pre-holiday panic + julia child’s boeuf bourguignon

Everyone take a deep breath. I know. Halloween is on Wednesday. The holiday season is upon us. Brace yourself, as I am, with this totally forgiving, no-need-to wrap in an extravagant bow or served with seven utentsils, pot of warm, blissful, boeuf bourguignon. And is there anyone more comforting than Julia Child?

Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguingnon
I swear this recipe isn’t scary. I made mine in a crock pot instead of a dutch oven. Serves 4-5

1.5 pounds beef stew meat
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic
1-2 cups red wine (I used a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 t fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup flour/cup of sauce
1 T butter/cup of sauce

3 cups mushrooms
1 T oil
1 T butter

5 medium sized potatoes – boiled

I would explain the recipe, but Julia is far more entertaining than I.

I failed to keep the meat tender. Must have been the cut of meat I used. And I opted out on the onions. But Julia does a fantastic job explaining the recipe procedure and why/how you do things certain ways, including why you should always pat your meat dry before frying, and how to properly wash mushrooms. It’s absolutely fascinating, and she’s just adorable. Particularly around 9:15 and 25:00 min. Eerrg.

One thing I’ll extrapolate on is the importance of proper heat when frying or sauteing. It is really important to heat the pan first and then to add the oil about a minute before adding your meat or vegetables. High heat will damage the oil if left in a hot pan for too long. At the same time, hot oil is essential for browning the outside of meat or a vegetable. Meat and vegetables should also be cut into the proper size so that they cook to the desired amount in about 2-3 minutes once in the pan.

Can I just hide in a pot of this until the holidays are over?



beer before noon + phone camera blogging

When I first started this blog, I had hoped to be photographing solely with my camera phone (I had yet to purchase the phone, but it was the plan). I figured my old Sony and Cannon digital cameras would produce just as meager of a shot as a camera phone, and since my photography skills are limited to the single year I spent on journalism staff in 8th grade, I figured it would do. And heck, an entire blog done with a camera phone would be cool. At least if the pictures turned out.

As I procrastinated on buying my phone, my digital camera filled in the gaps and I learned (or so I think) some food photography skills…
1. Natural lighting is key
2. Hard lighting is not kosher I have found that the best time of day to take pictures of my food is between 8 am – 11 am, depending on the weather. A soft sunlit room is what you want for optimal food lighting.
3. Angle is everything I think some people like the overhead shot best; I prefer the straight ahead and a little above angle <–notice the extremely technical language
4. Props are awesome + add depth
5. Don’t forget the background Never mind when my kitchen outlets appeared in the backgrounds of my photos. I now have one table in the house I designate for photographing my food. Plain wall in the background + lighting works well. It could be better, but it will do.

Then, THEN I got my camera. Samsung Galaxy S3. Life changing this whole smart phone, Android world. The camera is awesome. Steady, great resolution. My current situation is finding a good app to edit the photos with.

Apps I’ve tried:
PicsArt: It was OK. The features were mostly silly. Like the “let’s change your photo to look like an oil painting” one. Maybe fun for more Instagraming, but not for a blog.

Photo Editor: This one was over my head. There were just too many features I had never seen and like I said, my photography skills are next to none, so I wanted something that I could understand. Also, I never figured out how to upload my photos easily with this app. It wanted me to save the files on my phone SIM first, then upload to a cloud network, then I have to transfer to WordPress. Oje.

I really want to try Snapseed: It looks awesome, and I’ve heard good things. Unfortunately not available for Android yet. It’s also costs $$.

Any one have better advice?

And now about my morning drinking? It’s not what you’re thinking.

Beer Oatmeal
A spin off a Danish recipe called Øllebrød. Feel free to experiment with your favorite brews. We had Shocktop handy, and paired with orange marmelade, MMM! I like it topped with milk, the creaminess balances the tang of the beer. Also, make a big batch and save the rest for the next day. The flavors enhance overnight.
1 cup steal cut oats
2 cups beer of your choice
1 cup water
cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger (optional)

Bring oatmeal, beer, and water to a boil on the stove. Cook until oats are tender (~20 min). Top with milk, jam, honey, whatever taste good.

Just for fun, all the pics in this post were taken with my camera phone, although I did no editing.

Viking breakfast. All of the beer was consumed in the oatmeal, promise.

Starting the day off right.


homemade naan bread + the only way i’ll eat eggplant

My pizza stone in coming in handy for more than just pizza.

I made homemade naan bread! I was also seeing how well my camera takes pictures. Takes great pictures but is not so great for editing them, hence my lovely reflection in the oven.

Traditionally naan bread is made in a tandoori oven, but since I don’t have one of those I went with my far less exciting conventional oven.

I followed this recipe. I made a few adjustments – I added the sugar to the yeast and water mixture. I always have a terrible time getting yeast to activate, it always wants to be just the right temperature. Lucky for me yeast eats sugar, so I always throw some in when I’m making yeast bread. My little trick for getting my yeast to activate. :) I also added about 1/2 cup of flour as my dough was much too sticky. One last tip, flour your naans before you put them on the pizza stone to prevent them from sticking to the stone.

Then I made a mini far-east feast.

Lentils + this deliciouseggplantdish.

Baingan ka Shahi Bhartha
I normally hate eggplant. It smells gross it looks weird it’s purple. But this changed my mind. A semi-traditional recipe with a few additions. Serves 5.

1 eggplant (about 1 pound)
1/2 onion – diced
1/2 head garlic
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 T vegetable oil
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground tumeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt and pepper
3 T low-fat, plain yogurt

Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Line a dish with aluminum foil and place eggplant and head of garlic in dish. Roast for 1 hour turning eggplant over after 30 min. Let cool and then peel skin off eggplant and garlic and discard. Mash the eggplant and garlic slightly so it blends easier. Over medium heat, saute onions in a medium sized pan. Add spices and let toast for about 2 mins. Add tomatoes, eggplant, roasted garlic and continue cooking for 15 min, stirring often, until eggplant and garlic are incorporated and most of the water boils off. Stir in yogurt and enjoy with chopped cilantro and copious amounts of naan bread.


I could eat this naan-stop.

Happy Friday!