Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Cup

This is my favorite cup.

And I mean favorite. Mom got it for me for my birthday this year. I love it.

I use it for my coffee.

I use it for my breakfast.

I use it for my lunch.

Yes, of course I wash it between. What a question!

And naturally, I use it for my afternoon tea.

When it gets broken - and in this house, I mean when, not if - I'm going to need counseling.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

White Bean and Chicken Chili

White Bean and Chicken Chili
Salad with Lime-Cumin Dressing

There is nothing especially creative or clever about our dinner last night. I had roasted chicken leftover from this weekend, and worked a little late, so I needed something quick and simple to put on the table. You can make it without chicken as well.

Dice an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.

Sweat those in about a Tbs. of olive oil in a medium heavy pot over medium heat.

Add two pieces of diced bacon.

Stir that together over medium heat until the garlic and onion are starting to brown a little and the bacon is mostly cooked. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper and stir.

Add 2 Tbs. of canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, chopped.

Chop 2 cups of roasted chicken. You can use a rotis chicken from the grocery, or leftovers, or you can cook some chicken thighs or breasts and use those.

Feel sorry for Pitiful on your floor here, take a blurry picture of him, and give him a little piece of chicken. (Thus ensuring that he will park his furry butt in this spot forever and ever.)

Then get out your can opener and prepare to break a sweat.

Open a can of diced tomatoes and two cans of white beans. Sit down and rest a few minutes.

When you've gathered your strength, drain the diced tomatoes, then dump them and the two cans of beans (undrained) into the pot along with the chicken. Add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock, stir it, put a lid on the pot and simmer it for 20 minutes.

While that's simmering, make a salad and some dressing.

Use whatever greens and vegetables you have. I had some hearts of palm, romaine lettuce, some tomatoes that Pootie bought at the farmer's market, even though tomatoes are pretty much done for the year - but these were OK - and some avocado. Here's the dressing:

Juice of one large lime (about 3 Tbs.)
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp ground cumin
A few grinds of black pepper
4 Tbs. olive oil

Whisk together. Wait to toss with the salad until you're ready to serve dinner.

Stand there a second, then decide "hmm... cornbread sure would be good with this..." and open your cabinet. Hear angels sing when you discover a package of Jiffy Cornbread Mix.

America's Favorite! Hey. Don't be a hater. I grew up on this stuff. My baby brother, the heretic, announced one year after he was grown that he didn't actually like it. I threw a rock at him.
Look at the instructions and decide that yes, you do have time to make it before Pootie finishes his yoga, which he's doing to some soundtrack of sitars and running water (which made you think some plumbing had burst), instead of a background of car alarms, sirens and a traffic jam you had suggested as an alternative. All my good ideas get vetoed.

You really should cook this in a preheated cast-iron skillet with a little dab of butter melted in the bottom.

While the cornbread is cooking, cook a couple of pieces of bacon for garnish.
When you remove the cornbread from the oven, have flashbacks to the multitude of times you've grabbed the handle of a hot pan, finally have the sense god gave geese and put a hot pad over it to remind you not to do that.
Serve the chili, add a dollop of sour cream and some crumbled bacon.

Leave Pootie to clean the kitchen, claiming you need to work on your blog. Play six games of Freecell instead.

Here's the .pdf of the chili, if you'd like.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Friends: Trawick College Visit

Our old friends Ben and Amy and their kids Hannah and Duncan came to visit us this weekend. As I've mentioned before, they are our oldest couple friends, and we've known them since before they reproduced.

Then they had Hannah. Look how cute and little she is!

Brace yourself. The reason they were visiting this weekend is because they are doing college visits for that tiny little girl there.

I know. It's way, way early. I mean, she's not even in kindergarten yet! And I don't have any grey hair and still wear a size 6. And Duncan isn't around yet, and certainly hasn't grown three feet since we saw him and now sounds like a young man instead of a little boy.

Good lord.

Anyway. These old friends brought their almost-grown children to stay for the weekend and visit the UNCW campus as part of Hannah's rounds.

Poor Hannah. I have no idea what Pootie is doing.

