Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers With Garlic and Cilantro Drizzle

I found this recipe in my Fitness Magazine and got so excited I almost fell off the elliptical.
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 24 pieces)
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and ribs removed, cut into 1-inch squares (about 24 pcs)
  • 6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbs minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Grill (medium-hot fire)
  • 8 skewers - if wood, soak in water for 15 minutes, then drain
  • small bowl
  • Baking sheet
  1. Thread shrimp, pepper, and pineapple onto skewers. Lay on baking sheet.
  2. Brush with olive oil (I'm going to try using spray).
  3. Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt, sugar, and pepper, set aside.
  4. Grill kebabs (the recipe suggests creating a foil strip and putting the skewers with the exposed end over the foil strip, to prevent them from lighting on fire), approx. 3 min on each side

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dream Kitchen

By the way, I'm sometimes struck by bouts of insomnia. Tonight, obviously, is one of those nights.
Anytime we move, I decide we need new stuff. I think its pretty natural. New place = shiny new things. I am a law student living on a fixed income, and the boyfriend is a poor roller coaster engineer, therefore we don't spend a lot of money on well, anything. We spent today painting our Gorm shelves from Ikea so they looked less like knotty pine and more like something people would use inside their apartment instead of in the garage.
Sometimes we spring for things we really want or need, and spend the money on them. So far, there is nothing that I've spent real money (more than $15) on for my kitchen that I regret.
My miniature food processor? Definitely a good purchase.
Our wok? Could not have made nearly as many delicious stir-frys without it.
Crockpot? Combined total of $22 for the mini and the huge, definitely worth it.

That may very well be the list of things in the kitchen that cost more than $15 that we spent money on. Some things were gifts - some we use, some we don't.
My favorites include the two we got last Christmas. A "Vidalia Chop Wizard" from my boyfriend's parents, and a crepe pan from his aunt. (If you never thought a crepe pan was necessary, by the way, you are wrong. Buy a pan, and a thing of crepe mix, and I promise, you won't regret it.) My mom also gave me a flexible silicone-coated spatula that I love.

I am extremely lucky to already own a set of anodized aluminum pots. They were a housewarming gift from my Dad when I went off to college. He also gave me a stand mixer for Christmas three years ago, but two years ago, I gave it back to him for Christmas. I had extremely limited kitchen space, and my roommate already had a hand mixer. I then bought a hand mixer as well, to keep at the boyfriend's until we moved in together.

But if I was outfitting my apartment kitchen, with my dream supplies, what would I buy, right now? Our kitchen is big, with a lot of counter and cabinet space, and a single basin sink.
I would love to get a giant magnetic strip that we mount behind the stove, for the purpose of sticking magnetic spice jars to - something like this -but not freestanding. Our current spiceracks take up too much space. However, eventually I will have a house with my own spice emporium or something, and therefore something like this doesn't make sense for the long term.

I would also very much like a cookbook holder. Especially one with a sheild. The only reason we don't own one of these is that there aren't any that will hold the Joy of Cooking. And if you know me at all, you know that is The One Ring of cookbooks, and a cookbook holder that does not fit that makes no sense.
I also really want one of these - I just think they must be extremely handy, and save valuable counter space. We got my sister one as a wedding gift. She says its useful. I think it might not be as handy once we no longer have a single basin sink. We may eventually have either a double basin or dual sinks - one on the island and one by the dishwasher. The island rinse sinks are much smaller, which would make this impractical.
Additionally, I would like to buy a tortilla warmer. (This is actually on the list of things I can afford, and also I think I saw one at goodwill.) I do wonder - am I supposed to microwave the tortillas in it? Or just put the warm tortillas I just finished making in it? (FYI - making your own tortillas? Not worth it.) I never thought of it as a pancake warmer before - now that it is no longer a total unitasker, I think I could justify the $8. (Probably $2 down at the Lot Store in College Park.)

