Post Postponed

I haven't forgotten my promise to get everything from the Christmas Eve dinner up and running.

My excuses are as follows:

Christmas morning I woke up to the explosion of a Christmas party in our kitchen. I did a little tiny bit of cleaning, and then left a note for my roommate that I would help when I got back. I came back to find a note from her to leave it all until she got back. Then she got back, we took one look at the mess, and went to a friend's house to eat their food, drink some wine and play Rock Band.

The next day we cleaned, watched some movies, drank champagne and ate cheese and roasted garlic, went karaoke-ing and stayed up until all hours.

Tonight I needed to clean my room... It was like, not a joke anymore.

Stay tuned... I have good photos and discussions of what worked on Christmas Eve and what didn't.


Gearing up for Christmas Eve, Part Deux... Dip!!

The following is an actual, honest-to-god recipe. I measured things with measuring spoons, and when I didn't measure them with measuring spoons, I took pictures. Now you can see what I mean when I say "a bit." :)

It's like this, in fact. I figure that's about a half teaspoon, though probably a little less?

This here? This strikes me as more of a full teaspoon. See, my hand is a little farther away in this shot.

This is one of the things that I was able to make ahead for our Christmas Eve get together (turns out I’ll be cooking for twelve... gulp!). Stay tuned for photos of the dip all dressed up with a little float of olive oil and some toasted pine nuts. I appreciate that it's not especially attractive hanging out in my food processor. The recipe is as follows:

2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 white onion, roasted (see below)
2 Tbsp Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Approx. 2 tsp of salt
(you know the above shot of my hand with the salt in it? I did that four times. Just do the salt to your taste.)
Approx. 1 tsp smoked paprika
Approx. 1 tsp garlic powder
Black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

For the roasted onion- Chop one large white onion into about 1" pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat with a dash of salt and a few cranks of your pepper grinder. Roast in a baking dish at 400 for about 25-35 minutes. They should be soft and have a little brown around the edges, like so:

For deeper flavor, you could do a long, slow caramelization on the stovetop, maybe even with a couple dashes of balsamic. Just a thought!!

Toss all the ingredients in the food processor (or blender):

...and so on, and so forth...

Except for the liquids- you'll stream those in as your mixing implement does its thing. Next step- mix the bejesus out of it. It takes a while because of the onion to get everything smooth, but smooth is what we're going for here.
Smooth like this:

This sort of thing is so much better the next day, so if you can make it the day before, I strongly encourage it. Store in the fridge, and check out my serving suggestion after Christmas Eve!!


As an aside, my roommate/best friend has been making more sweets than I've ever seen in one place in my life. Last night as I was photographing this recipe, she was doing all my dishes. I thanked her, and she informed me that she was doing them so that she could later make me do some awful chore she didn't want to do. I asked her what it was, and she told me she didn't know yet. I told her to shove her gesture of mock goodwill, but that she could keep doing the dishes.

This morning, I woke up and made an executive decision. The awful chore that she didn't want to do that I did for her was to chisel all the peanut brittle off the stove. You're welcome, dear.

Gearing up for Christmas Eve

For the past few years, I’ve had a party on Christmas Eve featuring all of my dear friends that are home for the holidays. This year, that concept has been extended to include a big dinner for our families and whoever else would like to come enjoy a ridiculously oversized meal with no theme whatsoever. I mean, besides “Deliciousness.”

I’ll be making:

Broiled Green Beans with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe here, along with tons of other fantastic-ness for a vegan Thanksgiving)

Brussels Sprouts with Orange and Chili (Recipe here!)

Potatoes Au Gratin (I’ll be more or less flying by wire on this one, but just for Brian I’ll try to keep better track of amounts and procedures.)

Coconut Shrimp

I’ll be photographing all the pescatarian goodness as it happens, and hopefully will get a post up either on Christmas day or the day after. Merry merry, enjoy all the time spent with friends and family… The holidays are precious for that if for no other reason.


Stuffed Mystery Squash

The vegetable situation in my house is getting sad. Heartbreaking, really. I need to get to the grocery store and get some green things. This evening was the last hurrah of my crisper drawer, which contained some Russian red kale and nothing else.

My basket of onions, etc. contained a squash of some sort. I had tempeh in my freezer and wanted to riff on Lolo’s tamarind glaze after picking up a container of concentrate at the international foods market in Davis. What started as marinated tempeh with some roasted chunks of mystery squash changed form when I cut the mystery squash in half and scooped out the seeds.

