Maybe cooking is

Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

For this week, I was inspired by the humidity of the previous week to try out some truly Southern dishes.

Appetizer

It was necessary to fortify myself before simmering the main dish for an hour – I washed off some organic raspberries.  I also smeared some local Prairie Fruit Farm herb goat cheese I had picked up at the Urbana farmer’s market on some Carr’s table water crackers, topped off with some spicy, jalapeno-infused jelly that I bought at the Charleston Marion Square farmer’s market.  I had set them out all of these ingredients about 30 minutes earlier to make sure they were room temperature so that smearing was easier.

Jalapeno-jelly with goat cheese on table crackers. Excellent, rich appetizer.

If you want to make your own jalapeno or habanero jelly, just mix it in with either strawberry or grape jelly.  Here are some recipes: Habanero Pepper Jelly and Jalapeno Pepper Jelly with pectin.

Main Course

Meanwhile, I had my mama’s recipe of shrimp jambalaya in mind.  First, I had to cook the bacon (an entire pound!) and rice to get things going.

Basmati rice was all I had, and then some bacon, and in the background the vegetables to chop up - onion, green pepper and okra.

While the bacon cooked and the rice absorbed the water, I chopped vegetables and mixed together the spices.  Once the bacon was done, I put together the green peppers and onions in the bacon grease with the spices.  I added in the shredded bacon and frozen shrimp (there’s no fresh seafood in the Midwest) but no sausage (not my thing).  Then I put in the 2 cans of the tomatoes and okra.  Okra can get slimy if you put it into a dish too early, which is why most encounters with it are fried.  I added the rice and stirred it all together, then added about a cup of water to make it more saucy.  Here’s a similar recipe.

This is how it looked before it simmered for an hour.

It was a delicious meal, with plenty of freezer-ready leftovers.

Dessert

While the shrimp mixture was simmering, I shredded 2 cups worth of carrots and mixed together the batter for my Southern-style carrot cake.  I baked two layers of cake and let them cool overnight.  The icing, with coconut and walnuts instead of pecans, I made the next morning and put together the cake.

Two-layered carrot cake with coconut and cream cheese icing, infused with walnuts.

The cake was intended for sharing – it was huge!  And I made double the icing to make sure there was enough to cover the cake.

Recipe Search Engines

There are a lot of recipe search engines out there.  So which one should you turn to?

Recipe Puppy is one that is unsponsored.  It’s good for looking up what you have left in the fridge and figuring out what to make that night.  Another one is Recipe FinderCookzillas is one that is heavily photo-based.

Foodily is Google’s recipe search engine, and pulls recipes from all over the Internet using the ingredients you have.  The LA Times Technology blog did an extensive overview of the website, the latter of which launched this past February.  Will Google come to dominate the recipe-searches, too?

Not if Microsoft has anything to say about it.  It apparently has a cooking search function that allows you to search within a single website, not that I could find it.

For a great overview of the foodie search options, check out the NY Times article, “Can recipe search engines make you a better cook?” from this past May.

Separately, there are lots of food Wikis out there, too – of particular note is Goons With Spoons, which has tasty recipes.

I hope this search-launching point prepares you with a wealth of great recipes to try.  Happy cooking!

Thought for the week: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”Bubba character from Forest Gump movie, 1994

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BAKING

Cookies

Natalie’s bake-off party on March 10 inspired a dig for some delicious cookie recipes.  I tried my hand at five batches of three types of cookies:

  1. Two batches of oatmeal raisin (which Williams-Sonoma says comes from their kiddie cookbook)
  2. Two batches of banana-oatmeal power cookies
  3. One batch of oatmeal-cherry and almond spice cookies (it made around 40 big cookies or so)

At first, I was working with my hand mixer, but since all of these cookies have oatmeal as a base, the dough gave the motor a hard time.  I switched to using a spoon and elbow grease.

I ditched the mixer after this photo opp for these oatmeal-based cookies.

The oatmeal raisin is perfect.  Loved it.  I made one batch with regular raisins and the second batch with golden raisins.  Either one is very good.

The banana-oatmeal power cookie packs a lot – walnuts, banana, coconut, cinnamon, golden raisins, and oatmeal.  It’s a tastier version of a granola bar.  The consistency is more banana-breadlike than oatmeal-cookie like.

