Brussels from heaven

Quick, let's harness some of that autumn excitement before I notice that the high is still pretty close to 100 degrees most days and cover Cookbook #92: Racing Weight (Matt Fitzgerald, 2009). Provenance: my own delusional self. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Reasons for putting it off: not actually a cookbook, embarrassment regarding previously noted delusion.

So, yes. Not a cookbook. And as someone who barely drags out of bed to jog two miles a couple of times a week, I probably don't need a detailed discussion of how to get down to a six minute mile or whatever. But there are a handful of recipes and I am technically registered for a race and I did manage to take away the message "eat more carbs" using my carefully honed people-hear-what-they-want-to-hear technique. So here we go!

Frittata with potatoes, spinach, and feta.

Baked apple, cranberry, and maple pudding. SO FALL-ISH!

White bean puree with tomato and basil on rye.

Banana cinnamon French toast. 

"Fish and chips."

These were all easy, serviceable carbs recipes, and I'm always happy to see someone suggest putting beans on top of bread. I do take issue with describing a perfectly satisfying meal like baked salmon with sweet potatoes and cucumber yogurt salad as "fish and chips" just to be cute because then all you can think about while you're eating it is how little it tastes like delectable pub grease and how much it tastes like dumb life-sustaining quality nutrition. Verdict: I assume I am significantly faster now.

Wednesday night was the second monthly meeting of the Austin Super Social Food League and I'm slightly concerned that by choosing the location we did we may have ruined the rest of the list for ourselves and also eating other food forever.

Delicious doom.

Yes, I finally had a chance to partake of the legend that is QUI and my only disappointment was not having several extra stomachs to house the bounty.

For my main dish I had the Black Sesame Ramen, which comes with an egg.

Regan had the Beer and Bacon Ramen, to which she added an egg. Very strong showing from Regan.

Before I proceed, I want to explain that the ramen above was quite tasty and in fact better than most things that I eat, on average. But I wish I had skipped ordering it and instead ordered two dozen of the following things:

Yoshi Mart Curry Buns

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Wait, you are thinking, Brussels Sprouts Salad? BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD, I say. This list of recommendations, upon which Food League is loosely based, describes it as "Life changing." That is obviously a hilarious overstatement until you eat it and realize that most other food is stupid and pointless. Verdict: Paul Qui is made of magic.

We then went down the street to Cow Tipping Creamery. It was very good. I had the "High Tea," which is vanilla soft serve with lemon curd, honey dust, and crushed tea biscuits. Think about how great that sounds! Then think about the fact that I would rather have had another curry bun.

It's an impossible act to follow, CTC. I will return to you after a a normal, mortal-crafted meal sometime.

Anyway, it's Fridaaaaaaaaaaaay! Let's celebrate by enjoying this moment of peaceful, non-whiny coexistence that is in fact so anomalous this week I'm sort of afraid to speak or breathe or blink or--

Ah, there we are. Gotta go guys, see you next week.


Six months of happiness starts...NOW

I hope everyone had a great BEST DAY OF THE ENTIRE YEAR this weekend! I can't wait to hear about your autumn extravaganzas. I, for one, celebrated by opening all the windows in my house and emerging from my seasonal depression. I also had an overpowering urge to immediately put the following things into my mouth: pumpkin, cinnamon, figs, apple, blueberries, and maple syrup. Seeing that list written out I realize that all of those things more or less go together and I probably could have knocked that craving out in one bowl and called it FALL FLAVOR FEST but I decided to spread it out a bit instead. Note for next year, though.

If you've been anywhere near the internet in the past week or so, you know that failure to include at least one pumpkin-spiced item in your daily diet puts you in violation of the Autumnal Code. As someone who very much enjoys both the concept of and the flavors associated with fall, I am fine with this rule. I quietly endure Summer! Fun! Lists! every year and now I shall UNLEASH THE PUMPKIN FURY UPON YOU. I will give you a helpful tip, though: make a quick batch of pumpkin yogurt snack cake for the fridge and you'll hit your RDA of pumpkin and cinnamon no problem.

By breakfast even, I would venture to say.

I wouldn't say figs are unsung this time of year, but they do get a bit overshadowed. Did you know you can make an entire sandwich out of them? And that they go really well with sesame-crusted hunks of feta? Because probably everything goes well with those?

The best thing about this sandwich is how waistline-friendly it is, in the sense that winter is coming and it's time to start putting on a protective layer of fat. The high today is only 94! Can't be too careful. The second-best thing is how well it goes with curried apple soup.

Which in turn goes well with festive autumn placemats hey did I mention it's FALL NOW?

I also drank some Hot Apple Cider Tea and threw blueberries and maple syrup onto my oatmeal and experienced sunshine that didn't feel blatantly malevolent. Good weekend, guys.

Since Sunday was Free Museum Day in Austin, we headed out to Pioneer Farms to pose picturesquely and ignore livestock.

