Parboil Pearl Onions, and Other Things I Need to Remember

Remembering Happy Times and Making things easier on Myself

I’ve been doing it wrong all  along: Don’t forget to parboil your pearl onions! Julia Child, Julie Powell and Laura Calder have all reiterated that for me. It makes them easier to peel!

Tonight’s dinner was an old standby of mine, a simple pasta with olive oil “sauce” that I love to make when I’m not feeling very happy. Carbs make me happy. But somehow I messed it up a little bit…I’m not sure what I did—perhaps too much olive oil and not enough of everything else—but it just kind of goes along with the week I’ve been having. But, I’m not going to dwell on my week anymore. I’ll tell you about a time when I felt comfortable and relaxed and satisfied with my life…

I really and truly wish that I had started my food blogging adventure months ago or at least in December. I was staying at my boyfriend’s apartment during my winter break and oh boy! did we ever put on a few pounds each! I had just started cooking some of Laura Calder’s recipes (by guessing mostly, as she isn’t very good about actually telling what she is showing you how to do) and it meant a lot of meats and butter and mmmmmmmmmmmm…yeah… I can’t even think about this one recipe without drooling, even on a full stomach.

Tonight I decided to watch my favorite episode of Laura’s show, French Food at Home. It’s “The Butter Show”! Have I mentioned it yet, my affinity for, nay, passionate connection to butter? I love the stuff. It really tastes good on everything. It’s super versatile too; you can prepare it a million different ways, and they pretty much all taste amazing. I think someday soon—before my eggs run out—I’m going to attempt a real hollandaise sauce, not the packet kind which some Americans use. Laura makes it seems so easy. Anyway, I was watching “The Butter Show” and it called to mind a night when I make steaks and herbed “composed butter.” It was VERY good. All you do is take softened butter and add chopped up whatever you’d like. I used a mix of parsley and cilantro and possibly something else. Not sure… but my boy and I loved it. Though I think that I spent more time on the butter than the steak, since I think that night he had to put his steak back on the range. Half of it was rather…raw for his taste. And we are both rare/medium rare steak eaters, so you can imagine how uncooked it was. But afterwards, we ate in silence and drank our pretty, pink wine (I delight in a good White Zin), and watched How I Met Your Mother, which I think we’re actually (surprisingly enough) behind on watching right now…

Olive Oil Pasta
My easy, comforting, Olive Oil Pasta

IMG_0343[1]

Yorkshire Pudding and the Poorly Ended Day…

bad day, bad dinner IMG_0338[1]

Dinner tonight was ALMOST delicious…
I am of course, not a trained chef, but sometimes I experiment and get things so right it’s unbelievable. Other nights, I get it so wrong that my food is nigh on inedible…
Tonight was one of the latter…I had a wonderful idea, but it just didn’t work out. I made Yorkshire Pudding, the name of which is really rather deceiving if you are not of british origins. I am not, neither my german grandmother nor my American grandmother could probably have told me what to expect in making this recipe. Not that I asked, so I could be spreading falsehoods. In fact, they are both really good cooks, so maybe they could’ve told me…but I had it from a youtube video that Yorkshire pudding is actually the same recipe she uses to make pancakes with. Anyhow, Yorkshire pudding is NOT like American puddings. So don’t make it expecting to have something hostess or whoever would make in those little plastic cups. It IS reminiscent of the big fluffy pancake/german pancake I wrote about a few days ago…which I totally spaced and didn’t make that, or a loaf of banana bread, when my mom visited on Sunday. Of course the visit was somewhat impromptu and very unplanned, so I blame nobody for that.
Also, I just cleaned the oven out at my house. The people who I’m renting from have apparently never cleaned the stove out the whole time they’ve lived here: it had lord knows what caked on all over…and elbow grease didn’t cut it! I had to use “oven cleaner” spray, which made me nervous because I can only imagine what kind of nasty stuff those sprays have in them… but the company prescribed a lot of rinsing and sponging, so I guess it was probably safe enough.
Anyhow, my Yorkshire pudding turned out alright, although I didn’t put it in a cupcake pan like the recipe recommended, I put it in a mini loaf pan. And it was eggy tasting and deflated like a soufflé, which was surprising and disappointing. I think I also didn’t have the oven temperature up high enough at first, because youre supposed to have it quite high and then turn it down. Something to do with puffing it up maybe?
What went really just disgustingly was the sauce I made for my chicken/ Yorkshire pudding. I made a marinated chicken breast, with this recipe I found a few weeks ago, and I apparently did not have the right ingredients. Nor did I have any clue how one deglazes with red wine vinegar. It’s possible too that I just ended up with altogether too much vinegar since the recipe calls for balsamic and I was trying to be clever by adding strawberries and red wine vinegar at the end of the recipe. I did many things, including adding red-colored sugar to add flavor and color…
Needless to say, not all experiements are a success…but it does suck when you’re results are you dinner and you’re a broke-ass graduate student who doesn’t want to trash an entire meal for the sake of her blog. Aka I ate most of my crap dinner because I’m too cheap to throw it out. And besides the Brussels sprouts were decent, as was the half of the Yorkshire pudding on which I put leftowver gravy instead of the pink sauce.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Quick-and-Easy-Yorkshire-Pudding/Detail.aspx?scale=4&ismetric=

