How to Freeze Berries

I’ve been getting a little frustrated with my migraines lately.  I’ve had them for years (since I went to college), and they’ve just become a super annoying part of life.  Some doctors have been awesome in helping me manage/predict them, while others have done their absolute best to scare the heck out of me about having them while not really telling me how NOT to have them (irreparable brain damage! stroke risk!)

I feel this appropriately reeks of my despair.

I feel this appropriately reeks of my despair.

Anyway, with the type of job I’m working now, I’ve been having a lot more headaches lately.  Combine cigarette smoke during my sessions (I know! really?!), driving around in a hot car in this crazy humid weather, having to plan my infrequent pee breaks in between houses, and spending my working hours trying to motivate kids to do exactly what they hate doing–and you’ve got a stellar recipe for migraines.  I’ve also learned that eating too much sugar is a major migraine trigger for me, which kinda sucks because HELLO!? Sugar! I love you!

I wake up knowing when I’m probably going to get a migraine (I can just feel it), and despite my best efforts to avoid it (with lots of water, pee breaks during the day, major air conditioning, no sugary foods), there doesn’t seem to be much I can do other than just await the inevitable.  I usually function just fine throughout the morning and early afternoon, but then by 4:00 or so I need to be done with all activities.  You can see how that might be a bit of a damper on things.

I have been prescribed some new meds this year that do seem to help when I feel a migraine coming on, but they work best when combined with my 100% fool-proof method of migraine dissipation: sleep in a dark room for at least an hour.  Seriously, it’s like magic.  Pill plus nap almost always has me waking up feeling just fine.

The part that is so frustrating is that I just need to learn to listen to my body and do what it wants.  The biggest problem always happens when I really just want to do what I want to do, and I keep putting off just turning off all the lights, closing the blinds, and sleeping.  I end up trying to cook something, or wanting to just go to the gym, or see one more client for the day, and that’s when I find myself past the point of fixing it all with a quick nap. That’s exactly what I did today, and by the time Fritz got home from work I was mad and crying (aka making it worse) because I knew I did the wrong thing and I was going to pay for it.

Fritz was super nice, and bought me a new box of tea to try, and reminded me that I’m still learning how to deal with these headaches.  I’m getting better about canceling my 5:00 patient if I need to, and better about remembering to bring my drugs with me when I go away for the weekend.  I’m still working on that sugar thing, and if I look back even six months to how much better I’m managing them, then it does help.  Being willing to stop everything for an hour or so before it gets too intense is so worth it if I can have the whole evening back.

(By the way, I did sleep from about 6:00-7:00, and then woke up and was able to make dinner, can some relish, and make lunch for tomorrow.  Then write my notes for the day and blog!  Still mad I didn’t make it to the gym with Fritz, though).

Well.  Thanks for letting me vent about that!  Ha.  I am aware that there’s people struggling with pain issues that make mine look like a mere inconvenience.

Here’s some cat pictures for you!

Cat Snuggs

Awkward much, Henry?

Awkward much, Henry?

I have some great recipes coming up to share, but for today just have a tip I picked up from someone a few years ago.  It’s super obvious, but one of those things that I never figured out on my own and had to be taught.

Freeze Raspberries

My parents have some giant raspberry bushes in the backyard, and every year they freeze the berries mixed with sugar into a simple sauce.  It’s awesome over ice cream or in smoothies, or later cooked down to a thicker syrup.  However, sometimes I just want plain berries, and I want them pretty.

Instagram, bitches.

From my Instagram.

It’s simple: freeze them on a baking sheet first, then you can store them in a freezer bag.  You can make it even one step simpler by freezing them on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet–they are easy to brush off the paper and there’s no washing up to do.

How to freeze raspberries

 

That way, they don’t stick together, they don’t crush under their own weight, and they are super simple to grab a handful for snacks or for defrosting.

Raspberries

Wash them only right before freezing–raspberries especially are very delicate and the less you handle them, the better!

So…more cats?

That's a smirking cat if I've ever seen one.

That’s a smirking cat if I’ve ever seen one.

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Kohlrabi and Cabbage Slaw (No Mayo)

This recipe is really just an idea, and not even an original one at that.

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Take sweet and smoky beef or pork barbecue, put it on a sandwich or corn tortilla, and top with a bright, vinegary coleslaw.

The best thing about unoriginal ideas, though, is that they get changed up by convenience and by my CSA.  I had purple kohlrabi in the fridge and something had to be done with it.  I was inspired to make a more Fritz-friendly meal (read: including meat, served in something you can hold) by a super-delicious sandwich–the Carolina–from a Rochester food truck named Marty’s Meats.

Purple Kohlrabi

(OMG THAT LAST SENTENCE.  Sorry, Taylor, Mom, and all other editors who cringe when they read my blog).

I have spoken about my strong distaste for mayonnaise in previous posts (see this European Potato Salad post), so I knew that the coleslaw would have to just have vinegar in it, and absolutely no mayonnaise.  A little bit of foodgawkering later, and I had a recipe.

