lizzybuffy2008: (Default)
It has been forever since I have posted in a journal...for some reason, I find this much more difficult than Instagram or Facebook, but this is me trying to change that.

Pretty much anyone who knows me in real life or online also knows that I am mildly (some would say more than mildly) obsessed with cooking and baking. I am constantly actively looking for new recipes, happening upon them, or finding inspiration. My latest source of inspiration is The Great British Baking Show...I know, I am woefully behind, but I do not watch a lot of television anymore, so just found it. A couple of online friends from fandom have mentioned (and baked some of the challenges) over the years, so when I saw it on PBS, I knew I needed to try it out. I love it! I love that it exposes me to some foods I have never heard of before, I love that there is so little drama and I particularly love that everyone is nice to one another. We are through the first season (which might actually not be the first season shone in Britain) and I was struck by the Kouign Amann challenge. It is a Breton pastry that I had only recently heard of and had never eaten, but I would like to make croissants soon and thought it would be a good warm up for them. I looked at recipes (including the one from the show) and decided to go with this one:

I liked the step-by-step instructions and the fact that it could be broken up into 2-3 days. I did it in 2 and am very proud of how they turned out:

Onto croissants!!
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I adore Italy and Italian food. I think that I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and die happy (most likely fat, but happy,) so my cookbook choice this month was from Lidia Bastianich. Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy

I have made a few recipes from this particular book before, but have not delved into it quite like this. The first recipe I made was Risotto alla Gorgonzola. It was very tasty with that distinctive blue cheese bite, but alas the wine I had before it caused me to forget to take a picture. The next was also a rice dish: Riso alla Pitocca

Riso alla PitoccaRiso alla Pitocca

This was a risotto like dish that reminded me of a thick chicken and rice soup. Very good for a cold night, whether in temperature or illness.

Next came Zuppa di Mele e Fagioli, an apple and bean soup from Trentino-Alto Adige

Zuppa di Mele e FagioliZuppa di Mele e Fagioli

This was a bit "out on the limb" for me. It turned out well, but needed more heft. Maybe by substituting broth for the water or adding more beans. The finished product is on the right and as you can see, looks like it needs something.

Next was an easy baked cod, Tinche al Forno
Tinche al Forno

I thought this was an easy weeknight way to do fish (seasoned breadcrumbs, lemon, olive oil, and wine.) My hubby was not a huge fan and thought the wine was a bit overpowering.

Next came Farro con Salsa di Peperoni, farro with roasted peppers.

Farro con Salsa di Peperoni

I love farro and even though this was a bit labor intensive (roasting and peeling peppers,) the flavors were amazing!!

Last was chicken again, Polla con Olive e Pignoli. Chicken with olives and pine nuts.

Polla con Olive e Pignoli

This might have been my favorite. The brine of the olives, mixed with the chicken and the toasty pine nuts, was a big YUM. I will definitely make the last two dishes again.
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I am a fan of the Australian cooking magazine, Delicious (they also have an English version.) It started with their Italian issue about 5 years ago and I have been a fan ever since. I also have a few compilation cookbooks from one of their main chefs, Valli Little, so I chose one of those for February. Cook book for February 2015 recipes

I ended up making 5 fairly diverse recipes, starting with Quick Beef Stroganoff.
Beef for StroganoffBeef for StroganoffBeef Stroganoff

This was an easy dish to make with minimal chopping, although not cheap since it used filet. The perk of using the expensive cut was the fact that it stayed super tender, even when reheating. She wanted the stroganoff served with potatoes, but I chose egg noodles instead.

Next was Tandoori Salmon w/Lemon Rice and Coconut Sambal. This required a trip to the Asian market for tandoori paste, plus was a bit more work, because it had three components, but turned out beautifully.
Tandoori Salmon with Lemon Rice and Cucumber-Coconut Sambal
I was quite pleased to discover a new way of cooking salmon.

Third was a do ahead Warm Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Salad. I chose it for yoga night, when we get in late.
Roasted Acorn SquashWarm Squash and Goat Cheese Salad
This was really yummy and even my husband, who is not a huge fan of goat cheese, loved the flavor combination.

Next up was Leek and Mushroom Frittata. Again, a pretty easy dish for a busy weeknight (which is the point.)
Ingredients for Mushroom FrittataMushroom Frittata before bakingMushroom Frittata
A simple dish, good flavors, and also worked well for breakfast/brunch.

The last recipe was a Chicken and Peanut Stir-fry. I had everything on hand except the chicken and the water chestnuts, so again, not a huge effort for a lot of pay off.
Chicken and Peanut Stir-fry
This was also a hit with my husband and I served it with cooked brown rice.

