Gexx in Knoxville

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The In-laws

Posted by Gexx on July 28, 2009

(Up-date: wines chosen)

Before anyone hyperventilates, I’m not married. But M’s parents are coming into town this weekend. Apparently I’m the only person in the entirety of Knoxville whose parents don’t just decide to show up for a weekend every few months.

His parents have taken us out so many times, and I feel like such a mooch. So I offered to make dinner on Saturday. I asked M what they liked, in hopes of some guidance. “They’ll appreciate whatever you make for them. They’re like me: they don’t really care what they eat.” Gee, thanks. I was hoping for something like “Mom likes spicy food and chicken. Dad doesn’t really like broccoli.” I mean, for my parents “Mom likes tomatoes and tries to eat lean protiens, Dad likes spicy stuff and Alfredo sauce and carrot cake, Mom’s fave dish is linguine with red clam sauce. Both really like seafood or a good steak.”

So I am on a mission to find something good, fresh, unintimidating (upon pressing the question they’re meat+3 and casserole kind of people), and doesn’t require a crazy amount of prep work (we would like to do something that day). I also don’t want to heat up my house, because my poor little wall unit will struggle enough with 4 people and two hyperactive felines. I also want to have some nice wines to pair with them (awesome pairing app here if you’re ever questioning). So here is the menu as it stands:

Appetizer: Yellow Tomato Brucchetta, Mozzerella cheese
App Wine: 2007 Frascati (Roma) from Regillo

Meal: Paella (chicken, sausage, mussels/clams, scallops/shrimp) on the grill
Side: grilled veggies (squash, carrots)
Salad: fresh greens w some sort of vinaigrette
Meal Wine: 2007 Grenache/Syrah from In Fine, 2008 Organic Domaine dela Petite Cassagne; 2007 Chardonnay from Angeline

Dessert: Grilled Peaches with HD Honeybee Vanilla Ice Cream
Dessert Wine: prob won’t do wine, but I’m contemplating Limoncello with Vinho Verde

I have made Paella before, and it does require some in-house prep, but that won’t be too much. The Brucchetta topping can be made and marinating and then topped as they come in. The peaches can be tossed on as we clean up.

They’re not leaving hungry!

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Proportioned eating

Posted by Gexx on April 24, 2009

I used to have a coworker who, if anyone went to the field, lent them a backpacker’s cookbook of hers.  I looked through it a couple times, and one of the meals sticks with me when I need to cook for myself.

Actually, it’s more than a meal, it’s a cooking technique.  It’s very simple.  It’s all about proportions and mixtures.

1- Carbohydrates – You base your meal around a carbohydrate: pasta, rice, couscous, corn, potatoes. 1-2 cups

2- Sauce/ Condiments – This helps tie it all together a bit more: tomato sauce/paste, chicken broth, olive oil, alfredo sauce, pesto, cheese sauce

3-Toppings, protein – When out backpacking, protien is good:chicken, tuna, cheese, beans, tofu, tempeh – 1/2-1 cups

4-Toppings, Vegetables – here, the sky is the limit: carrots, kale, avacado, (sun dried) tomatoes, onion, brocolli, squash, beets, etc 1/2-1cups

5-Spices – salt,pepper, curry powder, cilantro, etc

Cook your carbohydrates in one pot.  Cook your protein (if not pre-cooked) and vegetables in a seperate pot. When carbohydrates are done, combine the two and add sauce.  Use discretion (ie- toppings may be cooked in olive oil).

Think about what common cassaroles are made this way: mac’n’cheese with chicken and broccoli, tuna noodle cassarole, spaghetti bolognese, pizza.

How do I use it? Well…

Tonight I had – homemade pasta with kale, onions, sundried tomatoes, oregano,and snap peas sauteed in olive oil and topped with parmesean cheese.

The other night I had – store-bought pasta with kale, onions, fresh tomato, garlic, basil, in butter and topped with diced cheese from the back of the fridge.

It really does work out well.

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Pasta Making

Posted by Gexx on April 4, 2009

Last night M and I made pasta. I had been wanting to use my pasta maker for quite a long time and I finally cornered M when we both had time. I had a bag and a half of semolina flour, and I wanted to use it ALL!

The recipe on the back of the bag stated:
1.5 c semolina flour
2 eggs or 3 egg whites beaten
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil

I had 6 cups of flour, so I mixed that with the 8 eggs, 1 cup water, and 1 cup olive oil (1 liquid tbsp= 1 liquid oz). The dough had the consistency of batter, so I added some wholewheat flour I have. Eventually it got to a doughy consistancy.

Come to find out, I should have added either the whole eggs *or* the eggwhites, oil, and water. So I had enough liquid for twice as much flour!

Flour Flour Everywhere

Using the machine, we learned that we still needed to continually add flour to the dough, which makes sense as the dough gets thinner and then cut into noodles there is more surface area. That’s why there’s so much flour in this:

We planned to take the noodles from the machine and then hang them, but so many broke and ended up on the floor.

