Posted by: ThePseudotarian | November 24, 2010

Mark Bittman’s 101 Head Starts on the Day

Mark Bittman is one of my favorite cookbook authors and voices in current cooking and health conversations. You may know him, since he DID write this book called How to Cook Everything. Yep – that guy! Plus, I love the fact that he advocates for reducing our meat consumption for health. That’s not to say he wants everyone to go veg, but he constructs a sound argument that we do not need meat at every single freaking meal. Anyway, I think it’s a valid argument and I respect what he does.

I own How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and it’s one of those resources I turn to over, and over again.

And now that it’s Thanksgiving, Mark Bittman once again comes through! As he did last year. Read More…

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | November 18, 2010

I just made butter, y’all

Ok, ya’ll. I have to apologize in advance for this post because I am FREAKING OUT. I’m about to go totally food nerd, and if you can’t take it, I’m sorry.

Last night … I totally made my own butter. I’d heard from so many people that it was incredibly easy and only took one ingredient.  Also, this took me back to kindergarten. Remember when our teachers made us shake plastic containers full of cream? Well, I did the adult version.

All you need is..

A plastic or glass container with an airtight lid (plastic might be safer …)
Heavy Cream

You decide the amount, but make sure there is enough room at the top of your container, at least an inch or two. Then start shaking! Don’t be afraid to open it to check on the consistency, but make sure the liquid has settled before you do, or you’ll end up with cream on your hands that your dog will hound you for (pun totally intended).

You’ll notice the cream thickening up and eventually taking on the consistency of miracle whip. Stop here if you want whipped cream, or keep going a little bit longer. I know it might feel like it’s been an eternity, but I promise that it’s worth it. Eventually (and this is why I recommend clear plastic or glass), you’ll see that thick goopy mess break into liquid. Shake a few more times, open up and VOILA! Freakin’ butter!

Here’s the tricky part. You need to wash it, because buttermilk will cause the butter to go rancid much more quickly than you can probably eat it. Use a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve, and wash the butter under cold water, turning it over and over and kneading a bit until the water runs clear.

Trust me, it’s way better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store … and you can use the buttermilk for baking biscuits or pancakes  =)

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | November 11, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Ooo … you know what I haven’t really posted yet? Breakfast! Which is odd, since I absolutely love all things breakfast. However, it may have something to do with the fact that Monday through Friday, I skip breakfast. I shouldn’t, I know, but I’m a huge fan of sleeping. Plus, I still haven’t adjusted entirely to getting up for my 8:30 am arrival time at work. I make it to work on time, but my morning routine doesn’t any time for breakfast, and yes, I have tried bringing it with me … doesn’t work either  =)

So breakfasts have become a weekend thing, which is actually kind of nice. They’re something we can look forward to on Saturdays, most often in the afternoon after we’ve finished waking up and while we’re doing our weekly cleaning of el apartamento. It’s slowly becoming a ritual actually, one that prompted me to go out and buy my first box of Bisquick in over 4 years. Ok, don’t judge, I should have made my own pancake batter, I really should have. However, Matt and I were both up very late (per the usual) on Friday, and I didn’t want to undertake a big baking extravaganza. For this, I just needed bisquick, eggs and milk.

I have a really weird soft spot for pancakes. My dad and I used to cook them together all the time when I was growing up. I remember when Bisquick’s recipe changed, and we debated for weeks over which way we liked better. When they changed it back, we started adding a bit of sugar and vanilla until we decided that we did, indeed, prefer the original recipe. As I got older, I spent countless hours trying to make the perfect pancake with the smoothest lightly-browned crust. We spent so much time making pancakes, that now when I go out to brunch, I can’t bring myself to order them because they will never, ever be as good as ours. Plus, I get realllllly sick of restaurant pancakes after only 3 or 4 bites. Like I said, never quite as good.

