Archive for the ‘Rantings’ Category

Omelette aux Fines Herbes

Before I start I need to get a few things off of my chest:

1)  I am entirely unsure of how to spell “omelette” in English.

2) Spell check does not recognize the existence of the word “omelette”.

3)  If I try to look it up in English in my French/English dictionary it just isn’t there (even though it is in the French side).

4) I’m pretty sure my dictionary is giving me the wrong spelling in English just to fuck with me, because honestly, I would TOTALLY do that if I were a dictionary and someone like me happened to be looking up a word as random as “omelette” (or however the fuck you spell it).

5)  I will be spelling it “omelette” for the entirety of this post.  Screw you spell check.

Well none of that had anything to do with anything, but I’m feeling pretty confident that it needed to be said.  The Anti-Omelette Lobby is out to get us and we need to gather our forces together to fight back.  So…omelettes.  Well if we’re going to talk about omelettes, we first have to talk about eggs.  If we’re going to talk about eggs, then we have to talk about how I HATE making breakfast at home.  (please see the rant in the Muffin Cup Huevos Rancheros  that I made for Jake last year for Father’s Day)  If we don’t go out to breakfast on the weekend, Jake will make breakfast, and it’s usually something with eggs.  Eggs that he cooks within an inch of their precious little eggie lives.

My husband, dear readers, is an…egg overcooker

You probably know one too…if you aren’t one yourself.  You very well may be.  Think about it.  I’ll give you a minute.

He burns scrambled eggs to the point where they don’t even taste like eggs anymore.  It grosses me out.  There is no respect in the preparation there, just getting it out on the table.  I’ve tried to steer him in the other direction, but he’s a man and he thinks that just because I’ve eaten his creations in the past, there’s nothing wrong with them.  Wrong.  Oh so very WRONG.  Eggs are delicate, and they deserve to be treated with a reverence that I usually reserve for champagne or really good cheese or diamonds or an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  A friend of Jake’s at work has hens and sent six perfect little eggies home with Jake on Friday!  We always buy free range/organic brown eggs at Trader Joe’s but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some truly farm fresh eggs!!  And in case you were wondering, I am not letting Jake ANYWHERE NEAR these eggs!!!

Beautiful little eggs:

Perfect little eggies

Look at how they measure up to the eggs that we normally buy from Trader Joe’s!!!  TEENY!!

Perfect eggies next to the Trader Joe’s free range/organic that we usually buy!

An omelette doesn’t have to be stuffed with 87 different things to be good.  In fact, it doesn’t have to be stuffed with…wait for it…ANYTHING to be good!!  This is a meal to make if you actually want to taste your eggs.  I wanted to taste these, so this is what I found!

Omelette aux Fines Herbes

from Bonjour Paris

Ingredients:

*3 eggs (maybe even just 2 if you have really large ones)

*1 tbsp butter

*1 tbsp or so of fresh fines herbes (this usually includes herbs such as parsley, chervil, chives, and tarragon–I only had parsley on hand, so that’s all I used and it was still lovely.  All or just one of the above will work just fine!)

*Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To Make:

*Beat the eggs together and then add the salt, pepper and whatever combination  fines herbes you choose.

*Heat the butter in a pan until almost bubbly and then gently pour in the eggs.

**Here is where I think most people go astray!  DO NOT COOK YOUR EGGS ON HIGH OR EVEN ON MEDIUM-HIGH!!  Give Medium-Low a try!!  I promise, it will change your life and the way you eat eggs!

*With the flat back of a fork, gently stir the eggs until cooked to your desired doneness. (I lifted the omelette a few times to check the underside just to make sure it wasn’t getting brown)

*Fold the omelette in half or into thirds and slide gently onto a plate.

*Yep.  That’s it.  No 87 fillings.  No 10 egg Fireman Special.  Just eggs, butter, salt, pepper, and parsley…ET VOILA!

YUM!

Survey Says:

Oh HELL yes.  This is omelette perfection.  In restaurants in France I’ve had this very omelette for lunch with a side salad and some gorgeous French fries.  Last night I had mine with tater tots and a glass of wine.  Don’t judge.   I’m going to make another one for dinner tonight using the remaining three eggs so as to ensure that Jake will not get his overcooking paws on them!

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes…(and the Zombie Apocalypse)

I seem to have a neverending supply of Swiss chard in my garden. It didn’t die during the truly freezing temps this winter or during the freak Spring snowstorm that hit a few weeks ago after many days in the 70s and 80s. Yeah, so I can’t manage to grow tomatoes under perfect conditions, but chard?? Sure. Whatever. Good thing it’s so good and will obviously still be around to feed us all when the Zombie Apocalypse* finally rolls around.

