamed cauliflower and kale with garlic and then pureed them together. I looked up a few colcannon recipes and found that I preferred the idea of sauteing the cabbage and kale and then adding it to the pureed cauliflower. It turned out intensely flavorful and filling, while still being fairly healthy. It’s also low carb, which I like and makes it the perfect dish to take to a little St. Patrick’s Day get-together with a friend who keeps a strict low carb diet.

1 head cauliflower
1-2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 head green cabbage
small bunch kale
2-3 cloves garlic or 2 stalks green garlic*
2-3 scallions
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
optional: mojave garlic pepper, roasted garlic salt, or any other spicy/savory seasoning mix you enjoy
Cut up the head of cauliflower into uniform pieces and boil or steam until tender. Drain well, then allow to sit in hot pan for a few minutes so water evaporates off the vegetable-this will keep them from getting soggy. Puree with butter and a little milk or cream.
While cauliflower is cooking, chop cabbage and kale into one inch pieces. Finely slice garlic and scallions. Heat up a wok or large skillet with oil or butter and a little salt and pepper. Toss in cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Then add kale, garlic, and scallions. Saute over medium high heat until tender (another 5-10 mins), adding salt, pepper, and spices to taste.
Mix half a cup of mashed cauliflower with half a cup of sauteed greens for each serving.
*Green garlic is simply garlic before it has developed the bulb. It looks like a miniature leek. The entire stalk can be used and has a milder, nuttier flavor than regular garlic.


This post is part of Real Food Wednesday

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Posted by on March 17, 2010 in Things Divine, Things Edible


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mix10 workshops: HTML5

I came to MIX this year to learn more about two things: emerging web standards (e.g. HTML5) and emerging mobile phone technology (e.g. Windows Phone 7 Series). Sunday March 14 was workshops day, a pay-to-play bonus day that precedes MIX much like an appetizer would your dinner. Several workshops were offered this year, including a pair on HTML5 by web-renowned standards advocate Molly E. Holzschlag. I was eager to attend, eager to discuss, and eager to learn whatever I could about the future standard that despite its copious amounts of documentation, remained shrouded in an air of uncertainty.

So what’s the big deal with HTML5? you might be wondering. Perhaps to appreciate where the web is going, it would help you to take a tour of where it’s been. When you’re done, come on back and we’ll continue. (Granted, that is not the only version of the story, but it hits the highlights pretty well). The bottom line is that over the years, HTML has been a veritable Tower of Babel in that it started with everyone speaking one unified language and having one unified purpose (let’s link documents together with hypertext!). The years that followed were marked by confusion, competition, and semantic squabbling by the implementers of the standards: NCSA, Netscape, Microsoft, Opera, Mozilla, Apple, Google, etc.

Personally, I’m a veteran of the first great "browser war" (IE vs. Netscape), so I have a real appreciation for both the process of defining the standard and the compromises inherent in implementing it whilst juggling the actions and intent of your competition. It’s a tough row to hoe, particularly when there’s little love lost between the agencies involved. After giving us a tour of some of the technology (as it currently is defined) that will make authoring the web easier in the HTML5-enabled future, Molly made a point of driving home that "[HTML5] is the first time in global history that five browser companies have worked simultaneously on one language!"

And while she underscored that the collaboration isn’t perfect (there are still many disagreements to iron out), it’s a far cry better than it has ever been before… and that should give us all hope. Personally, I hope that someday I’ll be able to stop writing the same bit of script 4 different ways to get the same result on 4 different browsers… all for one web page. I have no illusions that HTML5 will get us all the way there; however, from what I saw on Sunday, it’s turning out to be a huge step in the right direction.

