Category Archives: Food

Sweet potato hash

One of my favorite local restaurants had this dish on special one weekend brunch last fall, and it was so delicious that I wanted more.  But since it was a special it was no longer available.  So, I attempted making it – and then my friend James asked me to show him how it was done.  So this is for James.

sweet potato & chorizo hash:

Ingredients:
-Sweet Potatoes (about 1 small/mediumish sized per person)
-Chorizo (I used chicken this time, but I think it’s better with the real pork stuff that crumbles)
-Onions or shallots – diced small
-Eggs
-Salt

Method:
– Wash sweet potatoes and chop into 1/2 inch cubes – as even as possible – spread these in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt

sweet potato cubes

– Put them in the oven at 400 degrees until they are soft, it’s okay if they’re starting to stick.

– Meanwhile, cut Chorizo out of casing, and brown on the stovetop crumbling into small bits, if you’re using onions or shallots saute those with the sausage

– Once the sausage is browned, add it to the baking sheet with the potatoes. (this pic shows the chicken chorizo, which I don’t think was as good as pork, and which didn’t crumble so I had to cut it into pieces before browning)

chorizo and sweet potatoes

See how the potatoes had turned darker? They were getting soft at this point.  Stir ’em up and bake until the potatoes are soft, and the bits are sticking.

– I think this is best served with a still-runny fried egg, but you can obviously cook your egg any way you’d like

I’m no chef, nor food blogger (let’s face it, I’m barely a blogger at all)- but this seemed like the easiest way to share a “recipe” with a friend.

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My Garden

Planting a vegetable garden was another Day Zero goal of mine.

My poor garden.  It was doing SO well.  The squash was amazing, the zucchini was great.  The cucumbers and tomatoes were doing wonderfully.  The fennel and carrots and herbs were green and beautiful.

Then the grass started growing, and it didn’t rain for over a week, and it was a dry mess out there.  Things have died, things have stopped producing.  Things have bolted.  It’s bad.

I’m sad to say, that I’ve lost all but one of my zucchini plants (I had four), and I’m down to two of one kind of squash plant (of four).  I did find a zucchini blossom this morning, so I’m hopeful that the one plant will survive.  My squash hasn’t bloomed in a while, but we’ve set up a new watering system for it, so I haven’t lost hope yet.

We’ve weeded and mulched the bed in the foreground of this pic.  And now it’s 100+ degrees and too hot to be out there with much to do the bed in the background (where the yellow squash and bell peppers are).  I’m still hopeful that it can be saved.  I know now that I need to do more upfront, even when the garden is doing so well, to protect from the dry days to come.

But for a first garden on my own, I think I’m doing okay.  We’ve eaten many meals out of it so far, and supplemented with produce from the local farmers’ market.

One thing that does love the heat and sun, are the zinnias.  I plant flowers in the garden because they attract bees, and remind me of my mother’s garden.  And because they’re so pretty.  I love to cut these and bring them in the house.

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Happy Christmas

I hope your Christmas was filled with food and friends and family and laughter and enough alcohol to make it through without screaming.  Mine was, and for that I’m really thankful.  I helped Daddy host 23 people today for Christmas lunch at his house.  It went as well as it possibly could.  A little hectic in certain moments, minimally awkward, lots of leftovers.

And now, it’s almost 1am.  I know it’s because of all the emotions of the day, and because I’m exhausted, but I miss my Mom so terribly I can hardly breathe.  I missed her all day yesterday, when I was working in the kitchen, by myself, no idle chatter or “can you pass me that cutting board” to keep me company.  I’ve missed her all month, as we planned out the menu and the seating arrangements.  I missed her when I was trying to decide if it was really okay to skip the tablecloths this year and just use the runners and cloth napkins.  I missed her when the third relative said “How about I bring sweet potato casserole?” and I couldn’t figure out how to say that it was already covered.  I missed her when we were Christmas shopping, this was the year of “the perfect gift for mom”.  But now that the meal is over and the leftovers packed away it’s all crashing down on me.

 

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Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

I know, I know, it’s December.  But I want to tell y’all about my Thanksgiving.  I’ll say that I didn’t want my Thanksgiving post to get lost among all of the Thanksgiving posts last week, so I saved it until now.  Yeah, that’s it.

We spend Thanksgiving with Andrew’s family.  Partially because I don’t want to travel to the event my family goes to, and partially because I put my foot down about where we’re spending Christmas (my dad’s house) so Thanksgiving is flexible.  This year, we spent Thursday with Andrew’s Dad’s extended family and then Friday was at our house.

Andrew’s sister came in to town for the holiday (she lives in California), which is unusual because she only comes around a couple times a year.  She was upset that we all (Sister, MIL, FIL, Andrew and I) wouldn’t be together on Thursday, so I volunteered to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for the five of us on Friday.  It just so happens that “host a family dinner for a major holiday” is one of my day zero items, and you’ll remember that I just got a new stove, so I was actually glad for the opportunity.

By some Thanksgiving miracle the turkey, vegetables (all 4), gravy, cranberry sauce and everything all managed to be finished and ready to put on the table at the same time.  It was amazing.  They were also just in time for SIL and MIL to get into a screaming fight and MIL to storm out in tears.  Yay.

