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  1. Time to Ketchup

    July 3, 2015 by Barb

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    Helllllooo July! I can’t believe you are here are here already. I haven’t had a chance to picnic or go to the beach. I haven’t gotten one tomato out of the garden and I’ve only worn shorts a couple of times. My patio furniture is still in storage and my hammock is all rolled up. I feel like this summer has been flying by and I for some reason I just can’t catch up.

    Speaking of ketchup (I also haven’t had time to figure out a better segue)….did you see the big news? I never thought I’d live to see it happen but Summer of 2015 will forever be remembered as the year I saw some of the best marriage news ever.

    Yep, you guessed it….the marriage of Red Gold Ketchup and The Original Huy Fong Sriracha (you know the rooster sauce). It is best thing to EVER happen to condiments.

    Red Gold ketchup is my favorite ketchup to begin with because it is nice and thick. I also want to say tomato-y. You can actually taste the tomatoes in it! Add the spicy, garlic goodness of Sriracha and you will make your hamburger say HELLOOOO! (Actually if your hamburger starts talking to you, you need to run and run fast!)IMG_9913

    Are you asking yourself “What do I put this magical ketchup on?” Well, the obvious things like fries and burgers. (Not on hot dogs….ketchup does not belong on hot dogs!)

    But this is also the ketchup you want when you make cocktail sauce for your shrimp or use it on your cocktail meatballs. And if you are a meatloaf lover, this is the ketchup you want to smear on the top! You can even concoct up a sauce for chicken wings! (Here is a great recipe that Red Gold developed.)

    I know what you are saying “I can mix up my own Sriracha/ketchup.” Yes, you can BUT what I like about this Sriracha ketchup is that that flavors have had time to get to know each other. This time together, bonding makes it truly a better marriage of flavors.  (The bottles are just starting to roll out so make sure you talk to your favorite grocery store about ordering Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Ketchup!)

    We have company coming in for the holiday weekend. A lot of things aren’t going to get done but that is okay. Our time with friends takes priorities. My time to catch up will have to be put on the back burner. (And some burgers will be put on the grill with some Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce ketchup!)

     

     

     

     

     


  2. Rainy Days and Mondays….

    June 29, 2015 by Barb

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    “Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old

    Sometimes I’d like to quit

    Nothin’ ever seems to fit

    Hangin’ around

    Nothin’ to do but frown

    Rainy days and Mondays always get me down”

    I have never felt more like singing this song by The Carpenters than today.

    The day started like a usual workday for us. He gets up early, gets ready while I try to catch a couple more Z’s. Hubby always kisses me good-bye and tells me to have a nice day. I mabble (mumble and babble at the same time) things about the time, blanket hogging and does my hair look sexy. (I have the best bedhead.)

    This morning I heard rain. Sigh. Not rain. Not on a Monday. Hubby confirmed it WAS rain, kissed my head and walked out the door. (Hmmm, he only kissed my head so my hair must not have looked as sexy I thought.)

    I heard the door shut and the pitter-patter of the rain on our roof. Sigh. I went back to sleep. I woke up an hour later, rolled out of bed and took a glance in the mirror. (Okay, the hair only deserved a forehead kiss.)

    As I opened up the blinds, the gloominess just smacked me in the face. The rain and lack of sun just kind of says today is yucky.

    But it just isn’t the weather; it is the “Monday-blues.” As much as I make fun of my hubby on Felt Like a Foodie, I miss him so much on Mondays.

    I’m not saying that our weekends are so awesome that I don’t want them to end. I mean there are some weekends that he makes every minute seem like an hour so it FEELS like our weekends last forever.

    I am just saying that I really enjoy his company. He makes me laugh all the time so on Monday I go through smile withdrawal. I feel so frowny and blue. I keep myself busy but find myself looking at the clocks literally counting the hours until he comes home. (This is another time where every minute feels like and hour.)

    Some Mondays, I am lucky. He comes home for lunch. (He thinks coming home for lunch means he is getting lucky. Seriously?? On a Monday?! I’m in a bad mood!)

    So back to today….I got up and got that phone call….he isn’t coming home for lunch. Sigh. Add that to the Monday blues and rain and I was ready to go over the edge. (In his defense, he has a lot going on at work so I am sure he was blue too.)

    I did what every good housewife does….you make a good lunch for yourself and say, “Screw him”. (But not literally “screw him” because once again….it is Monday and he isn’t home.)

    My lunch really wasn’t “good” as in healthy but “good” as in comforting like a husband who you not only love but you like a lot…and miss on Mondays.

