Tag Archives: cooking

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: march 2017

14 Mar

One: Yesterday I turned 38. I don’t put much stock in numbers, and to be quite frank for the past few years I’ve had to stop and think when someone asks me my age because they all seem to blend together and I can never remember if I’m 36? 38? 34? 37? I’m somewhere in my 30s, right?

Anyway, so far 38 is treating me pretty well, and like when New Year’s rolls around, at my birthday I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year, and look forward to the year ahead. Set an intention, if you will. And this year’s intention?

To have more fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a crapton of fun on the daily. I can’t not, living with my Swede and Baby McSwedolish, and The Beasts. But why shouldn’t I have more fun? What’s stopping me?

Nothing. Nothing is stopping me, except maybe myself sometimes.

And that is just dumb.

I can’t predict what sort of shape this additional fun will take, because it could be anything. I think going grocery shopping is fun. I think writing in this little corner of the Interwebs is fun. Singing showtunes on a beach is fun. Whichever form of fun strikes me, I will throw myself into it wholeheartedly. Because life can really suck the life out of you sometimes, with worry, and bills, and not having a trust fund so you have actually be cognizant of income and work or make compromises. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, while dealing with all of those things, and not let them suck the life out of me, amirite? Because none of us are getting out of this thing alive, and this isn’t a dress rehearsal.

So ratcheting up the Fun Factor sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Two: I’ve developed a strange obsession with The Wheel. I’m not entirely sure when it started, but almost every night at 6:30 pm, Baby McSwedolish and I tune in to see if someone will actually solve the final puzzle, even after they are given RSTLNE. (Success level: sporadic.)

How is it that Pat and Vanna are unchanged after 30 years on the air? What does Vanna do to keep her arms toned now that the turning of letters has been eliminated, and they’re all touch screen? Has anyone ever actually won the $1 million? Or is that just a tactic they’re using to make it all the more exciting, since the whole “shopping the rooms with your winnings” is a thing of the truly distant past?

Three: Of all the things I make that are amazing*—pot roast, cupcakes, brownies, the list goes on—the one thing I haven’t yet mastered is soup.

I know, right? Soup, for God’s sake! How hard is soup?

Apparently quite tricky, if you really want something that is restaurant quality. For me, at least. I’ve gotten a better in my efforts recently—in part because I’ve actually tried following recipes and quantities and not just dumped in stuff that has a higher solids to liquid ration and then wonder why everything comes out more like a stew than a soup—but it’s never quite as good as you’d get at a restaurant or Mariano’s soup bar.

So the other day while I was at the grocery store, I bought a whole magazine about soup. I’m not kidding. There are at least 100 recipes in there, many several of which look incredibly tasty, and by God I will master the making of soup! Or at least one soup recipe! I’m not asking for much here, people. Just one go-to soup recipe!

Mark my words.

PS—I am having a wild love affair with cream of mushroom soup lately. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Four: For my Chicago readers: Do the female weekend anchors and weather women on NBC 5 have a uniform? I’ve been watching a lot of news lately (a lot) (thank you, nursing time), and I swear these women are all wearing similar dresses. Or perhaps they have three or four styles of dresses in certain colors that they’re supposed to wear. Or maybe I’m just imagining it. But am I on to something here?

And before you get up in arms about, “McPolish why are you focusing on their looks?”, I’m not trying to make their looks a Thing. I’m asking because they are stylish dresses and I want to know where they got them. Also, because if there is some sort of uniform style going on, if they Obama-d their wardrobes to decrease the number of silly decisions they have to make in their lives, then my hat is off to them, because that’s just plain smart, and Well Done, You, NBC Female Weekend Anchors.

 

*Yes. I said that. Yes I did.

 

 

photo friday: i scream, you scream, we all scream because i forgot the food coloring!

20 Jan
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Don’t worry, you guys. Aunt DeeDee brought a red velvet bundt, so we did get our food coloring fix. Dog nose not included. 

