Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homegrown Tomatoes

Well let's start with my computer. If you read my previous post you know that I spilled water on it. I pretty much always have a 16 oz glass of water that I sip at. I guess I should have known better. So I ended up knocking the glass over. Right onto the keyboard. Not next to the computer, right onto the computer. Needless to say I freaked out. This is my Macbook. I bought it a year and a half ago and it's my baby. I accepted that some crumbs and stuff got on it. And when I would use it while cooking, I accepted that it got some stuff stuck on it. But this was upsetting. I took out the battery and unplugged it and tried to get all the water out as fast as I could. I tried to take the case apart to help it air out. I stripped 2 screwdrivers trying to do it. Those screws are tight. And those screwdrivers are junk. I ended up not getting it apart. So I let it sit for 5 days before I tried to turn it on. I did it with my eyes closed and a prayer.

And woohoo my computer worked. It looks like all the keys and the mouse work. The button for the mouse sticks a little but other than that everything seems to work. So now I am back to being able to post here.

That doesn't make me any less lazy about taking and posting pics. It's way too hot here in the summer for baking. I can only turn my oven on for a an hour or so and then the a/c ends up blasting trying to cool the place back down. And it seems like such a waste to have electricity heating up the place and cooling it down at once.

My tomato plant is doing well. I get a couple tomatoes pretty much every day. If I get them before the birds. I still haven't figured out what kind of tomato they are but they are good. The early ones were a little off on their texture but now they are very good.

No real recipe here. Slice tomatoes relatively thin. Slice the mozzarella, also thin or into small chunks. Chiffonade the basil. Spread them out or layer them together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and then olive oil. Make sure to do the oil and vinegar in that order so that the vinegar soaks in. It's better at room temp so let it sit for a bit.

Not to mention it's relatively healthy so you can eat lots of it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Bakewell Pudding

I guess I'm back from my disinterest last month. When I first read the recipe I had no idea how it would come out, texturewise. It's referred to as a pudding but it doesn't seem very pudding like. But then again there were a lot of wet ingredients in the filling so maybe it would be.

The crust recipe makes a lot of crust. I used a 10" tart pan and didn't even have to roll the dough out really thin or anything.

If you've read my blog much you'll notice I'm pretty bad at following recipes. This was especially the case with the crust. I completely wasn't thinking when I put it together. I combined the dry ingredients and then just started dumping the egg yolks and extract on top. At which point I decided to read the recipe and realized I did it wrong. Well I wasn't going to toss what I had so I just stirred it together really well and broke up the clumps formed and hoped for the best. This crust is pretty forgiving. While I could tell it was a little off, it was still decent and edible.

I used some leftover raspberry jam and orange marmalade for the jam.

I tend not to measure things like vanilla and assorted extracts. I just kinda pour and estimate. You can't be off by much with that small amount. I suspect I went a bit heavy with the almond extract since my whole house smelled like it for a couple days afterwards but it tasted good. I was afraid the ground almonds would leave it grainy textured, like some cakes I have made in the past, but they worked out well. It gave it a bit of textural interest rather than just having something like a cake filling.

Reviews were mixed. One of my coworkers actually said it was one of her favorite things that I have made. I thought it was pretty good too. Maybe not the best thing ever but pretty good. Something I could definitely make again. But then there was still some left at the end of the day. Possibly because I put it out with a not-quite-right-tasting-but-much-more-normal-looking cake that I had tried making but oh well.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Gazpacho

This post is gonna be short. I spilled a big cup of water on my laptop. Now it is sitting there drying out. I don't know how long it needs to dry but it was an expensive computer (a macbook pro) so I'd rather wait longer if that means that it has a better chance of being OK. I'm not sure how long I'm going to wait. I guess until I go nuts not having my comp at home. Anyone have any thoughts on how long I should wait?

Fortunately I already had my Daring Baker's post done and scheduled before the water accident. Not the case with this post.

The pro's: This recipe is very light and fresh tasting. I thought it was quite garlicky.

The con's: It makes a lot of gazpacho. I mean a LOT. I can only eat about a cup a day and it made probably half a gallon.

The original recipe is here. It was chosen by Meryl of My Bit of Earth.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Cake

So I had all those strawberries in the fridge. They were really good strawberries so I ate a lot of them straight. I mean a LOT. But I still had probably a couple quarts left. I guess I really didn't realize how many strawberries a gallon of them was when I bought them.

