every summer CSA season starts again and inevitably my mom has tons of vegetables that need to be cooked. this led to the creation of a dish, which is more like a blueprint, that has become a tradition in the huizenga family – it’s called beans ‘n ‘greens ‘n rice.

simply put, you cook a bunch of vegetables you have lying around starting with the hardest ones that take longest to cook, throw in some beans, wilt in some greens at the last minute and serve the whole delicious mess over rice of some kind.

i try to decide in advance, based on the selection of veg, what family of spices/flavors i’ll be using – mexican, indian, thai/asian, american chili-style, etc…

so a couple nights ago i made a delicious faux-indian curry and a cucumber salad

i just love the creative part of cooking, especially when the flavors really come together 🙂

gotta go, richie made me breakfast!


yesterday morning i wanted to sit on the couch and watch West Wing with the ratties, as i often do between 9am and noon before i leave for work. BUT my dearly beloved boyfriend was occupying the space with his own activities so i went downstairs in a huff. upon entering the kitchen i found, as i often do, a pile of dirty dishes… so i started washing them.

doing dishes has become very symbolic for me over the past 6 months. i have gone from basically NEVER washing a dish ever to washing all the household dishes almost every day.  i feel extra bad about it now considering the filth i forced my past roommates to endure, but it took something special to make me change – it took Richie and a house and accepting responsibility.

So there i am doing dishes and i started thinking about making breakfast, mentally reviewing the contents of the fridge (i havent been shopping for a while so it’s sparse in there), but we did have a lot of apples. At first i was thinking of apple pancakes but once i looked at the clock i realized that while there was enough time to cook, there was not enough time to sit and eat. Hmmmm.

Then, eureka! I remembered that i have a wonderfully effective Basic Muffin Recipe that serves as a base for any mix-ins you can imagine. This time i cut an apple into little chunks (with peel on) and sauteed them with a little nutmeg and butter before adding them and some chopped pecans and ginger and a little more nutmeg to the batter. I had to extend the baking time to almost 25 minutes at 400 degrees and they are delicious. (you may have noticed that there is NO CINNAMON in this recipe and that’s because i hate cinnamon, except in the occasional savory application)

this recipe is from Frugal & Greenish which is written by the same lovely lady (Carolyn Ekins) who also write the 1940s Experiment which is also a really fun blog. She’s British so these muffins are of the Anglo variety – a little denser and chewier, not so crumbly and fall apartish as you might usually imagine. (below: my comments are in italics)

Basic Recipe for Breakfast Muffins (12 – its a hefty 12, could be 13 or 14 depending…)

* 2 or 2.5 cups of flour ( I use half white and half wholewheat/wholemeal usually – i use all white bc im a glutton and they are fab!)
* 1 cup of milk (may need more if using no moist added ingredients – she’s right on about that)
* 1/4 cup of fat (I use half this amount – i use the full 1/4 cup and used veg oil)
* 1 egg
* Up to 1/2 cup of sugar (use just a few teaspoons if making a savoury muffin)
* 2 teaspoon baking powder (i like to add a pinch or two more just to make sure they are light and fluffy)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Up to 1.5 cups of extra ingredients (dry or moist- could be raisins, nuts, fruit, grated carrot, applesauce, grated cheese etc)
* Herbs or spices

Put all dry ingredients in bowl and mix
Add all wet ingredients and mix together- doesn’t matter if the batter is lumpy. Underworked is better infact.
Pre-heat oven (i preheat my oven before i start mixiing because it doesn’t have a timer so i just have to hope its up to the right temperature after 10-15 minutes)
Bake for about 15 minutes or so at 200 C. (200 Celsius is about 400 Farenheit i think… These usually take more like 20-25 minutes in my oven)

Friday: had to work the morning shift, then come home to laundry, cleaning pet cages, and baked a cake for my dad’s birthday – it was a strange cake with a coconut topping that you put under the broiler. My broiler is like a drawer on the bottom of my ancient TAPPAN oven (in avocado green of course). So this basically involved me kneeling on my kitchen floor for 5 minutes watching the top of this cake brown but not letting it scorch.

It was not a very photogenic cake so no pics. i’ve noticed that  i don’t always make pretty food, and i don’t care that much. i get a little jealous when i see the awesome pictures of Erin’s perfect cupcakes, but mostly i just want to make food that tastes good and pleases my family

Saturday: Ultimately it was okay, everyone devoured their slices, but no one said anything really. My family kind of sucks in the general “showing appreciation” department. when i cook for them they say things like “thanks for cooking” but not “this food is so good and it is providing me pleasure and i appreciate that you have provided this slice of happiness for me”
They just aren’t that into food. They eat it and they like when they don’t have to do the work of preparing it and they can tell when it’s really bad (although with my dad that’s debatable) and that’s the end of it. 

