Saturday, June 30, 2007

"Anyone Can Cook."

Can they? Well, yes, but will it taste good? Will it be edible?
I don't know. I just know that I'm told to cook, bake more often than I do. Which is strange because I cook almost every night and I bake at least 2 a week. Shouldn't they be cooking more? Was that the message of Ratatouille?
I planned all week for this. Well, not really. I found a recipe yesterday for French Toast and adapted it to my tastes, and local produce. But still, I've been psyched for weeks- no monthes- about Ratatouille- the new Pixar film. (Of course, if you are reading this you've already seen it.) So I planned a French Brunch and an outing to the movie with a group of friends.
With the adapted recipe in my head, (still needs a little tweaking), I began this morning letting the bread absorb the custard. Going out to my usual errands like there was no party planned. Spent way too much money at the Farmer's Market, as usual. Came back made lemonade and waited for the guests to arrive.

My girlfriends showed, and we waited for the boy but to no avail, he did not show. We were hungry, so I made the Toast and the syrup, which was delicious. It does need tweaking. I mean really how can you taste French Toast to see what you need to add until after?
So with France in our stomachs, we went to the movie. Just wish we had some gondolas.
The movie was great! Remy gave a good performance. His passion for food was incredible. The way he smelled the produce, tasted things, and produced food was amazing. Pixar really did their homework and of course hired Thomas Keller. Oh and the brutally honest Bourdain. Did anyone else see his credit in the film?
So what did Ratatouille do for me?
Well, it made me want to cook. It made me want to open a restaurant. It made me hope that kids watching it would want to cook.
We all may not be chefs, but as long as we make good food for ourselves then I think everything will be alright. And I think that's what's Ratatouille is about. It's about passion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm Late, I'm Late, Oh Wait!

"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!" rang in my head during my lunch walk. Had I missed the bagel post? Was I a bad Daring Baker in my first month of becoming one? Would I shamelessly apologize like crazy to post late? Would my nervous breakdown finally come to tears flowing down my face?
Of course I came back to my cube and found that today was the post. A sigh echoed through my lips. Safe, but my pictures were at home. Well, you can't win them all can you. (They'll be up tonight I swear.)
Thankfully when I was making bagels, I wasn't in my current mood because I'm sure I would have cried.
To me bagels = Breakfast, or snack.
They are the one thing that I miss about NYC on a weekly basis because honestly Einstein Bagels are a poor substitute for real bagels.
In January, I was able to get NYC bagels in Phoenix, and I so wanted to take a bag home. Especially there Sun-Dried Tomato bagel. My ultimate favorite.
When I first read the challenge of the month, I was saddened that we couldn't do flavored bagels. That is because Sun-dried Tomato is inside the bagel and not outside. Of course my 2nd favorite is Cinnamon Raisin, so that was out, too. However, I was not going to be persuaded not to bake.

I began with a brainstorm. Savory bagels, savory bagels. Well, I could try an Italian bagel, a garlic, a plain, sun-dried tomato on top. So after the trip to the store I came and begun my quest for a bagels. An adventure into yeast and back.
The recipe recommends using your hands to mix the ingredients I did. Which honestly was fun, but a little gross. It was sticky! And took several minutes to get off my hands. I let them rise. Then took batches, poking holes in them. I found with this that they had a tendency to close the whole. I tried reshaping, but like chocolate and peanut butter, the sides came together.
Like many other of us Daring Bakers, my bagels floated like a little boat on the water. I wasn't worried about it at the time, but I should have been.
Afterwards I dressed them with parmesan, garlic, cheddar, or left them alone. I left them bake in the oven. Of course this was done in batches. Small kitchen doesn't lend well to eighteen bagels. My pot could only hold three at a time.
Oh and some didn't boil properly. I don't even know went on there. I also, learned that the shelf life on them was short as well. However, I enjoyed destroying my kitchen and thankfully there were no fires or smoke filled rooms with this adventure.
To see the recipe please visit

