tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Thanksgiving Trials

Dear E,

I daydreamed about serving grilled cheese and soup for Thanksgiving this year, to serve the opposite of an over-the-top meal but keep the comfort. Of course that's not what we're doing but I am keeping soup on the menu.

soup trial
soup trial

I thought that serving soup as a starter would be a pleasant change -- the freezing weather outside may have something to do with this decision. The problem with serving soup at Thanksgiving that soup can be very filling, especially the sort of soups that came to mind at first -- cream of cauliflower, butternut squash, potato-leek. I also didn't want to just serve chicken broth! I happened across a recipe for roasted garlic soup that sounded light enough but with a bit of body to it. I shared the recipe with N and he thought it also sounded good but suggested that I make for us first. Good call!

I made the soup for dinner last Thursday (with a couple of modifications) and I think it fits into that little round box I hoped it would. We will see how it goes next Thursday. See you then!

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Ground Beef Brainstorm

Hi E!

I would like to enlist your help.

N estimates that we have 70 pounds of ground beef in the freezer from our quarter cow. I'm not sure it's quite that much but I also haven't counted. So far I've used 3 pounds to make two batches of chili.

ground beef shelf, in 1lb packages

Other ideas in mind for the use of lean, grass-fed ground beef:

  • hamburgers (duh)
  • chili
  • taco meat
  • kofta/kefta kabobs
  • kotleti
  • meatballs (meh)
  • Bolognese sauce
  • meatloaf (bleech!)
  • stuffed vegetables (cabbage, eggplant)

N has often complained that ever since I started feeding the dogs raw ground beef, I stopped making us dinner with ground beef. The reality is that I am not much of a fan of any of ground beef patty type items other than hamburgers. I think all of those years of being a vegetarian and also avoiding red meat are catching up to me as well.

Other ideas?

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Summer Craving

Word Up, E!

A week before I left on vacation, I started to crave pulled pork sandwiches. Shredded barbecued sauced pork with coleslaw on a potato roll... Mmm!

My favorite part of pulled pork sandwiches is the potato bun. My favorite brand is Martin's with their yellow color and delicious texture. I know you hate yellow buns, so thankfully for you, we can't get Martin's rolls here!

In fact, all of the potato rolls I've tried in Seattle have been mediocre at best. Nowhere near the right texture or flavor of my beloved Martin's.

I said to N, "hey! I bet I can make potato rolls."

Sure enough, I found this recipe (among others) which looks promising.

I cannot wait for pork sandwiches!

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Cincy Style Chili

Good morning, E!

I was up very early this morning for a work conference call. Now it's 1030 and I've been thinking about lunch for an hour! Today is the sort of day I should eat two small breakfasts, I guess.

Back in January, N made Texas style chili. He then specifically requested I make Cincinnati style chili -- I promised him I would in February. Well, February came and went and I didn't make chili (oops). So I'm doing it this weekend.

Last time I made Cincinnati style chili, I used Grumpy Beer Geek's Batch 13 -- recipe here. I adjusted his recipe a bit and given how much sour cream my sister M had to add to it ("do you want some chili with that sour cream?"), I think I may have overspiced it just a tad. The recipe was a winner, though.

This time around, I think I am going to use Grumpy Beer Geek's latest recipe, batch 16.

I personally like my chili served over cornbread but since this is Cincinnati style, we'll have spaghetti as well as cornbread -- diner's choice! Plus the usual available toppings: diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced onion, diced jalapeños, sour cream. No coney-style dogs, though (mm, tube meat)!

I know you're not a huge fan of chili, but perhaps you'll enjoy the sweet-spicy-saucy Cincinnati-style chili a bit more than the usual type you have.

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Dear J -

As I sit here and eat a fried dough breakfast (thanks!), my thought turns to whether cooking for others is more fun, or is it more enjoyable to eat what others have created.