I'm making do with the hand mixer I have for now, because it works perfectly well. It has some flaws, and I definitely should not have bought the cheapest hand mixer available at Target. Unlike the much nicer, and only $5 more model, the Oster $12 mixer does not come with its own storage case, and it only came with two sets of beaters. Eventually I would like to get a nice stand mixer, preferably the Hamilton Beach Eclectrics Stand Mixer, because I hate KitchenAid and their overpriced behemoth mixers. (Oh, but they look so good. Oh, but they are the best. No, no they are not. You are stupid. And ugly. And clearly, you never had a SunBeam Mixmaster. Which they don't make like they used to. And Hamilton Beach will probably stop making these by the time I get married, and I will have to register for a stupid KitchenAid. Whatever. I'm taking the label off and covering it in flames, ala Alton Brown.) This makes the next sentence hysterical. As a hand mixer, because I firmly believe that you can own, and use, both, I like the KitchenAid 9 Speed. Mostly, I want the slow start, and a lot of speeds. As is KitchenAid's trademark, the product is probably about 20% better than the competitor's and yet 3x as much.
I do believe the hand mixer by KitchenAid is a better product than their stand mixer. Here is why I hate the stand mixer - the single beater. You can't scrape around it. It's huge. It takes up the whole bowl. You have to beat everything, and then scrape at the end. Plus, the bowls do not stack as nicely as the SunBeam Mixmaster Bowls, and they are not nearly as universal. How am I supposed to stack the bowls with the handles?? WTF! Plus, the base is so narrow!
The Hamilton Beach does not actually solve any of these problems. But you pay a lower price to have to deal with them, and with the $130+ (depending on whether I felt the need to buy the "display but never use" artisan series with a 325 watt motor or the "Pro 5 series" with a 450 watt motor; the HB has a 400 watt motor) I would save, there would be enough money to buy some extra mixing bowls, some super-narrow spatulas, and also, pretty much everything else that is up on my list of dream kitchen materials.
Also, KitchenAids are heavy. Because they are meant to be out all the time on the counter as a display of your affluence, culinary expertise, and ability to color-coordinate your lime green mixer with your matching curtains.

This has gone in a rant-heavy direction, clearly fueled by not enough sleep. I will finish this post later.


I haven't made stir-fry in awhile. I don't know why, but I haven't really been in the mood. However, with school starting next week, we will probably be stir-frying more for several reasons:
1. It's fast.
2. It can be done entirely from pantry and freezer items.
3. A monkey can do it, even while reading her Bus. Orgs. Textbook.

To stir fry, I usually use three ingredients:
-Costco stir fry vegetables (also available at the grocery store, but I like having a 10lb bag of veggies in the freezer).
-Tofu or shrimp (depending on what is on hand. I also buy the shrimp at costco. Costco does not yet sell giant bags of frozen, sliced tofu, but when they do, I will do a dance.)
-Stir fry sauce/marinade. I've already written an ode to the yellow curry sauce at Trader Joe's, but I'm also a fan of any kind of sweet and sour sauce, or soy sauce mixture. Mark will just use straight up soy sauce, but I find it extremely salty. I like to peruse the stir-fry aisle at my local hippie mart or mega mart to find new mixtures.

I use the following equipment:
-a Wok
-a cutting board, if I'm using tofu; a colander if I'm using shrimp.

We finally broke down and bought a wok last fall. We got the smallest, cheapest wok we could find that fit my strict requirements:
1. Either not too heavy or had an additional handle. (That is one long handle and one small handle perpendicular on the opposite side of the wok.)
2. Nonstick coating.
3. Made of thick enough metal that the first time I left the stove on too long, it wouldn't burn.
My dream wok was something like this.
We wound up getting something more like this. (I think ours was $20 at an outlet.)
At least it came with a lot of extra bamboo pieces for steaming or something. I don't use them - anyone know how to use any of them? Because I can't put my frozen vegetables on that bamboo rack. I sometimes use the spoon. And the chopsticks, but only to see if my cakes are done in the center.