I guess at this point I'm just resigned to knowing that some of you judge me for the cat+table situation here.

I guess at this point I’m just resigned to knowing that some of you judge me for the cat+table situation here.

(Note: this recipe is just for the coleslaw.  For the beef barbecue, I tossed a bunch of random ingredients into the CrockPot without measuring.  I went with an Asian influence and used beef, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and 23598234 other ingredients.  Here’s a similarly inspired recipe (or follow the link below) if you need actual instructions and not just my wine-fueled ramblings).

(Just kidding about the wine-fueled part.  It’s Wednesday, for goodness’ sake).

(Am I?).

(OMG THE PARENTHESES TODAY).

Kohlrabi and Cabbage Coleslaw (No Mayo)  Adapted from Cheese and Chocolate

  • 2 small-to-medium kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 C cabbage, shredded (shredding tutorial in this post)
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced red onion
  • 5 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes (start slowly here!).

Sadly, kohlrabi is a lot less pretty when is it peeled.  Usually kohlrabi is green (and looks just like the little aliens from Toy Story), but our farmer happened to see purple kohlrabi in a seed catalog and wanted to try it.  Tasted just like the way green kohlrabi did, if I remember correctly.

Purple Kohlrabi 2

Combine all the ingredients and let sit in the fridge in a covered bowl for at least 30 minutes before serving, tossing several times so that the vinegar coats everything.

Kohlrabi Coleslaw

Serve only on top of some seriously decadent barbecue.

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The acidic and tangy crunch of cabbage was exactly what the sweet barbecue beef needed, and I loved having an afterburn from the red pepper flakes (I measured them generously).

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And no, I didn’t miss the mayonnaise at all.

I preferred this sandwich on a corn tortilla quickly heated up in a dry pan; Fritz is a firm believer in soft sandwich rolls.  To each his own, man.  (Plus, two small corn tortillas has fewer calories than a giant sandwich bun, plus plus my brain always prefers to eat “two” over “one”).

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Grammar people–I’m sorry about this post.  I blame Wednesday.  To make you feel better, I would like to ask you a question that I have been pondering in my real-life context lately.  Less vs. Fewer.  Which one is right, when, and why?  Is one sometimes wrong?  The last lingering wisps of English: Don’t Bastardize the Language that Mr. Scotty instilled in me have been weakly suggesting to me that those terms are not as interchangeable as they first feel.

For funzies, here’s some pictures from our camping trip this weekend (I’ll try to post some different ones from my Instagram dump).

Sunset on our first night over Ontario Lake.

Sunset on our first night over Ontario Lake.

Such romantic, so bird poop.

Such romantic, so bird poop.

Frisbee

These three.

These three.

The last supper.

The last supper. Plus supermoon.

Didn't bring a tripod, so blurry.  But still cool.

Didn’t bring a tripod, so blurry. But still cool.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.fullmeasureofhappiness.com/2014/07/16/kohlrabi-and-cabbage-slaw-no-mayo/

Refrigerator Pickled Radishes

I was going to put this at the end of my blog post, but I’ll put it up top since I really need to know.  I have a movie with Scarlett Johansson in it playing in the background right now.  Anyway, Scarlett makes me think of celebrity crushes (totally my woman crush), and I was ridiculed for my celeb bf the other day.  Adam Levine what-what?!  This isn’t a hall pass situation or anything (frankly I’d still be mad if Fritz hooked up with Carrie Underwood), but who’s your celebrity (man or woman) crush?

Back to food.  The CSA has kinda been dictating my meals lately, which is great except that I’m totally over radishes.  Like, I’m not going to be listening to any sad songs on repeat when I finally stop seeing them taunting me from the veggie drawer.

But waste not, want not, right?

I’ve found a secret weapon in my will-not-let-anything-go-bad CSA battle–The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.  I can’t wait to try more recipes this summer (like those involving fruit!).

IMG_5139 This recipe is really intended to quickly pickle some radishes for a side-salad, but I’ve had them in the fridge for a week and they are still quite crisp and delicious.  I was really surprised that the recipe didn’t call for salt, and briefly considered just adding it anyway, but then decided to go against my gut and trust the pickling experts.  Good thing I did, too, ’cause it really doesn’t need salt.  The zing of the vinegar seems to fill in for the zing we usually expect from salt (and that is my well-researched and highly scientific explanation).

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I used a mixture of radishes, but the color from the red radishes does bleed after a few hours and get a little less pretty, so definitely don’t do this too far ahead of time if you were planning on trying to impress anyone.  Since Fritz generally views food as an inconvenient necessity, I don’t worry too much about presentation.  Though for the record, Fritz is really strangely impressed by weird and easy things, like pan sauces or piped frosting.

