Sunday, November 25, 2007

gobble gobble, continued.

we just finished our last bits of leftovers. so i suppose i can give you my top secret thanksgiving recipes.

turkey with orange and garlic

you need:
a roasting turkey of any size, it must still have it's skin!
1 orange
a few cloves of garlic, sliced very thin. the bigger your turkey, the more garlic you will want.
salt & pepper
olive oil
herbs de provence

mix olive oil, salt & pepper and herbs in a small bowl. cut the orange in half. thinly slice one half, and cut the other into wedges. roll back the skin of the turkey, and brush the flesh with half of your olive oil mixture. lay orange and garlic slices on the flesh, and roll the skin back on top of all that. brush the rest of the olive oil on top of the skin, and stuff with oranges, and fresh herbs, if you have them. follow normal turkey cooking directions.

sweet potatoes and apples
this is my husbands recipe, and i hope i got it right!

3 or 4 baking apples - gala, fuji, golden delicious
1 large, and 1 small can of sweet potatoes in water
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp brown sugar

slice the apples into 1/4" thick slices. cut large chunks of sweet potatoes in half. preheat oven to 350, and use a deep, oven safe bowl (we have a glass bowl that is perfect for this!). the bottom layer should be sweet potatoes, then do a layer of apple slices. then dot with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. keep making layers of sweet potatoes, apples, butter, cinnamon/sugar until you run out of ingredietns, or reach the top of the bowl. depending on your bowl or baking dish, you may need more or less butter, cinnamon, or brown sugar. cover with tin foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until apples are tender.

garlic roasted potatoes

3 lbs new potatoes, scrubbed and wedged
olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbp rosemary
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 chopped fresh parsley

preheat oven to 375. put potatoes and olive oil in a zip-lock bag, and shake to cover the potatoes with oil. put the potato wedges in a single layer on a greased baking dish, and bake for 25 minutes. while they are cooking, put some oil in a sauce pan, and sautee the garlic. as soon as the garlic starts to burn, remove from the heat. when garlic has cooled, add rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper and parsley. if the mixture seems to dry, add a little more olive oil. before serving, toss potatoes and garlic mixture in a big bowl. it's yummy.

snow peas sauteed with red onion, tomatoes and mint

1/3 cup olive oil
1 to 2 lbs snow peas
half a red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
salt & pepper
3 tbsp mint
pinch of sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

in a large soup pot, heat the oil, then saute the onions, stirring occasionally. after a few minutes, add the garlic. then stir in the snow peas. stir in the sun dried and fresh tomatoes, and water, and bring mixture to a boil. season with some salt and pepper. cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. add mint and sugar, cook for one minute. then add vinegar.

stuffing . . . .

i cheated. i used stovetop. doctored it with sauteed celery and mushrooms. it was awesome. i think i'll make more tonight.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

gobble gobble!

the turkey has just gone in the oven, and soon it will be time to start chopping potatoes, apples, garlic, onion, etc. this is our first annual pajama thanksgiving, as in we aren't going anywhere, aren't having anyone over, and are still in our pajamas. it's been a busy few months, so it's actually really nice to do nothing for thanksgiving, for once! i recommend it to anyone who feels they've been social enough lately, damnit!

on the menu this evening:

turkey with orange and garlic (i loves me garlic!)
sweet potatoes and apples
garlic roasted potatoes (mmm! more garlic!
snow peas sauteed with red onion, tomatoes and mint

i'm all the about the stuffing. but too lazy to make it from scratch. i cheated, and bought stove top. but it's OK, since stove top won this Store Bought Stuffing Mix Showdown! and, how have i been online this long and not discovered Serious Eats? this place makes Alton Brown look like an idiot.

mmm, my hands still smell like garlic. i don't ever have to worry about vampires, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

beef! it's the other thanksgiving meat!

Happy almost Turkey day! i haven't even done my grocery shopping yet for the big day, have you?

