Tag Archives: Food

Follow Friday – OMFN

6 Jan

While rewriting my Life List I noticed that many (er, most) of my new items involve food. Even most of my travel items are food-related. I’ve had food on the brain and I can’t get it off, so this week I’m featuring photos of food that is OMFN.

And now, to announce the winner of the gorgeous, Vegan-approved handmade Inez Gill bow… Congratulations, Amanda! Please email me your address and tell me the size, color, style, and backing of your choice to receive your lovely bow!

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

courtney_s I remember when james franco and I were querying our respective novels and I was like james you can’t just send them your headshot.

lord_voldemort7 They are making a Twilight MUSICAL. If the world doesn’t end in 2012 on its own I am going to have to do it myself.

pourmecoffee God, I don’t mean to get in your business but maybe you are telling the wrong candidates to run. Your call, of course.

MrWordsWorth Michele Bachman Announces Candidacy For A Fox News Show.

FarrenSquare Back off, every other girl, ever. I’ve loved Ryan Gosling since Breaker High!

sushi_goat Hey lets just do all political systems at once.

dejah_thoris Fanny Friends Hemherroid Cushion ad following Daria?! WTF?!!!

taralibrara Patron wants books on self motivation. Has me look up his number and wants me to pick the books for him. You decide he sez. #storyofmylife

MmeSurly Sometimes you have to take your 2yo to the post office dressed in a blanket & pink rainboots because he is pretending to be “Princess Girl.”

floatinglush Dear Words With Friends, I’d like you a whole lot better if you forked over some vowels. N lv, FltngLsh

joe_hill Michele Bachman pledges to continue running for president as head of the new Psycho Eyes party. Steve Buschemi is her running mate.

michael_J_m00n I gave a urine sample today but my cup was half empty. They said I was negative.

TheBlackStar Quick Poll: Lightening Bolts or Skull & Crossbones? #manscaping

ohcrys The more I think I’m alone in my craziness the more I realize the rest of the world is batshit insane right along with me.

alwysabridesmd Time to transform into my detective alter ego, nosy single lady taking out the trash.

sarcasmically Just introduced my son to beatboxing because I want him… to emulate these musicians and make noise ALL THE TIME? CRAP WHAT WAS I THINKING.

InfiniteChicken OH: “Well, after I saw my dad’s I knew I had to get a pair.” #IAm12

JLYoungsma “Ooooh, a new Katherine Hiegel movie!” -no one.

steenyweeny the complete works of tears for fears is inside my brain

papersquared @exlibris I’m just going to add beads to my cat’s and crochet him a beret. #buttdreds

SpaghettiJesus Everyone was so high from 1969 to 1989 that I vote on a do over.

allisonthemeep If I were a mushroom farmer, I’d start a side project rock band and call it “Loose Morels.”

AlmightyBoob DONT LAY DOWN WHILE LISTENING TO MORRISSEY! IF YOU FALL ASLEEP YOU’LL NEVER WAKE UP AGAIN

Smethanie It’s not that I LIKE spiders, I just save my helpless card for better stuff — flat tires, hard-to-open jars, people I need killed.

MassageByTed Aamco, Maaco, and Amoco should be forced to fight to the death and the winner called Ma’amMoCo

stevesilberman From a scientist friend: “Has any savvy amphibian biologist named a new species of salamander, Lisbeth? That’d be awesome.”

pnkrcklibrarian Because *I* know when I think of British television, I totally think of Star Trek, X-Files, Gangs of New York, and The Tudors. Totally.

JLYoungsma The sound of my vacuum sucking up stale raisins is equal to my heaven.

joeinverarity The baby made an atomic fart on my leg. I am now more powerful than the Toxic Avenger.

amazinqatheis tI ate the flying spaghetti monster

JillMorris Whenever I need to cry on cue I think of skanking.

writtenper New couch means no dogs allowed if they’re wet/damp from outside. Dogs’ reaction: WHY DO YOU HATE US NOW OMG WE ARE DYING.

Athenabee If my dog barks and wakes up Zofia, I will have him drawn and quartered. #realtalk

premmeridian Dreamt last night that mice were putting on a production of ‘Les Miserables’ at my workplace. At least, I think it was a dream.

