Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

True Blood returns this Sunday! I don't know how I feel about the fairy aspect but whatevs I'm psyched. HBO has an 8 minute trailer up, in case you haven't seen it.

How cute is this baby hippo? (via Pinterest. By the way you can see everything I pin on Pinterest here.)

Erin's reflections on being an introvert, which I empathize with, linked this post by Carl King highlighting 10 points from The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. If you've ever wondered why I'm so ... maybe that will help you decipher me.

“A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.” – Diana Vreeland (via Zuburbia Vintage Clothing)

This week PBS' POV started airing weekly documentaries. I caught Kings of Pastry Tuesday and highly recommend it. My breath caught several times at the beauty of the pastries and drama of the competition between 16 chefs to become Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. I was also impressed at the collegiality of the competitors and current MOFs. You can stream it online here until September 20, 2011. Later this summer I plan to catch Sweetgrass, Enemies of the People, Storycorps and Last Train Home. I just wish they didn't air at 11 p.m. in my area; local PBS is making me miss DVR. Who would have thought?

Kitchens in Cuba

A Year of Meals Mapped 40 Ways is fascinating and allows you to consider the value of many different infographic styles side by side. While the stacked line graph and rainbow diagram's caused me to linger they weren't as easy to understand as some of the others. Fascinating. (via Food News Journal)

Recipes Bookmarked
Banana Rosemary Baby Bundt Cakes with Rosemary Brown Butter Icing at Always Order Dessert
Boston Cream Whoopie Pies at Baking Bites (I love this type of donut.)
Chap Chae (a.k.a. Jap Chae) and Pad See Ew at NPR's Kitchen Window
Mom's Gazpacho Recipe at Epicurious via Meg, who said it was DELICIOUS.
Rich Homemade Ricotta at Smitten Kitchen based on Salvatore Brooklyn's recipe, which is like no other...or at least it was until Deb made her own version.
Three-Ingredient Summer Cocktails at NY Times, especially the Guadalajara Sour, Cherry Caipirissima and/or the Take 3. They had readers send in their suggestions too via Twitter.

Heading to Governor's Island from Manhattan, July, 2010

If you live in Richmond, you can see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tonight for $10 at Friday Cheers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Squash Brownies

Interning at Red Dog Farm is leaving me with lots of delicious summer squash! For some reason people at the market seem to prefer sleek, green zucchini over its bumpy yellow sibling, squash, so I wanted to think of a way to encourage squash consumption. And what better way than incorporating it into something sweet? If it can be done with zucchini, it can be done with squash. After all they are pretty much interchangeable due to their mild flavor and high water content.

This reasoning and insatiable craving for chocolate led to brownies. Inspired by the recipes listed at the end of the post, I came up with a fudge-like brownie that no one will guess contains squash. I've also limited the amount of added fat and sugar in the recipe, making it a healthier choice than many brownie recipes out there.

Pleased with my end result I brought, apparently illegal, samples to the Farmer's Market this past weekend. They were gone by 9:47 a.m. as were our blueberries, which I'd say makes them a hit. Even the small children who tried them were happy (and none the wiser). I liked that people liked them and I liked it even better that I wasn't busted by an inspector for my contraband baked goods! Enjoy.

Summer Squash Brownies
Yield: One 8 x 8 square pan, which I cut into 25 pieces

4 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour (All all-purpose flour should be fine too.)
1/2 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
1 cup Grated, Pressed Summer Squash
1/3 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1. Grate the squash using the large holes on a box grater or a food processor's grating plate. Place the grated squash in a colander with small holes over the sink and press the liquid out with a spatula. Let the squash rest in the colander in the sink.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 8 x 8 baking dish with olive oil. 
3. Place 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate in a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl. Heat on high for 2 minutes, then stir. Return to the microwave for another minute on high, remove, stir and add the butter. Heat for another 30 seconds. You want the butter and chocolate to both be just melted. Stir them until smooth. 
4. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of white all purpose flour to the chocolate and butter mixture. Stir to combine. It will look very dry...
5. Crack the 3 eggs into the bowl. Stir to combine.
6. Press the squash one more time to get as much liquid out as possible. Measure out 1 cup of it into the bowl. Stir.
7. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate chips to the bowl and stir them into the batter.
8. Pour batter into the prepared 8 x 8 pan and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife pierced in the middle of the pan comes out free of crumbs. Take care not to overcook the brownies or they will get dry.
9. Remove the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove it from the pan onto the rack. Once cool wrap in plastic and chill overnight. While the brownies can be consumed hot, they taste best the next day.

