Thursday, October 30, 2008

Revenge of the Squirrels

I came home today to find this. Note the lack of pumpkin.
There were seeds on the walkway and no pumpkin in sight.
Then I looked in the lawn and found this.
Now all the pumpkins in Del Ray have been eaten.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When Squirrels Attack

The squirrels in our neighborhood are on a rampage. They are taking out all of the pumpkins one at a time. Apparently they are not fans of the seeds.
I actually saw a squirrel crawl in this pumpkin, but because Teddy was with me it ran away before I could get a shot. This pumpkin was in tact and on our neighbor's porch this morning. This evening it was halfway to the street and partially eaten.
These just look so sad.
This one was the worst. The owner had even given up and put it out next to the street.

The only pumpkin in Del Ray still intact. It's on our front porch and I think it will be totally destroyed by the end of the day tomorrow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Comfort Food

I generally think of comfort foods as the foods that I turn to at the end of the day when I just want to feel better. My personal favorites include mashed potatoes, pasta, garlic bread, guacamole, and raspberry sorbet. Oh and cheese. Almost any kind of cheese. What makes comfort food tough is when you feel the need to make it for someone else. When someone is sick, or just needs cheering up, it's much harder to know what to cook for them. For example, Matt loves fish sticks but after 8 years if living together (OMFG, there's been a boy in my house forever!) I have never made them for him or bought them for him to make while I was not around. I am currently thinking about cooking for someone else, who's tastes I don't know that well, and I feel stumped. The ability for the meal to be frozen and served later would also be nice. I was thinking soup (Black Bean or Clam Chowder are my best) or baked pasta (see Baked Penne), but I don't have any idea if those would work. Maybe chili? I'm thinking a chicken chili that's not too spicy would be perfect. Now I just need to find a recipe and get moving on it before something else falls out of the sky and throws me off my plans.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baked Penne

This started out as the filling for stuffed mushrooms, but I loved it so much that I added it to baked penne. Generally I do not like ricotta, even in lasagna, so this was a great option for a baked pasta. It also freezes really well, but the cooking time doubles for cooking from frozen.

Baked Penne
3 large hot sausages
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb penne
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 8oz. package of cream cheese (lowfat works), softened
2 cups (or 1 package) of shredded mozzarella cheese (again lowfat works just fine)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the sausage out of the casings and saute till no longer pink. Make sure to break the sausage into smaller crumbles. Spoon cooked sausage onto a plate lined with paper towels.
Cook pasta for half the time indicated on the box. Drain the pasta and place the pasta back in the warm pot. Pour 3/4 of the pasta sauce over the pasta and mix well. Add 3/4 of the mozzarella and stir until the cheese has just melted.
In a separate bowl, mix warm sausage, cream cheese, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until well combined.
Looks creepy, but trust me it's awesome.

In the bottom of a greased (spray with a shot of Pam or something similar works very well) 9x13 glass pan spread 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce. Layer half of the pasta mixture in the pan. Add the sausage mixture in one layer across the entire pan. Layer in the rest of the pasta, spoon on the remaining sauce, and then top with the mozzarella and then Parmesan.

Spray the shiny side of a piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover the pasta. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes till bubbly and golden.
To clean let the the dog lick the floor.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Best Damn Food I Ever Ate

This past weekend I attended my Grandfather's funeral. My Grandfather was a wonderful man and I will miss him greatly. While he didn't do it much in his later years, and he was definitely more know for his photography, but he was an amazing cook. He used to sit in a chair just off the kitchen and talk about anything and everything. I especially enjoyed the stories where he made himself laugh so hard that his eyes watered. Both he and my Grandmother (who I never saw cook, but you really couldn't with the fake eyelashes and the jewels) always described good food as "The best damn food I ever ate." I never got to cook for them, but I always wanted them to describe something I made that way. Goodbye Grandfather. I love you very much.

