Wednesday, 27 April 2011

What to do when you're buried in potatoes: make Pommes Anna

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I was never a big potato eater.  My mom is the kind of health-conscious, California cook who generally prefers green veggies to root ones.  We had carrots, but usually raw as a healthy snack, and we had baked potatoes sometimes, with nonfat cottage cheese (tastier than it sounds), but otherwise they were pretty much eschewed as bland, unnecessary carbs.  So of course I ordered buttery roasted or mashed potatoes in restaurants whenever I had the chance.

But once I was out from under her healthy thumb I found I wasn't that interested in potatoes after all.  I really did genuinely like green vegetables!  It was pretty shocking.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Just sweet enough: Vanilla Bean Cake

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There's a magical place back in my hometown of San Francisco.  There's wine for two dollars, amazing pre-made salads, and scrumptious frozen foods.  But the best thing Trader Joe's sells are the sweeties: rich, indulgent, massive bars of chocolate, salty-sweet mini peanut butter cups, and a boxed vanilla cake mix that's to die for.

Yup, I said it.  A boxed mix that's to die for.  It's fragrant and moist and vanilla-y without being too sweet, and it's one of the reasons I so rarely bake when I'm home– why tamper with something so delicious and easy?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Oh, oh, it's magic, you know!

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Newsflash: I love love love an easy meal.  I'm honestly one of the laziest cooks I know.  I love to turn out something fabulous, but I hate the time/sweat/tears that go into some creations.  Which is one reason the bf does most of the savory cooking – baking (at least the kind I favor) is much less about prep time and focus than it is about throwing stuff together and chucking it in the oven, then having a nice chin-wag and a cup of tea with a friend (or watching The Real Housewives of NYC).

But that's exactly what I love so so much about this pot roast.  It makes use of our slow-cooker, which, due to space restrictions, sits on a high shelf in our kitchen and therefore rarely gets used.  But oh, man, is that thing ever awesome!  It operates like an oven, without heating up the house all day.  It sits on the counter and does magical things to meat and veg, and in 9 hours you come back from work/class/gallivanting and dinner is served!  Seriously.  Magical.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Simplicity at its best: Chocolate Loaf Cake

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Sometimes, a girl just needs chocolate cake.  Not a chocolate bar, which can be too heavy and creamy, or a chocolate dessert, which requires pomp and circumstance, but just a nice, simple, cocoa-laden chocolate loaf cake.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

What to do with too many veggies? Make a Greenery Scramble!

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For the past month or so, the bf and I have been testing out a veggie-delivery system called Abel&Cole.  Basically, instead of buying the same 4 or 5 kinds of veg in our normal shop, we trust these organic, healthy, charming fellows to deliver whatever's in season, and we figure out a way to use it.

So far it's going pretty well– delicious veggies, great customer service, and it's cheaper than what we used to spend on vegetables in our normal shop!  We do sometimes get sick of potatoes and carrots (mostly because we don't always have time to cook them properly), and we have yet to figure out how not to massacre a beet, but generally it's been fabulous to have new things to try, like celeriac and jerusalem artichokes.  And the leeks!  Oh, the leeks make me so happy...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A simple pleasure? Making my own Peppermint Patties

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Somehow the simplest things in life always seem the most difficult for me.  A box brownie mix turns out dry and flavorless; grilled chicken ends up pink on the inside and charred on the edges; a walk down the block to buy milk results in a turned ankle, my dress hitched up into my underwear, and tears running down my face half an hour later.

Seriously, I don't know why it's so hard.  I can make a Thomas Keller recipe, do a perfect tree pose in yoga, and write a freakin book (two, if you count my shelved novel), but I can't cook the simplest things or perform the most basic tasks.