Tuesday, November 25, 2008

T-2 Days: Recipes

Here is the tutorial I used to make vegetable stock. Combined with some onions, garlic, and celery and stuffing mix, it'll make great stuffing.
What else is on the table on Thursday?
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary
2.5-5lbs redskin potatoes
4 cloves garlic, sliced
.75 c. vegetable broth
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
Slow cooker

Place in the slow cooker. Add garlic, broth and rosemary. Stir. Cook and cook on high until potatoes are tender, about 3-4 hours. Pour in milk and sour cream, mash. Serve right away or adjust the setting to low to keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Green beans with Almonds
Eggplant with goat cheese (recipe to come, depending on deliciousness.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

T-3 Days: Don't be that guest.

I know I harp on this every year. But seriously people! Don't show up empty handed to Thanksgiving! Don't show up at 5 when dinner starts and leave at 7 before cleanup. If you are the hostess, do not be shy about drafting your guests into cleanup duty! If they are close enough to you that you invited them over for Thanksgiving dinner, they are close enough that you can ask them to do the dishes. If nothing else, when you play the thankful game, toss out a, "I'm thankful that you guys are going to do the dishes."
My Uncle John always shows up with a pie, and his wife always helps clean up. One son brings something and the other carves the turkey. They are on the list of "good guests". The list of bad guests? One set of family members that shows up at the start of dinner and then leaves before it is over, avoiding bringing anything or set-up/clean-up. On the list? The husbands who let their wives do all the work and then watch football. The wives that let their husbands do all the work and then watch football.
There is a concern about "too many cooks" if you are sharing a kitchen with houseguests. Do what we do - cook in shifts. Plan a schedule. The night before Thanskgiving, I can tell you when the turkey goes in and my dad gets the kitchen, when I get the table for prep, and when I get the stove, and how many burners each of us get and for how long. I know which dishes go on the bottom rack of the oven below the turkey. I know what I have to cook in the crockpot or the toaster oven.
There is an issue when people bounce from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving - it can be tough to keep dishes hot between one house and another. The most ambitious of us do it in shifts - prep two dishes. Bring one to Thanksgiving #1 and put the other in the oven when you get there - usually, the chef isn't using the oven once dinner is on the table. The better option is to bring a cold dish - desserts are best for this. This is my first Year of Two Thanksgivings. I'll be bringing pies to my grandmothers, which I plan to bake tomorrow night. (And then not eat. We'll see.) I'll also prep stuffing for my parents to bake and take over with the turkey. If you really can't bring anything, and really are so pressed for time, make sure you thank the hostess doubly and try to make up for it, either at Christmas dinner, by hosting next year, or just having them over for dinner sometime.
There are a million ways to help out at the holidays. If your mother/Aunt Sue/Uncle Charley/Grandpa is so controlling that they will not let you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with a side dish or dessert in hand, call them and offer to come a half an hour early to help out. Maybe you can take their kids for a walk or out to play in the yard so they aren't in the way. If you don't cook, offer to bring wine or sparkling cider. Sometimes, its really just the thought that counts. Calling and offering something can be a really nice thing to do. Or just let them know that they can call you and ask you to get ice/drinks/crudites/whipped cream from the grocery store if they forgot it. (A great option if you are traveling and can't cook.) If nothing else, make sure you stay later and clean up. Or when she/he gets up to clear the table after dinner, say, "Oh no, Aunt/Uncle/Grandma/pa/Mom/Dad - you did so much cooking for this fantastic meal that you do not have to clean up. Cousin/wife/husband/parent and I will take care of that." This way, you not only get to help out, you draft your lazy-good-for-nothing family into it as well. Just don't break the fancy china.
Nobody like a guest who shows up with one arm longer than the other. Don't be that guest.

I have a beef with canned food.

The following is a list of things that should come in cans:
Soup (including broth)
Fruit (including pie filling)
Spaghetti Os
Coconut, condensed, and evaporated milk

Canned food should be generally used for:
Quick and easy dinners
Dinner when you/somebody else is sick
Nuclear winters
Taco night
Countries/cities in which there is not a regular supply of fresh produce.
People who don't have running water.

Does Thanskgiving fit anywhere on that list? NO!

I understand that some people do not have the benefits of potluck Thanksgiving, in which four people spend Thursday slaving away in front of a hot stove, instead of just one person doing the work. But that is NO reason to make Thanksgiving dinner out of your bomb shelter! What is next, canned turkey? (I'm sure it exists.)

