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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Day 7: January 7, 2013

I had grand plans to take an outdoor photo for Day 7, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Instead, I took this photo:

Day 7/365

Bob’s Red Mill has invaded my grocery store! YES!!!!

Look at all that Bob’s Red Mill!!!!! WHAT?!?!?! I stopped by Ralphs (aka, Kroger, the big chain grocery store in my area) and only walked down the baking aisle to get to the back of the store. I just happened to glance to my left and I think my jaw dropped when I saw bags upon bags upon bags of different Bob’s Red Mill baking products! WHEN DID THIS GET HERE!?!?

I was in Ralphs on Christmas Even to get baking flour and I DO NOT remember seeing this. In the past I have only been able to find Unsweeted Shredded Coconut and possibly one or two other items. I usually have to go to Fresh & Easy to buy Gluten-Free Baking Flour (because it’s way cheaper than at Whole Foods) and then hop on over to Whole Foods to get the crazy stuff like Flaxseed Meal (I still don’t know why I bought this) and Xantham Gum. I can’t remember how much Whole Foods charges for all these things, but I am 99.999999% certain that Ralphs is cheaper. I can’t wait to start experimenting with different baked goods! I was seriously way too excited about this discovery! It definitely made my day….until I decided to buy Mint Chocolate Its-It for dessert. THAT made my day.

Day 8: January 8, 2013
A view from my “office” window.

Day 8/365

“Hi Staples Center! Hi Freeway!”

I put office in quotation marks because I really sit in a cubicle that is adjacent to a floor-to-ceiling window (**not to brag or anything**), but it feels like a real office because it is kind of secluded from the rest of my coworkers so I have a lot of privacy. Not gonna lie, this view is pretty awesome. First of all, “Hello, Staples Center!” When the Kings have a home game, I can see the LA Kings banner draped across the front of Staples Center.

The freeway is also fun to look at. We can see accidents that back up traffic for miles (see photo above), crazies that threaten to jump off a bridge onto the freeway, high-speed car chases, motorcades, military helos that fly by and shake the building, etc. This spot had a decent view of the space shuttle that flew over LA and, on a good air quality day, we can *just* see the ocean (if we squint hard enough).

In case you are wondering, the photos from Days 7 and 8 were taken with my Sony DSC-T200 digicam (I do not recommend it…..but who the heck buys compact digital cameras anyway) and then touched up in PicMonkey using AutoAdjust.

Day 9: January 9, 2013

My external flash arrived!! Woohoo!!! It’s a Canon 430EX II. After I ordered it and was waiting for it to arrive I kept thinking what a frivolous purchase it was for an amateur photog. Just as I was beginning to regret buying it, the flash arrive and OMFG  I really love it! Here’s a SOOC shot of my kitty!

Day 9/365

If we had more cats, Bailey would definitely be their King.

Sure, the photo is a bit overexposed, but that’s because I’m still trying to figure out what exposure compensation to use for my flash. I think I have it set to +2/3 and I bounced the flash at a 60 degree angle. But, seriously….I love this external flash! Even when I set my camera’s light setting to Tungsten and manually shoot to capture a correct exposure I still have to do a white balance adjustment to get the coloring right. All because the lighting in my apartment is absolutely terrible.

Because I’m so excited I am going to add one more photo of my cat. Look, even Bailey is excited! He’s practically dancing!

Feeding the cat

And now you know where I store my Swiffer, broom, and spare fan….

Today’s Hump Day! Only 2 more days till the weekend!!

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I Need a Good Quinoa Recipe

Last weekend I was at Trader Joe’s and when I got to the checkout line I noticed a bag of quinoa randomly sitting in a basket containing nuts or crackers. Obviously someone got to the checkout line and decided not to buy it so he or she tossed it aside. I have always wanted to try quinoa because I have heard that’s it a great substitute for starchy side dishes, but I have never put it on my grocery list so I never remember to even look for it. It’s like the Food Gods were trying to send me a message that day so I picked up the bag to see how to cook the quinoa and was pleasantly surprised to see that you cook it like rice so even though I had no idea how much it cost I decided to get it.  Total impulse buy.

Later in the week (a couple days ago) I finally got around to making quinoa. I figured it would be a good alternative to potatoes, which I usually serve alongside a pork tenderloin.

