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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Spring

Spring is here! I have been doing some spring cleaning. Today I stayed home to meet the air conditioning guys who were just doing a maintenance check on the system (always a good idea before things get hot and you can’t get someone for days).  Reminder: Get the leaves off of your outdoor unit.  Here is another spring cleaning reminder…..

 

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I was reading about natural gas and indoor air quality, and it turns out that if you are cooking with natural gas you can really be risking your health with excessive CO and NO2.  The answer? The vent hood. My vent hood has been acting a little weird so I decided to take a look at it.  And it turns out it has filters! Hey, how about that. Mine were really disgustingly dirty because I really hadn’t been paying attention.  Yuck! Reminder: use your vent hood often to improve your indoor air quality, and check your filters.

To end on a happy note, spring also means bluebonnets!  We found a patch in town (on Steck near Shoal Creek) and got to frolic in it on a beautiful cool spring day.

Bluebonnets, Spring 2014

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On food

I’ve been in a rut when it comes to food and cooking lately, and I’m trying to get myself out of it. Sunday through about Tuesday, when the food and ideas are fresh, go pretty well. After that is downhill, with a lot of random ingredients in the fridge and no real plan.  Working a full-time job and chasing around a toddler means that I don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time on food.  And I’m not great at planning ahead, so I have given up on being one of those people who has a menu planned for the whole week.  I tried the Fresh 20, and it’s great, but there is no way that works for me, I need more flexibility.

This week I am going to try splitting my shopping up and go twice a week instead of just once. I think. If I can get to the store on a weekday, though, it’s a feat– I leave work at 4:45, pick up J at 5:30, get home, and it’s a race to cook dinner and eat before her bath/bedtime routine starts at 7:15.  That goes FAST, and I’ll either have to go to the store at lunch time or leave work early.

The other challenge is that I’m pescetarian/vegetarian but the other two people in the house are omnivores.  We’re making that work, usually with a store-bought roasted chicken a week. I’ve gotten more comfortable cooking chicken and turkey, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to cook much beef or pork.

This week is going well. Here is how it has gone so far:

Sunday night- Sockeye salmon/asparagus/jasmine rice (I also cooked up extra rice and a big pot of black beans)

Monday lunch- (S) salad with leftover salmon, (J + B) turkey sandwiches

Monday dinner- Fish (mahi) tacos with homemade corn tortillas/broccoli slaw/avocado

Tuesday lunch- (S) black beans and rice, (J + B) turkey sandwiches

Tuesday dinner- asparagus and pea risotto (with roasted chicken for J + B)/green salad

Wednesday lunch- (S) black beans and rice, (B) risotto with chicken, (J) chicken/rice/veggies

risotto

Tonight, J helped make the salad by tearing up pieces.  She also helped put red pepper in the salad (and snacked on some!).  It’s easiest for me to cook when she is helping, because it keeps her occupied and it’s more fun!  But she’s only just turned 2 last month, so she loses interest sometimes.  Usually B is home by the time that happens and helps to entertain her.  It’s fun watching her eat, she likes the most amazing things! Last night she kept asking for more hot sauce (Valentina) on her taco, and tonight she was chowing down on feta cheese.  She’s still a bit picky sometimes (last night she ate raw corn tortilla dough but wouldn’t eat a cooked tortilla), but it’s not just white food around here. Though she does love mayonnaise. A lot. She asked for mayo for breakfast yesterday!  Yuck.

Anyway, it’s a learning process. Some of my favorite sources are Dinner a Love Story, Weelicious, and The Kitchn. Actually, I’m about to go try to throw some of these together right now.
Jewel on the wall

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farmers market

Good news! The Farmers Market at 6701 Burnet has been reincarnated, and is better than ever. I went by this morning, and Johnson’s Backyard Garden had all the yummy summer veggies a person could want. Another farm was there with delicious peaches. They also have prepared foods and a nice place to sit and enjoy them. Lovely! It is apparently also open on Thursday night, which would make for a fantastic combination with a happy hour at the Pour House.

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I was thumbing through the Chronicle on Friday and saw that Deborah Madison was going to be in Austin to sign her new book, Seasonal Fruit Desserts. I was over the moon! I have been cooking from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone forever, and it is my FAVORITE cookbook. Unparalleled. Also, it was at Boggy Creek Farm, which is always a treat. I picked up some sorrel and, at Ms. Madison’s suggestion, some chervil.

Boggy Creek Farm

She signed her new book for me and was kind enough to pose for a photo with me before she signed my book. I am really looking forward to trying recipes from the new book! It looks just as amazing as her other cookbooks. She has a talent for capturing seasonal, fresh flavors in unfussy recipes.

Boggy Creek Farm

We also poked around at the farm, which is full of flowers right now.

Boggy Creek Farm

And, of course, chickens.

Boggy Creek Farm

And other things waiting to happen.

Boggy Creek Farm

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Blueberry pie

I made pizza too, but it didn’t wait around to have its picture taken.  Probably the only time the oven will be used this summer!

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Water from the sky!

First of all, it RAINED last night.  Like half an inch.  It was very exciting.

The other exciting thing that happened last night was the Dai Due seafood dinner, with all Gulf Coast seafood and local ingredients.  I was a little nervous about the whole thing, having never been to a supper club before, but we really enjoyed the people we sat with.  And the food was unreal– fresh ingredients, delicate sauces, thoughtful presentation– each dish seemed like the best.  At the end I was kind of giggling to myself because it was so delicious.  We will definitely be returning.  We also enjoyed seeing the gardens at Habitat Suites, with highlights being the espaliered lime trees.  Nifty!

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Busting sod

1. Pulling up sod is not fun.  This little bed in the front yard is going to take a lot longer than expected!  And I have a feeling I am going to be recruiting my pickup-owning friends to haul some soil and decomposed granite; hauling in 10-gallon bags is not going to do the trick.

2.  I have to teach a bunch of 4-year olds about water tomorrow.  Eep!

3.  I am making this fish recipe for dinner tonight.  Mmmm.

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