Home In Disarray

June 29, 2009

White Sangria

White Sangria
By

It might not be authentic, or even that great when compared to red, but Craig’s mom is willing to drink it, which is the reason I made it with white wine. Oh, and I have a CLASSY box of wine that I keep in the kitchen for cooking, which means I didn’t have to buy wine. Sangria-tizing wine makes even 3-buck-chuck drinkable.

I was making a nectarine cobbler so I thought I’d lend a little continuity to the meal and use them in addition to my classic strawberries and lemon combo. They were pretty awesome. I also used tangerines. The trick is to let the wine steep in the fridge overnight with the fruit, then if you’re serving it to guests, drain the greyish and discolored fruit out, slice up some fresh lemon/tangerine, and put it in a pretty pitcher. Putting a slice of lemon in one’s glass is a festive way to serve it, and it makes you feel less bad for basically wasting a whole $1 lemon for the sake of a nice presentation.
Photobucket

If it’s too sweet, water it down with a little club soda or talking rain.

Posted in: Cocktails
June 29, 2009

Holy Awesomeness – Tasty Gazpacho

Holy Awesomeness – Tasty Gazpacho
By

I’m pretty pleased with how dinner turned out tonight. Craig’s parents, Jen, his aunt and cousin, and also his grandmother came over for dinner tonight. I’ve been dying to try making gazpacho soup (“GAZPACHO SOUP!!!” -name that British tv series) ever since The Pioneer Woman did a few weeks ago. But hers was kinda weird and lumpy and overall kind of strange. The recipe didn’t seem to have it’s heart in Portugal… not that mine did either. In fact, I kinda took the recipe and bent the whole meal in a Mexican-American fusion meets Portuguese ideas kinda way. First there was the gazpacho, then the sangria, and finally the rice. Dessert was a whole other story, but I digress.
Photobucket

The meal took quite a bit of time to pull together, but boy-o was it worth it. Plus, I made enough for like 15 people to eat, so now there’s tons of leftovers, which is AWESOME. I didn’t write down an exact recipe, but here’s the gist.

Laurel’s AWESOME gazpacho
*8(ish) vine ripened tomatoes peeled, and deseeded
*1 large white onion, chopped in large chunks
*2 ENORMOUS cucumbers (bigger than what I’d imagine one would find in erotica) I suppose 3-4 normal sized ones would do. – diced finely
*1 bunch cilantro
*2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, skin peeled off, and diced
*1 jalapeño, roasted and deseeded, skin peeled off
*1 huge can cambells tomato juice (avoid v8, it has a celery flavor, weird)
*1/2-1/4 cup lime juice, fresh is best but don’t worry too much about it
*a splash of rice wine vinegar
*several dashes of Tapatio hot sauce
*more salt than you think you need
*I think that’s it

Anyway, blend the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, 1/4 of your total cucumber mass, cilantro, and jalapeño, I had to do a few batches in the blender and water it down with the tomato juice. I suppose you could use a food processor if you had one, I don’t. Then mix in the remaining ingredients, and stick it in the fridge for a few hours. I imagine it gets better with time, like fresh salsa.
Photobucket

I served it with largely cubed avocado, a little sour cream, and some shrimp that had just been seasoned with salt and pepper then grilled. I also included a crusty crouton to dip in it (which was rad) that consisted of a slice of crusty Italian bread slathered with a lime-cilantro compound butter and grilled (a little longer than I’d have liked; what can I say, I’m forgetful!).
Photobucket

To round out the meal, I prepared “Green Rice” as it’s known at home, and lime-brined chicken breasts. “Green Rice” is basically a few roasted poblanos, peeled and deseeded that have been thrown into the blender with an onion, a bunch of cilantro and enough chicken stock to make up the remainder of the cooking liquid for some normal long-grain white rice. The chicken was an interesting experiment. If you’ve ever made ceviche, you know the effect that citrus juice (more importantly, citric acid) has on flesh. It’s the reason that marinades with acidic components are rarely left in contact with meat for more than a few hours. I was unsure how much acid it would take for chicken breasts, and frankly didn’t care that much as the meat was getting cooked anyway. When I entertain, I try to give myself a little room for error as I tend to get caught up in conversation and forget things, so decided that brining was the way to go. I made an extremely simple brine as I wanted the flavor of the chicken to stay very clean and not have any non-Mexican flavors coming out, like bay leaves or whatever (plus I was too lazy to put my slippers on and go outside and pick one). The brine was 2 quarts of water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, some black peppercorns, and the juice of about 6 limes. It turned the chicken this sick whitish pink color, and the brine liquid turned an even more repulsive creamy thick consistency.
Photobucket

I also got some rad little bowls (smaller bowls = simple portion control) and large white plates because I keep dropping our old ones and the pattern is discontinued (thanks CB2). They made for a nice way to display such a colorful meal. It was full of awesome. It was time consuming, but really, many of the best meals I’ve had are time consuming, and sitting down to enjoy something like that is so satisfying, knowing that you’ve made pretty much everything from scratch. MMMMMM MMMMMMMM!
Photobucket

