Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Crockpot

Yes, we have discovered the crock pot.

I have never owned a crock pot in my life; however I fortunately married a man whose mother allows none of her children to leave home crock-pot-less. Therefore, we are the proud owners of one large hunter camo print crock pot. There's something about the deep woods camo that just screams "I am delicious!"

Because the crock pot definitely does make delicious foods. Its first use was for some pulled chicken, made for a football viewing party. It turned out deeeeeelicious and it stayed hot the whole time! Easy peasy. Thus, I am using it again for the crockpot pulled chicken to be served on delightfully soft potato rolls.

This was a boring post. I'll just link to the recipe here:


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cooking Adventures of Late

As my (few) readers have reminded me, I am terrible at blogging. So consider this a peace offering, Stacy G. and LB!

1. My new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe: A bastardization of the Cook's Illustrated cookie recipe, in which I swap out the 2 tsp of vanilla extract for 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp coffee emulsion. It's very good, consistently reliable, and easy to clean up. My friends have come to expect these cookies at every social gathering and I have also mastered the art of saving just enough dough for an emergency batch when my husband inevitably mentions how much he likes cookies two or three days after the fact.  Actually, the best part about these cookies is that they achieve my desired shape - sort of a cross between the humble homemade chunkiness and the beautiful, rolling undulations of a Mrs. Fields' classic.

2. Soup: Over the last couple months I've made a gigantic batch of soup on several occasions, which have fed us for about a week. T. loves soup of any kind so this works well whenever I have some kind of bone-in cut of meat that I need to use up - whether that be spare ribs, split chicken breasts, etc. Good additions: chopped bok choy, chopped carrot, chopped onion. I have actually taken a page from Kevin Malone's book - has anyone seen that episode of The Office where he talks about his chili recipe and how the secret is to undercook the onions, so that "everyone gets to know each other in the pot"? Lately I've wondered if cooking the onions to the usual point of translucency isn't evaporating all of the nice onion flavor, so I've taken to slightly undercooking them before adding them to [soup, chili, tomato sauce, whatever]. I think it does give a slight flavor boost. Thanks, writers of The Office.

3. Carrot cake: For a co-worker leaving on a temporary detail, I made a carrot cake using a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (here). It was AWESOME. Wonderfully moist and flavorful. Many rave reviews. I did not use the (usually controversial) raisins and walnuts and I don't think the cake suffered for it.

4. Speaking of raisins: I love raisins and I love oatmeal raisin cookies. However, when I make them now I have to save half of the dough and use chocolate chips instead of raisins, because T. hates raisins with a fiery passion.

5.  A new fridge: I have a plan. The plan is to buy a refrigerator for the basement (the kind with the top freezer). The reasons for this plan? Although I have a perfectly good refrigerator upstairs, one that I like very much with all sorts of fancy drawers and shelves and a built-in icemaker/water cooler thingy, it is a side-by-side refrigerator. I actually prefer this configuration for everyday fridgery, because I absolutely hate the french door style where you have to open BOTH doors to see what you have and I don't like the deep pile-up that inevitably builds when you have a box freezer.  However, the drawback of a side-by-side refrigerator is that you don't have width enough for a full 9x13 sheet pan overflowing with cake and frosting - or if you do, you have to clear off an entire shelf of half-used ketchup bottles and lonely forgotten about dressings and yogurts you bought on sale for $.39. Thus, the basement fridge will provide the much-yearned for space to allow large-scale baking projects and my bread/pizza dough, which needs to live in a big ol' bucket that won't fit in my current refrigerator. Also, we can store sodas and beers there so they don't take up a lot of unnecessary room in the everyday refrigerator. Also, we can store ice cream and ice packs in the freezer down there. It's a win-win.

That's all for now, I think. I am sure that I had many other culinary projects over the last few weeks (months?) but I can't recall them right now. Hopefully I will update this more frequently and it will actually fulfill its purpose of becoming a recipe journal instead of a sad, ancient archive of what once was.