They also taste good slightly frozen.  

Recipes Referenced
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes at 101 Cookbooks
Fudgy Brownies at Martha Stewart via The Kitchn
Fudge Drops at King Arthur Flour
How to: Make Cakey, Chewy and Fudgy Brownies at Fine Cooking via The Kitchn
Moosewood Fudge Brownies at Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies from the great book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

Six Word Story Every Day tells a story daily through 6 words (obviously). If you enjoy typography, you'll like it. Silence Has Never Sounded So Good at Time and a Half led me to their website and may be my favorite. Windows not frosted but steamed up, He leapt, fell but never landed. and Broken words for the broken souls also caught my fancy.

I ended up at Time and a Half thanks to Kristina at Up Your Wall noting that Kat there had highlighted some of their art. Liesl Pfeffer's twist on travel photography truly is art. I love Mountain Waits. Yes, there is a theme here; mountains amaze me.

Speaking of mountains, I would like to join the mob of tourists visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to witness the synchronous fireflies mating. That NY Times video is a nice technical overview, but here's a pretty picture. Hurray for a new, domestic destination (Gatlinburg, TN) that isn't out West.  

With the big 30 coming in September I may have to copy Subtle Revelry's matchstick birthday candles.

I've always been intrigued by antique lampshades with swing-y fringe; this fringe chandelier at The Sweetest Occasion takes that idea to the next level.

The FDA has created new rules for Sunscreen labeling as the NY Times detailed here. Most relevant is this advice for selecting sunscreen "Dermatologists suggest that consumers look for products that say 'broad spectrum,' have an SPF between 30 and 50 and generally reapply lotion every 40 to 80 minutes." Here's to avoiding sunburn this summer!

It wouldn't be a complete week if I didn't link something awesome from Courtney. This week I've chosen Juliette Tang's Still Life with Book photo series on Flickr. Juliette creates a still life portrait based on a book's contents that includes the book.

Recipes Bookmarked
Apple Pancake Cake (Gluten-Free) at VitalJuice
Asparagus, Mushroom and Ham Quiche with a Potato Crust at PositScience (because a potato crust sounds brilliant!) from For the Love of Cooking
Blueberry Sorbet at Simply Recipes
Faux Full Fat Blue Cheese Potato Salad at Audax Artifex
Mango-Ginger Potato Salad at Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives
Oat Bran and Flax Seeds Whole Wheat Broom Bread at Gayathri's Cook Spot
Potato Power Salad (Beets, Avocado, Edamame and Tahini Dressing) at Zodelicious

Great Falls Park, McLean, Virginia, April 2009

Find more artists like Those Darlins at Myspace Music
I prefer their more recent music as it is a bit less country but it is all good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five Layer Fiesta Potato Salad

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Jami provided recipes for Green Bean Potato Salad, Creamy Yogurt and Dill Potato Salad, Light Potato Salad and German Potato Salad. You can check them and the full challenge out here. Thank you for a fun and tasty challenge, Jami. This challenge definitely inspired me as you can see below.


Have you ever had seven layer dip? In case you haven't, it consists of refried beans, taco seasoning, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, green onions and olives layered in a dish. It is addictive. I've been known to demolish it and a bag of tortilla chips at myself...not healthy and mildly embarrassing.

Inspired by that special occasion dip I created this Five Layer Fiesta Potato Salad, which fills the same craving without the messy fingers or crazy calorie intake. The nutrient dense ingredients are filling and include a good amount of dietary fiber since the skin stays on the potatoes. Keeping the ingredients layered makes for an attractive presentation that is still party perfect - at least until the first scoop happens.

Who wants traditional Seven Layer Dip only at parties when you can have this salad anytime? Feel free to tweak the recipe for your own purposes... I may add black beans in the future.

