Fruit gone bad done good, by sharon

September 10, 2008


I haven’t made these in a few years, and I suddenly have no clue why. We’ve started buying bananas again and so, of course, we have overly ripe bananas. I think my girlfriend might have let 3 of them go bad on purpose just so I would make these.

Banana Muffins

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 bananas, mashed
1 egg
dash of vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
chopped pecans*

For some reason, a lot of recipes I found for this didn’t use brown sugar or cinnamon. That just doesn’t make sense, right? Why wouldn’t you use those? Weird. These muffins end up having a rich, deep flavor and are very moist and fragrant.

*I have no clue what the amount of pecans is. I grab a handful of pecan halves, chop them, and add them to the batter. If it seems like enough, I stop; if it doesn’t, I add more. And then I chop another handful to sprinkle on top. But these are good with or without pecans, and would be just as good with walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a muffin pan. Using a wooden spoon, mix together the sugars, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the flour and pecans, making sure to not overmix. The batter will be lumpy.

Fill the muffin cups 2/3–3/4 full and sprinkle some more chopped pecans on top. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are browned and spring back when lightly touched.

Print this recipe!



Wild experimentation, by sharon

September 7, 2008

Crazy Dinner Sauté

This might be one of the weirder things I have ever concocted, either alone or with another. I kept expecting that little kiss-ass guy from the original Iron Chef to pop up saying “Cuisan!” (or whatever that word is, you know what I’m talking about) They appear to be adding _______! I have no idea what is going on!!”

Whatever you find! Go nuts, raid the cabinets, the fridge, look along the counters. The world is your oyster. Except, don’t use oysters.

Molly and I originally intended to have burger patties with pepperjack cheese on top for dinner. I’m almost sure that’s what we meant to do. And then, well, lots of things happened and the world/kitchen/ingredients conspired against us.

There are two major steps to this dish.
1: have a plan.
2: watch that plan sail merrily out the window.

Thaw a pound of ground beef in a microwave with a broken digital display. This ensures that you have NO clue what is going on, ever. Remove meat from microwave and shrug when you realize it is half cooked.

Chop one onion, or as much onion as you seem to have around and put it in a bowl. Listen attentively when the other person in the kitchen (me) suggests using Worcestershire sauce. Gasp in surprise when a copious amount comes splashing out of the bottle. Carry bowl to sink and pour some of the liquid out. Put the (ideally) raw meat on top of it. Watch as other person in kitchen (me, again) rummages through the spice cabinet and finds cumin and garlic salt. Watch her add those in and listen to her have a mini-rant about “Saigon” cinnamon and how it doesn’t smell all that different from regular stuff.

At this point, start making meat patties. Remark that the mixture seems incredibly wet. Sigh in resignation as you and the other person realize that the only way to make the mixture less wet would be to add breadcrumbs, but that goes against the “lower/low carb experiment in energy” food plan you are both currently conducting. Proceed to sigh again as you wring out the meat and ignore the giggles from the other side of the kitchen.

Place a skillet on the stove and take turns playfully flinging water onto its surface to determine if it’s hot yet. Savor the hiss that meat makes as it smacks a hot surface. Ask other person to “keep an eye on those” while you wash your hands, though she is already standing attentively at the stove with a spatula because she has control issues and it might take a while for you to scrub meat from under your nails.

Wonder what that scraping noise could be right before the other person announces that the flipping has gone very badly and she is now sautéeing the meat and there will be no patties. Not now, not ever. Watch in amusement as other person starts going crazy, looks in the fridge, spies two eggs, and decides to put them in with the meat and call it “hash.” At this point, you are free to look through the fridge yourself and find something else, something like baby spinach! Of course! Throw that in with the meat.

Lastly, because you sliced the cheese in preparation for putting them on top of burger patties, lay those carefully over the meat mess in the pan and let it melt.

Scoop onto a plate and alternately add salt and Tobasco to the weird looking shit. Take a bite, look at the other person, and make vague noises that could be construed as either “nummy” or retching. Begrudgingly admit that it is, indeed, edible and not bad-tasting and now neither of you have any excuse to go out for dinner.

If you are the other person (me), end this process by writing a blog post to recount the entire experience.

radish hashbrowns, by molly

September 7, 2008

I can tell people I’m cutting out starches and sweets in order to lose a little pudge and no one says boo, but the second I say the words “low carb” folks tend to do one of two things: roll their eyes, as if I’d just said I’m doing the Hollywood Juice Diet, or immediately regale me with horror stories. So I tend not to use the words “low carb” any more. I just tell folks I’m replacing my previous diet of All Corn Syrup, All The Time with a diet of nutrient-rich vegetables and healthy proteins and really, can anyone argue with that? Oh. Yeah, they totally can. And they do. So I’m largely in the low carb closet unless someone asks.

