Posts in Good Eats
thoughts on cooking

The bread post I did a few weeks ago got me thinking. I've talked to a lot of people since then who have said things like the following:

  • "Wow, I would never try to make bread from scratch."
  • "Hmm...you actually made it? And it tasted good?"
  • and the best: "You've inspired me to try making bread again."

I LOVE that by cooking something in my clumsy, messy way in my not-huge kitchen, I could possibly inspire someone else to try cooking something from scratch. That's awesome!

Little_kitchen
(proof of my not-huge kitchen, pre-yellow)

Here's where you guys come in: Is there anything out there that you are really curious to try to make, but something is holding you back? Are there any foods that you really love, or that your loved ones really love, but you think "oh, I could never actually make that"? I need some ideas on what types of things people might need to be inspired into making.

Here are some things on my short list:

  • homemade pizza, crust and all
  • pulled pork
  • Korean food
  • tofu

So let's have it friends! What's on your list?

Read More
Renegade Craft Fair recap

Last weekend, I got my best renegade crew together and we headed over to Fort Mason for San Francisco's second annual Renegade Craft Fair.

All I can say is WOW! What an amazing collection of artists and crafters and creators. It was really wonderful having all of those people in one place. And as a novice crafter, it was so very inspiring to be around people who are actually living the dream.

My first stop was the booth for Seattle Show Posters, where I picked up this print for Tim.

Renegade_1
I'm hoping to frame it and surprise him with it in the new kitchen. Once it's framed, I'll use a dry-erase marker to change out the message.

Then I picked up some cards from Dee & Lala. Their letterpress cards and prints were adorable. This was one of my favorites:

Renegade_giraffe
And here are some other good ones, in case you aren't completely smitten with giraffes like I currently am.

After Dee & Lala, I stopped by Beyond Wonderland's adorable booth and picked up a super cute Japanese-fabric headband.

Renegade_#
At this point in the day, I was starting to watch my spending a little. It was just SO easy to get caught up in all the cuteness. Everything was great, and it felt really good supporting small-business artists. {Sigh} So I bought more stuff.

The booth for 16 Sparrows was really fun. I love that their motto is "where sarcasm is folded in half."
Renegade_4
If you like sassy cards, I would definitely advise you to spend some time on their site.

Another vendor who had great irreverent cards was Old Tom Foolery. These guys really understand the power of an asterisk. For example:

Renegade_foolery

My final, and possibly favorite purchase, was from Frank Chimero's booth. I've written about his work on this blog before, so it was fun that he was there.
Renegade_fun
Best. Reminder. Ever.

At this point in the day, we were all tired and thirsty and really needed to rest our feet, so we decided to head to Flour & Water for a little post-craft-fair yumminess. Our timing for checking the place out couldn't have been better, because a rave review was published in the paper the following day, thus making a walk-in table for 5 nearly impossible.

A few of the highlights:

Fw_1
Rabbit salad. So good!

Fw_2

Pizza with eggplant and olives. The green stuff in the photo is the eggplant.

Fw_3

Pizza with summer squash, ricotta, wild arugula and lemon zest. This one rocked my world. I really like pizza topped with fresh greens. And the hint of lemon zest was perfect!

Fw_4

Homemade pasta with fresh sweet corn. There was a little honey in the sauce that added the perfect amount of sweetness and complimented the corn wonderfully.

Dinner was ridiculously good, and the perfect end to a super fun day!
Read More
homemade chicken soup

Remember that chicken soup I mentioned the other day? So good.

Homemade soup is so ridiculously easy to make that every time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it all the time. I always think: maybe that's my thing, maybe I should just make soup all the time. Cause it's easy. And you get to use up all your old veggies. And it's good. And good for you. 4 points for me becoming the new soup nazi! Woot!

Anyhoozy, here's what I did to make yummy, fresh chicken soup. Feel free to try this at home. In fact, I encourage it. And don't worry if you don't have all this stuff. It's okay, 'cause it's soup. And it's impossible to screw up soup. No, I mean it. Impossible.

Oh, and sorry for the lack of photos. I didn't chronicle every step of this with gorgeous, bright shots, a la smitten kitchen or the pioneer woman (both cooking sites are super fun, btw). But, if you read this blog for the photos, then, um, really?

I did find some good shots on flickr that I use throughout this post. They aren't photos of my soup. But my soup is that pretty, really. Next time I'll take a picture.

Chicken_soup_1  

What you need:

Some chicken - I know, this isn't an exact amount, you really just need chicken on the bone. Martha says you need a whole 3-4 pound chicken cut in this precise way into 8 pieces. We had taken about 10 pieces of leg and thigh out of the freezer for the bbq-that-never-happened-because-I-got-sick and I used that. It was FINE. Use what you have.

Some veggies - Again, use what you've got. I used carrots, celery, zucchini, and a small onion I found in the back of the fridge. And some parsley that was about to go to the dark side. Peel the carrots and chop everything. That's all.

Some spices - I used peppercorn, sea salt, and thyme. If you have a bay leaf, toss that in too. If not, no worries.

Water - Are you starting to think, really? Is it that easy? YES.

Time - It does take some time, but you don't have to stand at the stove all afternoon. Next time you're hanging out around the house, make some soup. It's highly rewarding.

Chicken_soup_2 

What to do:

You need to start by making the stock. Essentially to make a stock, you just boil the crap out of everything and it becomes magically delicious.

Add about 6 cups of water to the chicken (just enough to cover -- you can always add more water later), the chopped onion, 1-2 chopped, pealed carrots, 1-2 chopped celery stalks, about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp of thyme, and some fresh parsley. Bring to a boil and then lower heat so stock simmers.

