Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Updates and Links

Oh, hai! I just wanted to pop in with a quick update and to direct you toward some good readin’. First off, I have another blog, Jill in San Diego, that I am starting to update more regularly. Pop on over there if you want to read my thoughts unrelated to food.

Second of all, I missed the Daring Bakers challenge this month because June has been crazy. But it looked really good, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to participate. I looooove pavlovas, and I especially love chocolate, so I’m bummed that I missed this. Tune in on July 27th to see what challenge Daring Bakers cooked up for next month.

Finally, my awesome friend Amanda just did a write-up of our favorite San Diego restaurant, Extraordinary Desserts. She took lots of gorgeous photos and included one of me and, guess what, a pavlova. It was as big as my face. Literally. Amanda wrote about all the things that ExtraDess the best place on earth, so go check it out and wish you were there.

Bye for now!

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Blog Aid for Haiti

Hey, you guys. I saw this on The Traveler’s Lunchbox this morning. Twenty-seven different food bloggers and writers have contributed recipes and photographs for a cookbook to support Haiti. If you click on the Traveler’s Lunchbox above, Melissa explains it very eloquently and in depth, but in summation: The cookbook, with recipes running the gamut from entrees to desserts to gluten-free to vegetarian, comes in two versions — softcover for $25 and hardcover for $50. The funds earned will go to the Haiti relief effort via the Canadian Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. AND the publisher (Blurb) and West Canadian Graphics are matching every dollar raised up to $10,000. AND THEN, the Canadian government is doing a match until February 12th. So basically, if you spend $25 on a glossy, groovy, full-color cookbook, a whole lot more than $25 will go to Haiti.

So if you’re like me and you love to stockpile cookbooks and read them while you’re eating breakfast (or any time, really), consider picking up one of these babies. I just bought one, and I’m really glad to be able to participate in this food blogging community effort. Go here to read more about the cookbook, see who has contributed, and take a sneak peek. And, you know, get one.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Terwilliger and I are heading up to Joshua Tree National Park today for a camping trip with friends. We’ll be heating (not cooking) our Thanksgiving treats over the fire. I roasted my first-ever turkey breast yesterday to take along, and I was surprised by how long it took. I was also reminded that I’m not a fan of handling uncooked meat. But the finished product looks pretty good. I also made apricot-glazed yams and an apple cake. I am much more excited about those two things.

And in the spirit of the holiday, five non-sentimental things I am thankful for:

*my husband’s sense of humor
*living in a warm climate
*lemons & oranges & pomegranates in my backyard
*baked goods
*feather pillows

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Butternut Sage Orzo

Source: Simply in Season
Serves: 4 – 6

Oh my God, this was good. I feel like I should just leave it at that and tell you to go make it. But it’s Thanksgiving week, and this is a food blog, and I should probably explain why this dish deserves a place at your holiday table. And even if you don’t want to make it this week, since you probably already have traditional dishes that will take up your time and stomach space through next Sunday, you should give it a try the week after, when you’re tired of rich food but are still craving the quintessential flavors of late autumn.

This faux risotto is light and buttery from a kiss of parmesan, sweet and creamy from tender butternut squash, and zesty with fresh sage. It is like November in a bowl, comfort food laced with good-for-you squash.

It took a while to prepare, what with all the chopping and sauteing and simmering, but it’s easy prep. I was on the phone with a good friend for the duration and didn’t make any critical errors, so I consider it an excellent meal for multi-tasking, actually.

Try it. Phone-chatting optional.

Ingredients:

1 T. olive oil
1 C. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 C. butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (what you’ll get from about two pounds of squash)
1/2 C. vegetable broth
1/2 C. white wine
1 C. orzo, uncooked
4 C. water or broth
1/2 C. parmesan
2 T. fresh sage*
salt and pepper to taste

*I definitely recommend getting some fresh sage for this recipe. But if you use dried, throw it in with the squash while it’s cooking, instead of stirring it in at the end.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add squash to pan, stirring to mix all veggies together. Add broth and white wine. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until squash is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 – 15 minutes. (Or longer if necessary — you want the squash to be very tender but still holding its shape.)