I must say, feeding others is immensely more satisfying than feeding myself, but only when they enjoyed the meal. Perhaps it is cultural? Or maybe it is just selfish of me to cook for others so I can try out new recipes, techniques, styles, and etc.

Speaking of... I was lamenting the Chicken Mole at the now defunct Taco Del Rey in Renton.  That was yummy chicken mole. Then I got to thinking about all the yummy "taco trucks" in the Bay Area. I know nothing about Mexican cookery. So I borrowed Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen from the library. I am not sure what will come out of this experiment ...

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Fried Birthday Dough

Dear E --

Phew! I am still full from the delicious Chinese New Year dinner. I think my favorite part was the black bean spareribs. Nom! Happy Year of the Tiger!

Since you always make a birthday cake (pie, dessert) item for each of us and your birthday just passed, it is your turn for a special birthday dessert. When we asked what you would like, your answer was simply, "fried dough."

I thought about cannoli, cruellers, funnel cake, hand pies... none of which really felt inspired to me. Then I was falling asleep and the simple word "beignet" whispered in my ear.

There's Orange-Scented Beignet, Paula Deen's recipe, Emeril's recipe, Buttermilk Beignets, white chocolate and cardamon beignet and many others.

What do you think? Do beignets satisfy the fried dough birthday request?

As for actual dinner planning, I haven't done any of that yet. I am craving Thai and sushi...

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Chinese Super Bowl

Dear E,

How are the preparations for Chinese New Year feast going?

N's mom is passing through town on Sunday and we are meeting up with her -- it will be nice to see her, albeit quickly -- so I am not sure we can also finagle meeting up for a Super Bowl get together.

I was daydreaming of hummus and veggies and guacamole and Chile-Chicken Posole. Some other time, I guess!

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Typical Thursday Freakout

Good afternoon, E!

Once again, I feel like I am doing everything last minute! Oh no! What are we having? Is there a plan? Ahhhh!

Last night I was reading blogs in and coincidentally a recipe for New York Deli Rye Bread popped up on Smitten Kitchen (speaking of recipes on Smitten Kitchen, I still need to make the Homemade Oreos -- minus the filling -- for N).

plenty of caraway seeds

The rye bread recipe looks promising! At least eight hours to make it? A sponge? Yes, sounds like the right type of bread recipe for us.

[note that I still haven't written the menu.]

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Conspiring Against the Green Stuff

Dear E --

I trust you are having a good start to the week! I sure seem to need a lot more coffee on Monday and Tuesday than Wednesday through Sunday. Maybe I'm not the only one?

I have received word that N has prepared corned beef and pastrami for their boiling and smoking on Saturday morning. We will be having a trial run of rye bread today or tomorrow (then it will become rye croutons!).

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what sort of green stuff goes with corned beef and pastrami on rye. I am starting to think that the boys intentionally select meat products that do not "go" with the green stuff!

I'm browsing Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads for the Season (NYT link) for ideas even though it's summer-season-based. A couple of simple, vegetable-heavy salads could be the antidote to mass quantities of meat and carbohydrate.

I was also eyeing this Gourmet recipe for a Lemon Curd Tart with olive oil... maybe in a few weeks.

What say you?


Winter Vegetable Sides

Hi E!

I have been thinking about vegetable sides for this weekend. I only have a few things leftover from last week's farm share -- a bunch of celery, some braising greens, apples and pears -- not enough to plan from.


While winter up here in the Pacific Northwet is a whole lot milder than I am used to, I still find myself craving heavy, calorie-dense "vegetable" dishes -- gratins, thick soups, casseroles.

I generally stay away from these sort of dishes because they tend to be less vegetable and more cream, more cheese, more topping. I want more vegetable, not less vegetable!

I did find these interesting recipes that are... more cream and carb and less vegetable. Winter is hard.

There's always my staple roasted root vegetable "recipe," too. I've also taken the roasted vegetables and tossed them on top of a goat cheese filled tart -- but that takes us back to more cheese, more carb, less vegetable. Dammit!