Seriously.  Its Monday again, already?  Where on earth did our weekend go??

You guys are going to think all I do is cook and eat anymore.  And sometimes, I’d say you’d be right!  We had our friends over for the weekend, and while it is sadly devoid of pictures of activities such as a brewery tour and a baseball game, I did manage to take some delectable shots of food I made for you.  Aren’t I sweet?

Dusting some scones

 

Saturday’s spread

 

I’m really sorry for that last shot.  It was pretty mean of me to show you something so deadly delicious so early in the morning.  But I did it anyways.  You guys are serious troopers. Those brownies are a slightly tweaked (and 100% NOT Vegan) version of who else, but my new obsession.   Clearly, mine looked nothing like hers.  But they still tasted good enough for me to instruct Brandon to take the rest of them into work with him so they didn’t have to occupy my dining room table for longer than absolutely necessary.  They’re definitely one of those sweet treats you always seem to crave, but regret taking a larger piece of than you intended.

 

As for my Marathon Monday training update.

Yikes.

That should sum it up nicely for you, no?  Last week, I left you with the cliff hanger of “did she? didn’t she?” in regards to my 7 mile long run on Monday.  Which I did do.  I was super proud of myself, albeit cursing my “great idea” the entire time. Especially since I felt it was a great idea to do it after my lifting set.  Luckily, that time I was smart and remembered to bring my water along.  Which was heavy and annoying, but absolutely necessary.  I followed that up with a not-so-great 3 miler the next day.   The heat managed to kick my butt that go-round and I was happy to get back to my ac’d apartment.  And after that, I declared my Wednesday a well deserved rest day.  Which turned into a rest for the rest of the week.  I was hot, tired and had a pretty annoying muscle tweak in my hip.  Enough to make me favor it going up and down the steps.  And so it goes ad I didn’t get anymore runs or workouts in for the rest of the week.   I could blame the heat, working out outside in 100+ degree heat isn’t always a good idea.  But there’s always the gym, there’s always cross training and no matter how many times I may slow down or stop to take a walk, its always a workout in the books afterwards.

I do, however, put a huge portion of the blame of my lethargy on my food lately.  I have had a distinct lack of fruit, veggies and protein and whole grains, replaced with easy meals that  don’t always have “balanced and nutritious” in mind. (Ahem..see brownies above?).  There’s also been an alarming decrease of water intake these days, with more of a tendency to nurse  a cup of coffee for a day, instead of finishing the coffee and switching to water.

Given my direct link between what I eat and how I feel, I don’t have much hopes for today either.  This weekend’s gluttony (although, in retrospect, could have been FAR worse – but remains less than admirably healthy) has left me with all the more reason to lace up the running shoes and get out there and get it done, but no physical energy to do so.  So its back to the (have we heard this before?) conscious effort of what i’m eating, why and how this week.

And keep the fingers crossed for some cooler temperatures.

How was your weekend?

xo

 

 

 

Welcome back for another installment of Katie Learns to Cook!

Another doosy of a chapter!  This week, I read about Kitchen tools and equipment (knives!) and the general organization of a professional kitchen.   Again, a lot of this chapter was geared towards a professional point of view and not the at home kitchen.  Although a kitchen is a kitchen, right? So some of the tools and such can still apply. Right?  Right…we hope 🙂  Here goes!

There isn’t much in the way of vocabulary, but at the same time there is a TON in the way of vocab.  All the different pieces of equipment and kitchen tools, its enough to make you go cross eyed!   So lets just play this one by ear, shall we?

There are hand tools for the kitchen, which can help you to cut, shape, move or combine foods.  These guys tend to have minimal moving parts, so things like veggie peelers (not the technical term, naturally), mallets, all sorts of spoons, zesters (I have this one from Oxo and looooooove it), tongs, spatulas, whisks and KNIVES, which I’ll save for a little later.

There are measuring devices.  Which are pretty self explanatory – Scales, measuring cups/spoons  for liquids and dry ingredients, ladles, scoops, thermometers and timers, oh my!

Of course, the ever important cookware – This was pretty interesting for me to read about all the different kinds of metals used for cookware (pots, pans, etc) and the heat conductions for them all, but then again, I’m a science geek.  There are a ton of metals to choose from, copper (a GREAT conductor), aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, glass (a not so great heat conductor), ceramics, plastics (obviously for storage and microwave purposes), enamelware (not really used a lot) and nonstick coatings (Teflon).  There’s a lot to consider when choosing your pot or pan, do you want to retain heat, do you want to heat something up really quickly, are you looking for faster evaporation vs. slower (pans vs pots?) etc etc.

Strainers and sieves  – most people have a common colander or strainer in their kitchen.  My husband brews his own beers, so we have a lot of cheesecloth lying around and if you like to bake, you probably have a flour sifter (this is on my Christmas list this year!)

Processing Equipment – some of this stuff, like slicers, we don’t need, but Mandolines, food choppers, mixers, processors and blenders are pretty common to find in the everyday kitchen.

Whew, there is STILL MORE, when we’re looking at kitchen tools.  I’ll skip  over the idea of storage containers, its pretty self explanatory.  The last set of “kitchen tools” that the chapter went over, was the “heavy equipment”.  ie the stoves, the ovens, the griddles and broilers.  The fryers, refrigerators and steamers and dishwashers and and and and and and…the list goes on and on and on.   Its amazing that kitchens aren’t GINORMOUS.
But, despite all of this…stuff that finds its way into a kitchen, it all seems to have a place.  Hectic, yes, but has a place.  Which is where the kitchen organization comes into play.  There are roll out storage bins and refrigerators at work stations, as WELL as communal sets around the kitchen.  Its also important to remember, that not every kitchen is designed like the next  (and another important thing to remember if you’re trying to stock your own kitchen, don’t use professional chef kitchens as your guideline, they have a lot more stuff than we’ll ever need!).   For instance, if you’re a bakery, it doesn’t make much sense to have a meat slicer, rather, you should have big storage units for flour and lots of ovens and candy thermometers.   Likewise, if you’re a restaurant that specializes in steaks, grills are pretty important and will likely take up a majority of your kitchen space.

