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Archive for February, 2008

Whew.  And I thought the first part was ambitious!  After spending a leisurely afternoon at our local coffee shop thumbing through seed catalogs, my neighbor and I decided that we’d need more room. We’ve got to have somewhere for all those melons, squash, beans and greens to go! Behold, the progress:

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Broccoli already planted, even before we’re done.  As you can see from this picture, we’ve got quite an addition going.  Since this was taken, we’ve finished this side and have moved on to expand the garden on the far side of the pathway.  I’m quite pleased with the pathway that we created from broken pots and a few Home Depot pavers:

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The after picture is still to come – we’ve got about 3 feet left on one half of the lawn to dig, then comes the borders.  If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, this is the answer!

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Unbound

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Most of my meals fall into one of two categories.  First, there are the  straight from the cookbook recipes.  I’ll make a few tweaks and substitutions here and there, but the frame is borrowed from the book.  The other category is the plain boring food I make myself, sans recipe (see: noodles, buttered).  Even when I’m in the mood to experiment, I will go to the web to find some similar recipes to flesh out some general guidelines.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Every once in a while though, I’ll step outside of my comfort zone and develop something totally on my own.  I’m not going to lie – sometimes it’s frightful, but today things came out well.  I’ve dirtied a few dishes with this one, but I found it worth the extra washing.  Try it out…

Caramelized Onions and Brussels Sprouts over Lentils and Brown Rice

Geez.  That’s a long title.  How about this instead…

Tasty Town, USA

1 lb brussels sprouts, halved or quartered, depending on size
olive oil
salt

1 large onion, sliced
3 cups water
a heaping 1/2 cup lentils (I used a green/yellow mix from Trader Joe’s)
a heaping 1/2 cup long-grain brown rice
salt and pepper

First, toss the sprouts with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and roast them at 425° for about 15 minutes or until golden and softened.  I’ve tried all ways of eating these, and I can’t get away from the roast.  So delicious.  If you want to save a dish, you can try cooking them along with the onions (below).

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, cover and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Remove the cover, increase the heat, and continue to cook until the onions are a deep yellow, stirring more frequently.

Boil the water in a medium saucepan.  Add the lentils and cook about 20 minutes, until almost tender.  Add the rice, salt and pepper.  Check the water – you may have to add a little more.  Cover and set a timer for 5 minutes later so you can check the water level.  You’ll cook this mixture 15 minutes or so, until the rice is done and the water is absorbed, so keep setting the timer and peeking in.

Pile the rice and lentil mixture into a serving dish and top with the lovely golden veggies.  Those of you who shy away from brussels sprouts because of bitterness have no reason to fear – they become almost sweet with this treatment.

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This dish is another that lends itself to tweaking – next time, I’ll probably add some Indian spices, jazz it up with some red pepper flakes, or try a different grain.   How will you make it?

Special thanks to Vivian for the salt and pepper hugs…

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A bake-tastic recap

So, before I decided that I needed to fit into my jeans, I was on quite the baking kick for a while, and my new cookbook goaded me on with pictures of gooey, crumbly, chewy, chocolatey madness. It was a beautiful time.

As I bite into my morning apple, I can think back on the days when I consumed my fruit in bar form:

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Mmm, applesauce spice bars. Those were the business.

And then there were the blondies. Oh, the blondies. I think I’ll miss them most of all.

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Oh man. Butterscotch-y, crispy yet chewy delectables.

From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into chips
1 cup Heath Toffee bits
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325° and butter a 9×13 baking pan.  Cream the butter in a mixer until smooth.  Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated.  Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each one, then beat in the vanilla.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until they just disappear into the batter.  Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate, toffee, nuts and coconut.  Spread the mixture into your prepared pan.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden.  Start on your second batch, as these won’t last.

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Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t given up on the sugary treats.  I’m just trying to stay away from those 2-sticks-of-butter-kind-of-cookies.  I am currently experimenting with cocoa nibs, and am three batches in to developing my new favorite not-so-sweet chocolate cookie.  Stay tuned, but in the meantime, indulge for me!

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