    Crispy Baked Ravioli

    Ingredients

    1/2 cup Italian dry bread crumbs

    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (this is where that green bottle of cheese is great!)

    1/4 cup sour cream (Random thought…I wonder how yogurt would work?)

    1/4 cup milk

    12 refrigerated ravioli (use whatever you like)

    1/2 cup pizza sauce, warmed

    Directions

    Heat oven to 375°F.

    Combine breadcrumbs and cheese in bowl.

    Combine sour cream and milk in bowl.

    Dip ravioli in sour cream mixture, then in breadcrumb mixture to coat evenly.

    Place ravioli on nonstick baking sheet or on parchment paper.  Make sure they are spaced apart.

    Bake 6 minutes, flip. Continue baking another 6-8 minutes. They should look brown and crispy.

    Don’t skip the sour cream. It really gets the crumbs to stick.

    These can be doubled or tripled up but when you cook them you need to leave some space on the pan so they crisp up. Too many on a pan will make it soggy, like a rainy Monday and no one wants that!


  3. Ty Cobb Salad?

    June 25, 2015 by Barb

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    My husband and I did something the other day that we haven’t done for a loooooong time. It is stereotypically something guys want to do more than girls but this time I was pushing for it. The interesting thing is that he only wanted to do it if we had another couple involved.

    Since I am a good sport, I said yes. If this was the only way he was going to do this…the more the merrier! I couldn’t wait to see the bases again and to see who would get the first homerun!

    Are you like this too? Do you like professional ball games? (One of these days I’m really going to just write something scandalous! )

    For whatever reason, I like going to games more than my husband.  Maybe this is my freaky side coming out.

    We ended up at Miller Park in Milwaukee and saw a Brewers and Nationals game. (I was born a Cubs fan so I only wear a Cubs shirt no matter who is playing!) There were tailgaters galore, typical ballpark food and excited fans everywhere. (A shout out to the nice tailgaters who gave me a bottle of water. I love Midwestern hospitality.)

    Miller Park was pretty neat because it has a “lid” that covers the park on rainy days. Brilliant, if you ask me. Our day was rainy so it was nice not to sit outside on a muggy day in a plastic sheet.

    As I sat in the stands, I really got into all the ballpark hoopla. I looked at all the food vendors, laughed at the guy juggling Cracker Jacks and enjoyed a nice bag of roasty nuts. (I may have to blog on those later.)

    When we got to our seats, I was thrilled to hear the organ music, smiled at the music they played to introduce each player and sang the National Anthem with my hand over my heart.

    As I looked around the ballpark, I started noticing the retired numbers hanging from the rooftops. Not being a Brewers fan, I wasn’t familiar with the names or the numbers.

    I did know that the 42 banner was for Jackie Robinson. (And truthfully, that only rang home because I saw the movie on HBO.)

    So I started to think about baseball names I know. (This was my point of already being distracted at the game. The seats are usually hard so I get squirmy and my mind wanders.)

    I started rattling off player’s names in my head….Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandburg, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb…..Ty Cobb…..Cobb Salad….Was the salad named after him? (No, it wasn’t but that is how my wheels turn!)

    Next thing I know, I was dreaming about a Cobb Salad. (The ballpark fare was really not my thing.) My brain couldn’t wait to eat a salad.

    I did come home and read about the origins of the salad. In 1937, a restaurateur named Robert Cobb made it using leftovers one night. Ta-Dah. Not really as exciting as if it was named after Ty Cobb. If you want some scandal, read his bio sometime.  It is a lot juicer than my blogposts!  (Plus his salad would have to have a lot more layers, some spice and peaches!)

    Cobb Salad (makes about 4 salads)

    Based on a recipe I found  in Gourmet Magazine

    Dressing Ingredients/Directions

    3 Tbsp Blackberry balsamic vinegar (I didn’t have red wine)

    1 Tbsp lemon juice

    1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

    1 tsp minced garlic

    Sprinkle of salt

    Grind of pepper

    ¼ cup GOOD olive oil

    Whisk everything but the olive oil. Drizzle in the olive oil until it is emulsified. Taste. You may want more salt/pepper/acid.

    Salad Ingredients

    1 pound grilled chicken, chopped

    1 ripe avocado, diced

    6 cups of favorite greens (I used an assortment of lettuce from my garden)

    ½ pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled (If you are a bacon nibbler, you better make the whole pound so you can sneak a piece or three.)

    2 roma tomatoes, diced

    ½ cup blue cheese (You can also use Gorgonzola or Roquefort. You just need something blueish.)