Monday, June 25, 2007

Desires and Cravings in Hiding

For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying to figure out my craving, my muse, my desire. I found nothing. I flipped through old food magazines, my cookbooks, online blogs, and I found no inspiration, nothing that I said to myself I had to have. I could have cried, bitched, done damage to my kitchen. If I could crave Indian food, couldn't I crave something sweet?
So Sunday, I sat down again with my Nigella books, telling myself to find something. I discovered a strawberry ice cream recipe. I didn't have a pint of strawberries, but I had blackberries. Blackberry Ice Cream it was. I had my vintage ice cream maker. Surely it had to work. I followed the recipe. Got it into the machine, whirl, silence. Unplug, next outlet, whirl, silence. Maybe its the outlet. Unplug, move, plug, whirl, silence. Words surely came to mind. So I poured the cream mixture into a bowl and stirred every hour. I found that every hour, it tasted more like vanilla ice cream and not blackberry.
After having a glass of wine, I found myself craving a cookie- a chocolate chip cookie, then a peanut butter cookie. Well, I had already started making chocolate chip, when I started having the peanut butter craving. So I had to save those for another day. So I mixed the batter, did some quality control. A lot of quality control. Burned myself in the oven. And allowed my apartment to get the nostalgic smell of cookies permeating through my small apartment.
For the first time in a long time, the cookies came out chewy, puffy and delicious. The kind that go perfect with a glass of milk. The kind where you eat all the cookie dough before actually making the cookies. I could have eaten many, but I ate three.
And by the time I was done dunking my cookies in milk, my ice cream was still a soupy mess. I shrugged it off, saying "So much for cravings."

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Of course, I wouldn't go with any other cookie recipe. When it comes to chocolate chip, you don't stray from Toll House.)


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips (semi-sweet, preferred)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Gold Standard

"You'd walk in and see the pit and you had dirt on the floor. The meat would be on butcher paper and you had a choice of bread or crackers, but you were probably to small to remember. I don't think you were even eating meat then."
A memory into something I don't remember, as my dad described it to me. I wish I had in me, but I didn't. I didn't remember the place at all. Despite the fact that I had been there. What I can only imagine was around the age of 4, when we were living in San Antonio.
But yesterday made my own memory of a place that will become a place to visit if I ever move away from Texas.
Yesterday created my own memorization of the market, of what I was told was "gold standard of Bar-B-Que." Kreuz (Krits) Market.
A couple of weeks ago, I told my grandfather of my plans to eat through central Texas Bar-B-Que. He told me that I have to go to Kreuz, me not knowing that I had actually been there. So he told me he would talk to his friend and we could plan a trip out there. I thought O.K., it won't be anytime soon that I actually go. Boy was I wrong, within a week, I got an invitation about going. The guys were psyched, any reason to go out to Lockhart was a reason for Bar-B-Que.
So yesterday the three of us got in an Avalon and took the scenic drive to Lockhart, Texas. Along the drive, I got asked, "Do you know the story of Kreuz?"
"No," I replied, thinking theres a story to this place.
One of my companions, began the tale. "A couple of years ago, people were worried about what would happen to the market after the father died. This is because in his will, the father left the Bar-B-Que coals and other equipment and the original building to the daughter. Supposedly this is because the two didn't get along very well, so the father knowing this gave the son control of the meat. The daughter and son fought over the will, with the son then deciding to move to a different building down the street. When the restaurant was about to open, the brother walked down the main street with the coals."

I laughed. Of course. Brother and sister not getting along. So I got to see the original building that was built in 1900, which is now a meat market ran by the sister named Smitty's Market. It was an old brick building. With Market on a smokestack. We then turned around and went to the newer building up the road about a half of a mile. It looked like a barn, read with brick smokestack in the middle. Upon entering, I thought I was in a different time. It had old relics from the early 1900s. There's two entrances, one for meat eaters and one for vegetarians. Thankfully, I'm no longer a veggie.
Above me was the menu. Of course there was the usual-brisket, spare ribs, and sausage. Then other meats I'd never seen on a menu- pork chops, ham, beef shoulder. There was no chicken or turkey. And turkey is only there in the fall, when its in season. It was a difficult decision-brisket or ribs. Then I smiled, knowingly. "Ribs and jalapeno and cheese sausage," I said, when the lady asked what I wanted.

The vegetarian room was were there were the "veggies and sides." I do use the term loosely. Kreuz has no coleslaw or potato salad. There's German potatoes, onions, pickles, sauerkraut, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, beans, and chips. I was stunned.
Then of course is the sign. "No Bar-B-Que sauce." Nope, none, zero, nada. Oh and you don't bring your own either. This is dry Bar-B-Que. And honestly there is no reason for it. The seasoning was enough to make you crave more. My ribs were peppery and spicy, the meat from them was juicy and tender. The first bite and I was in heaven. The sausage was spicy, but not too hot that you constantly needed water.
After our bellies were full, we took the 30 minute drive back, where pie was awaitin'. A peach pie. It was tasty with a scoop of Blue Bell. A fabulous way to end a great trip in the name of Bar-B-Que.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rotten Tomatoes

