25 October 2008

Fried rice for a nonexistent kitchen

You guys, I'm sorry. I haven't been cooking anything. We are now in our second bout of corporate housing, with our second woefully underequipped kitchen. Tomorrow the movers are Finally supposed to bring our things, so we can Finally start doing things like "rebuying an entire spice cabinet". I need to look for a place to get bulk spices in NYC, yes I do.

In the meantime we've been eating takeout pizza. We've been eating free food from John's work. We've been eating a whole lot of Sabra hummus, the best kind of storebought hummus on the planet, and carrots and pita.

Also, my camera batteries are dead.

The last thing I cooked was a couple days ago. I had a pot of brown rice to go through, and some chard starting to wilt in the crisper, and two eggs and butter. So I made myself a bowl of fried rice for lunch. It was actually really good, but as mentioned, no camera. It was one of the first things I made in several days that actually was good. Of course this meant that I spilled a good chunk of it on the floor before I could eat any of it, but I had the rest, and that was good.

Emergency spiceless fried rice

cooked brown rice
chard/other wiltable greens

First chop a big handful of chard leaves into little pieces. Use as much as you want to eat. I recommend lots of chard since it is delicious, full of iron, and liable to shrink in the pan like spinach. If you want to use the stems, chop them into little pieces too, and cook them before you add the leaves. I just used the greens.

Stick the chard in a frying pan with a couple big splashes of water. Put the lid on, turn the heat to medium-low, and steam that chard. This should take two or three minutes for leaves, and maybe five for stems.

When the chard is pretty wilty, add your rice and a chunk of butter and stir. I used a couple big spoonfuls of rice; you can do as much or as little as you want. Cook for a few minutes, until the rice is hot.

Crack your eggs into a bowl, whisk them, and pour them into the pan. I used my two eggs for me. Cook until the egg is set, stirring throughout. This should take another three minutes or so.

When everything is cooked, add a sprinkle of salt, then eat.

Be happy that you are eating real food containing iron instead of a warmed up slice of pizza with canned mushrooms on it.

15 October 2008

Cranberry beans are great.

Fresh beans! Let's eat them in a gigantic hot salad!

Cranberry bean salad

fresh cranberry beans
olive oil
red pepper
fresh parsley
salt, pepper

First, put a pot of water on to boil. While it's getting hot, shell a bunch of cranberry beans. I didn't take any pictures of the beans in their shells because I was having too much fun popping them out of said shells. I ended up with about a cup and a quarter of lovely stripey beans.

When the water has come to a boil, add the beans to the pot. Bring the water back to a boil, then cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about half an hour, or until your beans are tender. Fresh beans take so much less time than dried!

You'll also notice that when cooked the beans lose their pink stripes. That's ok; we're going to add a whole bunch of other brightly colored food to liven things up.

When the beans are closing in on done, bust out a decent frying pan and soften some minced garlic in olive oil. I used a lot of garlic, maybe eight or ten cloves, since we STILL have no spice cabinet. Soften the garlic slowly over medium-low heat.

When the beans are done, drain them and set them aside for a minute.

Check out your garlic. Is it getting soft? Then chop and add half a red pepper, or a whole one if you want. Stir things around and let the pepper soften up. Orange or yellow pepper would clearly work as well; I just like red the best.

When the pepper and garlic are soft, add your drained beans to the pan. Stir everything up well, so the garlicky oil gets all over the beans. Then cook everything together for five minutes or so, to give the oil a chance to absorb into the beans.

At the same time, wash and chop as much fresh flatleaf parsley as you can stand. Half a bunch of parsley is good. Since we aren't adding any other spicing elements, we have to make sure the garlic and parsley are dominant. The more parsley, the better. That said, if you have no parsley, you can also use other greens: lots of chopped spinach or spicy arugula would be good.

When everything is looking good, dump your parsley into the pan of beans and garlic. Stir everything up for a minute or two, letting the parsley start to wilt. Salt and pepper if you feel the need. Then whip the pan off the heat, scoop your beans onto a plate, and eat.

I ate mine as dinner. However, this stuff would be perfect to pile on tiny, toasty pieces of good bread and eat with glasses of red wine and dishes of olives.

13 October 2008

Apples and onions

IT'S FALL! We live in a state where there is fall! FINALLY.

We are back in a state where one of the main agricultural products is APPLES. The apples here are tart and crisp and delicious, as opposed to blah and mealy! There are so many kinds available! THERE ARE VARIETAL APPLE CIDERS. The only thing missing is the actual trip to the cider mill, during which we pick a bunch of winesaps, then sit outside drinking hot apple cider with whipped cream and eating a bag of warm doughnuts, the long, twisted, glazed kind. Oh man!