Since this was a compilation from a magazine, the recipes are also online, so I have posted them below. Happy Cooking!
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I got this idea from [ profile] brutti_ma_buoni. She did it last and is doing it again this year and I thought it was swell, so here goes...The book I chose first is "Mexican Everyday" by Rick Bayless. Recipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

He is a chef from Chicago with 3 restaurants, a PBS show, and was a winner of the Top Chef Masters. He is probably the foremost chef of Mexican cuisine in the US, if not the world.

The first recipes I chose were: Tacos with Mustard Greens & Chicken a la Veracruzana

Recipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick BaylessRecipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

The tacos were a quick and easy saute while the chicken was a slow braise. Both were very tasty and I would do both again, particularly the tacos on a night when I am strapped for time.

Second was: Salmon en Pipian Verde de Ajonjoli & Arroz Blanco

Recipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick BaylessRecipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick BaylessRecipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Again, the rice was pretty easy and hands off (mostly cooking in the oven,) while the salmon was a little more involved. The recipe actually called for peas, but I did not have them, so used sweet corn instead. Both are keeper recipes, but the salmon was really unique in that you used tahini in the sauce, which gave another level of richness.

Lastly was: Chorizo, Potato, & Mushroom Tacos

Recipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick BaylessRecipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

This was amazingly flavorful. I had the chorizo and potato on hand, so just needed the mushrooms. Will do this again as well. It also taught me a quick way of adding potatoes as filler in a dish (grate them.)

I am glad that I chose this book and hopefully will continue to use it more.
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When last we spoke, we were headed to perm. home for the weekend and I was busy not-planning our vacation. The trip home was a good one; the weather was perfect, so we got weeds pulled, mulch put down, the porch cleaned, some of the porch furniture cleaned and put back out, ribs and brisket smoked, and strawberry focaccia made.

Strawberry FocacciaSmoked baby back ribs, smoked brisket, and French potato salad

We left for Montreal on 6/11. It took a while to get there due to delayed planes and getting lost in the rental car, but we made it. We enjoyed our time in Canada, even though we only had two days of good weather. We had some really amazing food in Montreal (delicious croissants from a patisserie near the hotel,) but our favorite place was in Quebec City. It is called iX pour Bistro. It is in a not great part of town in a rundown building, but it is some of the best food, I have ever had. They only have seven tables and two barstools and are run by the chef and a server. It is French food with a good wine by the bottle selection (heavy on the French.) We had a scallop first course that was orgasmic! We also ended up chatting with a younger couple to our left and an older (uber wealthy) couple to our right. We gave the last glass of our bottle of red to the young couple (he did not want wine and she did not want an entire bottle,) so he gave us each a bite of his fish (which we had not had.) Not to be outdone, the older gentleman on the right ordered the only dessert we did not have and shared it with us. It was odd, even for one of our trips, but the restaurant just sort of made you feel like you were in the chef's home, so inspired sharing. I would highly recommend calling or emailing them for reservations if you are in Quebec City.

Day 1 - Old Montreal at night

We returned on 6/17, again late due to planes and I have been trying to get back to normal life. I bought a 10 class punch card for yoga, so have added a second practice per week. I also am working on 30 days of handstands. My goal is to be able to move completely away from the wall for more than a second.

The veggie garden is doing really well. I have already harvested some jalapenos and picked my first tomato today. I did not do any new bread recipes, but did remake the English muffin bread and the walnut bread from last month. They were both pretty easy and turned out well, so...
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Well, another week has gone by. I cannot believe it is the end of May already. In a couple of weeks we will leave for vacation and I feel completely unprepared...

On a better note, I had two great weeks of pea season with the best shelled yield ever. Usually it is about 1 cup shelled per pound unshelled, with these two batches it was double, so I was able to make: penne with peas, asparagus, and scallions, pea and ricotta torte, pea and pork belly carbonara, and farro salad with peas, favas, and tomatoes. I also made English muffin bread; which was easy and turned out quite well.

A week ago Saturday, we went to a regional musical; "50 Shades, the Musical." I was not sure exactly what to expect, but it was quite funny. Way over the top with a ton of vulgar humor, but still pretty fun, particularly if you read the books (I read 2 of 3.) I would guess it might offend if you were really in love with the books, but if you liked them or were kind of meh, like me, it was funny.

We made progress on our small vegetable and herb gardens...The former now has: 1 Cherokee tomato, 2 Roma tomatoes, 1 Sweet 100 tomato, 2 Brandywine tomatoes, 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper and 1 jalapeno pepper. This week, I will add basil (yes, it is an herb, but grows well with tomatoes.) For the herbs, we have thyme and rosemary (having trouble getting sage,) and mint in a pot. Once I find some sage and possible a serrano pepper plant, I think we will be done with that.