Refrigerator Pickled Radishes (from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving; makes 2 cups)

  • 1/2 C rice vinegar
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t finely chopped ginger
  • 1 t fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 bunches radishes

Wash and slice the radishes thinly , toss with all other ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

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So easy and delicious.  I was a little worried about what it would be like biting into a piece of pickled ginger, but that was pretty dang good too.  Dice the ginger finely to prevent it from being too overwhelming if it does happen.

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And because I was reminiscing about my trip to South Africa a few years ago, some pictures:

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I keep daydreaming about going on vacation again soon.  I am headed to California in August to visit a very important brand-new addition to the family, but based on my sympathetic hormones apparently flooding my body and inability to think of new baby Dawson all the way in California without getting emotional, I’ll wait to blog about that until next week.  Happy Friday tomorrow!

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Garlic Scape Pesto

These are garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes

When I first found them in our CSA in 2011, I called them “garlic scrapes”, and felt like a complete idiot when I finally realized I’d been using a misnomer for an entire year before someone corrected me.  It’s like when you get home after a night out and realize you’ve had a giant leaf of parsley in your teeth for who-knows-how-long.

(By the way, do you tell people when this happens?  Do you want people to tell you about the food in your teeth, or a wardrobe malfunction, or errant eyeliner? For the record, I do.  Tell me!  Even if I’m embarrassed at first, just act cool, ’cause I really do appreciate it in the long run).

Garlic scapes are the tops of garlic plants (the part we normally eat is the bulb).  They are kind of like a mix between green onion and garlic, except with an unmistakable garlic flavor.  You can use them in any way that you’d use garlic or green onion, but they really shine in a pesto.

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If you are buying them in a public market, garlic scapes are more tender when smaller and less curly.  Little ones can be used more easily raw, but the bigger and more mature ones do best when cooked (even lightly).

Garlic Scape Pesto (makes about two pint jars of pesto)

  • 2 bunches garlic scapes
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C lightly toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 C water

Lightly toast the walnuts–I just put them dry into a small frying pan over medium heat, turning them frequently.  You could also put them on a baking sheet in an oven at 300 degrees.  Watch them carefully, and if they burn, toss ‘em.  You just can’t recover from burned nuts (is there a joke here somewhere?).

Combine all the ingredients, and blend.  I used a Ninja blender, which worked great once I added just a little bit of water (in the ingredient list) to keep everything moving.  A food processor would be a better choice if you don’t have a blender with blades that go up past the bottom.

You can adjust the recipe to taste.

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I kept some pesto in a mason jar to use for the week, but the rest I put into an ice cube tray.  I let them freeze into cubes, then place into doubled-up ziplock bags to keep in the freezer (double bagging them will help prevent freezer burn).

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Warning!  I am sensitive to raw garlic (it burns the heck out of my mouth and my stomach), and as I was eating piles of raw pesto in the name of taste-testing, I definitely gave myself a small stomach ache.  However, eating it throughout the week over pasta (letting it cook in the pan with some pasta) gave me no problems whatsoever.  Just something to be aware of.

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This pesto is nice and spicy from the garlic scapes, but tastes pretty mild once mixed into a pasta or vegetables (or used in minestrone soup).

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Fritz and I are really enjoying this glorious three-day weekend we had, and I have to admit that digging my schedule out to start summer sessions tomorrow made me pretty sad.  Makes me jealous of all my coworkers that decided to take the summer off (maybe in a few years I can do that too?!).

Yesterday Fritz and I went wine tasting around Keuka Lake with my parents (hi Mom and Dad!), and we stopped at two awesome vineyards (and one less awesome that shall not be named).  We loved the renowned Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellar–also known as Dr. Franks–and we all got to try the Rkatsiteli for the first time (originally from the Republic of Georgia).  A pourer from Dr. Franks recommended that we also try Domaine Leseurre, which is a new vineyard started in 2011 by a super sweet couple from France (also, French accents: the best).  They had a series of mostly dry to semidry white wines that we all really enjoyed (my favorite was the 2012 Riesling Barrel Select Dry).  I would definitely go back to both of them, but my favorite was definitely Domaine Leseurre because of the friendly and educational service (and, of course, the accents).

Keuka Lake Vineyards

Also, cats:

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Fritz and I are going on an easy camping trip with our friends Breanna and Zev next weekend, so we used the long weekend to dig out all of our old camping supplies and make sure we have everything we need.

 Bottle opener, check.  Corkscrew, check…cats? Check and check.

Bottle opener, check. Corkscrew, check…cats? Check and check.

Also, have you seen a cat smirk before?  ‘Cause Emerson totally is.

It's because I'm shedding 20 pounds of hair in your camping stuff.

It’s because I’m shedding 20 pounds of hair in your camping stuff.

Hope you had a nice holiday weekend (to my fellow Americans).

