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Somewhere Ever After

traversing the road to the rest of my life

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Recipes and cooking

Birthday Dinner for Koby

Because nothing says “I love you” like making someone wait/help 5 hours to have dinner at midnight. Yeah… that didn’t go quite as I envisioned it.

This coming saturday is Koby’s birthday. However, beginning last night (wednesday) and running through sunday afternoon, our congregation is holding a meeting (for you non Church of Christ folks, that means we have a guest preacher in town, and services every evening and twice a day weekends. Good stuff). We will be busy saturday, especially as Koby has made himself invaluable as the resident techie. As such, we decided to allocate the previous saturday for birthday spoiling.

We had an excessively lazy morning (seems neither of us had gotten enough sleep during the week) followed by an excursion to a rumored tea shop in the mall a bit North. We sampled some really tasty teas, and though expensive, the tins of tea we took home will be enjoyed for awhile to come. The names are about as complicated as a Starbucks coffee order, so I will ramble on about tea another time. By the time we got home with groceries for dinner, it was 7:00. And… as mentioned, dinner took 5 hours.

Double Crispy Honey Garlic Pork

Post to come.

Oven-Fried Onion Rings

Post to come.

Sweet Potato Fries

Post to come.

Parmesian Crumbled Asparagus

Post to come.

Moroccan Carrots

Post to come.

Apple Dumplings

Post to come.

Chocolate Molten Cake

Post to come.

You see, given the opportunity to cook for him, I raided my Pinterest boards and came up with… well… a lot. One entree, two vegetables, two appetizers, and two (abandoned) desserts, to be exact. In my defense, I expected to do one of the desserts on a separate nights, and the other was just a variation on an old favorite. I know, pretty weak defense, huh?

So… immediately upon returning home, I dove into cooking. He helped quite a bit, and claimed to enjoy most of it (including the helping.) Most of the food was decent, and there were few mishaps and even a few serendipity moments. However, he did make a very wise observation as we ate our very late dinner.

“Maybe next time, only one appetizer, and one new recipe at a time.” Yeah, perhaps that would be best.

I’ll post accounts on the various recipes in the upcoming days.

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Adventures in Prep of Pungent Foods.

As my current work schedule has me working a mere 3 hours a day, and that only during the prime selection for… you know… preparing dinner, doing my part to cook dinner once a week has been tricky as of late. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will be delving into crock pot meals.

Eventually I might share some favorite recipes as I find them (or fix some not-so-favorites). But that’s not what today is about. Today, I plan to share my experiences in the preparation process, with my ultimate nemisis, the onion, and his sidekick, garlic.

Oh, onions, how I loathe you.

Despite the fact that they taste (and smell) absolutely rancid when raw, I admit that they can add flavor to a dish (when cooked). I even like onion rings– granted, at that point, they consist more of “fried” than of “onion” but I’m trying to be nice here. The onion should take what compliments it can get.

You see, I have mild allergies. I say that, because it’s the only feasible explanation for why I am so affected by onions. The problem is, I can’t even cut up half an onion before I succumb to what I refer to as “onion blindness.” Because I don’t just tear up a little. That I could live with. My eyes burn and water so bad I literally cannot see and have no business handling a knife, and I have to wait 5 or 10 minutes before I can even attempt to be in the same room again. Not terribly efficient when you are trying to prepare food, and certainly not pleasant. More than once, I’ve considered getting one of these terribly awesome looking get-ups, but my wonderful husband-to-be prevented me from committing fashion suicide by promising to cut up all the onions when we are married (and this a few years back, well before he proposed. Isn’t he wonderful?)

Reality is, when we are married, I will have a food processor. If the registry gods are cruel and fate leads no one to bestow me with a food processor (if you are reading this, please, PLEASE, PLEASE buy me a food processor) I will sell my artwork on the street until I have enough nickels and quarters to buy it myself. Because onions are evil incarnate– at least, up until they are cooked, at which point, they are just tasty.

That said, this week’s recipe did indeed involve chopping an onion. Thankfully, my Pinterest obsession research led me to this: a guide on how to chop onions without wishing for an early death. They didn’t word it quite like that, but you get the gist. Some of the suggestions, such as chilling the onion, vinegar on the cutting board, and open flame nearby were more feasible than others, such as using sharper knifes (this makes me want to go find one of those cutco kids and order knives I can’t afford. Wedding gift anyone?). The author also describes her method for cutting onions.

Due to the sheer evil of onions, I wasn’t about to play around. I pulled out the big guns and tried ALL OF THE ABOVE, except of course, the sharp knife, because I’m not rich.

