Monday, December 22, 2008

Homebrew... Minnesota Style

So, last summer for my birthday Nathan got me a propane burner and a wort chiller. I was in heaven... what would normally take me 3 hours at least (due to a very inefficient electric stove) indoors was easily cut down to 2 or less. I would sit in my lawn chair, homebrew in hand, just listening to the birds and soaking up a little sun while I watched my wort bubble away. Fall came, and I even did a batch on a crisp November afternoon. Fingers got a little chilly, but it was fun to watch the leaves fall and enjoy the last gasp of autumn. Fast forward to late December. Temps in the minus teens (and that's WITHOUT wind chill), air so cold that it sucks the air right from your lungs. Saturday night at a neighborhood holiday party I realize that if I'm going to have beer ready for my homebrew club's March competition, I'd better get my act together and get something thrown together fast. The next few weekend were totally out due to Christmas plans, so I in my barley-induced mania decided that Sunday was going to be it. I had a Patersbier and English Pale Ale planned out and damn it... they were going to get brewed. My neighbor Bryan has wanted to find out what this brewing thing was all about for some time now, and also happened to have an extra burner and pot so we comitted to a 1 pm brew date. A few things I learned yesterday:

1. What seems like a good idea when one is tipsy may NOT be such a good idea the next day. Yes, I'm surprised too that it took me this long to learn that lesson.

2. If you're going to brew after a major snowfall, clear the snow before setting out your brewing supplies. Needle in a haystack, hydrometer in a snowbank... it's all the same thing.

3. I need new brewing boots.

4. Snow is not nearly as good a cooling mechanism as one might think. I forgot that it's mostly made of air and does a better job of insulating the hot wort than of chilling it.

5. Subzero temps aparently aren't very good for thermometers. I really should start buying those suckers by the dozen. *sigh*

All kidding aside, it was a fun brew session and it was also great to "pay it forward" and teach someone new to brew. I think he's a convert.

I'll keep you posted on the brews; have never done either type of beer so I'm excited to see the results. I'm particularly excited to see how the Patersbier turns out. It's a simple concoction of pilsen malt, hops, a little carapils grain, and some trappist yeast but it's supposed to come out with a really delicate and complex flavor profile. We'll see... both batches are bubbling away under their towels in the guest room. Stay tuned, in 6 weeks or so I'll have a review or two.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Way to This Girl's Heart...

Once upon a time there lived a homebrewing, songwriting, recipe-inventing midwife. Last Christmas she wrong a song about beer and sent it to her homebrewing buddies as an electronic Christmas gift. Laughter ensued. The following year (that being THIS year), said midwife recieved a number of requests for another song.

This: was the result.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to keep this up from year to year. If I run out of song ideas, does that mean I have to move??

Oh, and in case you never heard the song that started it all, you can listen to that here:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Greek Lamb Burgers with Feta Sauce

Ok, so I've made a smaller version of these lamb patties as a component of other dishes before, but this is the first time I've made them this large and hamburger-style. I was going to make a traditional tzatziki sauce (yogurt and shredded cucumber -- the stuff you get on a gyro) for them but my husband hates cucumbers, so I omitted the cucumber, added a few spices and some sour cream, and finished it off with some feta. Bam, hit that one out of the park... it tastes great and I like it even better than tzatziki. I have a ton of leftover sauce and don't know what to do with it, but it would be great tossed with sliced cucumber as a cold side dish. Could even use it in place of traditional blue cheese dressing on a green salad. Another idea would be to make up chicken wings with a curry sauce instead and use this as a dipping sauce.

Because this recipe makes up two pounds of meat, I did not use all of it in one meal. I used about half for the burgers, and made the rest into little meatballs. I froze these and plan on using them either in spaghetti sauce or in a curry. They'd also be great browned up and dropped into a pot of peanut chickpea soup or something like that. Guess I'll have to post that recipe sometime, too. ;)


1/3 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of plain yogurt (greek style if you can get it, but any kind is ok)
1 4 oz. package of feta crumbles
pinch of salt
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 cup of minced fresh cilantro

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb extra lean ground beef (93% lean or more)
1 medium onion, diced very finely
2 TBS olive oil
20 grinds of fresh black pepper, or 1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
handful of fresh cilantro, minced


A few hours ahead of time, mix up the sauce. You can do this right beforehand, but the sauce really does improve in flavor after sitting in the fridge all day. In a small bowl, mash the feta and lemon juice together until the feta breaks down a bit. You still want some lumps, just smaller lumps. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Taste, season as needed. May need more salt or lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.