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Sautéed Radishes with Lemon

One of my favorite parts of the summer is when my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) starts.  I first tried using a CSA when I lived in Long Island, and couldn’t wait to get started again as soon as I knew we were moving to Rochester.  The CSA we are using here (from Markwood Acres) has been great so far, with lots of spring and summer items: greens, greens, radishes, greens, more radishes, and peas (along with a few other items, but you get the idea).  Lots of radishes.  With their greens attached.

Radishes 6

We have an amazing Public Market that I know I’ve mentioned before, and Fritz and I go every Saturday that we are in town to hit up Duke’s Donuts and grab a few essentials for the week (sausage, extra/different vegetables, etc).  It’s cheap, really close by to our apartment, and super plentiful.  So why the CSA?

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The main reason I love a CSA: waste.  I hate throwing away food, especially food that is fresh and pretty and that I have already paid for.  And since I’d usually rather eat any form of bread or sugar over vegetables, the CSA forces me to make better food choices all summer long, just so I don’t waste it.  I would never buy two (small) heads of lettuce at the market for just Fritz and I, but I’ll be darned if I don’t find a few new ways to dress up a salad so that we finish it all by the time the next Saturday rolls around.  And I always feel better when I’ve got a lot more vegetables in me, so I appreciate the CSA pushing me a little bit.  And of course there’s the added benefit of trying things that I don’t normally buy (I’m talking to you, kohlrabi).

If only you knew how many hours I spend a week trying to prevent this from happening.

If only you knew how many hours I spend a week trying to prevent this from happening.

I like being pushed to try new things, and experimenting with ways to save what we can’t use up fast enough (I’ll blog a garlic scape pesto recipe later in the week!).

We had quite a few weeks of radishes, and my first thought was to pickle them.  My second thought was to sauté and add some butter and lemon to disguise the peppery taste that Fritz isn’t too sure about.  I ended up doing both, but first: the sauté version.

Radishes 5

Sautéed Radishes with Lemon (serves four)

  • 1-2 t butter (I used salted)
  • 2 big bunches small radishes (I had two different types: breakfast radishes and springtime radishes)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • sprinkle of rice wine vinegar (about 1/2 teaspoon), optional

Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.  I used an enameled cast-iron pot, which I’ve been using more and more lately for it’s amazing heat-holding and even cooking abilities.

Wash and thinly slice the radishes, rinsing and setting aside the greens for later.  Sauté the radishes in the butter until they are tender but getting a nice crunch on the outside (about five to six minutes, as long as they aren’t overcrowded).

Roughly chop the greens, then add to the pot.  Top with lemon juice and allow the greens to wilt.

Sprinkle with vinegar if desired, and season with salt to taste.  Beware that greens cook down considerably, which is why I add the salt after.

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These radishes serve four as a side, and the tangy lemon and vinegar perfectly complement the peppery radishes.  Sautéing them in thin slices also really helps to mellow out the flavor if you aren’t particularly partial to this family of vegetables.

I had a hard time not just eating everything straight out of the pan.

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These would be awesome served with steak or barbecued chicken, since they can stand up to strongly flavored protein without overwhelming it.  You could also drop these right on top of polenta or mashed potatoes if you want to get all fancy and restaurant-y.

Radishes 1

I’m officially a radish convert.

I have this week off from work (man, do I love following the school calendar), and already it has been a full and busy week!  Fritz and I visited some of our favorite people of all time, Cait and Jeff.  It was really nice to see their new home (actually, I alternate between thinking it was nice and being insanely jealous), lay by their pool, play with their absolutely adorable son and puppy, and relax. Plus they are photographers, so now I get to have some nice pictures of Fritz and I!

Fritz and I

Note my excellent sunburn lines.

Note my excellent sunburn lines.  I am also extremely awkward when doing these types of photos, and haven’t yet learned to take the hair tie off my wrist.

(Speaking of relaxing, have you seen the show Naked and Afraid?  Fritz and I are weirdly obsessed with it, even though we only get to see it when we stay at my parents’ or with friends who have cable.  It’s the most ridiculous premise for a show ever.  People try to survive for 21 days in extreme environments with a complete stranger, naked…for no prize?  Basically my worst nightmare).

Anyway, we had a really awesome time with Cait and Jeff.  Here’s some other pictures from the weekend from my Instagram:

The four of us.

The four of us.

It's all a part of my plan for Project: Be Cait.

It’s all a part of my plan for Project: Be Cait.  Wake Fritz up with adorable toddler.

Cait and I.

Cait and I.

Tell me you don't feel safe with a lifeguard like this around.

Tell me you don’t feel safe with a lifeguard like this around.

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Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies

I had such a nice weekend.  Fritz was out of town doing dentist stuff, but one of my little sisters, Kristen, spent the weekend here since she’s on summer break from veterinary school.

This is Kristen.  She is my sister-friend.

This is Kristen. She is my sister-friend.

