Monday, May 31, 2010

Flying Mango

In between BBQs this weekend John and I managed to find time to go out for BBQ at Flying Mango, one of our favorite restaurants. Flying Mango is about 5 blocks from my house on Hickman. It has great food and impeccable service. It's always a treat to go there.

John loves the hot sauce there, as you can see from the photo. He seems to like BBQ best when he's sweating. It is fun for me, as I get to sit back and watch him suffer.

Maker Monday: week 22

This week I was able to finish my hat. I was happy to discover that I had enough yarn. The pattern I used was Foliage. I've made that hat before and was happy with the results.

The yarn I used was a thick worsted weight organic cotton. I followed the worsted pattern for the number of repeats in a round, but only knit the pattern twice instead if the instructed three times. I opted for a K2 P2 rib instead of the K1 P1 rib suggested.

I also worked on a Christmas present this week. I am not sure what I'll work on this week other than Christmas presents, so it is possible that next week will be photo free.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Living on Beans and Dreams

A year or two ago I got on a kick where I watched a lot of You Are What You Eat on BBC America. In the show Gillian McKeith takes over the lives of fast food addicted British citizens and puts them on the path to good eating. In every episode she talked about Aduki Bean Casserole. I thought it sounded delicious - beans, squash, onions, and spices all baked together. So I bought a pound of Aduki beans at the health food store and decided to make it.

Unfortunately, I didn't think through my plan. The recipe called for miso paste, chervil, sprouted seeds, and chicory. Those items are not easily found at my local grocery store. So I gave up on my plan. The beans sat in my cupboard. Every few months I would think about throwing them out, as I didn't think I would ever make anything with them.

Until I read an article that changed my mind. The article talked about eating organic, and how it can be expensive. It said that one way that it is affordable to eat organic is with beans and rice. You can make a lot of meals (or one big meal) out of a pound of beans. I remembered the forgotten bag of organic aduki beans in my cupboard and decided to give it a go.

Just eating a pound of beans wasn't challenge enough. I eat beans and rice a lot, just not a pound at a time. It is my go to easy meal when I don't want to cook (Mary-Claire is the same way). I decided I would make up all of the recipes I used. I put the bag of beans into a crockpot, covered the beans with water, and set it to high. 4 hours later I had beans ready to use (I'm sure this would have taken less time had I used fresher beans).

Dish number 1 was aduki bean spread. I had it for dinner as a vegetable dip, and for lunch the next day as a sandwich spread. I pureed beans, cumin, garlic, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, and tahini and made a paste. I used less tahini than I do with hummus, and I had to add more spices and salt to it to develop the flavor. All in all it was a pretty good dip.

The next day I used dish 1 as a base for dish 2 - aduki bean patties on brown rice. For the brown rice I made brown rice and stirred in a jar of salsa. For the patties I mixed the paste, an egg, red onion, shredded pepper jack cheese, whole aduki beans, and corn meal until they stuck together. I then dredged them in cornmeal and cooked them in a skillet until they were browned and crisp. I served the patties and rice together, covered with salsa and plain yogurt. They were very good. I wish I would have written down the ratios of ingredients I used, as I would like to make these again.

I realize at this point you might think I'm some sort of health food nut (making bean burgers on brown rice with plain yogurt and all). That isn't the case. I think sour cream would have tasted better with the patties and I would have used it if I had any on hand. I always have plain yogurt and rarely have sour cream, so when I want something sour cream like I use the next best thing.

Meal 3 was even better than meal number 2. For meal number 3 I crumbled the leftover patties and sauteed them like ground beef. Then John made burritos with cheese, bean crumbles, and more cheese. We ate them with salsa, jalapenos, and plain yogurt. I had mine cut in two, John had his with chipotle Tabasco across the top (he's very proud of his presentation and would like me to have a vote on which plate my readers prefer, I'm not going to do that but feel free to compliment him the next time you see him).

While the burritos were crisping up I put together meal 4. The photo does not do this casserole justice. There is a base layer of tortilla, followed by a mix of aduki beans, brown rice, diced tomatoes, and corn, topped with a tortilla. I froze the casserole for two weeks until neither of wanted to cook. Before it baked I topped it with more cheese and salsa. I loved the casserole. It was mushy and gooey and delicious.

I really enjoyed cooking my way through a pound of beans. I bought a pound of garbanzo beans the last time I went to the store. I'm looking forward to creating new ways to enjoy them.

