Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Today was the office chili cook-off. We had nine chili entries and a whole host of cornbread, biscuits, chips, spiced nuts, and beer. The competition was steep: there are some very good cooks among our staff. What were we after? Besides bragging rights? The golden spoon of victory! (see below)
This trophy is made from a real wooden chili spoon, spray painted with high-quality gold glitter craft paint, and laced in ribbon in our official office colors. (kinda like high school, huh?) Guess who walked away with the title?
That's right! None other than yours truly! Frankly, I'm just relieved I can back up all that trash-talking I did leading up to the cook-off. OK now here comes the bragging (hey! I earned it!): This is the second chili cook-off I've participated in and won! The last one was 2004, my senior year of college. I remember that chili being good, but nothing spectacular; I think the only reason it won was I dialed it back on the spice so the judges could actually taste it, whereas Adam, whose chili was probably truly the best, made it so spicy it burned all the way down. Those small details are what make a winner, folks!
I kept my recipe this year secret until I had claimed victory, but I think it's safe to share it with you now. You are welcome to take it and tweak it as you like for any chili cook-off you dare to enter.
a chuck roast (don't spend more than $6) cut into 1-inch cubes
$6 worth of pork also cut into 1-inch cubes
*side note: I'm giving you measurements in dollar amounts because I can't remember what the poundage was; I just eye-balled it and then said, "yep, I can afford that."
4 Tbsp chili powder
1Tbsp-ish kosher salt + more at your discretion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced sweet onions
1/2 ancho chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, blanched and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1 pint beef stock (or turkey stock with beef bouillon added, which is what I actually did)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cans black beans
2 cans red kidney beans
1/2 lb bacon coarsely chopped
1 cup Oaxacan mole sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (more or less to your taste)
cayenne pepper, shake it how you like it, baby!
In a pan, brown the beef and pork (you'll probably want to do it in batches)
Throw them into a crock pot, toss in the salt and chili powder, put the lid on, and cook it on low for 4 hrs, turning the meat gently maybe twice during the course of the slow-cook
In your soup pot, cook the onions, ancho chile, and garlic in olive oil until the onions become translucent.
Add the cumin and turmeric and cook a little longer
When you get bored, add the stock, tomatoes in juice, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of kidney beans, and cook a little longer, stirring with a wooden spoon.
While that is simmering, cook up your bacon in a separate pan, and then add it to the pot.
Puree everything in the pot either in the blender, cuisinart, or (if you're lucky like me) your immersion blender. When you feel it's been mixed to your taste, put the put of soup back on the stove and add the second can of black beans and kidney beans, the mole sauce, and the brown sugar.
Add the red wine vinegar (stir and taste at 2 Tbsp, and only add the 3rd if you think it needs more of a kick). If you think it needs more heat, shake in some cayenne pepper until it's hot enough for you
When your meat is good and ready, add it to the pot. If you have time, let it sit over night in the fridge and then reheat in the crock pot.
Monday, December 14, 2009
For those of you who don't know, I was quarantined at home Thursday afternoon through the weekend recovering from swine flu (or so my doc says). I had gone in to see my doctor to make sure I didn't have pneumonia - my lungs were feeling soupy - and she hit me with a swine flu diagnosis instead! Can you believe it?? Honestly, it was the easiest flu experience I've ever had, but that's not to say it was pleasant. I had chills, aches, fever, and a raging sore throat last weekend, and wasn't able to fully shake the bug all week. It was nasty. So I stayed home.
I couldn't go anywhere and didn't really feel like asking any of my friends to take a gamble on their health and visit me, so I decided to watch movies and make a quilt, just to see how far I could get. I did damn well! I'm about half done with the hand quilting and then I just have to add the binding, and voila! It's a Christmas gift for Andrew's sister.
Hope she doesn't mind I coughed all over it.... just kidding. ;)
Monday, November 23, 2009
...which became this?
Well, I took a couple evenings and made it into this:
(Yep, I'm still uploading pictures from my camera phone.)
Let me just say, I feel triumphant!! I have had this charcoal gray felt in my possession for nearly a year, and it's been just sitting there, taunting me. The last time I reupholstered the chair I used that brown/gold grandma-style floral jacquard. It was ugly and DIRECTIONAL, which made for quite a challenge. The idea was that I rip off the original fabric to use as a pattern for my pieces. I think the first project was a month in the making; I whipped this baby out in two evenings. Not having to pry out hundreds of staples and not having a directional fabric changed the turn-around time dramatically. It was actually invigorating to see the chair come together the way it did.
I also learned which portions could be fitted as slip-covers first and then stapled into place, rather than trying to stable each individual piece on. My favorite part was actually the most time consuming, but came out great: the detail stitching on the foot rest part (sorry it's hard to tell in the picture I uploaded). I ended up having a lot of scraps that weren't big enough to cover any single piece of the chair, but cut into strips and sewn into "stripes" on the foot rest ended up being just the way to use them. I may even have enough left over to do my second chair the same way. Really, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.
Here's the question of the hour: Do I spray paint the legs a glossy black, or just leave them with the dark wood stain? Your thoughts?
Friday, November 13, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We both got bowls of the soup du jour: French Onion (bien sur). They brought it to us in those heavy indestructable white ceramic bowls I remember from my time in Paris, and served the bread on the side rather than toasted and crusted under the gruyere in the bowl where it would get soggy (much appreciated by me).