After more than 10 years of being good, i have decided that "I don't eat read meat" is for the birds. (why no red meat you ask? as a goodie two shoes high school student i had to rebel against something. . . but it couldn't be too much of a rebellion. i was a goodie two shoes, you know) and i have discovered sweet and sour pork, and beef burgundy! while i am still trying to find the recipe for that disgusting florescent red sweet and sour sauce served at chinese restaurants, i have found the most magnificient recipe for Beef Burgundy. this is far easier than it looks. all you do is chop some stuff, and stir some stuff, and the stove does all the hard work for you.

Beef Burgundy

you'll need a heavy, very large skillet with a lid, or a dutch oven for this. before getting started, have ready near the stove two heavy plates, both lined with paper towels.

1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 sliced turkey bacon or 2 slices regular bacon
small package pearl onions (about 25 pearl onions)
8 to 12oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 to 1.5 lbs beef chuck steak, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp flour
2 cups burgundy wine
salt & pepper
2 tbsp "herbs de provence" (mix of rosemary, marjoram, basil, thyme, bay leaf, lavender)
1 bay leaf

heat the olive oil in the skillet. cook the bacon, remove it, chop it and leave it to drain on one of the paper towel lined plates. add the pearl onions to the skillet, and cook and stir occasionally, until they begin to brown. once slightly browned, remove them to the second paper towel lined plate. add the mushrooms to the skillet, and cook until they begin to brown, adding a little more oil if needed. once the mushrooms are slightly browned, remove them and add them to the paper tower lined plate with the pearl onions. put the beef in the pan, and cook over medium heat until browned all over. at this point, we're not trying to get the meat cooked all the way through. when the beef has browned a bit, put it on the same plate with the bacon.

add the onions and carrots to the pan, and cook till the onion starts turning translucent. put the bacon and beef back in the pan, and stir in garlic and and flour. stir in the burgundy wine, herbs de provence, bay leaf, and some salt & pepper. heat until simmering, then cover, and cook on very low heat for 2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. add the reserved mushrooms and pearl onions, and cook another 10 minutes to get them heated through.

serve hot, with crusty bread or wild rice. makes 4-6 servings and usually leaves enough wine in the bottle for 2-3 glasses.

mmmm.... food. and i got a 6-pack of Bell's Special Double Cream Stout. holy crap is this stuff good. you know it's a limited edition when the graphic design on the label sucks. i love Bell's!

beyond my two favorite things, food and beer, is my other favorite thing: reading books and making all sorts of snarky comments about them.

just finished Crashing Through by Robert Kurson. I can not recommend this book enough. no one told me it was non-fiction, and it's so unbelievable, it's easy to think you are reading an inspirational novel. as a young child, Mike May is blinded in a chemical explosion. having been born sighted, he is a candidate for a rare stem cell transplant that may give him his sight back, or at least parts of it. after May and his wife Jennifer weigh the fears and doubts against the possibility of the regaining of his sight, he decides to have the procedure. and it works. he can see. but May will never see like you or i do. he has no depth perception, and can not read faces. Kurson spent two years with the May family, researching Mike May's childhood, the damage to his eye (one is a prosthetic), and interviewing neural and optical surgeaons. i usually avoid non-fiction, and i can't say enough things about this book!

Cimmerian City - not as good. as i said before, it's La Femme Nikita meets Underworld, set on the movie set of The 5th Element, with some plot holes big enough for the Titanic to sail through. I'll link to the full review, once i've written it. i hate to be mean to a young, new writer, but this story did have a lot of potential, and most of it went right down the drain.

Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters. some new writers should get a day job. I want this S.M. Peters guy to quit any day job he has, and write full time. Peters gets steampunk right, and i mean superb. book doesn't come out till February, so book review won't get published till shortly before then. in paperback, this should retail for under $10, and if even I can afford to buy a copy, so can you! so go to Amazon right now, and pre-order it! because it's really good!

