Archive for Cooking

Rainbow Carrots

Colorful assortment of carrots from out little carrot patch.

rainbowcarrots

We get rotisserie chicken every week because it is one of very few source of protein Immi eats. After few years of weekly rotisserie chicken, I can’t possible eat another bite of it, but I make soup stock with it almost every week which I still enjoy. I put in whatever veggie bits I happen to have (which is sometimes nothing) but today’s got carrots and italian parsley from the garden. …And this is the best stock I’ve ever made, including ones I made from whole [not rotisserie] chicken! It is absolutely amazing how much difference the extreme freshness of these ingredients make in a soup.

chickensoup

Veggie Pizza

Fresh veggies from the garden (peppers, tomato, basil) inspired the idea to make homemade pizza but I was kinda lazy to make a bunch of neat little circular ones so I made a big one to fill an entire cookie sheet…like sicilian pizza? But with thinner crust, I like thin crust.

veggiepizza

Look at this cute heirloom tomato! I can’t believe we grew it — it looks and tastes extra fancy.

heirloomtomato

 

And, cantaloupe — not so little anymore!

cantaloupe3

 

Apparently, there’s nothing more exciting for a little kid than finding pear on a tree and pulling little carrots out from earth.

carrotsandpear

Homemade Flour Tortilla

We ran out of flour tortilla, and while this may be of no concern for most people, it is a huge problem in our household (Todd wraps everything — from teriyaki chicken & rice to eggs & sausages  in tortilla to go for breakfast and/or lunch)…so I had an idea to make some! It only requires items I usually have on hand and was very yummy if a little tedious to make (I found many recipe but I tried this one that doesn’t use baking powder, and uses oil instead of shortening. I used cast iron skillet instead of nonstick). Mainly, I put effort into producing tortillas that are as thin as possible because I hate chewy ones.

flourtortilla

Homemade Doughnut

Fried dough sprinkled pretty with powdered sugar. I think that it tastes basically exactly like beignet.

doughnut

 

Making Bread Sticks

Immi tagged along Todd for an outing and Lucian was taking a nap so Ashland and I made some bread sticks. I think he had lots of fun!

Here’s some all baked up! They are uhhhm…”RUSTIC” looking 😀 I made them for Lucian because I thought that it might help him with teething (he is making teeth in the back so bagel isn’t much help) but as it turns out, stick shaped bread is fun for every one.

Here’s little Lucian’s little dinner — I’m took picture of it because he was still napping! Linguine with ham simmered in garlic tomato sauce with splash of red wine. And the little bread sticks made by Ashland and I. Decidedly not kid-flavor, because that’s what Lucian and Ashland likes. Immi on the other hand only eats butter & parmesan.

Candied Pecans

…So I love candied pecans. I have never actually thought to buy any, but I enjoy them a whole lot when it comes in salads or garnishing french toast etc. Then, I encountered a candied pecan recipe recently and thought to give it a try. It turned out alright, but I thought it could be even tastier, crunchier, and easier to make. After some tinkering, I’m quite happy with it, and wanted to share!

 

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • a bit of salt to taste

hardware:

  • 9 inch cast iron skillet (this size fits 1 cup of nuts perfectly)
  • spoon
  • parchment baking paper

Direction:

  • Pre-heat oven 350F.
  • Melt butter in the cast iron skillet on stove top (low).
  • Pour in pecans and stir around to coat in butter
  • Add honey, maple syrup and sugar to skillet and mix well with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle some salt to taste (I imagine you know how salty you like your treats better than I) and mix again.
  • Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 7-9 minutes until toasty but not burned.
  • Take the skillet out of the oven, spread candied pecans onto parchment baking paper to cool. [When it cools, the gooey candy becomes crunchy.]
  • Enjoy!

Basically, using the cast iron skillet saves you clean up quite a lot. If you don’t have one, I imagine it would work ok to use a regular skillet to make butter/sugar/pecan mixture and transferring it into baking dish to bake.

I tried making this with just honey, honey + sugar, maple syrup + sugar, but found that combining honey AND maple syrup AND sugar produces best flavor and consistency. You need the regular sugar for the “crunch” factor and honey/maple syrup facilitates even coating for fail-proof baking fun.

 

 

Fancy Pretty Sea Salt for Cooking

Ever since the day my sister and I bought pretty jar full of lovely french sea salt in discounted gourmet food section at TJ Maxx to use as a bath soak (price was comparable to bath salts, and cooking salt doesn’t have crap like artificial color and scent in them) and decided to have a taste before pouring it in to the tub — I’ve been a fancy salt enthusiast. And that was in NH, so…10 years ago? I’m not particularly a good cook but I absolutely believe that good salt makes a huge difference. We don’t even ever buy iodized salt because it makes everything taste bad. For things where “ocean” flavor of the salt doesn’t count for much — like salting pasta water — I use kosher salt. …So when our friends shared with us sampling of very very fancy sea salt, it totally made my day!

This one is raspberry rosemary dessert salt. I think I’d love to bake some on shortbread cookies! How beautiful is this pink color?? [The cute vintage spoon thrifted for $0.10!]

And this one is some sort of peppery herb salt.

And this one is pink salt with seaweed in it.

And this one is “finishing” salt. The crystals are pyramid shaped flakes!

And this one is white truffle salt! Yum yum!!!

So pretty, it makes me happy just looking at them!

 

Anything Pizza

My lunch solution lately has been pizza topped with whatever left overs from dinner night before. This one has grilled chicken and roasted veggies on. Kids usually make the cheese pizza because that’s all they like. This one turned out quite well (better than it looks! I have much admiration for chefs who can make beautiful foods, I seem to have no knack for this).

Bibimbap and Pot Holder

We use our cast iron skillets a lot and so one of the most practical thing I make is a pot holder. For the past several years I have been crocheting them (after trying out variety of commercially available ones — some cheap and some kinda pricey — and realizing that crochet ones actually works the best!)  since crochet produces denser and therefore more insulating pot holder than knit, but I suddenly realized that I can knit a dense material if I used 2 yarns using stranded knitting technique! So here it is — my bibimbap-inspired lunch in vintage Griswold skillet with freshly knitted pot holder. It’s knit from cotton yarn which doesn’t catch flame like synthetic ones.

Simmering

Meat sauce (…it has too much tomato to qualify as bolognese, it also won’t have any cream in it) simmering in my *favorite* pan. It’s a 9-in skillet by Griswold from 1930’s. My mom and I found it while antiquing in Portland area.

I’ve been very fond of cast iron cooking since just shortly before it became trendy on cooking shows years back. I found a 6-in skillet manufactured by Lodge in the camping section of a tiny hardware store (now you can buy one at any kitchen shop) while living in NH and I totally fell in love because it was just so cute! I was surprised but very happy when it started popping up in virtually every show on FoodTV (…which I watched religiously back then)  just a few months after I got mine. Since then, I’ve gotten several more Lodge items, and my super nice All-Clad stainless pans remain sadly unused (I still use the pots and saucier…). Honestly, I was never unhappy with quality of Lodge products…until we found this Griswold one. The iron cast is so much smoother which makes it almost comparable in non-stickness as tephlon pans (but with out being TOXIC) and is also a lot prettier to look at.

…I’ll add here that Cast Iron cookware isn’t just cute to look at. I’ve since found them to be durable, easy to use, adds trace amount of iron in your food (helpful if you are a bit anemic like I was) and everything tastes much better cooked in it.