I guess there are some merits to a canned thanksgiving. It tastes the same, year after year, and man do you meet that RDA of sodium. Some things are not in season, I will grant you that. Some things are really hard to prepare from total scratch. But then consider why you are making that dish instead of something delicious and fresh. If you have young, screaming children - don't host Thanksgiving. Or at least have a potluck. Say you'll make a turkey, and everybody has to bring something. Worst case scenario? You end up eating turkey. Plus, all your lazy good-for-nothing relatives and friends learn how to bring food to an event, instead of just showing up to get fed. Lazy good-for-nothings, btw, are anyone over the age of 12. Yes. I get judgmental if you don't bring stuff to Thanksgiving, or don't let people bring stuff. The spirit of the holiday is to give thanks and celebrate togetherness, not to be a control freak. (I'm totally not being a control freak, no matter what Mark says. He has been put in charge of plenty of stuff.) Plus, young kids are great as little helpers - they can be put to work peeling potatoes, measuring stuff, stirring things, washing dishes, polishing silverware.

I don't think I've had canned yams. Ever. Yams should not come in a can. Mostly I wonder - what is so hard about yams? Peel the sweet potatoes, chop them, boil them, mash em up, cover them in marshmallows. You can do it in a slow cooker. You can prep them the night before. While I'm at it - potatoes should not come in a box unless they are being made into potato bread. Mashed potatoes can be made in just thirty minutes while the turkey sits. Put early arrivals to work. Buy redskins or thin-skin potatoes, wash, chop into quarters, boil for 15 minutes, then mash. Add salt, pepper and garlic.

Somethings can be made as a mixture of canned and fresh dishes.

I don't touch green bean casserole. I think it is probably the most disgusting idea anybody has ever come up with. I generally think this because it is based on canned green beans. Canned vegetables in general - wonder why they aren't on my list? THEY AREN'T FOOD!!! They are overcooked, oversalted, shadowy ghosts of what food USED TO BE. I wonder if maybe green bean casserole was made with fresh green beans (because, see list, canned soup is acceptable), would I be less nauseated by it? What if it was fresh green beans with a light Parmesan cream sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs on top?

Cranberry sauce? Okay. I will say that handmade cranberry sauce is delicious, but also a huge pain. Since cranberries are fruit, they do technically fall under the exception. But try, just try, mixing your canned cranberries with some mandarin oranges in the food processor. I can pretty much guarantee you that people who have never before liked cranberries will love them.

Stuffing? Use the breadcube mixtrue you can buy. Even buy the stovetop if you want. But add some stuff. Add, at the very least, fresh garlic, onions, and celery. This year, I'm thinking about adding fresh peppers.

You have three days until Thanksgiving. I challenge you to go out and replace one of your regular canned staples with something uncanned or unboxed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keys to a sane thanksgiving.

Alright, there isn't actually such a thing. But I have one thing that really helps. It sounds "a bit rich" coming from somebody as messy as me, but keeping the kitchen as clean as possible, and not letting dishes pile up, is key.
This was the kitchen as I made vegetable stock on Sunday.
My cookbook.
Stock simmering
What I did while the stock simmered
I felt much better.
Vegetable stock recipe to come!

T-4 Days

This morning I hit up the farmer's market for all my Thanksgiving supplies. The list was long but I was able to get pretty much everything on it, even eggplant. I got home and chopped celery, onions, and garlic for stuffing, and stored that. It should keep for a couple days. If it doesn't, I have plenty more because man, you get a lot of celery. I got green beans and already trimmed those to store (apparently you are not supposed to trim them until right before you use them because they will lose nutrients.
I got potatoes, both sweet and redskin, and fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme for dishes and turkey stuffing. (I don't make stuffing in the turkey, but I do put sage and an onion and an apple in the cavity for flavor.) Plus the spices get used to make the stock.
I got a stalk of brussels sprouts, but now I have NO idea what to do with them. Mark's dad likes them, and I think I'll either steam them or saute them with bacon, but I'm not quite sure how to store them. I'll check the Joy of Cooking.
I will be going to the grocery store to get my turkey today. Since it is Sunday, and it needs to thaw for a couple days, it will go straight in the fridge. I think Safeway said they had turkeys for $0.39 per pound. Giant is $0.49. I've been seeing them for $0.99 a pound elsewheres. Three years ago when I did one, it was $0.29 per pound and that was standard. Oh well. I hear the economy is bad.
I also have broccoli, which I think I will steam up.
How are you getting ready for Thursday?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hot Cocoa