This weekend, it was totally back to pursuing that perfect pancake while Matt made hash browns and scrambled eggs. Except, I had to get a bit creative …  (Dad, I still think you’d love these …)

Read More…

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | November 5, 2010

Alice Waters’ Carrot Soup

I love Alica Waters. Like, love love. When I worked at Books-a-Million for a few months (worst job I’ve ever had), I picked up a cookbook called Chez Panisse Cooking and flipped through it before I got yelled at by my manager. That’s right, people, Books-a-Million employees are not allowed to read. Seems contradictory, right?

Anyway, I picked up Chez Panisse Cooking and fell in love. The recipes sounded so good! And at that time I was eating meat, so I was very attracted to many recipes that featured mammal protein (that’s an appetizing phrase, isn’t it?). Other things caught my eyes as well: Panfried Softshell Crabs with Yellow Pepper Sauce, Mussels steamed with New Zinfandel, Corn Soup with Garlic Butter … Plus, I loved the way the book was written and presented. It’s not just recipes split into tabbed sections, with maybe a sentence or two describing each dish in the most nondescript way possible. Each recipe is a story about a love affair with amazing food. It delves into tradition and anecdote, personal experiences that translate amazingly to the personal recipes that I long to share with all of you! Paul Bertolli (her co-author) and Alice describe New Zinfandel week and discovering wonderful food in the European Countryside. In the appendices, part menus for friends and different ways to make simple ingrediants like clarified butter and even vinegar. I’m serious … Chez Panisse Cooking is a love story.

Even though I didn’t buy the book until many years later, the recipes and name stuck with me: Alice Waters. When I started investigating sustainable cooking, do you know how excited I was to see her name come up as one of many key supporters of sustainable eating and cooking? Very. Well, fast-forward a few years as the young Pseudotarian left the terrible job at Books-a-Million and went back to her old bartending gig at the restaurant that we’ll dub, The Luna (because you’ll be hearing much more about that place, too). Bartending, by the way, is much more fun than standing behind a register, unable to even read, until midnight.

In fact, fast-forward to last night right around 8:15. I’m finishing up a glass of Hogue’s Late Harvest Riesling (freaking delicious) and I want to eat something simple. I want a bold, strong, clear flavor, and I’m tired. I don’t want to do a lot of grunt work, and I just want something warm for my stomach in this rainy Richmond weather. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere, and Matt had just gotten home.

Oh, and did I mention I hadn’t gone grocery shopping? In and on top of my fridge: vodka, wine, 5 lbs of carrots, spinach, leftovers, something covered in foil that I’m too scared to open, onions and shelf after shelf of random condiments. And some butter and garlic, of course. What on earth do you cook with that?

I don’t know what you wonderful people would do, but I made Alice Waters’ Carrot Soup. I’d read this recipe in several places online, most recently at Serious Eats (my go-to place for recipes these days – their photograzing pages are SO much fun!) and, like the recipes I saw in Chez Panisse Cooking, it had stuck in my head. If you’re wondering why Matt and I regularly have 5-lb bags of carrots in our fridge, well this is why: Read More…

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | November 1, 2010

Sweet Pea Rolls and Honey Chili Mustard Sauce

The gears have been turning in the Pseudohousehold! Kitchen gears,  house gears … all kinds! I’ve been cooking all kinds of neat stuff, and we recently redecorated our apartment. However, the redecoration process is almost a moot point, since Matt and I are in the process of house shopping! We haven’t been to see any yet but we’re working on what we want (and don’t want) and where we want to live (and, ahem, where we don’t).

We have a while before our lease is up, too, so I hope I’ll be able to get a lot of cooking in before we’re crazy hectic with moving and painting and redecorating the future shmouse (and of course writing that scary big check to PAY for it). With all this excitement over new stuff happening, I’ve had a burning desire to cook new things. Last week, I had a burning desire to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese (do NOT ask me how that went). This week, I just wanted to make anything new.

