Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stuff for sale

Beer fridge (garage fridge)

Large patio set

Small patio set

Larger filing cabinet
Smaller filing cabinet
Storage cabinet
Belarus upright piano
Large Chinese vase

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pre School Cake

Once I posted the many evocations Lion Cake I realized that I hadn’t posted a cake that I made reference to—the preschool cake. I did this one not long after Fielding was born, to thank Sawyer’s preschool teacher for being completely awesome, and to celebrate her first successful year of business. It was my first attempt at cake painting, which I loved, but which comes with, of course, a new set of challenges. It was also the maiden voyage of my fondant ribbon cutter, which was way harder to use than I thought. Here’s to more practice!IMG_8186

Many Evocations Lion Cake

Even though I recently (like four weeks ago) declared that I was not ready to return to cake making after Fielding’s birth (this after making a cake with my foot on the bouncy chair the whole time, which was tricky business indeed), I inexplicably volunteered to do a birthday cake for my friend’s son. I guess it’s kind of like heroin. Well maybe not that bad. It’s like nitrous. I think I’m done for awhile, and then I want just a little more. And each time I do a cake I feel like I’ve been kicked in the face by the learning curve, especially when I forget something that I learned before and make the same mistake again…like I did this time with letting my fondant get too dry. But hopefully, little by little, my cakes are getting better. I’m really toying with the idea of moving to commercial fondant, because the marshmallow stuff I make is simple and tasty, but kind of unpredictable, and very difficult, ie: too soft, to decorate with beyond covering the tiers. Anyway, this is the lion cake. I call it many evocations lion cake because when I look at the trees I think of Vietnam and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings (not exactly a cheery remembrance for a one year-old birthday party), and when I look at the lion I think of Sid Vicious, or Robert Smith. The little paw prints around the first tier are the part I’m most proud of…I think those will be repeated on future animal cakes. The cake, btw, was dark chocolate with chocolate butter cream, by request of the birthday boy’s family, and it turned out to be genuinely LUSCIOUS.



Freezer meals part II: Caribbean Shredded Pork

Serves 8


Another installment of the freezer meals that mom and I made to ease the family into life with two kids—it was great to be able to pull this out for dinner last night and only worry about making rice and some vegetables. And of course Chris loves such versatile leftovers. I wager he’ll be eating it at noon wrapped in a tortilla or in a toasted bun.

1 1/2 pound lean boneless pork loin

1 (8-ounce) can unsweetened pineapple tidbits, juice reserved

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons raisins

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

3/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons rum

1 Tbs molasses

2 Tbs honey

Combine all ingredients (including reserved pineapple juice) in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.


Shred pork once it’s done cooking.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad with Orange-Ginger Dressing


Asian chicken salad has been a favorite of the Grays for a long time now—it’s the only way Chris will accept eating salad as a main course. To ensure that he does, I have to pack it full of hearty, crunchy niblets. It had been awhile since we’d done it, but the real inspiration for this salad was the dressing. It’s JAPANESE RESTAURANT DRESSING. If you eat at Japanese restaurants from time to time, you know exactly what I mean, and you’re wiggling in your seat right now, just like I did when I found the recipe. Oh that gingery, orange loveliness that they drizzle over iceberg lettuce—so deeply flavored! so mysterious! Why is it so hard to find a recipe? I don’t have the answer, but I did come across one that, with a little tweaking, tastes just like the real thing. And I can’t get enough of it. From the list of ingredients it looks a little painstaking, but honestly I didn’t measure anything—I just eyeballed it, tossed it in the food processor and let it blend away.


Lettuce (we had romaine, anything is good)

diced green onion

chopped red pepper

chopped apple (mandarin orange is also good)

julienned carrot

crushed dried ramen noodles

toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts

optional (but indisputably divine): chopped fresh basil to garnish


Chop and rinse your lettuce, top it with all of your vegetal additions


Grilled Chicken

Marinate two chicken breasts in a mix of soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, ketchup, and peanut butter. Grill:


Then slice into thin strips:


Place chicken strips on salad, top with crushed ramen noodles, chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds, and chopped fresh basil, if you have some on hand.