Apocalypic chard: saving you from zombies since 2011.

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

*1 bunch of Swiss chard (or whatever other hearty green you might have)

*1 can (or equivalent) white beans

*7 oz grape tomatoes, halved

*2 tbsp olive oil

*5 cloves garlic, minced or grated

*Splash of white wine or vegetable broth

*Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make:

*Heat oil in a large pan & add garlic.

*When garlic is just barely fragrant, add the greens & saute until they cook down.

*Add beans & tomatoes, salt & pepper and incorporate thoroughly.

*Here’s where you can splash in your wine or stock to make sure the mixture isn’t too dry.

*Simmer until heated through & you’ve achieved your desired consistency. (I usually let mine go for at least 25-30 minutes while I work on getting Gemma to bed)

Survey Says:

This has turned out to be a fantastic way to use up the Swiss chard!  Gemma asks for seconds every time she has leftovers for lunch.

 

*Some people think that having boats or weapons or huge stashes of food or toothpaste or deodorant or gold or power washers is going to save them from zombies. I, however, believe Swiss chard is the key. You can thank me later by not tearing me to bits when you turn into a zombie.  Is it that obvious that I’ve been immersed in The Bloggess’ book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”?  Seriously.  We should probably just pretend that this blog post never happened.

 

I cooked dried beans in the slow cooker! Ask me how!

Well you don’t really have to ask me how.  That’s the point of this post.  I’m not only going to tell you how to do it, but I’m going to give you a little info about why you should.  Boom.  It’s like two posts in one.  One where I’m all helpful and out to teach you something that’s going to save you money.  Another one where I’m all super bossy and up on my proverbial soapbox, because seriously…does soap even come in boxes anymore, or are those just something that we can find at Pottery Barn?  “My living room will SO not be complete if I don’t get the PB Soapbox to put in the corner, but if you think yours is going to be OK without it, then you’re probably right.”  **insert disapproving look and shaking of the head here**

Yeah…so…fun with dried beans.

You are all very aware of my legume obsession.  I have not made any attempt to hide it from you.  The worst part about this obsession, however, is the sheer number of cans that come through my house and out into the recycling pile in any given week.  Disgraceful.  Not only disgraceful because although I’m recycling that metal still took a lot of resources to make, but also because there are some pretty nefarious things that can be found in cans.  BPA is the big one, and although I am FAR from an expert on cans and BPA it is still something that concerns me.  BPA can leech from the cans into the food within.  Yuck.  I also decided to embark on this adventure because it is in my interests financially to make my own beans.  If you only eat them every so often, then this may not be for you.  If you are like me and you find yourself spending half of your Trader Joe’s bill each week on canned beans, then you’ve come to the right place.  All right.  I think that’s enough with the crazy.  The process that follows is SUPER simple and really easy.

Cooking Dried Beans in the Slow Cooker

from A Year of Slow Cooking 

Ingredients:

*16oz (by weight) dried beans (so far I’ve used garbanzo and white)

*Water

*Yes…that’s it!

To Make:

*Pick through the dried beans and get rid of any that are broken in half or that look gross.

*Put the beans in a large bowl and cover (+ 2 inches)  with water.

*Soak overnight, or at least 6 hours.

*Dump the water from your beans and move them to your slow cooker (at least a 4qt cooker).

*Add enough water to the slow cooker to cover (+ 2 inches) the beans.

*Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. (the chickpeas were perfect at 8 hours, but the white beans were ready at 7.5.  Get to know your cooker and see what really works for you.)

*Drain the beans and let them cool.

*When they’ve cooled, add about 1 2/3 cups to plastic freezer bags. (This is the right amount for a can of beans)

*Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer (flat for more convenient storage)  for 6 months.

 

Survey Says:

This is just awesome.  You all know how much I love (and depend on) beans, so to finally have a super easy way to deal with them myself is liberating!  I think I’ve always been afraid of overcooking them or having to spend hours monitoring them on the stove, but the slow cooker eliminates both of those problems.  Use them as you would any canned beans!!

Vegan White Bean Burgers

This cooking thing that I seem to have gotten myself into has changed my life in a rather unexpected way.  You see, my friends, I have lost the taste for some of my (previously) favorite convenience foods.  Frozen pizzas (and even take-out pizzas) are bland and greasy, jarred pasta sauce is sweet and fake tasting, and worst of all…my beloved Gardenburgers just plain old don’t taste good anymore.  Like not at all.  Like to the point where that when I smell them cooking (when Jake or I cook one up for Gemma) my stomach lurches.  This, my friends, is both a blessing and a curse.  Blessing:  a pack of 4 runs between $3.50-$5+ a pop.  Curse:  It is seriously one of the easiest lunches around.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to cope with this not only for myself, but also for Gemma.  She has a Gardenburger for lunch or dinner at least twice a week and that’s a convenience that I’m not quite ready to give up.  So here I venture into the world of making my own “burgers”.  I’ve been looking for something that will freeze well so I can have it on hand much like I would with the Gardenburgers, and I’m hoping that what follows fits the bill and will put me well on my way to freedom from store-bought veggie burgers!