Five Layer Fiesta Potato Salad
3 Red Potatoes (approximately 1 1/4 pounds)
1 Orange Bell Pepper
2 Avocados
1 Lime
3/4 cup Salsa
1/2 tablespoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 cup Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese (l like Cabot's 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar.)
1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro

1. Scrub the potatoes and remove all projecting eyes/dents. Dice into 1/2 inch cubes placing them into a large pot half full of water as you go. Once all the potatoes are in the pot, turn the burner up to high and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes for approximately 27 minutes or until potatoes yield easily to biting but retain their shape. Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water to prevent additional cooking.
2. While the potatoes boil, dice the orange pepper into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the avocado into 1/2 inch cubes, placing them in a container and squeezing half of the lime over them to prevent browning. Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems and chop enough to fill 1/4 cup.
3. Place the drained potatoes into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the other half lime over them. Add 1/2 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Toss to combine.
4. Move the potato mixture to a serving bowl. This is your first layer.
5. Top the potatoes with the orange pepper, then add the avocado on top of it. Pour the salsa over the avocado.
6. Sprinkle the avocado with cheese, then cilantro.
7. Chill until ready to serve. It can be served a room temperature or cold.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.  

Models Unretouched still look great! But they also look a little more like normal people and that is comforting.

Chile's Puyehue Volcano Erupts - a story in pictures at The Atlantic.

Toby Ng's World of 100 answers the question: If the world were a village of 100 people, what would its composition be? through 20 infographics. They are a simple, startling reminder of inequities in the world and more personally how privileged I am to live the way I do. (via Courtney)

Decluttering as Zen Mediation

Recipes Bookmarked
Ginger Rhubarb Chutney at All Our Fingers in the Pie (I like the idea of a savory preparation!)
Matt Bites' Fudge Popsicles at Smitten Kitchen
Hamburger Buns at Deliciously Organic
Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce at Jamie Oliver
Sweet Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream + Chocolate Sauce at Healthful Pursuit

Rosslyn, VA, June 2005
(I'll be near there for a hot second this weekend.)

Find more artists like Marissa Nadler at Myspace Music

Her voice reminds me of Mazzy Star. Does anyone else remember her?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May Our Chickens (and My Racing Mind) Rest in Peace

Last week Dad transferred our seven chickens from indoors to a coop he built them outside. During the day the chicks wandered near the coop or roosted inside and at night they willingly re-entered it to be locked up for safekeeping. We were all much happier! They liked the freedom and we liked that the house no longer smelled.

This morning when Dad went to let them, there was one living rooster, four dead hens and lots of feathers. He found Miss Cleo, my Easter Egger, in the yard and another brown one is still missing. We have no idea how a predator got them out of the hen house! Or even got in there... Its windows were wire-lined and there weren't any cracks bigger than the 1/4 inch up where the roof and the walls met higher than 8 feet up. Based on these descriptions it must have been a fox. (Mr. Fox, you are no longer fantastic.)

The chickens weren't my idea. They weren't friendly. They weren't even laying eggs yet and I had said from day one that if they turned out to be roosters we were eating them... I know predators go after chickens. Yet I am upset. We had nurtured them from little balls of fluff into pullets that were big enough to live outside. If we ended up eating a rooster, it was our decision. These deaths, like most deaths, were not our decision. They are shocking and feel like theft.

I turned my life on end this past December. I left NYC's hustle, bustle and breathtaking bits of blue sky between the tall buildings, its comfortable friends and patterns and came home to pursue a different future. I started non-curricular classes to complete pre-requisites to apply to graduate programs, volunteering, catering and trying to catch up with the people and the changes in Richmond that had occurred since I left in 2003 for the DC-area then NYC. I had reluctantly decided to try and be brave; I still am trying.

Some days I feel like I'm pursuing destiny and everything is great! Other days, like today when something little goes wrong, I struggle. Logically I know life is unpredictable, rolling with the punches is good, that the only way I can succeed is to stop worrying and act, blah, blah blah... But here I am catastrophizing that the chickens have died, I'm not going to get through the hard science classes I largely bypassed in undergrad, graduate school won't happen, etc. Silly.

Anyway, I thought I would empty my mind here hopefully disrupting the cycle so I can get back to Microbiology. Success isn't going to come from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It may not come from dedicated studying either, but at least I will actively have tried rather than letting the fear of failure halt me. If the current plan doesn't work out, there is another one somewhere... I just have to be open to whatever comes my way.

May our chickens rest in peace and may we find the rooster a new home, so he doesn't meet the same fate as the other chickens tonight. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. 