For burgers, first sautee the minced onion in olive oil until medium to dark brown. In a large bowl, gently mix the cooked onion with the rest of the burger ingredients. Shape into hamburger sized/shaped patties. Fry on medium heat on a lightly oiled grill until nicely browned and cooked all the way through. Mine took about 20 min total. Place on kaiser roll and top with a good-sized dollop of the feta sauce.

I served these with a pickled cucumber salad that I mixed up from sliced cucumbers and red onion, lemon juice, water, a bit of sugar and salt.

Nathan rated these as the best burgers I've ever made. They were flavorful and extremely moist because of the fat content in the ground lamb. The ground beef cuts the lamb flavor a bit, so even if you're a little timid about eating lamb, give these a try.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Homebrew Review: Vanilla Coffee Porter

This beer was my first attempt at a porter, and overall I'm really pleased with it. It was done as a partial mash, starting with a porter extract kit and some specialty grains. I made my own vanilla extract by steeping vanilla beans in vodka and added them to the secondary fermenter. Also added to the secondary was 2 cups of very strong french-pressed coffee (I used about 4 oz. of high quality fair trade beans). It aged in the secondary for a mere two weeks before packaging. I bottled a few for sharing, and kegged the rest. This review is that of the kegged version; if the bottles taste any different, I'll let you all know.

Appearance: Pours a mahogany brown, with slight deep caramel tones along the edges when held up to the light. Slightly cloudy. Tan-colored head, fair retention (I seem to always have issues with head retention unless I've made a wheat beer, but for a porter a mild head retention is acceptable).

Aroma: The overwhelming note here is dark chocolate/cocoa. I think this is actually an odd symbiotic aromatic dance between the vanilla and the coffee... or perhaps it's simply coming out from the chocolatey notes in the dark malt. Regardless, this beer smells a whole lot more like chocolate than coffee. In fact, I get little else here in the aroma other than a hint of malt and a very mild sweet floral note (the vanilla?). No hop aroma.
Taste: At first the chocolate aroma carries over into the taste of this beer. Soon however you get the rich maltiness and toastiness of the porter itself. There is a slight tartness to this beer -- I'm almost positive that it's from the vanilla. I noted a definite sour quality when I tasted the vanilla before adding it to the secondary. The finish is where the coffee shines; the bitterness of the coffee actually seems to take the place of what minor hop presence there would be in this beer, and lingers. The finish leaves a nice coffee aftertaste in the mouth.

This beer improves drastically as it sits out and warms up, I definitely need to turn down the keg fridge. The flavors blend much better as the beer loses its chill.

Mouthfeel: Added carapils insures that this isn't a watery beer, but it's definitely on the lighter-bodied side for a porter. The carbonation seems just about right for a porter -- it comes in on the finish rather than being up front. The last thing I wanted was a "spritzy" beer. I've had a tendency to overcarbonate my brews in the past, so I tried to be very careful with my keg temps and CO2 pressures this time.

Drinkability: I'm pleased with the drinkability of this beer. The body and alcohol content is light enough to make downing more than a pint of this beer absolutely doable. The coffee is dominant in the flavor but not so overwhelming that the tastebuds get overloaded.

So yeah. Stop on by, have yourself a pint, and tell me if you agree. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

MySpace Archives #3: Taco Meatloaf


Meatloaf ingredients:
1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 93% lean ground sirloin)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small can chopped green chiles
1 packet taco seasoning ( I prefer La Preferida... how ironic)
1/4 cup plain oatmeal
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Ketchup ingredients:
4 Tbs. ketchup
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped finely
1 tsp. brown sugar

For ketchup: mix all ingredients well and refrigerate. Add more ketchup or use less chipotle if this is too spicy for you.

For meatloaf: Sautee onions in olive oil until they just start to brown. Add garlic and cook until garlic just starts to take on color. Set aside to cool.

Mix rest of ingredients EXCEPT FOR CHEESE together until well combined. Place into loaf pan. Bake at 350 for one hour. Pull meatloaf out, drain off excess fat and juices (there will be a fair amount of liquid you'll pour off -- this is ok, your meatloaf will still be very moist), sprinkle cheese over top of meatloaf and return to oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, slice, and serve witih chipotle ketchup.

I served this with soft polenta and garlic-sauteed green beans. The polenta went great with the flavoring of the meatloaf, almost like the corn taco shell flavor of an actual taco. Just a hint: whenever I make polenta, I always add a little salt, a little sugar, and a knob of butter at the end to bring out the full flavor of the corn.

I'm thinking that leftovers warmed up and wrapped in a flour or corn tortilla with some hot sauce would be pretty darned yummy. Or put a small slab on a corn muffin for a little Mexican sandwich.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lemon Roasted Baby Reds

Potatoes that is.

