Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On A Different Note...

I must say that before I loved cooking, i loved reading. i still do. And I love to read food lit to combine the two things I adore. But I decided to take the BBC test below. They say that most will only have read 6 of the 100 books below. Let's see how I do...

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Tally your total at the bottom.
2) Put in a note with your total in the subject

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible X
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read a good chunk of them, so I'm counting it) X
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier X
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger X
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy X
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (darn, movie don't count)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma - Jane Austen X
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen X
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini X
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving X
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan X
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel X
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon X
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (1st page a dozen times, guess it doesn't count)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X
63 The Secret History - Donna Tart
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath X
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro X
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert X
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry X
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad X
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

HEY!! I got 49! Not bad I must say myself. Some of them I read in school, others as a child (The Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Charlotte's Web) but I read a bunch on my own as well. This makes me realize I need to read more Dickens. I don't think seeing Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke a hundred times counts. Copy and paste the quiz and check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Spinach Lasagne Bolognese

John and I decided that for Valentine's Day we would stay home and cook together. Well, originally he was going to cook for me, then we decided we would do something together. On the rainy Saturday that was V Day I sat on my couch and looked through a bunch of cooking magazines for ideas. I decided on a recipe in Gourmet for Spinach Bolognese Lasagne. Valentine's was cold and rainy in San Francisco, so I didn't change out of my sweats all day. I had a notion to shower and put on a pretty dress but John told me he didn't care, and I was sooo comfortable, so sweats it was.

Cooking together was a really nice change from me being in the kitchen alone most of the time. We chopped and stirred together, John did all the spinach defrosting and ringing out plus all the ricotta filling. Actually, how goofy is this, when we were at the store we grabbed what we thought was 2 boxes of chopped frozen spinach. Upon returning home we discovered one was actually chopped frozen broccoli. We used it anyway. I have no idea if the lasagne would have been better or worse without the broccoli, but too bad. I thought it was still tasty, and broccoli is green and good for you, I doubt I would have noticed if I hadn't seen the package.

Part of the proposed menu was a Brownie Pudding that I saw Ina make on the Food Network. we searched high and low for Framboise and bought all the ingredients even1 In the end we bought some raspberry extract. But after cooking the lasagne, which I made the mistake of not noticing that the bolognese was supposed to simmer for one hour before putting it in the oven for another hour plus!, we were tired and I was not in the mood to dirty the kitchen again. Champagne and lasagne on the couch was our Valentine's meal and I couldn't have asked for anything better. I must admit I think I kept the bolognese on the stove for too long. Because we used the no-cook noodles they suck up a ton of liquid, leaving our lasagne a bit dry. It was solved by adding a splash of olive oil, which really brightened up the flavors too, but next I will make sure my bolognese looser before I add it. Check out how close my lasagne looks to the picture on the recipe!

Green Pea, Leek & Potato Soup

Mmm, there's nothing more comforting or inexpensive than my green pea vichyssoise. I got a bunch of leeks in my organic delivery and was excited about making it. basically, all I do is chop up some leeks (and clean them of course, never forget to clean your leeks) and chop some potatoes. Stick in large pot with some butter. Cook for a few, add a bunch of chicken stock and water, and garlic if you want with the leeks, and cook. Add a bag of frozen peas after 20 minutes, cook more, and puree. Boom, done. Nothing more to it. Season to taste of course and this time I served it with some heavy whipping cream, chives, and bay shrimp on top. Lovely. The soup is very healthy so there need not be any guilt involved with the cream. I hadn't added shrimp before, but John's one of those protein guys, so I was trying to be creative.

Johnny likes his soup warm, I like it cold, it really doesn't matter, whatever your taste buds are craving. Traditionally vichyssoise does not have green peas, but I love the addition. The peas add such a vibrant color, nutrition, and a lovely taste. But to each his own. I am not a traditional girl like that. Oh, and there are real recipes out there for vichyssoise, ones that include actual measurements and not "add as many leeks and potatoes as you have on hand, use up half package of chicken stock before it goes bad." That's just the way I happen to cook!

Mercedes- Hair of the Dog Cantina

No, I didn't need or have the hair of the dog during a work lunch, that's just the name of the restaurant we went to! It's right around the corner from my office and sort of a hidden gem. My only complaint about my chicken tacos was that they were sort of expensive. Eleven bucks for tacos?! I live in San Francisco which basically means you can find dirt cheap Mexican food that's really good all over the place. Ok, or maybe in the Mission, but I was shocked. All the lunch entrees, burritos, etc, were over 10 bucks. Yeah, the portions were big, but I don't know if I'll return. Maybe if I am in desperate need for the hair of the dog I might, but other than that, I'll save my pesos for $4 jumbo burritos.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New Look

Tell me what you think about my new header! I've changed things a bit. Do you like it?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Man vs. Food

I think I have a new show. It's on the Travel Channel. I stayed up the other night til almost 3 in the morning watching what must have been a marathon of them.
It is just great. Adam Richman is so funny and charming and yes, it is mildly disgusting what he puts in his body, but for some reason it is incredibly entertaining. In the episodes I saw he ate about 15 dozen oysters in New Orleans,Atomic hot wings in Philly (apparently higher than high on the Skoville scale), ate the Carnivore Pizza Challenge in Atlanta, well you get the gist. The guy is nuts, but in the most endearing way. I think I may have developed a bit of a crush.
Check out the show. it's amusing at worst and amazing at best. And check out the show here.

Dark Greens are Good For You

Most people probably don't think, mmmm, kale. But that's exactly what I have been thinking recently. So I made some, easy solution, right? In a pan I sauteed some shallots and mushrooms in olive oil. When they were pretty soft I added the kale, stuck a little water in the pan, and placed a lid on it. Steam city! A voila, dunzo. I had told Johnny that I wanted a light and healthy dinner, and boy did we get one! I added a salad with my new favorite dressing. I make a faux French dressing.

Squirt about a tablespoon of ketchup in a small glass jar with a lid or in a bowl. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder, a big pinch of sugar, a tablespoon of vinegar (or more) and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste and either shake or whisk.

It is really good, sweet and vinegary, just like I like. I like to make a jar of this and bring it with me to work to add to my salads. Adding some chopped shallots makes it even more divine. Bon Appetit!