A great friend of mine, Breanna, also came down to Rochester for a much-needed ladies night.  Kristen and I went to ZooBrew (highly recommended) on Friday, and all three of us made our way over to one of my favorite bars, the Daily Refresher, on Saturday.  The Daily Refresher gets 5/5 stars from me for their late-night thin-cut (yes) garlic fries that you can grab at the food truck in the back patio (french fries are my kryptonite after-ahem-even one glass of wine).

Breanna and I have known each other for years, since college, and we have a special bond since we both starting dating/marrying our husbands at around the same time, and then both suffered (are still suffering) through said spouses getting through dental school/residency.

One of the first times the four of us hung out together--apple picking, of course.

This is Breanna. One of the first times the four of us hung out (this is 2007, I think!)

I’m pretty sure being married to a dental student is harder than actually being one (though don’t ask Fritz that, since he thinks I just faff around baking and playing games all day. Which…I kinda do).  Anyway, Henry is deeply in love with Breanna, even though this weekend he has been going through an existential crisis that mostly involves him hissing and swiping at Emerson nonstop.

Why was I put on this Earth? Do I even want more food?

Why was I put on this Earth? Do I even want more food?

Henry actually abandons our bed to stare at Breanna all night whenever she sleeps over.

I'm not as innocent as I look.

Just so you know, Emerson’s not as innocent as he looks.

I, of course, took no photos of the entire weekend other than these of Emerson playing in the sink this morning.

cat 3

He gets confused when the water bounces off his ears and doesn't land where he expects.

He gets confused when the water bounces off his ears and doesn’t land where he expects.

I love my friends.  And my family.

Anyway.  Let’s make brownies.

dark chocolate brownies

I’m not a picky brownie eater, in the sense that if it comes from BJ’s in a giant Ghirardelli box, then I’m there.  But I wanted brownies that are just a little bit classier (aka slightly less sweet) and that don’t require a bulk store membership in order for me to bake up a pan.

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Major requirements: fudgy, fudgy, fudgy, crackly top, not 3572 pans, and fudgy.

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I knew that to achieve a less cake-y brownie, then I’d have to decrease the flour and leavening agents pretty significantly from other baked good recipes.  I also knew I wanted to melt the butter first, then beat in the eggs before adding flour to try to get that shiny crackly top.

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies (makes 16 small brownies)

  • 1/2 C butter (one stick)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8×8 square pan with oil or butter (or line with parchment paper).

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, and add the salt, sugar, and vanilla.  It just needs to be warmed up–the sugar doesn’t have to dissolve (good thing, or you’d be making candy).

Remove from heat, and add the cocoa powder and the eggs.  Beat for 30 seconds to a minute, then fold in the flour and chocolate chips. Don’t over mix after the flour is added; just mix until combined.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until they are your preferred texture.  Make sure that when testing doneness with a toothpick that you aren’t fooled by melted chocolate chips!  You want to take them out of the oven when there are still crumbs clinging to the toothpick.

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Check out that crackle.

Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and removing (ha!).

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These brownies really are my perfect brownie.  All the cocoa powder gives them a really dark chocolately flavor that is perfectly balanced with ice cream but can also stand on its own.  You only need one (or maybe two or three) to feel satisfied.

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Overall, I was impressed that they weren’t too far off from the beloved box mix.  You could add more chocolate chips for a meltier brownie, or nuts if you roll that way (I certainly do not).

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I only have one more week of the “school year” (Early Intervention and preschool physical therapy services follow a school year calendar), then a week off (!) before my summer schedule starts.  Does it feel like June just flew by for you, too?

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Thai Red Curry Soup

I’ve made Thai-based soups before–this Thai chicken soup and the Crock Pot version here–but this Thai soup is by far my favorite (and, God, my childhood lisp comes raging back when I try to say “Thai” and “soup” back-to-back).

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Speaking of lisps, even though I went to speech group as a little kid (old enough to remember those awesome sticker charts, though!), I didn’t really realized that I lisped until I was in high school.  A girl I knew (who obviously didn’t like me much) called me “Thandy” when I was cast in our school’s production of Grease.  Though my feelings were hurt for a split second, I mostly was just glad that someone pointed out that I still lisped sometimes and afterwards was much more careful whenever those “s”-words came around.  Even as an adult I catch myself talking too fast and have to slow myself down to keep myself from mixing “s” and “th” sounds.

And now in my head I can’t stop switching it to “thlow” and “thounds” every time I type an “s”-word.  My older sister had the same problem, and she helped me without even knowing it by making jokes about times that she struggled publicly, especially with the dreaded word “statistics” in her senior project presentation.  And she also answered phones for a company called “Syrasoft” in high school, if I remember correctly.  Sheesh.  (Our lisps were probably related to the fact that we both have congenital high-frequency hearing loss that required we also wear hearing aids, as if having a lisp and not knowing you shouldn’t brush curly hair wasn’t enough to firmly establish our dorkiness in those early years).

Anyway, back to the soup (thoup?).  I didn’t have any red curry paste (though I thought I did), so I substituted as best I could.  This soup combines my favorites from the past Thai soups I’ve made (hello broccoli), and adds a nice kick from the red curry flavor.