This is a side dish that is surprisingly easy, but takes a little planning because it takes an hour to cook. Prep time is literally about 5 minutes, though, so give these a try.


2 lbs baby red potatoes (the smaller the better, about the same size)
Olive oil
Black pepper
Seasonings of choice (garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs, etc...)
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Take the potatoes, and in each cut several narrow slices about halfway to 2/3 of the way down into the potato without going all the way through. Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle very liberally with salt, pepper, and your seasonings of choice (honestly, anything goes here... any combo of garlic and onion powders along with various herbs such as dried rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc. will work). You will need to use more seasoning than seems reasonable, because a lot will fall off the potatoes when they cook. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and put into a preheated oven at 400 F for about one hour. Yes, this seems like a long time. No, they won't burn. The onion/garlic powder will blacken, but believe it or not they won't be bitter. Take out of the oven, and squeeze about 1/4 to 1/2 of the lemon wedges over the cut tops of the potatoes. Serve along with a roast chicken or any other main dish. The outside of the potatoes gets crispy, while the insides stay nice and creamy. The lemon adds a little punch at the end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grownup Oatmeal Cream Pies

Ok, since the word "baking" is in the title of my blog, I figured it was high time I actually included a baking recipe here. I made this recipe up today as a welcome home for hubby, who's been out of town for four days. These should remind you of the old lunchbox favorites, but with a little bit more sophistication from the dried fruit. Nuts would also go great in these.


1 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 c flour
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow fluff
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter

For filling, blend together all three ingredients with a hand mixer and mix until well blended and light and fluffy. Set aside.

For cookie batter, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, blend. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Add to wet ingredients, blend. Stir in oats and fruit.

Add ImageDrop dough onto cookie sheet in about 1/2 TBS portions. I used a very small cookie scoop which made cookies the perfect size. You really don't want these too large, or else your finished sandwich cookies will be way too big. Bake at 375 for about 8 min or until brown and done. Cool on a rack until completely cool.

Use a piping bag, ziplock bag (with corner cut off), or simply a knife to place a little filling on the underside of one cookie, and top with another cookie to make a sandwich.


I'm thinking a strong cup of coffee would go wonderfully with these, becawsue they are very very sweet. Not that I'm complaining.

You could play with the add-ins on this one very easily. I think dried apricot and walnut would be lovely. Or perhaps orange zest, pecans, and cardamom in the cookie dough? The possibilities are endless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beer Update: Coffee Vanilla Porter and Blueberry Ale

I spent a good hour or so yesterday transferring two batches of beer from their primary fermenters to secondary fermenters (this two-stage fermentation allows the beer to clear a bit before bottling/kegging). My initial fermenters are plastic buckets, and the sendary ones are big 5-gallon glass bottles called carboys.

One is a blueberry ale that I'm making with a friend of mine... the base beer, a cream ale, turned out really nice. I'm a little worried how it'll taste after the addition of two cans of blueberry puree -- the smell isn't phenomenal and the color is nothing short of weird. I don't think we're going to get what we wanted from it... but if it's drinkable, I'll be happy. We wanted an intensely blueberry-flavored beer, so our general attitude was "no guts, no glory". If anything, we'll just age the hell out of it until the fruit mellows.

The second beer is a porter (a dark, toasty beer), to which I added freshly brewed coffee and homemade vanilla extract at the time of racking to the secondary. I have to say I am really excited about this beer. The vanilla seems to have gotten lost in such a deep beer (bummer), but the coffee aroma comes through beautifully. Hopefully it still will when I keg it in two weeks. Maybe the vanilla will still show up in the flavor profile. I could always add more, but I really don't want to overdo it. I thought about throwing a few split vanilla beans into the secondary but I don't wanna fish those babies out, seeing as the carboy has a very narrow neck. I imagine it akin to trying to get my pick out of my guitar when it happens to fall through the hole. :)

So, stay tuned. When the beers are done, I'll post some pics and a review of how they taste.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

MySpace Archives #2: Green Chile Fritatta

Ok, folks... here's another recipe from my old MySpace blog. I figure it's timely in times of growing grocery bills. You can throw this together for literally a couple of dollars. It's very easy to play with the ingredients in this, too. You can leave out the chiles if you don't like them and substitute any sauteed veggies (beware of raw vegetables -- they will give off water when they cook and wreck the fritatta), and use any cheese you like. You could also add meat if you are so inclined -- I bet an italian sausage and sharp cheddar fritatta would be pretty darned awesome on a Sunday brunch lineup.