So I needed to figure out what to do with them. Think Forrest Gump, find and replace shrimp with strawberries. "You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich."

This was one of the things I decided to make with some of them. I had hoped this recipe would use up more than it did. A cup of chopped strawberries is no where near as much as I had hoped. I still had several quarts worth left at the end of it.

This recipe is good and easy. Try it. Well if you live in the Northeast US or where ever else strawberries are in season right now try it now. Anywhere else, wait until they are in season. It really highlights the flavor of the strawberries so make sure to get local ones.

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Based on this recipe from Amanda of Is This Thing On? Everyone say thanks Amanda.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 pack strawberry gelatin
3/4 cup peanut oil (I ran out of vegetable oil so it was this or olive oil, I think I made the right choice)
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup strawberries, very finely chopped (I didn't actually measure, just kept chopping until it looked about right

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Stir together everything until relatively smooth. Pour into baking pan and bake per box instructions.

4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 pack cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup strawberries, mashed
powdered sugar, to taste

Beat together until uniform and nice and fluffy. Spread over completely cooled cake.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Curried Couscous

It's impressive how badly I can screw up a recipe and yet still eat it.

The first thing I screwed up was to use Pine Nut flavored couscous rather than plain. The second thing I screwed up was adding the flavor packet in addition to everything in this recipe.

I cut back the salt thinking I was being smart. Turns out I didn't cut it back enough. Between the salt and the flavor packet it was ridiculous.

My curry powder is pretty old so I figured a little extra would help keep the flavor going. Turns out I was wrong. It was plenty potent. I only put maybe 1-1/4 tsp and man was it hot.

I ended up adding probably close to a half a cup of yogurt and a ton of raisins just to tone it down enough to eat. Then I had it over a bed of spinach. A large bed of spinach. So that I could choke it down and not call it a complete failure and have to find something else for dinner.

My card reader is not working and this recipe came out horribly so there are no pics.

Here is the original recipe. It was chosen by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Taster. Sorry I bombed your recipe choice! I'm sure some of the other Barefoot Bloggers did better than I did.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I like my lemonade tart. I had lunch with some people from work and we got drinks with lunch. By drinks I mean iced tea and lemonade. Not anything more potent, we were in a training class.

I always have the sweet tea but I decided to mix it up a bit and try the lemonade. Sweet tea is one of the few southern things that has grown on me quite quickly. That and calling it a snow day if there are flurries.

Anyway, I had a sip of the lemonade when I decided to go back to sweet tea. It didn't have much of a kick to it at all. When I said that my coworkers they said they thought it was good. So I needed to bring some real lemonade in. This is how I like it. You can add more water if it's too strong for you.

It's got a kick like this. It's not the lemonade you gulp down by the gallon after you've been out in the sun. It's something you sip at and savor while sitting around relaxing and reading a book.


1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup boiling water
lots of ice

Stir together the sugar and water to dissolve. Cool down to room temperature and add the lemon juice. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve over a glass full of ice.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Soy Blackberry Wings

So there is a blackberry festival in the town where I work in July. With the festival, there is a recipe contest. And of course I feel the need to enter it. Not that I had any recipe ideas. And not that I measure things or am capable of following a recipe. But I wanted to enter anyway.

I decided to go savory. There are lots of sweet options but they all seemed kinda boring. Well I had made that blackberry orange cheesecake a while ago that was actually really good but I wanted something else. K suggested some sort of lamb but I figure lamb is kinda scary for this part of the country. I decided on chicken wings. Everyone loves chicken wings.

This would work well with chicken thighs or legs too. Obviously adjust cooking time accordingly. The sauce is really sticky and messy, the way wings are supposed to be, a little sweet and salty and tangy and just a little spicy and quite good. Especially for something I made up starting with 'OK I have chicken wings and blackberries, now what' Measurements may not be terribly accurate. Adjust to taste.

Soy Blackberry Chicken Wings

1 container blackberries
2 tbsp soy sauce or more, to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or more, to taste
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce or more, to taste
2 tbsp seedless blackberry jam or more, to taste
about 2 dozen chicken wing segments
3 small sprigs parsley, chopped

Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

Meanwhile, smash the blackberries in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until it bubbles. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, jam and chili sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes to concentrate. Add any additional flavorings to adjust flavor to taste preferences. Keep over very low heat. 5 minutes before the wings are done, transfer the sauce to a large bowl.

When the wings are done, transfer to the bowl with the sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with parsley.