Tuesday, 30 September 2008

It is pizza, and it is good!

OK, before I get started on my Francais assignment I needed to share with you our pizza experience. We had a hankering so we bought ready-made garlic & herb pizza dough at Trader Joe's and made an absolutely fabulous pie considering the very few materials we had on hand. Our fridge is B-A-R-E right now but using what we had - the herbed dough, TJ's basic marinara sauce (from our last spaghetti night), the 3-cheese Italian mix, 1 red bell pepper, a few slices of Andy's dry salami, 1/2 a fresh white onion (from the Farmer's Market on Chx stock day) and voila! I can only imagine what combinations we will come up with after we do some actual grocery shopping :)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Beauty & The Stockpot

Finally, I made it down to the Saturday Farmer's Market on the PSU campus. I grabbed my produce bag and my hot soy choccy and set out on foot to gather items for my assignment of the day: chicken stock. Have you ever had homemade chicken stock? Not only is it so incredibly nutritious (the Jewish penicillin?) but it is so much more delicious than anything you buy in a can or box. I learned how to make it when I lived in England and just started to make it for our use recently. My favorite recipe is from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book - once you read this book you will NEVER look at your food the same. The recipe I use follows the lovely pictures below.
There's nothing like the fall harvest...
PEACHES for me!

The most beautiful flowers, a delight for the home.
Artichokes for a buck! Why oh why did I not buy one?
Peppers Galore!
Have you ever seen so many carrots?
Gourds & Squashes to your hearts content.
Chicken Stock

Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions
1 whole free-range chicken or 2-3 pounds bony chicken parts*
gizzards & feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped*
1 bunch parsley
* I couldn't afford the farmer's market celery today so I substituted zucchini, which has great adrenal support properties.
* Free-range is important - battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels
Cut chicken into parts, place in large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar, and all veggies except the parsley. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Bring to a boil and remove scum that comes to the top. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock that richer it will be. 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add the parsley. Remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and reserve meat for other uses. Strain stock into large bowl and cool in fridge until fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim this off and reserve stock in containers in the fridge or freezer.
Personally, I freeze some stock in ice cube trays to plop in with rice, potatoes, etc. to give it a super flavor. I also fill some quart-sized freezer bags to use for soup.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A Reminder of the Good Ol' Days at Kennedy School

Who didn't love elementary school?

We went for a meal at McMenamin's Kennedy School and relived our greatest childhood experience while eating a very good hamburger and fries. The boys enjoyed a draft beer and Tiff and I ordered a bottle of Edgefield Black Rabbit Red. We ate out on the patio across from a wonderful fire in a monstrous brick oven surrounded by patio heaters complete with a funny waiter. After our meal we made our way to "detention" where the boys were happy to discover a cigar room! I left dinner with my old school song running through my mind..."hoover, hoover, that's our name, we're the hoover hurricanes!"

my favorite lasagna

Thanks to my Everyday Food subscription, the perfect lasagna is only an hour away. I was feeling very restless and needed to do something with my hands - I didn't have the patience or attention for a craft project, but cooking a yummy meal is something I could do. Pair it with a salad, a baguette from Trader Joes, and a glass of red and ta-da, I'm a genius.
If you don't have the stomach for red meat (I can't handle a lot) or would like to cut a little off the cost, the eggplant is a welcome addition. I also read where someone added zucchini in place of the eggplant and said it was amazing.
"Healthier Meat Lasagna" from Everyday Food
6 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 ounces total), broken in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small eggplant (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1 can (10.75 ounces) tomato puree
1 pint (1 percent) cottage cheese (2 cups)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place noodles in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish, and cover with hot tap water; set aside to soften.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, eggplant, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add sirloin, and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato puree, and cook until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Season meat sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Remove noodles from baking dish, discarding water.

Spread about 1/4 cup meat sauce in bottom of dish, and top with 4 noodle halves. Layer with 1/3 cheese mixture, then 1/3 sauce. Repeat twice with remaining noodles, cheese mixture, and sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until lasagna is bubbling and cheese topping is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, 19 September 2008

A Diversion from Moving House

So yes, we've been in the midst of moving, and NO, we're not done yet. Lucky for us, we were able to get out of our boxed apartment and the heat (yes, the Portland heat!) to drive up to Bellingham for the night and visit some friends and leave the chaos at home behind. We wandered down to the Fairhaven area by the water and stopped at a little coffee bar for a soy mocha and a scone. To my delight, it wasn't your average Starbucks fare. The white chocolate and berry scone was soft, warm, and delicious. The mocha, although made with soy, was topped with good creamy foam and not one bit burnt. Not being a fan of soy's usual foam, I was pleasantly surprised. The coffee bar was modern-ish with warm walls and leather furniture, with tall windows to let in the light and plenty of space for quiet conversation. The staff was very friendly and confidently knew how to make a good coffee. Sometimes it seems to me that you get one or the other - a friendly barista who makes a burnt coffee, or a snobby barista who makes a super good coffee. I love it when you can have it both ways. It was a nice change from the usual fast-paced, crowded coffee atmosphere that we had found so far in Portland, and our little Bellingham getaway was just what I needed to work up the energy to tackle the mess at home.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Lobster Alfredo & Chicken Katsu

So, do you want the BEST recipe for 1) Fresh Lobster Alfredo and 2) Chicken Katsu? Of course you do, because they are AMAZING. Melt-in-your-mouth-and-make-your-stomach-dance kind of amazing!

Tiff posted them on her blog in much better fashion than I could do, so kindly follow the links below.

Lobster Alfredo

Chicken Katsu

Seriously, enjoy.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A Goodbye To Remember...

The greatest friends EVER. Period.

Our friends threw us a memorable and wonderful goodbye party. Drinks, games, dessert, laughter, and FUN. It was a blast. So many great memories.
The boys, they'll sure miss each other.
Whether it's a beer at 4 Daughters or in the Hagler's backyard, coordinating their Black Rock clothing (accidentally of course...), or the "occasional" smoke, they're best buds.
The girls...what can I say? I've never had such good, true friends in my life. They are loving, compassionate, hilarious, genuine, and committed. Morning coffee, hotpots, and cooking dinner in tiff's kitchen are some of the best times of my life. I love them dearly.

I will miss these girls so desperately when we go. I'm excited to see the places that Andy and I will go in the years to come, but I'm also excited to keep growing in friendship with "my girls". These are the friendships that last a lifetime.

Our New Place...I'm In Love!

You can't see it, but there's a beautiful rose bush below the steps.

Living Room
Master Bedroom
I love the kitchen! So retro. Lots of potential!

My parents took me up to Portland to drop off a load of house stuff before we do the big move next Monday. I also was able to take my mom with me to IKEA, and my Dad and sister came along as well. They were great sports :). Mom + IKEA = great ideas!