Posted in: Cooking
June 25, 2009

Teensy-weensy strawberries and cheerios

Teensy-weensy strawberries and cheerios
By

Dad and Kim are out of town this week, which incidentally happens to be the best week for strawberries. Seeing as they have quite a sizable patch, I received instructions to go by a couple times and harvest the little suckers. I must say there are few things better than non-commercially produced strawberries and it has nothing to do with a bend against capitalism or need to feel indie; they’re delicious. This particular variant produces small, intensely flavorful berries, whereas the commercially propagated varieties were bred for size and shelf-life, not flavor.
Photobucket

Seeing that Craig and I are having an unofficial contest to see who can eat the fewest calories and lose the most weight, I didn’t do anything spectacular with them like dip them in bittersweet chocolate or top a high butterfat ice cream with them. No matter, sometimes the simplest preparations are the best. The cheerios benefitted greatly from the added sugar and provided a nice textural and flavor contrast to the soft sweet little pieces of heaven. YUM!
Photobucket

Posted in: Garden
June 13, 2009

Boris’ magic kidney food

Boris’ magic kidney food
By

When we initially took Boris home from the vet, they prescribed Hills (Science Diet) Kidney Diet food to help remove the load from his kidneys. Being a pet food snob, I obviously read up on it and found that it’s total shit. Really. It’s terrible food. By the way, this is also a mostly sober rant about pet food ingredients. This is the rant I pulled off facebook regarding why I don’t like the food that the vet (who likely went to a school sponsored by Hills, most of them are) prescribed.

They use the cheapest shit they can pack into it, corn products which are not only problematic for nearly all dogs, but cheap fillers, instead of using whole grains. Sugars, chemically derived vitamins instead of putting in whole fruits and vegetables to give the dog the nutrition, and in the dried food, brewers rice is either #1 or #2 on the ingredients list. Brewers rice is a byproduct of the macro brewing industry where all of the nutrients and pretty much anything useful is extracted from the rice making it a very cheap and very useless filler that serves to fill up the dog for a short time, allows the dog food company to trick you into thinking you’re giving your dog plenty of nutrients, and creates more poop.

Boris’ normal food uses only human grade ingredients(instead of whole ground up sick and dying animals etc), and requires significantly less to give the dog enough calories and nutrients due to no useless or harmful fillers which results in less poop to clean up and a healthier dog

Photobucket

Anyway, after we ran out of the (very expensive) shit food that was prescribed, and after the followup blood test showed that while Boris wasn’t really doing much worse, he still wasn’t doing BETTER, I started making Boris’ kidney diet from scratch. I guess the main concern with kidney patient dogs is restricting phosphorus. I’m not sure why, but it is, so I went about searching for the cheapest, most nutrient dense, and phosphorus sparse foods I could find. What I ended up with was high fat beef and pork, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, normal potatoes, cream of wheat, pasta, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, peas, and carrots. I know this is also the first close-up you’ve seen of our awesome kitchen floor. I know you’re jealous, you don’t have to tell me!

Photobucket

The last 2 weeks on friday nights while Craig has gone to Rifle League, I’ve prepared meals for Boris. It’s surprisingly exhausting. We’re also supplementing his diet with tums (calcium carbonate helps to bind phosphorus) and B vitamin complex (his increased urination due to kidney issues causes him to excrete more B vitamins than normal) and when I find COQ10 for less than a million dollars, I’ll add that.Research suggests that dogs consuming supplemental COQ10 dramatically increases kidney function in dogs.

Photobucket

Boris has been enjoying the byproducts of my labor on his food, empty yogurt and cottage cheese containers, dropped pieces of squash, potatoes, carrots, and his favorite, pork shoulders stripped of their meat. He also attacks his meals like nobody’s business. He used to go crazy for his old food, but he gets super nuts for the new wet food, he jumps (all 4 feet in the air) and gets generally crazy for it. He adores it. I’ve worked out basic cost to be around $3.50 (at the high end) per day, about $25 per month, which is just over twice the cost of his old food, which still sucks, especially if you factor in the cost of labor, but decent considering that Boris is still alive, and we’re not feeding him shit, I’ve got him on a diet of absolutely human grade ingredients, prepared safely by my hands. Even though I have to brush his teeth now that he’s not eating dry food. 🙁

Photobucket

Posted in: Dogs
June 9, 2009

Clam bake?

Clam bake?
By

I’m not sure that’s what you’d call it, it didn’t include clams, and it wasn’t baked. That’s the only term that I know for this style of food though. It was great. Mike came over with large prawns, mussels, sea scallops, and crab legs, we added corn, kielbasa, onion, a fresh bay leaf, butter and white wine, and paired them with a knockoff of the red lobster cheesy biscuits.
Photobucket

I’d have more photos, but we were drinking apfelwein as we were preparing the seafood, then shared a couple bottles of Diamond Knot IPA over dinner, and Craig deleted all of the photos. Grrrr.

Posted in: Cooking
June 2, 2009

Dog Tired

Dog Tired
By

While Boris has had a lot on his plate lately, what with recovering from acute kidney failure and beating the odds by making a miraculous recovery, his girlfriend Sophie hasn’t been quite so busy. Her dad(Ian)left for Guantanamo a couple weeks ago and she’s been quite the handful for Kelly. We had Kelly and Sophie over for a play date on Sunday and the dogs spent the afternoon trampling my flower bed (Sophie more so than Boris) and trying to eat each other’s heads. After a few hours of this they were exhausted and curled up to sleep together. Awwww.

Photobucket

Posted in: Dogs