I just want to add one more picture of something that IS a pudding of sorts: for breakfast, I daily make quinoa pudding. It consists of warm, freshly boiled quinoa dumped into a slightly smaller amount of honey-flavored Greek yogurt. It is delicious. Yes, I said it again. Delish!

quinoa pudding and berries
quinoa pudding and berries

Anxiety Attacks and Job Interviews

From Monday night (Feb. 25):

Tonight for dinner, I simply made spaghetti with olive oil and onion/tomato/garlic/basil “sauce.” It was delicious. As is, apparently all of the food that I enjoy eating. I need some new adjectives, my friends!

But let me tell you about my day today: (I wrote this bit Monday evening, too)

First things first, I had an interview scheduled for after my second class, that by the time it came to that time in my day, I had no idea if I would even make the interview. I have been suffering a lot of stress and I have no way to cope with my stress other than this meditation recording which reminds me of my dance teacher. Anyway, this stress came to a bit of a head this morning. It turned into an anxiety attack over my interview clothes; of which I felt I had none. So, as one does, I started trembling and not being able to function normally. I went to the health center on campus and made an appointment to talk to someone about stress management. My dad promised to pay for session(s) with a counselor a while back, so I felt no qualms about finally doing it now. Only a little bit of guilt that I hadn’t done it sooner and now I’m doing the typical American repair-rather-than-prevent thing…

But I went to my interview after all. Everyone I have talked to about my day on Monday, including myself is impressed that I made it. It was down in Union Square in San Francisco, a place that would make many people nervous on a great day; you can only imagine what it would be like on a nervous-breakdown type of day. But I had sufficiently calmed down and I made. I am not sure I did very well in the interview; it seemed to drag on but only lasted maybe 10-15 minutes. I always feel I’ve made a fool of myself in interviews…and I probably usually do. This time I felt at least somewhat prepared, having asked a friend who works at another of this particular company’s locations for pointers.

I did even manage to show up on time, after missing the Muni line I intended to take and not having good navigation on my phone. I had to do it the somewhat old-fashioned method: I asked people for directions! People I didn’t know, which usually I avoid at any cost, mostly to prove that I am capable of finding things myself and also so I can avoid talking to strangers, which I’m nervous about, not because I’m afraid of them, but because I have very little practice…anyway, I made it to my interview!

After my interview, I walked through Union Square, which is as I am sure most of you know, an outdoor mall of sorts. It is really quite something! I’ve only been once to the Macy’s with my grandfather and neither of us had wanted to be there very long, probably  because—before he met his current wife, who has worked her magic and calmed him considerably—he used to get cranky quickly, which I think he passed on to the rest of my family. So I explored and went into a few stores, hoping to do some minor retail therapy, and I went and accidentally made a friend. She worked at Lush, a wonderful store full of bath/skincare/hair products that smell amazing and don’t need packaging. She could tell I was having a shit day and decided to take care of me and offered me a free facial, which, if you haven’t had a Lush facial, you should. It was AWESOME! She even got me to buy a bubble bar, whereas most store clerks cannot for the life of them, convince me to make a purchase even after doing all kinds of free trial type stuff. But their products and my weird mood just worked to her advantage I guess!