JillMorris The LA arsonist set 55 fires in four days yet I lack the productivity to mail a thank you note.

LouisPeitzman I cackle a lot for someone who has only ever ridden a broomstick recreationally.

BeTheBoy Can’t believe it’s been 30 years since the discovery of Pac-Man Fever and still no cure.

NicLewis “The Towering Inferno” reminds me of every game of The Sims I ever played.

MightyQuinn72 An apple a day keeps the doctor away. An apple in bed gets me “do you have to eat that like a goddamn horse? I’m tryin to sleep”

noshwithme When they catch the arsonist they should play a loop of siren and helicopter sounds in his jail cell at night.

JerryThomas Somehow the cat wrestled the laser pointer away from me and now I’m exhausted and he’s having my suits retailored to fit him.

sushi_goat PROTIP: DON’T EVER THINK ABOUT THINGS THEY ARE SUCH A FUCKING BUMMER

ruthakers “I was born to run.” -Diarrhea.

BeTheBoyMy wife is asleep, my New Year’s resolution to use more chloroform is a success.

LouisPeitzman “It gets better.” – what I tell depressed gay kids who have just started watching Buffy

TheNardvark What’s your favorite TV show to listen to while you stare at your phone?

Toaster_Pastry Currently wasting precious daylight guessing Tweeters underlying emotional disorders.

HouseTalkN Researching puppy training – where is the one that teaches the pup to clean my house???

wordlust New Irish curse: “May you die, then be reincarnated as a little white girl, then die again, then be exploited by Nancy Grace!”

TheMostTender  I’m worried that the soul of the man I’m supposed to marry is trapped in my friend’s cat.

inktwice  Square…if you’re going to bring elements of older FF games, how about you: 1) bring every element of FF7 2) call it FF7 3)??? 4) PROFIT

jendenbrat  If I’ve learned anything from cartoons it’s that animals and inanimate objects are struggling with the same moral dilemmas as I am.

SpaghettiJesus I will never sell out bc I’m a man of principles and I’ve always got more where that came from.

mikeleffingwell “What I want isn’t on the menu,” I said as I eyed the waitress seductively. “Oh wait, yes it is. Can I have the buffalo wings?”

Disalmanac UPDATE: Santorum is surging in Iowa. Try not to step in any. Jesus.

MightyHunter Where my gerunds at?

LaurelKS The best way to start 2012 is completely hangover-free even though I was knee walking drunk last night. Winning!

sarcasmically Woke up and kids were gone. Silent house. SANTA CAME LATE THIS YEAR, BUT HE CAME.

sawaboof This needing to eat thing is really messing with my plans to stay on the couch all day.

sushi_goat YOU ARE MOTHER IS SO UGLY THAT I WOULD NOT PUT MY REPRODUCTION MECHANISM IN HER

RaeBeta Introducing my parents to @theisb‘s Tarot reviews, because it’s not Christmas until the whole family is yelling “Your vagina is haunted!”

joeinverarity Warning to all: if someone tells you an infant had a present for you, it isn’t a nice bottle of wine. Get the hell out while you can.

joe_hill Benedict Cumberbatch is so awesome in WARHORSE, his name ought to be Benedict Cumberbigballs.

MassageByTed That, sir, is an extraordinarily well-appointed cat box.

mwilliamrice SPOILER ALERT: Caillou is going to fuck it up.

slennonharris Sisyphus walks into a bar. Sisyphus walks into a bar. Sisyphus walks into a bar. Sisyphus walks into a bar. Sisyphus walks into a bar. Sisyp

trumpetcake If your motorcycle is louder than me reciting the alphabet to a child you are a butt.

jenniferweiner I’m okay with Linny and Tuck, but Ming-Ming’s kind of an asshole.

msbellows Cool! I’ve rcd an email naming me to the International Association of Successful Individuals! #NotClickingTheLink

mrteacup Marxist restaurant reviews: “Even though they’re plunged into the icy water of egotistical calculation, the waitstaff are SO NICE!”

palinode Don’t buy grated Parmesan! Simply rub a block of fresh parm gently against Matthew McConaghey’s face. #cookingtips

MightyQuinn72 Reading a paper manual this morning I put my finger on the page and swiped it like a touch screen. This is what’s called “natural selection.”