They’re like the most perfect little bowls!!

I made a marinade for the tempeh with a bit of olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, smoked paprika, black pepper, a knob of tamarind concentrate, a splash of sesame oil and a bit of sugar.

I crumbled the tempeh into that and let it sit. The stuffing was made from whole wheat bread crumbs, kale, a diced white onion, and some “No Chicken” broth.

After marinating for a while, I mixed in the tempeh with the stuffing and packed it in the squash.

Here they are, ready to go in the oven:

I baked the halves for a while and took them out when the meat of the squash was fork-tender. Aren't they gorgeous?

I took some photographs, and then got ready to eat! Alas, the onions weren’t cooked. I emptied the stuffing out of the squash and cooked it in a pan for a bit.

Hey, they can’t all be grand slams on the first try.

The tamarind gives the marinade an interesting kick, and I didn’t add very much sugar… I can definitely see how this would be better as a truly sweet glaze over the grill.

It tasted very earthy with the kale and all, but in the future I’ll probably do something more maple-y, or closer to traditional stuffing with nuts and mushrooms and celery and such.

I'll also caramelize the onions in advance.

All in all, a pretty tasty learning experience, and Miss Bunny got to enjoy some treats as well. Miss Bunny is my special lady that someone found on the street and asked me to take in. She's pretty sweet to me, but a little excitable when it comes to food. These were taken just after she forcibly jerked the kale stem from my hand!! She likes to run around the living room and check out my roommate's cat. My roommate's cat is terrified by the whole thing, which delights me.


One Follower, eh?

Well... whoever you are... Thanks, Mom. :D

Tonight seemed like a good night to bother with photographing my food. Not because what I cooked is going to win any awards, but because it is colorful, and nutritious, and vegan, and falls into the "what I could with what I had" category.

I am, however, beginning to realize that I need a tripod. Unlike the authors of all the other glamorous, beautiful food blogs you read, I have a day job. This means photographing stuff when it's dark outside and i can't take advantage of any natural light streaming in through my kitchen windows. The flash makes things look strange, and I'm afraid I'm not *quite* steady enough to hold the camera still during macro-focus, low-light situations. Maybe next time I'll try bringing a lamp into the kitchen. i have one of those ones from Ikea with the bendy neck.

As for the food, I've been thinking about whole wheat orzo pasta a lot lately. My container is dwindling and it seems impossible to find in Sacramento. The only reason i have any at all is because my sweet boyfriend bought me ten lbs for Christmas last year at Rainbow Grocery in SF.

Damn. Before this post wins a "Stuff White People Like" award, I'll get to the pictures.

I heated up some olive oil and diced up a big white onion. Into the pan it went, followed by two cloves of garlic, some sun-dried tomatoes, a can of garbanzo beans (rinsed & drained), and some S&P.

After the onions had some nice caramel-ly brown-ness, and the sun-dried tomatoes were looking bright and soft, I shut off the heat, put a whacking great handful of spinach on top, covered the pan with a lid and let the wilting begin!

While that was happening, I chopped up some canned black olives and some chives that I needed to use like, yesterday. Perhaps it speaks to the lameness of my palate that the only kind of olives I really enjoy are the fat, salty, black ones out of a can. My only regret is that my fingers are too big to wear the olives around the kitchen and make goofy faces. I mean, I guess I could make goofy faces no matter what, but it seems somehow less fun without olives on each of my fingertips.

While the spinach was wilting and the olives/chives were meeting their grisly demise under the blade of my 10" steel, I boiled some Better than Bullion "No Chicken" chicken broth with a slug of olive oil. Into this went some whole wheat orzo until it was perfectly al dente and the broth was thick and rich. I have to say, I'm really impressed with the broth. It has a really good flavor that I remember very much from my days of cooking with chicken broth.

Once the orzo was finished, I tossed the whole great mess together and came up with this:

I love eating this colorfully during the winter. Rest assured it was delicious, my bowl didn't look like this for long:

As for the hooligan portion of this blog, there hasn't been much lately. I've been commuting to work here and there on the SV when the weather isn't too dreadful. Really, the coolest moto-related thing I've done lately is to knit my friend Donna a balaclava. How's this for totally ridiculous:

I was really proud of myself for knitting it so quickly and (if I do say so myself) so well. Then i put it on and realized the wool was too scratchy for facial consumption. Back to my stash for the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and some frantic knitting as I attempt to finish everything in time for Christmas!!

Thanks for reading.