Serious Eats is always a fun read, and their recipe section is stuffed with intriguing and bizarre recipes (some involving "animal innards"). When I first saw their recipe for spiced ginger cookies a few months ago, I knew I had to try them. Anybody who knows me knows I'm a chai fanatic, and this recipe included many of the same ingredients. This recipe makes a soft, palm-of-your-hand-sized, not-too-sweet cookie that's a perfect partner for an afternoon cup of tea.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (skipped because I didn't have any)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (I used a little less)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses (I used maple syrup instead)
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
- Whisk together the first eight ingredients (flour through pepper) in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and oil using a hand mixer on low. Then beat in the egg, molasses, and grated ginger until smooth.
- Use a rubber spatula to gradually fold the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Gently fold in the crystallized ginger.
- Shape the dough into one-inch balls (the dough will be very soft) and place them a few inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on the sheet for 3 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I happened upon this article about the links between slow food, farmers, and independent restaurants in the South. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the opening paragraph:
"Andrea Reusing’s memories of visiting the Central Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, through the years are filled with sights of Lebanon bologna and piercing smells of horseradish freshly grated by a man operating an old machine with a foot pedal. Mostly, though, she says, “it was an amazing thing to follow my grandmother around and see all the relationships she had with every farmer and every purveyor there.”
- Pitas (If they're frozen, you don't even have to thaw them)
- Pizza sauce (homemade or jarred)
- Dried Italian herb blend
- Shredded cheese (I use mozzarella and Parmesan)
- Leftover veggies or other toppings
- Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 F. Cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces if you haven't done so already.
- Spoon the amount of pizza sauce you would like onto each pita and spread it around. Sprinkle each pizza with a few shakes of Italian herbs.
- Sprinkle a handful of cheese on each pizza. (I like to use mozzarella first and then dust a little Parmesan on top of the toppings!)
- Saute the veggies in a litte oil over medium-high heat until they get crisp around the edges, and then spread them on the pizzas. Or, as I discovered today, if you've sliced the veggie thin enough, you can put them on the pizzas raw, and they'll cook through in the oven.
- Bake the pizzas (preferably right on the oven rack) for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is crisp. Slice up and serve.
Yesterday afternoon, I was looking for a way to use up some Cajun spice mix I have in the cabinet, and I stumbled on this recipe from Food.com. Bryan and I are both fans of mushrooms, and he loves blackened/Cajun dishes, so I figured I'd give it a shot. It was certainly easy, and it was different from any other salad I'd made before.
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 cup tomato juice (I subbed in vegetable broth)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for pan)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- black pepper to taste
- 2 big portabella mushroom caps (mine were about 5 inches in diameter)
- 1/2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 8 cups salad greens (I used Romaine)
- 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
- 1/8 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used feta instead)
- Add the first six ingredients to a sealable plastic bag and squish it around to mix. (Yes, that's an industry term.) Add the whole mushrooms to the marinade and let them sit for 10 minutes, turning the bag a few times.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.
- Remove the mushrooms from the bag and save the marinade. Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning over the gill side of the mushrooms and add them to the hot skillet, gill side up. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until the mushrooms are dark brown.
- Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and allow to cool. In the meantime, evenly distribute the salad greens, beans, and cheese on two plates. Drizzle with leftover marinade.
- Slice the cooled mushrooms thinly and place on top of salads. Serve immediately.
Looking for a way to use up some basil or rosemary? Try a cocktail!
Wow. Carrboro farmers' market is what an outdoor market should be. I'm so impressed, I can barely find the words! I'm so happy I checked it out this morning.
I have to admit I'm getting more used to the stupid stove here. I'm learning to plan for a long wait time by doing other tasks (emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, catching up on emails, prepping ingredients, etc.) while I'm waiting for water to boil. It's working fine for now, but I'll have to see how patient I can be once I'm working and have less time to prep dinner. We shall see.
- Roughly two pounds of tomatoes (I used 3 big guys)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10 basil leaves, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 lb dry pasta (I used spaghetti)
- Core the tomatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks.
- Add the tomatoes (don't forget the juice!), oil, red pepper flakes, and salt to a large bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. (You want it to be able to sit for at least 20 minutes.)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Just before the pasta is finished, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the tomato mixture. This will thicken it a bit.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes. Toss to coat it with the tomato mixture. Add the basil and cheese, and toss again to coat. Serve immediately.
No one should be surprised by this, but researchers are finding that the hormones found in meat products may lead to early puberty in girls. Doctors are finding that girls as young as seven are starting to hit puberty nowadays. Sounds like another reason to cut back on meat -- or at least buy organic.
Check out Real Time Farms to find markets and farms in your area. Users can upload photos taken at local produce outlets and post them on the site. The project is still getting started, so some areas of the country are more thoroughly documented than others, but there's a lot of potential here.
I just stumbled onto the Triangle Vegetarian Society's list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area. The list gives an overall rating for each included restaurant, as well as a breakdown of the overall score, based on quality of food, variety of choices, "vegetarian sensitivity," price, and service. I've already tried some other sites geared towards vegetarian dining, but it's nice to have a resource as local as this.
On a non-food related note, I have bought so many fun things lately from Etsy.com that I had to share a few. I just bought two sets of squeal-worthy postcards from Isabell's Umbrella to use for my Postcrossing account, along with owl-themed return address labels from Amyzo. A few weeks ago, I bought a friend a pebble pendant from SJEngraving, and before that, I got myself some elegant stationery from The Sweet Unfolding.
This recipe marks the first new dish I've made in our new apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It was a good one to start with, too. I was looking for a way to use the gorgeous local tomatoes I found at Whole Foods, so I dug up a Recipezaar (now Food.com) recipe I had bookmarked several months ago. (It's great when I actually go back to recipes I mentally labeled as "try this out later." I don't usually remember to do that!) This is an easy one for a hot summer day (and we've got plenty of those in NC), and it came together pretty quickly, despite the obnoxious stove here. The sauce was light and fresh, with a lovely sweetness and tang from the balsamic vinegar.
- 1 lb of dried pasta [see my note below]
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4-6 fresh tomatoes
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh basil [I ended up with a little less than 1/2 cup of packed leaves]
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Start heating up a stockpot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, core the tomatoes and chop them into big chunks. Mince the garlic cloves.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until just golden.
- Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano; cover and simmer 7-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes fall apart.
- Julienne the basil leaves. Remove the saucepan from heat, and add the basil and parmesan to the tomato sauce, stirring gently.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the drained pasta and toss to coat. Serve with extra parmesan, if desired.
August has always been a complicated month for me. Back when I was in elementary school, the switch to the August calendar page signaled the last full month of summer before school began again. It was the hottest month of the summer, which discouraged me from playing outside, but as I sat inside, I knew I would regret wasting the warmth when the weather turned colder. (Yes, I was a contemplative youngin.) When I was a teenager, the beginning of the school year was bumped up to the end of August, despite my father's protests that the district was breaking the 11th Commandment by recommencing before Labor Day. Thus, August took on further contrasts between endings and beginnings.
My time during the last two or so weeks has been solely possessed by the move to North Carolina. We're just about settled in at our new place now, but I still haven't found my cooking rhythm. While there is certainly no shortage of grocery stores in this area (Harris Teeter, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Super Target Weaver Street Market, and Food Lion), I still haven't figured out a shopping and cooking schedule.