I don't usually post recipes for drinks, but this was so delicious I couldn't resist at least posting the link.
Stir it once or twice through the cooking process, if possible. We noticed it got pretty clumpy around the edges, so use a spatula to scrape the edges.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Mr. Barefoot's friend's have a tradition of making a Turducken. Last year they did a TurGooDucken, but the chef has complained that the cost is too high and the labor too difficult, therefore this year will mark the return of the plain old turducken.
The first year I made baked ziti - pasta stuffed with three types of cheese sounded good. Last year I made peppers stuffed with peppers stuffed with peppers. (Red pepper, green pepper, jalapeno. Stuffed with a rice-pepper mixture.)
This year I could branch out - I could do peppers stuffed with stuffed mushrooms, but I need a third layer. I could do peppers stuffed with peppers stuffed with peppers again, but this year mix up what I use as filler stuffing. I'm thinking a mix of rice, quinoa, and cous-cous. There was some discussion of deep frying the peppers to add an extra layer. I am pretty sure this would end in disaster, my friend thought it was a great idea.
I would love to find a good way to mix sweet and savory in this mix somehow, but I don't think that is possible. I also want to mix flavors and textures. I also don't want to spend $30 on peppers again...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A little something for my readers...

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things - my good health, an incredibly supportive academic and social community at school and at home, my family, that Costco still sells vegetarian burritos in ten packs for $8. I am thankful for the last election - not only for the outcome, but for the democratic process, which while horrible in many ways, I do believe in.
I am also thankful to now have a blog readership of more than 2. Recent comments leave me to believe that I am up to 6+ readers! So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am offering up the blog space to share, and asking you to share your favorite recipes with me.
They can be thanksgiving related or anything else. Vegetarian or meat-stuffed-with-meat. A recipe you know is bound to be popular at thanksgiving, so that when a lot of people ask you for it, you can just direct them here. (Obviously I don't have ads or anything here - this isn't about boosting my readership, its about sharing food, virtually or otherwise.) A cookie recipe you want to be able to access anywhere in the world. A recipe for Brussels sprouts that you think other people should consider.
You can email me or comment and I'll post any and all (serious) guest blog posts of recipes. This isn't a contest. There are no prizes. (Perhaps, someday, if I get up to 12+ readers, I will do a giveaway or something.)

Mr. Barefoot's First Guest Post!

[Editor's note: I didn't write any of this, except where indicated.]
Alright, after many dropped hints, I've finally gotten around to writing my first guest post, and the funny thing is that I didn't even end up preparing this dish. In any case... Beer cheese dip was brought into our life by my grad school buddy Brad, now returned to his homeland in the cheese state of with his wife and 1.5 kids and sadly missed by all. This dip is great because it is a) delicious; b) incredibly easy to make; and c) again, delicious. Everybody loves it. It's one of those dishes that we have to refrain from making because it's so easy and nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. Unless it's a really good trick.
We had a big family party today, for which Ms. Barefoot was responsible for obtaining the lion's share of the food. As a recovering student leadership slut, she's learning to delegate, and my one task was to make the beer dip. Then I discovered we were out of cheddar cheese, and wound up waiting fifteen minutes in the express lane at Shopper's an hour before a Ravens away game. We were supposed to be at the party 35 minutes away in an hour, and I hadn't showered yet. So when I got home, she made the dip and I showered. But I had every intention of actually making it myself, I promise. So here it is:

2x 8oz pkg cream cheese
1x 1oz pkg ranch dressing mix (typically the brand the stores have is Hidden Valley. The little envelopes are usually in a display tray near the bottled dressings)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup your favorite beer

Mixing bowl
Serving bowl (if you consider yourself too sophisticated to serve your dip in a mixing bowl)
Spoon or other utensil for mixing

-Let the cream cheese soften on the counter for an hour or two. Cream cheese straight from the fridge is hard to mix.
-Mix the ranch dressing into the cream cheese, then the beer, then the cheddar. Use all the cheddar. It may look like a lot, but if you don't you're just eating ranch cream cheese and that isn't nearly as good.
-Cover and refrigerate if you have time, because it's probably a little mushy.
-Enjoy the rest of the bottle of beer and reflect on your culinary prowess. Wasn't that easy?

[Editor's Note: Best when served with those flat pretzel chips that are so delicious. Otherwise regular pretzels or even potato chips will do. You can also use low-fat cream cheese and cheddar.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Pumpkin pie? Mmmmm. Made out of a real pumpkin. A really tiny pumpkin I bought at the grocery store that was labeled "pie pumpkin". It gave me instructions to microwave chunks of pumpkin and then scrape them out and mash them up.
I added them to some cream cheese, condensed milk, spices, and egg and made miniature pumpkin pies. Yum.
Recipe to come, once I have tried again to puree, probably using the food processor. It tastes pumpkin-y enough, but its not very uniform in color or texture - the pumpkin is a little stringy.
I did get to use my mortar and pestle to grind up the allspice, which was good for getting out pent up law school aggression.

