Short food update

This isn’t the longer update I promised, but it’s a little food-y interlude to keep you reading till the real entry comes. Plus, it’s the Fourth of July! Holidays are all about food!

Home cooking
I normally think of myself more as a baker than a cook, but lately I’ve been really involved in cooking — which is odd, considering how hot it is and the fact that our old-fashioned gas stove is so poorly insulated that it essentially serves as a giant heater (even when I’m not using it). On Friday evening, in preparation for my parents’ and Al’s visit, I made a loaf of sesame-millet whole-wheat bread, a pot of spinach and egg soup, a tomato and red onion salad, and a tuna and white bean salad. I’ve cooked for decent-sized groups before, but this is the most food I’ve ever made all at once. I’m pleased to report that not only did these all turn out well, but they made enough for a hearty dinner for the five of us on Saturday evening, with some left over. The sesame seeds and millet were a good addition to the bread, and both salads got even better after a night in the fridge (the tuna and white bean salad was even more amazing yesterday afternoon, when Erik and I finished it off). Alas, I don’t have pictures, but I think Al took some that she will hopefully send me soon.

It seems like this experience has emboldened me to do more ambitious having-guests-over cooking, so tonight, Ying and Stale are coming over for dinner. I got up three hours ago and started prep work, and now I’ve got four loaves of French bread ready for the oven, and a bunch of rainbow chard all washed and chopped up. We’ll have the bread (one loaf will become garlic bread) and a chard gratin for dinner, and I’ve got vanilla pudding and lemon sorbet for dessert. I can’t believe I’ve got my oven at 450°F in this heat, but oh well. Freshly baked bread is worth it.

**edit** Kitty interlude
I forgot to include this the first time around. Last night Erik made dinner and from the other room I heard Lyapa squeaking her little heart out. Normally her squeaks (she rarely makes actual meows) are short, like the noises that come from a squeaky toy when you squeeze it, but these were long drawn-out squeaks. I was sitting there organizing recipes and every minute or so, there would come a “squeeeeeeeeeeek!” from the kitchen. It turned out Lyapa insisted on hanging out underfoot while Erik cooked, but she didn’t like that he was moving around over her and his legs were touching her tail, so she kept squeaking in protest. But she didn’t leave. I went into the room to try and distract her, and then suddenly she stopped squeaking, ate her dinner, and then left the room. Very strange.

Then again, this morning, while I was moving around the kitchen getting my bread started, Lyapa began to repeat last night’s performance. She was constantly in my way, “squeeeeeeeek”-ing every time I touched her tail, but she didn’t go away even when I accidentally trod on her poor little paw and she hissed in pain. Finally, while moving my stand mixer, I accidentally knocked over the mixing bowl into a sink full of glasses and plates, and the resulting multi-movement crash sent her running from the kitchen, not to return.

Part of the reason I’ve wanted to cook so much lately is that I have so many recipes I want to try. I get at least four magazines that publish recipes, and I read more recipe/food blogs than that, so I’m constantly picking up new ideas. I spent much of yesterday culling and organizing my collection of clippings, which now fills two fat binders. I’m still not done with the organizing yet, but my new method is going to be sooo much better than my old one. Before, I had them roughly organized by type of food (bread, breakfast treats, desserts), but that didn’t work so well. My new method will combine that system with one based on what’s usually in my kitchen, with a category for “I usually have all these ingredients on hand” (currently demarcated with a heart) as well as “this recipe requires tons of shopping as well as a lot of time and effort” (currently marked with a star), and others. Yes, I am insane, but this kind of control-freak organizing gives me great pleasure… not to mention a lot of tasty dishes.

And anyway, I’m not the only one who’s obsessed with organizing recipes! Snacksby is a new recipe site by Soma, who created it “because I was tired of having a pantry full of food but no clue what to cook with it.” It’s a new site, so it’s got some minor annoyances, but overall it is an awesome concept, and the site already has some great features. The main one is the one that solves Soma’s original quandary: you tell the site what you have in your kitchen, and it finds recipes for you from the reader-generated database. For example, if you’ve got cheese, bread, mustard, and butter, you can make “Grilled Cheese, Alton Brown style-ish” (which sounds pretty good). I’ve contributed a few recipes and plan to put in more, and I’ve also emailed Soma and he is super nice. So go check out the site! It is useful and cool. I’m going to add it to my Links page, too.[now defunct]

That is all for now — and I must get back to my bread.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]