I'm pissed. No let me rephrase that I'm beyond pissed. Dirty rotten thieves! I guess I should explain.
In March I went out bought, tomato and herb seedlings, pots, dirt, and other gardening supplies. I placed them on my deck of my apartment building to grow and ripen, producing lovely fruit for me to eat.
My plants have been slow, (I blame the fact they are in pots) and are producing barely any fruit. It takes them a long time to turn from green to red, usually about 2 weeks. I've been patiently waiting for this wonderful organic, homegrown tomato for
the PERFECT tomato-basil sandwich.
Well, the first tomato I picked was nice a juicy. The next attacked by the birds. Of course, these were by cherry tomatoes, so I wasn't too upset. Then last week, my very first celebrity tomato started to turn. I was excited. A really good sandwich awaited me. Saturday morning I checked on the tomato, waiting until the afternoon to pick it. I went out to pick peaches, came back and to my amaze it was gone.
I breathed. Blamed myself for leaving my tomato plants out by the courtyard and moved them to my patio. Looked at the two turning, and told myself they needed one more day. So I left them alone.
I checked them before my run in Sunday morning and they were fine. I ran, ate breakfast, showered, yoga, cooked, and checked on my tomatoes. Only to find!!!
Now I was pissed. Really beyond it! Within 5 hours the tomatoes were gone. I could have cried. Who in there right mind steals 2 tomatoes that aren't really producing? Were they thinking I wasn't going to notice?
Oh I noticed! And this girl is prepared with an iron skillet to take names! Of course I could be arrested for it, but they are STEALING my tomatoes!
Monday I had 4 unripened tomatoes. No way are they going to steal them.
Wrong again!
After work 2 unripened ones were gone and an empty water bottle that I used to water them. The thesaurus doesn't even have words to describe the outrage I have.
So what do I do? Right now I don't know. I could move them to a friends, but they need daily attention. Some have suggested a webcam, but that may cost me money. Maybe an electric fence? Highly doubtful. Maybe I just have to live with the scum, stealing my tomatoes. But I will catch him and when I do, there is HELL to pay!
Two actual tomatoes are left with blooms and little tomatoes growing. Of course now I have to worry about them destroying my herbs and breaking into my apartment. Now I need a bodyguard for me and my plants.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I'm not a good honey

Arriving in California, I feel in love before I even walked out the airport. When I did, I wasn't persuaded by the weather. I knew I found a new place on my list to move to.
Then arrived at the house. A little quaint craftsman house painted brown with green shudders. A green fence, with a beautiful garden. I was awe struck. The thought was could I be adopted?
Then I saw the kitchen. That was the moment I defiantly didn't want to leave. It wasn't huge, but it was intimate. Two people could defiantly cook without a problem. There was a breakfast knook. It was tiled, had the original stove, white cabinets, several draws, a window overlooking the patio. I was set. Give me food and I was ready to cook. It sealed the deal. I want a craftsman style house, when I can afford it. (If that ever happens.)

My vacation was spent with fabulous food, time, and people. Besides the house I visited the Zoo, the beach, restaurants, foodie supply stores, and farmers' markets.
Really was I not going to visit the market?
That would be blasphemy! The first one I visited was the OB market on Wednesday. It was a mixture of farmers, food vendors, and artists. Everything looked so tasty especially the cherries. I asked the vendor if I could have half Rainer and Bing cherries. He said, "I will for you."
Now that's what I love to hear. Oh and fresh cherries kick better than store bought cherries, go figure. We bought strawberries, beets, blueberries, squash, and many other things. We even bought succulents. One was a cactus with two antennas which bloomed to be flowers. The market was packed with people and it was a fabulous experience.
One morning after a run around Coronado, I want to a pastry shop, and asked, "What do you recommend?"
The pierced, young, tattooed man replied, "A pineapple, coconut muffin, if you like coconut, but maybe you don't."

I hesitated, Pineapple and coconut, the two tropical fruits I love. "I'll take one."
Ladies and gentlemen it was tasty, I only wished it had a more pineapple tart taste, but never-the-less, I'd eat another.
While we did not go out often, I was never left starving. The couple who I stayed with produced tasty, tongue wagging food. A marinated oregano chicken, cilantro pesto pasta with lime marinated shrimp, and ginger-soy pork chops. All were very good. I was always going for seconds.
Of course I ran my marathon. 4 hours and 30 minutes of grueling pain and agony to the finish. Well, it really wasn't that bad. Next time, I need to remember my Ipod.
Rain, a cancelled flight led to an extra day and a price of a ticket home. But that morning before leaving my hostess made me a berries with half and half and powdered sugar. I had been wary of it all week, because it was her breakfast every morning, but I refused to turn down an already prepared meal. So with my first bite, I feel in love with berries and cream.
A lot of falling in love with that trip and hopefully I will be able to visit once again.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Stuck in Loma

Hello All,
Not like ya'll know I'm missing or gone. But this little marathoner is stuck in Cali. Not that I'm complaining. I love it here. I could pick up and move here. But part of me wants to be back in A-town with Bar-B-Que, root beer, and peaches. I've had a great time here in Cali. I'll blog about it in the upcoming week. Still too tired to write.