Hello, June!

Oh look at that… I let May go right by without writing ANYTHING. Whoops. I’d like to promise that it won’t happen again, but let’s be honest… we’ve been here before. (Plus, I’d hate to lie to all five of the people still reading this blog. Ha.) 

I might not be writing, but I am still cooking. I’ve acquired a new cookbook (thanks to Karen!), and the more I read it, the more I’m convinced that I could be friends with Bridget and Julia. (That’s not weird, right? I’m just cooking their recipes; not camping out at ATK in Boston.) 😀

Cookbooks

I’m also monopolizing the library’s copy of The Perfect Cake, which is counteracting all of my summer exercise. So far, I’ve tried one of the mug cakes, the chocolate sheet cake,  the icebox Margarita cheesecake, the strawberry dream cake, and the Boston cream pie. I’m hoping to make at least a couple more cakes before I hit the renewal limit in a couple weeks. 🙂

We also planted our garden! We’ve added a raised bed, so things are a little less crowded (in theory… somehow we still ran out of room), and our lettuce just started to poke up through the ground yesterday.  Grow, baby, grow! Our rhubarb is up and thriving, so I’m going to start filling the freezer and make a few desserts along the way.

newgardenbed.jpg

For the first time in five years, we aren’t participating in a CSA. Our CSA farm isn’t offering a CSA share this season, so we’re going to try their market share instead. I have mixed feelings about it, but I am excited for the season to start! (I’ll definitely miss the “grab bag” aspect of a CSA, since it forces me out of my comfort zone, but it will be nice to get to the farmer’s market regularly. And I won’t miss trying to find ways to use the kohlrabi.) 

That pretty much brings us up to the present. I do have an ice cream recipe to share soon, so hopefully June isn’t as quiet here as May was!

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Cookie Time! 

Look at my latest library find!

THePerfectCooki

Unfortunately, it was a short loan, so I had to give it back after only two weeks, but it was fun to look through! There were lots of recipes that caught my eye, but I only had a chance to try three  – butterscotch meringue bars, s’mores blossom cookies, lemon sour cream cookies and salted peanut butter pretzel chocolate chip cookies. Out of those four, the peanut butter pretzel cookies were my favorite, and I got to make them with two of my nieces over Thanksgiving. (I brought the book back to Ohio, and they picked out the recipe I wanted to try most. They have excellent taste!) 

I snapped pictures of a few more recipes that look intriguing, and I’ll probably try those out over the next few weeks. It’s cookie season, after all!

Speaking of cookies, would you believe that I didn’t make a single Christmas cookie this year? Food blogger fail. Things just got away from me this year. I won’t have time before Christmas to bake anything now, but Andy pointed out that I could make a batch the day afte Christmas. It’s supposed to be crazy cold, so spending some time with the oven wouldn’t be the worst thing. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Cast Iron Love

Two weeks!! 14 measly days! That’s how long the library let me have a copy of Cook It In Cast Iron from Cook’s Country. You can usually check out books for four weeks, but new books are only available for a “short loan,” especially when there are 10+ people behind you waiting to get their hands on the book.

Ugh. Sharing is not always my strongest point.

In true dorky fashion, I literally read through the entire book before I made anything out of it. (It helped that I picked it up from the library the night before a weekend road trip.) I thought all of the tips and techniques were helpful, and I can definitely see why you’d want a 12″ skillet for several of the recipes. I managed with my 10″ skillet, but the pan was just about overflowing with some things.

I did my best to make the most of the time that I had the book, and I think I did all right. We tried (in this order):

  • Chipotle chicken tacos (4 stars!) 
  • Skillet mac and cheese (3 stars from both of us; this is still my favorite mac and cheese recipe. It’s also a lot simpler!) 
  • Blackened chicken with pineapple salsa (5 stars from me; 3-4 from Andy, who may have met the only fruit salsa he’s hated in this dish. Lesson learned: Serrano peppers are too much for him. Whoops!) 
  • Hot fudge pudding cake (4 stars. It goes great with beer ice cream!) 
  • Sausage lasagna (5+ stars. We were so sad when the leftovers were gone… I almost licked my lunch dish clean at work the next day.) 
  • Baked brie with apricots and honey (5 stars, but I made the mistake of only making 1/3 of a batch…) 
  • Skillet chocolate chip cookie (5 stars. I mean, there was browned butter. Need I say more?) 
  • Mexican layer dip (2-5 stars, depending on who you ask. As written, it’s kind of spicy, thanks to the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder, which means it’s hotter than Andy likes. However, it was well-received by half of the adults at taco night, and Andy said that if I scaled the heat back a bit, he would really enjoy it.) 
BakedBrie&Apriocts
Since I made a small batch of baked brie, I thought it’d be perfect in my mini-skillets.

I snapped a picture of a couple of the appetizer recipes, so I’m hoping to make those sometime in the not-too-distant future. Of course, there are recipes in there that I’ll probably never make (Meatloaf with mushroom gravy? Umm, no thanks. Paella? Not until I can get over the cost of saffron, thank you very much.), but overall, most of the recipes sounded like things we’d enjoy.

I did feel like some of the recipes could be streamlined to use fewer dishes, but when you consider the source, that really shouldn’t surprise you. I also wish the book had more of the science behind some of the recipe steps. I’m sure there’s a reason why I had to whisk the cookie dough for 30 seconds and then let it rest for 2 minutes before repeating the step two more times. I’d just love to know what that reason is!

If we rated cookbooks on the Andy scale, I’d give it a solid 4, which means that it might be worth getting a copy of my own someday. What I loved most though, was rediscovering how many things I can do with my cast iron skillet. It hasn’t gone back in the cupboard in two weeks.

Off-topic, have you seen the Apple commercial with Cookie Monster? THIS IS SO ME!! (Except for the iPhone part. I’m an Android girl.) My friends make fun of me for watching cookies bake through the oven door! I laughed so hard when this came on TV the other day.

Full disclosure: Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen has NO idea that I’m writing about their latest cookbook. I’m fairly certain that no one there even knows that this little blog exists. I wasn’t compensated in any way for my thoughts; I just happened to really enjoy the cookbook. 

Reading List!

Yesterday, I visited the library on my way home from work. (In theory, I was there to pick up some movies for our weekend entertainment, because yes, we are that lame cheap old insert your own adjective. Movies from the library = Friday night at our home.) 

But since I was there, why not kill two birds with one stone? I was just going to look for one book (Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes) in order to get some ideas for several baby shower cakes/cupcakes that are coming down the pike. Even though that one wasn’t available, I still picked up quite a few books for my weekend reading. 

  • Ripe for Dessert, David Lebovitz (Dessert with fruit? How fast can I try every recipe?) 
  • Everyday Pasta, Giada De Laurentiis (Have I mentioned my love for carbs?)
  • Cupcakes, Shelly Kaldunski (I did get a cupcake book, so we’ll see if it’s as good as Martha’s.)  
  • Fondant Modeling for Cake Decorators, Helen Penman (I picked this one up so Karen and I can work on our fondant skills… hopefully there’ll be instructions on building a flamingo!) 
  • Let Us Eat Cake, Sharon Boorstin (Anything with the subtitle “Adventures in Food and Friendship” is going to catch my eye.) 
  • My Life in France, Julia Child (Seems like one of those books that I should read… even though I haven’t made any of Julia’s recipes… yet.) 

Thankfully, my library lets me keep books for four weeks. That should give me ample time to try a few recipes (like those cream-puff-looking things on the back of the dessert book) and hopefully an evening or two to read the others. And maybe then I’ll pick up the next Hunger Games book…