Thursday, July 16, 2009

creme fraiche


i read about this great stuff in my French Women book. here's where i found out how to make it, because it pretty much doesnt exist in the US. it tastes like sour cream thats not as sour, so you can put a dab on your fruit, on bread, and we tried it on crepes for our bastille day dinner. it does for food what cream does for a bisque- i just makes it richer and more amazing! (obviously you only use a tiny bit- its super rich)

the process to make it was amazing- you just get a jar, put whipping cream and a little buttermilk in it, and sit it out on the counter for 24 hours! voila! the enzymes in buttermilk are just right to turn the cream a little bit sour.

mirelle guilano said that as a child she would be given a little slice of bread, creme fraiche, and cocoa powder on top for a snack. i tried it and i approve!

peach season!


its peach season, or so they tell me. living in the south is fun because traditions surrounding food are extremely important: when something like a peach is in season there are festivals, when something like a crawfish is in season there are festivals, and the list goes on.

my peaches were getting overripe so i had to do something with them yesterday. these muffins were great. they're all cinnamon and peach chunks. they were so good, i said something outloud after i took a bite. (i think i may have even swore. haha. but i was home alone, so it was ok, right?) heres the recipe. add 1/4 of milk and only bake for 20 minutes if you want them to be really moist and yummy. someone suggested that, and i was glad i did. i love that website.

budgeting


james and i started a budget a couple of weeks ago. we have two mortgages right now because of my house in kansas city, so we have to limit ourselves in some other areas. ive been amazed how God has blessed us since we started the budget and how easy it has been to find fun things to do, inexpensive ways to eat amazing food at home, and even overnight trips where we are offered places to stay with friends.

one of the things that has surprised me most is how far my spending money goes when i know how much i have for the month- and what i choose to spend it on. i was sitting at the table, looking at the $5 flowers that i divided up and put all over the house and i realized that they were the best thing i could have bought with $5. a luxury item in the same catagory as diamonds- a wonder of nature.

spanakopita


pie made from spinach- a traditional greek snack!

it was fun to see what two pounds of spinach looked like raw, then imagine trying to fit it into that little pan that the recipe called for. impossible!! or so i thought- but i actually fit all that, PLUS an entire onion, half a cup of parsley, a whole bundle of green onions AND eggs, feta and cottage cheese into the little 7x11 pan. (i used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, to save some money- it was indetectable)

heres the recipe, but if you make it, make sure that you *squeeze the extra moisture* out of it before putting it into the pan AND use 8 sheets of phyllo on top and 8 on bottom. i followed one of the other user's comments and i was glad i did.

its fun to make recipes from different parts of the world because in lake charles we have a limited number of ethnic restaurants. i'm hardly noticing though- i'm having so much fun cooking.

thai chicken soup



sunday nights james and i like to just eat soup because we had a big potluck lunch at church earlier that day. usually it comes from a can (which is surprisingly good- if you buy the right brand and you have a homemade loaf of bread, mmmm) but this time we felt creative.

above you see james starting to prepare the coconut. we needed shredded, creamed coconut and we couldnt find any so we tried to make our own. below, i'm attempting to "cream" it.



all the ingredients in thai food are so fun. behind my arm you can see: lime juice, cayenne pepper, peanut butter, tons of tumeric (as you can see), and even shredded coconut toasted with the oil of a really hot chili pepper, for garnish.


you should only make this soup if you are married and you are with your husband... because you get all warm from the spicey-spices and it gives you an irresistable urge to grab the person next to you and do things to them. james decided that this was a repeat-worthy recipe. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

this is not a diet book!


wow, i just finished this book and it was amazing! despite the title, its really ALL about eating. (eating lots of tiny portions, of course) she talks about french cuisine, wine and champagne 101, bread, savoring chocolate, and even walking and breathing. pretty much just how to enjoy life and food.

her website has recipes and videos- even a video on how to open a bottle of champagne like its nothing! her career is to represent a major champagne label, and shes never been drunk, so she definitely knows how to enjoy life in moderation all around. fun lady- and she makes you want to have fun, too.

world ufo day party

james requested a red velvet cake that looked like an alien, giving you the impression of an alien autopsy. i was game, id never made a red velvet cake before.

i had NO idea that there are TWO BOTTLES of red food coloring in a red velvet. being the really sloppy cook that i am, this required me to be extra careful with my hand mixer. nevertheless, i still ended up with speckles of red all over the kitchen and yes, it gave the impression of an alien autopsy table.

even weirder than the blood red icing, was the fact that right before you bake it, you throw in baking soda and vinegar! talk about a science experiment.



the traditional redvelvet cake icing in the BH&G cookbook was extra fluffy, so it was a little hard to decorate with, but james seemed happy with the result.

personally, i thought the cake tasted horrible, so i was glad that it had it's kitschy appearance to pull it through! over mixing= dense. but hey, it was my first cake ever. a very nontraditional, traditional cake.


i made leek tarts (upper middle) which was flavored with dijon mustard and peppers and walnuts, and spinach phyllo triangles with feta. (right) all three things were from the BH&G cookbook that my mom gave me at my wedding shower. she assured me that it was the best, basic cookbook (and i agree, because ive used it over and over already) but these tasted anything but basic. yum! thanks mom.


(i didnt make the cute cake at the bottom.)

pralines


while we were on our honeymoon, i tried my first praline in the french quarter of new orleans. i never even knew WHAT they were before that. i just assumed that a praline was a sort of nut, that they put in the ice cream that my dad bought when we were kids. apparently they are a southern tradition, and i got this recipe out of a cajun cookbook from ms trudy. it was so fun to watch the goo bubbling around in the pot, and to try to make the "soft ball" after throwing a blob in a cup of water- that was the cajun cookbook's way to determine that they were ready to take off the heat.

some turned out a little lumpy because i didnt know how fast i had to work, while throwing them onto the parchment paper, but this one looked just like the one i had in new orleans! i sent them to a men's bbq that james went to that night.

mmmm... another great use for my husband's huge bag of pecans.

master bedroom

i have to count this bed as a project in and of itself... because it takes 5 minutes to make, everyday! not to mention the time i spend trying to find my husband after he tries to lean against the mound of pillows. (what was that i said about "simple things" again?)

the walls in the master bedroom are warm and cozy now- the color is called cracker bitz (yeah, with a z??) we get a discount on pittsburg paint because of james job at PPG. yay. so i painted the bathroom too. then i repainted the trim as well, in colonial white. james says that our bedroom feels like barnes and noble. its true! it makes you want to cuddle and read.



our bedroom is nice now, even if it IS slightly higher maintenance. this is what it looked like before!


dont worry, james still has a music room, its just not the master bedroom anymore!

pecan pie


this was my first pie ever. when i arrived, james had probably $15 worth of pecans that his boss had given him, so i thought id try to make something out of them. i didnt make the crust because it was my first time, but i plan to for the next pie. i used a recipe out of a cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me, and they said the secret was to brown the butter. it was true! browning the butter gave it so much more flavor. yum!

crabbing and making crab quiche

i caught this big beautiful blue crab with a chunk of meat that my wonderful husband tied onto a a string for me.



when they were boiled, the shells turned red.


and now we have the freshest crab possible, in a quiche! here's the recipe.