Rack o Pasta

Structurally Unsound
We eventually made a line where noodles were lined up on dish towels until they were a little stiff and then finished up being hung. After they dried (hopefully) sufficiently, they were tossed in flour again and then placed in freezer bags. Out of 3 pounds of flour and 2.5 hours of work, we probably ended up with 3 pounds of noodles due to breakage.
Top of Stove

However, it was a learning experience, and I made a yummy bolognese sauce last night to put with part of our creation. They were really awesome, which I guess in the end, is what matters!

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The weekend

Posted by Gexx on February 24, 2009

This weekend went pretty well, I had a general itinerary and I managed to take care of a chunk of it.

I made the garden plan and bought some seeds for it.  We'll be growing broccoli, kale, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, and herbs this year.

I did all my class readings and made French Onion Soup this weekend.

And then tonight I cleaned like nobody's business.

I was planning to make something for my friend's birthday tomorrow, but now I finally check my phone for the first time all day, and apparently her birthday was today and they met for dinner 3 hours ago.

Well, I'll make them over the next few days (it's a multiday process apparently, I'm just doing great here) and get them to her with the appropriate amount of apologies.  Not that she's really talked to me much in the last week anyway.

OH! I had a "gig" on Sat night (which actually had money potential o.O ).  My friend Claire ( http://rebeccaclaire.com/ ) needed some people to help photograph a big benefit ball.  I took 8+ gigs of photos.  WOW!  It was a big camera with moving parts and like, a lens, and everything.  I needed to focus it and stuff.  I can't wait to see if I managed to get them to come out well.  The party goers were quite amusing as they got drunker. 

And now I'm actually going to try to get some sleep.  A good night's sleep.  Wow.

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The Pot Roast

Posted by Gexx on February 8, 2009

After I blogged, twittered, and changed my myspace status to reflect the demise of the pot roast, after I have been asked by not fewer than 4 people about the conclusion of my dissapointment, I will provide the final act.

I returned to the kitchen after about an hour to determine what could be saved.  I cut open the potroast and although the outside was 'overcooked', it wasn't burned.  The onions, which I thought were burned and had no liquid had the tiniest amount of liquid left and their dark brown color was because of the beef broth and red wine.  So, I cut apart the pot roast, added more water to the onions, and decided to give it a try.  I brought it back to a simmer, and when Morgan walked in the door I added the potatoes and rutabagas.  Once they were soft I thickened the broth with some flour.  We scooped the hot mixture of beef falling to pieces and soft potatoes and rutabagas with a thick gravy over a slice of bread topped with chopped kale (we needed some greens).

It was very good.

I haven't lost my touch.

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very sad

Posted by Gexx on February 5, 2009

I burned dinner.  That makes me sad, for many reasons.

First, I never mess up dinner.  Especially not two pounds of meat.  Second, Morgan was looking forward to dinner so much.  It was to be pot roast, his favorite meal.  Third, I used yummy wine in it.

Here's what happened,
I sauteed the onions, set them aside, seared the meat, added the broth/wine/herbs/onions.  Then I set it on medium to bubble for about an hour.  Thirty minutes later, I get up to check on it and find that there is no liquid left in the pan and the roast is a hockey puck.

I never do this!

Now I need to figure out something else for dinner and tell morgan he can't have pot roast.

or can he? I just remembered I have a big thing of stew meat…

maybe?

::sigh:: so sad…

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theoretical cabbage!

Posted by Gexx on February 3, 2009

I’m waiting for Morgan to head over so I can get dinner going.  I have everything chopped and ready, but I don’t want it ready before he gets here (I’m hungry, but courtious)

First: Twitter during Superbowl.

Second, I’m trying out a cabbage recipe.  For some reason I saw a thing of braised sweet and sour cabbage on Top Chef and it started this craving in my tummy.  I just read the ‘fluff’ that came along with the recipe:

“a silent conviction took shape within me: cabbage must be defended! What we have here is cabbage under siege! Cabbage must no longer be linked to discipline and punishment; no, it’s part of the natural order of things! By the time we arrived at my stop, I had it: an outline of a theory of cabbage.

Dear reader, you know that it’s time to close the book on graduate school when even vegetables call to mind famous works of social theory, such as Michel Foucault’s “Society Must Be Defended,” Discipline and Punish, and The Order of Things; Zygmunt Bauman’s Society Under Siege; and Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice. I wince just typing this, and I pity my poor companions on the bus, who I probably blinded with the blazing rays of geekiness emanating from my feverish brain.”

I heart Foucault.  I heart Bourdieu.  I own Discipline and Punish and I borrowed Outline of a Theory of Practice from my professor and devoured it.

Hopefully the recipe comes out appropriately yummy.

Third, I found on BoingBoing a video of a kid on drugs (he had oral surgery). 