What I thought was pretty interesting, when reading about this kind of stuff, was the idea of balancing out your front space and your (usually, in the back) kitchen space.  The idea that you want to maximize your patron space, so you can seat as many people as you can accommodate and make the most profit, but you HAVE to balance that with the appropriate amount of kitchen space.  If you can only serve 100 guests at a time efficiently, then you can’t very well have a seating space of 200.  And the smaller your kitchen space, the more efficient it has to be.  I’m starting to get the idea that kitchen design is a pretty tricky business…

Like I said, a lot of information in one spot, about a lot of different things.  But next week, I’m excited for the chapter on Knife skills! Finally, something I can practice!! 😉

Hope everyone is having a fabulous and well deserved weekend!

xo

Who’s pumped?

Simple thoughts

July 26, 2012

Is it weird that its almost impossible for me to read a good period piece mystery, set in England without a cup of tea?  

Simple thoughts for another day  in the week.

 

xo

Proof

July 25, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proof.

That you should go no where near a kitchen, or a waffle maker, when you’re not feeling well.   Things just don’t work when you do.  It is a far better option to order pizza.  However.

This just goes to show, that if you smother  a disaster in Earth Balance and Maple Syrup, it too, can taste delicious.

Proof.

 

I’d still suggest the pizza though.

 

xo

 

 

Obsession confession.

July 24, 2012

Obsession Confession:  http://thepioneerwoman.com/

I started watching this on a whim when I was down in Richmond for the weekend a few months back.   I rarely watch TV (unless its sports or something particular) and its even rarer that I try to make sure I catch a show when it comes on.  For the past few Saturday mornings when I’ve been home, I’ve caught myself making sure I had control of the remote control for the reruns of the Pioneer Woman.

Also?  Her recipes have me wanting to drop everything, move out to a ranch and make hot wings for the hubs and I.  And then eat them.  It could also be stress talking, but still, GASP.   Double also?  Her kids are INSANELY polite.  I think I spend most of my time jaw dropped at this little fact.  A welcome change from what we normally encounter these days.

I did however manage to adapt one of her recipes this weekend.  One that a) resulted in my FIRST Successful attempt at cooking dry beans.  Win. b) The hubs eating 2 helpings of beans. (For those of you who are curious, and you should be, here’s  the original recipe).   After watching her show on cooking food for a camping trip (she served these with cornbread, both warmed up over an open fire – seriously? Can I have that life please?), I had a craving for these that just would.not.stop.  I also had a craving for the brats & BBQ sauce.  But, since I had already made the cornbread for Friday night’s dinner AND I had a jar of mixed dry beans around, it was beans and cornbread.

 

 

So. Good.

I gotta hand it to her – even I, lover of all random sources of protein, was skeptical at first at how I would like this.  Forgive me Pioneer Woman, I will never doubt you again.

The biggest change to the recipe I made was forgoing the ham hock.   But even a vegetarian knows that sometimes things just won’t work without a little bit of flavor.  I’m assuming the ham hock would add a nice smoky salty richness to the beans, so I opted for a healthy dose of sea salt and a splash of liquid smoke instead.  AND I was pretty generous with the spices, and added a sprinkling of a Turkish Seasoning blend that kept within the general spice profile (chili powder, pepper, etc). Oh.  And some Franks Hot Sauce.  Because what they say is true, I really do put that s**t on everything.  No peppers, so I added some baby bella mushrooms instead, but other than that – pretty true to the recipe.

It was the PERFECT pairing for a slightly sweet cornbread.  I only had one picture to take, because I ate it that quickly.

If you haven’t made a pot of spicy beans and then threw them on top of cornbread.  Do it. Now.  And then obsess over what recipe of her’s you can make next.

xo

I made another round of roasted cauliflower this weekend.  I chose to spare you the details 🙂

 

 

I also made homemade peanut butter cups.

 

Yes.  I know you can buy them.  

But I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t  do things like this :).

These are adapted from yet another recipe from The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone.  I’m not quite satisfied with them yet, but they’re still a tasty little indulgence sitting in my freezer.

 

Marathon Mondays

With all of the food posts lately, ya’ll are going to think the only thing I do anymore is eat 🙂  But I’ve been getting myself back into the routine of working out again, slowly.   Last week, I got in 3 of my shorter training runs, my yoga and both days of lifting.  I did a run/weights set on Saturday, which is unfortunate in that the only thing I wanted to do on Sunday then was enjoy the gray morning with some coffee, enjoy the afternoon watching some TV with my husband and avoid the humidity in the evening.  But I did all of this, with the little sneaky thought in the back of my mind that come today, I’d get my long run in.  Did I? Didn’t I?  You’ll have to wait until next Marathon Monday to find out :-O

Food wise, you’ve noticed I’ve been focusing a lot on some simple lunches filled with veggies and my dinners have been summer influenced dishes.  Lots of corn on the cob and salsa, plus a self-indulgent night of easy peasy pasta with some veggie- meatballs.   I’ve been pretty boring in the kitchen lately, but I find a lot of times in the summer, that happens with me.  I’m not in the mood to cook or be creative, to turn on my oven and bake something fun.  Right now its all about lite and fresh and SIMPLE, which is pretty healthy too, as it turns out.  We’ve been starting to get antsy though with our menu planning, so I feel a cooking change coming on soon.

What about ya’ll?  What do you do to get out of a cooking rut?