About 15 minutes in, you need to start checking the doneness of the chicken. Since raw chicken creeps me out, I used a meat thermometer. The thermometer should read about 165 when it's ready, and the chicken will cook a little more when you actually make the soup. As the chicken gets done, pull it out of the pot and put into a dish to cool. Keep simmering.

After the chicken cools, you want to discard the skin and pull all the meat off the bones. You can just put the meat into the fridge at this point. All the bones go back in the pot, which has been simmering this whole time. How long? I don't know -- it's soup, so it's fine! 

Once all the bones have been returned to the pot, simmer for about an hour. NOTE: at this point in the evening, I started to watch a movie, (Made of Honor, it was cute) which made me ignore the soup. To the point that I had the stove turned up too high and almost all the water evaporated out, leaving me with bones, veggies and a super thick kinda-burning chicken goop. And, you know what? I just added a ton more water and everything was great. But, if you don't have to do that, it's probably good too :) 

Oh, and periodically while this is cooking, you'll need to skim the foam off the top. That's the fatty part, but it's bad fat, not good fat. I skimmed and just put the fat into an orange juice can. And then when Tim came home, I asked if he wanted to drink the fat to prove how much he loved me. He didn't.

Now you need to strain the stock. Remove and discard all solids.

Tatertots

I know this shot doesn't have anything to do with soup, but I found it on flickr and had to share: tatertot casserole? How yummy does that sound?!?!

*Ahem* When you're ready to make the soup, add enough water to get liquid volume back up to about 6 cups. Toss in a couple more chopped carrots and celery stalks. And I had zucchini so I threw that in too. Add the chicken from the fridge. Bring back to a boil and then lower to a simmer.

We had some cooked egg noodles in the fridge, so I tossed them in too. I never make the right amount of pasta when I cook, so we almost always have extra cooked pasta in the fridge. It's perfect for something like this.

Simmer for about 20 minutes. Periodically check the saltiness and add salt and fresh pepper as needed.

Eat and enjoy! 

Empty_bowl

Really, that's all.

Next, I want to try chicken tortilla soup. I loves me some chicken tortilla soup!

photo credits, from top: Robert Couse-Baker, roland, madaise, and adactio.

Read More
france recap #2: Provence, pt. 1

A few years ago, my book club read A Year in Provence. The book was good, but more than anything it made me want to give up everything and move to Provence where I could experience things like wacky neighbors, language barriers, and truffle-seeking pigs. With stuff like that going on, who wouldn't want to move to Provence?

On Day 4 of our trip, we picked up our rental car in Nice and headed to Arles (pronounced "Arghghhhh" for those non-French speakers out there. I realized that the French usually only pronounce about 40% of the letters in their words. This one was impossible for us to say and be understood by anyone French.), a sweet and teeny Provencial town on the Rhone River.

Here's our car. Fun and cute, huh? Using this car, and seeing all of the tiny cars throughout the country made me think Americans have a big-car problem. My Honda feels HUGE now!

Arles_0_our_car
Our hotel, the lovely Hotel du Musee, was just a block from the bank of the Rhone River. This town was so full of pretty, I went a little overboard taking photos. I loved the pink-lined lanterns all over town.

Arles_1_Rhone

Arles_2_Nord_Pinus
Um, giggle. I know, I'm a child. But, nord pinus?!? Awesome! (fyi: according to my desktop translator, it means north pinus. Perfect.)

Arles_3_fanny
We had crazy-fantastic meals in Arles, and the best pain au chocolate of the trip. This might have been my second-favorite town for food. Our first night, we found this great wine bistro, Chez Ariane. It was soo very good and was well-decorated and super homey.

Arles_4_blurry
I want to paint this photo. I love how it turned out.

Arles_5_food 
Our first dinner in Arles. That cheese was amazing. That wine was amazing. That salad was amazing, and I don't even LIKE hard-boiled egg or beets. Dining Perfection.

Arles_6_spooky
Arles at night. Spooky, huh?

Arles_7_courtyard
Our hotel had this adorable courtyard where we had our coffee in the mornings. If you looked up the French word for "adorable" (which coincidentally, I think is adorable), a photo of this courtyard would be there.

Arles_8_courtyard
More pretty.

Arles_9_yellow
Van Gogh also spent time in Arles. We spent one day doing a walking tour of some of his more famous paintings. They have these easels set up all over so you can see the painting with what inspired it.

Arles_10_Colliseum
And they have an old Colliseum.

Our second night in Arles, we went to a restaurant right down the street from Chez Ariane, Le 16. Wow! It was so good, we went back there for a second meal!

Arles_11_babyclames
They had these clams. It's hard to describe how small they were -- each one was about the size of one of those pink pencil erasers. You know the ones you put on your pencil when you've already used up the one it came with? These. They were tiny, but incredible! They were cooked with a butter garlic sauce that made me speechless. That's a sign of good food; there's not much in this world that leaves me speechless!

Then we had this dish: a roasted duck breast with gratin potatoes. OMG. I didn't know what to do with myself after the first bite, it was that good. This definitely ranks in my top 3 best meals while in France. And I ate a LOT of meals while in France.

Arles_12_duck
And the potatoes. They weren't regular gratin potatoes, not like I'm used to here in the States. I think they were cooked more with cream (maybe sour cream?) than cheese. They tasted like heaven. They were rich, but light. And almost melted in your mouth.

So, um, I have more to tell you about Provence, but after writing about all this food, I think I need to go eat! But, needless to say, if you are heading to Provence, I would highly suggest a visit to Arles.

More recaps are coming though! Yay!

Read More