His dad says:

“This is my 7 year old son who had an extra tooth removed last summer, 2008. I had the camera because he was so nervous before I wanted him to see before and after.
He was so out of it after, I had to carry him out of the office. The staff was laughing and I had tears it was so funny.
He is doing fine now and the teeth are great.”

Here’s the video

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food… is it?

Posted by Gexx on January 31, 2009

When my mother visited the summer before last she insisted on refilling my pantry and freezer.  We returned from the store with boxes upon boxes of Rice-a-roni, instant pudding, bags of seasoned noodles, pasta/sauce, canned vegetables, baked beans, and pre-marinated giant turkey breasts, and ground beef in tubes.

yay.

not really.

I tried to work my way through the piles of chemicals, but it was just too… preserved.  I didn't touch the meats.  They were just too big.

When my brother visited I gave him all my instant foods.  He has a microwave in the dorm and just this year managed to figure out the washing machine.  I figured that with directions printed on the food it would be better than fast foods.

However, I kept the meat.  Today I cooked one up a gigantic turkey tenderloin (do turkeys even have loins?) with the intent of making turkey salad, turkey soup, and turkey pie.  It turned out to be a breast.

So I cooked it through.

It's so damn over seasoned and salty.  I'll see what I can do to counter it.  Maybe diluting it in the soup and such will work.

::pout::

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My Cookware

Posted by Gexx on January 27, 2009

I have the most awesome cookware, let me tell you about it.

My grandmother passed away two summers ago (this is part of the story).  That fall my grandfather decided to move into a small assisted living community in Massachusetts.  This meant that he had to downsize… a whole bunch.  He had been living in Florida, but Massachusetts meant that he could be nearer to some family.  On the way up, he stopped by Knoxville.  He had boxes of things for me.  Great, just what I needed, more stuff.  It took a few weeks for me to go through all the boxes, and I never quite got back to the level of clean as I had before he brought boxes and boxes of dusty stuff to my house.

Going through it I ended up with random pieces of games, camp chairs, and such erratic shtuff.  Two sets of the shtuff were actually worth keeping.  And even if they weren't, there was no way I would be forgiven if they ended up in a goodwill bin, ebay, or the collectors markets.

One was my grandmother's wedding china, from her first marriage.  This is serious 1940s/1950s china.  You know, 12 place settings with platinum edging.  Needless to say, it got packed up in newsprint and put in big hard Tupperwares.  Because the next thing I need is *more* dishes that I can't put in the microwave.

The second is a full set of Guardian Service cast/hammered aluminium waterless cookware, her wedding pots which she has used for cooking since.  Everything: roasting pan, 4 quart, 3 quart, 2 quart, 1 quart, skillet.  It's great.  It has glass lids and I've accidentally broken one in the year that I've had them.  It's ok, though, because I have another lid of the same size. 

They are great to work with.  Because they're thick, the bottom doesn't get hot spots, and once the entire pot is hot, I can put the temperature on low and it will still keep bubbling.  Because they're aluminium, they're strong.

I wanted to see if there were any other sizes that I might not have, so I checked ebay.  Apparently these pots are *still* extremely popular even though they've been out of production since 1956.  They're all more the FIFTY YEARS OLD.  And still functional!

wow

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cookies

Posted by Gexx on January 19, 2009

Obama pictures and McCain pictures
see Sarah Palin

pictures

(and now more funny)

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I really need to find my camera so I can start taking pictures and get
them on my cooking blog.

Last night I made up two batches of cookies. One was a simple peanut
butter cookie. The other was a lavender shortbread that I had been
wanting to try for a while. Most of the lavender recipes included
lemon zest, so I through that in there too. I used the “The Best
Shortbread in the World” recipe from my new <i>Cook with Jamie</i>
book. It was such an impressive title that I just needed to. My
recipe includes a few changes: Lavender, Lemon, and cooking times.
His required a 9×9 pan, but I only had 8×8. I grow my own lavender.
I also have a surplus for cooking from my local Co-op.

Ingredients:
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup +1 tbsp superfine sugar
barely 2 cups sifted flour
barely 1 cup cornstarch
1tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lavender florets
extra butter
extra flour
some regular sugar

Oven: 300 F

Butter 8×8 pan.

With wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar. Add lemon zest and
lavender. Add flour and cornstarch. Mix until smooth, you may need
your hands.

Push dough into pan. Don’t forget the corners!

Prick with fork.

Bake 1 hour.

While still warm, sprinkle with regular sugar.

Allow to cool some, cut. Allow to cool more, eat.

“Dear Lord: The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here’s the deal: You freeze everything the way it is, and I won’t ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, give me no sign. Thy will be done.” – Homer Simpson

“One day when he was eating a cookie he offered me a bite. Don’t underestimate that. The poor guy’s so frightened of germs, it could darn near have been a proposal.” – Jean Harlow

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