    3 hard-boiled eggs

    Extras…chopped chives, fresh dill, radish (because they are in the garden), fried shallots if you want some crunch

    Directions

    Toss the greens with just a little of the dressing. People can always add more.

    In individual bowls, spread out the greens. Starting from one side, just start making rows of the different ingredients. I try not to put the same colors next to each other.

    Sprinkle with your fresh herbs and serve with extra dressing.

    This is what ballparks need to be serving! : )

    After it was all said and done, my husband was right. Doing it with another couple was more fun! (But this only applies to baseball games and big salads!!!!)IMG_1407


  4. Take a Dip in My Garden

    June 19, 2015 by Barb

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    I’ve been growing a vegetable garden for the last few years. It has been fun walking around the house to grab a tomato or a zucchini. (I didn’t venture much further than those items.)

    This year I wanted to expand the garden and grow everything from seed. (Previous years, I bought little plants.) It was a great project to start indoors during my surgery recovery. (And watching a seed grow while on pain meds IS very entertaining!)

    I kept planting seeds (radishes, carrots, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, squash) thinking maybe only a few of them would grow. I was wrong. Almost every little pod I planted grew a cute little plant. (They were adorable!!!!!)

    My gardening confidence was not strong as I transplanted these beauties into my outside garden. (Did you know you are supposed to thin out your growing seedlings? I didn’t do that either.)  I just kept planting more because I knew that they wouldn’t all survive.   (Next year I need to plant some confidence!)

    For the most part, everything did okay.  (Surprise!)   As the days passed, I could physically see them adjust to their new surroundings. The stems looked thicker, the leaves were a fabulous shade of green and it was like they were speaking to me. (I would blame my pain meds for the talking plants but unfortunately I wasn’t on any at this time.)

    And then we had this monsoon season hit us!! My plants survived the winds and never ending rain and grew and grew and grew. Great, right?

    My garden looks like someone spiked it with steroids! My tomato plants are full of flowers and my squash garden is blossoming. And the lettuce….oh…the lettuce. For the record, next time someone says lettuce is bunny food, they are wrong. The bunnies aren’t touching my lettuce but the green beans are a goner!

    The other item that flourished was my radish crop. I didn’t think I planted that many. I just wanted a few here and there for salads. Nope. I’ve got the mother of all radish crops. (Now I’m trying to remember if my mom planted radishes?)IMG_9747

    My fresh radishes were crisp and delightfully peppery. I didn’t want to waste any so I had to put on my listening ears for options. (Speaking of ears, I didn’t grow corn. I wish I would have.)

    Luckily, the Food Swap the other week had a brilliant guest who brought some radish dip. Mmmmm, it was tasty. Toni (the brilliant food swapper) was nice enough to share the recipe link that inspired her to make a dip. (I don’t think she used the recipe as written but I liked her flavor profile.)

    So I headed out to the fields (otherwise known as the back of the house) and picked a big handful of French radishes. I cleaned them up (and myself) and used the recipe to guide me into a sandwich spread. (Because I had some awesome little buns from food swap that were begging to be a sandwich.)

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    The bombardment of peppery notes of radish turned an ordinary turkey sandwich into extraordinary! (It also helped that the buns were awesome, the lettuce was garden fresh and I had just pickled the onion.)

    Be prepared for more posts from the garden adventures! I am so glad that I started my garden from seed but next year I will have to think about yields a little bit more. (And remember to label better….I currently have a mystery squash garden and I have no clue what tomatoes I planted!)

    Turkey Sandwich with Radish Spread

    Radish Spread Ingredients and Directions

    8 ounces softened cream cheese

    1 Tbsp Fresh Dill

    1 Tbsp Fresh celery leaf

    1/8 tsp espelette

    1 cup shredded French radish (This was about 6 of my radishes)

    Mix Together and let flavors sit together in fridge for at least an hour

    Ingredients For Sandwich

    4 fresh rolls

    ½ pound of turkey breast

    1 cucumber, thinly sliced

    Pickled onion

    Sprinkles of fresh dill

    Directions for sandwich

    Turn on broiler.

    Cut open your buns…um, like a sandwich.

    Spread your buns with radish mixture.IMG_9809

    Broil for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese gets a little brown in spots

    Remove from oven.

    Divide turkey meat evenly over each sandwich.

    Add slices of cucumber and pieces of pickled onion.

    Sprinkle with dill.

    Eat in the garden as you talk to the bunnies and things that grow.

