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New Things

20 May

This week has been so gloriously sunny that despite myself and my numerous lists I’ve resorted to pretty much passing out in the sunshine whenever I have a free moment. And then I feel bad for accomplishing nothing, so in order to make up for it I do something totally unrelated to anything I initially intended on doing solely for the sake of novelty. For instance, instead of working on an article, demolishing the massive laundry pile, etc, I chose to make sushi the other day. It was C’s idea, and I’d never made it before. While he was at work I made the sushi rice, dutifully cooling it with a fan and wooden paddle, sprinkling it with rice vinegar, and generally feeling like a badass. We prepped everything up: avocado, matchsticks of carrot (my ultimate nemesis), cucumber, smoked salmon, and shrimp. I ended up being the sushi roller, which is awesome, because it is clearly the funnest part of making sushi. And we ended up with these!

 

 

We ate them on the lawn in the gorgeous weather with plenty of pickled ginger and wasabi and soy sauce, along with some edamame on the side.

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Grilled Pineapple Will Win You Friends

30 Apr

Here’s the deal: last Sunday at 3:30 in the afternoon I was yelling across the house to C, UUUUGH I WANT GRILLED PINEAPPLE SO BAD. And then, like magic, 45 minutes later we were owners of a brand new grill. It’s nothing fancy- a charcoal grill that cost $70 that came in a plethora of parts, but after an hour of assembly (and a couple un-assemblies… whoops) we were setting up a marinade and prepping our fruits and veggies for the grill. I realize that millions of people in this world own grills, especially in the U.S., but regardless it felt like something of a milestone for us as Capable Human Adults. We assembled a functional, utilitarian item without insulting each other! We can now be outside and cook at the same time! The world is my oyster!

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And since I was all hung up on pineapple, I figured I’d share with you the proper way to prep a pineapple for easy snacking and/or kebob-ing, depending on the size of chunk you decide you want. If you don’t already know how to do this… well, you need all the help you can get. But don’t worry! This is easy, and conquering an intimidating, spiny fruit will make you feel powerful. Powerful like a Capable Human Adult! Prepare for glory!

Step one: chop the ends off!

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Step two: shave off the reptilian layer! But don’t take too much off- cut off thin slices one at a time.

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Step three: Quarter the pineapple, then cut the hard inner rind off of each quarter.

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Step four: chop it up! For snacking, slice up the pineapple slabs into thin slices. For kebabs, take each quarter and slice again lengthwise, then cut into large chunks that can slide onto skewers.

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Step five: serve with grilled chicken, some mango-cilantro salsa, and prepare for plenty of ass-kissing to roll your way. Everybody on the planet loves grilled pineapple. Or at least, everyone on the planet that I’ve met. And they will say nice things to you and you’ll probably feel pretty good about that, like I did. So happy grilling!

Salmon mashed into cake shapes!

15 Apr

For months I’ve glimpsed the two golden cans of wild Alaskan salmon every time I opened my cabinets. And every time I’d think, oh yeah, salmon! I should make salmon cakes! But it took an inexplicable urge to actually MAKE dinner (and not just fajitas, or tacos, or any of the other commonly prepared Mexi-foods of our household) instead of eating out. So here you have it, my tried & true Sally-style salmon cakes recipe.

You need:

  • One tall can of salmon. Not the regular can size, and not the family size that soup comes in… you know. A tallish can. I’d say like, 20 ounces. Is that a thing?
  • About a quarter of a red or orange pepper, finely diced
  • About a quarter of a normal sized yellow onion, finely diced
  • Two eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mustard. I used honey-dijon, which was great. Don’t use regular yellow, that’d be weird.
  • Some of my buttermilk-lime and chili aioli, which I’ll tell you about it one hot minute.
First and foremost, preheat your oven to 425 F.
Nextly, saute up the pepper and onion with some olive oil and/or butter. While that’s softening up, empty your can of salmon into a bowl and pick out any skin or bones. I found like, a human spine, some finger-lookin’ bones, and a ton of weird black skin stuff. Don’t be alarmed, just be thorough and triple check that you got all the freaky bones out. Nothing says “scarred for life from fish products” like biting into a giant bone. Not like I know, TACO DEL MAR. Not like I SPENT A LOT OF TIME GETTING OVER THAT FISH TACO or anything. When the peppers and onions are softened, add them to the (perfectly edible) salmon, along with everything else, except the aioli, obviously. Mash all that up for a few minutes!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or oil the sheet, whatever) and form the mixture into 8 cakes. They’ll be about 2.5 inches across and 3/4 inches thick. Bake them for about 15 minutes, or until they’re heated through and slightly browned on the bottom.
While they’re baking, make this aioli! If you already have buttermilk, use that, but if not, do this:
Take about 1 cup of milk and squeeze the juice from 3/4 of a lemon into it. Just cut the lemon in fourths and squeeze the juice into your hand so you catch the seeds and don’t dirty a juicer for a measly couple teaspoons of acidity. Leave that milk for 5 minutes to let it curdle and thicken. Now take a lime, and zest the whole damn thing! Chop all that zest up a bit and put it into your new buttermilk mixture. Throw in a couple tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt, salt and fresh ground pepper, and about 2.5 teaspoons of chili-garlic sauce. If you don’t already have a jar of this at your house, go buy it right now. It goes with absolutely everything.
Stir all that aioli up, drizzle heartily over those cakes, and serve with a little salad with sesame dressing and some of mom’s recipe cornbread, and you’re set. For the cornbread recipe, click here! It’s totally worth it if you have ten extra minutes to throw it all together, but if you’re really hungover or have another good excuse, just use two boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix. It’s super cheap, weirdly sweet, and pretty great all things considered.

