Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Million, Trillion Words, In Photos

We went to see the "Santa Train". 
Finally, Laura tried the famous El Gringo. I have a photo of her actually eating it in real life, but I'm not allowed to post it. Something about the guac going up her nose. 

The kids totally thought this was the "real" Santa. I'm not sure. For one thing: the bangs. Also, I don't see a twinkle in those eyes.

Fiona and I made marshmallows. 

We had to beat this mixture for 15 minutes. Otherwise known as forever.

I've done this, folks. It's not as fun as it looks when you're over the age of eight.

On our way to see the lights. Everyone is buckled in.

Good night and peace out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Epicurious, You Have Failed Me is my number one source for recipes. I like it because all the recipes are tested by reputable sources, such as Gourmet and Bon Appétit. Also, you can save recipes in your virtual recipe box, plus it's just an easy site to navigate and search by ingredients or season. I've never made a dish using one of these recipes that didn't turn out as expected. Until tonight.

Behold the Portobello-Black Bean Burger with Corn Salsa fiasco:

Do not be fooled by the lovely plating.

Everything seemed to come together fine. All the ingredients were worthy, consisting mainly of chopped up mushrooms, black beans, bread crumbs and an array of spices. But the "burgers" turned out mushy and flavorless. And the corn salsa: meh.

I expect this sort of recipe fail from the likes of Pinterest, but not my beloved Epicurious. Also, it took a while to make, which makes me extra cranky about the whole thing.

I will still use Epicurious as a recipe source, because this was obviously an aberration. And maybe I did something wrong. Maybe it was me. Fine. I'll take responsibility for this disaster. Even though I did follow the recipe exactly. Except, I'll admit, my food processor wasn't large enough to contain all the ingredients, so I had to process the mushrooms separately from the rest and then blend everything together in a large bowl. That's probably where things went wrong. Dammit.

In other annoying news, this recipe makes a TON of disgusting, mushy burgers, which means we threw out a very large amount of food, while there are people dying of hunger. Epicurious, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Side note: Laura ate her entire burger in about 30 seconds. She is the least picky eater in the entire universe. I, on the other hand, am starving. I should have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like the children.

You live. You learn. You snack.

Peace out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I am Here to Comfort You

I'm not gonna lie. I have a pretty damn good life. It fills me with such thankfulness that cannot be contained in one Thursday in November.

Nonetheless, I have my moments of frustration and annoyance at the never ending neediness of children and the noise and clutter that comes with life. My need for silence is more often than not left unmet. But it's okay. I embrace the crazy, hectic whirlwind that is the now. When I am able to be in the moment, all is good.

I am in love. Pure and perfect.

But why am I rambling? This post is about soup. And comfort, for anyone who needs it.

I saved our Thanksgiving turkey carcass in the freezer for just this occasion. If a turkey had to die for us, we may as well celebrate his or her life, by making broth with his or her bones. It's a stretch, I realize this. The guilt that comes with carnivorism is deep within me. I'm working on it, Amy Ray. Stop judging.

Along with the turkey bones, I added celery, carrots, one red onion, three cloves of garlic, several sprigs of dried thyme, one sprig of dried rosemary, one bay leaf, and a few peppercorns. Simmer for 4-6 hours.
I stored the broth in the fridge overnight. This allowed the fat to solidify and rise to the surface for easy removal. 
Broth fat
Sunday is soup day. And it's also comfort food day. This turkey broth broke all the rules and became vegetable noodle soup. 

I don't usually like cooked celery in soup, but Laura does, so I decided to include it this time for a genuine mirepoix. Because I am selfless. Also, I like to say mirepoix. 
Also, it's very visually pleasing. I'm doing it for you, blog readers. For you, and for Laura.

Look at that celery, so cozy with its carrot and onion neighbors. 
 After the veggies had a chance to sautée a bit, I added some salt and pepper, as well as thyme and a couple teaspoons of turmeric, for a hint of flavor, but mainly for the color. Homemade broth is not that pretty, but turmeric gives it a nice deep yellow hue.

A real chef would have made noodles from scratch. But I have children, limited time, and lot of noise, so I opted for these.
I like the horse and carriage design. Also, the words "homestyle", "old-fashioned", and "naturally" make me feel like some Amish person made these noodles just yesterday, just for us. Packaging is everything.

Once the noodles are cooked, mix three tablespoons of flour with a quarter cup of water, and add to the broth.
If you wanted to make this into a full-fledged chicken noodle soup, you can add the chicken in whenever the hell you want. Probably right after you add the broth to the veggies. Or, you could save a bird and leave it out completely. Add some frozen peas, if you want.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel pretty good right now. I hope you have found some comfort here. If not, maybe this will help:

Peace out. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today's blog post is a photo video. Because a photo is worth more than my meager words and the music of the Indigo Girls completes the story.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome to the French Culinary Institute of Our House

Who doesn't like yeasty, fried dough covered in powdered sugar? No one. So Fiona and I decided to make beignets, the glorified doughnut of the French. Here's the recipe, which we followed almost EXACTLY.

1. Pour one cup of warm milk in a large bowl.
 2. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of powdered yeast, and 1 tablespoon of flour.
Fiona learned how to correctly measure dry ingredients from Laura. Obviously.
 3. Once the yeast starts to bubble up, add in 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, 4 cups of flour (we used 3 cups of all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat), and just under 1/2 cup of sugar. I always use less sugar than any given recipe calls for. Mostly because I enjoy breaking the rules.

Mix well and knead for five minutes. Eight-year-old daughters are really good at kneading beignet dough.

Don't you just want to kiss it? Or is that weird? Never mind.
 It's supposed to then be refrigerated for 6-8 hours. We just left ours in the fridge overnight.
4. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 2 inch squares. Let rise for about an hour.
Laura did this step. You can tell, can't you?
5. Fry the dough in canola oil.
 6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This photo makes me laugh, not only because of Fiona and Laura's shenanigans, but because Cyd, in the background, is LICKING THE COUNTER!
On Saturday, I made an old favorite, the decadent Croque Monsieur. I can't tell you for sure if this is really an authentic French recipe, but it was tasty. When we had this sandwich as kids, in France, it was basically a grilled ham and Swiss sandwich, with extra Swiss cheese on the top that was then broiled. This recipe includes a béchamel sauce, so it's obviously superior.

If you want to make this yourself, you may want to google a real recipe, because this one is, well, vague and unscientific. Here is how I think it went down.

1. Make a roux. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk for a couple of minutes.

2. Add 2 cups of milk and whisk until thickened.
2. Add 1 cup of Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Heat until melted and season to taste.

Voila, your béchamel is done.

3. Spread some Dijon mustard on bread. I used the sandwich bread we had, but in real French life, you should use some heartier, better bread, like brioche, or something similar. I'm not perfect, people.
4. Add sliced ham and Gruyère to your sandwich.
5. Fry it up in some more butter. (Hi, Julia.)
6. Top with additional cheese.
7. And then ladle on the béchamel sauce.
8. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.  Then, stick it under the broiler until brown.
Hello, holy cheesy goodness. 

And now, don't mind me as I dump some photos from this weekend that have nothing to do with French food. 

I loved how the light was coming in at that moment. 

So I kinda made everyone pass through the light so I could capture them. They humored me, because they're nice.

It's too early to be roasting chestnuts. Most of them were rock solid, not even ripe enough to eat. Dammit.

Oh, and I also made a delicious and very easy leek and asparagus soup, topped with goat cheese. But you're tired of reading recipes. I can see it in your eyes. Allow me this, at least: