Frittata

frittata

We had leftover deli turkey, the kind with peppercorns and sundried tomatoes, and zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach that had to be used.

I found a recipe for frittata that used all those vegetables, and replaced the called-for bacon with the turkey.

It said to only use three cloves of garlic. I laughed.

I chopped, stirred, cracked, blended, and poured.

It’s in the oven now.

I’ve loved the concept of breakfast for dinner since I was a little girl. (To this day, I only go to IHOP at night, but only ever order breakfast foods.)

Comment if you want the recipe…

Thursday 13: Rainy Day Quotations

Closeup of Little Girl in Red Boots by Michael Simons

I haven’t done a Thursday 13 in a while, I started this last Thursday when it was rainy, but then I never finished it for whatever reason. It’s not rainy today, but rather, windy, so I’m going to just do weather-related quotations. Enjoy.

  1. “Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” ~John Updike
  2. “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” ~Langston Hughes
  3. “Tears of joy are like the summer rain drops pierced by sunbeams.” ~Hosea Ballou
  4. “Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” ~Augustus Hare
  5. “A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.” ~Rachel Carson
  6. “There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind.” ~Annie Dillard
  7. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” ~Alfred Wainright
  8. “The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.” ~Joan Didion
  9. Spooky wild and gusty; swirling dervishes of rattling leaves race by, fleeing windflung deadwood that cracks and thumps behind.” ~Dave Beard
  10. “Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” ~Earl Wilson
  11. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
  12. “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” ~Jane Austen”
  13. “What my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
    I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
    Under my head till morning; but the rain
    Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
    Upon the glass and listen for reply…”
    ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Image Credit: Michael Simons via 123rf.com

You say Slumgullion, I say Schlumgallian

Schlumgallion

It’s one of those days. You know the kind: when you’ve been busy doing stuff all day, and you know you’ve been productive, but you’re not really sure exactly how. It’s been one of those puttery days, when you bask in creativity and execute tasks here and there, and start projects that you don’t care if you finish – those days are lovely.

But they end in those evenings, those nights really, when you realize that, oh, damn, we actually do have to eat dinner, and payday isn’t til tomorrow so pizza is NOT an option, and anyway, we can’t really justify ordering pizza when we have a house full of ingredients.

So you improvise.

For me, improvisation in the kitchen generally begins with sauteing onion and garlic in olive oil. I mean, really, what can’t you do with onion and garlic? So we started with that. And we added some 98% lean organic grass-fed ground beef that was mostly defrosted because I remembered to take it out earlier, but not really early enough.

Oh! There are mushrooms in the fridge. We should use those.

Oh! And tomato paste, because why not? And Worcestershire sauce, because it adds bite. Hmm. This is a little young. Squeeze in some lemon. Garlic and onion powders. Italian herb blend. Merlot-infused sea salt. Freshly ground black pepper. Stir til it bubbles, but it’s not quite complete.

Go to the fridge – nothing inspiring. Beets, but they SO don’t work with this. Maybe the freezer? Jackpot! A frozen veggie blend, kept around for “emergencies” just like this one.

So you add that and you stir, and then you turn the heat way down, and put a lid on it…what else? What else? Oh, awesome! Pasta.

I have this cannister on my counter. Whenever I make a pasta dish and don’t use all the macaroni or rotini or whatever, I put the extra (dry, uncooked) pasta in the cannister (note: dear autocorrect, canNister is an acceptable spelling for this word. Use one ‘n’ or two. Both are good). Nights like tonight, that pasta gets boiled in hot water, olive oil, a little salt, and when it’s done, it goes into the tomato and beef mixture.

Voila! a meal that isn’t horribly unhealthy, and doesn’t take forever to make, either.

But what do you call it.

Well, I grew up calling it, at least phonetically, “Schlumgallian,” with the assumption it was a family-originated made-up name for “throwing the kitchen sink in a pan,” but then I learned that there’s actually a dish called “Slumgullion,” which is an Irish word and refers to a “watery beef stew.”