     

     

     

     


  5. Foodie Fun Day: Sullivan’s Steakhouse

    June 15, 2015 by Barb

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    When do you have the urge to go to a steakhouse? Do you like to take your sweetie on your anniversary? Or maybe they are your go-to place for birthdays? Do you only consider going to a steakhouse on a special occasion? Or maybe you only go for dinner?

    I have a new theory. Isn’t every day a special occasion? Can we just start celebrating waking up and having great people in our lives? Life is short. Mark every day with a moment or two that makes you happy and warms your heart.

    With that said, whether you are celebrating, working or just hanging out with one of your closest friends, shouldn’t that be reason enough to go somewhere wonderful like a steakhouse for lunch?  (Okay, you know me.  I just need a reason to go out to eat!)

    Last week, I met up with my friend, Michelle, at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Naperville, Illinois. (Great location in the hub of downtown Naperville and just 1 of 19 Sullivan’s Steakhouses in the US.)  We don’t get to see each other near enough so our visits are something we treasure and we always make sure there is a good lunch involved.

    Sullivan’s did not disappoint. Their new lunch menu has something on it for everyone. What I liked about it is that you can get something lunchy (that is a word in my world) like a salad or sandwich OR you can still get some of your steakhouse favorites.

    We both started by enjoying a couple of their refreshing lemonades. Michelle had the 50/50 which was a mix of iced tea and mint lemonade and I had blueberry lemonade. (Sullivan’s still offers wine and cocktails at lunch too.)

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    I gave an internal “Woot! Woot!” for my lemonade. I love when restaurants have good lemonade especially when they zazz them up with berries!

    We tried two of their soups the Shrimp and Lobster Bisque (nice chunks of shrimp and lobster and also Michelle’s favorite) and the new Roasted Tomato (not too smooth, not too chunky and my favorite).

    Roasted Tomato Soup

    Roasted Tomato Soup

    They were both so good. (We are good enough friends that we can dip our spoons and bread into each other’s bowls!)

    Mmmmm, warm bread and soft butter!

    Mmmmm, warm bread and soft butter!

    Next we shared the Knife & Fork Shrimp Louie Salad topped with avocado, tomatoes, corn, green onions, hard-boiled eggs and Louie dressing. (A Louie dressing is mayo based with a little chili sauce, lemon and onion.) It truly was a salad you needed your knife and meal within itself.

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    With entrees like the new Chicken BLT Wrap, Fish & Chips, Fish Tacos, Pub Burgers and Korean Beef Tacos made with cabbage slaw, cilantro, crushed peanuts, Sriracha aioli and hoisin sauce, we were thrilled that the chef chose some dishes for us because I wouldn’t have been able to decide.

    Fish Tacos….a must!!!

    Fish Tacos….a must!!!

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    Korean Tacos

    Korean Tacos

    And if you really want a reason to cheer, order the lunchtime Mixer. You start with a multitude of salad choices OR a cup of the lobster and shrimp bisque and then have a choice of Blue Cheese Meatloaf, Fundy Salmon or Roasted Balsamic Chicken and a choice of side.

    We had the meatloaf with the green beans. To be 100% honest, for me (a petite woman), meatloaf is too heavy for lunch BUT when you add the bordelaise sauce, mushrooms and caramelized onions, I would skip dinner and order it again! It was rich and delicious. (Actually my mouth is watering thinking about it.)

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    And the green beans….oh…the green beans. Cheers to a chef who knows all you need to do is season beans generously with some sea salt! They were a memorable side. (Michelle and I were stuffed but kept sticking beans in our mouth!)

    Thank you to Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Naperville, Illinois for allowing me to spend time with a great person over a phenomenal meal. (Also thank you to all the nice customers and staff who were taking part in the joy of this experience with us!)

    So the next time you are commemorating an achievement, sharing lunch with a colleague or just enjoying a day that ends in “Y” with one of your best friends, think of making that lunch a little more special. Life is too short not to eat an awesome lunch.

     

     

     

     

     

     


  6. It is getting so hot….

    June 12, 2015 by Barb

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    There were some steamy days this week. It was so hot that I saw a bee take off his yellow jacket. It was so hot that I bought bread at the store and when I got home it was toast. It was so hot the debt ceiling needed a fan.

    There are good things to look forward to on the warmer days like weekend festivals and events. Actually, I’m not a fan of the crowds or being out in the heat. (It was so hot that the cows were making evaporated milk.) I do like the food that is served at a festival.

    There is just something about walking up to a stand, paying way too much for something and eating it while bumping into people. Doesn’t it sound wonderful? (It was so hot that chickens were laying hard boiled eggs.)

