Monthly Archives: November 2010

This dinner contains an entire bottle of wine

And if that’s not an incentive for you to try it, well…I’m out of ideas.

So a while back, my mother in law accidentally bought half a cow.  I know you, internet reader, and I know that your first instinct is to quip, “Which half? Front or back?”  Oh you witty person, you.  After that, you’ll ask how someone “accidentally” purchases a half of an animal that can weigh up to 700 pounds when they really meant to just buy a quarter?  I’m not sure but frankly it sounds like something I would do.

Anyway, because of that, Josh and I got a fabulous gift of a large amount of beef that we’ve been whittling down over the past couple months—ground beef, steaks, chuck roasts.  And yesterday, short ribs.

I love short ribs.  “But Lauren,” you say, “You love any kind of ribs.”  Yes, that’s true too.  And with good reason: they are delicious.  Beef short ribs are the bovine equivalent of pork spare ribs and can be found cut into a variety of ways.  While I don’t crave them in the same obsessive manner that I tend to crave pork ribs (hey, the pig is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy), I do enjoy them now and then in place of a good roast.  They’re an excellent candidate for braising, which is not quite baking and not quite boiling.  Once when I was practically swimming in an overflow of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, I made pomegranate-braised short ribs with an ancho chile and chocolate rub.  It was pretty awesome.  This dish is somewhat similar, but more “traditional” and a bit less fruity.  Also, I’ve replace the healthy benefits of pomegranate with the healthy benefits of a full bottle of red wine: let’s see if anyone notices! Continue reading

The Easy Lentil Pantry Dinner for One (or Two)

This may come as a shock to some of you, but sometimes I really just don’t want to cook.  Some nights it’s like, “You know, I just want someone to bring me delicious, reasonably healthy food and serve it to me.”  That never really happens though.  Generally when those nights come around, we end up ordering pizza, which ends up being reasonably tasty but not at all healthy, often takes longer than I want it to and then Josh and I have this discussion about what’s better, Jet’s or Cottage Inn (Cottage Inn) and don’t even get me started on the sadness that befalls us when we realize we’ve run out of our beloved chili pepper flakes to sprinkle over said pizza.  I mean, there’s teeth gnashing and wailing and crying…it’s terrible.

Days where it’s just me for dinner can be even worse.  I won’t order dinner out just for me.  Often I take the opportunity to experiment and make something that I know Josh won’t really like to eat but as stated above, sometimes I don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen doing this or that.  Now, partially to combat cooking malaise like this, we bought a chest freezer last weekend so that we could buy frozen dinners and pull them out when necessary (well, the freezer is partially to store frozen dinners and partially to store large amounts of pork shoulder for when I feel like some slow cookin’).  This is slightly odd for me, because I don’t often eat packaged dinners, with the notable exception of occasional box of Kraft Mac & Cheese (it’s the best powdered cheese-product you can buy and you know it).  It got worse when, after purchasing the freezer and a few bulk packages of Lean Cuisine steamer dinners (thanks CostCo), I got home, ready to crack open and try out a meal of Orange Chicken and realized…we don’t have a microwave.  Continue reading

Garlic-Mushroom Chicken: Drive away those pesky vegetarian vampires

Bet you never thought you’d see a Twilight reference on this blog, eh?  Yeah me either.  And I’m actually a little ashamed now.  Although I’m not sure if I should be more ashamed that I didn’t even realize the reference until after I’d written the headline or that I didn’t immediately erase it.

Actually let’s try this post again.


I took the afternoon off yesterday.  It was just one of those days where I just didn’t want to be in the office; I wanted to unwind and relax a bit.  So after having a long lunch with Josh and a couple of friends, I headed down to Kerrytown in Ann Arbor to hang out at the market and do a bit of shopping.  I ended up at Sweetwaters, which if you’re not from around these parts, is a small local coffee shop chain and this particular location is inside/adjacent to Sparrow Market in the Kerrytown shops.  I hung out for a while, people-watching and debating internally what I wanted to make for dinner.