One of my New Year’s Goals for this year—besides creating world peace, finding sustainable alternative fuel solutions, and saving the spotted horned-tooth owl—is to make one new ice cream flavor per month.* January’s flavor was red velvet with a cream cheese swirl, which I served up last week when Baby McSwedolish’s Aunts Mimi and DeeDee came over for dinner.

Dinner was a smashing success, of course (when is it not? Let’s just call a spade a spade), as was my contribution to dessert, le red velvet ice cream. (Aunt DeeDee rightly saw fit to inundate us with a half dozen mini bundt cakes, which were amazing, and which I may or may not have polished off for breakfast over the course of the following three mornings.) (No judging.) (I said stop judging! It’s really no different than eating a donut!)

Because I am amazing with ice cream time management, I made the base for the ice cream the night before, and as I was pulling together the ingredients came to the stunning realization that I didn’t actually have the red to make said velvet ice cream…red.

I could have batted my eyes and asked Swede to run to Mariano’s to pick up a bottle of red food coloring. I could have made blue or yellow or green velvet ice cream, because those were food colorings that I do have on hand. But blue velvet ice cream sounds like something I should make when there is some sort of Elvis-associated holiday looming, yellow velvet ice cream doesn’t sound appetizing at all, and green velvet, well, huh. That actually could be interesting. Will have to give it a go another time.

Anyway, my point is that red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl tastes just the same and just as good without the red food coloring. It tastes like lightly chocolate-d ice cream with a cream cheese swirl, which is exactly what it is. If ever you were wondering about where red velvet got it’s flavor, it’s not from the coloring. Why the coloring was ever added in, I don’t know, I’m not a food historian.

I’m just a food eat-orian.

*I welcome suggestions on what to make in the coming months.

 

from the file pit: beer bread

3 Feb

It’s February, which means, yup, still winter. Still going to be for awhile now. Which is awesome, because February is full of days that end in Y, and days that end in Y are perfect for eating bread.

Unless you’re gluten intolerant. And then every day that ends in Y is a horrible day for eating bread, but because I am a nice person I will eat your bread for you. You’re welcome.

I’ve long been interested in making bread, but on my few attempts it has turned out less-than-stellar. Usually super dense and not well-risen. Edible, yes, but not boulangerie-worthy.

Then again, sometimes life is not about perfection, but rather about getting shit done. And if that shit is getting bread into my mouth, then I have achieved success.

ANYWAY, I have some very exciting news for you: I have found a bread recipe that even I can’t screw up. It has three ingredients.*

 

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As per usual, my incredibly thorough directions, if they can even be determined through the chicken scratch. God only knows where I copied this recipe from. For all I know it’s off the side of a metro car. 

THREE.

3.

Trois.

That’s it.

Granted, one of the ingredients is quite specific,** but if you can manage that, you’ll find success. I promise you. Perhaps you’ve heard of Tastefully Simple, and their beer bread that I think you just mix together the dry mix and some beer? Sure, that’s only two ingredients, but this three-ingredient beer bread is just as easy. I like to call it Stupidly Simple.

I made two of these loaves in one day, in the span of about two hours, actually. THAT is how simple this recipe is to throw together. One for Swede and me, and one to give to his sister who had just had surgery. Because nothing says recovery like warm beer bread and narcotic-strength pain meds.

I should be a doctor.

This may be one of the greatest File Pit findings yet, you guys. Seriously. Easy peasy and delicious. Would I make this again? Do I even need to answer that? No. No I do not. Instead I will answer you by saying you should drop whatever you’re doing and go home and make this.

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More butter, please. 

(And if you also choose to pick up Kerrygold salted butter to slather on it fresh from the oven, no one will judge you. Nay, they will applaud you.)

*Four, if you count the egg for the egg wash. Five, really, if you count the melted butter you’re supposed to brush on top when it’s done. But now you’re just being nit-picky.