White Bean Burgers
(makes approximately 4 thin, round burgers)

adapted from What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?

Ingredients:

15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1 tsp. rosemary, minced

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

*In a mixing bowl, mash the beans with a potato masher.

*Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

(if you find that your mixture is wet, add more breadcrumbs to get desired texture)

*Form into patties of your desired shape/thickness. (I prefer patties that are on the thin side)

* Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

*Heat a pan over medium/medium-high heat with enough olive oil to coat the pan.

*Add patties, and fry until browned.

Survey Says:

I think we have a winner!!!  These were tasty and really easy to make.  Most bean burger recipes have an egg in them, but I’ve found that this makes the mixture much harder to work with.  If you keep your hands wet with these, you shouldn’t have any problem getting them to stick together.  Gemma inhaled hers (that I topped with melted shredded mozzarella cheese) and Jake tried to go back for more.  We topped ours with Trader Joe’s pesto and tomato slices.  I can’t wait to make more of these to stash in the freezer!

Week 3 Pinterest Challenge: Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Yeah yeah…I know…I missed Week 2 of the Challenge.  The funny thing is that I did it.  I made a great polenta, bean, and veggie dish in the slow cooker, but I just did not have the energy to write up the post.  That recipe will come a bit later because it’s a little bit more involved (and too tasty to not share with all of you), and again, I don’t have the energy to write it up!!  So as you well know by know, it always comes back to beans with me!  I’ve always thought about making my own “refried” beans, but so many recipes call for meat of some sort.  I came across the following technique on Pinterest, and pinned it right away.  As you will see in the original, you don’t need to use meat, and you can use onions and other seasonings, depending on your tastes.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I hate onions.  I really don’t like eating them, and I DEFINITELY hate cooking with them because they make my kitchen and my hands smell like hell and it’s seriously like Lady Macbeth’s “damned spot”:  I see (and smell) it even after it has seemingly been eradicated! 😉

So…to reward you for enduring the crazy rant, I proudly present you with my (more New Mexican than Mexican)…

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

adapted from 100 Days of Real Food 

Ingredients:

*2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed

*6 cups of water

*5 cloves of garlic, grated or minced

*2 ounces (1/2 of a small can) chopped green chiles

*Pinch of cumin

*Salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

*Combine ALL ingredients in the slow cooker

*Cook on HIGH for 8-9 hours (I cooked mine for 9 just to make sure that they were really easy to mash)

*Drain the excess liquid from cooker, but put some/all aside to ensure that your beans reach your desired consistency

*Mash the beans with a potato masher (using the reserved bean liquid to reach your desired consistency…)  aaaaannnnddd you haaaaaave…

Survey Says:

These were REALLY good!  I actually used them to make Tofu Tostadas that same night, but that is a post for another (not so lazy) day.  Gemma loved them, and they were still good a few days later.  I assume that they would freeze well too.  I’m not sure we could keep them around this house long enough to find that out!!

PLEASE go take a look at the other participants in the Challenge!!  There is some awesome stuff over there!  I plan on easing myself into the awesome.  Look for some here around the holidays!

The Politics of a (more veggie than pasta) Pasta Salad

Sometimes I think that it’s pretty amusing that I think that I have the right to write a blog that revolves mainly around food because I am not just a vegetarian, but I am a vegetarian who has a list of vegetables (and one fruit) that she just doesn’t like and pretty much refuses to eat.

I do not like:

-onions (red, yellow, white, green, scallions, chives, shallots)

-bell peppers (red are less offensive than green, but still…and roasted red, at that!)

-unfancy black olives (you know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you Mexican food restaurants???)

-avocados (not for lack of trying but it turns out that they do not agree with my delicate body chemistry)

-bananas

Despite all of this, I am doing my best to keep Gemma from inheriting my issues with these foods.  I feed her avocados and bananas on a regular basis, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job hiding my disgust.  She loves them both with a fiery passion.  The others…well…I just don’t cook with them, so she doesn’t come into contact with them all that often, but I don’t shy away from them when she does.  She has a pretty sophisticated palate for a toddler, and I’m doing my best to keep it that way.  She will figure out where her own tastes lie as she gets older, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I’ve had to deal with being made fun of for being a vegetarian, and for being kind of a picky one at that, and to those people I say…whatever!