If you’re like me, the problem of what to eat next is at its very core an existential one.  Which means, if you’re like me, we should both be pretty thankful for the obviously comfortable circumstances in which we live.  Yet beyond that, yes, I take “What’s for dinner?” very seriously for a number of reasons.  One, obviously cooking is my hobby; I consider each meal an opportunity to practice my skills.  Two, as a human, I have the ability to raise eating from a basic level of instinctual need to one of enjoyment; you have to eat, you might as well enjoy it.  Three, as an extension to Reason #2, if you’re going to put something in your body and thereby make it a part of your being, it should be high-quality and it should be as tasty as possible.  I mean, what if you really are what you eat?  When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want the droning, vacant cannibalistic hordes of the reanimated to fight over who gets the remains of my mutilated corpse because I am that delicious. Continue reading

This cupcake has a nice body, butter face…

I wasn’t doing a lot of baking for a bit there recently and in the meantime, my Calder delivery kept coming.  By last Friday, I had amassed a small cholesterol-y fortune to the tune of about 4.5 pounds of butter in my pantry.  I thought to myself, I should probably whittle that down before it goes bad.  So I did what any other me in my situation would do: I made cornbread.  And cookies.  And those triple chocolate brownies that I’m convinced could easily be the flavonoid-filled death of some otherwise healthy person.  But it wasn’t enough.  By the end of the weekend, I still had a pound and a half of butter.  At least that’s a reasonable amount for me.  I can always make another batch or four of cornbread.  I mean, it’s really good cornbread. But I also wanted to try something new.  Frosting.

Generally, I don’t like to make frosting.  I’ve tried before, for cakes and cinnamon rolls, and it always comes out “meh.”  Seriously.  It actually shrugs its sugary shoulders with a bored sounding “meh” as I spread it haphazardly across the top of some otherwise adequate baked concoction.  The frosting is unimpressed with my meager talents at creaming various dairy products with sugar.  Well that’s fine, frosting, cause I don’t like you either.  Really, I don’t.  I’ve never cared for frosting.  Generally find it too sugary–I prefer the cake part.  I don’t like filling either for the same reason.  In fact as a kid, when given a Hostess cupcake, I would peel off the frosted design and then proceed to eat the cake around the filling and then throw the filling away.  What can I say?  That’s just how I roll.  Non-frosted. Continue reading

Lunasa Market Mac & Cheese

I miss my Needle Lane farm share.  Shopping for your own vegetables is just not the same.  It lacks the surprise and the built-in push to experiment with new things.  I suppose I could just go to the grocery store, stand in the produce section, blindfold myself and blindly grope around until I grab something…but I’m sure you can see how that will probably just get me a one way ticket to Bannination, population: me.  And on top of that, winter is looming like a giant, frozen marshmallow puff above our heads and soon the farmer’s market will be no more; in fact, some have already ended.  How will I hobnob with the salt-of-the-earth people who grow my food now? How will I get my fresh air market fix?

Well, I guess that’s where Lunasa comes in.  Luna-what-a? you ask.  Lunasa.  It’s a new-ish farmer’s market in Ann Arbor that we’re trying out for the winter.  From their website,

“Lunasa (loo-nah-sah) is an annual Celtic harvest celebration traditionally begun in August. Getting back to our roots and supporting local farmers and craftspeople is something we feel good about doing, for us personally, our families, our neighbors, and our local communities. Come celebrate with us!”

The market itself is kind of an interesting idea: it’s a cross between a membership club and a farmer’s market.  They do have “open house” days where anyone can stop by and shop around but for the most part, you have to purchase a membership to join and regularly shop.  At $40 a year, we weren’t sure if it would be worth it but figured we could give it a shot at least for this year.  And as a market-addict, I’ll apparently do almost anything for my fix….I said almostContinue reading

Hot and Saucy–Really: Homemade Hot Sauce

It’s official, folks.  Halloween has come and gone.  There’s frost on the ground overnight.  Today was a high of 51F.  Starbucks has switched to its Christmas cups.  Yep.  It’s begun.  The Wintering.  And with the Wintering comes the Colding, the Freezing and the inevitable Wanting to Hibernate.

But never fear, Random Internet Person.  All is not lost.  I mean sure, it’s mostly lost for about the next oh, seven months or so (I do live in Michigan), but there are a few hardy, rugged things that will help you get through the winter.

1. A bearskin rug.  Just looking at it will make you feel warmer.  Even better if the bear is still attached.  I mean, hey, nothing warms you up like cardio, right?  Run faster!

2. Comfort foods–lasagna, chili, stew, pulled pork, short ribs, cookies fresh from the oven—warm foods to heat your insides…and after all, after all that exercise running away from the bear, clearly what you need most is high-carb, high-fat, heavy foods to gently gel your insides into organ butter.

3. A heater.  Really people, pay your heating bills.

4. Hot sauce!  Hot sauce can go on anything.  Eggs, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pastas, ice cream…and sure, there are fifty gazilliion different hot sauces out there you can buy but if you were going to do that, then why bother reading this recipe blog?  It surely can’t be just my witty repartee.  Clearly you have the desire to create.  So go ahead.  Satisfy your inner primal human nature and build fire…in your belly.  With hot sauce. Continue reading