    Maybe it doesn’t sound that wonderful but there are times when you might purchase something that becomes a new favorite. (It was so hot that the potatoes were coming out of the ground already baked.)

    Last year, I had the pleasure of watching my husband compete in the Dragon Boat races in our town. His company was participating and he was one of the rowers.

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    In between heats, there wasn’t much to do but visit with folks or search for food. I searched for food. I walked around the different booths when I came to one that was life changing! (Okay, a little dramatic but I do remember the moment.)

    This guy points to a table full of red cups filled with watermelon and slices of lime. It looked sooooo refreshing. (Because it was so hot corn was popping in the stalk. Last one…..I promise.) He then took a shaker and sprinkled some red stuff called Tajin on top.

    It was fabulous!!!!!! There was sweetness in the watermelon, tartness from the lime and a semi-spicy zing from the Tajin. (If you are one of those people who like to salt your watermelon, you will LOVE this!)

    The Tajin, from what I was told, is a Mexican standard that is put on fruits and veggies. It is a mixture of lime, sea salt and chilies.

    The nice thing is that it wasn’t crazy spicy. It just added that one more thing to the watermelon to make it taste like it was a brand new food. You can find Tajin in your International Aisle at the grocery store. It should be with the Mexican condiments.

    I’ve tried it on other foods but my favorite combo is the watermelon and Tajin.

    So today’s recipe is probably the easiest ever. Buy some watermelon, squirt it with lime and give it a good shake of Tajin. It will become your go-to refresher snack of the hot days. (It was so hot I saw a squirrel fanning his nuts….okay…that was too much.)

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  7. Pressured into a Food Swap

    June 8, 2015 by Barb

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    Peer Pressure. Simply stated it is being encouraged by people in a group to try something new or maybe change your view.

    People succumb to peer pressure. It is just a fact. When you are in grade school, your friends are you biggest influencers. You may join in with the girls who make a humming noise and say, “I don’t really care.” (I am still apologizing to my mom for that one!) Or maybe you only wear shirts with the polo guy instead of the alligator. Or maybe your friends guided you into wearing a bra when you really didn’t need one. (This wasn’t me, of course, this was some other flat chested girl who didn’t need a bra until she was in her 20’s!)

    It doesn’t end in childhood because as we get older, other people come into our lives and ask us to try things that aren’t in our wheelhouse. The pull toward peer pressure in adulthood is a bit more fun because you can’t get grounded!

    Actually, the things I’m pulled toward aren’t frivolous and are a bit more educational. Things like environmental actions, exercise and even our choices in food seem to be the big pulls in my life right now.  (The “exercise” peer group is not getting very far with me!)

    I surrendered to some peer pressure this weekend. This group of girls kept telling me to try something because I’d really like and everyone is doing it. (Everybody is doing it is a tool to get your way unless you are a husband in the bedroom. That gets you a night on the couch!)

    The thing I tried is a Food Swap!!!!!!!! What is a Food Swap? It is a regular gathering of a group of people who “swap” homemade, homegrown and foraged food. It is a “trade only” event and no money ever crosses hands.

    Confused yet? I was until I participated. Let me walk you through the process. You find a local food swap. The one I did was the NWI Food Swap. (This group was awesome at answering all my questions.)

    I was told I could keep it easy on myself and just bring one item BUT if it wasn’t something EVERYONE liked I may not make any trades. (This is a very sad thought but it is okay not to trade if you don’t like the item. It is not personal….unless a person tastes your item and tells you to keep your day job….then it just got personal!)

    So I opted to bring 4 containers of 4 items. I brought something baked (pizzelles), something I had already canned (pickled veggies from my produce drawer), something I just pickled (a red onion fridge pickle) and something seasonal (strawberries macerated in balsamic syrup.)

    When I got to the swap, we all set up our tables. (Huge shout out to Kathy and Toni for helping me set up. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without your help.) The tables can be as simple as you laying out your goods or your can bring out your inner Martha Stewart and decorate. It is entirely up to you.

    My table was kind of in between. I put on a tablecloth and made a chalkboard with my name on it. (Um, future note put your items on your chalkboard…not your name!)

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    In front of the items, you put a swap sheet where people can make their offers. It is also nice to put some samples out so folks can taste your goods.

    After everyone is set up (and ONLY after EVERYONE is set up), it is time to walk around snack, make offers and visit. You can’t swap yet. It is definitely set up so everyone has a fair chance of getting the items they want.  Look at some of the cool tables.

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    I think we walked around for about 20 minutes or so. Besides tasting some awesome goodies, I must say I liked that it was NOT cliquey. I was one of a few newbies and EVERYONE made me feel welcome. If anything, I probably was a little shy. (Okay, stop laughing. I’m totally shy and meek.)

