Monthly Archives: February 2010

Step One: Learn How to Make a Basic Pancake

I’ll be honest—I have difficulty making good pancakes.  I chalk it up to not doing it that often, partially (well, mostly) due to my aversion to breakfast foods.  Plus if I have to eat something breakfasty, I prefer French toast most days and Josh does make an awesome French toast casserole.  I used to be good at pancakes….when I was ten….and we bought boxed mix.  Because let’s face it–those boxed mixes have the chemistry down; that’s because they spend millions of dollars on research and design.  But making pancakes from scratch was never my forté.

But Josh likes pancakes.  And I imagine I should learn to try to like breakfast foods more—at the very least, to make it less awkward when going out to eat and everyone else is ordering bacon, eggs, french toast and bagels and I’m ordering chicken caesar salad.  Yeah, I’ve done that.  At Angelos.  You can get the chicken caesar there anytime.  Also, I often get deli chicken salad and bread at Amer’s or Cafe Zola.  But anyway—we’re talking about breakfasty foods here.  So in an effort to be a more “breakfasty” person, I decide that what I need to do is just jump feet first into the syrupy pool of carbs and starches that everyone else seems to know and love.

First, however, I need to master the basic pancake.  You know, sweet, fluffy, light, nicely browned.  Not too doughy, not too flat.  Pancakes.  You know, pancakes. Continue reading

the Great Recipe Experiment: #1-Gianduja Bars

677.  Six hundred and seventy seven.

A year in the 7th century?  Yes, it was.  The number of a Boy Scout troop in Washington?  Probably.  The number of hours that equal 40,620 minutes?  According to my desktop converter widget, yes.  It is also the number of recipes in my Evernote recipe notebook.  Or at least, it was a couple weeks ago…I’ve since added a few more.  13 more.  At that rate I’m going, I’ll be at magic number 700 before you read this blog post.

That’s a lot of recipes.  It doesn’t even include any of the recipes in any of the (46) cookbooks I have.  And I love it because I get an unholy amount of glee from finding, collection, reading and researching recipes.  However, it occurred to me that this is absolutely useless unless I actually try out some of them.  Sure, I make plenty…I mean, that’s evidenced in this blog already.  But I’ve barely scraped the surface of the glorious world of food stored away in my digital notebooks.

I wanted to do something about that.  But knowing me and my propensity for utter laziness, I knew I’d need some pressure.  So I posted on Facebook for volunteers to sign up to taste test some recipes and my friends, delightful fans of free food that they are, obliged me.  Thus the Great Recipe Experiment was born. Continue reading

Friday Foodie Finds: What Can Chocolate Do For You?

So here are some good links I’ve stumbled upon recently:

  • This article by Tamara Wilson details the Science Behind the Love of Chocolate. Now that is a research topic I can get behind.  One part in particular I think you will all enjoy, and commit to memory, is this:
    • “Many people may be surprised to learn chocolate, when taken in small amounts and with higher levels of cocoa, can actually help you lose weight. If the antidepressant amino acids and stimulant theobromine can improve the way a person feels, they may be less likely to overeat. Chocolate can also act as an appetite suppressant which can speed up your metabolism.”

  • A wiki article from Tip the Planet on efficiency tips for cooking appliances.  Save the planet and some money.
  • A article on growing herbs indoors; having just moved from an apartment, and being stuck in the barren wasteland that is winter in Michigan, this topic is very close to my heart.
  • And on that topic, for those of you who want to grow things indoors, herbs or otherwise, but who usually end up with plants so dead they could be fossilized, here’s an article on the Top 10 Hard to Kill House Plants.
  • I love love Indian food, so I found this article on the Must Haves from the Indian Food Map informative…and delicious.  And now I’m hungry again.
  • And finally, a great post from a great blog, Food in Jars, on homemade crackers.  I don’t know why, but something about crackers in a jar just…well, cracks me up.  har har.

More next week.  Enjoy!