Feral Kitchen‘s version of Slumgullion is not really that different from what I made. You can see their recipe here.

Mine is in the image at the top of the page, but the whole point of this dish is that you can make it with whatever’s at hand.

Mixing it Up

Baking Cookies

From the time I was fourteen or fifteen years old, I’ve had this fantasy of owning a bookstore/cafe, only it wouldn’t be like the cafes nestled inside Barnes and Noble. Instead, it would be an old house, and each room would have a different theme, and matching menu. Sort of like that restaurant chain that I can’t remember the name of, where there was an African room and an Undersea room. Only in my fantasy cafe, there would be a mystery room and a science fiction room, and…well…you get the idea.

Fantasies are lovely, but the reality is that retail sucks, and the restaurant business is pretty thankless, and I prefer to let this dream remain in dreamland, indulging it, instead, by reading novels where recipes are prominent.

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of this, but for some reason, mysteries feature food a lot more than anything else (well, the Pern books had a lot of great dishes, and Melanie Rawn’s Ambrai series…but…) and one of my favorite series is Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries.

I’ve been a fan of her work (and yes, I know “Cleo Coyle” isn’t really Cleo Coyle, but that’s not the point) since the first book, and have just finished the 13th, so you can imagine how tickled I was when she sent me an autographed copy of it after I contacted her about an interview for All Things Girl. I was even MORE tickled that she enclosed a bunch of recipe cards, one of which we’re making tonight.

Well, sort of.

The recipe card was for a candy cane frosting, but obviously if you’re making frosting, you must have something to, well, frost. Now, on her website, that frosting is paired with a standard brownie (from a mix) with a bit of ‘enhancement’ optional.

I don’t buy mixes.

And I have an excellent brownie mix, but it’s much more fun to go to the Source, Herself.

So I hopped on Facebook, and took a chance, asking if she had a scratch recipe that she’d recommend.

She did. And she sent me the link.

It’s a dark chocolate brownie with chocolate chips and espresso powder and…yeah.

I’ll post a follow up tomorrow afternoon when we put everything together (we’re making the brownies tonight, but will frost them tomorrow), and I’ll share the links at that time.

Meanwhile, y’all can go to bed imagining candy cane frosting on dark chocolate brownies.

Image credit: robynmac / 123RF Stock Photo

Dog Days of Podcasting: Listen

Dog Days of Podcasting

Tonight’s entry into the Dog Days of Podcasting project is another piece from the vaults (I plead continued migraine!), this time from the autumn of 2007.

Those folks who used to frequent CafeWriting may recognize the piece – it’s an unofficial prequel to the super-secret project I’m working on. Another cafe vignette.

Enjoy it at the SoundCloud website, or in the applet below.

Thursday 13: Bread, Cheese, and Kisses

croissant-and-marmalade-from-istockphoto

Thursday is nearly over, but I wanted to write about bread, so I’m doing it this way.

1) I spent the day baking bread. Well, that’s not true. Twice today, I spent several minutes tossing the ingredients for bread into the bread machine and pressing buttons. But I spent the day smelling fresh bread being made, so it sort of counts, right?

2) My bread machine is a Breadman Plus, and was a joint gift from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law years ago. It remains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It has a jam setting that I’ve never used, though I have been tempted. I don’t really like jam though. I like marmalade. And lemon curd.

3) I learned my love of bread-making from my grandfather. He had a bread machine, too, of sorts. It was a large copper bowl with a hand crank, and it was meant to make it easier to mix the dough.

4) My fondest memories of my grandfather are of the times when we baked bread together. He would wear a blue calico apron with “Chief” embroidered across it (made by my mother – my grandmother’s matching one said “Chiefie”), and I remember him putting cornmeal in the bottom of loaf pans, and knocking on baked loaves to see if they sounded “done.” I was always amazed by the way his rough, thick-fingered, calloused hands could be so gentle with dough. But they were gentle in the garden, as well.

5) My grandfather was a great fan of James Beard. I’m not his greatest fan, but I love the way he wrote about bread. He said, “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” I agree completely.