Personally i thought the cake was too dense and i missed the middle section of frosting in a traditional layer cake, plus the topping was WAY too sweet! So whatever, not making that again.

Sunday: one of the best days i’ve had in a while even though i spent a lot of it semi-miserable due to intense allergies. (i’m allergic to basically everything it seems, ever since the heat has been turned on. even in my car or public places if i’m near a heating vent then my eyes are watering, my nose is running and my sinuses are burning.)

Anyway we got up and cleaned the rat cage, then i went off to do the grocery shopping (at ALDI’s my favorite place to shop in the whole world because the prices are low enough that i can relax and enjoy it) and Richie stayed home to clean and clean and clean. I got home and managed to take enough  medication to stop my symptoms, but of course then i was drowsy and out of it. So i had a red bull vodka while i made coleslaw.

Then Richie’s awesome cousins and friends came over and after i messed around in the kitchen for awhile, and an emergency trip into the oven for the fried chicken, we had dinner.

Unlike my family, Richie’s family actually likes food. They can tell when it’s mediocre, pretty good, awesome, and all gradations of quality in between. So when they couldn’t stop saying how good everything was, my heart just swelled up with pride and happiness. And then my best friend Caitlin called to say she was randomly in town, on the far south side, and did i want to go to an irish music jam session with her parents at a bar just around the block? WOOHOO!!! i made a delicious meal for a group of people whom i love and keep trying to impress, and my best friend who lives in New Orleans (and we both suck at keeping in touch so i hadn’t seen or barely even talked to her since august) is in the neighborhood – everything’s comin up Milhouse, you know?

We went out and had a blast, kickin it old school with these ancient irish guys with their cool instruments and poetry recitations, and it was just classic.

Then this morning i realized that i hadn’t taken any pics of the food! i’m a bad blogger i guess. but anyway i made some seriously delicious coleslaw with just cabbage, celery, carrot, full fat mayo, white wine mustard and a splash of white vinegar. Also fried chicken dipped in beaten eggs & milk, then in a combo of flour, generic bisquick baking mix, paprika, red pepper, black pepper, seasoned salt and chili poweder, then pan fried in a couple inches of veg oil and finished in the oven at about 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes (the bone-in breasts i bought were HUGE). I also made loaded smashed potatoes by boiling 5 lbs of red potatoes for 40 minutes, drained, roughly chopped and then stirred in a stick of butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, some milk and half and half. Then i cooked up about 1/3 of a package of bacon cut into 1-inch pieces, threw that into the taters with some of the grease and then topped each serving with shredded cheese. I used the bacon grease to make a roux then added chicken stock to make some majorly delicious gravy.

and boy are my arms tired… 🙂

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Originally uploaded by barredowl2010

so the other day i did a huge amount of cooking because i had defrosted 5 lbs of ground beef and it had to be used.
i could have been smarter about it but whatever. i’m not perfect, big surprise.
anyway after i made an awesome tortilla taco casserole thing, and a big pile of taco meat on the side, i realized that i didn’t want to eat any of it!
does this ever happen to you? by the time you’re done planning, cooking and cleaning up after, you’re just not hungry anymore? It happens to me a lot and it’s really been killing my Thanksgivings for the last few years.
(although i should probably be thankful because it may be the only thing standing between me and the 300 lb mark. but maybe i do myself a disservice because i don’t think that i really have the binging impulse that many obese people have… on the other hand i am obese and its obviously because of something i’m doing…)

anyway i wanted French Toast. Usually when i want French Toast i have to wait until my next trip to a diner because we never have good bread for french toast in the house.
now that i have my own kitchen and i do all the grocery shopping, i could buy white bread or even texas toast bread all the time. but old habits die hard and i still just pick up something wheat-y with grains on the outside like my mom always insisted.
anyway i got lucky and we had some almost white “oat” bread so my french toast cravng could be sated immediately!
then i made a crucial misstep and decided to make stuffed french toast a la this everyday with rachael ray recipe (from her regular “recipes for kids” feature, i’m not too proud to make recipes designed for children!)

so here’s the thing, the recipe went fine, and it tasted pretty good BUT i just enjoyed the couple of plain slices i made with leftover egg mixture so much more!
i just find the cream cheese and jam “stuffing” to be intrusive to the purity of the golden soft creamy custardy bread which is the essence of french toast.

so the lesson was: sometimes simple or plain is better.

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Originally uploaded by barredowl2010

TMI Thursday

so LiLu over at does this awesome TMI Thursdays thing in which bloggers are encouraged to share embarrassing and inappropriate stories.

This post has been waiting for the right moment!

