Saturday, November 29, 2008

and we give thanks

For our family and our friends. For health, food, travel and sunshine. For freedoms, dreams, yesterday and tomorrow.

We'll post some more as soon as we're back home, but here's the view from the phone camera in Huron County, Michigan.

UPDATE: Results from the Detroit 10K Turkey Trot are in! I have no pics of myself, but here are the results:

Place: 177 (Female 30-34)
Overall: 3396
Name: Lini
From: Atlanta, GA
Age: 30
Split: 31:14
Time: 1:03:09
Pace: 10:10

yeah, let's hear it for coming in 3,396th place!!!

granted, there was 11,999 other people running :)

Sing it, Natalie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cupboard Staples--Oven Fries and Tortellini with Red Sauce

The music today is by Lyle Lovett.

Okay, a few of our cupboard staples may be worth mentioning. Here's Tavo, chilling in our living room. The painting above him was my grandfather's--all the grandkids were entranced by this "Naked Lady." I was lucky enough to inherit it, though I think I promised to give it to my cousin Kevin at some point...
and how about some oven fries? 425 degrees for 15 minutes on each side. These had paprika and garlic salt.

oh. I think I just ate 3 potatoes. (yum!!!!!!!)

and for the romantic pantry staple night...I broke out the dollar store candles, along with CENTO--the best brand of canned tomatoes, pesto pasta, incredible $5 chianti, portabellos, and garlic. Apparently, this is also the time of year to buy Italian.
I like my red sauce with minimal salt (hence the unsalted Cento tomatoes) basic minced onion, garlic, and a hefty dose of mushrooms, red wine, crushed red pepper, and honey. This one had quite a bit of leftover dried lemon basil, from the summer's Community Shared Agriculture. Cooked down for an hour to evaporate all the wine and water from the tomatoes.
Someone is exuberantly flattering. (I totally dig it)
Romance on a kraft paper covered table!!

We painted the tablecloth, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


too cold to sit outside.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting ready for that FRIGID cold

Sorry for the lack of food--we're just cooking up all our leftovers (and they're boring). The good news is that we're headed out of town next week to vacation in....Detroit!

Seriously, I'm excited to see the family and it sounds like you guys are having wintery weather up there so maybe Tavo will get a chance to see more snow. Another exciting feature of this trip is my participation in the Turkey Trot.

Gobble gobble. I signed up for the 10K, but we'll see how my thinned, southern blood is doing after 3 miles--I might shorten it to a 5K ;)

I'm extra excited because the 10K route goes right near two of my old apartments! Hooray! If any of you Detroit bloggers are interested in joining me, give a holler. I run slowly, but I'll finish the race. (well, at least the 5K!)

And a quick meme--6 Random Things

6 random things (Lini)

1.I actually dislike running for the first 10-15 minutes. I like how I feel afterwards and I’m too competitive to not do it, but those first few minutes always annoy me.

2.We spot heat our house. We don’t have the gas turned on, because all of our appliances are electric. Plus, the windows need to be replaced so we just use an energy efficient space heater in the master bedroom. It keeps it warm enough to wear a tank top, believe it or not—but our friends HATE coming over. Hence, in most winter pics, everyone is wearing hats, scarves and jackets.

3.Neither of us really watches TV, but the radio is on 24/7. Music, news, NPR, itunes—we’re always listening to something.

4.My least favorite foods are: bananas, melons, and ricotta cheese (shudders) Tavo dislikes celery, most tofu, and some kind of bitter vegetable that I always forget.

5.I spend a large portion of everyday dreaming about both of us getting in the car and driving off to the middle of nowhere. I even make lists of what I’d pack, what roads to take (I hate interstates) and research free campgrounds (even though Tavo dislikes camping…)

6.I love Tavo more than anything and I don’t think its right to ever want to change a person, but I really wish he liked to camp a bit more ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

After hiking, who doesn't want Bánh mì, Brownies...and Stuffed Squash?