Quiche Chic: the Tale of the Drunken Goat

Josh’s office held a potluck this week, which his coworker Sophia was kind enough to tell me about in advance (Josh is not very good about giving me advance notice of such things…it’s often a, “Oh, honey, I need a dish that feeds 20-30 people for a potluck…this afternoon” kind of thing.  But anyway…potluck!  Apparently this one had an international theme, in honor of the Winter Olympics.  Ooh là là.

Immediately I thought, “I’ll do something French.”  It’s my usual fallback.  I credit this to five years of French class and billions of hours spent watching Pepe LePew cartoons in my youth.  That crazy Pepe.  Doesn’t he realize that’s a kitty?

I had the perfect recipe in mind, too, something I saw recently on FoodTV: balsamic chocolate truffles.  While technically a recipe from Everyday Italian, I consider truffles French.  And even if they were Italian….still fits the international theme.  Also: chocolate.  Win-win.  But then I actually read the recipe and realized it would take like 4 hours to make those things and there was no guarantee they’d come out right the first time, and it’s a weeknight and well—maybe those were better left for a weekend project.  C’est la vie.

So now I had to think of a real dish.  Go go gadget brain!  So to speak.  I scrolled through the 15 or so recipes in my Evernote cookbook that are tagged “French” until I found one for a Roquefort quiche.

Hmm.  Quiche, you say? Continue reading

My superquick, super delish v-day dessert

Take a package of chocolate shortcakes…

…add  generous scoops of ice cream–your fave.  I used Calder’s chocolate chunk chocolate.

Mix in 4 marshmallows into a pot of homemade chocolate ganache over low heat and stir until the marshmallows are mostly melted and incorporated.

Top with something crunchy–toasted walnuts or almond slivers, salty roasted peanuts, coconut, graham crackers…more chocolate!


Hello. My name is Lauren and I’m addicted to cookies

Cookies Anonymous 12 Step Program:

  1. Admit that you are powerless in the face of your sweet tooth.
  2. Come to believe that a Cookie can restore (what’s left of) your sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn your life over to Cookie.
  4. Make a fearless gastronomical inventory of your stomach.
  5. Admit to Cookie that you have wronged the Cookie.
  6. Be ready to rid yourself of culinary defects, like tasteless health food and store-bought cookies.
  7. Ask Cookie to remove your shortenings—er, shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of all the Cookies you have harmed and be willing to make amaretti.
  9. Make amaretti whenever possible.
  10. Continue to take gastronomical inventory.  Stock up on flour and butter.
  11. Seek to improve your conscious contact with Cookie, praying for the knowledge of Cookie’s will for us and the power to carry it out.
  12. Have a scrumptious awakening, carry this message to other addicts.  Bake, eat and be merry. Continue reading

Produce Power!

I miss my farm share.

I really do.  It seems odd, I know, but it’s honestly one of the greatest things ever, for several reasons.

  1. I like supporting and getting food from local and organic farms.
  2. I like being kind of surprised and challenged with the ingredients that come in the box each week.  I mean, if I’m buying my own produce, I tend to stick with things that I know and am comfortable with.  Frankly, veggie wise, I’m a little boring.  I occasionally try new things but not very often.  The farm share has introduced me to things I’d never eaten before (like garlic scapes and leeks) or didn’t eat often, and also to find new ways to use ingredients I get a lot, like potatoes and swiss chard.
  3. I hate going to the grocery store.  Well, I love and hate it.  I love grocery shopping.  I like looking at food, thinking about ways I could cook it and coming up with meals and let’s face it—if you’ve ever been to a bustling farmer’s market or even in the produce section of a shiny new Whole Foods store, man, they make that look like art.   I love it.  But I hate it.  Because I hate crowds and I hate trying to add up prices and I hate getting up early enough to get a decent spot at Eastern or Kerrytown Market.  I’m lazy.  I just want to spend 5 minutes on the way home running into Morgan and York and getting my farm share box.  That’s it.

And then winter came.  And ruined my life.  (Dramatically flings arm over face.) Continue reading