6) Just as I have a thing for beach novels, and coffee houses, I have a thing for bakery books. One of my favorites is Bread Alone, by Judith Ryan Hendricks. It’s a lovely story about a woman whose husband leaves her, prompting her to rediscover her love of baking, which began during an apprenticeship in France. Okay, I know, it doesn’t sound lovely, but trust me, it is. There’s a sequel, but it’s not as good.

7) Last year, when I visited my mother in La Paz (Baja Sur, not Bolivia) we found a Greek restaurant where the owner/chef bakes his own bread. He got me hooked on this rustic whole-grain loaf filled with pesto. It was amazing.

8) Sprouts sells a walnut raisin cinnamon bread that is to die for. It’s even better when toasted and slathered with honey-roasted almond butter.

9) My grandfather used to keep a special crock on the back of the dishwasher. It was his sourdough starter. I’ve never been fortunate enough to have anyone give me sourdough starter, but I have successfully done a wild-capture, when I still lived in California.

10) San Francisco style sourdough is special because of the type of yeast (wild captured), and the refreshment ratio (40%), but you can actually make it pretty much anywhere. However, true San Francisco sourdough is also special because you’re eating it in slightly salty, coastal air.

11) When Fuzzy is away and I really don’t want to cook, I often make a meal out of good bread, cheese, olives, and fruit.

12) In my family, Italian bread is the soft baguette that you eat with pasta, and it isn’t covered in garlic and cheese. We fight over the ends.

13) White bread (except baguette) never crossed the threshold of my house until I married Fuzzy. I looked at it in horror. He never bought it again. My favorite sandwich bread is pumpernickel. Especially if there’s liverwurst involved.

Bonus: “Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.” – Carmen McRae

Wok’s It To Ya?

Spices from iStockPhoto

Pollen season has hit North Texas which means I either have itchy ears (yes, ears) and watery eyes, or I’m in a perpetual state of Benebriation (you know, that post-benadryl brain fog).

This means I sometimes have to schedule work around my need to sleep off the antihistamine haze.

It also means that quick and easy become the operative word for mealtimes.

Tonight? I cut two organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, threw them into the wok-pan (it’s not a true wok) with a bit of heated olive oil, and tossed them around til they were browned. Then I added a liberal slug or two of my favorite teriyaki sauce, Soy Vey, and let them simmer another ten minutes.

I’m about to add a bag of frozen “Asian-style” veggies to the pan, stick the lid on, and let it all cook together for another few minutes. We’ll eat when the veggies are hot through.

Should I be using fresh veggies? Yes. But when it’s just the two of us, the frozen veggie combos are more cost effective because we can’t use large quantities of fresh veggies quickly enough.

Dessert, in a few hours when we need a snack, will be sliced fresh strawberries tossed with balsamic vinegar, a bit of granulated sugar (cane sugar, of course), and accented with a dash of ground black pepper.

What’s on YOUR table tonight?

Avocado Adoration

avocado_via_morguefiledotcom

I remember when I was around 12 I learned about the three A’s for the first time: asparagus, artichokes, and avocados. I think I tried all three for the first time in the same year, and they’ve been favorites of mine ever since.
- David Reilly

I’ve been on an Avocado kick since Sunday morning, when we went to CostCo and they were shamelessly pushing large, nearly ripe, fruit at us. There’s something so satisfying about the creamy goodness of an Avocado, whether you turn it into guacamole, slice it into a salad, add it to an omelet, or layer it on a sandwich.

So far this week, I’ve done three of those, and it’s only Tuesday.

The thing about Avocado is that when I eat them, I’m less “snacky” during the rest of the day, so yes, they’re a high-calorie fruit, but they’re still healthier than all those tasty-tasty sugary carbs that I love, but don’t love me.

On the California Avocado website, I saw mashed avocado on multi-grain toast, topped with a sunny-side-up egg.

Guess what I’m having for lunch tomorrow?

(Breakfast is a protein shake, because I don’t DO breakfast otherwise.)