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Thai Red Curry Soup (serves 6-8)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T lemongrass paste (I usually have a tube in the fridge for these such moments)
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t ground white pepper
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T fish sauce (smells so bad, tastes so good)
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 bunches bok choy (I actually used tatsoi from our CSA), roughly chopped
  • 2 crowns broccoli, diced into florets
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • zest and juice from one lime
  • salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and cook until translucent and starting to brown, then add the minced garlic and stir for another minute or two until fragrant.  Add the rest of the ingredients up to and including the fish sauce and cook for two more minutes.

Add the diced chicken and cook through.

Pour in the broth and coconut milk, then add the remaining vegetables.  Reduce heat to low and cover, simmering until the vegetables are tender (about 5-10 minutes).

Finish with the lime juice and zest, and salt to taste.

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Though there’s a lot of ingredients, the cook time is actually pretty fast because nothing requires a lot of stewing.  I loved the heat from the broth and the fact that you can jam-pack a ton of vegetables into this kind of soup.

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I think I also added mustard greens that I had to use up from our CSA, but they weren’t distinguishable from the other greens in such a flavorful broth.  A nice way to make bitter greens taste a bit less…bitter (such a way with words, I know).

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For those who haven’t tried broccoli in this type of soup, or are giving it the side-eye because there’s no cheddar involved, try it!  The broccoli gets so tender but at the same time the florets soak up the broth in such a great way.  The coconut milk just mellows everything out, balanced with a bright bite of lime at first taste.

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I’m a big fan, if you couldn’t tell.

Here’s some pictures from the weekend–I went to Syracuse to visit my parents for Father’s Day (by the way, my dad is awesome).  After a really nice picnic on the deck, my mom took my sister and I (and three dogs) out for a walk while Dad and Fritz took a nap and watched the Grand Prix.

This is the baby of the family, and also the artist who recently decorated my hallway:

Jordi at the Park

I can only hold this fake smile for 10 seconds because that’s how much I love you.

Hadley, the Irish wolfhound in all her glory:

This is my good side.

This is my good side.

And Whiskey, my other sister’s (Kristen) newly adopted pup:

Bulldog mouth.

I’m all good sides.

Kristen’s other dog, Gilly.  Kristen was in South Dakota castrating horses (no, really), so my parents were watching her babies for the week.

So fast no photo can be in focus.

So fast no photo can be in focus.

Happy Hump Day tomorrow!

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Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

When the Zietsmans were in town last weekend we showed them the Rochester Public Market, which is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Rochester.  It has been around since 1837!  Isn’t that crazy?  It’s also the location of the elusive Duke’s Donuts stand (though you have to go early), which I promise are the BEST apple cider donuts you will ever, ever, ever eat–I say this confidently as someone who has consumed many apple cider donuts.

Anyway, while we were there Tharrie bought me a few bunches of rhubarb.  Sadly I didn’t get around to actually using them until later in the week when everyone had already gone home, but I’m sure Fritz and my next-door neighbor (hi Mike!) appreciated having a whole cake to themselves (well, after me, of course).

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake 1

 

I was really torn between trying a cake and just reproducing this rhubarb and red wine compote (majorly decadent on ice cream, and any excuse to open a bottle of wine, you know).  The two and a half sticks of butter in the cake is what pushed me over the top–just had to try it–and I’m sure dad will be proud of my dairy usage (American Dairy Association, holla!).  Plus, I can always just buy more rhubarb at the market tomorrow since it was $0.75 a bunch.

Small piece. Big taste.

Small piece. Big taste.

 

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake (recipe from Things I Made Today)

  • two small bunches rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 C butter (2 1/2 sticks), softened and divided
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 C cake flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • juice and zest from half a lemon (or a lime)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 C plain greek yogurt (original recipe called for sour cream, which I thought I had…)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a springform pan (mine was ten inches, and the recipe originally called for nine inches) with parchment paper and butter the sides.  Wrap the outside and bottom of the pan in foil to prevent the rhubarb topping from leaking out.

Chop the rhubarb and toss in a large bowl with 1/2 C of the white sugar and with the cornstarch.  Set aside.

Melt 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick) in a saucepan and add the brown sugar.  Stir until smooth (the sugar doesn’t need to dissolve), remove from heat, and set aside.

Combine the salt, flour, and baking powder in a bowl.   In a mixer, cream the remaining butter (two sticks, or one cup) with the remaining sugar (1 C) until fluffy.  Add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.  Add one egg at a time, scraping the sides as needed.  Finally, mix in the greek yogurt.  If the mixture looks curdled at this point, it’s okay.  It’ll all even out with the flour.

Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing as little as possible (you don’t want to form too much gluten with over mixing, or your cake will be tough.  Using cake flour also helps prevent this).