in DVD news, finally got to see Final Fantasy: Advent Children. i can see why so many cosplayers dress up as Cloud. all you need is a bunch of black clothing, a bucket of hair gel, and an 8 foot styrofoam sword. the movie was mostly never ending sword fights where no one ever got hurt or broke a sweat, melodramatic monologues, cool robots and explosions, and ansgst filled orphans and street people. as far as quality movies go, it was pretty bad. but kinda fun, in that stylish video game kinda way. i might watch it again before it goes back!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cimmerian somthin'

just finished Cimmerian City by Rae Lindley. beyond it being Underworld meets La Femme Nikita described by someone with the writing skills of a highschooler, stay tuned for my soon to be written review for Multiverse Reviews. Someone really needs to look into peer review. Cimmerian City is kinda funny, but i don't think it was supposed to be funny.

also reading The Ape in the Corner office, by Richard Conniff. and this is a book that's supposed to be funny! Conniff compared monkey sociology with human sociology, and they are pretty much the same. very, very funny. i'd take this book to work and read it on my lunchbreak, but if i did, i don't think i'd be able to look my boss in the face afterwards without laughing.

on to Matt Browne's The Future Happens Twice, and we'll see what else shows up in the mail this week.

In DVD news, i've been netflixing old episodes of Samurai Champloo. i think i just got to the episodes they couldn't show on american TV. Fu warms up to Mugen, because she's jealous of Jean's momentary flame. it's a good show, even better when you get to see the episodes in order. it would be so romantic if Fu hooked up with Jean, but i know it will never happen. *sigh*.

it's still cold outside. time for some easy, fragrant, citrus olive chicken. this is way easier than it looks, and damn it's good.

Lemon Chicken with Olives
2 tbsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 to 1.5 pounds chicken parts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 cup brown olives, rinsed of brine
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375. mix cinnamon with some salt and pepper in a bowl, and rub this mixture into the outside of the chicken parts. heat oil in a skillet, and fry the chicken over medium heat, browning the outside (you're not trying to cook the chicken all the way through). remove chicken and put in an oven safe dish. fry the onions in the skillet till golden, add the ginger and chicken stock and bring to a boil. pour this mixture over the chicken, cover with tin foil an bake in the oven for 20 minutes. remove the chicken from the oven, mix in the lemon wedges, olives, and honey. bake uncovered for another 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. remove from the oven, stir in the chopped cilantro.

serve hot, either over rice, or with crusty bread to soak up the sauce. this is very saucy!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

soupy soup.

the leaves are falling, it's getting cold outside. time for soups, stews, stoups, and chili.

easy, simply, quick, yummy:
Mushroom Barley Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
8-12 oz mixed mushrooms (such as button, cremini, or portabello), chopped coarsley. any dried mushrooms should be re-hydrated with some hot water, then dried on paper towels.
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup dry pearl barley
salt & pepper
1 tbsp dry dill, or 3 tbsp fresh minced dill
5 cups chicken broth (or a combination of broth and water to equal 5 cups)

melt oil and butter over medium heat. add onion and garlic, and cook, stiring, until the onion starts to soften. add celery and carrots, cook 2-3 minutes. add mushrooms, barley, dill, and a little salt and pepper. Stir, to get the mushrooms and barley down the bottom of the pot. when the barley has begun to get "toasted", add the broth. turn stove up to high to bring the soup to a boil. once it is boiling, turn it down to a simmer, and cook partially covered for 30 minutes, or until barley is plump and soft.

enjoy with crusty bread, or sandwiches. this soup can stay in the fridge for 5 days. i've never tried to freeze it, but i'm sure it would freeze OK.

books in the to be read & reviewed pile:
Shadowplay, by Tad Williams
The Future Happens Twice, by Matt Browne
Cimmerian City, by Rae Lindley

Thursday, November 1, 2007

George R R Martin's Dreamsongs Review

i just realized my review for George R R Martin's Dreamsongs I got posted over on SFRevu:


go read it. probably one of the longest reviews i've written, but it's a good article.

shadowmarching the wrong way?

been travelling more. was down in Atlanta for 2 days, then back down for southern southern GA in two weeks. nothing much exciting in Atlanta. that airport is really bizarre! a super nice lady at the MARTA station helped me get a ticket to get to the airport. everyone down there talks funny and calls me "hon".

finished Tad William's Shadowmarch. it was okay. felt stilted, predictable, patterned. most paragraphs consisted of 2 run on sentences, followed by a confusing and drawn out simile, followed by a line of dialogue. Williams made a habit of listing out what the characters were doing - "He got out of bed and walked across the room. He put on his chainmail whatever and called the guard, who was standing outside. he left the room and walked down the stairs." Okay, so it isn't quite that bad, but parts of the book are close.