8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 can fire roasted green chiles
1/4 tsp salt
several grinds of black pepper
4 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded and split into two portions

In large bowl, beat eggs and milk. Stir in rest of ingredients, but reserve 2 oz. of the cheese for the top of the frittata (later in recipe).

Over medium heat, take an OVEN PROOF skillet and heat 2 TBS of olive oil until hot. Add egg mixture. Stir slowly occasionally to break up the part of the egg that's starting to cook, until you have a mass of what look like undercooked scrambled eggs. The top at this point should still look moist, but you don't want big pools of undercooked egg. Distribute into one even layer, add reserved cheese, and put into the oven on the middle rack. Broil for a few minutes until cheese melts and the top of the frittata starts to brown. The frittata may puff up (even getting one or more very large air bubbles) during cooking, but it will settle substantially after if comes out of the oven.

Allow frittata to cool for a minute or so, then cut into wedges and serve. I served mine with a green salad and corn muffins.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Orange-Walnut Israeli Couscous

Despite this having nothing to do with the dishes that my husband and I ate growing up, this recipe has quickly transported itself into the "comfort food" category in our family. It is quick, inexpensive, and filling. The flavor combination was inspired by traditional Moroccan and Indian flavors, and I was lucky in that I nailed what I was going for on the first try. The only ingredient that you'll have to hunt for is the Iraeli couscous -- it's quite a bit larger than regular couscous. The larger grain gives it a wonderful al dente chewiness. We've found it at some natural food stores in the Twin Cities, but you can also find it online here: . Trader Joes also carries it, but their own brand is a smaller bag and you have to adjust the cooking liquid down by about 1/4 cup, otherwise it works great.
1 8.8 oz bag of Iraeli Couscous
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 medium to large onion, diced very small
Zest and juice from one large orange
2 cups of chicken stock (don't use reduced sodium)
1 tsp garam masala (special Indian spice mixture, most grocery stores carry this)
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted
In large, deep saucepan warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat until just frothy. Add onion and fry until the onion is deep golden brown. If you don't think you've nearly burned the onion, you haven't cooked it long enough. I've made this dish and not let the onion go as far, and the depth of flavor in the finished product just isn't as good. Add the dry couscous and cook until some of the pasta takes on a golden color as well. It should look like this:

Add the garam masala and stir for a minute to "bloom" the spice. Add orange juice, orange zest, and chicken stock. Stir. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook at a simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the couscous is cooked through and the cooking liquid is absorbed. You may have to add a little extra stock or orange juice if the liquid all disappears before the pasta is done completely. Stir well, remove from heat, and add the toasted walnuts. Serve.

This dish is wonderful on it's own with a crisp green salad or roasted cauliflower, or as a side dish alongside roasted meats. You could also make it vegetarian/vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, if you want. It would also look great with a little chopped parsely or cilantro thrown in, but the garam masala is a very delicate flavor so I opt to leave it as is.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Homemade Pizza

I apologize in advance for not having a better recipe to post with these pics, but pizza is something I do by feel and look more than by measurement (Eventually I will stop apologizing for this, because this tends to be the way I cook nearly everything). Homemade pizza, now that I know the trick to making it WELL, has ruined delivery pizza for me forever.

First, the crust:

This recipe is my go-to recipe for pizza crust. It's delicious and cooks up with the crispy-chewy combo that's vitally important to a good neopolitan-style crust. Another option if you don't want to make your own crust is to pick up a ball of dough from your favorite local pizza place. Many will sell this to you for a few dollars at most.

The sauce:
I'm a purist in this regard. I like plain canned tomato sauce (Hunts or Muir Glenn are good) stirred with a little sugar and maybe some fresh garlic at most. The sauce shouldn't compete with the other ingredients.

The cheese:

Go with whole milk mozarella here, folks. It's a must. Slice into thin rounds or chop into little squares for sprinkling on top.

The toppings:

Here's where you can let your imagination go wild. That being said, I do think simple is best here as well. You could do some caramelized onion and a few slices of fresh pear, or maybe just sliced tomato and fresh basil for a pizza margherita. I love a drizzle of pesto with a sprinkling of pine nuts. Be creative!

The cooking method:

Preheat a pizza stone or baking stone in your oven on the highest temp setting available (This is usually about 550 or so), in about the middle of the oven or a tad higher. This preheating will take quite a while, maybe even 30-40 minutes. In the meanwhile, you can prepare your pie.

