Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mom, there’s a Kitchen in my Apartment!: Conquering Leftovers Anxiety

Pin It Now!
When I was kid, meal time just happened: it seemed sort of this instantaneous event where my mother would summon my sister and I from our rooms and there would be delicious food sort of miraculously at the table. As I got older, I realized that this seemingly magic trick actually required work, whether it was chopping vegetables for a stirfry, cooking the meat, washing and ripping lettuce for a salad, etc. 

Now that I’m even older still (I’d say “grownup” but as an elementary school teacher, I still retain enough enthusiasm for things like Sesame Street and Disney that I don’t know how “adult” I actually am) it sometimes seems like such a vicious cycle: but I already ate dinner yesterday, why do I have to decide again about what I’m going to eat? So time consuming.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weather Outside is Frightful: Bean and Red Chard Soup

Pin It Now!

The weather's been wet and cold (shocking in San Francisco... can you feel my sarcasm?) so I felt compelled to make soup. Also because it's such a nicely portable food item when you need to bring lunch with you, which I frequently do as a substitute teacher.

I knew that my soup had to use chard because it is the one thing in my Farm Fresh to You box that I always get confused on how to use. I found this recipe on Epicurious--it puts me in mind of a similar soup that my aunt makes which involves sausage. Sadly, this is meat-less, but the chard and the beans and the pasta create a nice sense of bulk and OMG it is delicious.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some Assembly Required: Apple Crumb Bars

Pin It Now!
Ingredients, or, Mis about to be placed...

Because I remember the apple pies of my childhood so vividly (and really, it's kind of unreal how good the smell of apples with cinnamon and sugar cooking is), I knew I wanted to make something related. After meeting Anita at the bake sale, I knew I wanted to finally try something from her book, Field Guide to Cookies. So I decided to make apple crumb bars. Because it's like a portable apple pie!

Okay, first thing: if I teach you nothing else today, get everything together before you begin. I really think I need to make myself huge sign called "GOT MIS EN PLACE?" because seriously, shenanigans occur otherwise.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No Such Thing as Too Many Cooks: Bake Sale Snapshots

Pin It Now!

Yours truly deep in some apparently serious conversation about brownies, or whoopie pies, or maybe explaining about Tomato Spice cupcakes. Hard to say. Pic taken by Irvin at Eat the Love, ( / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Yesterday, I was out all day selling delicious, delicious goodies to raise money for Share Our Strength, goods all made my some tremendously talented food bloggers who can clearly both cook it as well as write about it (I was trying to make some metaphor here about putting the mixing bowl where their blog was, but it didn't quite work out. Imagine it successfully written here.)

I was so involved in writing up receipts and harassing engaging with customers that I sort of forgot to take any pictures. I'm new at this, ok?

Fortunately, others were much more on the ball, so you can see the amazing desserts and sweet treats that you missed out on. Speaking of missing out (or the opposite) I totally scored a new muffin tin at the bake sale! It's made by Chicago Metallic and I am soooooooo excited to use it. I love the weight of the pan--I can tell it will last me many muffins. Anyone have a suggestion of a recipe with which to christen my tin?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Feet are Made of Clay: Katharine Hepburn Brownies

Pin It Now! Bonus points if you can pinpoint the quote from the title--also, it be clear that you have unexpected depth* ;o) I have a special fondness for Katharine Hepburn that is doubled (exponentially) by the fact that she is a fellow graduate of Bryn Mawr, which builds nicely into my continued point.

Shortly after Ms. Hepburn's death, the New York Times published a letter to the editor where the writer detailed Katharine--in true Mawrter kicking-butt fashion--quelled the author's doubts about school and happened to make her some awesome brownies in the process. It's awesome, so go read Straight Talk From Miss Hepburn; Plus the Actress's Own Brownie Recipe.

Seriously, read it. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Read it? Good. Isn't she awesome? It's a Bryn Mawr graduate trait ;o)

I'm a huge fan of brownies (and cookies. cake. pie, too...) and always meant to make the lovely Ms. Hepburn's brownies. But then I lost the recipe. Bummer, forget that idea. Yet Fate intervened!