But mostly we've just been embracing the new season all over the place.

We are doing this thing.


I Don't Even Know What To Do With You Week Part Two: I REALLY Don't Even Know What To Do With You

So! Good morning! Um...

...(sound of nervous fingertips drumming on the keyboard)...

No idea why I've been putting off these next three cookbooks, I used to blog about Paula Deen all the time! Butter, I mean, it's soooo funny, right? No one can get enough butter talk. I wonder what she's been up to lately you never really hear anything I assume she's just still slapping butter on everything and pronouncing the word "scallops" weirdly and

I know I should have included these in Comfort Foods Week but for some reason I can't remember they didn't seem very comforting so

Alright, the thing about the South is

No, listen. I'm going to level with you. This blog is allergic to controversy. And it's not just saying that to be trendy because that's the in thing, it has actually been tested by a blog physician and has a physical intolerance, okay? Controversy does really terrible things to this blog's digestive tract and also makes it all splotchy and swollen so don't roll your eyes when I say allergy like it's not a thing because it's a thing let's move on

Hey, I have three Paula Deen cookbooks. I did not manage to use them before, say, June of this year so I am using them now. Here is the first one. Cookbook #89: The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook (Paula Deen, 1998). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Likelihood that you would have guessed the food personality based on the following mise en place: pretty low, I bet.

I tricked you, there are three sticks of butter under that broccoli.

There are several directions I could have gone with this thing. Cheeseburger Meatloaf was one way. Uh, Confederate Bean Soup was another. I decided to take the radical approach of picking a recipe that sounded good to me at the moment, which was Savory Salmon with rice.

It's salmon with a ton of vegetables on it.

In Cookbook #90: The Lady & Sons, Too! (Paula Deen, 2000), I went with the dish created by the surprising layout of ingredients above, Szechuan Chicken with Angel hair Pasta.

It was pasta and chicken with a ton of vegetables on it.

And finally, Cookbook #91: The Lady & Sons Just Desserts (Paula Deen, 2002) included this Fresh Blackberry Crisp.

I'm not going to lie, this was delicious.


Aaaaaanyway. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this child from the swift completion of her concrete-mowing rounds.


I just wish I had worked cotton candy in there somehow

Happy belated Diez y Seis, guys! Didn't quite make it down to Mexico this year, but I did go to San Antonio and eat a street taco for you.

Your happiness is very, very important to me.

Okay, full disclosure, we didn't go to San Antonio for Independence Day, we went for our impending anniversary because San Antonio is close to home without being home and my in-laws live near there and they don't seem to mind my children. Also, I didn't eat very much Mexican food. I mostly spent the weekend ordering like an eight-year-old. To wit:

Chocolate milkshake.

Housemade root beer...

...to wash down the hot dog.


This Nutella monstrosity, of which there is also a version that includes marshmallows if you can even believe that.

And, okay, an eight-year-old probably wouldn't have ordered this Smoked Jalapeño Tuna Salad Sandwich.

She would have ordered what Dan was having.

Ivy spent about four seconds being glad to see us again, but then it was back to business as usual.

Patio ain't gonna mow itself, guys.


I Don't Even Know What To Do With You Week

Now that there are fewer than fifteen cookbooks left to go, I find that they can generally be divided into two camps: things I have been putting off for some reason, and baking/dessert books. Technically, the baking/dessert books have also been put off for some reason, that reason being that I usually do most of my baking the last couple of months of the year. But today we investigate two books that I have been looking at quizzically for some time now.

First up is Cookbook #87: The Book Lover's Cookbook (Shaunda Kennedy Wegner and Janet Kay Jensen, 2002). Provenance: this was another book that I instructed my brother to buy for me. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Thing that I failed to take into account regarding how my brain works when I requested this: that I would be unable to make one of these recipes without first reading the entire novel from which the excerpt was extracted. Amount of sense this makes to me: total. Times I have actually used this as opposed to just flipping through it longingly as a result: none.

It's one thing to devote, say, two or three hours to prepping and cooking one meal, but it's quite another to commit yourself to going to the library, spending every night for a week trying to get through a book, and ending up with a plate of scones as a result. I decided to give myself a break here and just look for the included novel I had read most recently, which I narrowed down to Angela's Ashes. It didn't hurt that Mrs. Leibowitz's Lentil-Vegetable Soup probably would have been one of my top picks anyway.

It's a little tough for me to judge this recipe on its merits, as I am guessing that Mrs. Leibowitz would never have mistakenly picked up the "salsa-style" diced tomatoes at Sprouts and therefore spiked the entire pot with unintended jalapeños. I mean, her loss really, but still. However, after dog-earring about 75% of this volume, I shall still render a Verdict, which is: oh no, I think I have found 2014's project.