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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in Computational Engines, Things Geeky


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Better Than Chicken Marsala Chicken

Work meetings are hardly ever interesting or rewarding. Particularly rah-rah meetings at the Large Unnamed Banking Institution, the place at which I toil daily and collect the paycheck worth significantly less than a) a male counterpart would receive, and b) my seven years of service deserve. But I digress. We did have a team meeting for the floor that I work on a couple of weeks back and during this meeting we were subjected to the sales presentation by Celebrated Chefs. It’s actually a cool program: high-end restaurants register with the service, then you sign up with your credit card, and then every time you eat there, the restaurant will donate 5% of your bill to the charity you select from their partner list. There is no cost to register, the charity gets funds, and the restaurant gets good PR.
It’s a good idea, and part of LUBI‘s efforts to function as a corporate entity with some semblance of ethics and a soul. I signed up, happy to help, knowing sadly that I probably would not contribute much to the cause, as due to the prices I have only been to one of the restaurants on their list, and that was for a special occasion (my bachelorette party, incidentally). However, as a thank you for signing up, I received a free cookbook, and we all know how much I love coobooks (two of my favorite things: reading and cooking, all in one. What’s not to love?) The cookbook is more coffee table than kitchen table, and has a lot of recipes that I would deem a little fancy and complicated for my weeknight kitchen, although it did have the absolutely amazing lobster macaroni and cheese that I had enjoyed at the aforementioned restaurant. Sometime when I want to blow a TON of money and calories I will splurge and make that.
One of the recipes that seemed adaptable to my humble kitchen was the Chicken Nachatta from Amore in Belltown. I had a couple of nice organic, free-range chicken breasts that needed cooking, and I wanted a chicken recipe a little more creative to play with. It called for marsala wine, which I figured was not quite necessary and could be replaced with my favorite red wine. The rest was just good staples like chicken breasts, onions, mushrooms, cream. And it didn’t look like it would take two hours to make, so I put it on the menu. It turned out beautifully-tender, moist chicken with a delicious sauce.
The more I cook, the more I experiment and enjoy the process of developing flavors. In baking, there are chemical reactions that require more precise measurements and ratios to achieve the desired results (as I found the other night when trying a new cookie recipe and failing at a batch of bread. Sorry guys).  I find that I’m a lot less likely to stress over measuring when I am cooking something like this pan sauce. A little broth, a little wine, a little more wine, a little cream, a little more cream-hey, let’s put some of that Thai Ginger artisan salt in it!-and let it become something amazing. ‘Season to taste’ was never so useful a direction.
Better than Chicken Marsala
adapted from Amore
When Jer tasted this, he was quite intrigued. I told him it was supposed to be like chicken marsala, and he said he liked it better, hence my new name for the recipe.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c flour
salt, pepper, paprika
sliced assorted mushrooms-1/2 c, or more if you love mushrooms like I do
1/2 onion, finely sliced (the recipe called for red, but I don’t like red onions, so I used white)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c chicken stock
3/4 c red wine (use your favorite inexpensive drinking wine, or marsala if you really want to)
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c heavy cream*
First saute your onion in butter until soft and beginning to carmelize. Mix salt, pepper, and paprika (about 1/2 tsp each) into flour and coat the chicken breasts with the seasoned flour. Remove onions from saute pan and add chicken, adding a little olive oil if your pan is too dry. Sear on medium high heat 2 minutes each side, then add brown sugar and stir to melt the sugar. Add stock and boil until reduced by half. Add wine, mushrooms, onions, and dried cranberries. Season with salt, pepper, a little chili powder, or whatever spice is your favorite to mix with mushrooms. Thyme perhaps? This will end up being a sweet and savory dish so I think chili powder is the best-it gives it a little kick to offset the sweetness.
Bring back to a boil, add the cream, and reduce heat to medium. It will look purple, a psychedelic soupyness, but don’t worry, as it reduces it will turn into a beautiful burgundy sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning chicken a couple of times and spooning the sauce over the top, until chicken is cooked through. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if desired.

I served this with roasted broccoli, but you could put any vegetable you wanted alongside-cauliflower, perhaps a mashed root vegetable like parsnip or rutabaga. Have fun!

*I grew up using 1% milk and never having cream or half and half in the house unless we were specifically making a dessert that called for cream. Nowadays I have 2% milk for Jer to drink and a half gallon of Alpenrose cream from Theno’s dairy. We love Theno’s and their local organic eggs and milk, and I enjoy the ease of slipping a little cream into a recipe or whipping up a little cream to go on fruit. I am finding that using high quality ingredients makes for better food, and I eat less of it because it is more satisfying.


(Note: Our blog used to live elsewhere. What follows are comments this post received on the old site:)


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Posted by on March 6, 2010 in Things Edible


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