Thursday, October 27, 2011

Adding Some Spice

 Bon Appetit's Texas Beef Brisket Chili

I'm not sure about the average person, but in my kitchen, I have very few spices.  I use a ton of black pepper, and sometimes, I use garlic powder.  I stay away from salt for the most part, and only use some fresh parsley when my grandparents have too much from their garden and make me take some home.

When I see recipes like this one for unbelievable-looking brisket chili, my mouth waters but there are so many ingredients included that I'd have to go out and buy before I could even start to cook.  Would I ever use these spices and condiments ever again?  It's hard to say but I'm pretty sure I won't be adding coriander and cumin to every meal.  I mean, these thyme gougeres look delicious, but how often do people use thyme and what does it taste like?  What if I made an entire batch and hated the herby taste?

I can't be the only one who hasn't been exposed to a huge variety of spices.  I try to cook simply and by doing that, I appreciate the actual taste of the vegetables/pasta/meat that I'm eating.  Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps extra spices only enhance the flavor of food though, and I've been missing out all these years.  I love flavorful and spicy foods when I'm at a restaurant or a friend's house--why have I never experimented in my own kitchen?

What's your favorite thing to add when cooking a meal? And do you think I should expand my spice collection?

Bon Appetit's Thyme Gougeres

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lazy Days

This was the weekend that Anthony and I were supposed to be in Chicago.  As much as we were looking forward to an actual vacation and to exploring a new city, real life got in the way and we had to cancel our trip (we now have a cool JetBlue credit to use--the possibilities are practically endless, at least until it expires).  Instead, we spent an extended weekend together doing very little but have a great time.
We finally went apple-picking:

I tried to make Halloween cards but my 'scary' monsters all wound up looking like Elmo:

I went through the IKEA catalog and tagged a bunch of things that would definitely help organize our apartment:

And finally, a homemade apple pie, lattice-style:

Could I use a few more days off? Of course.  But I'm happy we had this time together and that we were able to enjoy some autumn activities.

And I know I've been slacking with my posts.  The past few weeks have been insanely busy, at work and at home.  This week, I promise to be a better blogger (and to write more, and to read more, etc.). 

I hope you all had wonderful weekends.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pet Prints

I just finished the cutest post on dog and cat prints for the Best Buddy Biscuit blogCheck out some of these very stylish, pet-related posters that I compiled from Etsy.  Which one is your favorite?

Image via Wallfry

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pie Crusts Galore

We're going apple-picking this weekend.  At least, I think we are going apple-picking.  We've had plans to go to the orchard two weekends in a row, but we've had to cancel both times for various reasons.  Now, all I want to do is pick apples (preferably Golden Delicious), take our annual 'arm-shot' photo in front of some fruit trees, and make a bunch of pies. 

I can only hope they will look half as good as one of these Martha Stewart creations

Image courtesy of Martha Stewart

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Real Cooking

I love soup. It sounds like a random statement, but I realized the other day that I eat soup at least three or four times a week but have never tried to make it myself.  I'm a decent baker but not a good cook so soup has always just seemed too complicated.  How do you make the broth?  And more importantly, my 'spice rack' consists of salt, pepper and cinnamon--what do you do to soup so that it doesn't taste like hot water?

Armed with this awesome recipe from Food 52, I set out to make a large pot of chicken corn chowder that would last for a couple of hearty lunches, and maybe one or two dinners. Instead of a heavy cream mixture, I used light half-and-half.  I didn't have chicken broth so I used beef broth.  Red peppers and fresh herbs?  Nope.  I only had a green bell pepper to dice and throw in along with the onion.  But amazingly enough, the soup was delicious even with all of my substitutions.

Chicken corn chowder with shredded cheddar and bits of bacon on top, per recipe

I couldn't get over how truly healthy the chicken corn chowder tasted.  It was oddly satisfying to add all of these ingredients together and have a complete meal after a few hours of simmering.

It's not even winter yet, but I'm already excited to try other soup recipes for cold-weather meals.  Maybe chicken tortilla next?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Always in Style

I'm not a fashionista by any means but it's so weird when things that I always do are suddenly 'in style.'  For example, take a look at my nails:

This is basically what they've looked like since I was in middle school.  I either have no polish on at all or my nails are an odd shade of blue/green/gray.  I even remember this one time (circa 1995) when I had on an egg-yolky kind of orange/yellow and my father, who never notices stuff like nail polish, made me take it off because he thought it looked like I had 'horrible nicotine hands.'  At any rate, how surprised do you think I was when I saw this featured on Refinery 29? And the nail polish rack at Sephora is filled with pearly bright colors that look so funny next to the light pinks and blood reds.

Apparently, I'm stylish right now.  This has also happened with winter hats (my love of wool hats is a major reason I'm looking forward to cold weather) and black ballet flats (which are due to become unfashionable at any moment).

Once the styles change, I'll then look washed up and behind in the times once more, trying to be cool in fashions that are months old, but at least I'll be on the cutting edge when all of these trends return again three years.

What are some of your fashion loves and do you wear them even if you know they aren't stylish?