Stories about how people improved their lives by changing their diets always intrigue me. I would say they inspire me except that I keep not taking the appropriate steps... Hopefully one day I'll get over that bump. In the meantime, memorable stories I've read over the past few months that illustrate a connection between what individuals eat and how they feel.
Jay Parkinson + MD + Ph.D. cut caffeine and lost his daily migraines.
Carrie at Deliciously Organic manages her Hashimoto’s disease (thyroid) with diet.
Helene at My Tartlette manages her Meniere's disease by eating gluten-free.
Nicole at Pinch My Salt manages her reactive hypoglycemia with diet.

The "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC sounds fascinating. It covers 200 years of America's relationship with food and the government's role in it. It runs from June 10, 2011 – January 3, 2012 and is free.

It is here! The USDA's Food Pyramid has been replaced with MyPlate. This format is easier to interpret, but I find it shocking that $2 million will have been spent between developing and marketing the new logo and creating the new accompanying web site. Marion Nestle offers her commentary on the new format and  highlights other eating guides that use the plate as their shape here.

Vogue Italia is featuring three beautiful plus size models on its July cover. (via Courtney who rightly comments "But did they have to sit the "plus sized models" at a dinner table?") French Elle's April cover featured Tara Lynn, one of the models. You can see her 20-page editorial from that issue here.

Zuburbia has a neat weekly feature where they curate the best vintage items on eBay. It is worth the time if you enjoy vintage.

Jelly Shot Test Kitchen - brilliant and surely delicious. I had been contemplating a pursuit of this sort when Courtney posted this. It will be a good resource should I go down that road and, in the meantime, it is great eye candy.

Richmond residents - Broad Appetit on Sunday sounds mighty tasty. 

Recipes Bookmarked
Coconut Shrimp Poppers with Chili Mango Cream at Pinch My Salt
No Knead Bread (8-12 hour version) Pizza Dough at David Leibovitz
Ranch Dressing at Deliciously Organic

Carribean, May 2006
(I wish I were there now!)

I'm not a huge fan of mash-ups, but Paul makes a good case for them with this one featuring Radiohead and Dave Brubeck. Click through to hear it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Honey-Rum Roasted Rhubarb

Last year Molly from Orangette wrote about her variation on Canal House's Roasted Rhubarb so convincingly that I had to try it. It was a risky move as I had never had rhubarb without strawberries, but there was reward in its sweet, tart taste. So for a while I reveled in it and then rhubarb was out of season.

Cue Spring in Richmond this year and a dearth of rhubarb. Apparently it is a Northern crop, so it isn't widely anticipated or available here the way it is in New York City. After a few weeks of searching I was resigned to not having rhubarb, then I saw it on Farm to Family's produce list! I squealed and promptly went to pick up some of the red celery-looking stalks.

Molly's original version still is great, but I've tinkered with it a bit halving the proportions, removing the refined sugar and using rum in lieu of wine. With wine you end up with a spare 3.5 cups to drink, which didn't interest me nor did cluttering the fridge with the bottle. Rum can be held for at room temperature in the pantry and it goes well with honey.

This rhubarb has more flavor and is sweeter when cold, so I recommend eating it that way although it eating it while its warm won't hurt you. Enjoy the rhubarb on its own, over plain greek yogurt for breakfast or over popovers, which convinced my mom that "stewed rhubarb" as she was raised eating it was actually quite tasty rather than the mushy, undesirable stuff of her memories.

Honey-Rum Roasted Rhubarb
Adapted from Molly at Orangette's twist on a recipe by Canal House Cooking, Volume 3.*
Yield approximately 1.5 cups

1 pound Rhubarb, trimmed (the leaves are poisonous!) and cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup Honey (I used clover.)
3 tablespoons White Rum (We had Ronrico. Don't judge. It worked.)
1 tablespoon Water
1/2 Vanilla Bean, split up its center

1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Pour the honey, rum and water into the bottom of a pyrex dish (a dutch oven or other over-safe pot would work too). Add the rhubarb and stir gently to combine the ingredients.
3. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then remove the dish and stir the rhubarb to ensure even cooking.
4. Return the dish to the oven and continue baking it for 15 more minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, cool briefly on the counter and then place it in the fridge to cool overnight.

*It looks like David Lebovitz and Sarah Galvin at All Our Fingers in the Pie have done something similar too!