In Dorie Greenspan's absolutely breathtaking cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours, she has a recipe that builds on the Hepburn brownie requirements: gooey, chocolatey, not too dense, yet adds some awesome refinements.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Doesn't Love a Bake Sale?

Pin It Now!
Food is an important part of a balanced diet.  ~Fran Lebowitz

49.1 million Americans - including nearly 17 million children - lack the means to regularly put enough nutritious food on the table . They are food insecure and struggle with hunger.

* Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often, recover more slowly, and are more likely to be hospitalized, at an average cost of $12,000 per pediatric stay.

* Hunger impedes our children’s ability to learn and perform academically. Undernourished children under the age of 3 cannot learn as much, as fast or as well.

* Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food have have more behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious.


It's important to remember that while many of us eat (or often eat to excess) whatever or whenever we want, there are many people (and most importantly many children) in the United States that go without food. Projects like the Share our Strength Great American Bake Sale raise funds that go towards: reduced/free lunch programs in public schools, summer meal programs to insure those same children are fed on school breaks, and many other different food assistance programs for children and adults.

Anita Chu (who wrote the awesome Field Guide to Cookies, which I got for Christmas in my flurry of baking-related presents) is organizing a SF Food Blogger bake sale (though you don't actually have to be a blogger to help out) at Omnivore Books, an amazing cooking/food love bookstore in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. Her blog, Dessert First--so cute! I always wanted to eat dessert first!--has lots more information (and you can email her if you'd like to bake or help out) here.

I'm going to make brownies (omg, the best brownies ever, that will be a soon post) and something else. Maybe espresso chocolate shortbread? I want to make Anita's recipe for Apple Crumb Bars, it's a great excuse to go to the farmer's market. Oooh, I could get cider too... yum.

If you're in the San Francisco area and want something sweet from 12 until 3pm on Saturday, stop by Omnivore! You'll get to try my brownies ;o) Not to mention if you stick around, you'll hear Rose Levy Beranbaum talk about her new book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Mmmmm, cake.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life Lessons: Butternut Squash Soup

Pin It Now!
Exhibit S: a squash

I realized after I'd posted my first post (!!!) and then organized my profile, etc. that it is seems to be paramount that the first recipe I post over here is the "life changing" pot of soup I made. Which, granted, was pretty life changing: though not the first soup I made (I've made beef stew which is pretty awesome, don't worry, you'll get that one too at some point) it was a Big Deal because it involved Unknown Vegetables, aka I had to go to the store, buy a butternut squash (which are inherently kind of hilarious looking), break it down, and cook it. Amaizng stuff, I tell you. I wrote down the recipe the first time, but I will elaborate here with some useful tips and information that I found out after the fact. Let us begin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Chef

Pin It Now! Growing up, I always enjoyed cooking in the abstract. Singly, the most sophisticated my cookery got was making chocolate chip cookies from scratch; brownies were always from a box (of the Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker variety, I fully confess). I come from a family of cooks, though of the "pinch of this and then mix that in if you want" school, which I personally find a bit stressful. Apparently I do much better with guidelines. Still, as a child, my role in baking was solely observational, with minor stints as assistant peeler and chopper.

There was only one experience that deviated from this. I recall with fondness and some sense of bemusement the babysitter who watched my sister and I for about a week when Mom was away (a highly uncommon occurrence) when I was 12 or 13. I remember deciding that we were going to bake... so bake we did: we made several apple pies during her tenure and (bizarrely) popcorn balls.

Why I was gripped with this sudden fever to create pies, I have no idea. Sadly, I don't think I had any actual role besides the important task of peeling apples. Either that or my fingers and brain have lost any key pie-making muscle memory. Pity.

I've been living in San Francisco for the past almost-two years, yet my "accidental foodie" tendencies sort of snuck up on me. Yet today, here I am, a every-two-weeks recipient of fresh farm veggies and firm enthusiast of farmers' markets; a multi-cookbook owning, flour-smeared apron-wearing, food blog reading (and, finally, writing) cook. Weird, huh?