I am a grown up for fuck’s sake!  I know what I like!  I don’t have to like everything that everyone makes, nor do I expect everyone to like everything that I make (except for Jake and Gemma who I expect to lie through their teeth at me until the day I die)!  I make what I like, you make what you like…(but don’t be offended when I show up with my own food…)  The pasta salad that follows is what I bring to functions when I’m not sure if there’s going to be enough that I can eat.  Even the most gung-ho meat eaters can never get enough of it!

So I proudly present to you my (actually very famous…at least in our circle of friends)

(More veggies than pasta) Pasta Salad

very loosely adapted from Sunset Magazine a few years ago

Ingredients:

 *8 ounces rotini pasta (I use Barilla Plus)

*3 medium zucchini (halved lengthwise, sliced into thirds, then cut into bite-sized pieces)

*3 generous handfuls of baby spinach

*40 Black Beldi olives (pitted and halved)

*3 tablespoons (1+1+1) of extra virgin olive oil

*Champagne vinegar

*Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

To Make:

*Toss zucchini pieces with 1 tablespoon of olive oil as well as some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

*Preheat oven to 425.

*When ready, roast zucchini (on a parchment paper lined baking sheet) for 25 minutes.  Turn thoroughly and return to oven for about 15 more minutes.

*Add spinach to a large salad bowl.

*Cook pasta according to instructions (10-12 minutes)

*Add pasta directly to the bowl of spinach.  (Do not rinse as your goal here is to begin wilting the spinach leaves)

*Toss pasta+spinach with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil as well as some of the champagne vinegar.

*As soon as the zucchini has finished roasting, add it to the pasta and spinach (to further wilt the spinach), then toss the whole mixture with 1 (more) tablespoon of olive oil and some more of the vinegar.

*Add the olives, mix thoroughly, and put in the fridge until ready to eat!

Survey Says:

 This is awesome!  It is really light and refreshing and so unlike pasta salads from way back when!  You can always add more oil if you feel like you need it, but don’t weigh it down too much!  You can also incorporate whatever veggies you want to…these were just what I had on hand at the time!  This is ALWAYS a big hit at parties!

Words (of wisdom?) on a Wednesday

When I was still in my PhD program, I was the queen of convenience foods.  My freezer was always stocked with pizzas, pastas, frozen dinners, and other such goodies from Trader Joe’s that made actually thinking about meals ahead of time obsolete.  I was in school full time, teaching introductory French classes on top of that, oh and trying to maintain a relationship with Jake (who made the boyfriend/fiancé/husband transition during that time) who was rarely home during the week.  Actually giving serious thought to feeding myself was way more than I could handle, and this was LONG before Gemma came along.

What it has taken me a very long time to realize is that all it takes to get delicious and nutritious food on the table is just a little bit of forethought.  I know that there are people who plan their meals for the entire week…I am SO not one of those people.  Since Jake is never home for meals during the week, I don’t have to worry about producing a full dinner every night (and like I would anyway…man…I’m the worst stay at home mom ever!), and I honestly never know exactly what I’m going to feel like eating until that day.  I do, however, do my best to make sure that I have staples in the cupboards and the fridge that will allow me to whip something up without too much thought or effort.  Ingredients for soups, salads, slow cooker meals, pasta, frozen veggies, cheese…the basics.

I have gotten SO much better at “making” meals as opposed to reheating them from a package, but I do have a “bad mom” confession to make here:  I do not sit down and eat meals with Gemma.  Everyone has to know where to draw the/their line, and that’s where I’ve had to draw mine.  I am by myself pretty much all day long five days a week, and the last thing I want to do at 5:30 pm is wrestle with my toddler (who is actually a very good eater, but still…) while I am trying to eat my own dinner.  This way I can concentrate on her and her needs in the moment, as well as concentrate on my own long after she has gone to bed.  I know that this will change as she gets older, but for now it seems to be working.

I guess what I’m trying to say about both food and parenting that I’ve finally figured out after almost 20 months on this gig is that it’s all about knowing your limitations and working from there.  If you aren’t super comfortable in the kitchen, don’t set yourself up for failure and frustration by choosing a ridiculously difficult recipe.  Don’t set yourself up for parenting “failure” by setting unreasonable expectations for yourself and your family.  I am a good mom, but I am far from perfect…and that’s OK.  I am doing the best that I can every. single. day.  When it comes to my eating habits (and my life with Gemma), some days are better than others, but every morning I try to remember to hit the restart button (rather than resume) and give it all another try.

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