99% of my meals are pretty normal and balanced — some sort of meat + some sort of salad/vegetable — and an observer probably wouldn’t even notice anything amiss unless the lack of bread or rice or fruit or sweets was blatantly pointed out. You don’t have to eat bizarre shit to stay compliant is all I’m saying. I avoid all the weird low carb products and cook my meals from scratch, using fresh, unprocessed ingredients. I’m literally eating more vegetables than I ever have in my life and I feel fantastic without my blood sugar constantly spiking and plummeting. Go me.

But. BUT. Sorry to say, one Sunday morning I would have punched even a family member in the face if I meant I could eat some hashbrowns. Enter this recipe.

Radishes? Awesome.

sweet, innocent radishes

sweet, innocent radishes

Bacon? Awesome.

sweet, life-giving bacon grease

sweet, life-giving bacon grease

Radishes cooked in bacon grease?



Oh, fuck NO. People, listen to me: do not do this. Put down the radishes. Walk away from your skillet. Because… you know what radishes cooked in bacon grease taste like? They taste like radishes cooked in bacon grease. This is NOT something you want to put in your mouth.

My new breakfast, by sharon

September 1, 2008

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had morning sickness.

No, I’m not pregnant. I am just so not a morning person that my body doesn’t even want me to ingest food unless I’ve been awake for a few hours. I know I should eat before I go and start my day, but I also want to sleep in as late as possible. These two necessities are completely at odds.

However, I have determined that yogurt doesn’t make me as sick as anything else. And sure, I could buy those little containers of strangely flavored yogurt that don’t actually taste like what they’re called (Boston Cream Pie? really?), but I also have control issues.

Hence my new morning ritual. I take some Brown Cow cream top plain yogurt and put it in a bowl. I use my trusty Microplane to add either orange or lemon zest. Add honey or agave nectar to sweeten. Is there any fruit around? Wash it and slice it into that bowl. Stir and eat. Fantastic, wonderful, simple, breakfast that doesn’t make me want to die. Success!

thoughts on cooking & a green chile souffle, by molly

September 1, 2008

I learned to ride a bike at 18, I learned to drive at 24, learned to iron at 26, but I am still learning how to cook.

I don’t mean that in a “we’re all still learning how to cook, man” type of way, and definitely not in a “we’re all on our personal cooking journey, man” way: I mean basic stuff. I mean that until just a couple years ago, the most complicated dish I’d ever prepared was browning ground beef for Hamburger Helper or tossing pork chops in some Shake n’ Bake. I’ll admit that such “cooking” occured only on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. For most of my life, I’ve gourmet tastes but barely even a fry cook’s abilities. I basically survived on canned soup, sandwiches, and breakfast burritos. I lived in some apartments for years at a stretch without ever once using the oven.

I had resigned myself to this. Cooking, like scuba diving or snake handling, was something mysterious and magical that other people did; people like my grandmothers, or chefs. Rachel Ray changed all that. There, I said it. Rachel goddamn Ray. I have no street cred whatsoever. I wish it could have been Julia Child, or Alton Brown, or some awesome maternal figure in my family, but no: one afternoon a few years ago, I watched Rachel Ray make some balsamic glazed chicken on the teevee and I thought, “Hey, wow, I could SO do that!” And I could, and I did, and since then I’ve been slowly, slowly, slowly teaching myself how to cook.

Being single and living alone this past year, I found I’ve been reverting back to my pre-Ray days. I am great about ambitiously buying healthy, delicious ingredients and letting it all rot, uncooked, in the morgue of my fridge. Without someone to cook for (or with), it is really easy just to get take out instead; there’s something singularly lonely about preparing something delicious that you know you’re going to eat alone, likely while standing over the sink. Screw that, though. The last few weeks I’ve made an effort to actually cook for myself and I’m sort of falling in love with the process again. Someday I will actually be the kind of person who can consistently throw awesome meals together with whatever I happen to have in the pantry.

Here’s something I threw together on the fly the other night when I had a friend over and we were too lazy (read: inebriated) to drive to Whataburger. It was damned good.

Green Chile Egg Souffle
4 eggs, beaten
2 oz cream cheese, softened 30 seconds in the microwave
2 ounces aged white cheddar, grated
1 cup hot green chile, chopped, preferably freshly roasted but whatever
salt and pepper to taste
Mix it all together and dump in some well-buttered ramekins or muffin tins or even a tiny casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes or until the tops are brown and poufy. Voila, culinary genius.