My culinary change-up were the main ingredients of the last cookie.  Originally, the recipe calls for dates and walnuts as the main duo, but that’s more a fall cookie taste and I couldn’t find dates (or didn’t really care to find them).  Instead, I substituted in dried cherries and almonds.  I used uniform dried cherries, not dried cherries jubilee, which is a mixture of different type of cherries.  Health flash: Cherries are low in vitamins and minerals, but they’re great sources of antioxidants, act as an anti-inflammatory, and can ease you into sleep with their melatonin content.

Fun fact: Without the word “dried” in front of it, the phrase cherries jubilee refers to this flaming dessert popular in the 1960s.  Is anyone having a Mad Men-themed party?

Monkey Bread

Moving from cookies onto bread, over spring break I tried a new challenge of Monkey Bread.  Since I’m not a morning person, there was no way I was going to get up early enough to make this for breakfast, so I whipped it up before dinner.  It’s a pretty simple recipe, but I couldn’t resist modifying the dipping stage.  After you cut the biscuits into quarters, the recipe says to dip them in butter and then roll them in the brown sugar mixture.  I wanted the final baked good to retain moisture, so I whisked two eggs into the butter mixture.

These eggs and biscuits could be a meal on their own, but I have bigger plans for them.

I also had to make 1.5x the amount of brown sugar mixture because I ran out 3/4 of the way through dipping (or halfway into the second layer of biscuits).  I also used walnuts as opposed to the traditional pecans.  I poured butter-flavored, corn-syrup, bad for your entire well-being syrup on top.

Don't let the biscuit quarters soak too long - they'll return to a soppy dough consistency. Quick dip, then sugar them up!

I baked it at 325 degrees (not 350 as said in the recipe) for about 30 minutes, checking on it at the 15, 20, and 25 minute marks.  The baking pan I used was actually a stove-top pan used for pan-frying.  It doesn’t matter what you use as the container in the oven because once it’s done and has sat for about 5 minutes, you flip it over onto a plate.

Because it has a brown color to begin with, you have to watch it carefully in the oven to make sure it doesn't burn.

This is a great dessert or breakfast food, either warmed up or eaten room-temperature.  You can add more syrup, though it’s not really needed.  Yum!

COOKING

Chili

Racing legend Carroll Shelby developed a cheap, easy, stove-top chili mix in the 1970s – who knew?  Because packaged soups tend to have high sodium content, which is one reason they’re so great when you’re sick, I didn’t throw in the salt packet included in the box.  I sauteed an onion first and then added half the ground meat (turkey not beef).  I would recommend adding chili flakes for those that love spicy foods.

Cooked onions for about 5 minutes before adding meat to brown together.

In the last 5 minutes, I threw in a can of pinto beans.

With all ingredients, just about ready to serve.

For finishing touches, I added shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chopped chives.

Although it was good, I’m not sure if I’d make it again just because the high sodium content made my temperature rise – but I’m hyper-sensitive to the effects of food, anyway.

Pasta

Taking advantage of East-coast based gourmet grocery superstore Wegmen’s, I tried out some frozen pesto and five-cheese stuffed ravioli rounds with their vodka blush sauce.  I sauteed some mushrooms in virgin olive oil before adding the sauce to the stove top and then grinding in a lot of fresh pepper.

Wegmen’s, in addition to the recipes provided on its sites like most grocery stores now, even has videos of cooking demonstrations:

Chili-rubbed Pork

This recipe takes prep because it’s a rub.  Similar to a marinade, you have to let the meat sit 2-24 hours – the longer, the more strong the flavor.  I used light brown sugar instead of regular sugar because I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors for a cup.  Brown sugar is just regular sugar with added molasses, light containing less molasses than dark.  I figured molasses wouldn’t change the flavor too much and might add a crystalized component to the pork when it cooks.

STATE COLLEGE

During Spring Break, I visited Frank at State College.  While there, I cooked the above recipes, but we also went around town to a few local favorites. Including the Nittany Lion Shrine!

Frank and me at the Lion Shrine!

Since it was sunny, we walked to the PSU Bekey Creamery.  How cool is it that Pennsylvania’s (state) university has agricultural students that make its own ice cream?  They have over 100+ flavors, but never all at once.  I got a standard five scoops of cookie dough ice cream (they only have one size).  The Department of Food Science currently offers a 7-day short course for ice cream making in January – an extension of the course it originally offered in 1892.  I would totally take it if I was enrolled there!  Except that there’s a closed book final exam, and I don’t think auditing is an option.