Persian Poached Eggs

Persion Poached Eggs
Persian Poached Eggs

What I wrote last night:
I’m making a strange, oven-baked, banana-slice-filled pancake this weekend. I have two very much too overripe bananas that I have no intention of eating plain, nor of making smoothies with them, since I don’t have any other fruit except a lemon. I was going to make banana bread, but I don’t have brown sugar and I’m trying not to spend any more money this month, at least, not on non-necessary foods like brown sugar. Of course, this means that I will be drinking coffee with only milk. More likely, not at all since the reason I use brown sugar is that black coffee is too bitter and regular sugar just doesn’t cut it.
I wish my mom were here for this recipe because we used to make this thing my childhood recipe book called ”big fluffy pancakes” (also known as German Pancakes), which I’m sure this recipe is similar to, except that that old recipe was not filled, but topped with fruit. Usually berries and whipped cream. I never even liked it all that much except for the fluffy part. The flavor was too eggy for me as a youngin. It looked cool though. However, I, like Julie Powell, have never really liked eggs much. I eat them occasionally because they always look really neat when you fry or poach them.
Anyway, for dinner tonight I’m probably going to make some sort of chicken…I’m not sure, but it’s either that or more quinoa, which I’m not excited about lately…
2/23/13 aka tonight:
Last night for dinner, I ended up making my roommate and me “Persian poached eggs” which, while freakin delicious, I yet again slightly failed on the execution. I did almost everything right in the instructions except I let them sit on the heat for too long. Thus, my eggs did not break open and run all over the beautiful tomato-y garlic and onion mish mash. They were medium, aka soft, but not at all runny, almost hard….but they looked beautiful on the outside, and I ended up not minding the fact that I had overcooked my eggs once again. Because even though they didn’t run and get all over the spaghetti and tomato-y garlic and onion mish mash, they were yummy. Moreover, my roomie liked the dish (or at least pretended to), so I was happy.
And I’m sorry to say, I didn’t photograph the meal because I didn’t want to look like an idiot…though I’m sure in hindsight that C. probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash…as she is a blogger/etsy shop owner herself.

Glorious Roasted “Winter Vegetables”

So I made a glorious dinner to make up for my terrible lunch. It tastes fresh and simple and did I mention glorious? And it was simple to make and as I write…it may become cold…

Hold that thought!

Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa IMG_0314[1]Ok now that I’ve done the eating-my-dinner part, I’ll tell you what it was:  roasted “winter vegetables” in Thyme, garlic and butter. All on top of a small portion of quinoa (keen-wah). And oh boy was it ever glorious. I cannot stop saying that. It may well be the ONLY thing I actually say in this blog…

I cut up potatoes and baby carrots so that they were about the same size and fried/steamed them in a pan of hot butter whilst boiling quinoa per directions (boil 10 minutes, cover for five with the heat off, then “fluff”). I also par-boiled some Brussels sprouts, and I have to say if you think you do not like them, it is probably because they were over-cooked. They are supposed to have a warm, nutty kind of vegetable flavor. They are not supposed to taste like…farts or perhaps skunk? Anyhow, apparently when you over-cook them they give off a sulphuric taste/smell.

However, I didn’t overcook my Brussels sprouts, I added them to my potatoes and thyme and carrots and commenced fry/steaming them as well. Then I spooned my veggies out over the quinoa. I was all set to eat, when I realized that I hadn’t added the garlic! So what did I do, you ask? I put another healthy serving of butter into my pan and got it all liquidy and then put that darn garlic in there and made it all golden and beautiful. I didn’t brown it mind you, that would be over-cooking garlic, which gets tough and boring. I poured this lovely garlicky butter over my quinoa and vegetables, et voila! Dinner was served!

