Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recipe reviews

Well, all the stuff that's going on in my life right now is stuff I can't write about on the Internet, so here is the first of what will probably be many boring posts about cooking, computers, and knitting.
lentilalmondstirfry.jpg
This looked a lot better in real life. Note the mason jar in the top left corner, which contains "cherry vinegar."

A week ago I listed three recipes I wanted to try.
Lentil Almond Stir-Fry from 101cookbooks.com - This was a recipe that sounded intriguing, with a mix of things I'd never think to try together but sounded like they would, nonetheless, go together. Lentils and dates!? Brussel sprouts and dates!? With mint dressing and yogurt!? Also, I had all the stuff to make this aside from Brussel sprouts! Rather, I had stuff that was close enough. I made a lot of substitutions, but I think they were all pretty minor.
New potatoes: I have a ton of potatoes and did not feel the need to go out and buy more. I chopped up some regular purple potatoes small, and added a little water to the pan when they were cooking.
Fresh mint: I hate buying mint this time of year, when I have an overabundance of it in the summer. Finally, I dried it this year. Unfortunately, I forgot to separate a bunch of mint and lemon balm. Since lemon juice goes into the dressing, I used the lemon balmy mint bunch. I used 1/3 cup. This was too much mint. I also tried crinkling it with my hands instead of using a food processor. Next time I will use a food processor.
Serrano chili pepper - 1 or 2 crushed dried bird's eye chili peppers
Greek yogurt - Stonyfield farms yogurt, with 2 tbsp water stirred in
Anyway, it was great. I meant to just try a little bit, and put the rest away to eat throughout the week, but I kept taking pieces of it. Lentils are like my secret weapon in the winter--they are filling, they warm you up, they are inexpensive, and they are low fat. It's a way to keep off winter weight, have energy, and save money. So I'm always looking for new ways to cook them. This will probably be a winter staple in Sarah's kitchen.
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Un-photogenic cauliflower in the oven

Saffron Roasted Cauliflower from ChocolateandZucchini.com- Yum. I don't have sherry vinegar yet, and every time a recipe calls for sherry vinegar I use "cherry vinegar." As though the fact that they rhyme makes them similar. Awhile ago, I pickled some cherries in cheapo white vinegar. Even after the cherries were gone, I saved the mason jar of vinegar (and even moved it from New Brunswick to my new apartment!) and use it in place of red wine, apple cider, or sherry vinegar.
I'm sure you could make this without expensive saffron or any special kind of vinegar. The point is, Clotilde is right--winter vegetables like cauliflower really are great roasted. Oh, and every time I roast vegetables, I tend to use WAY more liquid. I followed the recipe and my vegetables came out fine, despite my anxieties that they would be too dry.


pomegranate pasta.jpg

Forbidden Love Pasta - This I just had to try, because the mix of ingredients sounded so unusual (pomegranate, squash, and chipotle!?) and because I did have an acorn squash to use up and half a pomegranate.
So, I only halved this recipe. As far as substitutions go, I didn't have chipotle con adobo or walnuts. In place of walnuts, I used half almonds and half pecans. In place of chipotle con adobo, I used 3 dried chipotles, smacked around in a mortar and pestle, half of which I mixed with the nuts, and half of which I added to the sauce, with some roasted tomatoes I was trying to use up and a splash of that cherry vinegar. (This was my "adobo sauce.") Oh, and cheap Swiss cheese was used in place of Gruyere.
Conclusions: Wow! Squash with chipotle and pomegranate is a great combination! Who knew! My fake adobo sauce worked out well, too.
More importantly, toasted pepitas, or any nuts for that matter, with crushed dried chipotle, would be a great, easy party snack.
mess.jpg
My messy kitchen

In other news, I still love Linux. I figured out how to set everything up that I need, just about. The Internet works. My SD card reader works. Hulu.com works. (Therefore, Flash works.) It works with my iPod. It plays MP3s and M4A's and now, with SoundConverter, I can rip CDs and put them in a format that my iPod will play. Encrypted DVDs will now play. Everything I use my computer for now works. Next, I'm going to try to set up my printer/scanner combination with it. If it doesn't work, well, I barely used it anyway, but if it does, great! Also, I learned how to customize the computer, and now the desktop looks pretty, there are useful icons on the top panel, and I have become obsessed with Sticky Notes. I got some great plugins for Firefox. Ok, this nerdiness has got to stop.

Tomorrow I'm going to Stitch and Bitch for what might be the last time until jury duty is over. I'm working on Annie Modessitt's Backyard Leaves and pretending to work on the Nereid fingerless gloves. These will probably become known as my Courthouse Projects. (Yes, we can bring knitting into the courthouse. Hooray.)

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