Halfway through the week, it got cold and by the end, it was flurrying.  We warmed up at Herwig’s, an Austrian Bistro and one of the top ethnic restaurants in the area, and I tried to pronounce my authentic dish.  We bribed the cashier with a beer to avoid getting yelled at in Austrian fashion for not finishing my dinner.  True fact.  They list threats about it at the tables.

When strolling, I noticed a cupcake boutique – *ndulge cupcakes.  The woman that opened the bakery did so because bakeries make her happy – after spending almost 40 years in advertising, TV, and radio.  Much like Georgetown Cupcake, the bakery has cream-cheese based icing, but it also offers buttercream frosting.  Pretty delicious cupcakes – the peanut butter cup (cream cheese) won me over as opposed to the realli vanilli (buttercream).

Quote of the week: Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis, cartoonist, (1965-)

Most people will tell you cooking Mexican or Tex Mex dinners aren’t difficult.  But I’ve never really attempted one until this year’s Superbowl.  And even if the ads weren’t a success this year, the dinner was with my friends Erin and Melissa.

The complete dinner (clockwise from top): guacamole, Spanish rice, refried beans, pork.

First, I somewhat followed this crockpot recipe, but I’m glad I also checked the community comments beneath the recipe.  I didn’t add any liquid and instead opened two 8 oz. cans of green chilis to put at the base.  I needed to put an ingredient between the meat and the bottom of the pot to keep the meat from overcooking.  Then I smeared the pork shoulder chunks (because I had it cut into boneless ribs) with Old El Paso’s 40% reduced sodium taco seasoning.  Set it on low and let it cook for 6 hours.  When I removed the meat, it had created its own juice to simmer in with the spices.

The Spanish rice was a box kit from Old El Paso – pretty good and easy to let simmer for 25 minutes.  Which was great because as that was cooking, I put together the ingredients for guacamole.  First I chopped up half an onion and then 2 Roma tomatoes.  I added lots of cilantro to the bowl, and grated some rock salt and peppercorns.  Then I squeezed half a lime and added 4 avocados.  The secret kick: jalapeno juice, either from a fresh pepper or from a jar of sliced peppers (which is what I used).  Then hashed it all together.  I added the avocado pits back in to keep the guacamole green (a tip I picked up from my friend, Caitlin) and served it with chips and Jack’s Special Medium and Thick & Chunky Garden Fresh salsas.

Guacamole!!

The final ingredient to the dinner was refried beans.  Easiest part of the meal.  2 cans of refried beans in a sauce pan on the stove top, added some Herdez salsa verde and Mexican shredded cheese, and topped with mild sliced jalapenos.  Let that heat up until the cheese melted, and then put everything together on the plate.  So.  Good.

Refried beans with salsa verde, shredded cheese and mild jalapeno slices.

Oh, and I forgot to post this recipe for pork chops last week, but it was another one I tried over the break that was good as long as you follow the advice in the comments.  It was served on New Year’s Eve with this concoction for potatoes au gratin.

Quote of the week: “Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.” Socrates (469 – 399 BCE)

Guess who’s food blog made it to the one-year mark?!  Probably a bagillion people’s, but that includes mine!  Thanks for reading, commenting, sending recipes, suggesting tips – all of it was very helpful in 2010.  I’m excited about the new recipes to try in 2011!

But nostalgia takes over when the ball drops sometimes.  So I have to recap the best of the last few days of 2010 foodie moments/ recipes:

Thanksgiving dinner at Mom's (master chef, uncertified): sweet potato and raisin salad, turkey with gravy, oyster stuffing, fresh-baked dinner roll, cranberry sauce, black olives.

I’ve been warned in the past that cookies from scratch are disproportionate in appreciation ratio: they take a long time to make and get eaten too fast.  But they’re relaxing to make on a Friday afternoon to unwind – as long as you have an electric mixer.

I tried these “spicy” gingerbread cookies, which aren’t really spicy.  These cookies have a citrusy zest because they have grated lemon peel and have a nice thicker consistency.

Make sure to cake the surface in flour so that the cookie dough doesn't stick!

The easy-to-make icing can be colored or left plain.

I made green icing, too, but it didn't fit in the picture. In heart bowls!

This recipe is good for last-minute cookies: although the dough needs to sit in the fridge for 2 hours, they only bake for 6-7 minutes and then cool for 10 minutes or so.  If you want to put on icing, you’ll need to allow more time to cool.  The cookies are great without icing, too.

I also made a batch with white icing. Finished product needs to be placed on cooling racks.