**Self-rising flour is the key here. I think you could pretty much use any light-colored or amber ale you so choose, but I can’t guarantee success if you try and use a different kind of flour. I could go into the science behind the self-rising flour in this recipe, but I won’t. Because I don’t really know it. I just know it’s different and clutch in this bread.

from the file pit: avocado ranch dressing

6 Jan

We are six days into the new year and it has been WEEKS since I have had a vegetable. Well, no, actually last week I had some artichokes, but they were covered in dill and lemon and some mayo and spread on top of a piece of sourdough French bread, so I’m not exactly sure that counts. I mean, it kind of counts, because at least I was vaguely in the vicinity of something from the earth’s bounty, but it’s not really a slam-dunk in the whole food pyramid thing.

That said, I figured this was a perfect time to pull out a file pit recipe that’s been in the making since June 13, 2007. Yes, that’s right, almost nine years.

Nine.

I printed this recipe out nine (9) years ago, from the Washington Post website. And then never made it. Until now.

I’m going to blame my lack of making this recipe on the fact that until recently I didn’t have a blender. I’m going to blatantly disregard the fact that I did, however, have both an immersion blender and a food processor. So, right: No blender = unable to make this dressing.

But lo! Swede’s parents gifted us a big, beautiful Vitamix for our wedding, and people, let me tell you something about a Vitamix you don’t know: It really is as f-ing amazing as people say. The motor on this thing could puree a sledgehammer. Both the wood handle and the metal mallet. All of it, ground down into a thick, smooth, former piece of destructive construction equipment.

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Hello, beautiful. 

And hence, I could now make the dressing with aplomb, and rectify the lack of vegetables in my diet. Not that there are any vegetables in this dressing (avocado is a fruit, after all), but I could pour it on a salad. And salads are often made of vegetables.  

Stay with me here, people.

So with the food-stars aligned, I finally made this file pit recipe.

And it was okay.

Which was strange, because looking at the few ingredients, they are all things that I love very much: buttermilk, avocado, a ranch dressing packet, and lime zest. What’s not to love? I love all of these things! Mix them up and shove it in my mouth, it should be amazong.  

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Buttermilk is amazong, you guys. 

Except it was only sort of amazong. You know what I think it was? The lime zest. It didn’t really belong, in my opinion, and gave the dressing a funny taste, like when you eat something and then make that annoying noise with your lips and your tongue, smacking them together uncontrollably because you’re trying to figure out what it is you’re tasting, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

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Damn you, lime zest. 

That taste? It’s lime zest. And this dressing would be better without it.

I think I would make this again, if for no other reason than it’s a reason to bust out the Vitamix. But I’d leave the lime zest out.

And then I’d dump a crap ton over some vegetables and call it a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo friday: what the?

28 Aug
Oh, you know, just monkeying around in the kitchen.

Oh, you know, just monkeying around in the kitchen.

Sometimes (re: frequently) I come across photos in my files that make me think, “Now that looks like fun!” (re: Why the hell did I take a picture of that? What the hell was I doing?) This is one photo that definitely fits that bill. There’s a strong chance I snapped this while I was making some sort of zucchini-infused baked good, as evidenced by the grated zucchini photos that followed this one in my files, but really, your guess is as good as mine.

I am astounded, sometimes, by my lack of awareness of what goes on in my kitchen in relation to the things created by…me.

I hope, at least, that whatever I was making turned out well.

photo friday: well loved

17 Jul

I pulled this gem from the pile as I was recipe-filing down memory lane earlier this week.

Mmmm....orzo....

Mmmm….orzo….

I believe it was originally a Rachel Ray recipe, but God knows I haven’t actually stuck to said recipe since, oh, the first time I made this. The Parm was immediately swapped out for feta, and chopped tomatoes, an entire onion, and an extra two cloves of garlic were added in, and the result was a fan favorite of many a TND.  When I think of my time living in DC, this orzo is one of the first things that comes to mind. Well, not this orzo written on the paper you see, but my aforementioned adaptation.