Lacking that, I brought home a bunch of apples, the name of which I cannot remember. After we ate several of them outright, plain or with peanut butter, I decided it was fall enough that we needed to cook them. The most obvious way to cook apples is in pie, but we didn't have any pie equipage whatever. No flour, sugar, spices, rolling pin, pie pan, or even a cookie sheet on which to shape a rustic galette. All we had was butter and apples. Stupid temporary housing!

We did have an onion, though, and I've read Farmer Boy enough times that it gave me an idea.

Apples and onions

yellow onions
butter/flavorless oil

This is super easy and tasted excellent piled on a toasted english muffin.

Cut an apple or two into fourths, core each piece, and slice into thin slices. Peel and thinly slice an equivalent amount of yellow onion. I used one apple and 1/2 an onion for just me.

Melt some butter in a medium-hot frying pan. Throw in the apples, arrange them in one layer, and let them cook for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to get soft. Then shake up the pan and flip all the slices over. Don't worry too much about being exact; they'll all get soft and buttery and tasty no matter how they fall.

When the apple pieces are soft on both sides, add in the onion and stir to mix. Cook slowly, stirring when needed, until the onions are sufficiently wilted and the apples are turning golden brown.

If you want an english muffin, now is the time to toast it. We had Whole Foods wheat english muffins, which were surprisingly good as well as lacking in corn syrup. So there is actually a reason to go to Whole Foods, especially if your baking equipment is all still in storage.

Other things to do with your apples and onions:

- Serve them on top of a whack of mashed sweet potatoes, or I suppose regular potatoes. Or bake a potato, break it open, and stuff with apples and onions.
- Serve them on top of a bowl of fall-oriented soup: butternut squash, cream of roasted cauliflower, something in the chestnut family.
- Eat them with a bunch of wilted dark greens and a good grain pilaf with lots of nuts and cranberries.
- Make them as one of the twenty side dishes you need to have at every major fall holiday dinner.
- Mix them with cooked rice/etc and use them to stuff a squash.
- Actually cook them differently: add some grated or finely sliced fresh ginger, or spice them with cinnamon and clove.

12 October 2008

Birthday drinks

Even if we didn't have the wherewithal to cook real birthday dinners, we managed to have birthday drinks.

John got this Jefferson's bourbon from the wine shop in Chelsea Market. Although I'm not exactly the queen of liquor tastings, I thought it was excellent, with some similarity to Maker's Mark. Also, if you tilt the bottle it distends Thomas Jefferson's head, which is entertaining.

We also got these two bottles of wine. The Basa was particularly exciting since our friend Tim had chosen it for us ages ago in Michigan. It was GREAT. So we've been keeping an eye out for it for years, albeit more and more halfheartedly as we continued not to find it. Of course we only found it, looking totally innocent in a little store in Sunnyside, Queens, once we'd entirely given up.

The second wine was new, and fine, but not as exciting. Really we were taken in a little bit by the name and label: Layer Cake. It, uh, was symbolic in the absence of any birthday cake! Yes. It worked pretty well, since we almost never want cake, even if it's birthday week. I wish we'd gone for a stronger, fuller-bodied red, though. If the wine is called Layer Cake you at least want it to have chocolate overtones. Come on.

Basa 2007 Blanco Rueda, Spain.
Layer Cake 2006 Cotes du Rhone, France.

07 October 2008


You guys. I seem to be having an issue getting any cooking done. It was even birthday week. We didn't do the week of birthday cooking, since we were too tired and stressed out and also still don't have any spices. Instead, we had appointments with brokers on both our birthdays. We ate both lunches at diners. For my birthday dinner we went out for Japanese food two steps from our temp housing. For John's we ordered pizza and drank caffeine free diet coke.

We also manically watched a bunch of debates and read a lot of news, and today there's another debate to watch, and I just had my first half day of work after another morning running around with brokers, and I have to figure out something to eat.

01 October 2008


My favorite episode of original Iron Chef was the maitake mushroom battle. OH MAN. So of course, now that I've acquired some maitake, I will definitely use it in pasta from scratch to best showcase the pure, uninterrupted flavor.

HA HA HA HA! Oh! Ok. Actually we made very quick and very good mushrooms on toast at about one in the morning.

Maitake on toast

maitake mushrooms/other good mushrooms
a shallot
salt and pepper
some butter or olive oil
some good bread

Peel your shallot and chop it finely, then sauté slowly over low heat. I used butter for this, but olive oil would clearly be fine too. My immediate instinct would be to use garlic instead of shallot with olive oil, but I think that would be too strong and overwhelm the mushroom. I guess it depends on which ingredient you want dominant.

While the shallot is softening, chop your mushroom into appropriate pieces. Add it to the pan and continue cooking for maybe another five minutes, or until the mushrooms are fully cooked.

Salt and pepper, then serve on toast.

Try not to do what I did and immediately tip a bunch of the mushroom shallot butter onto the front of one of your very few shirts not currently in the moving van somewhere in Nebraska. I have now ruined two out of about six shirts that I brought in the suitcase, one via butter and one via wearing through the elbow. Awesome.