Pour the brown sugar/butter mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Add the rhubarb, then spread the cake batter on top.  Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Before baking.

Before baking.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minute before you remove from the springform pan and flip over.

I tried really hard to make this picture not look like a giant pile of ground beef...

I tried really hard to make this picture not look like a giant pile of ground beef…

This cake was really, really, really delicious and decadent.  You know immediately that there’s a ton of butter in there (in the best way).

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Fritz said it was the best cake base (the white cake part) that he’s ever had.  I know for sure that this is mostly because I actually took the effort to use cake flour, which makes for such a tender crumb in cake.

Well, that, and the butter.

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The rhubarb topping is really tangy and not overly sweet, and it contrasts perfectly with the rich and fluffy cake bottom.  You’ll definitely be eating small slices of this cake because it has everything you need in just a few bites.  I refrigerated the leftover cake immediately, and though it’s good cold-straight-out-of-the-fridge-on-a-fork, it’s even better warmed up again.

And around here?

I’ve mentioned my childhood next-door neighbor before (in this post, maybe more?).  She’s in her early 80′s now and has these really amazing stories of what it was like to grow up in Germany (she left Germany during wartime as a young woman and her experiences sound like they are straight out of a gripping World War II novel).  Anyway, last time I was home, she mentioned to me that she had heard of a German deli located in Rochester and wondered if I had ever heard of a it.  A little research led me to Swan Market, and today I stopped by and asked the woman at the counter to help me chose a selection of German cold meats and sausages.  I also grabbed a few for my dad to try (we have a history of participating in new culinary adventures together), and I’m so excited to bring them home this weekend.  Hopefully I chose well (though everything looked delicious and smelled even better, the case wasn’t labeled so I couldn’t even go by names that sounded familiar).

There's been a LOT of this going on lately.  Spring fever?

There’s been a LOT of this going on lately. Spring fever?

(Also, I didn’t take a picture of our CSA from last week since we had all the family over.  The box was still a little on the small side for the early season, and included a small head of boston lettuce, baby lettuce, kale, tatsoi, green onions, mustard flowers, and radishes.  Our third box is tomorrow!).

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Lemony Pasta Carbonara

Pasta carbonara is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods in the entire universe (along with chicken paprikash, beef stroganoff, and stuffed cabbage).  I made it for the first time a few years ago, inspired by the cookbook You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman.  Her book is full of lightened up recipes (all that I’ve tried have been very good, I definitely recommend it), but she also writes that sometimes you just need a pasta with bacon and eggs and cheese.  That’s basically my food philosophy–eat healthily 80% of the time, eat well 100% of the time (meaning enjoy everything, even the healthy stuff), and definitely splurge 20% because, hello, weekends and food trucks and pasta carbonara.

Summer ale for the win.

Summer ale for the win.

This recipe is a spring twist on an admittedly heavy winter meal that I found on Foodgawker.  Adding more greens and some lemon makes the pasta taste deceptively light.  I also swapped the more traditional linguine for penne (adding more “air” in every bite).

Pasta Carbonara 2

Lemony Pasta Carbonara (adapted from Chef Julie Yoonserves four)

  • 5 slices thick cut bacon (I always use the uncured ends and pieces from Trader Joes)
  • 1 large green garlic (used in place of leeks)
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 C frozen edamame
  • 1/2-3/4 pound whole-wheat pasta (penne or rigatoni for a “lighter” feel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan
  • zest and juice from half a lemon
  • 2 C bitter greens of choice (I used 1 C arugula, 1 C mustard greens)
  • salt and pepper to taste

I had leftover pasta to use up, so instead of cooking it fresh, I added a splash of water and microwaved until piping hot right before I added the egg sauce.  Otherwise, cook the pasta according to package directions and reserve 1/4 C of the cooking water.

Cook the bacon in a large pot–when cooking bacon for a recipe, I dice it raw, cook, then drain the oil. That way I don’t have to cool the bacon before cutting it into pieces.  Leave a small amount of bacon fat in the pot (about a teaspoon), and add the diced green garlic/leeks and cook until softened.  Add the red pepper flakes and frozen edamame to warm up, then turn off the heat.

Combine in a small bowl the eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  As soon as the pasta is ready, drain quickly (reserving the 1/4 C cooking water) and add to the garlic mixture along with the cooking water.  Make sure the heat is off, and stir in the egg and Parmesan mixture, stirring vigorously to make sure the eggs don’t scramble.

The sauce should thicken just from the heat of the pasta.  Add in the greens and allow them to wilt from the heat of the pasta.  (As I said above, I used leftover pasta which wasn’t as hot, so I actually had to keep the heat on very low to allow the sauce to thicken).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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This pasta was incredibly satisfying, and reminded me just slightly of hollandaise (always a plus in my book) because of the lemony egg sauce.