Our good friend Beth led us on a tour of the campus - she works at UNCW and knows it like the back of her hand.

See how tall Duncan is? Good grief.

In between touring the campus, of course we ate. This crew is marvelously non-picky. And because we've known them forever, meals are always a laid-back affair. Nothing fancy, just feed everyone and concentrate on visiting. The weather was perfect, and we were able to eat outside and then have a fire afterwards.

Friday Night:
Cheese and crackers
Cocktails (for the grownups)

Two Roasted Chickens
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Salad (thanks, Pootie)


Campus Tour

Saturday Night:
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile and Cayenne
Salad (thanks, Ben)

We had a wonderful time, and are so glad they came. 


Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm still here

No, I have not forgotten that I have a blog. It's been a busy work-week and a half, and we've got company coming this weekend. So stay tuned! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ear Worm Wednesday! Hostess Fruit Pie

Truly one of the dumbest commercials from my childhood, yet of course, I still remember his opening song. Please note that the pies are full of fruit "flavor", not necessarily full of fruit.

Another one that doesn't allow embedding (grinches!) so just follow the link!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Drinking. The Northwood.

Last night on Facebook, I posted the following:

My husband is going for a run.
I am having a drink.
I'm really not sure what's wrong with him.

(In defense of my health, I'd done my workout much earlier.)
A couple of people asked what I was having (or, wistfully, what "we" were having). Here it is. The Northwood. This drink to me tastes like fall in a glass. I got it from Imbibe Magazine a couple of years ago. Really, if you imbibe, and you haven't taken a gander at this periodical, you really should. It's wonderful.

I didn't take pictures, because, well, I'm lame. But here is the recipe, in case you'd like to try it for yourself.


3 Tbs gold rum
2 Tbs brandy
1 1/2 Tbs apple cider
1 tsp pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)
3/4 tsp lemon juice (fresh)
Ice Cubes
1 thin apple slice

Combine first 5 ingredients in cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into a coupe glass or, in my case, a martini glass, because I don't have any coupe glasses. I also don't happen to know what a coupe glass is. Feel free to educate me. Garnish with the apple slice.

It was much better than a run.

Monday, October 11, 2010

High School Reunions and Nothing To Do With Food

Weren't the 80s ossum? Don't tell me you don't remember. I'll bet good money I don't have any readers that are much under 40 out there. (I probably could have put a period right after "readers"). That picture there is probably the most flattering picture in existence of me from that era. And there aren't many. I spent a great deal of time avoiding the camera altogether. Seriously.

See? You don't want to know what happened to the photographer. He never fully recovered.

Go through the family pictures at my mom and dad's and it looks like I disappeared after age 11 and reappeared at age 22. I like to tell people they sent me away to military school. But everyone knows I'm way too bossy to have made it there longer than a week.

This is my best friend from high school. And this pretty well sums up our personalities. I was charming, let me tell you.

Lynn's gonna kill me for this one.

I had a nice group of friends in high school and I loved them. Some of us went on to college together, some went other places. Some of us got married, some didn't. Some of us had babies, some of us didn't. Some of us colored our hair, some of us (ahem) obviously didn't. All of us moved away. Scattered to the four winds. But gradually, most of us have wandered back to each other virtually. Most of us, the girls anyway, made it to this 25th reunion. (There were boys, too, but the ones we ran around with are hosers and didn't show. So there, guys!)

There are lots of ippy, drippy, gooey sentimental sayings about old friends, and I'm not going to pollute my blog with them. I'm not that kind of girl. I'll just say I was very happy to spend time with some people who are important to me this past weekend. I'm just as bossy as I was in high school, I still can't dress myself stylishly, and I'm not any more fond of having my picture taken, but these folks seem to like me anyway.

And I've never even had them over to Cafe 305 and bribed them with food to be my friends! What do you know about that?

But if they lived here, I sure would!

Back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. I promise I'll have something about food. Maybe even a recipe for you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ear Worm Wednesday! Heinz Anticipation

Let's see... this was '79, so I would have been 12 when this one aired. Truly I did hate this commercial. But I'm posting it today because it's definitely an ear worm for me, and because I actually AM anticipating something. I leave tomorrow for my 25th high school reunion. (Speaking of retro). I'd provide you with updates, but a.) It has nothing to do with cooking and b.) I doubt anyone would be the least bit interested.