And then drizzle on this amazing concoction:


1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 cup peanut oil

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4-1/2 C orange juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root

2 tablespoons minced celery

2 tablespoons ketchup

4 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons white sugar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Puree all ingredients in food processor. This is best if it can sit overnight to let the flavors meld. Strain before serving.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Burritos with Green Chili Walnut Sauce

Makes about 2 cups


Anyone who has been to my town knows that it’s SMALL. Now there are  more than five restaurants here, but when we first moved in there were two: the Erie Cafe and Mina’s Latin Restaurant. Oh, good ole Mina’s. It was grimy inside and had a mysterious stage with a disco ball, but no advertisements for karaoke or local theater…what was it used for? It was basically a Mexican restaurant, but with a grandmotherly twist. In addition to the usual combo plates there were a few unexpected things like nopalitos, fried plantains with pork and, the inspiration for this post: walnut sauce! I searched around a bit and it seems that walnut sauce it used almost exclusively in a stuffed chili specialty, which is the entree at Mina’s that I tried. Well, we had company coming, I was totally uninspired, but wanted to do a little something special. Enter: Green Chili Walnut Sauce. I am completely in love with this stuff. It might be the least Mexican thing within 20 miles of here, but I’ve been putting it on everything. I made it quite thick, and we spread it inside our burritos, though you could thin it out and drizzle it over the top if you wanted.

25 shelled walnuts

half and half or cream

1/4 lb queso fresco

3 Tbs bread crumbs

3 Tbs sugar

5 fire-roasted green chilies, peeled and seeded


Place walnuts in a bowl and cover with half and half or cream—let soak overnight. Combine walnuts, soaking cream, bread crumbs, sugar and green chilies in your food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add milk until thinned to a consistency that you like, then salt to taste.

I managed to not get any pictures the day I made and served it, so this is what it looks like after it’s been in the fridge overnight and people (me) have started dipping tortilla chips in it.


In the burritos are: burrito meat, black beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, walnut sauce.

For my burrito meat: I used 1/2 lb ground turkey and 1/2 pound ground pork. I sautéed the meat with a diced onion and a few diced cloves of garlic. I seasoned with 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp chili powder and a little cayenne pepper. Once the meat was cooked, I stirred in 2 Tbs tomato paste.

For my pico de gallo I mixed diced tomato, red onion and avocado with minced cilantro, lime juice and salt.

Oo, can’t wait to fold this up and sink my teeth into it!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Serves 2-3


Oh yeaaaaah, talk about smooth, creamy, sweet, velvety luxuriousness. Chocolate mousse made from avocado is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, and something about which, no matter many good reviews I’d read or overheard, I was still a little doubtful. The moment of truth came when I was brainstorming dairy-free dessert ideas for my nephew. His mom just had a baby and we’re bringing dinner over next week. He’s almost four, so I know he hasn’t been exposed to loads of different desserts and can only, realistically, be so bummed about his allergy and about all the desserts that he misses out on—I imagine the biggest ones in his mind are birthday cake and ice cream. But I still like to think outside the box for him, when possible. I resist just making cookies with margarine or shortening because I love a culinary challenge, and it brings me such joy when someone gets to eat something they thought they never would. Case in point: chocolate mousse for the lactose intolerant. Long story short, I had an extra avocado lying around and decided to give it a go last night. Actually, I have to admit another motivation: Sawyer has refused avocado his whole short life. This, to me, is the greatest freaking mystery on the planet. Every other baby we knew, during the phase of introducing solids, loved avocado. Most of them still like it. But his categorical refusal of anything green has branded this food for him, and it drives me crazy. Every time he sees it in something he says, “mama I don’t want dat green bean!” Saying that it’s an avocado and not a green bean is beyond pointless. So I thought, “If I can get this mule-child têtu to eat avocado mousse, my hope in his future will be restored.” (Because I’m pretty sure avocado is the first step on the path toward world peace.) So, back to the mousse: I consulted a few recipes and ended up winging the simplest version possible—many variations have cashew, peanut or almond butter, but as you probably know, lactose intolerance often goes hand-in-hand with nut allergies, as is the case with my nephew. So here’s more or less what I included:

1 ripe avocado

1/4 C maple syrup

2 Tbs soy milk

2 Tbs dark cocoa

pinch of salt

Put it all in the blender or food processor and process until smooth. The result? Is it as good as they say? I’d venture to say it’s better. Truly. It’s like the greatest culinary hornswoggle ever, but, like, a horswoggle for good. A world peace farce, if you will. However: as someone who has both made and eaten a lot of chocolate mousse, here and abroad, it is not—in the spirit of full disclosure—very much like mousse. It’s more like chocolate cake batter pudding…which is maybe even better.


As you can see, it was a big hit with monsieur anti-veg. Maybe when he’s 18 he’ll learn the truth about his new favorite dessert.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chickpea Croquettes with Greek Salad Topping

Serves 4


mmm, loved this one, thank goodness. In fact I forwarded the recipe to all my gluten-free friends. I think the only change I’ll make next time is to break up the chick peas in the food processor a little before proceeding. Also will try it with tzaziki.


1 cucumber, quartered and sliced (1 cup)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


1 cup chickpea flour

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

4 green onions, chopped (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

Make the topping first: Toss together cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice, and oil in bowl. Gently stir in feta crumbles. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and set aside.