Geeking Out over Coffee

sightglass-is-here

Last week, over at All Things Girl, I admitted that when I was at Barnes and Noble shopping for Christmas gifts, I realized that I hadn’t renewed my membership card there, and worse, that I hadn’t even noticed that it hadn’t been renewed.

Today it’s time for another confession: I may not be able to maintain my gold card status at Starbucks this year.

For those of you who know me, this will be a shock. After all, I’m the queen of frou-frou coffee, and have been known to mark time by the appearance of the red cups each fall.

The thing is, Starbucks is popular, not because they make great coffee (we all know they tend to burn their beans), but because they turn out a consistent product and are conveniently located throughout, not just the country, but most of the world. So ubiquitous have they become that we actually make comments like, “The nearest Starbucks is more than 50 miles away,” in order to demonstrate how rural (or backwards) a place is.

So why am I not drinking at Starbucks? Well, I’m not boycotting them, or anything. I mean, for a safe warm place to write, with free wifi and clean bathrooms, they rock. I love their “protein plate” and if I’m out and about (and hungry) will happily nibble on one while reading. As well, I recognize that for a major corporation they’re not politically horrible, actually offering healthcare even to part-time employees, and such.

A few years ago I bought a Keurig machine. It was nice, because I’m usually the only coffee-drinker in my house, and I was finding myself brewing whole pots of coffee, having one cup, and forgetting the rest was there. (Also Keurig offers pods from Caribou coffee, which is so much tastier (and not burnt) than Starbucks. Really.) So the one-cup Keurig gave me instant gratification, and saved me the cost of all those wasted pots of coffee.

But I wanted espresso.

I did some research and determined that in order to replace the Keurig, I would need a machine that could make both regular coffee and decent shots of espresso, and I bought a mid-range CBTL machine. I love it to pieces. I make shots in the antique demitasse cups my parents brought from Mexico for me at Christmas, or in the less-than-antique Starbucks demitasse that Fuzzy brought me from Hong Kong (the city cups), or sometimes in the cups from the Japanese tea set we received as a gift from some really good friends several years ago. (JULIA, I MEAN YOU.)

I even spent the extra $50 for a frothing pitcher, so I can have lovely cappuccino without ever leaving my kitchen…or, for that matter, putting on a bra.

I love my CBTL. I keep my Keurig upstairs to make cocoa or tea with (since neither requires me to add milk) when I’m working upstairs. But sometimes I want the pleasure, the romance, the heady aroma, of grinding real beans and listening to the water churn and pouring out the deep brown fluid that is the elixir of my life, if not everyone’s.

I especially like trying new kinds of coffee. Not flavored, because I think flavored coffees pretty much uniformly suck – especially hazelnut – but blends, varieties, roasts. A friend of ours from the UU church introduced me to his fair trade coffees – they make some of the best organic decaf on the planet, and then, last November, my friend Clay brought some Sightglass coffee with him when he came from San Francisco.

I was hooked almost instantly, and not just because of the name, invoking pirates along the Barbary coast, and tall ships appearing out of the fog.

We made the espresso in a regular pot, and it was awesome. We made the regular coffee as well and agreed it was likely the best non-espresso either of us had ever tasted.

Yesterday my order of more arrived. A bag each of Indonesia Sulawesi and Blueboon blend. Roasted on Tuesday.

And today, late this afternoon, I will be receiving a three-cup stovetop espresso machine, a Bialetti Moka Express, that’s basically the modern version of the antique copper coffee pot gracing the top of the hutch in my kitchen.

Three cups is just enough to have two really good mugs of coffee, without wasting an entire pot, and since I can grind most any bean espresso-fine, I don’t need to worry about having a specific blend. (Espresso refers to the method of brewing, NOT the roast of the bean – any dark roast can be used – if you’re a Starbucks fan try their Verona.)

And so, as I enter into a weekend that will see Fuzzy heading to Orem, UT for work on Sunday afternoon, I will at least face it with excellent coffee.

Care for a cup?