RideOrDiePudge WARNING: The Chris Angel Ultimate Mind Freak Magic Kit may cause wives, girlfriends and other female companions to disappear.

rstevens The distance between “buy cold medication” and “lose cold medication” gets shorter every time.

TristinaWright I love that my FIL’s status on gchat is always, “COOKING BACON” – I married into a great family.

PolyesterPony Does the world still exist? Asking for a friend.

apelad  Without spoiling anything major, can someone just tell me if the war horse starts or ends the war?

DamienFahey  I dislike children but I LOVE yelling, “STOP IT!” in public…so I’m having a kid.

dr_spidermanMD  A SALAD BAR IS A BINDING LEGAL CONTRACT GUYS STOP SHARING

TheMostTender  My littlest cousin just asked me what grade I’m in. He is now my favorite human being of all time.

C_Vilela  OH: “This stuff tastes awful!! How has Tim Horton’s duped an entire nation? It’s like North Korea!”

kevingchristy  the next time someone says to you “I don’t watch television” say “what’s television?” It’s the checkmate of pretentious lies.

palinode My new goal in Skyrim is to kill every living thing in it, except for the guy who sells me my arrows.

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

Best of 2011: Little Big Kitchen

26 Dec

These are my favorite food-related posts from 2011.

Recipe: Butternut Ravioli And Then Some

8 Dec

– I’ve already started getting Christmas cards in the mail. (Thanks, Melyndersons!) This is no fair. I haven’t even made ours yet, nor even picked out the photo.  I’m still trying to mull over a way to beat last year’s card, and the only possible contender I’ve come up with it to find a giant Julbocken for Isobel to ride while I take her photo on it. I am, so far, unsuccessful in this endeavor. But I hear our local Volvo dealer has a large Dala

Justin found this Star Trek Christmas card and it warmed my nerdly heart.

– This made me laugh until I cried: Fake Kristen Stewart Explains Christmas. Via  SvelteAssassin.

– This weekend I’m getting together with friends for a holiday party that includes an old fashioned sing along. I am so excited to sing hymns and drink nog while Isobel runs around with Kingston shouting, “IS THERE AN L, MOM?! IS THERE AN L?!” The song Noel kind of freaks her out.

– It was only a matter of time before the internet came up with this. Via the Scott.

– Earlier in the week I posted about thrifty ways to wrap presents and thrifty practices I’m using to save money. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to respond to the comments yet but if you enjoyed these posts please click over and read the comments. The comments totally inspired me. LB readers shared some awesome creative and thrifty tips that you might want to bookmark.

– Recent Thrift Store Gore: Terror Santa. He sees you when you’re sleeping.

– Recent Thrift Store Score: Vintage Angels. My small pile of Christmas decorations is growing.

RECIPE: BUTTERNUT RAVIOLI WITH SAGE BROWN BUTTER

I made butternut ravioli with sage butter for dinner on Monday and it was so good Anthony and I nearly fainted. Isobel didn’t want any and we were like OH GEE THAT’S TOO BAD NOM NOM NOM.

I didn’t use a recipe but it was super easy. The steps were kind of fiddly but they weren’t hard. The longest part was the roasting of the butternut squash, and you can do that a day or two in advance. This is a great way of using up butternut puree.

1. Halve your butter nut, clean out the seeds, and lightly coat it with oil. Roast at 400 degrees F for about an hour.

2. When cool, scoop out roasted flesh and mash.

3. Saute the white parts of a scallion until soft then add the butternut, heavy cream, salt, pepper, a scrape of nutmeg, and warm through. Take off the heat and add a grating of Parmesan cheese.

4.  Lay out wonton wrappers and make ravioli by putting a bit of the butternut mixture in the center of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with a bit of water and fold in a wonton shape.

5. Start the sauce: I made brown butter with sage, which is dead easy. Add the butter to a warm pan along with some whole fresh sage leaves. Heat butter till it foams and starts to brown. You’re done.

6. Boil ravioli briefly then portion out on plates. Pour brown butter over and sprinkle with parsley and more Parmesan if desired.

7. Ta da! Here’s the end result. So good.

Snapshot

30 Nov

Here’s what I’m up to:

– I have so much to talk about I might end up doing multiple snapshot posts this week. Forgive me.

