What I’m Liking Wednesday

Back from Portland and back to blogging.

What I’ve been liking this week:

  1. Reading (real) magazines. I still subscribe to both Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines, the print versions of each. I like the feel of real (print) magazines rather than reading articles on the Internet. Not only is the weight of the magazine and the feel of the pages nice, but so are the pictures. You definitely do not see the type of photograph or amount of detail in a photograph on a website. No matter how much the photo was edited, print pictures are always nicer. I feel like you get more of the story with the pictures close up, in your hands, rather than on a screen. I think that although you can read the same articles online or in an “e-reader” format, and still have access to the recipes, it will be a while until I switch over to digital. In fact, I think I’ll probably wait until I am forced to switch over to reading magazines on digital; I’ll still buy and read the real thing.
  2. Doing things by hand. I have been baking a lot recently (yes, there will finally be recipes posted), and I have been mixing the dough by hand. It is easy to mix a pie or tart dough by hand, since it is just a few ingredients. It is only slightly more difficult to mix more complex recipes, such as cookie dough by hand, but it can be done. I recently made challah, and I kneaded the dough by hand. Creating dough by hand means taking more time. Really feeling and knowing the ingredients. Knowing what is going into the product. Taking the time to yourself and using that time to concentrate on the simple movement of mixing the batter or kneading the dough. Taking time to think. To think about things in your life. It is a good time to relax and enjoy living.
  3. Accessories. I usually wear simple outfits, so I like to accessorize, but I try to keep it simple. I add a nice pair of earrings. Sunglasses. A scarf. Gold polish on my toe nails. Recently, I’ve gotten back into wearing headbands. In Portland, I bought a great peacock feather adorned headband. (Maybe there will be a picture soon.) A small bag with just the essentials (phone/money/keys) in it. Keeping it simple with accessories is important. Sometimes I see people with too much on and it looks gaudy. Keep it simple and it’ll go far.

Speaking of keeping it simple, I’m going to keep this post short. I’m sure I’ll have more to say next week. You’ll just have to wait and see. :)

What I’m Liking Wednesday

What I’m liking this week…

  1. I’ve pretty much been into this for awhile now, but brown butter. It’s easy to make, and once you have some on hand, you might find yourself putting it in/on everything. Have some plain, boring pasta? Add brown butter. Roasted veggies? Add brown butter. Seriously, you can replace the butter in any dessert recipe and it would make it better. On that note, I’ve also found that doubling the salt in almost any dessert recipe gives you good results as well. Some recipes that I’ve made recently that have brown butter in them:
  2. Taste What You’re Missing, by Barb Stuckey. I am not done reading it yet, but so far, I have learned (and relearned) how you taste things and thinking about the food I eat in a different way. For example, the first few chapters are broken down by the different senses, and she explains and gives examples of how you can experience these sensations through different taste tests at the end of each chapter, and one that I am a big fan of is the “Separating Taste from Smell” test, which includes pinching your nose while eating something (the typical subject of this test is jellybeans) and then, once the item is in your mouth and have started chewing, note how it tastes. Then, still chewing, unplug your nose and note the difference. This one was relearned for me as we did this test in culinary school, but I hadn’t done it again since then, and it still fascinates me. I like trying it with fresh fruit instead of jellybeans, since it has the strongest, best flavor difference.
  3. NPR: Ask Me Another podcast and The Moth podcast. Two very different podcasts, but both funny and entertaining in their own way. The first, Ask Me Another, is a trivia game show of a few different rounds played by contestants from the audience at their show in Brooklyn, NY as well as a round of questions (and an interview) with a celebrity guest. The Moth is a storytelling podcast, where they broadcast people’s stories about random topics. Most are funny, some are serious, and all are entertaining. This show is even coming to San Francisco, and I’ll be listening live!

Those are the highlights of what I’ve been into lately.

What about you? Any repeat flavors you’ve been into? How about a book you’re reading, a movie you’ve seen, or blog or podcast you’ve found enjoyable? Any recommendations? 

 

What I Am Liking Wednesday

I’ve decided to broaden the “What I’m Reading Wednesday” posts to just things that I am into right now, rather than limiting myself to articles or other things I’ve read that I have found interesting.
Since it is a New Year, I’d like to start this post off with things that I’ve learned or have “improved my intelligence on” over the most recent past:

