Category Archives: food

Pot Roast Success!

We like to fill up the freezer with a big box o’ beef (aka a split half) that we order from a semi-local farm. I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking up the different types of steaks and finding uses for the pounds upon pounds of ground beef, but I’ve been sucking a lot with the roasts. I’m pretty sure that roasts are supposed to be easy, but I have a history of drying them out and making them inedible. I have a kick-ass beef stew recipe, so for the past year I’ve been cutting roasts up and making stew out of them. Cutting 3+ pounds of beef into bite-sized chunks gets old pretty fast though, and I don’t really like stew in the summer, so I decided to buckle down and figure out how to make a good roast. And to make my life easier, I got an awesome new enameled cast iron dutch oven. Behold:

Dutch Oven

I already have a slow cooker and a big oven-safe pot that probably could have handled a pot roast, but the dutch oven worked great and was super easy to clean.

I used this recipe, which is both an entertaining read and very satisfying because I almost always have all those ingredients on hand. Carrots, onions, and celery (not in the recipe, but I felt safe adding celery) last forever so I almost always have some lying around.Ā  I make beef stock in large quantities and freeze it into ice cubes:

Beef Stock Ice Cubes

But we pretty much always have a few bottles of cheap wine, so I used that to deglaze the pot after browning the meat. And then I added more wine, and only then did I throw a bunch of beef stock ice cubes into the pot. And for the herbs I can just walk out the back door to get some fresh rosemary and thyme! Yaaaay. Oh and I used butter instead of olive oil. (of course!!)

I especially like how much wiggle room there is with the cooking times, because I managed to prep this and get it into the oven with frequent interruptions from a fussy baby. She mostly gets to sit and watch me attempt to cook like so:

Bored Baby

And I take breaks from cooking to round up all of the toys she threw on the floor and put them back on her tray. And then the cycle repeats itself. šŸ™‚

Now I just need to find some more things to cook with my awesome dutch oven. In the meantime it gets to sit on the shelf in the kitchen and look glamorous.

Pot on Shelf

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Totally Boring Thanksgiving Food Post

This post doesn’t really require much in the way of words… We had a Thanksgiving dinner, we made a huge mess in the kitchen, it was fun. Just know that I took a lot more pictures that didn’t make it into this post, and I combined picture sequences where appropriate to reduce the total number of food pictures even more. You’re welcome. šŸ˜€

First up, Julie orchestrated the creation of a carrot cake:

And the finished product: (I didn’t catch any pictures of the icing-making process, try not to be too sad about that…)

Julie also gathered the supplies for and started making a cheesy broccoli casserole, but had to run to work, so I finished up:

After that I got caught up in a video chat with family members, so Dave pretty much did all my work for me: cranberry sauce (no picture) and sweet potatoes:

Then Dave went crazy trying out Alton Brown’s super-scientific pie-crust making technique. Apparently I had to get a picture of each step in the process:

Moving along, Here are some sweet spiced pecans:

Yup. And here are some garlicky green beans:

And of course, the turkey… Pre-roasting:

And post-roasting:

And last but not least, the gravy:

Here’s the table right before we started eating. I’m not going to win any awards for place-setting:

And then we ate it! The end. Thanks for reading. šŸ™‚

Homebrew Kombucha

I’ve been wanting to get more fermented/probiotic foods in my diet, but I’m not very fond of yogurt. I’ve been plotting various ways to add sauerkraut and maybe kimchi, if I can find some good sources, but in the mean time I’ve fallen in love with kombucha, probably because I can get it at almost any convenience store within a few blocks of my office. (Yeah, I work in San Francisco. Sometimes it’s more obvious then others.) Unfortunately it costs more than $2 per bottle, so it was turning into an expensive habit, despite being one of those things that can be made in bulk at home pretty cheaply.

So this weekend I dragged myself out to a kombucha making class, and dragged myself back home again with a SCOBY and starter tea, as well as a 3″ diameter mesh tea ball and a blend of black and green loose leaf teas. I went out and procured a water filter and a 1.5 gallon glass container, and I was ready to go! Step one, make sweet tea:

boiling water, a task I feel pretty confident with.

That 3″ mesh tea holder is huge, but it was easier to deal with than a whole bunch of tea bags:

And then I waited for forever so it could cool down to room temperature...

Sweet tea in the big glass jar, starter tea and SCOBY in the smaller jar is about to join it:

(The SCOBY is hard to see in this picture, but it's very weird and spongy looking.)

And then it sits for three weeks in the corner of the kitchen:

Rubber band, tea towel... very high tech.

Maybe it’ll make friends with the butternut squash. Or maybe it’ll die a horrible death. Everything I’ve been told is these things are very hard to mess up, but if anyone can find a way, I can! I guess I’ll know in a few weeks. In the mean time I need to procure some bottles for the “second fermentation”…

Holiday Decorations, Part 1

Since it was just the two if us, we kept our Thanksgiving celebration pretty minimal: chicken, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, kale, and wine. It was a bit heavy on the sweet side (our preferred kale recipe uses dried cherries and apple cider, among other things) but the whole dinner was easy to make and we finished off all of the leftovers in the next two days.