    Right before it was time to swap, I got really nervous. What happens if no one wanted my goods? Do I need to stand over my stuff and sing the praises of my food? Don’t cry if no one swaps. It is okay. It is just food.

    I, nervously, peeked over at my sheets and saw some offers. Phew. (They like me. They really like me.)

    We were told when it was officially okay to start swapping. It was really simple after that, I just looked at my list and went up to the different tables with the items they wanted and swapped. I brought 16 items and was able to trade all of them but 3 (1 pickled onions and 2 packages of pizzelles.)

    I came home with cilantro, chive blossom vinegar, rhubarb syrup, cucumber buns, apricot jalapeno jam, spicy pickled green beans, 2 jars of dill pickles, 2 gumbo file, goat cheese, ramp butter, black locust blossoms and 1 pepper plant.   BOOM!IMG_9803

    The bounty is the fun part. It is neat to see what people like. I did find it interesting that my cookies didn’t swap out. (When I got home, my husband wanted to “play” swap for the cookies but I wasn’t falling for it!)

    It is also nice that we had a good venue (LOAF, a specialty food store) graciously allowed us to swap in their store for FREE. (Most of us donated an item or two to our hostess as a thank you.)

    Would I do it again? YES!!! I would do some things differently. I would get things like my swap sheets, decorations and cute labels done sooner. Since people are going to picking up your stuff and looking at it, packaging is VERY important. (My onions leaked juice…..Swap no-no.)

    After doing the swap, I also think I would continue to bring a variety of items. My friend, Kathy, brought A LOT and her table was hopping with exciting trades. (She said it was her best swap ever!)

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    Food Swaps are open to ANYONE who signs up but you have to sign up! (And do your best to SHOW up.)

    Thank you to NWI Food Swap for continuing to invite me and allow me this fun day. After participating, I can see why everyone is so enthusiastic about the day. This is probably the best peer pressure I’ve ever given in to!

     


  8. The Bad Day Blog (But the Bulgogi Recipe is Great!)

    June 5, 2015 by Barb

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    Today is one of those days. I woke up (that may be the highlight of the day) and everything went wrong in the first fifteen minutes. Nothing tragic or life changing but enough to make me want to crawl back into bed.

    I had a to do list (including painting some pots, taking a shower and writing a blog on Korean food) and everything just kept getting in my way. First, I did something stupid. As per my routine, I went to the bathroom. For some reason, I decided to cross my legs. Without going into detail, there is reason you don’t cross your legs on the potty. (Add mopping bathroom floor to to-do list.)

    I left the bathroom and got dressed. My shirt just felt wrong. Why is it so tight? Am I fat today? (I have fat days.) Nope, I just had it on backwards….and inside out.

    Next, I went outside to put a second layer of paint on some clay pots I’ve been repurposing. As I’m sitting there feeling peaceful listening to the birds, a big fat toad jumps right into my paint!

    It was like an episode of the Brady Bunch. This poor toad! He jumps out of the paint and is almost stuck to the grass. I felt like I was captain of the Exxon Valdez and just doused this guy in oil.

    I jumped up and grabbed the hose and tried to rinse him off. (Note to self….when rinsing a toad be prepared he is going to jump.) He flies up in the air like SuperToad and lands on my foot. So I start screaming and kick him off my foot.

    Well, my toad goes flying.  (Now PETA is going to come after me.)  I found him easily in the grass because he was still bright orange.  I changed the setting on the hose (mist, not power wash) and was able to get the paint off of him. (I did wipe him with a Bounty paper towel because that is how the wildlife people save all the ducks covered in oil.)

    After all this, I decide that I’ll just sit down and write an informative blog on the Korean dish Daeji Bulgogi.

    Where are my notes? Gone! They have vanished. Wait. What was that piece of paper that I just dropped my paintbrush on when I ran into the house to wash off the toad juice off my hands? It was my notes! (You’ll still get the recipe today but the educational part of it is gone like an orange colored toad hopping across the yard.)

    So I grab my computer and try to look up information and I am as unmotivated at this point as I can be. I still have to mop the floor, my pots have got toad stools on them (he got a bit upset when I was hosing him down) and my recipe notes have key words covered up with blotches of paint.

    Now I know all of this stuff is not the end of the world but it just was really a sitcom kind of morning. With that said, the following recipe will make any bad day better.