I have lived in Atlanta for going on 4 years, and have never been to Stone Mountain. This is a really great civil war stronghold, with carvings deep into the rock dating back more than a hundred years. We decided to go on Saturday--it wasn't super warm, but winter isn't here quite yet.

As we were on the east side, we decided to head north to Buford Highway, and try this Vietnamese place I'd been hearing about, Quoc Huong. If you are in Atlanta, you should check it out. We started with some spring rolls...
and here is our $2 Bánh mì. If you order 6, you get one free. Seriously, if you find yourself in Atlanta with only $5 in your pocket, this beats the hell out of some McDonalds. Photog Extraordinaire, Tavo, took this pic. He needs to do more of our photography!!!

Back home to make brownies. I used my Grandma's recipe again--its a no fail :)
Grandma's Brownies

4 eggs
1 stick oleo (I'm writing it from her recipe)
1 cup sugar
1 can chocolate syrup
1 cup + 1 T flour
1/8 t. baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar
6 T. milk
6 T. oleo
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Bake brownies at 350 for 22 minutes and cool. For frosting, boil first three ingredients, then add chocolate chips. Stir until melted, and frost. These are great stored in the fridge.

Our friends came over to help us eat all the brownies!
(someone was so into his new phone that he couldn't smile for a picture)

While we had the oven going, I channeled Urban Vegan and decided to make a Stuffed Acorn Squash. I used our leftover Curry Lentils and Rice that we'd been eating all week.

Just in case you want it, here's the super easy Curry Lentil recipe--its a simple winner with both of us. You can add broth and make it a soup, but we like it over rice.

-1 1/2 cup dry lentils, picked and rinsed
-2 cups water
-small can tomato sauce ***Use unsalted and cook with lentils--if using salted, add after lentils are cooked
-small chopped onion
-chopped celery
-t. curry powder
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee onion and celery on med high heat in oil, add garlic after a minute or two
2. Add water, lentils, and UNsalted tomato sauce, bring to boil
3. Lower to simmer, cover, and let cook for 45 minutes.
4. Add spices in last 15 minutes.

Tastes better the next day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

I finally gave the sourdough a rest and made some plain, old-fashioned Honey Wheat Bread.
Our friend came over to help document this momentous occasion!
It's not sourdough!

Honey Wheat Bread

1 1/8 cups water
2 cups white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 T. dry milk (powdered coffee creamer works too)
1 1/2 T. honey
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. butter
2 t. fast rise yeast

Bread machine on dough cycle, then bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. To go with the bread, we made some oven roasted Georgia potatoes, and some cheesy scrambled eggs. I use velveeta in my scrambled eggs--I'll admit it.

Meanwhile--this little contraption giving someone a major headache!

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Soup?!!??

Hey, its getting cold in Atlanta—we need all the soup we can get!

When I made the stew for Tavo, I got the enormous bag of potatoes, envisioning roasted potatoes, french fries, and of course—potato soup! Now, I broached the idea of “grilled cheese and potato soup” to a friend, and he said, “meh.”

So, let this now be referred to as Creamy Potato Soup with Dill—accompanied by everyone’s favorite, Toasted Sourdough! (really, guys—I’m getting about as sick of sourdough as you are) Well, just kidding. I just can’t seem to let this bread go! I do mix it with wheat, so it’s not completely white flour…well, I don’t know. Give me a call if you ever want to chat Sourdough. I have strong opinions on the subject!

Creamy Potato Soup with Dill:

3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 chopped onion

Go ahead and throw these in your heavy bottomed pot with a big ol’ chunk of butter and cook it down. Meanwhile, start peeling your potatoes. When all is cooked to your preference--I dig the almost carmelized--deglaze the pot with white wine.

4 cups vegetable broth
6-8 small/medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Cook until potatoes are tender, then mash it with a potato masher. If you have an immersion blender, that would be good. You can food process it all, but I’ve always liked a chunky soup.