The embed code isn't working, so just follow the link and enjoy, and I'll see you when I get home!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Finally Fall! Butternut Squash Soup

Picture taken by my friend Beth and used totally without her permission. This is New Hampshire. Our leaves aren't this pretty in North Carolina.

I never fully realize how much summer beats me up and takes my milk money until the first real whiff of fall. Not the pseudo-cooldown we get periodically when nighttime temps dip all the way down to the upper 60s. I'm talkin' honest-to-god chilly weather - when I sit and work in the office and my hands and feet get cold. My spirit perks up and I get excited thinking about hay rides and raking leaves and wearing thick wool sweaters and all the other things that I never actually do that are universal symbols of fall. I think the last time I went on a hay ride was in 1986 and that was probably the last time I wore a thick wool sweater, because I'm sure I roasted in it. We do live in the South, y'all. And if you've seen my yard, you know it's been almost that long since I've raked a leaf. I much prefer blowing them to the side of the yard. "Topsoil", she tells herself.

But what I DO manage every fall is to bust out some pretty hittin' autumn moves in the kitchen. This butternut squash soup is one of my favorites. There are six thousand variations of it you can find anywhere and everywhere, but here's mine.

Peel and dice one apple and one small yellow onion. I used a Granny Smith apple for the tartness. Sweat them in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized pot. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt.

Add about 1/2 tsp. of rubbed sage, or finely minced fresh sage.

I love Penzey's
Add 3 cups (roughly) of butternut squash chunks. We're going to pretend here that I did this properly and peeled and seeded and chopped the squash myself, instead of buying the package of pre-cut stuff at the grocery. Don't rat me out. Nobody likes a tattletale.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock and put a lid on the pot to let it simmer. While that's going, cook two Italian sausages over medium heat. I used hot turkey sausage. No, of course it's not as good as real pork Italian sausage. You can use that, if you prefer.

When the sausage is browned, drain it on a paper towel, then chop it. Set that aside.

Simmer the squash for about 30 minutes, until it's soft. Then brrrrzzzzzt it with an immersion blender, or put it in a regular blender and puree until smooth. If you use a regular blender, cool the soup a little and leave the center part of the lid off so steam can escape. Otherwise, you'll be very sorry. And very scalded. And very orange and sticky.

Return the soup to low heat, add 3/4 tsp. of nutmeg, salt it to taste, and add 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Stir that all together and simmer until warmed through.

Put a handful (or spoonful if you're averse to using your clean hands) of chopped sausage in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle the soup over the sausage.

Serve garnished with a pinch of nutmeg.

Here's the .pdf version, if you are so inclined.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kitchen Conversations: SCHARFFEN BERGER Baking Contest

Early warnings:
1.  I use a swear word in this blog. If you are easily offended, read no further.

2. I am tired to the bone of cupcake culture. I'm sick of hearing about cupcake recipes, cupcake websites, cupcake tools and other cupcake crap. I'm sorry. There it is. I'm a hater. I'll eat 'em, and they're fine and all, but good lord, move along. That being said, at one time, I thought they were grand. I named my big, mean tom cat Cupcake 40 years ago.

Anyway, Pootie forwarded me this email he got from Scharffen Berger Chocolate:

Blah blah blah, etc.

Me: What? What is this? You want me to get you some Cocoa Powder?

Pootie: No, you'd better participate or I'll be pissed off.

Me: Participate in what? Buying you hot cocoa mix?

Pootie: No! Enter that contest.

Me: What? Are you serious? Pootie, this is a CUPCAKE contest. I hate cupcakes. I'm so sick of hearing about cupcakes I can't see straight. Why would I enter a cupcake contest?

Pootie: Don't hate the cupcakes when you can win Scharffen- Berger shit!

I shall now add some "Scharffen Berger shit" to my Christmas shopping list for Pootie so that I do not have to bake cupcakes.