There’s the nasty bugger, chilling in the freezer.

There’s my open flame. This burns up the fumes, or some such like that.

Vinegar may smell bad, but not nearly as bad as onion. It’s supposed to neutralize the fumes.

Well, here it is, cut through the stem and root. Easier said than done– it was a bit of a battle, but in the end, I won. So far so good.

From here, I took the “work fast” approach and followed her methods as quickly as I could without chopping off fingers. I might need some practice getting the pieces a bit more uniform, but long story short, I got it completely chopped and my eyes were only beginning to water.  Just in case, though, I didn’t dally with photos until after it was safely contained.

My successfully chopped and bagged onion.

The verdict? I have no idea which of the four measures I took helped the most, but that doesn’t matter. From now on (until I have that food processor, anyhow) I will be using all of the above. And… realistically, even then I can still chill the onion before hand if I’m ambitious/prepared. That means the remaining days until my wedding (99 days left!!) I can cook without trembling in fear of onions.

Now what about garlic you may ask? Surely garlic is wonderful, amazing stuff, and the savior of most any savory dish? Well, yes. It IS tasty– again, when cooked. When raw, it tastes like onions. And it does affect me like onions on a smaller scale. However, that’s negligible unless I’m chopping massive amounts. The issue here is the smell left on my hands. Now, two days later, my fingers still smell like garlic. That, I don’t know how to avoid, even after the wedding when some wonderful person will have bestowed me with a garlic press and perhaps this neat little gadget. Because… I still have to peel the garlic, and just that is enough to imbue my fingertips with that *ahem* lovely fragrance.

However, my aforementioned research also turned up a little video with what seemed to be the perfect solution.

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from SAVEUR.com on Vimeo.

I watched eagerly, impressed both with his ninja-like garlic smash move and the mind-boggling simplicity of the peeling method. I armed myself with a clove of garlic and a couple of bowls, ready to tackle this thing. I smashed it onto the table, which yielded… well… nothing but a less than satisfactory thump. I tried a few times in fact, from multiple angles. Nothing. Maybe you need to be a big meaty man instead of a scrawny weakling like me to make it work?

Well, fine then. I yanked a couple cloves off (all I needed) and tossed them in the bowls, certain this part would work at least. I shook. And… I shook some more. And I shook until my little toothpick arms were tired of shaking. (You have to understand– I have no muscle in my arms, just a couple rubber bands in there to hold things together.) I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have fancy metal bowls, because I need to use more garlic for more friction, or because, again, I’m just weak, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work.

Still unpeeled. That little bit of papery skin was in there to begin with. Fail.

I rewatched the video a few times to make sure I hadn’t just missed something, and he only shakes for all of like… 8 seconds. Not sure where I went wrong. Sadly, I peeled it myself, and minced it and endured the smell in the days since.

So much for that. Anyone have a better solution for avoiding stinky garlic fingers?

Green monster (Peanut butter flavor)

No, really. I’m not making this up. Last week, I came across this recipe.

It’s essentially a spinach smoothie. Yeah, sounds appetizing doesn’t it? I was dubious. Koby thought I was crazy. But the lady seemed to think it was amazing, and Koby can never finish a bag of spinach fast enough, and really is trying to eat healthier (college took it’s toll on his diet and body. Pizza, Jack in the Box, hamburgers, and chicken strips can really only go so far.) Therefore, I decided we would be adventurous. I tossed a ripe banana in the freezer to save for the weekend, found the random carnation instant breakfast that mysteriously ended up in my family’s pantry, and visited the ever dangerous bulk bins at Winco to pick up flax seed (and gummi worms, and gummi sharks, and gummi butterflies, and gummi grapefruit? Why not! And chocolate covered peanuts, and mints, and…)

I went shopping for this.

And came home with these. And I refuse to apologize.

There’s a banana hiding in the back, but it’s sliced, frozen, and slightly mushed from travel. Hush.

The moment of truth.

Thus, at an unholy hour (7:20am) before moving furniture into OUR APARTMENT (no more roommates!) we played mad scientist. And, despite misgivings, it’s actually good! He liked it, I liked it, and the three boys roped into moving furniture for us (who were even more suspicious) declared it “Not bad!” with evident surprise. It tastes like peanut butter and banana, not salad. Go figure. So… recommended!

Only… even splitting it between us, we barely finished our own portions, so I also recommend cutting it in half unless you have a partner in crime.

If you like healthy recipes, I recommend visiting A Full Measure of Happiness, which is chock full of healthy recipes. As you might have suspected, todays adventures are brought to you by my Pinterest addiction.

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