The Jennui gave us these adorable bunny Converse in what feels like years ago but was really just in May. Isobel loved them so much she went absolutely apeshit for them and insisted on putting them on despite the fact that they were at least two sizes too big. She inevitably fell down a lot and looked like Sideshow Bob, so I put them away. Or at least, I thought I did. Every time she saw them in the upper reaches of her closet she went ballistic, demanding to wear them. I had to shove them inside her old sling for protection (hers? mine? the shoes’? Nay, I was protecting THE WORLD AT LARGE from her wrath). They mostly fit her now and she couldn’t me more pleased than if she was pooping pink rainbows out her baby buns.

– I think I scared people when I put out another call for guest posters. What I meant was that I’m planning a rough outline of my time, my projects, and consequently, my blog posts, through the new year. I’d like to feature a few guest posters here and there over the next few months. Not that I want to take the next few months off and have other people post exclusively. My wording must have fueled some worry because several people DMd and emailed me to ask if I was okay. I’m just peachy! Even with a few anxious rough patches I’m really doing well. I just have a couple special projects coming up that are going to take extra time so I was looking for a handful of people to step in for a day if things got crazy. Sorry to scare you!

– I’m having an Etsy sale! Save up to ten bucks on selected items! For more info, see this post.

– My phone is stupid and dumb. This is the epitome of a First World Problem, but I own an ancient 3G iphone that has been dropped on its head one too many times despite the case I lovingly contained it in after an unfortunate meeting with the tile floor of the girl’s upstairs C wing bathroom. I’ve been having problems texting and making my phone aware of my SIM card and the other day it freaked out so badly I had to restore it. BOO. I lost some very treasured photos and about a million sweet text messages and my phone still quite possibly is in the throes of Alzheimer’s.  There really isn’t a point to me sharing this with you, other than the venting of my frustration and the fact that it takes awhile to receive texts sometimes.

– You should add pomegranate seeds to your Greek yogurt. The way nature intended. I also made dirt candy with sweet potato and butternut squash, and oh sweet baby Jesus Picard with a hat on, it was by far the best dirt candy ever. Both of ’em. No need to roast. They were perfection. When friends would come over I’d make them sample it and by turns they were always confused, intrigued, and finally, addicted.

– I also made balsamic glazed mushrooms, sauteed garlic spinach, and baked sweet potatoes in the style of baked russets. It was a special occasion because Anthony was gone for the night playing D&D. I don’t cook sweet potatoes when he’s around because he despises them. I love him anyway because he gave sweet potatoes a shot and tried them three times in three different ways. Such a good sport. He still hated them after all that so I gave up trying to convert him to the fiber-rich beta carotene-goodness of the yam. I had never tried treating a  baked sweet potato like a baked potato before. Normally when I bake them I soak them in lime butter and zest and flake over plenty of sea salt and maybe a pinch of nutmeg. Eating it with sour cream and bacon and garlic chives was a wonderful experience.

– Speaking of yams, my friend Jose came over the day before Thanksgiving and brought me the largest sweet potato I have ever seen in my life ever. He also dropped by a stack of comics to disperse among the locals. Anybody interested? Valerie? Caleb? Jwa?

– Despite the fact that it’s becoming a bit chilly, Isobel still insist on playing with water outside. When we went to the library, she demanded to check out this book and then requested I take her picture with the library’s lion. We still haven’t showed her the movie Totoro because it would be too scary for her still, but we have been listening to the soundtrack that my friend Zack burned and decorated for me many years ago. It’s great to listen to while folding massive amounts of laaaaaaaaundry.

– I only just put my fall decorations away, and other than the Scandinavian table runner that was my Grandma’s, I haven’t gotten any decorations out yet. Everyone’s posts on IG and twitter are really inspiring me, though. I’ll have to put stuff out soon.

– This conversation happened a couple days after Thanksgiving:

J: Do you want to get a bite to eat somewhere, or do you just want to go home and have turkey?

C: I’ve had turkey for breakfast. I’ve had turkey for lunch. I had turkey twice the day before that and the day before that.

J: I get it. You probably also let a new European country into the Union.