These cookies are recommended.  A chocolate-lover favorite is always cream cheese chocolate brownies.  I have a special Christmas Cookie cookbook from my childhood where I found this recipe, and I don’t think it’s in print with the publisher any longer.  Interesting moment: the publisher creates books for brands.

In celebration of the holidays, I also visited a reindeer farm!

Feeding three reindeer from Alaska at Hardy's Reindeer Ranch!

I baked large loaves of zucchini bread as gifts for some of my relatives during the holidays.  They loved them.  Cha-ching.

Add some saran-wrap, some ribbons and voila! Yummy Christmas present.

I also made some vodka sauce with mushrooms and penne pasta. I actually didn’t use this recipe, but it looks pretty good from Food Network.

Add the green leaves last so that they don't overcook.

Stirring in the whipping cream before pouring over penne pasta.

Some other successful and delicious meals have included:

 

  • Veal Scalopini – the moisture contained in the meat makes this dish really worth making.
  • Slow Cooker Turkey Chili – delicious and spicy chili!  Really amped up with chives, sour cream and shredded cheddar.
  • Old-Fashioned Pancakes – the basics are sometimes the best
  • Apple Crisp – nice combo of what you’d expect from a baked apple pie, but with oatmeal!

Okay, so sorry for the hiatus, but this post offers the best of the best, so that’s an adequate consolation prize, right?

Quote of the week: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”Craig Claiborne (1920-2000)

A lot of food has happened since the last post.

Surprisingly, Martha Stewart disappointed me.  Her recipes, organized by season, in Everyday Food: Great Food Fast just didn’t resemble the pictures I took.  Mostly because the garnish turned out lime green.

The basics, according to Martha Stewart, take some serious time to cook.

Corn polenta with freshly grated parmesan cheese and melting unsalted butter.

I made the corn polenta (p. 381) with mushrooms and top sirloin with a parsley garnish (p. 46).

I also found it necessary to add some liquid to the mushrooms to keep them from burning.

Naturally, I chose red wine.

But good news came from this meal: the maiden voyage for my Oster blender impressed me – it can grind parsley leaves!

The final meal: polenta with mushrooms, top sirloin and parsley garnish, white wine.

Don't you want some?

Not sure if I’d make exactly this dish again, but I’d check back with Martha to try some more seasonal recipes.

San Francisco

San Fran is a long flight away from the Midwest, but worth the few hours of cramped leg space for the food, the shopping, and the nightlife.

Cako cupcake bakery in Union Square.

Natalie and me at Cako on O’Farrell Street (at Powell).

Check out the tats on the guy's arm serving the cupcakes; even the hardest can go soft for food.

I tried the red velvet (cheesecake-based icing) and a chocolate cupcake with white (buttercream) frosting for $3 each.  A tasty momentary indulgence, the cake wasn’t moist enough to touch the top spots on my cupcake list.

Another restaurant worth the venture was Masala Indian Cuisine in the cute neighborhood Inner Sunset near Golden Gate Park.  Very authentic, the place blasts Bollywood soundtracks and has great deals for large lunches (but no buffet).  An affordable authentic Italian place back near Union Square is L’Ottavo Ristorante on Sutter Street.  I had the delicious lobster ravioli in a shrimp and spinach cream sauce.

To fully take advantage of the amazing Asian cuisine available, friends and I also hit up a la carte dim sum at Hang Ah Tea Room.  In business since the 1920s and located off of one of Chinatown’s alleys, everything from Hang Ah’s kitchen was delicious.  In particular, I recommend the pork and shrimp shu mei and Chinese broccoli in brown sauce.  The Old Siam Thai Restaurant on the border of the Tenderloin district is worth visiting at any time for the freshness of ingredients and quality of meats.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from top of Buena Vista Park.

If you get a chance to visit San Fran on a nice night, consider spending time at the Rogue Ales Public House beer garden in North Beach.  If you play trivia there, you have the chance to win Rogue dollars!  Rye bar, created and owned by two graphic designers and tended by mixologists, captures the fashionable bar scene.  I couldn’t get enough of their basil vodka gimlets.  The bartender told me the trick is to clap the basil between your palms to open up the flavor.  You’re welcome.

I also tasted this yummy Lynchburg Lemonade:

  • 1 part Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part sour mix
  • 4 parts lemon-lime soda
  • lemon slice
  • cherries

Mix the first three ingredients, then add to the fourth and garnish with the lemon slice and cherries.  I’m finding my niche for cocktail flavors – lime is a big component of those that I find delectable.

