June 26, 2007

I'd rather be cooking.

This whole "cook something I've never cooked before at least once a week" thing was supposed to help calm me, to give me something worthwhile to do, to make me feel accomplished.

It's not fucking working.

Instead, I am feeling anxious and stressed and overworked.

See, I am damn busy this summer...teaching a creative writing workshop from 9-3:30 each week day, then teaching college classes from 7-10 four nights a week, then working every weekend at the winery. The cooking thing...it feels just like one more thing I have to do...mostly because I don't really have time to do it.

But, I still want to. I have a growing list of things I want to make, but I simply don't have time to fit it all in (last night I made sesame soba noodles at 11:00, so that I would have something to take for lunch the rest of the week). Sunday evenings are about the only day I have time to cook, and by then I am too beat to stand in the heat of the kitchen for a couple hours. Next week, though, I don't have to teach the workshop, so I am going to try to cook every day.

That's my goal, anyway.


Lately, I've been browsing around some food blogs. I've always loved reading about food, which is why I often thumb through cookbooks whenever I can. Some of the blogs out there have great stories, recipes, and pictures (if only I had a digital camera to take some pics of my food!). Check out my new "I eat" links.

June 25, 2007

Breakfast for Dinner

I had planned to make Monte Cristos for breakfast yesterday, but I didn't have time. Instead, I had them for dinner before my class tonight.

I began these "french toast" sandwiches by schmearing one slice of multi-grain bread with dijon mustard and another with orange marmalade. I topped each with some baby swiss, then Virgina ham on one and maple turkey on the other. I dipped them in beaten eggs and fried them in a bit of melted butter until browned. I stuck them under the broiler for just a few minutes to ensure everything was warm and melty.

And, well, they were just okay. Not as spectacular as I had hoped. Kind of just like a grilled ham/turkey & cheese sandwich. And the middles were kind of cold and unmelty.

I was hoping for something much more satisfying, something more of a cheezy taste explosion in my mouth. Maybe I'll try Croque Monsieur next time.

June 21, 2007


I was browsing around my Photobucket pics today and thought this one, which was taken a couple years ago, was pretty cool.

June 19, 2007

Hail Caesar!

I'd been wanting to make Caesar dressing from scratch for a while, and finally did it Sunday night. I followed Martha Stewart's Caesar Salad 101 recipe. I baked bread cubes into croutons. I mashed garlic with a knife. I mashed anchovies with a small mortar & pestle. I separated egg yolks from their whites. I juiced lemons. I whisked and drizzled and whisked some more. I somehow cut my finger.

And, it was pretty darn painless (the recipe, not the cut on my finger). It tasted like--well--like Caesar dressing should taste...salty & slightly fishy, lemony & creamy.

It made me want to never buy bottled dressing again.

June 12, 2007

Pesto: A Recipe in Haiku

Garden fresh basil
blend with pecans and garlic
add olive oil

A squeeze of lemon
and a few sprigs of spearmint
some parmesan cheese

Tasty on pasta
tumble in grape tomatoes
satisfying lunch

June 5, 2007

Soft-Boiled Eggs

Right now I am reading Eat, Pray, Love. In the first part, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy in search of pleasure, the art of eating well. At one point, she describes a meal that "will always count amongs the happiest [hours] of my life." After purchasing some "thin, bright asparagus" from a vegetable stand in Rome, she goes back to her apartment where she soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs for her lunch, peeled the eggs and arranged them on a plate beside the seven stalks of asparagus (which were so slim and snappy they didn't need to be cooked at all), put some olives on the plate with four knobs of goat cheese and two slices of pink, oily salmon.

She writes, "For the longest time I couldn't even touch this food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch, a true expression of the art of making something out of nothing. Finally, when Ihad fully absorbed the prettiness of my meal, I went and sat int he patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and ate every bite of it, with my fingers, while reading my daily nespaper article in Italian. Happiness inhabited my every molecule."

I read that yesterday morning and actually salivated. I then remembered a recipe in Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites cookbook for "Soft-boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers" and decided to make that for my lunch.

I don't recall ever cooking soft-boiled eggs, though I know I have eaten them at some point in my life. It seems like such an easy thing, especially compared to the last two recipes I've tackled. But, I was ready for something a little lighter and simpler.

Nevertheless, I thought that if I was going to make such a simple recipe I needed to have the correct paraphenalia. So, I stopped by my favorite little antique shop in town in search of a pair of porcelean egg cups. Buyer's remorse hit me as soon as I stepped out onto the sidewalk after my purchase, but I figured that the $12 cups were a good investment. After all, part of the joy of eating a soft-boiled egg is in the aesthetic of it all. I simply couldn't eat it without the equipment.

At home, I followed Nigella's recipe: Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower in the eggs, and boil steadily for four minutes. Immediately cut off the tops, sprinkle in some salt, then dunk in the steamed asparagus spears. I also dunked in some slices of crusty french bread. When the runny golden yolks were gone, I scooped out the delicate whites and ate them on the bread with herbed butter. I sat at the kitchen table, eating with my fingers, taking my time to savor the texture and flavor of the eggs.

I am typically pretty picky about how my eggs are cooked; I usually can't stomach runny eggs. But these were good. Really good. I am thinking they should be a new lazy late morning ritual.

June 3, 2007


I never realized just how thin sheets of phyllo dough are.

I layered 14 sheets on jelly roll pan, brushing every other sheet with melted butter.

I topped that with the filling: three packages of frozen spinach, onions, eggs, feta, swiss, parmesan, parsley, and a pinch of cinnamon.

I then layered the remainder of the phyllo, one sheet at a time, brushing and buttering.

The pan was really heavy.

My whole house smelled like butter.

It baked about 40 minutes.

It was golden brown and delicately crispy.

It was delicious.

I was so proud.

I bragged about it for three days.