So I’ve had this package of Nasoya egg roll wrappers in my fridge for … oh maybe 2 months now. I bought them along with a package of wonton wrappers, with grandiose plans to make wontons or baked ravioli. However, I have this curse. It’s much like my homemade mac ‘n’ cheese curse. Whenever I try to make ravioli, no matter how simple the idea behind it, no matter how straightforward the recipe … I botch it. First, a few months ago, Matt and I tried super-from-scratch ravioli. Homemade dough and everything. It was terrible. We tried again with these Nasoya wrappers, but I forgot that we would need to steam or bake them, rather than boil. Big. Goopy. Mess. So I swore then and there, that it was the end of ravioli in the Pseudohousehold (probably a lie, but whatevs).

But I still had this big unopened package of egg roll wrappers. They’re much larger than the wonton variety and much easier to handle, being floured on one side and such. I just needed to figure out what the hell I was going to roll them with. I thought about normal egg roll stuffings: cabbage, carrots, fake beef, but like I said, I wanted something … new, and I can get spring rolls/egg rolls at the crazy Chinese restaurant down the street. Well, except I don’t trust Chinese food from fluorescent-lit places that are next to cigar shops and across from 711, and places where I’m pretty sure they eat cats (… I don’t trust food from any place that eats cats …). So what could I use my egg roll wrappers for if I wasn’t going to stuff them with rice wine-soaked cabbage/carrots etc?

Peas!

Read More…

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | October 25, 2010

A quick post … Honey and White Wine Vinagrette

… so that I actually have something to put here!

It’s been a hectic, hectic couple of months. Remember when I told you a bit about my job? Well, since it’s the season for college applications and search packages, I am absolutely slammed at work. So slammed, that I can’t even write a blog post on my lunch break. Plus, I totally don’t want to sit in front of my computer when I get home from work, sooo … no blog posts for you!

Well, I caught a quick break while everyone was in a meeting and want to share a quick recipe Matt and I whipped up the other night while he made me dinner. Usually when we eat salads with dinner,  it’s a balsamic vinegar and oil affair. Well, I’ve been craving something new lately. Something with a bit more … oomph and flavor for a simple spinach, red pepper and pecan salad.

With that said, this dressing is a bit tricky, because I made it wholly to-taste. Some people won’t like how sweet it is, and will prefer more oil. Others will want it to be more tangy, and will splash in a bit more white wine vinegar. It’s completely and utterly up to you. I’ll just give you the ingredients and tell you how I did it!

Make sure you have a good tasting white wine vinegar. I used an awesome Lucini Pinot Grigio vinegar that Matt has had forever that we use only sparingly. Because this dressing hinges on just a couple great tastes, now was the time! In addition, make sure you use EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). You can really use any olive oil you like, from light to virgin, or whatever you have on hand. Just don’t use any other kind of oil … especially that heavily processed “vegetable” oil crap.

Also, this dressing is pseudovegan. No dairy or eggs, but it does have honey. So, I guess this depends on what your system of vegetarianism/veganism dictates. I don’t judge  =)  On that note, I think you could substitute the honey for something equally delicious and sweet, perhaps? Let me know if you try this approach! But let’s get down to business … Read More…

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | September 7, 2010

I’m back! And back to basics.

Ok people, it’s been way too long. I apologize. Right after my last post, I was too busy to do any real cooking for a week or so, and then work got SO busy that I had no time to post, much less think.

Also, the above picture is entitled: Adieu Summertime. Now that fall is here, I’m buying new flannel shirts and sweaters and itching to try new stuff in my kitchen. Plus, I’ve been sitting around fire-pits, drinking bourbon, making soup, and Matt and I have been talking about buying a house now that we can stroll around with the pup and look at neighborhoods (!!exciting!!). Since the insufferable Richmond heat is starting to abate (it was STILL 92 degrees today), I’m much more willing to DO stuff and my oven and I are getting more friendly.

So today we’re getting back to basics. Mainly because I just made the most delicious batch of this EVER. Read More…

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | August 9, 2010

Goodbye, Mo kitty …

I had a lot planned for last week and this weekend. I have some archived drafts I need to post and some pictures to update. But I had a terrible weekend and I’m just not up for it.

My beloved Mo died this weekend. Very suddenly from either a urinary blockage or kidney failure. So I spent my weekend watching my spunky little kitty whither away before my eyes until we rushed him to the ER vet on Sunday morning.