I've been giving Cookbook #88: Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Michael Ruhlman, 2009) the side-eye because it isn't a cookbook cookbook, with nice pictures and things to add to my grocery list and such, it's more of a textbook cookbook. With math. However, I have been wanting to make fresh pasta ever since Fannie Farmer intimated that I was a giant sissy for being afraid of it, and as it turns out, three parts flour to two parts egg is actually pretty easy to remember.

However, there is nothing in those instructions to prevent you from making giant cartoon noodles.

Here is proof that I cut those giant cartoon noodles myself.

Or at least that someone did. On my counter.

Verdict: I made noodles! I guess I could memorize some other formulas. I guess. Recommended for: nerds.

Ivy, still wary of the data-mining threat, is prepared to go off-grid at any second.


Anna is taking a different tack, practicing her "generically cute 4-year-old in ballet clothes" disguise.



Summer is starting to consider ending

In honor of the chilly 78 degree weather this morning, I am dedicating this post to baked goods and pizza. Join me, everyone! Crank up your ovens and fill them with flour and sugar! Fall is heeeeeeeeeeeeere!*

So here we go, Chocolate Coffee Cardamom Bread. I mean, right?


My primary sources of sustenance lately have been 1) coffee, 2) chocolate, and 3) the love of my family or whatever, so this was a nice way to streamline most of those. If you don't include the icing, it has a little bitter edge, but that's how you know the coffee is working.

How about some Carrot Cherry Breakfast Cookies? I think the whole wheat four I used for these was sort of stale, but the children like them anyway. I also threw in a batch of Marvelous Muffins from Cookbook #86. (Spoiler: they are just regular muffins. I did not marvel at them.) The children like these anyway as well.


But it's not all fun and games and baked goods for breakfast around here. There are also brussels sprouts. They just happen to be tucked into a bacon and fancy-cheese pizza.

If you don't think you like brussels sprouts, this delivery system might convince you. You don't have to include Responsibility Salad, I was just showing off.

The girls are still trying to throw data-miners off their trail.

*until Friday when it is one hundred degrees again!


Comfort Week 2: Battle of the Heart-Cloggers

Now that we are no longer in The Month That Shall Not Be Named, I've regained a little of my cookbook-inventory motivation. Not a lot of it, as it is still absurdly hot outside. But I find that I function better in indignant "You are being ridiculous, September" mode than I do in mournful "I have chosen to live in Texas and I deserve whatever happens to me in August" mode. Doesn't mean I can't still use some food-related comfort in this time of difficulty, by which I mean every couple of waking hours every day of the year.

As it happens, we have a comfort foods showdown this week, the first contender being Cookbook #85: Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals (Rachael Ray, 2000). Provenance: This was more or less a gag gift from friends several years ago. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Number of times I will describe the recipes within as yum-o: zero.

Not that anything was bad. But I went in expecting to forgo fanciness and nutritional value in exchange for ease and tastiness and these recipes were not especially easy and were only regular-tasty, not worth-all-the-fat-and-carbs tasty. The Cheddar Cheese soup tasted like fine, salty soup, but wasn't all that cheesy and had a strange grainy texture. The Antipasto Grinder had about fifteen ingredients and was a beast to assemble (I assume whatever baguette Ray was using was très grand because I had to cut way down on filling and STILL wrestled with it) and just tasted like...salt and squishiness.

Just trying to wrangle the capers back underneath the bread took 30 minutes at least.

The Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Tomato and Onion Salsa was less complicated, but I followed the directions pretty carefully and wasn't even close to getting the crust to stay on the chicken. Slightly crispy parmesan tastes really good, so I was willing to forgive quite a bit here, but the overall was still just okay.

Verdict: I was never meant to love this one, but so many of the dishes sounded so good that I was pretty disappointed. Recommended for: people who find that surprising difficulty is character-building, people who like salt.

Cookbook #86: Comfort Foods: America's Favorite Foods, Cooked The Way You Like Them (Rita M. Harris, 1996) seemed to promise that someone else or possibly the book itself would be cooking things for me but that did not pan out. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. The only explanation I have for the fact that the one bookmarked recipe was for Stuffed Mushrooms: exceptionally subtle poltergeist.

There were a lot of comforting basics (macaroni and cheese, chicken fried steak, tuna melt) but for some reason I went for the Minestrone with Meatballs. Maybe because it has like ten different vegetables in it and I wasn't 100% in the spirit of the thing when I was making this meal plan.

I'm comforted by the presence of insoluble fiber, okay?

Verdict: I liked this soup. I am continuing to like the massive amounts of leftovers generated by this soup. I guess I should try one of the more conspicuously unhealthy offerings eventually. Sorta feeling like Stuffed Mushrooms for some reason.

I guess Ivy caught wind of the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to steal her soul, because she's been going incognito for a couple of days now.

Of course, it's possible that the girls are just hoping to keep the heat off of their illegal gambling den.

Now they'll DEFINITELY never get into college.