I also rode my bike for the first time in about a year yesterday. I was rusty and had my normal luck (a small crash,) but otherwise it went well. Heading to permanent home this week and hoping to be able to clean the porch and start cleaning the porch furniture. Until next time.
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Wow; I cannot believe it has been almost a month since I posted last. I will bullet things so I do not forget anything (hopefully.)

*American Idiot: It was good (as long as you are a Green Day fan.) Kind of reminded me a bit of Tommy, not sure why. Although, I wish there had been more story, some things were a little hard to grasp. Interesting thing; obviously some people had no idea about the content, because about 1/2 way through a bunch of people left (during a sex and drug use scene.)

*Migraine/sinus allergy headache: I had one for an entire week. Not sure if it was due to peri-menopause or allergies or what, but gym attendance really suffered. I was able to make it to yoga that week and have had good weeks since then.

*Cooking/baking: Around Easter, meat pie (really good,) rhubarb custard pie (first lattice crust.) Since then strawberries have come in season, so strawberry mousse (definitely will make again,) strawberry short cake (have frozen biscuits waiting for more strawberries,) strawberry salad (a savory favorite,) strawberry gelato (another easy favorite,) strawberry jam (now I need to make scones and clotted cream,) and a NY Times walnut bread (best looking bread to date.)

TourtiereStrawberry MousseStrawberry GelatoStrawberry Jamphotophoto

*This week heralded the beginning of our very short pea season (maybe 2 weeks,) so I have three pounds waiting to be shelled.

*We are going to see a "50 Shades..." parody musical thing on Saturday, so hopefully I will have funny stuff to report next time.

*Our mint is growing like gangbusters, so I see mojitos in my future. I picked up some thyme, golden and orange pepper plants, and Cherokee purple tomato plants that will need to go in the ground this weekend. We are not going to have a big garden, but I am looking forward to it.

That is all for now.
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It has been a fairly uneventful couple of weeks. Nothing much new and exciting on the cooking front, just my normal DIY bread, nut butters, etc. The weather turned cool again this week and of course I took all of my winter clothes back to the permanent home at the beginning of the month...ah well, lots of funky layering going on.

Between the gym and yoga studio, things have been going well on the exercise front. I even tried arial yoga yesterday. There is a sort of sling/swing piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling and you use it in the practice for everything, but mostly inversions. Things like warrior 1 and 2 were much harder with your leg in the sling, but hand stand and the like, were much easier. I did pretty well, but something caused my motion sickness to kick in around the hour mark, so the last 15 minutes were brutal.

We are going to see Greenday's "American Idiot" tonight and maybe go out for drinks after. I also have a meat pie to make for Sunday and a rhubarb cream pie next week, so look out for pics. I will leave you now with a picture of a rose from our backyard bush which started blooming last week.

Pink Rose Bush
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Do not get me wrong, I am happy for spring, but wow 2014 is moving by fast. Last week did not start off the best, with the hubby stabbing his hand with the boning knife. One trip to the ER and two stitches later, he is fine, just a bit inconvenienced.

The rest of the week was much less eventful. It was another good gym week, plus we went to an evening yoga practice at the new studio. It ended up just being the two of us, so was a bit more intense; yay headstand, tripod headstand, and side crows...The plan is to keep it up this month and then try a Yin yoga class next month.

It was also our week to travel to the permanent home, so that was both a little stressful and a little nice. It is colder there, so not as much yard work, but the weeds were still bursting through. We did manage to watch all of the dvr'd "Episodes." It was pretty funny, but I think I like it more a couple of shows at a time, rather than 9 in two days. We have "Game of Thrones" recorded for tonight...

I also bought some short ribs and sirloin tip to grind hamburgers and made potato buns, so we had cheeseburgers and roasted sweet potato fries for dinner Saturday night. They were pretty yummy.


We must have picked up a nail on the drive back yesterday, because I woke to a flat this morning. It is all patched now, so hopefully will last until it is time for new tires. This week will hopefully, be fairly quiet now. I will need to make bread again and am going to give DIY vanilla extract a try.
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Well, my cryptic musing about not being able to walk the next day after the yoga class came true, but not due to the not get me wrong, I was really sore: shoulders and hamstrings in particular. What laid me flat, sometimes hunched over, was food poisoning. Hubby and I were both having a craving for sushi, so we went to a local place last Saturday evening. I should have known when it took wayyy too long to arrive at the table and was slightly warm, but by then we were really hungry...another tell was that we did not have seconds. We have been known to eat an ungodly amount of sushi, so this should have been a clue, before we were both heaving at 2AM. He recovered quicker than me, by forcing something into his stomach, I was out for the count for 2 days...