While the squash is simmering, bring 4 cups water or broth (I used one cup of broth and 3 cups of water) to a boil. Add orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in colander and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Stir butternut squash mixture into pasta. Add parmesan and sage and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Orzo on Foodista

Savory Kale

Source: Simply in Season
Serves: 2 – 4 as a side dish

I am currently obsessed with kale. Before last Sunday, November 8, I had never eaten kale in my life. And now? I’ve cooked and eaten it four times in one week. Because it is awesome. It tastes kind of like a cross between spinach and romaine lettuce, but with a piquant bite to it. It’s earthy, green, and dry. Smooth and sharp at once. It’s what they would serve as the pièce de résistance at banquets for rabbit royalty.

Molly Wizenberg piqued my curiosity about this unruly leafy green with a delightful essay she wrote for the October issue of Bon Appetit. She references her own fear of kale and then describes a friend coming to visit, bringing a bunch of kale, and cooking it with olive oil, butter, and squeeze of lemon. I was intrigued.

I found a recipe for kale in my Simply in Season cookbook, and I gave it a shot. And you know what? I now have it memorized, because I’ve made it so much. I mean, it’s not that hard to memorize, as you will see, but still… I have a recipe for kale committed to memory. If I ever lose all of my cookbooks along with access to the internet (in the apocalypse), I will still be able to make this kale side dish. And if I am dedicated enough to this leafy green to want to make it after the apocalypse, you know it’s gotta be good.

Ingredients:
One large bunch of kale
1/2 an onion, very thinly sliced into rings*
1 – 2 T. olive oil
1 T. tomato paste, stirred together with 1 – 2 T. water
Additional water for steaming

*The original recipe calls for a whole onion. I haven’t tried it that way. But if you’re a fan of crispy-sweet fried onions, go ahead and increase the amount.

Wash and dry the kale. Snap off exposed stems. Stack leaves together and roll into a large cylinder, then slice across in 1/4-inch cuts. Pull out any obvious stems. Set sliced kale aside.

Heat olive oil in a large frypan. Saute onions in pan until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Be careful not to burn the slices – it’s a fine line between crispy-and-brown and crispy-and-carcinogenic, I’ve discovered. Spoon onions into a bowl and set aside.

Add kale all at once to frypan. It will crackle like spitfire. Saute kale, turning over leaves with spatula, for 1 minute, or until slightly wilted. Add a few tablespoonfuls of water to pan, reduce heat, and cover. Kale will take 10 – 15 minutes to become tender. Remove kale from pan, drain in colander, and set aside. (It may not need draining if you’ve steamed off all the water. But still, set it aside.)

Add onions back to pan and stir until heated. Stir tomato paste mixture into onions, adding more water if needed. (It shouldn’t be gummy.) Return kale to pan, stir together with onions and tomato paste, and heat through.

Serve. Swoon. Over kale.

Cooking with Amanda: date one

When I first told my friend Amanda I was thinking of starting this blog, she responded with cheerleader-levels of excitement and encouragement, and, quite the cook herself, she asked if she might guest-post from time to time. I told her I was totally envisioning Amanda and Jill’s team-cooking night, and a few weeks ago, Amanda came over and we cooked and ate and drank for about four hours straight. It was divine. Our menu was as follows:

Chopped Caprese Salad
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Ravioli with Pan-roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Citrus-scented Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Amanda had a bag of plump little sun-dried tomato jewels that she’d bought at a farmer’s market while visiting her family in Ohio, so we used them as a jumping-off point for the rest of the meal. Amanda found the ravioli recipe at 101 Cookbooks, I found the bundt cake recipe in Enlightened Cakes, and I had a wealth of garden-fresh tomatoes for the caprese salad. Read on a for a photo-journey through our cooking night, and then check out the recipes in the separate links below! Continue reading

So it begins…

A little less than a year ago, a friend sent me a link to a recipe on a site I’d never heard of, called Smitten Kitchen. If you’re familiar with the food blog world, you are probably chuckling right now at the thought that such a beautiful, delectable site could be unknown to anyone. But as of August of 2008, I had yet to be seduced by the wide world of food blogging and its partnership with alluring photos of baked goods.

Over the past ten months, I have added link after link of irresistible food sites to my Google reader, and now, well, here I am, throwing in my bashful contribution. In an internet world of brazen, bold culinary blogs filled with expert images, I feel a bit like the new kid in school, shyly clutching my books to my chest, occasionally pulling out my point-and-shoot to covertly capture a photo op before snapping my hand behind my back. But I’m hoping to amuse myself (and ideally, you) with clever commentary about my adventures in the kitchen, with guest posts from my fellow foodie friends and sexy photography by my sexy husband, Terwilliger.*

Let’s get started, shall we?

*Sure, that’s his name.