I’ve heard people tell about family fights at holidays and I always thought “No one really does that.  No one would actually yell at a family member in someone else’s home and then storm out of a meal.”  Well, I guess people really do that.  SIL apologized to me later and I kind of brushed it off.  I didn’t know what to say in response.  It really ruined the mood for the meal.  No one really talked much after that.  Then I ducked back into the kitchen to make dessert, afterwards MIL washed half the dishes and over-loaded the dishwasher with the other half and then everyone left.

I guess it’s not unusual to have some good and some bad at a family gathering like that.  I’m just not use to that kind of thing.  My family doesn’t yell, especially when not in the privacy of one’s own home.  I really like my ILs, I’m lucky.  But learning new family dynamics is hard.

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What’s in a meal plan

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to get a crock-pot heavy meal plan together for this, our last week with the glass-top stove.  I’m not that great at meal planning.  Most recipes are geared for a much larger crowd than our family of 2, especially crock pot recipes.  I can usually scale them down a bit, but I d0n’t like it when they call for a whole can of something, or a whole vegetable of some kind, and then if I half the recipe I’m stuck with a half can of something, or half a vegetable (usually I just add the whole vegetable anyway).

I usually try to plan about four meals for a work week.  Something always comes up one night or another, and we end up eating leftovers, or going to dinner with friends, or something.  Planning five meals was always too much, so now I try for four.

This week I’m breaking out my Cooking Light cookbook and making a few of the recipes from it.

– Chunky Minestrone with Beef (pg 347).  I like how it says “A slow cooker makes this a versatile hands-off recipe” because for a crock pot meal, this one is surprisingly hands-on.  The directions call for you to combine the first ingredients and cook on high for one hour, then reduce to low and cook for 5 hours.  At that point you’re supposed to add more ingredients and cook on high again for another 45 minutes and THEN you stir in the cooked pasta.  Geez.  I can tell you right now that’s not happening.  Mine will probably cook for 8 hours on low, then my crock automatically goes to “warm”.  I’ll put it on high when I get home and add the other veggies, pasta might happen.

– Slow-Cooker Sausage and Vegetable Chili (pg 346). I’m making this one with frozen corn instead of canned, because canned corn is one thing (of like 3 things) that Andrew will not eat.  He’ll eat other canned veggies, just not those.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the right chicken sausage (it calls for chicken sausages with habanero chiles and tequila) but I’ll find something.  Our grocery store has in-house-made sausage, so I’ll probably go with some of that.  This one has the straightforward “combine all ingredients and cook on low 8 hours” instructions that make me love crock pot cooking.

Chicken Stew (this one’s from a website).  The reviews on this one are mixed.  So I’m just going to take the basic idea and run with it.  Hopefully I’ll get good results.

Egg Brunch Casserole.  I found this one on Pinterest, it’s from a blog.  I have to take a breakfast item to work this Friday, and I’m thinking of bringing this.  So I’m going to make it one other day this week as a test-run.  Mine will be made without onions, as one of my co-workers is allergic.  Fingers crossed the eggs don’t get rubbery.

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I’m going to be able to cook without making a fool of myself

Y’all.  I’m so excited.  I can hardly wait until Thursday.  On Thursday, wonderful things will happen.  Life changing, wonderful things.  On Thursday, this is coming to my house:

I can’t wait to have a gas stove!  When we were buying a house, a gas stove or the ability to put one in was one of my requirements.  The house we bought was piped for gas, but has this lovely new stove in its kitchen:

Eew, glass flat top.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this stove, except that I hate it.  It takes for-freakin’-ever to boil water and I burn pretty much everything I try to cook on it.  Unacceptable.

So, this one is going to its new home in Andrew’s mom’s house (her current stove is only half-functional, but she doesn’t cook much) and our new beauty will be delivered Thursday.

I’m not counting my chickens or anything.  So this week’s meal plan involves lots of crock pot and oven recipes, pretty typical of what we’ve been eating since I discovered my hatred for the flat top.  But I’m excited to be able to cook with more control.

(photos from Sears.com)

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What a week

What a week.  I feel like I’ve hardly had time to sit down.  The NC State Fair was held this week, here in Raleigh.  Andrew has never missed a State Fair.  Last year it was a close call, since we were on our honeymoon during part of the festivities.  But his record remains.

This year we’ve gone to the Fair three times.  Even with puppy class this week, and work being crazy, we’ve spent a lot of time at the Fair.  I grew up hours away from here, and coming to the fair just once was an all day adventure that left us all tired and grumpy.  Living near Raleigh has allowed us to spread out our fried-food consumption for almost the whole week of the event.

The first Saturday the Fair was open my dad came down and the three of us headed off to see what we could find to see and eat.  I was really surprised how many people were there, even for a Saturday.  There has been so much talk of recession and of tightened budgets, I was surprised to see so many people out for what can be a pricey day of entertainment.  Andrew and I went two more evenings to explore some more and eat some new things.

I love the Fair. I love the “Got to be NC” tent.  I love the Village of Yesteryear.  I love the competitions (see my Day Zero list, I even want to enter something).  I love seeing all of the bounty of our state.

I like how important it is to Andrew that we go every year, it’s become important to me too.  We look forward to it for weeks each year, and the Fair doesn’t disappoint.  I’m already excited for next year.

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