C: Yes. It was Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving

24 Nov


Thrifty Living: Drying & Saving Herbs

22 Nov

Today I’m going to show you the best way for storing cut herbs. No, I’m not talking about one of those herb saver dealies, but you can certainly go out and spend 15-20 bucks on that if it makes you feel better. That might be worth it to you, but besides the fact that it costs money it’s just another thing that serves a single purpose that you’ll inevitably have to clean and store and care for for the rest of your life, or until you chuck it in the garbage. Wow, I really sound like a grump about those things. I’m not, really.  If the situation presented itself I’d love to try it. I do love me a kitchen gadget after all, but the fact is I don’t have the budget to go bandying about on something that can just as easily be remedied by some scissors, a tall glass, and some water. So, here’s the thrifty way to preserve your freshly cut herbs:

1. First, take your bunch of herbs (here we have Thai basil from the Farmer’s Market), and snip off the ends. Just like with cut flowers, snipping the ends every few days helps ensure a crisp, clean stem to help circulate the water better.

2. Fill a glass part way up with water and plunk the herbs in. It will smell really, really lovely, as that is the nature of herbs, but press on anyway. Make sure the stems are well submerged in the water, or else the top of your herbs will dry out and get crispy. (If some do get crispy, don’t panic: just avoid them in favor for leaves that still have life in them.)

3. Place in the refrigerator. Ta-da! They will keep well for several days, and up to a week or more depending on the freshness of the herbs and the type of herb you are saving. You may need to add water or change it out  if it becomes cloudy or murky, but other than that you are good to go.

I buy some sort of herbs every week at the grocery store or farmer’s market. My herb garden isn’t large enough to supply every herb I need, but inevitably when I buy herbs this way I always have a ton left over. In an effort to cut waste and boost nutrition I’ve been adding the leftover chopped herbs to my food on a daily basis. Almost everything you eat can benefit from some chopped Italian parsley (which is usually what I have leftover), so I’ve been adding it to eggs, sandwiches, salads,  over chicken, in soups, whatever. At the end of the week, I’m usually left with a bunch of slimy stems that can be tossed straight in the compost bin.

Last week I harvested some fresh herbs from my garden and dried them in the oven. I got a lot of requests for tutorials on twitter, and you are going to be surprised at how easy it is:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees F.

2. Line a baking tray with parchment.

3. Place clean, dry herbs on try.

4. Dry for 2-4 hours.

You’ll know your herbs are done when they crackle and flake into bits when crumbled. Delicate leaves will take closer to two hours while stems and heartier plants will take nearer to four. The thing you’ll notice is that they are still very freshly green when dried this way as opposed to dried herbs you’ll by from the store.

Snapshot

16 Nov


Here’s what I’ve been up to:

– I’ve been looking for a countertop compost bin so I don’t have to keep a bowl with fruit and vegetable remnants in it on the counter. Which I suppose the compost bin would be doing anyway, except most of them are smaller and have lids. Have any recommendations?

– Have you seen crap at my parents’ house? Hilarious! Via Gisela.

– My friend Gen posts about mental illness in the blogosphere and how you can help end the stigma. You vote on Facebook, and if you know me you know I avoid Facebook at all costs, but even I voted. Also, Gen is funny, honest, and she writes about motherhood in a way I admire. Check out the love letter her son wrote her for further proof of her awesomeness.

– I’m trying to come up with Christmas card ideas that will beat last year’s awesome card. You’ve seen last year’s card, right? I honestly don’t know if I can top that.

– Tomorrow I’m starting the ambitious project of reorganizing the storage method for my entire etsy shop. This project is enormous. I have only listed a small percentage of what I actually have on hand for the shop.

– In food news, my mother gave me the rudest butternut squash. I plan to make a cheeky soup. Or chips. Or more dirt candy. (Or should I say, dirty candy?)

– I’ve been stirring shards of bacon and pomegranate seeds into my oatmeal in the morning. I love salty-sweet, and pomegranates and bacon are two of my most favorite things. I’m pretty sure bacon has worn-out its fashionable chicness after years in the limelight, but I’ll never tire of its fatty, salty charms.

– Now that the bounty of my garden is starting to fade, I’m cooking and using everything I can, including drying some of my herbs in the oven, in this case, catnip. I’ll got some questions about this on twitter, so I’ll be posting a tutorial later. In the meantime, I’m going to look up some tutorials for homemade cat toys.

