Sunday, January 27, 2008

Catch up

So, it's been a while since I've posted anything. It's been busy getting back into school and balancing my schedule-plus, I haven't been feeling very expressive lately. I am finally ready, however, to share some of the things I've been making lately. Nothing too exciting...and a few that I didn't photograph.
It's been chilly here lately so breakfast has been steel cut oats just about every day. I LOVE oatmeal...but get bored with it some days. So while it cooks I look through every food containing cabinet or shelf that I have in order to spice up my bowl of warmth. On most days I chop up some apple and add it in as soon as the pot starts to boil. On one particularly inspired morning, I found a can of pumpkin and some unsweetened shredded coconut. I toasted up the coconut and stirred in the pumpkin and some cinnamon when I added the milk towards the end of the cooking process. I topped it with banana and the coconut; transforming a bland bowl of oatmeal to a super-nutritious, extra-flavorful breakfast treat.
Brittney had a project in her aromatherapy class that required her to research an essential oil of her choice. She chose vanilla and asked me if I would make vanilla cupcakes for her to bring to class as part of her presentation. The first batch was a failure-I still haven't perfect high altitude baking and I think there was too much batter for the 12 cupcakes that the recipe was supposed to make...they came out tasting delicious but pretty ugly. So, I tried another recipe from the Joy of Baking. They came out perfect and I whipped up some vanilla frosting and drew a vanilla flower on all of them. I was told they were a hit.
Tonight I made a Spicy Winter Squash Galette from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I've had a small pumpkin, two actually, since Halloween and it's taken me this long to do anything with them. I originally saw this recipe on The Today Show and then I bought the cookbook...which is my favorite cookbook at the moment. The galette has a very deep savory flavor and a perfectly flaky crust. In the future I would probably use a little less squash...or perhaps more liquid-the pumpkin cubes at the top didn't stay as moist as the ones closer to the crust. A drizzle of olive oil over the top before putting it in the oven would probably correct this, also. Sweet potatoes would be great for a substitution. Some whole milk yogurt and cilantro on top rounded out the flavors quite well.
Here are some pictures of my apartment since we've added some decorations...
Other than that...I'm totally excited about my new job at a cafe a block from my house. School is going to keep my VERY busy for the next few months-so, I'll be trying to cook and do as much yoga as I can to keep my sane. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back in Flag...

Well, I'm finally back in Flagstaff and until now I haven't been cooking anything exciting. Mostly, I've been eating very simple foods in an attempt to recover from the food-centered agenda that was my winter break. It's been plain steel-cut oats for breakfast and red lentils and rice for dinner-all of which I love...but nothing to really photograph or write about. I haven't baked any sweets-I don't even have butter in my house at the moment. The last few days I was home I ended up eating out twice a day in an effort to spend time with everyone before heading back to school. It was a whirlwind.
Now I am back and settled. School has started and I am excited for this semester-all of my classes seem like they will be very interesting. It's pretty cold and windy here though...but the crystal clear skies everyday more than make up for the temperatures. In response to the weather I made a BIG pot of black bean soup with a modified recipe from Simply Recipes. I also made some corn bread on the side. Topped with avocado, yogurt, and some cayenne pepper it was a delicious and comforting meal. There is not much that beats hot soup on a cold winter day. Plus, there is enough to feed me for the rest of the week-not bad at all.
I didn't take any pictures but tonight I made salmon that Brittney brought home from Alaska. I just seasoned the skinless fillet with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Then, I spread Dijon mustard over the top and sprinkled a ground spice mixture (1 tbsp. coriander seed, 1 tsp. mustard seed, and a pinch of red pepper flake) on top. I heated olive oil in a skillet and pan fried the fish, spice side down, for 2-3 minutes, until brown and crusted. Flipped the fillet over and put it in a preheated (425-degree) oven for 6 minutes. The top was crunchy with just a little heat and the flavor was amazing. I served basmati rice with peas and turmeric and a green salad on the side. Pretty easy and very yummy.