I was excited to make this chocolate chip coffee cake, the batter was a little labor intensive, but i was going to use my 20 inch springform pan which is always exciting.
So I followed the recipe and made this light foamy batter. I poured it into my springform pan as directed. i was supposed to pour half the batter, then add a layer of choc chips and sugar, followed by the rest of the batter and more chips and sugar on top. BUT half of the batter didn’t even cover the bottom of the pan so i just poured it all in and added the topping. Oh, and i used chocolate chunks instead of chips just because i had them.

As I walked to the oven, with the pan in both hands, I somehow pushed the bottom of the pan up, out and over the sides, propelling the batter upside down to SPLAT on the floor.
NO!!!! i screamed, all alone in the house. Then after the slightest hesitation i grabbed a flexible plastic cutting board and pushed it under the pile of batter, scooped the whole thing up and dumped it into a regular 9 inch round cake pan. i swirled it around to mix in the former-toppings into the batter, added more toppings and threw it in the oven before i could change my mind.

Now, this may not sound so bad… but you haven’t seen the reality of our kitchen floor. Sure it had been cleaned “recently” but is that really good enough? Would Julia Child be proud, or was it over the line?

Regardless, I am ashamed yet relieved to confess this transgression. I am also very pleased to report that it was totally delicious and very much enjoyed by all!

ALSO in the overshare category, i have to restrain myself daily from writing long and obnoxious posts about how wonderful my boyfriend/soulmate/life partner Richie really is. In so many ways our life together reflects my dreams of what life would be like as a grown-up and it just overwhelms me when i think about it.

well i’m back again!

life has changed a bit – i moved to the southside of chicago with my boyfriend/soulmate/life partner/best friend Richie.

We are poor and in love and we cook all our meals at home, so i figured, why not write about it online?

we met on and it was love right away. he winked at me because he liked my screenname, i wrote back because he was always laughing and making funny faces in the pics he posted. turns out we are a perfect match!

now i’ve become domesticated which is great because i have my own kitchen set up the way i want it and the best audience for my food i could ever imagine – a grateful hungry man. (ok i could imagine a slightly better version of Richie, i mean he doesn’t like fish or eggplants or squash so obviously that would have to go… but whatever, fish is expensive and hard to cook anyway)

the kitchen, like the rest of the house, is not really finished, but we are trying to keep the retro feel of the house intact (it was built in the 50s)

i’m a competent cook. i can read a recipe and make it work, and from years of watching food network and PBS, i’m pretty good at improvising when necessary.

Mostly though, i use recipes and i love them. i get them from the internet and cookbooks and from pages i rip out of magazines, i even like the ones that are included on the packaging of different products!

so an hour ago, while waiting for the latest episode of shear genius to start, i was reading my google.reader and I came across this recipe on Serious Eats from the July/August issue of Everyday Food –

Tomato Bread Salad with Olives and Mint

– makes 4 servings –
Adapted from Everyday Food.
2 medium tomatoes, cored and each cut into 10 wedges
1 hoagie roll or small ciabatta, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, bread, olives, lemon juice, oil, and mint. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Let stand at least 5 minutes (or up to 30 minutes) before serving.

And i bookmarked it and thought “yeah i’ll have to make that some time when Bear isn’t around and i have all the ingredients”
Moments later my roommate walks in with a big loaf of crusty french bread, i follow him into the kitchen as we chat and i spy my last tomato from the farmer’s market last week… and then i got a text from B and he said to have dinner without him – Eureka!
I could finally do something i have always wanted to do – read a recipe on a blog, think oh that sounds good, and then go in the kitchen and make it!
no trips to the store, no excuses!

it is incredibly good!

doesn’t it just LOOK awesome?

i made a few adjustments – a little less bread, a little less olive oil, some basil, and then two big adjustments. One, i used the juice of a fresh lime instead of a lemon because i didn’t have a lemon. Two, i used a lot less olives. Don’t get me wrong, I love olives! I love olives SO much that i kept eating them while i was pitting and slicing them! it got way out of hand and since they are basically juicy salty fat nuggets, I just had to put them away before a managed to do 1/3 cup for the salad.
I also omitted any salt because of a comment on the recipe online that said they found it too salty. I tasted mine and agreed that between the olives and the lime it is acid and salty enough.

So now I’m sipping a glass of wine waiting for the salad to finish marinating. Time to eat!

Alright, after the fact:
1. it’s pretty salty even without adding salt nor the proper amount of olives
2. how big is this “roll” supposed to be?
3. the crustier the bread, the better
4. proportionally i’d go with 2:1 tomato to bread ration next time
5. Lots more mint and basil!

But still i’ll definitely be making this, or a version of this again, and i really appreciate the recipe foundation!