    The marinade is made with Gochujang (fermented red chili pepper paste.) The paste is a staple in Korean food and is more savory than spicy. My theory on trying it, use less than the recipe calls for. Think of it like the first time you tried garlic. If you would have put a head of garlic in a recipe you may have never tasted it again. But if you start a clove at a time, you learn to love the flavor and kick.

    My morning is coming to a close and my afternoon will be better. I think to be safe I will stay away from fire, paint and toads. (Or I may have to hop back into bed?)

    Daeji Bulgogi (Korean Spicy Marinated Pork)

    Ingredients

    1 pound thinly sliced pork (I used a loin, partially froze it and then cut the slices)

    Marinade

    3 Tbsp light soy sauce

    3 Tbsp minced garlic

    ½ Tbsp mince ginger

    1 Tbsp brown sugar

    1 Tbsp Gochujang (it will be in the International aisle at the store in a red tub)

    2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

    1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

    Directions

    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients in the marinade. Add the pork and let it marinate for at least an hour.

    Prepare your grill or grill pan over medium high heat.

    In small batches, grill up the meat. (It will go very quickly!)

    I served mine with some sautéed peppers, rice and radish sprouts with an egg on top. (It was just the stuff I had around the house.)IMG_9683

    Korean food has a lot of ingredients I am trying to figure out. Hopefully the next time I post on this subject, I’ll get up on the right side of the bed.

     


  9. Risotto Roulette

    June 1, 2015 by Barb

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    Have you ever played the game roulette? Technically, I haven’t but I know it is a game of chance.   From what I understand you place a bet on a number and a color (black or red). A guy in vest (I guess vests are coming back) spins a wheel one way and flings a ball the other way on this round track. The ball and the wheel slow down and the ball falls into a colored number slot. (I am sure there is a lot more thought to this but this is all I got from watching TV shows.)

    Yipppeee…..that was fun??? I don’t like it. Leaving something up to that much of a random chance just isn’t my thing. (I’m just not crazy like that. I’m a whole different kind of crazy.)

    I feel the same way about risotto. It is probably the last thing I want to order at a restaurant. When I order it I feel like I am making a bet on my favorite….creamy and red (hot). When the ball is tossed, I end up with mushy and weird colored.

    Risotto is one of those things that need to be made properly to get the right balance of starchy, creaminess. I know there are people who have “cheats” but that is like the guy in the vest stopping the wheel from turning so you don’t win. It just isn’t right!!!

    My other risotto issue is that some folks just add to many things so it tastes muddled. It is like they are tossing a chip onto a bet instead of placing it down nicely. (Apparently that is part of good roulette etiquette.) You just don’t know what the heck is going on!

    Now don’t get me wrong, I DO like risotto. I am just tired of spinning the wheel one way and watching the ball go the other.

    So the other day I had a mishmash of ingredients in the house and decided to do a fun spring risotto. I wanted to make a wild mushroom risotto but I knew hubby wanted something green in there like asparagus. (This is why we would never play roulette together. I’d be bet on red and he’d want to bet on black.)

    I decided to take a gamble and do things differently than I’ve done in the past. I cooked my mushrooms, chicken and asparagus all separately and kept them warm while I made the actual risotto.

    Right before I plated, I mixed in the different ingredients we both wanted and ingredients all held their individual unique flavors. It was like the ball landed on my number and color because it was a winner.

    Risotto Roulette

    Ingredients

    4 cups vegetable broth (I’ve been using veg broth more lately than chicken just because I like the flavors better. You can use chicken if you like it better.)

    Olive oil

    1 yellow onion, diced

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    Salt and pepper

    1 cup Arborio rice

    ½ cup white wine

    ½ cup fresh parm, finely grated

    1 Tb of fresh thyme leaves

    2 Tb chives, chopped

    1 Tb butter (if you have truffle butter in the house this is the time to break it out!)

    Mixers (make ahead of time and keep warm)

    1-pound wild mushrooms (I used morel and shitake), sautéed

    1 pound of chopped up cooked chicken

    8 stalks of asparagus, steamed and chopped

    Directions

    In a medium saucepan, warm up the broth over medium heat and keep warm. (You may need to lower your heat.)

    In a large skillet, heat up a generous swirl of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until just translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. (It should only take a minute or two.)

    Add rice and stir so each little grain gets coated with olive oil, onion and garlic. Add your wine and cook it out it until it is evaporated.

    Hear is the important part….add 1 ladle of the warm broth to the rice and stir in a figure 8 until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to do this until the rice looks creamy and is no longer crunchy. (I had about ½ cup of broth left.) Taste it to make sure it is done. You may have to lower your heat as you add the broth so the rice has a chance to absorb the liquid.