How do you make pumpkin pie? Real pumpkin, canned pumpkin, or grocery store?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanksgiving at my folk's place doesn't usually involve theatrics and pagentry and "lets all admire the beautiful dinner". (Pretty much everything is served out of Pyrex dishes and Corelle bowls. My mom finally bought a set of casserole dishes. We don't use them.) But I think that a giant stuffed pumpkin with soup inside it might be amazing...

Being Barefoot

Despite how unseasonably warm it has been lately (global warming is just God huggin' us closer!), it was chilly this morning. Our new(ish) apartment has hardwood floors (original to the early 1800s) and is a bit drafty. We already pay insanely high electric bills, so I've been reluctant to turn on the heat (the landlord pays the water, so I've been taking long showers to warm up.) Hardwood floors are warmer than the tile floors that grace Mark's parent's house (brrrr!), and are nicer looking than the linoleum at my parent's house (which they just replaced, so now they look like classy people that have lineoleum). They also seem to have a unique way of collecting dust and sticking it to your feet. So I have not been barefoot in a very long time. I pretty much always wear socks or slippers when I am in the apartment. (Somehow though, my toes are always still freezing when I get into bed.) This has me thinking about the title of the blog.
I think the origin of the phrase "barefoot and in the kitchen" suggests that wanting women to be barefoot deprives them of their autonomy or ability to go someplace. You can't be barefoot and take over the world. At least not in the U.S. You can't even be a professional chef while being barefoot (see Mario Batelli and his massive orange crocs). For these reasons, wearing slippers is probably akin to being barefoot. Wearing crocs is just professional.
I chose the title to poke fun at myself and my very feminist unsense of humor. But it is also to challenge our ideas of what is feminist and what is feminine, what is women's work, and where do women belong in today's society. I really think that we are moving towards a society in which the phrase "barefoot and in the kitchen" is a thing of the past, because more so than any other domestic role, men and women are sharing the load of cooking more than they ever were. That is a good thing. In honor of this concept, Mark is making lentil tacos tonight. (Yes. I'm giving lentils another shot.) Maybe as a sign of our growing societal equality (we just elected a black man president - if getting the right to vote is any indication, a female president is only 60 years away!), I will let him post his recipe.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Very Barefoot Thanksgiving

This year, my boyfriends parents and sister are going to come down for Thanksgiving dinner. This will, with all likelihood, be my only chance to host and cook Thanksgiving dinner until my father is old and gray and can no longer open the oven door or curse when he drops pots. Usually, Mark and I split up Thanksgiving, because it is the only holiday I am unwilling to sacrifice. This year, I have my high school reunion on Friday and am making him come to it. So rather than have him drive up on Thursday and back on Friday, his parents are going to come down during the day on Thursday. This plan does not make a whole lot more sense than him driving up, but they are willing to come down and so I'm not going to probe too deeply into whether it makes sense. In the future, we will probably continue to split Thanksgiving until either we have children or until my grandmother goes the way of all good things in nature. Once my grandmother goes, we will probably alternate holidays and years or figure out a way to make driving to NJ or having Mark's parents and my parents get together for Thanksgiving dinner. (This is absolutely the worst idea ever.) In the case where we are having Thanksgiving in Maryland, my father will be cooking. In the case where we are having dinner in NJ, Anne will be cooking. So this is probably one of the only Thanksgiving dinners I will cook.
So what is on the Casa de Barefoot Table?
  • Turkey (I have only made one once, but my republican friend told me that he would marry me so that I could make him turkey all the time, so I think that is a good sign.)
  • Cranberry Sauce (made by my mother, it's the only thing she cooks and it's fantastic)
  • Stuffing (sausagemeat stuffing made by Anne)
  • Sweet potatoes (haven't decided if I want to go with the traditional mini-marshmallows & brown sugar & raisins or a different route)
  • Mashed redskin potatoes (easy, plus they look good)
  • Dessert (probably made by Anne, but I may make a pumpkin pie)
  • Green bean casserole (this always looks like somebody threw up on it to me, so maybe there is a way to make it taste better??)
  • Seasonal vegetable soup - probably squash and beans, plus some other vegetables in there too
  • Seasonal bread? I'm thinking either a dark wheat bread, a cranberry bread, or a pumpkin bread. This would probably be more of an appetizer.
What is on your table this year?