Even with that, it was a good gym week (3 days in a row with a break today, yoga again tomorrow and a run or walk on Sunday.) It was also still a good week for cooking. Pork butte was on sale, so I made a new (for me) carne adovada recipe that is quite good. It is not like we remember from New Mexico, but I am not surprised by that. I also made an Italian style (cream cheese and mascarpone cheese) cheesecake for my March dessert of the month. I thought it was going to be an epic fail at first (was supposed to be a 10" pan, I only had a 9" and the conversion from metric to English units are a little off,) but it turned out really tasty. Not so pretty, hence no picture, but it is light (in texture, not calories, woah momma) and has a nice vanilla flavor.

The title of this post refers to going further down the trail of DIY...I am contemplating making my own cleaning products. If they work, there are many benefits, the least of which is cost, so I am thinking about trying dish washing tabs first (mainly because that is what I will run out of first.) The biggest issue with them and some bulk cooking recipes as well, is storage space. You either have leftover ingredients that take up space or you make a vat that takes up space...ah well, I will keep you posted.
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Another week gone by and thank goodness a fairly uneventful one. I had a great gym week; 4 days in a row (the first time this year,) followed by a rest day and then this morning, I went to a new yoga studio very close to my house (and just opened) for a practice of 108 sun salutations to celebrate the spring equinox. I may not be able to move tomorrow, but I felt so accomplished when I did number 108.

I had some good news regarding the car...the body shop believes they can fix the dent without replacing the bumper, so a few hundred dollars saved, plus they will fix some scratches in the front that are a couple of years old.

Recipes this week included: bagels (see below,) homemade loose chorizo, grill smoked salmon, meatballs, and marinara sauce.

Friday morning bagels

The weather is starting to get nicer and so I am beginning to think about gardening. I will start with some herbs and then as it gets past frost time, tomatoes and peppers. I do not want anything huge, just (hopefully) a small plot of heirlooms that I cannot get at the farmer's market. I hope the spring finds everyone on my flist with some more pleasant temps. See you next week.
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It has never been such a problem for me before, but I guess since the new house's master bedroom has east facing windows, I have gotten use to the sun helping me get up. This week, I have been shutting the alarm off and going back to sleep, ugh.

Also, I guess it is making me loopy (yes, I am blaming DST.) I always put the emergency brake on when parking the car, but for some reason did not last Tuesday while at the grocery store...pushing my cart around I hear over the loud speaker them describing my rolled out of the parking spot and hit another vehicle. Not much damage to the van it hit, since it had a big rubber bumper, but my rear bumper cover will have to be I feel like a complete idiot.

Brighter news was my first attempt at everyday whole wheat bread:


They look a little funny, but the taste is really great!

Nothing much else happening here, just kind of wish the weather would make up its mind. It is nice to see all of the trees and bushes flowering though.
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This week I had another DIY cooking first and sadly (not really,) I will be adding this to the list of things I will not buy again. Luckily, it is something we do not eat very much of: Bacon.

I have had a pork belly in my freezer for the last year, mainly because I did not have a grill at the temp home and did not have enough time at permanent home to do the whole process. We had a coupon for Home Depot and they had their new season of grills in, so we bought a smallish (21 inch diameter) kettle grill. This meant, I could smoke something, which meant: Bacon!

It cured in the fridge for 11 days and then I smoked it for about 90 minutes and voila...
Homemade BaconHomemade Bacon

It is the best bacon I have ever had! When it cooled I sliced off a piece and we tasted it. Even though, hubby is not a huge fan of bacon, he kept going back for more; yay!

In other news: 1. I had my third resting metabolic rate test on Wednesday and I think we finally figured out the issue. By sitting up, the mask fit me better, so we got a more accurate reading. It is still lower than it should be, but not low enough to indicate thyroid issues. I thought that was a win. 2. We bought a compost bin and started that in a corner of the back yard. I am excited about being able to do something with excess non-animal food waste that is useful. 3. We scheduled a trip to Montreal & Quebec City for our anniversary in June. If any flisters live there or have been, I would love rec's for hotels, things to do, and restaurants.
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Being that we were down to a few slices of everyday bread, I knew my first project was to come up with something to fill that void. I decided on a soft, honey-walnut bread. I figured that it would be good for sandwiches (which we have about once or twice a month) or with almond butter and my next project; homemade Nutella. The bread recipe made two large round loaves and turned out just the way I was hoping.