Slow Cooker Thai Beef

There’s an Asian grocery a few steps from my door.  It looks like a crack house you’d find in a city from the exterior: no windows, a door bought self-installed with two locking door knobs, next to an alley.  Which is of course why I went in.

And characteristic of an Asian grocery in the Chinatown part of a city, it has an excellent array of products for Korean and Japanese cooking, but also for Indian and Thai cuisine as well.  It also isn’t organized well for outsiders.  I spent an especially long time searching for sliced bamboo shoots on my grocery list, but the workers are helpful and even pointed out when I was about to buy the wrong fish sauce.

This is an exact copy of the Red Thai Curry Beef recipe in Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooker cookbook.  First, sear the beef with salt and pepper to seal in the moisture and flavor; cut into 1.5 inch chunks and place in crockpot.  Second, sauté the onions and garlic, then add in coconut milk, brown sugar and lime juice and bring to a boil.  Third, pour the mixture into the crockpot on top of the beef and let it sit for 3 hours on high.  Start cooking jasmine rice about 30 minutes before it’s finished.  Add bamboo shoots to the crockpot about 15 minutes before it’s finished.  Pretty easy, in retrospect.

When finished, I removed the beef to a separate plate to cut it because I forgot to slice it before placing it into the crockpot. Separately, I also generally want to minimize grease intake in my meals.  So I spooned the orange-colored grease (which floats to the top) into an empty coconut milk can.

  • Main: Beef in a red curry sauce with onions and bamboo shoots
  • Side: Francine mangos from Haiti
  • Drink: Fat Tire and Blue Moon beer

Mango side + red Thai curry beef over jasmine rice and garnished with mint.

So good.

I was skeptical about the fresh mint, but the contrast accentuated the beef and curry flavors nicely in this meal.  Almost to the point that you can’t have it without the mint.  Something to consider for overall success.  Definitely recommended.

With that, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Thought for the week: “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.” – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

After a stressful week, I found myself listening to Tears for Fears and Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls” and making chocolate pudding.  Not exactly my moment.

Or is it?  Is this just exactly what I need?  Do I need to feel like I’m in a late 90s chick flick dancing around the kitchen a la Meg Ryan/ Julia Roberts/ Sandra Bullock style with chocolate smeared on my cheek and a pudding-covered whisk to use as my microphone, singing “I just died in your arms tonight“?

Anyway, the pudding is actually just a step in making the audience-pleaser dessert: dirt.  A combination of chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreo, cool whip, and gummy worms, it’s a perfect Halloween display.  And I’m in luck.  I have a potluck Halloween party tomorrow night.

I used whole milk to make the pudding extra creamy.

Mixed pudding! I played with the whisk to make swirly patterns.

Crushed oreos added.

Mixed in the cool whip.

Close up. Irresistible.

I don’t have pictures of the pudding cups with dirt and worms since it’s just prep for tomorrow, but I will next week!

I also made some slow-cooker turkey chili.

First I had to brown the ground turkey on the stove with some olive oil.

Turkey turns a greyish color when cooked fully.

Grey. Told you. But I had to drain the liquid before adding it to the crock pot.

I chopped up my onions coarsely and smeared butter on the sides of the crockpot. The layering in starts with turkey then onions.

Then the kidney and black beans.

To avoid splashing, the condensed tomato soup went in next just before lots of spices, including chili flakes to give it a kick. So pretty!

The fun part is mixing those layers before setting it to cook. Ready to simmer for 4 hours.

After simmering. Turkey chili ready for eating.

Shredded some sharp cheddar cheese, some fat-free sour cream and some green onion on top. Mmm dinner.

This is a really tasty chili.  I don’t usually have sour cream with my chilis, but it added such a richness that I have to recommend the toppings.

University foodie explorations

Campus Recreation has a “healthy cooking” program that is surprisingly robust for being housed in the Athletic Recreation Center, or the largest campus gym (which even has an indoor rock climbing wall!).  I was tempted to join the cookbook club until I saw that it focuses on basic skill building (i.e. making chicken and rice).

The instructional video recipe archives are kind of cool.

Or you can see the list of recipes and cookbooks, which have a number of vegetarian options, if you’re looking for some ideas.

An interesting marketing ploy I noticed: the local grocery store County Market offers cooking classes and “healthy food tours” of their stores.  Ironic that the instructor’s name is Hope?