And I promise never to splash the window.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

San Diego

My helpful hint of the day is if you ever need a caterer in San Diego, El Indio does awesome Mexican food and French Gourmet does good finger food.

I didn't think it was possible to get sick of Mexican food, but I had it for dinner three nights in a row and I think I'm done for a little while.

While I haven't been cooking, I did manage to teach my 13 year old sister to make margaritas (2 parts mix, 1 part tequila, ice, splash of lime juice, and blend. Lime wedge run around the edge before dipping in salt if desired.) I have a feeling this will become useful to her in the next few years. She also knew that they sell hard liquor in the grocery store.

While in San Diego it rained. It might only be the third time I remember that ever happening. It really poured and no one knew how to handle it. There also was a grocery store that was split in two sections by an open air patio. While a cool idea, I don't want to run back and forth across the patio when I forget something in the other store.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2 posts in one day!!

More random snippets from the little bit of cooking and a whole lot of eating I've been doing the past month.

-A little bit of lime juice in my teriyaki-ish sauce is fantastic.
-I seriously considered bringing back a loaf of sourdough shaped liked a teddy bear. Then I realized that I would have probably have to carry it on my lap like a small child. That would look weird, especially when I started nibbling on the ears somewhere over Nebraska.
-Multiple restaurants in San Francisco had containers in the bathrooms for used needles. When I pointed it out to my mom her response was she didn't realize there were that many diabetics. Funny, my thought was I didn't realize there were that many heroin addicts.
-My all time favorite sandwich has to be turkey, romaine, tomato, avocado, provolone, and honey mustard on sourdough. It even keeps for a few hours so you can have a plane picnic. Not nearly as fun as a train picnic.
-I still don't know if the chocolate malt is as good as I remember. But the food at The Oasis is exactly the same. I did have the disturbing realization that The Oasis is to my Dad what Nanny's or The Malt Shop was to me. Except I wouldn't take 4 year olds to either, but that's how old I was the first time I went to The Oasis.
-I did some incredibly incorrect math while halving a recipe, but I still think the whole wheat pizza dough needs more honey.
-Cranberry vinaigrette is so much better than it sounds, but the salad should have pecans instead of walnuts.

End of CSA

Since I'm still eating more than 70% of my meals somewhere other than my house, the cooking has slowed way down. We've also finished the CSA for this season. While I enjoyed the experience, I don't think I would do it again. Here are the pluses and minuses I found.

+The vegetables are wonderfully fresh and last much longer than anything I get at the grocery store.
-I don't care how long that kale sits in my fridge I'm still not going to eat it.
+Pretty, pretty eggs.
-Why are there 8 dozen eggs in my fridge? We didn't take them some weeks and we still didn't even make a dent in them. Matt didn't like the taste of them in scrambled eggs, so that cut way down on our egg consumption. Thanks to the people you took some off my hands so I could fit Diet Coke in my fridge.
+Garlic chives are awesome.
-I really didn't like the basil they grew. And it went bad much faster than anything else.
+The squash from them was great. Not nearly as bitter as other squash I've had.
-Their cucumbers were bitter, but that wasn't too big a problem because my plant is still giving us cucumbers. It even appeared in my dreams the other night. Creepy.
+Mini eggplants are the cutest things ever.
-Seriously, enough with the kale/chard/mustard greens. They're nasty.
+Lots of garlic and onions. The small onions were perfect when cooking for two.
+Unexpected melons and apples.
+Lots of peppers, some hot and some not too hot. I took the hot ones to work.
+Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.
-We both grew really tired of tomatoes, which I didn't think was possible.

In the end, we're definitely not going to do this CSA next year. If we could find one that didn't have greens it would be a better fit for us. We ended up tossing or giving away so much that I felt bad. The other issue was remembering to go pick it up. I think we got all of them, except the very last one, but there were definitely times we almost forgot. I also think I would be able to find everything I needed at the farmer's market, which I can skip if I'm going to be out of town.