Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

sweet and salty and sassy

In Food, In My Kitchen on March 5, 2011 at 10:29 am


Recently I was reading through Bryant Terry‘s cookbook,  Vegan Soul Kitchen, and was intrigued by Terry’s listing of musical pairings with each recipe. How would someone (like me) without a particularly musically influenced background (like Terry) go about pairing up tunes with food?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I tend to have my own version of musical pairings in the kitchen. When I’m wishing I was there in Louisiana or Texas, cooking gumbo or smoking brisket, I’m likely to turn on the music I love from those places. Maybe Better Than Ezra or Lucinda Williams for the gumbo, definitely Lyle Lovett for the brisket.

But I’m not always homesick in the kitchen. Sometimes the music I turn on will be about my mood. Lately it’s been G. Love, Mumford and Sons, and Ingrid Michaelson. Other times it might be about the particular dish. Like when I was baking these peanut butter pretzel brownies from Joy the Baker. I turned on another Louisiana fave, The Figs, who, like the brownies, are an excellent mix of sweet and salty and sassy (“High-Heeled Stomp” and “Guns” are particularly fun).

What about you folks? What’s the soundtrack of your kitchen? Inquiring ears want to know.

Oh, yeah, and  I know, there’s parchment paper under those brownies. Sue me.


soup worthy

In Food, In My Kitchen on February 28, 2011 at 8:36 am

Soups have eluded me most of my cooking years. I knew decent cooks could throw together a solid chicken noodle at the very least, but my efforts would come up lacking somehow. Sure, I could crank out an awesome gumbo with one hand tied behind my back, but turn that Thanksgiving turkey carcass into a delicious bowl of comfort? Oh, there were some ugly, ugly moments.


I gave up trying to make up my own concoctions and leaned heavily on recipes. If I thought a recipe looked good, I’d give it a whirl. My absolute favorite soup recipe came from Louisiana chef John Folse. It’s a gorgeous creamy soup with colorful bits of spinach and sweet potatoes and red peppers, and just enough spice to keep the cream from being too much, and LOTS of garlic that just makes me hum for the yumminess.


It’s a bit on the rich side for every day. It starts with a roux of butter (well, margarine, but I use butter) and flour and ends with A QUART of heavy whipping cream. So the other day when I had the leftovers of this roast chicken, I decided to try a lightened version of my favorite. It made for a great late winter lunch, and even the kids could not object too strenuously to the familiar ingredients. And unlike the Thanksgiving horror show of years’ past, this is a soup I can stand behind.

Creamy Colorful Chicken Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

1 quart poultry stock (I used turkey stock)

1 1/2 cup peeled diced sweet potato

1/4 chopped roasted red pepper

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

4 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped

1/4 cup half-and-half

1 cup cooked orzo or other small pasta

salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add stock and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 5 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in red pepper and chicken and cook until chicken is heated through, 5-10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add half-and-half, and when ready to serve, add orzo and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

la tamalada

In In My Kitchen on February 22, 2011 at 8:39 am

In December, I wrote about adventures I was planning for this year. My friend Mayra helped me check off one of those adventures when she invited me and a few friends to make tamales with her. I was tasked with purchasing the corn husks, so I checked out Anita Spanish Grocery in Annapolis to pick up the corn husks and fulfill my tienda shopping goal (and I picked up some horchata drink boxes for the kids, which won me major points).

In Mayra’s hometown in Mexico, tamales are traditional fare on el dia de la Candaleria (Candlemas in English), when the Catholic church marks the presentation of Jesus at the temple. A few of our amigas gathered in Mayra’s kitchen recently to whip up a batch of tamales.

Mayra had cooked up some chicken ahead of time, shredded it, and mixed it up with a batch of mole she brought back from a recent visit to Mexico.

2 large rotisserie chickens

1 jar mole sauce

1 large bag corn husks

6 cups masa flour for tamales

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup lard or vegetable shortening

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder


Shred the chicken and marinate in the mole sauce.

Soak the corn husks in warm water until soft, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl combine broth, masa flour, salt, and baking powder, using your hands. Once well combined, beat masa mixture and lard or shortening in a mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until a drop of the mixture floats in water as clump rather than falling apart.

Take a corn husk in your hand and spread a large spoonful of masa in the middle (use 2 husks if they are narrow). Spread a large spoonful of marinated chicken on top of the masa. Fold the sides of the corn husk toward the center over the masa so that they overlap to make along package. Between two fingers, pinch the husk package at the bottom of the masa portion and push upward to help form a seam. Fold the bottom part of the husk up.

Place the tamales in a steamer or double boiler open ends up, and cook tamales for 35-40 minutes. Check every 20 minutes.The tamale is cooked when it separates easily from the corn husk.

let’s see if this will work

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Writing on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I love how my friends can ask me these simple little questions and suddenly I can think more clearly.

“Well, what do you want?” says friend.

“Hunh,” says I.

I write a list, because I’m a list maker. What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I actually want to accomplish in any given week? See, I hadn’t actually given that question much thought in the last year or so. Here’s the list.

-1-2 blog entries

-3 hours writing fiction/poetry

-8-12 hours working (for money!)

-workout 3-4 times

Not a huge list, but I have not been protecting my time to do these things I want to do. It seems doable, even with all the stuff I don’t really want to do but must do (mountains and mountains and mountains of laundry come to mind), and all the stuff I want to do and must do (cooking, loving on the babies). Ok, let’s give this a go.

Hello Food

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen on April 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

snuggle bug socks

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a little food-obsessed. I enjoy the whole food process — farming (or at least visiting farms), shopping, planning, cooking, eating, and reading and writing about all things food. With the last few weeks of pregnancy and first few weeks post-partum though, food has been something of an afterthought. I need it, of course, but haven’t had the energy to plan and prepare a meal on my own. Now that the snuggle bug is three weeks old, the tide (dare I say it?) seems to have shifted a bit. Besides the fact that I am instantly ravenous upon nursing said snuggle bug ten times a day, I actually reached the point of planning a dinner of fajitas last night.

The weather has been lovely in Maryland the last few days. I did the shopping and Richard did the cooking (love that his cooking repertoire is filling out), and we sat on the patio with friends noshing on some of the grill’s first work of the season.

It was a great night, and the iced tea and Belgian chocolate didn’t even keep me or the snuggle bug up all night. And even better, I learned that I can eat fajitas and nurse at the same time. I am a rock star momma.