As this well-loved and smudged paper has always really been more of a guideline, I’m pretty sure the only reason I kept it around was because for the life of me I could never remember how much water (which I subbed instead of the prescribed stock) to use. (Which, the 1 3/4 cup of liquid was never enough anyway, and I always ended up adding at least a 1/2 cup more.) (I’m an orzo rebel!)

Nowadays I’d probably just look it up online over and over, but this was pre-smartphone era, Interwebers. I’m pretty sure I was illegally downloading songs from Limewire.*

*NOT THAT I EVER DID THAT (MAYBE), I AM A VERY GOOD AND UPSTANDING CITIZEN (KIND OF). 

recipe for disaster? or masterful plan? you decide.

15 Jul

Recently I’ve been trying to do my part to de-clutter our bootbox of a condo.

It’s not going well.

As anyone who has tried to de-clutter anything ever, you understand the complete high you start off with, doing hot laps around your space and sweeping the obvious things to get rid of into the garbage or recycling or Good Will bags. And after those first 10 minutes, it gets a little harder.

I’m sure professional organizers/life gurus/normal people would tell you that honestly, you really don’t need it—whatever it is—even though you have spent the past five years since whatever the thing is that came into your life convincing yourself that you do. And they’re most likely right. And most likely if Swede and I actually listened to them and actually kept ONLY the things we used, our bootbox of a condo would be a minimalist’s paradise. Think of how much space we’d gain just by getting rid of the cats!

I joke.

Maybe.

Anyway, in an effort to de-clutter, or at least acknowledge the clutter (Hello, Clutter. How are you today? Dusty? Great, great. Carry on.), I spent some time the other day culling through my cookbooks and recipe files that are stacked and piled and generally running amok in various corners of our home. And do you know what I discovered?

I have a lot of freaking recipes.

And I think I’ve actually made approximately only 2.794 percent of them.

No, I don’t know why that is, either. Or why I’ve instead, in all my cooking, chosen to use recipes that are from elsewhere, and not in these piles.

Because I mean piles, you guys. PILES of recipes that I printed out or scrawled on ripped out sheets of notebook paper years ago, as in before I even turned 30, while surfing the web, probably while I was supposed to be doing something more productive, like not accumulating a metric ton of shit I don’t need but now can’t seem to part with, such as mismatched socks and various notebooks filled with ideas for books I most likely will not get around to writing unless I quit my life full-tilt and spend every minute from now until my dying day tapping at the keyboard.

A smattering of the recipes that make up the pit.

A smattering of the recipes taking up residence in our bootbox. 

And some of these recipes look phenomenal, which makes it all the more devastating to me. Rocky Road cocoa puff treats? Yes, please. Coconut curry braised short ribs? Why am I not eating these right now? Chocolate éclair torte? Sweet Holy Mother, bless me for I have sinned in not making this. Cheesy chicken roll ups? Ehhmmm…well, okay, something about it must have appealed to me at some point so I’ll give it a go.

See what I mean? And that’s just a few of—no joke—hundreds of recipes that twentysomething McPolish threw in the file pit.

So I made an executive decision, friends, right then and there. A decision I look forward to keeping and tackling: Instead of being sad about all the recipes I haven’t made (yet hoard like a fatalist with soup for the coming rapture) (why on earth do people think their bomb shelter will survive a rapture?) I’m making a concerted effort to, actually, you know, MAKE these recipes. I’m going to work my way through my recipe files, and see what was what in the land of aged 25-28-year-old-McPolish’s tastebuds.

I can’t promise the results will be pretty. Or tasty. (Still curious about the cheesy chicken rollups. And by curious I mean mildly horrified at the prospect.) But by God I WILL spend some quality kitchen time wondering what the Sister Mary Fudge my younger self was thinking!*

*And maybe when that’s all said and done, we’ll finally tackle the Pinterest boards.**

**BAHAHAHAHAHAHAH YEAH RIGHT.