This is my favorite soup. Well, one of two. We used to make it a lot, back when we were in college. Sam really liked it too, and I think even Tom would eat it. It's especially good with some focaccia bread to dunk. It's perfect for today's chilly fall weather.
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I use bullion. It's cheaper and takes up less space in the cabinet.)
  • 1 cup water.
  • 1/2 cup pasta
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 large pot
  • Cutting board
  • Vidalia Chop Wizard (its one of those as-seen-on-TV things, but it totally works and I swear by it).
  1. Saute onion and garlic until transparent
  2. Add carrots and celery and saute for a few minutes
  3. Add potato, continue to saute
  4. Add tomatoes, beans, and broth
  5. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes
  6. Add pasta
  7. Bring to a second boil for 15 minutes
  8. Add rosemary
  9. Let continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Farmer's Market

Mark and I have been frequenting the local farmers markets where we live for a little while. Last year, the one by the Food Lion in Columbia was our preferred location, now it is the one under the 83 viaduct. (Saratoga St. between Holliday and Gay) It's from 8am to 12pm, running until December 21st.
The bigger question is probably why do we go to the farmer's market? Honestly, the main reason is not because we want to support locally grown produce or organic farming. The main reason is because our local grocery store's produce section sucks.
The relative difference is obvious - the farmer's market in Columbia was small - usually three or four produce stands, a bread stand, and one or two flower stands. There were usually about 10 customers at a time, more in the spring. The Baltimore farmer's market is huge - probably at least 10-15 produce stands, plus that many or more food vendors, local artisans, handmade dog biscuit sellers...it takes up an entire parking lot and is filled with people. The Baltimore Farmer's Market is like the Riverdale Farmer's Market on crack. There is a donut vendor here too, but the line was way too long - there is an advantage to a smaller farmer's market, sometimes.
I highly recommend checking out the Baltimore farmer's market, and if you don't live in the city, check out this - http://www.mda.state.md.us/md_products/farmers_market_dir.php - to find your nearest one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Political Buffalo Chicken Dip

From the famous Mr. Redline, now of Real Life on the Red Line, the recipe for buffalo chicken dip. I don't eat chicken, so I can't really speak to it's deliciousness, but I'm pretty sure Mark likes it more than he likes anything I cook, and he was looking more forward to the dip than the election.

Buffalo Chicken Dip:

2 packages cream cheese
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 cans of chicken
1 bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing

1) Heat cream cheese in saucepan
2) Add chicken, Red Hot Sauce, and Ranch
3) Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese
4) Serve hot with chips, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

*Note: You can substitute low fat cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and ranch dressing.

Thanks Mr. Redline!

Election Night Tricks & Treats

You may have heard that last night was election night. Apparently that elitist-terrorist-muslim guy won. While the relief I'm feeling should be much greater, the way it is for most people, and my sense of history and finality should be tingling, I am nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm waiting for something. I don't know what. It seems unreal that an election can be resolved, these days, in a single night.
My good friends Mama Awesome, Baby Awesome, Papa Awesome, Mr. Redline, and my nonblogging friends, watched the returns and enjoyed Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Buffalo Chicken Dip, and baked brie in crescent rolls. For dessert, there was the best pumpkin pie ever and chocolatey-peanutbuttery-cookie bars, which were amazingly chocolaty.
I will hopefully get a guest blog post from Mr. Redline and DNA as to how to make their election night foodery. For now, here is a recipe for brie wrapped in crescent rolls. Because brie is the food of elitists, terrorists, and winners.

  • Brie cheese (I used a 6 ounce wedge, you can use any size. For a larger party, use a round.
  • Crescent roll dough (if you are using a full round of brie, you may want to use 2 loafs)
  • Optional - cranberries, chopped nuts, or apples
  • Cutting board
  • Rolling Pin (I made this at the Awesome's, so I didn't have access to one of these, but I wished I had had the foresight to bring my own. I spent very little time at home yesterday. I spent 23 hours out of the house.)
  • Baking dish - I used an 8x8 pyrex dish, but I think I probably will go with a regular aluminum cookie sheet in the future.
  • Oven at 375 (I will experiment with the temperature in the future)
  1. Roll out crescent dough. Do not cut into little triangles. Instead, roll into a large rectangle or oval. (Probably about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick
  2. Place brie in the center of dough.
  3. Add cranberries, fruit, or nuts.
  4. Wrap dough around brie. Imagine wrapping a gift, but instead of wrapping paper, you are using dough. Everything should be covered.
  5. Bake for 20-40 minutes. I don't know how long it actually took to cook, because I had to leave the party.
I had it cold, which was less good, because I like cold brie less. But I was told that it was decent. It could have been by people trying to stoke my ego, but really, I think they generally think that I think highly enough of myself and my cooking that they don't need to do that.