– It’s official–I’m hooking again. Years ago a coworker taught me to crochet (a challenge, as I’m left-handed and she was right-handed). I crocheted lots of scarves and several blankets. I even have a rarely-used Ravelry account. I crocheted constantly until my coworker and friend’s baby passed away. I had just finished her baby blanket and the whole situation was so devastatingly heartbreaking that I just didn’t feel like crocheting after that for a long time. I’d pick up the yarn and start think about what happened and I’d just put it down again.  Now I feel like I can give it another go.

– The other day Isobel was really whining. It was the sort that didn’t even involve words, just a steady stream of uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh for hours on end. Finally, I could take no more, so I said, “Isobel, you need to stop whining. If you need something, please use your words. But no more whining!” Finally, the noises ceased.

A pause, and then, “Mama?”

“Yes, Isobel?”

“Do you want to play whining for a little while?”

Snapshot

9 Nov

Here’s what I’m up to:

– I’m really excited Top Chef has started up again. I love Top Chef. I do not, however, love their weird try-outs gimmick for the first couple of shows. I’m ready for that to be over and for shit to finally get real.

– My fantastic in-laws took Isobel for a portrait sitting the day we went to the Warrior Dash. Even though you probably know how I feel about portrait photography places, I always look forward to getting the photos because my kid is absolutely adorable.

– Speaking of adorable kids, Kingston came over last weekend and he and Isobel played together beautifully. They’ve reached some developmental sweet spot where they can play and interact with each other withing constant supervision and territory disputes. We still had to watch them, of course, and enforce the necessary sharing treaties as we saw fit, but overall, they were less work together than they were on their own, which is the sort of milestone we’ve been waiting semi-patiently for for over two years. At one point, they were having so much fun than when Angela checked on them she noticed they had knocked over the cat’s scratching post and were both straddling it like it was a horse, saying, “WHEEE!” and “YEEHAW!

– Isobel and I have been cooking together a whole lot since I discovered the therapeutic benefits of the the kitchen. She loves to help.

Isobel packed a suitcase so she can go to China and see the baby pandas.

– Every time you @-reply me on twitter my phone buzzes so Isobel picks it up and says, “Hello? Hi? How are you?” and sometimes, “I can’t hear you.”

– Handfuls of pomegranate seeds and dark chocolate chips make a great dessert when no one’s watching.

– I am overall feeling better. Since the panic attacks I’ve been seeing my therapist more frequently than before and that has helped immensely. I do intend to thank everyone personally for all the kindness and support I’ve received. You all have been so kind.

– Most of my updates today seem to be Isobel-related. I’ve been doing things that are not Isobel-related, such as reading The Woman Who Loved Reindeer, which I enjoyed, and starting Curses, Inc. I also shot some more portrait photography this weekend and learned to play the Star Trek Deck Building Game, which is super fun despite the fact that I suck at it.

– Oh! I also made that salad in the photo above from leftovers in the fridge: spring greens, tomatoes from Jake’s garden, bacon, cooked roast chicken, pomegranate seeds and a dressing made up of the rendered bacon fat and red wine vinegar. Very yum. This salad came about as part of an attempt to use up everything we have in the fridge and save money while still being delicious.

Homemade Christmas & Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

7 Nov

Working in the kitchen has been a balm for my anxiety. The chopping, the washing, the sauteing all help divert my scattered, restless thoughts away from anxious tangents. The inherent rhythm of chop chop chop chop has become my mantra. Cooking is my meditation. Dinner is my devotion.

We have so many seeds from the pumpkins we grew that I’m planning to roast them in batches with a different set of seasonings each time. In addition to the three fat pumpkins we harvested from the backyard my friend and gardening-partner-in-crime Jake gave us the pumpkin he grew as well. It’s an embarrassment of pumpkin riches.

After cleaning the flesh from the seeds by soaking them in brine overnight, I doused them heavily in tamari, the milder, more complex Japanese soy sauce. I roasted them for 45 minutes at 300 degrees. They came out a bit saltier than I’d like so I’ll need to adjust the amount of soy, but they have a robust, almost smoky flavor.