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I also depend on dishes like this (cooked, with bacon or sausage) to make the bitter greens we get in our CSA box more palatable to Fritz, who doesn’t tolerate bitter tastes very well (apparently there’s a gene that makes you experience a bitter taste more strongly? Mom, weigh in here).  Adding bacon, cheese, and lemon makes even mustard greens taste as mild as spinach.

Pasta Carbonara

I made this recipe as something quick just to use up leftovers and finish up CSA goods, and had no intention of taking pictures until I realized how good it was.  Luckily there was just enough light left that I could grab a couple pictures.

Pasta Carbonara 5

Fritz’s family was here this weekend, and my parents came up for dinner.  We had an absolute fabulous time, and I didn’t take a single picture.  Whoops.

We also bought some art from Rochester artist Tim Mack–a small piece for us and a bigger piece for Fritz’s sister, Eber.  Fritz and I saw this large canvas of a woman in Boulder coffee shop on Park Ave and immediately thought of Eber (and it was recently her birthday, too).  But the Martha Stewart inside of me won’t let me buy art for another person unless I’m sure they like it–so personal, I guess?  Anyway, Eber saw it and loved it just as we suspected.

 

This terrible low-light photo from my Instagram doesn't do his art justice.

This terrible low-light photo from my Instagram doesn’t do his art justice. 

Lastly, my baby sister, Jordi (who is turning TWENTY in two months?) allowed me to add some of her own art to our walls.

My little sister recently let me steal these art assignments from her portfolio to add some color to my hallway.

My little sister recently let me steal these art assignments from her portfolio to add some color to my hallway.

She told me she wants to change them for something she likes better, which is something I’ll allow her to try to convince me of.  But I really like these just as it is, and it’s really my opinion that counts here, right?

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Rosemary Pork Chops for Two

Grilling.

Pork Chop 3

One of the very best parts of summer is that on the rare occasion that Fritz walks back in the door by 6:30 or so, I can shove a tray of food at him and send him right up to the roof to grill it.

The view from our rooftop.

Rochester.

Don’t worry, I don’t make Fritz climb out on a treacherous roof just to make dinnertime easier for me.  We live in a historic (well, as I like to call it) old brick apartment building with a gorgeous rooftop patio perfect for grilling.

Human, I am not impressed.  I have an entire four story cat mansion with wall-to-wall-to-ceiling carpet.

Human, I am not impressed. I have an entire four-story cat mansion with wall-to-wall-to-ceiling carpet.

Anyway, being South African, grilling is just in Fritz’s blood.  However, over the last few years he has begun to perfect his technique, and I am willing to say he has mastered the pork chop.  After resting, pork can be slightly pink on the inside (145 degrees, as per the USDA) and safely cooked to a medium-rare.

We often grill up lots of food so that Fritz can bring leftovers to school for lunch the next day, but sometimes I just want an easy recipe for two.  You can double the recipe for more marinade if you want a larger quantity (and FYI, this marinade is really superb on lamb).

Rosemary Pork Chops for Two

  • 2 thick-cut boneless pork chops
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t dried rosemary (use a T if using fresh)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t salt
  • generous shake freshly ground black pepper
  • opt: 1/4 t South African spice (smoked paprika/peppers)

I saw a South African spice mix at Trader Joe’s that I had to try–it has a nice smoky flavor that adds a good depth to the marinade.

Also a nice sexy name for Fritz.

Also a nice sexy name for Fritz.

I love to find little things that remind Fritz of home.  Trader Joe’s also carries a really cheap package of stroopwafels, one of Fritz’s favorite snacks that originated in Holland (in TJs, though, they call them caramel wafers and keep them by the coffee/biscotti).

This little elephant holds my rings when I'm cooking anything that requires bare hands.

This little elephant holds my rings when I’m cooking anything that requires bare hands.

Combine the ingredients for the marinade together, and place with the pork chops in a covered glass dish or a plastic bag.  I like to use baggies so that I can easily flip the chops over without having to get my hands dirty.  I try to marinate things the night before if I have my act together (usually I don’t, and the morning has to suffice).

Marinating Pork Chops

To cook, preheat the grill until it is hot (Fritz says medium-high covered, high if uncovered) to sear it on both sides, then turn it down to medium and cook for four-to-five minutes.  Take it off the grill, cover with foil, and rest for ten minutes (the pork will continue to cook as it rests).

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If you want to use the marinade as a sauce, just cook it down in a small saucepan on the stovetop until reduced (and not filled with T. Spiralis).

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I’m sorry I mentioned Trichinosis. Don’t google it.

The balsamic and red wine vinegar add a hint of sweetness that is so delicious when caramelized on the grill.

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Add a little summer corn, and a bacon brussel sprout salad (I like my pork with a side of pork, apparently), and you are ready for summer.

Fritz’s parents, his sister, and her boyfriend are all coming to visit this weekend (and they all live relatively far away), so you probably won’t hear much from me this weekend.  I do have some really delicious recipes to share, though–having the CSA going again forces me to cook more creatively.  Happy Friday!

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