Walnut Bread

The Nutella was the next project. The hardest part was getting the skins off the hazelnuts, but thanks to some vigorous shaking in a bowl with a lid, that was not too bad. I wanted a less-sweet version with a little more hazelnut flavor, so I cut the sugar by half and also used less cocoa powder. It is not something we eat everyday, but is a nice change from the other nut butters.

The morning that I made the Nutella, I also put together the pie crust for my first homemade apple pie. I had been delaying apple for a long time due to the work involved, but it was well worth peeling all of those apples. To finish my resolution baking/cooking for the month, I made a brown butter pecan ice cream...oh holy shit, it is the best butter pecan I have ever had; maybe one of the best ice creams.

Deep Dish Apple PieDeep Dish Apple Pie & Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Now, I will spend every waking moment at the gym, so that I can enjoy these treats and prepare for March's delights.
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When last we left our heroine (me,) I was recovering from a cold, but ready to get back to life; famous last words. I posted on Monday and an ice storm hit Tuesday night with a second round Wednesday day/night. We were prepared to be inside for a few days with movies and recipes to make. I was productive on Wednesday; taking pictures, finishing my mustard and making bread:
Ice Storm 2014

Whole-grain MustardWhole-grain MustardWhole-grain Mustard

French Baguettes

The fun ended Wednesday night when the power went out. We were in bed anyway, so just contacted the electric company and went to sleep. We awoke Thursday to no power, 50 degrees in the house and two of the neighbor's trees having fallen in our driveway; blocking the cars in. We spent the next several hours, sans coffee, trying to clear the driveway. I helped, but did not have proper gloves and boots, so ended up intermittently huddling for warmth under the covers. Once we were able to get out, we went to Starbucks. After half an hour of waiting; we finally had caffeine. Then it was off to Home Depot, but sadly no propane/kerosene heaters were to be had, so at 5PM, we packed up the car, called the neighbors at our permanent home (to check road conditions) and set off for electricity and heat. We certainly consider ourselves lucky to have had another place to get to, some people suffered with no power for close to a week. We came back on Sunday to power, but no cable or internet. That was finally fixed Thursday night (hence the tardy post.) There were a couple of other issues (a stone pillar falling to block the driveway and breaking a water connection at the main, causing a leak and no water for 18 hours,) but overall, we were lucky and people really pulled together and helped their neighbors.

Short one

Feb. 10th, 2014 12:24 pm
lizzybuffy2008: (Default)
Well, I spent last week suffering from the head cold/flu crud that is going around. 3 boxes of Kleenex later, I am feeling somewhat normal again. Finally worked out on Saturday and again today, so that is helping. I will list below in bullet points what I hope to report back on, on Friday.

1. Making homemade mustard
2. Starting on homemade bacon
3. Second batch of homemade almond butter
4. Bircher meusli
5. New RMR test

Have a great week!
lizzybuffy2008: (Default)
Today's post has no real theme; kind of like this week...

The week started off pretty well for me, not so for the hubby. He got to work on Monday to find that a pipe had burst and his whole area (along with about 20 others) was flooded. Since it is a quasi-goverment site; they were locked out until it was deemed "safe" for them to go in and pack there things up, so they could be moved to another building. As stated before, since this is quasi-government, that did not happen until Tuesday afternoon, right before they closed the site due to weather. He finally got his stuff and a computer, so he could you know actually work, Thursday afternoon.

We had sleet and then snow on Tuesday night, so being in the deep south, everything was closed and no driving took place Tuesday evening to Thursday morning. We watched "Captain Phillips" Tuesday night. It was an edge of your seat kind of movie, but enjoyable (Tom Hanks should have gotten an Oscar nod.) We spent a nice day together on Wednesday. I made some homemade mayonnaise and cooked Daube Provencial (a fancy way of saying Southern French style pot-roast) with egg noodles for dinner. We opened some wine and spent a lovely evening in our warm little house.

Due to the weather, I postponed my RMR test until next week, so no new news on that. Thursday was spent with me a little in the doldrums, but going to the gym seemed to snap me out of it today. I plan to make some homemade peanut butter this afternoon and then since I seem to be in a braising mood; braised pork shank with mashed potatoes on Sunday.

I hope everyone had a pleasant week.
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"Copy this sentence into your LiveJournal if you're in a heterosexual marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow."

I find heterosexuals that make a mockery of marriage by constantly cheating offensive. Can we ban that?
lizzybuffy2008: (Default)

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

I think maybe I am more of a mixture, but this is what the quiz says.
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