Light Wheat Bread: Bread of the Week 22

This week for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge I made light wheat bread. Light does not refer to the calories in this bread; it is considered light because whole wheat flour accounts for 33% of the total flour. If you would like to check out the recipe, you can read the whole thing here.
I love this bread. This bread, like Peter Reinhart's bagels, will always be on hand in my freezer. When freezing sandwich bread I slice it and put it in a freezer bag. A quick 15 seconds in the microwave to defrost it and it's ready to go.
Grilled cheese was amazing with this bread, but my favorite way to eat it is peanut butter and jelly. I bring it to work for breakfast or lunch almost every day.

One of my favorite things about this bread is that it allows me to bring my sandwich to work in the cool pirate sandwich wrap that Kathleen made for me. I eat two meals a day at my desk, and the pirate wrap allows me to do it in style.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Divergent Desserts

This week I made dessert twice. I usually don't make dessert without a special occasion, but I ran across two recipes I wanted to try.

First up was rustic rhubarb tarts from the Smitten Kitchen. I love rhubarb and had been wanting to give making tarts a shot. The recipe calls for corn flour, corn meal, and white flour, giving the tarts a delicious cornbreadish flavor. As soon as I read the recipe I knew I would be raiding my next door neighbor Barb's rhubarb patch. After making and devouring one of the tarts I figured out the nutritional value; once I discovered they are approximately 400 calories each I decided that it was a good thing rhubarb season is so short.

After enjoying the tarts I decided to try my hand at a lighter dessert. I had been eyeing a recipe over at The Kitchn for one ingredient ice cream for a few months. The only ingredient is a frozen banana. All you have to do is slice a frozen banana and whir it in the food processor until it is the consistency of ice cream. I was blown away by the simplicity and deliciousness of this recipe (so much so that I scarfed it down before I took a picture). It actually tastes like ice cream. I'm glad that it's always banana season because I'll be making banana ice cream often.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maker Monday: week 21

This week I worked on a Christmas present for 2010. I'm getting started early this year, so there will be weeks ahead where I won't be able to post pictures.

Luckily I got sidetracked by the yarn that was supposed to be my cowl but ended up being a few yards short, so I am able to post a photo this week. I'm giving a hat a try with it this time. I've made the hat before in green and I really liked it. I think it will good for slightly chilly days in cotton.

I may not have enough yarn this time either. I don't think I'll mind frogging it, as the yarn is so nice to work with I'll happy to work with it again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lavash Crackers: Bread of the Week 21

This week for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge I made Lavash. Lavash is an Aremenian-style cracker. Lavash is different from spelt crackers that I tried back in February; these use white flour, there is yeast in the dough (the crackers need to rise for an hour and a half), there are more ingredients, and they are the most delicious crackers I have ever tried (sorry Wheat Thins Artisan Wisconsin Colby - there's a new cracker in town).

These crackers, topped with paprika, kosher salt, and cumin seeds, are addicting. John and I ate an entire sheet pan of these crackers in one sitting. We used them to eat hummus, but I think they would be just as good on their own.

Even with the rising time, these only take a few hours. They could even be made after work for dinner. I will probably be making these crackers over and over again. The dough can be rolled out thicker for pitas instead of crackers, so I may try that later this week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Maker Monday: week 20

This week I made a cowl. I've had the pattern in my Ravelry queue for a few months and finally decided to make it. After knitting socks and fingerless gloves size 10 needles seemed huge.

This was a fast and simple knit. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. I like that it sits closer to my neck than the other cowls I have made.
I'm happy with the color. The picture above most accurately portrays the color. I like rich colors in the winter. They look warm which somehow makes them seem warmer. Or maybe I'm just crazy like that.

Last week when I start the cowl it was cold enough to need knits. I'm happy to report that it reached 70 today and I can pack it away until fall.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kaiser Rolls: Bread of the Week 20

This week I made kaiser rolls. I was worried about them, as I tried making them a few weeks ago and ended up having to throw the dough away. The dough just didn't come together. After a week off of the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge I was ready to give it another try.

I had much better luck this time. I added about 2 extra tablespoons of flour, which seemed to do the trick. The dough was pretty sticky, so I ended up using a bit of four to roll the dough into logs and knot it. Because of that (and forgetting to buy sesame seeds) they don't exactly look like kaiser rolls.