Then make the croquettes: Whisk together chickpea flour, cumin, chili powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup hot water. Stir in remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Drizzle a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scoop 4 ı/4-cup dollops of chickpea mixture into skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Flip with spatula, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture.


Serve each Croquette topped with 1/4 cup Greek salad topping.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Tian Tian Chao Mian (Everyday Fried Noodles)

Serves 4


Before I get into these noodles I have to confess that I’ve really been mulling over the purpose of this blog for the last few days. In my attempt to cook my way through my collected magazine recipes, I’ve made a few this week that just really didn’t make the grade. “Should I put them on the blog?” I wondered. I mean, I did say that I was going to make all of the recipes that I’d cut out…but does that mean that I have to share them if they’re sub-par? At first I thought maybe I would, thinking that other people might have an idea how to improve them, or that maybe I could share how to improve them…but now I’ve reached my conclusion: no matter how many recipes I try, I’m only going to post the excellent ones. Therefore, forget the Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta (the shrimp overpowered the pancetta and the whole thing was bland) and the Chicken in Garlic Vinegar Sauce (also bland, and it gave my baby wicked, wicked nocturnal gas). On to more inspiring and delicious things, like Tian Tian Chao Mian, which sounds like the start of a nursery rhyme or a jump rope game. This is from a recent issue of Saveur—have I mentioned how much I am in love with this magazine? I got it to replace Gourmet when it tanked, and I like it so much more than any other cooking magazine I’ve ever had. It doesn’t overwhelm me with more recipes than I could ever cook in a lifetime (like, cough, Cooking Light, my evil nemesis), nor does it recycle the same 10 recipes over and over in each issue (CL and the accursed flank steak dish!) and what’s more, it has breathtaking photos and outstanding writing with lots of touching ruminations about the meaning of food in our lives. It’s just awesome. Period. So, back to Tian Tian. It needed a little extra flavor, which I detailed in the directions below, but it was quick to prepare and truly delightful. And any food that helps make memories as sweet as the ones in the pictures below is a winner in my book. Turns out toddlers will eat anything with chopsticks, including broccoli.

IMG_8407 IMG_8411


1/2 small seedless cucumber, peeled and julienned

pinch of salt

3 tbsp. canola oil

1 medium carrot, julienned

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 lb. ground pork

4 cloves garlic, minced

1  1" piece ginger, minced

6 scallions, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp. rice cooking wine (mirin)

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

2 cups bean sprouts (I used broccoli instead)

6 oz. dried flat noodles, boiled and rinsed under cold water (I used chop suey noodles, which are like ramen, but not as cheap and gross)

1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil

Toss cucumbers and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Heat a 14" wok (or stainless-steel skillet) over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add 1 tbsp. oil around edge of wok; swirl to coat bottom and sides. Add carrots and onions; cook until softened, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

Return wok to high heat and add remaining oil. Add pork, garlic, ginger, and half the scallions; cook, breaking pork into small pieces, until browned, 3–4 minutes.

Add soy sauce, wine, sugar, bean sprouts, and carrots and onions. Cook, stirring, until hot, about 30 seconds.

Add cucumbers, remaining scallions, noodles, and sesame oil; cook, tossing, until hot, about 1 minute. Season with salt. At this point I found it pretty bland, so I added about an extra tablespoon of soy sauce and maybe 1 tsp of memmi, which is Japanese and has no place in this dish, but it’s full of umami and ended up being just the thing. Oh, and then I squirted sriracha all over the noodles and it was perfect!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mango Dal (with Chard)

Serves 6


I’m a dal fiend, so when I saw this recipe in Eating Well magazine, and imagined the blissful combination of my favorite fruit and my favorite legume preparation, I knew it would be on the menu soon enough. I finally got around to trying it when we had guests the other night. We served it with an Indian-spiced roast chicken (I made a spice rub with salt, cumin, curry, biryani seasoning, cinnamon, chili powder and ginger), and homemade parathas, which are kind of like an Indian version of a tortilla. I call them the lazy man’s naan, since there’s no yeast involved. Below is the recipe as written, but I found that it need a little extra….something. Salt being part of the something. I also dipped into my Indian spice mixes and added a tablespoon of a basic vegetable curry spice blend. Oh, and I added chard because I’m a chard disciple lately.

1 C yellow lentils

4 C water

1 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 Tbs canola oil

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 onion, chopped

(1 bunch chard leaves, washed and chopped)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs minced fresh ginger

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 mangoes, peeled and diced

1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse lentils, then combine with water, 1/2 tsp salt and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat oil in a large skillet. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion (and chard) and cook until soft. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and cook for one minute longer.

Stir the spice mixture and the mangoes into the lentils. Return to a simmer and cook 15 minutes longer. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.