Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recipe Oops ( With Guilt Driven Giveaway!)-WINNER UPDATE!!

I recently learned that I made a recipe error on my Albondigas soup recipe, making me not only the worst mexican ever, but also the worst recipe writer EVER, too. I had a *slight* discrepancy between the amount of water I had listed in the ingredients list and the amount I referenced in the instructions. The recipe is now corrected but not before leaving a reader paniced with nothing to hold onto but a measuring cup. Measuring cups make the worst company. This is why I can't bake. Anyway, my distressed reader was way cool and saved the whole thing using daring intution. Plus, she totally left me props which makes my day.

I hope I didn't mess anyone else up. If I did, I'm sorry. Don't give up on me. I need your love.
What? You're not the loving type? This awesome pot holder will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Up for grabs is an amazing, BRAND NEW, Calphalon Pot Holder. My husband bought me one like pictured above for Christmas and it's my all time favorite pot holder. It's such a fave that I bought a small inventory. The one I have to give is just like the one above except it's a lovely orange and it's a bit bigger than pictured (obviously.) Oh, and it's not really Calphalon. Actually, it is Calphalon but how many exceptions can you list and have it still be just like the one above? These are things I ponder.

Just leave me a comment and tell me about your worst cooking blunder and what you did ( or didn't) do to save the day. Or, just say what's on your mind. Whatevs. Winners will be randomly chosen using Random.Org ( which, I totally use all the time at work for my real life job as a's legit.)

Entry cut off shall be at 10:00 pm CST on Saturday, March 28th. Winner shall be announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

WINNER UPDATE! Jill of All Trades, you are the proud new owner of the best pot holder ever. Pretty good odds of winning on this one! I coded comments by order and here's what had to say on the matter.

So, yay! It pays to be first. I'll email you and we can work out how to get this puppy to ya.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

No Knead Bread

It's usually the case that when Aubrey and I are craving good bread, we have to drive to Tulsa and then freeze our loot to make it last. Even then, it's hard to find good crusty bread that breaks your teeth on the outside and then lets them have a little fun on the inside. Yes, I think chewy things are fun. When I was little, I used to chew the glue that holds credit cards to junk mail. Fortunately, my treats have become much more sophisticated these days.


In the midst of preparing our horribly ugly 3rd bedroom for its transformation from pepto pink to a lovely neutral tan, we got a hankering for good bread and a two hour drive to Tulsa was off limits. So, I finally decided to try the infamous, Sullivan Street Bakery No Knead Bread. Since I generally suck at baking, I was really nervous at investing 18-20 hours into a no-guarantee creation( actual interaction with the stuff was only about 15 minutes...pretty easy.) It turns out that even a person who chews glue can make this bread. And, if you're a real genius, you can add more yeast to cut the time down substantially.

No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

1. Mix flour, yeast, and salt together in a bowl. Add 1 5/8 cup of warmish water. Blend. Dough will be wet and shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 8-12 hours at room temperature ( I did about 14 hours and let it hang out in the bathroom...the warmest room in the house. Don't knock it!)

2. Dough is ready when it has bubbles all over the surface. Flour a work surface and fold the dough once or twice. ( The original recipe says to lightly flour the surface but I found that the dough was just too sticky at this stage. I didn't add much more and I should have.)

3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it hang out for 15 minutes.

4. Using "just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking" ( which will probably be a lot more than I used....) work the dough into a ball and place on a cloth ( not terry) generously coated with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. ( I used more flour and when it says generously, it means generously. I lost half my dough by not using enough.)

5. Dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat brand and cover with another cloth towel and let rise for 2 hours. It is ready when it doesn't readily spring back when poked and is doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees during the last 30 minutes of rising time. Place a covered casserole dish or a cool dutch oven like the one I got for Christmas in the oven to heat up, too.

7. Carefully remove dish or dutch oven and flop your dough into it. The original recipe says seam side down but I didn't end up with a seam because I didn't use enough flour.

8. Bake 30 minutes with lid on and 8-15 more minutes with lid off ( depending on how crusty you want your crust.

That's it. It was smaller than it should have been due to the stickage but overall amazing. Our awful room is now halfway to a decent color and we're half way to Paris with this recipe. Coolness.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Austin Adventure

Austin, TX is officially where I want to be RIGHT NOW, even though I scored a wicked cold resulting from drastic weather changes, airports, and working until the wee hours of the morning. I was there for most of last week and, though I was busy through most of my stay, I had the opportunity to roam the streets of downtown for an evening in search of late night entertainment and good eats. Tuesday night in Downtown Austin was livelier than Friday night in Downtown Tulsa of the same week. What am I saying? It was livelier than the last 20 Friday nights in Downtown Tulsa. Sadness. I have high hopes for T-town, though.

Anyway, I didn't take my camera because I honestly had no room to bring it. Oh, and I didn't want to look like a total dweeb busting out a very conspicuous piece of equipment with people from work who ( let's just face it) get out a lot more than I do. I need a point and shoot...bad. I felt naked all week without it. Fortunately, it turns out there was no need to bring it afterall because the fine folks at Flickr already took pics of nearly everything I saw. Weird.