Pork Tenderloin

Hmmm....pork tenderloin. So yummy......

I had absolutely no idea how the quinoa was going to taste so I cooked it in water first and then tried to season it properly. First of all, does anyone else think quinoa looks really freaking weird? It looks like harmless little beads in the bag, but then it transforms into an alien mass. The instructions on the bag did mention that you’ll know the quinoa is fully cooked when all the water is gone and the quinoa expands and the germ is exposed. I didn’t really know what to expect from that description, but once I saw the cooked quinoa, it made perfect sense.  In case you’re a quinoa newbie, here are before and after photos:

Uncooked Quinoa

Uncooked Quinoa

 

Cooked Quinoa

Cooked Quinoa

So back to seasoning the quinoa. I only cooked it in water and when I first tasted it I was a little disappointed with how completely and utterly bland it was. There was absolutely no flavor to it. None. Zero. Nil. Zilch. It was boring. On the contrary, I can easily eat plain Japanese white rice by the bowlful without any salt, butter, soy sauce, spice, etc. But the quinoa needed a huge kick in the pants if I was going to eat it and especially if I was going to convince P to try it.

I started by adding some salt and pepper. Still bland. So I added some butter hoping that would give it a savory flavor since butter makes everything taste better. It did taste marginally better, but still not something I would want to it a lot of. I think I also added some Tony Chachere’s to give it more saltiness and a little bit of a kick. It definitely helped, but I don’t want to get in the habit of adding Tony’s to quinoa every time i make it. Isn’t quinoa supposed to be healthy? I don’t feel so healthy knowing I add so much salt and fat to it….

So I went online to search for more hints, which I should have done before I even started cooking the quinoa. The first recipe I came across was a quinoa dish from Ellie Krieger of the Food Network. However the only ingredients I had were quinoa and garlic so I added some minced garlic cloves that were lightly toasted in olive oil and the quinoa tasted so much better! It wasn’t fabulous, but definitely edible and even P liked it. Lesson learned: look online for tested recipes.

Quinoa expands a ridiculous amount when it cooks so I still have a ton of uncooked quinoa to experiment with. Its blandness lends itself to being transformed into a host of different types of flavors and I look forward to trying new recipes and pairing it with different main dishes. Anyone have any good quinoa recipes or cooking suggestions that I can try?

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Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a safe and fun NYE celebration!

P and I decided to stay in and make ourselves a 5-course dinner.  We had never done this before so it was quite a treat.  We came up with a menu pretty much off the top of our heads and despite not too much planning we both loved our choices.  Our menu consisted of the following:

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Bruschetta

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

Walnut  Cranberry Salad with Sliced Apples

Filet Mignon with Brussel Sprouts and Potato Hash

Blood Orange Sorbetto

I’m really glad NYE was on a Saturday so I could go shopping Saturday morning and not have to worry about ridiculously long lines.  I remember a couple years ago NYE was on a weekday and I went to Trader Joe’s after work to pick up TWO items and every single checkout line extended to the middle of the store.  I almost left the store, but I reluctantly got in line.  Thankfully everyone in the line let me skip ahead of them because they felt so bad that I was only buying two things as opposed to a full cart of food like everyone else.

This year I did most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s, but went to Whole Foods to get the shrimp, basil, and sorbetto.  P bought the meat at the LA Farmers Market at one of the meat stands (the one closest to Bob’s Coffee & Donuts).  Here are some photos from the night:

I cooked the brussel sprouts based on a Michael Symon recipe and they looked so nice and green  until I forgot about them and they got kinda charred….oops!  This was my first time cooking shrimp for a shrimp cocktail and, just like you would expect, it was pretty easy and I was able to cook it earlier in the day and then chill it in the fridge until we were ready to eat it.  I was going to follow this Alton Brown recipe, but in the end followed a much simpler recipe found in Mark Bittman’s cookbook, ‘How to Cook Everything: The Basics’.  The main course looks kinda sad in the photo, but it tasted great!  We’ll definitely buy meat from the Farmers Market again because the price wasn’t that much more expensive than at the local grocery store, but it tasted way better!

Happy New Year, friends! Hope 2012 is a great year for everyone!! 🙂

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