I need to see which was written first, Shadowmarch or A Game of Thrones. In Shadowmarch, the family is in a northern province, on the borderlands of where the "fairyfolk" live. And were not talking cutesy fairies with wings here, we're talking the creepy ones who steal your kids and burn your farm. A human enemy is rising in the south, threatening the northern provinces, there is talk of an alliance through marriage. I was waiting for someone to say that famous Game of Thrones line: "They're marching the wrong way". Twin regents Briony and Barrick (and what's with there being twins in every single epic fantasy series? ok, dichotomy and balance, i get it already! who was the first person to decide every epic fantasy series needed a set of twins?) are trying to keep their northern keep of Southmarch safe and under control. these kids have been running amock through the keep for 15 years, yet none of the nobles seem to know if they can be trusted? and the kids don't seem to have a clue who to trust? they weren't stuck in a convent for the last 15 years, so maybe they are just dumb. or unaware that their dad is the king. and being held hostage down south.

maybe i'm being harsh. Maybe i'm getting jaded. maybe i've just been really spoiled reading some really good shit lately. Because if you're looking for something fantasy-ish (we do have plenty of active magic, and a pretty cool bizarre religion and culture in the way down south) with action and battles and swords and some wizardly, and crypts and secret passages, and intrigue, and the like, you'll have a good time with Shadowmarch. you just might not be all that impressed with it.

Many, many hours stuck on airplanes and in airports let me catch up with one of my perennial favorites, The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. this is one of the few books i can say lived up to all it's hype. gents beware, this is totally a girly book. told from the points of view of four daughters who travel with their parents on a mission to the Congo in the 1960s. One girl is a princess, one is a tomboy, one a learning disabled mute, the last one but a babe. This book is beautiful, and a tearjerker. I've read it before, so i know what's going to happen: who gets to come home to America, who stays in Africa, who dies. and i start tearing up about 10 pages ahead of time. ladies, if you've never read this book, get it. you will like it. you will see yourself and everyone you know in it.

let's see. . . glazed apples. like caramel apples? or like candied apples on the stove? i got a recipe for Tart Tatin, which is like an upside down apple pie made with candied apples:

Tart Tatin:

first, you gotta make the pastry part:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into small peices
2 or 3 tbsp milk (and not that skim stuff!)

blend sugar & flour. cut the butter in with a pastry knife, and blend till mixture look like coarse crumbs (this is like making regular pie dough!). add the milk one tbsp at a time, and blend it in till the dough holds together. depending on how humid the room is, you might not need all the milk. wrap dough tight in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge.

now you gotta make the "inside" part:
1/2 cup butter, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 lbs apples, peeled and wedged
2 tbsp lemon juice

with the stove turned off, spread butter on the bottom of a heavy skillet (the kind of skillet than is oven safe). pour sugar over the butter, then layer apples on top of that. sprinkle with lemon juice, and put it on the stove, over medium to high heat. you want the sugar and butter to melt together and carmelize the apples. shake pan (but don't stir up too much!!) occasionally. after 20 minutes, take it off the heat, or your apples will burn. as this mixture is cooling, roll out your dough on a floured surface. and preheat your oven to 425. you need the dough to be a little bigger than the top of the pan, it's OK if it's pretty thick, but make there aren't any holes!! lay the pastry round on top of the pan, and tuck the edges in. prick lightly with a fork (this is so the steam can escape, but you don't want gigantic fork holes). bake 20 min at 425. the top of the pastry part should be golden. have a friend help you turn (flip!) the pastry out onto a platter. the inside is really hot! be careful!

and if you just want the carmelized apples, i suppose you could skip the pastry part, and have the carmelized apples with vanilla icecream and mint sprigs.