I’m not a happy camper this week, but I’ll do my best to update my newer posts in the next few days.

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | August 6, 2010

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

After my Farm to Family trip earlier this week, I can’t stop cooking! I mean, I always cook. But cooking stuff I really want to share. I love sharing recipes. Part of just about every conversation I have involves the phrase, “Ahhh! I have such a great recipe for you!”

Yup. I’m that person.

So be ready for a flurry of posts. Yesterday was Fromage Blanc on wine-simmered lentils with a poached duck egg. Hopefully, after the weekend, I’ll be telling you about my GIANT butternut squash fondue experiment. I’ve never cooked one before, and this sucker is the size of a newborn child. I already called my mom, whose first warning was to make sure I poke holes to release the steam. Good thing I called her. I can’t imagine what would happen if my 4-lb squash exploded in my teeny tiny oven. Good thing I have a fancy hoover vacuum portable disposal 8-month old border collie mutthead.

Well anyway. It’s been a long week. I loved my Farm to Family trip, but work is killing me and Matt and I have both been incredibly stressed out. So when I came home from work last night, it was time for something comforting. For what I wanted, all I needed to do was go out and grab some milk and some garlic. Too bad I had to race the nastiest storm of the summer home from the Northside. If my little car and I had been on the road when it blew in full force, I don’t think I could have kept it on the road. Matt and I opened a bottle of wine and watched from the porch, hoping that the trees we were parked near didn’t fall and that the lightning hitting the ground every few seconds didn’t hit our building.

After the storm subsided(ish) about an hour later, we were able to run to the store for milk, garlic and the obligatory box of wine. And then it was home for some nice, homecooked chowder. That’s right, I’m back to soup. This is such a light alternative to the heavy pastas I eat when I want comfort food though. I found this a few weeks ago from snooping around Cooking Light and adapted it a bit. I was able to use the wonderful summer squash I picked up at Farm to Family, plus some corn I wanted to clean out of my freezer. Read More…

First of all, don’t let this title sound daunting. It’s not. It utilizes two pots and one saute pan, and will only take up maybe 35 minutes. And most of that time is waiting for your lentils to soften up and become absolutely delicious. So if this title sounds like something from Top Chef (does it? pleeeassee??), don’t let it throw you off.

Second of all, have you heard of Farm to Family? If you haven’t learned about Mark Lilly’s genius brain-child, please please please please take a moment and click on that link. I can’t begin to describe his project as eloquently as the site, so I’ll leave it up to you, wonderful pseudoreaders, to take the initiative there.

Big picture aside (as in – let’s become self-sustainable! yay!), The food that Mark picks up from all over the region (meats, produce, dairy and more) is just plain GOOD. Have you seen Food, Inc? Polyface farms, one of the humane real free-range establishments is one of the suppliers of Farm to Family’s meat products. While I of course haven’t tried any of the piggies or chickens or cows, I’ve heard great things from people who have, for all you lurking carnivores.

One of the most ingenious ideas was how Farm to Family really got started. On a bus. Think, rolling farmer’s market. Anyway, they just opened up a market location about 15 minutes from our apartment, and I couldn’t be happier. In face, Matt and I went last night and I went a little crazy. Trout filets, duck eggs (!!!), chicken eggs, a GIANT butternut squash (stay tuned for THAT fun recipe), two kinds of soft cheeses: one with garlic and sundried tomatoes and one with lavender, thyme and tarragon, a bag of lovely dried shiitakes, and SO much more. Oh my goodness. They also had amazing little quail eggs. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them … but I’ll find a recipe and then go back and buy about 800.

So after our adventure, Matt had to run sound and leave 10 minutes after we got home, so he didn’t get to experience the amazingness that was my dinner. It was inspired by a recipe I saw over at Serious Eats. A crispy round of soft cheese is breaded and quickly pan seared. It tops a bed of wine-simmered lentils along with a poached duck’s egg.

Yea. I know. And yes, it was that good … Read More…

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