Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Cookathon

I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently. A lot. I've been enjoying coming home everyday and making something delicious from fresh organic produce and grassfed meats, but sometimes I just want to spend sometime relaxing on the couch or reading a book and that means cooking big batches of food well ahead of time. Enter the crockpot. 

I love my crockpot. Today I woke up and put together a fantastic beef stew found here. Basically it involved cutting up the following: 

1 rutabaga
1 sweet potato
5 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 onion
~2 lbs stewing beef

And throwing them in a crock pot with: 

2 cups homemade chicken bone broth
2 cups boiling water
1 can tomato paste
a bunch of oregano, thyme and pepper

Then...stew. Stew like you've never stewed before. I'll be honest, these ingredients barely fit in our fairly large crock pot. The above picture was taken about 4 hours into stewing, after the veggies had cooked down and released most of their fluid and it's still pretty full. We let this cook for about 8 hours and the end result produced this:


It is delicious. The beef was tender, the veggies soft but not mushy, and the broth - oh man, the broth is stunning. The mixture of homemade chicken bone broth with many hours of stewing beef produced a delicious dark brown broth that we made sure to put in a tupperware and save for later purposes. 


While this was stewing away I made some sweet potato hash. I tried this recipe out for the first time while Simon was in California and it tasted pretty damn good. I then made some for him when he came home and he loves it. I have a feeling this will be a staple in our fridge this winter.  In the three times I've made this I've altered the recipe in a number of ways. The final product now looks vaguely like the one in the recipe. 

First chop up a bunch of onion and get them caramelizing. I've tried caramelizing onions before and I always burn them instead of caramelize them. Both burnt and caramelized onions are black, but one turns out sweet while the other tastes bitter - the goal is sweet. For some reason this recipe's description of caramelizing onions really clicked with me. Throw some butter in a medium heat pan, wait for it to start to bubble/foam, and then throw in the onions. Turn the heat down REALLY low and just let them do their thing stirring occasionally.

After 5 or so minutes the onions will begin to sweat and start to brown:

It's tempting to stop the sauteeing as soon as they start to brown, but the onions will only get more and more sweet the darker you let them become. I let mine get about twice as dark as you see above, and then let the rest of the caramelization happen in the oven, which, by the way, should be preheated to 450 degrees. 

While the onions are cooking, chop up some sweet potatoes and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (ah, parchment paper, you make cleaning up SO easy). Add the onions on top and place it all in the oven for 35ish minutes.

Halfway through cooking I take the sheet out and throw in some chopped bacon. 

As you can see, the sweet potatoes get soft, the bacon crisps up, and the onions get super black and super delicious.

 To end this really long post I need to say that I used the oven SO much this weekend that our carbon monoxide alarm went off and we had to evacuate our housemates and call 911. Some very nice firefighters came the wrong way down our narrow street in a giant firetruck and told us everything was fine but that we should always open a window if we're going to cook a lot.

good to know.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SINGER 7256 Fashion Mate

I bought a new sewing machine!

Actually, I didn't buy it. My parents gave it to me as an early birthday present. Thanks parents!

It's pretty sweet. Not only does it have a whole lot of computerized stitches, but it also as an automatic needle threader, a bunch of extra bobbins, needles, feet, buttonhole accessories, etc. And it fits great on my new sewing table in my new office. Yay new things!

I've turned it on, threaded it, used the bobbin winder, and generally fussed around with it. However, it has yet to see true needle to fabric action. I planned on using it this past weekend for just that but I got a head cold and my entire life got relegated to the couch, or the bed, or anywhere else I could close my eyes. I did manage to get to JP Knit and Stitch which was having a big fabric sale. I found this beautiful yellow and white fabric.

I'm not sure what I'll use it for, but I'm sure it will be something fabulous. Unfortunately, I bought this along with a yellow rotary cutter in a yellow box while wearing my neon yellow hoodie - everyone in the store had a big laugh at that. Normally I would have laughed along with them but it took everything I need not to sneeze on every single piece of cloth in that store.

I also made a quick trip to Winmil Fabrics in downtown Boston to buy some cheap organza for a test run of a secret wedding craft.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

I've missed the entire month of August. A lot happened in the last few weeks - we moved to the new place, I started a new diet, continued to work out, had a busy few weeks at work, and watched a lovely big yellow pup over labor day weekend.

Before I get into the cooking post, I really need to post a picture of Kobi, our friend's yellow lab puppy who hung out with us over labor day:

He's a big goofball and I love him very much.

Back to the post: as I stated above, I've started following a new diet in hopes that it will help with my migraines. It's the "Paleo Diet". I'm not going to get into the details of it because, well, that's what the internet is for. So far it's been delicious, healthy, and I've been migraine free. In addition to starting paleo we also joined Boston Organics and are having local organic vegetables and fruits delivered to our house. What's awesome about this service is that we never know what we're going to get which forces us to make new, interesting dishes. This week we received a whole lot of sage, an ingredient I've never really cooked with before. In an effort to use up our sage, I found a recipe for Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage. We've made a number of paleo meals in the past three weeks, but this meal...this meal was special. It was so. tasty. Simon can't stop talking about it and telling friends about it. Also, it was really simple and quick to make. Here we go -

 Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

Unfortunately I didn't ask Simon to start taking pictures until after I sauteed the apples, garlic (I used garlic instead of shallots), and sage in coconut oil. You'll just have to imagine how beautiful it looked.

Once that is all sauteed, moved the apples, sage, and onion into a bowl and rub some cinnamon and salt onto the pork chops.

Using the same pan and coconut oil, give the chops a good sear on both sides.

Turn the temp down to low, pour in some white wine (I always choose a Riesling because it's not too sweet and not too dry), throw the apple mixture on top, cover and let simmer for about 7 minutes. Ours were perfectly cooked.

We ate these along with a salad of kale, cherry tomatoes, avocados, dressed with avocado oil and lime juice. SO. GOOD. In addition to how delicious it was, it's important to note that I made pork chops. PORK CHOPS. Only a few years ago I was full blown vegetarian. Even once I started eating meat I didn't really eat MEAT meat. This was one big, juicy, hunk of pig and I really enjoyed it. Who'd of thunk it?