    Remove from heat add the parm cheese, thyme, chives and butter. Stir. Separate into individual serving bowls and let folks add in whatever extra protein and veggies they want.

    My risotto turned out just like I love it. It was nice and creamy. This experience made me want to spin the wheel again on risotto but I still have no desire to play roulette.


  10. It’s My Pantry and I’ll Sigh If I Want To

    May 27, 2015 by Barb

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    Power is a dangerous thing. It can make a person crazy, wild and vicious. It can make you do irrational things and sometimes make poor decisions. It can be like an evil villain depending on who has it. (I am not speaking of myself…never.)

    It also can be wielded nicely. (This is me.) It can be used brilliantly as a tool on a complicated piece of machinery. It also can be the building block to many bigger things. Power is the control some of us need to make our lives move forward.

    Our house has a great balance of power. The outside seems to be my husband’s jurisdiction.   He flourishes in making decisions about the lawn and bigger house projects. He takes out the garbage and recycling. Hubby is even in charge of getting the mail and the paper. He does share some of the decision making with me especially when it comes to the garden. (Okay, I let him think he has some say but I’m really in charge of this area.)

    I, on the other hand, play the stereotypical 1950’s housewife role and take on the household jurisdictions. I clean, shop and organize. I shoulder the responsibility of a messy house at times but kind of like it this way.

    Every now and then, he’ll do my stuff and I’ll do his but overall we don’t cross the line and it works for us. For example, I do most of the laundry but I will give Hubby a lot of credit for folding and putting stuff away. (You should see him roll socks and fold undies!)

    There is only one area where crossover of power is strongly fought for…the kitchen! I brandish most of the power in the kitchen with food decisions. I just made myself laugh by typing the word “most.” It is a rare day that he goes into the pantry without me asking, “Where did you get that?”  And then I sigh.

    He does have a pantry shelf that he can find “husband approved snacks” but other than that I hover over him and dictate. For the most part, Hubby is good with this arrangement EXCEPT for food that lies in a gray area of “HIS” vs. “HERS.”

    Sometimes I have extra special ingredients in the pantry with the intention of using them in a recipe. A problem will arise when my husband goes into the pantry and just eats what he wants. (How dare he eat the food in his own home?  Yep, I’m a tyrant!)

    In his defense, I should communicate better. In my defense, um, I really don’t have a defense. I just feel that this is my pantry and I am great and powerful. (Sort of like that guy in the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain….except I don’t have a mustache.)

    All of this came to my mind this week because of the recipe I wanted to post…peanut butter sauce. I had used it on my spring rolls a couple of weeks ago and have had some requests to post a recipe.

    The problem…..someone got into the peanut butter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   It really shouldn’t be a big deal EXCEPT that I didn’t have a good picture of my sauce for this blog. The only picture I had was one (see above) that makes it look gloopy.

    This is one of those times where I “may” have overreacted. My husband has a lot of Pavlovian responses to various foods but I’m afraid the next time someone offers him something with peanut butter he may start shaking and rock in the corner.

    With that said, this is my formal public apology to my husband. You may eat anything in the pantry and I will not utter a sound. (Now the fridge is a still my jurisdiction!!!)

    Peanut Sauce for dipping spring rolls or chicken satay

    Ingredients

    Sesame oil

    2 tsp minced garlic

    2 tsp minced ginger

    ½ – 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste (not powder…PASTE)

    1 Tbsp brown sugar

    ¾ cup peanut butter

    ½ cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

    ½- 1 Tbsp Fish sauce (this is a tasting thing)

    Juice from ½ a lime

    Directions

    In a non-reactive saucepan, heat up a swirl of sesame oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and give it a minute or two. You aren’t browning anything; you just want the fragrance to hit your nose.

    NOTE BEFORE YOU ADD THE CURRY….curry paste can be hot for some people. If you aren’t used to using it, only add a little. The sauce will taste great either way.

    Add the curry, brown sugar and peanut butter. Mix it up as well as you can. SLOWLY add the coconut milk.. Whisk until it is all one beautiful creamy sauce.

    Keep this up for a couple of minutes. You may need to lower the heat, it shouldn’t be bubbling.

    Remove from heat. Whisk in the lime. Taste.   Do you need some salt? Slowly add some fish sauce.

    I used crunchy peanut butter and the nuts made it a little salty so I only needed a dash of fish sauce. I still think you need a dash no matter what because it adds such a neat flavor.

    I went out and bought more peanut butter yesterday. I bought two…his and hers.