Brie and Egg do NOT make a good pairing

This afternoon I decided I wanted to experiment after watching a video of Laura Calder, who is the Julia Child to my Julie Powell. Although I am not exactly going through a master cookbook like Julie was, her blog is the inspiration for mine, and Laura is my muse. I digress. After watching an episode of her show French Food at Home entitled “Truckstop French,” I was inspired to make a brie sandwich.
However, I had English muffins, not baguette, and I toasted them in butter instead of slathering on softened butter. Laura Calder loves butter just as much as Julia Child or I ever could. I love that about cooks who make French food. They are neither afraid of butter, nor afraid to use a lot of it and I really think that nobody ever should be! Butter is a saint, as is bread. I think they are frequently martyrs, but I’m resurrecting them for my own cooking escapades.
Back to my sandwich. I added to my sandwich an egg fried over easy in the butter from my English muffins. All I have to say is, “PLEASE do NOT make this sandwich!” it did not taste very nice, brie and juicy egg together…and I didn’t make clarified butter, which I probably also should have done. However, I don’t really know how and I don’t intend to learn it tonight, as I’m too tired from this week. A week, which is, to my dismay, not over yet…
I need another nap.
And maybe another glass of wine.

p.s. I found a recipe for “Quick and Easy Yorkshire Pudding” which I intend to try soon. Does anyone have any tips on what to pair with it? (Other than wine, of course!)

brie and egg sandwich
brie and egg sandwich with whole fried cherry tomatoes

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Chicken Fried Chicken, Gravy and Fried Asparagus

Earlier in the evening:
I have found a recipe for chicken fried chicken tonight. I do not know how to make gravy, but I suppose I will find a recipe for that too. I have no idea why, but the recipe really just sounds yummy…I’m not sure if that’s something a normal 22 year old makes for dinner when she doesn’t have a man to feed (mine is back home in Sacramento), but why do I need an excuse to make something delicious? Women need to eat too, and the way to my heart isn’t flowers and chocolates, as my boyfriend found out this Valentine’s Day.
We had a wonderful day exploring the Embarcadero, which I haven’t done in the five months I’ve lived in this huge city because, hey, I’m busy, ok? Graduate work is not like undergraduate work. There is much more reading to skip out on and it is a lot harder to fake being knowledgeable in graduate school! But I digress, the way to my heart is exploring new places, buying French bread rolls and butter and eating it on a park bench and then enjoying a delicious plate of Tandoori chicken (my boyfriend isn’t very adventurous) and Tawa Scallops (?) (soooo soo good).
It’s a lot easier to just write for a personal blog than when you’re engaged to write for an internship. I wrote the previous two paragraphs in five minutes because I had something to say, whilst it would take me an hour to scrounge up something halfway decent for my internship. This is probably because I’m not quite busy yet this semester, and probably also because I was so burnt out on writing about literature that I couldn’t think about the books I was already reading in class. Also, I was compelled to find an angle on literature that made my articles relevant to current events, etc.

Later the same evening:
As I sit here drinking white zinfandel, I think back on my dinner-making experience of the night. And I realized that there a few things in life as exhilarating as making a recipe correctly, nor as disappointing as wasting food by preparing it incorrectly. Tonight, I rocked it! And sadly, had nobody to share it with, as my roommate is a vegan…but we talked about it while we were both in the kitchen making our respective dinners, which is always an enjoyable moment for me. She has not always been a vegan, and my guess is, will not remain one for the rest of her life. Most people don’t. It gets to be too difficult when you are older. Though in modern times, I suppose that it will be easier to remain vegan with all of the food-products that are becoming popular for non-meat-eaters.
Anyway, my chicken fried chicken (I used Coconut oil instead of lard) was delicious, and my accompanying milk-gravy turned out rather well, if a little too thick and flavor lacking. It was definitely gravy this time. last time I made gravy—and my boyfriend will attest to this fact—it was just…bad… though it had more flavor, being made from I think bacon juices, it was not in fact gravy by the end….I think I failed to add enough milk to it. However, I was guessing that time, and this time I watched a YouTube video on it and had a real recipe to boot! Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention my fried Asparagus. It too was delicious! Just heat a little olive oil in a pan, add the asparagus, et voila! it tastes perfect, although it could have gone a little while longer for more tenderness.

Chicken Fried Chicken
Chicken Fried Chicken

http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-fried-chicken-240118?scaleto=1&mode=null&st=true