(Wooo macro shot.)

Anyway, I’ve been way too excited to get some xmas decorations up. Last year we bought a few decorations and, feeling feisty, we decided to go with a blue and silver theme instead of the traditional red and green. It wasn’t until later that we realized that those were pretty much Hanukkah colors, which is just fine with us. šŸ™‚ We had gotten some blue and white outdoor LED light strands and had haphazardly strung them up last year. This year I wanted to frame our house oh-so-nicely, so we got some gutter clips and I started obsessively switching out LEDs so the strands would alternate blue and white:

(A glass of wine makes the work go faster.)

Dave had never hung xmas lights from gutters before, so while he didn’t really need any help, I went up and directed him. And when we got to the end we didn’t have quite as much lights left as I wanted for the appropriate hanging effect I wanted, so I went all the way back and shifted everything over a few feet. Dave just sat back and let me do that part, he can tell when I’m getting obsessive. šŸ™‚

(I look pretty precarious in the shot, but I'm a big wimp so trust that I'm actually pretty far from the edge...)

We also bought a nifty light-up decoration for our front patio, but I didn’t get a picture, so too bad. Well, I’ll do a separate post for it, and you’ll just have to wait in suspense until then.

The last thing we did was hang the stockings. Actually, first we hung a mirror over the fireplace, because the lack of mantle made the stockings look pretty weird. Having a mirror there balances things out a bit.

(Dave, me, Loki, Callie, Pollux, Castor. Good thing the little stockings were super cheap.)

We’ve had that mirror forever, and now I have the strong urge to either paint it white or stain it really dark. We’ll be replacing the faux-brick… someday… so I guess I should wait until then before deciding on the mirror. Anyway, there are more decorations in the works, so i guess I’ll take more pictures and post them soon.

We have apples!

Actually, we have an entire apple tree! For quite a while when we first moved in, it looked like this:

Then, very late in the spring, it started pushing out a few leaves. And for a short while it was covered in white flowers. I didn’t get a picture at the time, but I did take a close-up when there were just a few left:

And now it’s covered in fruit. So much fruit in fact, that one branch broke off entirely and another is leaning out into our neighbor’s yard. Oops…

I stared at it distrustfully for a while, (I assume anything growing in my presence is secretly trying to kill me) but Dave finally went in and grabbed a smallish one and cut it open:

And then I ate it! It’s been a few hours and I still feel okay, so maybe it’s not going to kill me after all. I guess we should go pick some and put them in our fruit bowl or something. Oh, and as for the variety of apple, I’m pretty sure they’re green. That’s as much as I can say for sure. šŸ™‚

Mad, Mad Meal Prep

I was very inspired by this post about prepping TONS of meals beforehand. It’s not really new or revolutionary (as she points out herself in a later post), but sometimes you read something and it just clicks with you, you know?

Anyway, I briefly considered heading to Costco, but I prefer to partner-shop with Dave at the really huge stores, and he’s away on a business trip at the moment. So I headed to our usual grocery store and loaded up on whatever meat was on sale. I also picked a few different marinade recipes and grabbed supplies for them too.

Ideal servings for the two of us work out to around 1.5 pounds total without bone (we love our protein), so when I got back home and took stock it looked like I had enough meat for 10 meals each. So I settled on 5 different marinade recipes that I wanted to try.

I doubled some of the recipes, but some looked like they were already enough for two 1.5 lb dinners. Then I laid everything out and started. Here’s how things looked at the start:

It was pretty relaxing, really. I had the music turned up and I settled into a bit of a rhythm. There’s something satisfying about going through 3 whole bulbs of garlic and actually using an entire ginger root for once.

I didn’t time myself or anything, but it must gave taken at least an hour? Anyway, here’s the resulting carnage:

And here are the bags of meat all nicely tucked away in the freezer:

We’re signing up for a cow share that will mean getting 20 lbs of meat every 3 months, so hopefully I can use this method to make that a bit more manageable…

Thanksgiving ’09

This was pretty much our first Thanksgiving with just the two of us. Happily, it ended up being pretty fun, but I’d still much rather share the BEST MEAL OF THE YEAR with more loved ones. We decided to keep it simple, and cooked cornish game hens rather than trying to wrestle with more turkey than we’d be able to eat. We also made good use of the crock pot for some spiced sweet potatoes, and cooked up some green beans. Not pictured was the cranberry sauce (very tart, but quite good with the birds), Dave’s cranberry bread (delicious as always), and pumpkin pie (almond meal crust needs some tweaking).

The cranberry sauce, which we were rather undecided on, ended up tasting awesome when we ate it with fried bacon the next day. But then again, everything tastes awesome with bacon.