So, up first ... The Iron Cactus located on historic 6th Street. Contemporary styling with youthful flare. Oh, and rooftop seating. Gorgeous. I ordered this massive burrito and nearly ate it all. For perspective, this thing is larger than my head. That's big.

Following dinner, you're sure to find entertainment anywhere you turn. On one corner, a guy asked me what my favorite animal was with hopes of making me one out of a sheet of tin foil. This might be him:

I said a cat and he asked, "Wild or domestic?" Hilarious. I passed on the cat art and we made our way to a billiards hall, followed by live blues at Nuno's and Live Band Karaoke at Maggie Mae's.

Note to self: Before you sell your mad karaoke skills, make sure you pick a song you can actually sing. Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam is officially not karaoke material.

After I blew my live band karaoke debut, I returned to my room and got the last bit of sleep I'd have for the next week. I'm still not sleeping. Austin, you were so worth it.

Photos linked to original sources ( Various Flickr Members)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Worst Mexican Ever Cooks!: Albondigas

I just got back home from Austin, TX on Sunday and was having some cooking withdrawals. Sure, I had some fine meals ( of which I'll blog later....) but I've been ansy to try out some new recipes out of all the foodie mags I read on the plane. I was planning out my grocery list at my Mom's house (with the intent at making a stop at a real live grocery store so I could avoid the Walmarts) when I suddenly remembered my all time favorite soup: Albondigas. Out went the plans to find roasted red peppers and a leg of lamb. Enter Mexican comfort food.
Okay, so I didn't actually suddenly remember it. I've actually been hounding my mom for her recipe for ages. On Sunday, she finally shared.
There's a bit of a story that goes with this recipe. We got it from our neighbor when we lived in Perris, CA. about 13 years ago. Our families were pretty friendly, swapping recipes, sharing bird baths, afternoon snacks, etc. Then, they got a dog. A little yipper, to be exact. My dad had to commute for several hours to work and this little muther barked all day and all night resulting in little sleep and lots of stress. After speaking with the neighbors about the issue, we learned that our angst fell on deaf ears ( well, they maintatined that since THEY didn't hear the dog, it wasn't a problem.) So, my dad installed an antique fire alarm on the side of our house near their bedroom window. He blasted it all night to see if they heard THAT! They say they didn't. Anyway, after a long drawn out battle, we eventually had to call animal control to ask them to do something about the dog. Animal control came and took the dog! We didn't even count on that! They moved the bird bath back to our side, shoved my baby brother off his bike when he touched their lawn resulting in my mom's longest stream of profanities to date, and planted a hedge to screen us out (which I'm happy to report has finally grown in some 15 years later.) Fortunately, before the fallout we scored this recipe:
Albondigas ( Mexican Soup with Mexican Drama)
2 small cans of tomato sauce
1 to 2 lbs of lean ground beef ( make sure it's lean because it will get greasy otherwise.)
5 tsp. Tomato Chicken Boullion
10 cups of hot water
A rough handful of raw white rice
2 Tbsp. ground Mexican Oregano
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 bay leaves
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced potatoes.

In a large pot or dutch oven, put 10 cups of water on to boil.
Combine beef, rice, oregano, and garlic and form smallish meatballs.
When water is boiling, add tomato sauce, boullion, and bay leaves. Return to a boil and drop meatballs in one at a time.
When meatballs are cooked through, add carrots and potatoes. Boil until tender or about 20 minutes.
Serve with tortillas.
This recipe is so good your mom will cuss like a sailor, too.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Strike Day

Ahhhh, sigh of relief. Plays are busy business and this last one just came to a close. We had some stellar nights and I only had one mishap where I nearly dropped an actor off a ladder. Oops. On the day of the final performance, the entire cast and crew remains behind for hours to remove the set. It's tough work but mostly fun. I notice, however, that I have a strong pet peeve for which I can thank my father. I CANNOT stand to see kids standing around doing nothing. When I was a kid, if people were working, I was working and if it wasn't up to par, I got in some bad trouble. So, I probably annoyed just about every teenager trying to whip them into gear. Sadly, there are some battles I can't win. Included in this list are getting Aubrey to take out the garbage and getting my brother to eat beans.

Speaking of eating, they feed us on strike day and I, for one, ate for three. Seriously, I'm stuffed...I can't move. I was going through my former play photos and remembered how nice it is to be working behind stage this time and not packed in a costume. Why can you never breath in costumes? I was squished into my maid outfit for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. My name was Sookey. I think I look like a Sookey. See how I strategically placed the feather duster there?

This is me with my buddy, Lynn. She's an incredibly talented actress and she likes to make me feel like I'm good, too. However, you'll notice that I'm the maid here and she's in the fancy dress.

Lynn gets cast in glorious lead roles. I get cast as dinnerware:

I was definitely poured into this saucer. I enjoy acting but I'm going to try my hand in a different capacity next month. I'm going to be assistant director for the next play. Squee! Wish me luck!