Start a roux with butter and flour, add to potato soup base.
Also, add:
3 cups milk-or cream if you're feeling naughty (non-dairy is fine too--just make sure it isn't sweetened!)
Ground Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
*any other herb combo you prefer

....I like to add hot sauce, too--but Tavo doesn't. To each his own!

Don’t let it boil again after you’ve added the milk.

Honestly, every time I make a huge pot of soup, I think of Donna at this small restaurant I worked at in Myrtle Beach in 2000-2001, after the whole, "living out of my car" stint ended (kind of). Until then, I'd spent high school and college waiting tables. My major cooking experience was slapping together sandwiches and iceberg lettuce salads as part of the waiting gig. And I still have a scar from burning my wrist grabbing bread from the pizza oven at 15.

Myrtle Beach was my first "real" cook job. Okay, I started out washing dishes, but eventually I covered the prep cook and sometimes they'd let me take a stab at the grill (beyond just cleaning the damn thing) At any rate, besides the two soups we had on the menu, we'd make a special every day. And these excited me more than anything you could imagine. Donna and Gayle were both ridiculously patient with my pompous self. But it was Donna who taught me how to cook these soups, while singing along with Billie Holliday, Outkast, Sam Cooke...and I made the kitchen listen to as much Prince as they could handle!

I'm throwing the Outkast on here, because Prince has an issue with youtube. Also, I find it ironic that after leaving Myrtle Beach and spending 4 years in Detroit, I ended up back South again. This song was the jam in late 2000!

Outkast has a ban on embedding, so here's the link:
So Fresh So Clean

On a side note, I received a letter back from the job I applied for in Germany!

I didn't get the job. I did get a signed letter saying I was one of the "best qualified." Oh well, I'll keep trying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

S...S...What begins With "S?" Stew, Soup, and Sauvignon. S! S! S!

The weekend was busy--Tavo and I ended up working most of it. We painted his coworker's condo, and once again, I did not cook anything. We ate out, but nothing particularly noteworthy. So, tonight, after a quick trip to the grocery store (with coupons, I saved $12! This is only a $30 grocery trip, too) I was ready to cook.

Where do you go to my lovely ? - Peter Sarstedt

First things first, the Consumer Reports pick of good cheap wine, Lindeman's. I dig this wine--its a very consistent inexpensive wine, generally $6. Trader Joe's, while reasonably priced, is not as reliable.

and what goes better with red wine than some Tomato Zucchini Soup?

This is a slight alteration of Mollie Katzen's Spicy Tomato Soup from the original Moosewood.

Tomato-Zucchini Soup

1-2 T. Olive oil
1/2 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchinis, diced
1 t. salt (omit if using salted crushed tomatoes)
1 t. dill (or more)
ground black pepper
large can crushed tomatoes (Cento is the shit)
fill the can 2/3 with water, add that too.
Parsley, scallions, fresh tomatoes, cream--whatever you have on hand

Heat oil, add onion, garlic, zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until translucent. Keep heat low so as not to burn garlic.

Add can tomatoes, water, and dill. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Add fresh herbs and tomatoes, cream if desired. Heat through and serve.

While I was cooking, we hooked up the projector and played youtube videos of the Kinks, the Oblivions, Guided by Voices, Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Afghan Whigs, the Animals and Cat Stevens. Our buddy, JP, came by.

For Tavo, I made Paula Deen's "Old Time Beef Stew." Seriously, in the fall, is there anything better than a big bowl of thick stew and some fresh bread?
I didn't let the bread rise overnight, I just threw it in the oven right away. So, it's kind of flat. But, I'd let the starter sit out for 3 days--it was excellently sour!

I followed her recipe pretty closely, except I added some white wine, an extra cup of water, and 4 small peeled potatoes.


1-2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, minced (Tavo doesn't like big onion chunks)
4 small potatoes or 2 large, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt or 2 bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch


Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, celery, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and potatoes. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.

And, how about a loaf of sourdough?