Only in the Midwest

Things like the Chicago Cubs Cookbook make me think the Midwest is cute.  Because you know that these athletes are consuming large quantities of their “all-star recipes.”  But despite a cover photo taken in a style stolen from The Rascals, I remain unconvinced that they make what they eat.  So posed, somewhat comical.

Published August 15, 2010! Order yours now!

Thought of the week from the 1980 movie, Popeye: “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.”

Wow, what a hiatus.  It’s October.

But I’m back.  And I’ve got lots of pictures and recipes to share.

Tonight, I made veal scallopini with a baby bella mushroom gravy.  I know it sounds fancy, but it’s really not, and it’s pretty easy, even though I modified the directions.

 

Veal frying with olive oil and butter.

 

First, I breaded and fried the veal.

 

Veal - pink au jus stage.

 

You can tell the veal finishes cooking when its juices run clear (as opposed to pink).

 

Breaded and cooked veal cutlets.

 

After I removed the cutlets from the pan, I deviated.  I decided to melt the rest of the butter to saute the sliced mushrooms.

 

Mushroom saute

 

Then I poured in the broth on top and mixed in the remnants of the fried dough.  I like thick gravies, so I let it simmer for about 30 minutes and stirred occasionally.  This really let the broth absorb the flavor of the dough, which then the mushrooms absorbed.  Oh, and I forgot to add the parsley, but I didn’t really need it anyway.

 

Simmered for 30-45 minutes to create a thicker gravy.

 

I served it with some real mashed potatoes!  …That I picked up from the grocery store pre-made.  Resorting to short cuts isn’t cheating if it tastes good, right? The whole meal was really tasty.

 

Veal in mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes on the side.

 

 

The close up

 

As a side note, I’ve switched over to using real, unsalted butter instead of margarine.  And I’m kind of into organic fruits now, especially berries.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In other food-news, I have discovered some precious resources on the University of Illinois’ campus.  One is the Bevier Cafe located just down the block from my department office.  This is the “food laboratory” for students in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department, who also staff and manage it.  It.  Is.  Awesome.

The other resource, down the hall from Bevier Cafe, is the Spice Box.  This is the student-run restaurant in the Hospitality Department and appeals more to a fine-dining experience with a price fixe menu and two-course special menu.  I have plans to visit it shortly but it honestly takes more concentrated effort due to reservations and scheduled dining events, of which there are none in the immediate future.  I’ll keep my eye on it.

My cooking, plus endless new cuisine experiments, should tempt you East Coasters to come visit!  🙂  As far as the past items, I’ve been cooking, take a look below and tell me what you like.  Also I have random pictures from this past summer.

Bellamy Mansion, Wilmington, NC – late June

 

Some say the Bellamy House is still haunted by its former servants.

 

 

Bellamy porch. I have one of my other photos of the grounds hanging up in my apartment. Come see it!

 

 

The famous, modern servant staircase in the antebellum mansion.

 

Cooking in Chicago – mid-July to mid-August

 

Sisterly effort: this meal includes steamed asparagus and a turkey sausage and sun-dried tomato main (my contributions) and a mozzarella, tomato and basil paired with fresh sangria (from my sister).

 

 

I whipped together a penne pasta sauce incorporating: Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce as the base with added onion, black olive, and shrimp.

 

 

Lady Gaga singing live at Lollapalooza. We stood in a crowd for three hours, but it was worth it so I could dance to rah rah ah ah ahhh. My sister got this shot! I want her bra.

 

Cooking in Urbana-Champaign – late August-present

 

Local Curtis Orchard apples for some apple pie.

 

 

Gooey, apple pie sugar syrup. I added two tablespoons of cinnamon to the recipe.

 

 

Apples added into the mix.

 

 

Softening up those apples.

 

 

I'm getting better at my pie lattice-work.

 

 

Close-up of the finished pie.

 

 

Dinner: rib-eye steak with A1 sauce and sweet potato with a Blue Moon citrus splash on the side.

 

 

Zataran's dirty rice mix for a Southern-themed dinner party.

 

 

Dirty rice after simmering for a half hour. It was a hit at the party!

 

 

Dinner: salt and peppered, broiled pork and steamed asparagus with lemon juice.

 

Thought for the week (which fits nicely with my study of media): “It’s amazing how pervasive food is. Every second commercial is for food. Every second TV episode takes place around a meal. In the city, you can’t go ten feet without seeing or smelling a restaurant. There are 20 foot high hamburgers up on billboards. I am acutely aware of food, and its omnipresence is astounding.” – Adam Scott, author, The Monkey Chow Diaries, June 2006


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