One of the reasons I’m testing out different spice combinations is because the holidays are right around the corner and I’m looking for gifts I can make cheaply and in batches. This year my friends and I have decided to have an exclusively Handmade Christmas. If it can be found in a thrift store (the only exception), cooked, baked, or otherwise handcrafted, it counts. None of us can afford an extravagant Christmas, and aside from a few stocking stuffers and thrifted goodies I’ve already set aside for Isobel, that goes for family, too.

Going down to one income in this economy is way harder than I thought it’d be. I don’t regret my decision to stay home for a minute, but I do have to admit I had unrealistic expectations about how difficult the financial transition would be. Finally, with two incomes in decent jobs we were making enough money to do more than get by when I quit my job. But I know things won’t always be this way. Anthony is still establishing himself in his career and I’m continuing to make extra money through photography and my Etsy shop. (Speaking of, stop by my shop during the holidays! I always include extra vintage goodies to customers I know personally.)

My friends are all in the same boat, most of them dealing with crushing student debt, lack of employment options, and the dreaded foreclosure. So, in the tradition of making lemons out of lemonade, we’re going the inexpensive route. Handmade can certainly be expensive, but I’m on the lookout for crafts that are inexpensive, easy enough for a novice, and not incredibly time consuming. I have some ideas I’ll share later (once I figure out what I’m going to make), but I’d love to hear any suggestions you have or click on any Pinterest links you want to send my way.

Recipe: Dirt Candy

11 Oct

So, beets. Let me start by saying I like beets. I like them, a lot. Okay? I know people get weird squeamish food prejudices about vegetables because they’ve been subjected to subdued canned versions growing up or in school cafeterias, but I even like canned beets. I think they’re great.

Raw beets, however, are not as tasty to me. I like them baked wrapped in foil or pickled, but I’m not as keen on them even when sliced attractively thin on a plate mixed in with carrots. I could probably grow accustomed to that musty-earth flavor, but I’m too busy eating them other ways to try.

Enter, dirt candy. This recipe for curing root vegetables (and butternut squash) in sugar caught my eye and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Curing the vegetables in this way allows them to retain the crispness of texture while softening the raw bite of their flavor through curing. The sugar pulls all the moisture out of the vegetable, shrinking it and transforming the flavor. It came to mind immediately when I noticed golden beets at the Farmer’s Market.

In the interest of eating the whole plant and thereby saving money, I first cooked the beet greens.

Golden beet greens are less photogenic than regular beet greens because they do not have the shockingly ruby red veins contrasting against the dark green leaves. I used this recipe, which was delicious but I don’t have a photo. Cooked greens are not photogenic.

I had a few beets to work with and before I made candy I sliced some up and made beet chips using the same method I used for the butternut squash. I loved them, though not as much as I loved the squash chips. Their earthiness translated almost to a smokiness, which was nice.

(That dip you see next to them was a mixture of sour cream, Greek yogurt, and dill. And I had rather more than what is pictured on the plate.)

While the chips were baking and the greens were bubbling I started on the candy. The instructions are as follows: 1. dice beets, 2. cover with a pile of sugar, 3. wait. Aside from some light stirring that happens over the course of a couple days,that’s it. You cover it, set it in the fridge, and let nature do its thing.

Nature doesn’t mess around. After the first half hour I drained off this much liquid already.

I know what you are thinking: that looks like Mountain Dew at best and a very sick person’s urine sample at worst. That’s 100% sugary golden beet juice.  I thought about reducing to a syrup and adding to Greek yogurt. Twitter was not enthusiastic about this idea.

After I took the photo, of course, I poured the liquid back over the beets and stashed them in the fridge and waited, stirring intermittently, for two days. But you don’t have to wait that long! Thanks to the magic of the internet I can show you the result…

The liquid darkened. The beet pieces had shrunk but remained firm and they glowed as if from within. They were good. They were very good.

They tasted like beets but without that full raw bite. And the concentration of sugars made them sweet, like, well, candy. As I ate them I thought, wow. I bet these would be even better roasted. Totally unnecessary of course. Gilding the lily, really. But once I had the idea I couldn’t let go of it, so onto an oiled baking tray they went. Ten minutes later…

They were gorgeous. The exterior sugars caramelized and scorched in places while beets became a mixture of chewy in some places and crisp in others. I could have eaten a popcorn bag full. Add some sea salt and it was better than candy. They would make an amazing garnish.