It was the best damn French onion soup I've tasted. Ever. Run, don't walk, to get yourself a bowl.
That is all.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
So this morning at 7am I decided to make a little apple crisp to bring to the office and share, giving my snack buddy the first crack at it. The prep time was literally 5 minutes (I looked at the clock when I put it in the oven: 7:05am) so this is something even a super busy morning can handle. If you have 5 min to prepare it and another 1 min to remove it from the oven when it's done baking, all you really have to worry about it getting your timing right.
I made it with real flour so I wasn't able to test-taste it, but it got rave reviews so I feel pretty good about it. One of my colleagues asked for the recipe, but this is one I just eyeball so I made some guesses on the ratios for official purposes --even though I often use measurements like "pinch" and "dash" I don't write them into recipes because I know that stresses some folks out-- and since I had it all written down in an email, I thought I'd post it here as well for those of you who are looking for recipes that require little effort and yield delicious returns.
Slice apples thinly (this helps cut down on baking time). I use granny smith; if you use other apples, toss the apples in fresh-squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon per apple)
Spread apples in your baking pan, making sure each slice has been separated from one another so they cook better. Leave ½ inch of room at the top
Topping (these are just the ratios – you may want to adjust the amount depending on your taste):
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp – or more if you like – apple pie spice (a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice)
Stir dry ingredients together
Cut in with a pastry cutter 1 stick butter until pieces of butter are about pea-sized.
Spread mixture over the apples and shake it down into the apples a little.
Bake at 350 for 30 min to an hour depending on how big of a pan you made. My little 6x8 pan that holds two large granny smith apples, sliced, only needed 30 min.
Another variation: Andrew likes it when I nestle little cubes if Kraft (not the inferior Brach’s) caramel within the apples.
Monday, November 2, 2009
This year for Halloween we went to a Mad Men themed birthday party. Everyone dressed in conservative attire from the early 1960s. It was amazing to see what everyone found. Before we headed out, Ani came over to get ready (and her beehive was totally worth the effort). That, my friend, deserves a cocktail!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I've been trying to eat better and stay gluten-free. So, of course, today at lunch I needed pizza and nothing else would do. A friend and I raced over to the favorite spot at 4th and Cedar: Bambino's. It was delicious; I knew it would be. But was it worth it? I can't decide.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
- I promise to never ask the server at a restaurant, "is this gluten-free?" I won't die if I accidentally have wheat and my server is not my personal research assistant.
- If I am invited to dinner at a friend's I will eat what is served and not say, "oh sorry - I have this thing..."
- I will not buy gluten-free bread. There is a reason it's hard to find: no one wants to eat it; it wasn't meant to be.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Then she went to college and met my super liberal dad.
Then they graduated, married, moved to Milwaukee and met even more liberal folks through my dad's grad program at Marquette.
Then they moved back to Seattle and my mom had kids who kicked up so many shenanigans that now nothing fazes her.
So why the homage to my mother? She has been in NYC for two weeks taking classes at Columbia as part of her ongoing teacher training (she's a 2nd grade teacher). We're pretty close and I reeeeeeeally miss her. So, to tide me over until she's back, here are a few photos of us being goofy together:
[we used to cut our own christmas trees. i'm pretty sure i'm posing as a reindeer in this photo]
[the annual mother-daughter tea party, complete with tiaras, circa 2000]
[celebrating my bff's wedding a couple years go, doing a tipsy irish jig]
Hurry home, mom!!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I made the poor decision of turning on my oven last night. I had my heart set on pizza, because I'd made some pizza dough out of Cooking Light July and nothing else would do. MISTAAAAAAAAKE! The pizza itself was delicious, but what a dumb idea to preheat my oven to 500 and bake a pizza! Who does that when it's 92 in the SHADE? Apparently, I do.
I think we'll be grilling out today, if we can stand that heat outside. I have a million hot dog buns left over from my birthday BBQ, so that seems the right way to go. But what I reeeeeeeally want to do is browse Smitten Kitchen and choose a recipe from her stock to try. For those of you who don't know, Deb of SK is the best food blogger out there. She is the Barefoot Contessa of the blog world: simple, delicious recipes made accessible to cooks of all levels. When I didn't know what to do with my remaining half a roasted chicken, I looked to Deb for a chicken and dumplings recipe that ended up being one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten (I improvised a little and left out the tarragon because that's what I do). She is a constant source of culinary inspiration to me. Oh, hell; I'm going to browse her recipes anyway and daydream.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
my brother and me taking a break in the kitchen
Saturday we packed up the car and headed out at 1pm to Bellingham to celebrate Summer of Crab with Sabina (far right), and more importantly her engagement to Geoff, who has been hosting this party for years. Six of her ladyfriends trucked up for the party, and we were all invited to camp in his back yard. After a couple detours on the way, we arrived at 5pm. After setting up the tent I promptly had 2 strong mojitos on an empty stomach. I became a charmer, a fantastic dancer, and found everything hilarious. Monica, Monica, Monica....
That night, Andrew took me to see Death Cab for Cutie at Marymoor Park. Again, the weather was perfect and we arrived early to get dinner and set out our blanket. It was a fantastic show. I couldn't have asked for a better day.