Do you see what I’m trying to work with?

28 Mar

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Ok, so I got around to the bread test mentioned in the article I linked to the other day. It took longer than I thought it would, and I ended up having to up the temperature to 450 so I could see any progress on the toast at all, but after 15 minutes, this is what I got. The lefthand pan is from the bottom shelf, and the righthand is from the top shelf of the oven. You can tell that the back cooks a little hotter than the front of the oven, and the bottom does as well. But if you turn the bread over to see what the slices look like, this is what you get.

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Great. So, no new hotspots to report– just what I already knew all along: THIS OVEN BLOWS. The other side of the bread from the top shelf has no noticeable browning, but 6 inches below that rack the heating element is absolutely murdering anything near it. Therefore my hypothesis is this: besides all the pan rotating I already do to evenly heat baked goods (front to back, top to bottom), I must also flip the food over several times. Obviously this is impossible for cookies/muffins/cakes, AND pies, so clearly, I AM DOOMED. NO UNBURNT BAKED GOODS SHALL PASS THROUGH THIS KITCHEN. Good thing I did this experiment! I am now 100% more irritated than I already was.

Lookie here!

23 Mar

I stumbled across a few really interesting links today and figured I’d share.

Cooking light posted a great article about common cooking mistakes (and how to remedy them). I first glanced at it expecting rookie mistakes, but it covers a good range of foibles and fixes for all skill levels. For instance, I already knew that my oven has a mind of it’s own (roughly the same as a sadistic toddler), but I hadn’t thought of doing the bread test (pictured above). I don’t have any white bread in the house, but I’ll pick up a cheap loaf at the store this weekend to see where my oven’s hotspots are. Maybe this way I won’t have to break every recipe into 7 minute increments punctuated by rotations, switches, and general dancing of hot pans. Check out the article  here !

Recently I was a bit restless after a bartending shift, so I figured I’d swing by my old favorite dumpster to see what it had in store. I hadn’t been dumpstering in years, so I’m not really sure what provoked me to give it a go that particular night, but I’m glad I did. After 3 minutes I was loading my car with fresh roses, tulips, and daisies and an entire crate of olive oil. The oil was shipped fresh from Italy that day, it was printed on the box, so it wasn’t expired. I’m assuming that since the box had a lot of oil on the outside it was tossed on the presumption that the bottles inside were damaged. Well, aside for a few dents on some of their lids, they were all fine, and now I’m swimming in olive oil. I gave a few bottles away, but even though I use it regularly I thought it might be fun to make a few infused oils to have around for salads or cooking with meats. Here’s a link to some ideas on infusing oils (I’ll be trying it out next weekend, after I’ve finished the food review I’m putting off at this very moment). Apparently though, garlic infused oils have killed approximately 3,000 baby koala bears and blinded just as many kittens, so avoid that, lest the botulism snag you too.

Also, here’s a video of the best kind of sandwich joint I can imagine. If and when I ever get the chance to go to New York, I want to seek out all the little places like this. Here’s the quick little video that is guaranteed to make you want corned beef in and around your mouth (followed by a milkshake, omg).

And lastly, since today was such a lovely spring day (bike ride in a tee shirt!? Granted, I had goosebumps the whole time, but it still felt great), I’m thinking a little about spring produce. Asparagus season is upon us, when I can happily bury my face in a pile of roasted asparagus with nothing but some oil, salt, and pepper. But I did learn something today that surprised me… kitchn.com debunked the “thin asparagus is better than thick” debate! Who knew?

Sweet Thangs!

13 Mar

It’s my birthday!

Oh, woof.

This morning I topped off a weekend of celebrations with Riley at breakfast, where we were delivered an inappropriately shaped pancake (I guess it was good luck, I don’t think they knew it was my birthday!). It was her last morning in town before moving home.  Though we had several near-tearful moments recently looking back at our friendship and growing up together and moving towns and watching each other grow and change and become people we admire in one another, still…

it was nice to top it all off with a silly, stupid pancake.

By now I’m celebrating my own way, cuddled into the couch with a whiskey coke, watching Big Love and mawing Goldfish, wasting time in a way that it is only appropriate if someone’s died, you’re bed ridden, or today is the day you turn 24. The weekend was much more eventful though,  including a party I threw for myself (because I trust no one else, of course) that involved many sequins, plenty of champagne and whiskey, and mini chocolate cheesecakes.

I made these with Riley the day before to have among the spread of munchies available. Nothing says “I LOVE MYSELF AND DEMAND ATTENTION” quite like spending two hours making mini chocolate cheesecakes (with chocolate ganache and raspberries) for yer own damn birthday party. But they were delicious and a big hit, so I’d say it was time well spent (recipe was found at Love and Olive Oil). For now, until it’s time to hit up downtown for dinner with C, I’ll be wallowing in TV on DVD and thinking about how lucky I am to have a best friend like Riley, who, through everything since we were kids, has been there for me regardless of how far away she was. Girl, I know I’m getting sappy. But I love you, I love that we spent all last week together, and I’m so proud of you. Happy birthday to me, happy everything else to you.

Riley, I love you like the Golden Girls love eating cheesecake after 9 pm. In retrospect, it was obviously the only appropriate dessert.

C goes ballistic.

10 Mar

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This is what happens when I’m trying to make artichoke dip and the pop top falls off and the can cannot be opened with a regular can opener. C grabs the crappy paring knife and literally stabs the can to pieces. Problem solved… I guess.

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