They may not look exactly like a kaiser roll, but they do taste exactly like them. I'm excited to eat sandwiches on hard rolls for lunch every week. I'm making azuki bean sandwich spread to eat with them. I know it won't live up to my memories of ham or turkey with mayo, but the rolls are so good I won't mind.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How I Became A Pirate

For Conor & Ellie's birthday John and I got them tickets to How I Became A Pirate and took them out to dinner. The play was a lot of fun. How can you go wrong with a pirate musical? We even got autographs after the show.

Conor got to pick the restaurant, so we went to Tally's where you can sit on the roof. After eating big burgers and fries we headed to Snookies Malt Shop for some ice cream. It was a very fun time.

Farmer's Market

Today I slept in and met Amanda at the Farmer's Market at 10. It was packed. I took a picture to remind myself why it's worth getting up early to arrive at 7.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maker Monday: week 19

This week I made fingerless mittens. I wanted something quick to knit with a fun pattern. The cross hatch lace in this pattern fit the bill. I wasn't anticipating needing them until fall, but with the cold damp weather this week I've used them a few times.

I ran out of yarn two inches from finishing the cowl I was working on last week. I got new yarn in the mail at the end of last week, so I'm hoping to cast on tonight and try again.

Popovers: Bread of the Week 19

I know what you are thinking. I can hear you from here. "Popovers? Isn't that a quick bread? Isn't that cheating?" And I suppose you are a little bit right. I had a busy weekend (Thank you for visiting Mary-Claire! Happy Birthday Conor & Ellie!) and by the time Sunday rolled around I didn't want to spend my day waiting for the dough to rise.

So popovers it was. I was excited to try popovers, having recently procured a popover pan for $1 at a garage sale. They are surprisingly easy to make; they go from ingredients to yum in about an hour and fifteen minutes. I am a popover convert and plan to impress people with them at dinner parties in the future (disclaimer - I will never actually throw a dinner party as I am too lazy to do more than make cocktails for guests). I was so excited about the popovers I forgot to take a picture. You'll just have to believe me that they were delicious and warm and puffy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maker Monday: week 18

This week I finished my UNI socks. I love them.
I will be wearing them every time I wear a UNI shirt. That means I'll be wearing them about once a week. Thank goodness they are machine washable.

I'm going to work on other projects this week. I have a cowl OTN, but I'm beginning to wonder if I have enough yarn to finish it. It's a quick and relaxing knit, so if I have to frog it I won't be too upset.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Italian Bread: Bread of the Week 18

This week for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge I made Italian bread. The recipe could be used to make two large loaves or several hoagie buns. I opted for hoagies, as a I'm always up for a big sandwich.

My favorite way to eat a sub? Tuna salad with lettuce and tomato. I will be having that for lunch a few days this week, as I have found that this bread is hearty enough to hold up to soggy
ingredients until lunch.

In addition to tuna salad, I plan on pulling these rolls out of the freezer for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese the next time I wake up with a hankering for a big breakfast.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Red Headed UNI Graduate Knitting Club

Last Saturday I spent the morning at Grounds for Celebration with a new group. It's the red headed UNI graduate knitting club. Sure, there are only three members, but I still think it's impressive.
It was a great time. I can't believe Amanda and Ivy hadn't met before. I'm looking forward to getting together with them again, and not just because I think we need t shirts.

The Return of the Downtown Farmer's Market

Today was the first day of the 2010 Farmer's Market season. I have been counting down the days for the market since January. At 7 this morning John & I were in the car headed downtown to get our Farmer's Market on.
John has been telling everyone that he was not looking forward to getting up early on a Saturday for the Farmer's Market. I don't believe him. Everyone loves the Farmer's Market - especially after a stop at Java Joe's for a cup of coffee.

There are a lot of local veggies at the market already. Onions, asparagus, spinach, and lettuce are all in. I plan to buy most of my veggies at farmer's markets this year. I picked up some asparagus and plan to sauté it in a little bit of soy sauce and olive oil for lunch tomorrow.

After picking up hot dogs, sausage, and bacon (oh, how I have missed buying directly from Cleverly Farms) we headed on to pick up some breakfast. It was at breakfast where I discovered my new farmer's market love - Gooners. Gooners are crab rangoons, but instead of crab there is another tasty treat. they have bacon and jalapeño, cherry, and my personal favorite - peanut butter. Its like fried, crunchy peanut butter frosting that is dipped in strawberry jam. I don't care how far I have to run to burn these off - I will be having them every week they are at the market.

I am so glad the market is open again. It is the highlight of my weekend May-October. We're celebrating the opening of the market by grilling hotdogs (for me), and hamburgers topped with chipotle goat cheese (for John - the goat cheese was one of his purchases).