I do recommend a wok. You can get a cheap one that will still be better for stir frying than the average frying pan. This is mostly because frying pans do not fit enough food, and you can't push all the vegetables up on the side while you cook the shrimp or tofu at the end of the meal.

I don't actually know how to use a wok. I'm sure there are real methods of using them, but I stick with my hamburger helper approach. (1 Pound of Hamburger + 1 Pan = 1 Happy Family)


It wasn't until this weekend I was told that people were commenting on this blog. It is very exciting to me because I really thought that only Mark and Andy read this. Cool.
I've now enabled email notification, so now I will know when people comment and actually respond.
But for now - responses to some earlier comments.
Catherine - here is a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread Starter. If you make any, I'll take a cup of starter off your hands at some point.
Taylor - try grilled pineapple kebabs with shrimp (I'll be posting a recipe for Cilantro Glazed Pineapple Shrimp sometime soon, I was hoping Fitness Magazine would have it online already, but alas, no) or you can freeze the remaining pineapple and then use it to make pina coladas. Or you can do what I would do, and eat the entire thing.
Scrappy Mom - I cooked the potatoes au gratin in the crock-pot for about 6-8 hours on low, but they were a bit burned - my crock pot cooks very hot though, but my guess is 6 hours would still have been enough.


I sometimes wonder if I, like all the other ironic bakers out there -and by that, I mean women who take to the kitchen and bake cupcakes fully aware that they are possibly reinforcing decades-old ideals about women in the kitchen baking cupcakes - should be wearing a kitschy retro apron.
It makes the ironic baking experience even more ironic.
Pretty much only real chefs and ironic bakers wear aprons at all. I guess some guys who barbeque have their "Kiss the Chef" aprons. My boyfriend wanted to get his sister an apron last Christmas. I told him to not be fooled by the fact that I wear an apron, as I am not indicative of the rest of the cooks and wanna-be cooks out there. I wear an apron because I'm messy. And because I'm usually too lazy to get out a dishtowel to wipe my hands, and I only have one pair of jeans.
Nonetheless, I don't have $32 to spend on a cute apron that nips in at the waist and will make me look skiny. Mine is a barbeque apron built for men, but on sale for $7 because it was bright blue with a girlie fish on the pocket. The only downside is that it doesn't have an adjustable neckstrap like my old apron. (Which I think is buried under laundry at my parents house.)
I do think sometimes about getting a new apron. But would I go with the polka dots? Or perhaps a "beyond a reasonable trout" apron for the lawyer in me? Both are ironic, but in different ways. (BRT is ironic because lawyers do not have time to cook.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Honey Rum Beans

So I tried to make my own honey-rum beans tonight.
Into the slow cooker went:
1 can Kidney Beans
Capt'n Morgan's Rum
Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cornstarch

I sorta guessed at the amount. The beans, a couple splashes of rum, some squeezes of honey, a few shakes of cinnamon, tablespoon or so of brown sugar, and then the cornstarch all go into the slow cooker.

Haven't eaten the whole batch, but I sampled and then had to be pulled away from the slowcooker.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cooking with Rum

Having just gotten back from a week in the Carribbean, I'm eager to try some new recipes that will hopefully mimic stuff I got to eat while I was there. Caribbean cooking is great because they use rum in everything. My three favorites were rum cornbread, honey rum beans, and rum cake. I'll be working on the cornbread first.
I found this recipe via Recipe Zaar for Rum Laced Caribbean Cornbread. I'll be trying it while I'm still out of school and reporting back.
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons rum or 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flaked coconut
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 Inch Square Pan, greased
Oven at 400 degrees
  1. Combine butter, milk, eggs, and rum in a bowl. Whisk until combined.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, stir until moist.
  3. Spread in pan.
  4. Bake 40-45 minutes.