  1. Good food starts with good ingredients and takes time. By this I mean the literal, that you need to start with ingredients that are, well, quality. Whether this means that they are fresh, or locally grown (in your backyard or in another’s), sustainable, seasonal, or a combination of those, I believe that the ingredients you cook with need to be, for lack of a better term, real. They need to be something that was generally not altered in anyway; no added sugar or other additives, “unpronounceables”, etc. The “takes time” part of the statement, to me, means that either it took time to grow the ingredients (perhaps you grew your own basil and tomatoes for sauce) or that you took the time to make an ingredient from scratch or even that you took the time to cook at all, rather than buying take-out. That is not to say that I do not enjoy take-out or even having someone else do the cooking for me (either in a house or in restaurant) every once in a while, but just that the general idea of good food taking time and starting with good, quality ingredients. Here are a few recipes that are good examples of this that I have made (and might go into more detail about later on): Crumpets (aka English muffins), Brussels Sprouts salad, Corn and Tomato salad (may not have followed this exact recipe, but did make something similar), and Grilled Swordfish
  2. Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it can get you pretty close.  I have learned this in several different ways, over many years, and through many experiences, but most recently, I have realized this in the “things I do for fun” category. Take biking, for example; I recently learned how to ride a bike and have only been riding for a few months. However, I know most of you out there probably learned a young age and/or know that this is something that is taught at a young age (and that learning it as an adult can be harder than learning it as a kid). This is where the practice comes in. If I did not ride and put my mind on thinking about how to ride a bike, I would’ve never learned how or have gotten better. The same goes for many other skills that I have acquired lately. I would’ve never gotten better at climbing, or cooking, or baking for that matter. If I did not study and practice these skills, I would never learn how and I would never improve. The main thing that I learned recently though, is that no matter how much you practice, no matter how much you study, you will never be perfect at whatever it is and you can never know everything there is to know about the subject you are studying. You can come close, and certainly people have come so close that they are considered experts in their fields. But, as a chef/professor once said, “if you think that you have nothing else to learn, you might as well just quit”. So while you may call yourself a “perfectionist”, you might want to change your way of thinking just slightly because even though you might strive for perfection, you might not ever get there, and you have to be okay with that.
  3. Looking at something through a different perspective is important. Whether this means simply, taking a different approach to doing something, or more deeply, taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, it is important to examine the potential in any given situation. On the first, more simple understanding of this idea, of taking a different approach to something, I have learned this by way of learning how to (rock) climb. When I first started out, I took the approach of “just do it, don’t think about it”. I think that I mainly took this approach at first because of my fear of heights and I needed to just be comfortable climbing to these heights and being secure if I should fall. This was just in the very beginning. Now that I have gotten over that stage, I have started to take a different approach to learning how to climb. I have more of a strategy and more of an understanding of how to create a strategy of where to go next. I think about what I am doing more and look around for the best option that will help get me in climbing up the wall. (You could also take these lessons in climbing as a figurative way of approaching some other things in life, but that’s a another story for another time, perhaps.) As far as the more complex and deeper, more intimate way of looking at something from a different perspective, I have, and am still learning, to look at the way others might view the situation at hand. I have taken into consideration how my boyfriend might think of a situation, or how he might learn something, or even his approach on learning the same thing that I am trying to learn. (I’m not trying to be vague here, and if you want more information, let me know; I am just trying to keep this post relatively short.) I have learned that seeing things from another’s perspective is important in learning and connecting with the other person. If you want to have a better relationship with someone, whether we are talking romantically, professionally, or whatever, you need to have a basic understanding of their ideas on the subject(s) and see things from their perspective because then you can communicate with them a bit better and have better, more meaningful connections with them.

I think, if you made it this far through the post, you can see that I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so and still have a lot of learning to do. I hope you will join me on my journey and you will learn with me and that we can learn from each other. Also, a little something that might make you smile.

Reader question: What have you learned lately?

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee! {Recipe}

First off, let me apologize for not writing anything for a long(ish) time. I have been busy with school and work and, well, have used my time to focus on other things (such as playing a certain game on Facebook) when I should have been editing photos and posting on here. So so sorry. Really. I love writing blog posts and everything, and sharing fun things with you. AND I am sorry I have not posted a recipe on here in an even longer time. So here’s just a few to get things rolling.

As you may already know, I like doing things in more than one way. This time around, I used coffee in three different recipes. For starters, I tried making coffee ice cream, but that turned out to be less than desirable.

The next recipe I tried was this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, from Delish. Instead of making one large cake, I made cupcakes, which were good, but a bit sticky. I called them muddy cupcakes because they were so moist and soaked through with coffee.

The third recipe I tried was a version of rice krispies that involved chocolate and coffee, among other things. It had been years since I made anything in the rice krispie treat realm.

Anyway, my treats do not look as dark/chocolatey as the pictures shown on Shutterbean, but are just as tasty. Also, I did not add dried cherries or extra ‘mallows, as the recipe calls for. I figured it was chock-full of stuff as it was. Feel free to change up the mix-ins as desired.

Coffee Chocolate Marshmallow Krispies

from Shutterbean!

makes 12

recipe adapted slightly from Christina Tosi of Milk Bar via Rachael Ray Magazine

  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 2 bags (10 oz. each) mini marshmallows
  • 5 cups crispied rice cereal
  • 2 cups salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee (not instant)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Line a 9 inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. In a 10-12 quart pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add 10 cups mini marshmallows and cook, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes; remove the pot from the heat.

Using a wet spoon or spatula, fold in the rice cereal. Sprinkle in the almonds, cherries, ground coffee & salt; fold quickly to distribute. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and remaining mini marshmallows; fold gently to distribute.

Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using slightly damp hands or a wet spatula, press into an even layer. Let cool completely and cut into square to serve.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Today is my blogger friend, Annelies’ Food Poetry Party, in honor of her new website, The Food Poet. For the party, foodies are to share their favorite poems/poets and poets and writers are to share their favorite recipes or chef that inspires them.

So, this week, I have been reading a bit of poetry. For starters, I read the poems that were already shared on the Facebook page for the event. And I will share them with you:

I love
The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Valentine
by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

and now my favorite poem/poet:

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What is your favorite poem/poet that inspires you? Do you have a favorite recipe or chef that inspires you? Join the party and share in the comments!