You want to stretch/toss/roll (whatever works best for you) the dough into about a 12" circle, with the edges being a bit thicker than the rest of the dough. Place onto a pizza peel or unrimmed cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with either cornmeal or semolina flour. These are better than regular flour because they will allow the dough to slide off onto the stone more easily. Spread with a scant amount of pizza sauce -- you want some for flavor but not so much that your cheese and toppings slide off the crust. Top with cheese and toppings. Give the pizza a wiggle to make sure it's loose enough to slide onto the pizza stone. When the oven is ready to go, slide your pizza onto the stone (good luck... this takes some practice). Using a forward and back rapid motion with your hand is the best way to get the pizza to slide off the pizza peel without sticking. If it sticks, you can try using a spatula to loosen the areas that are sticking. Your pizza will NOT be perfectly round. That's ok. We're going for rustic here.

Bake your pizza until the edges are blistered and the cheese is bubbly. This may be as quickly as 5-7 minutes, but it depends on a variety of factors (crust thickness, oven temp, distance from top of oven, etc.) Remove, let sit for about 3-4 minutes, then slice and eat.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

From the MySpace Archives: Chicken Potstickers

This is a post ripped from the archives of my old MySpace "blog"... I just don't have the patience for that site anymore, but I have a lot of posts there that I'd like to preserve. I figure I can give some of them new life here on blogger... this is one of my very favorite meals. It is VERY labor intensive, but it's worth it.

Ok, this is my first foray into the world of Asian dumplings... and they turned out amazingly good. I can't take credit for the recipe, though. Alton Brown gets the kudos for that. The only thing I really changed is that I used minced chicken breast instead of ground pork, and used pablano peppers instead of red. The flavor was still excellent. Might try the pork next time. I'm also toying with trying to come up with a beef potsticker with a peanut satay sauce... Below is a pic of how they turned out, as well as Alton's original recipe.

1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Water, for sealing wontons
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 cups chicken stock, divided


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Combine the first 11 ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl (pork through cayenne). Set aside.

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush 2 of the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold over, seal edges, and shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil once hot. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove wontons to a heatproof platter and place in the warm oven. Clean the pan in between batches by pouring in water and allowing the pan to deglaze. Repeat until all the wontons are cooked. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sweet Garlic Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those foods that I've always been a little "meh" about. It just never did much for me. It was heavy and full of meat and I dunno... kind of dull. A few months back Nathan asked me to make lasagna. I'd made it once before, but it was never on my dinner roation for the aforementioned reasons. So I figured I'd make MY kind of lasagna. Something lighter, brighter, fresher, and sans meat. Hubby was skeptical. I'd go so far as to say nervous. "What, no meat? No sausage? Not even a little hamburger?" Nope. No meat. Suck it up and eat it. And guess what? He did! And not only did he eat three large helpings, he took LEFTOVERS. *faint* And he proceeded to actually buy all of the ingredients (ok, most of the ingredients... he is a man, remember) a couple of weeks later so I'd make it again. This dish is now a monthly routine for us; Nathan makes a Trader Joe's stop on his way home from Naval Reserve drill, and I lovingly craft the lasagna on the following Tuesday (my weekday off). It's inadvertently become a little family tradition.


2-3 TBS olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 large can of tomato sauce (16 oz.)
1 TBS sugar
1/2 (or so) box of no-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb whole milk mozzarella cheese- sliced into thin rounds/slices (a piece of string works best for slicing)
1 12 oz. carton of cottage cheese
1 egg

For sauce, lightly brown garlic in hot olive oil. Add tomato sauce and sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, set aside.

Blend cottage cheese and egg together in blender or food processor, set aside

In a 8x8 inch pan, start your layers. They should go like this (after an initial layer of sauce on the bottom) -- pasta, sauce, mozzarella, THIN layer of cottage cheese mixture. Repeat. Build lasagna until it's about 1/2" from the top, and finish with a layer of sauce and mozzarella. I always use up all of the sauce and all of the mozzarella but have about half of the noodles and half of the cottage cheese stuff leftover.

Bake in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, uncovered until bubbly and browned on top. Take out and let sit for 10-15 min before slicing.

This is great in the summertime with fresh basil leaves placed every other layer, too. Try to avoid the temptation to spice up the tomato sauce with a bunch of dried herbs; I really think the beauty of this dish is the brightness of the simple sweet tomato sauce. Serve with a crisp green salad and bottle of wine, and you're on for a li'l Italia in the midwest. :)

Aparently 3:58 minutes wasn't enough

This was in the paper today. Really nice article by St. Cloud entertainment writer Adam Hammer...

Needless to say, the staff at my clinic are all having a field day over this. Sorry, guys. I'm not autographing a speculum for you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My 3:58 Minutes of Fame

Aparently the rough-looking dude at open mic on Tuesday wasn't taking pictures.... he was taking video. And aparently he uploaded to YouTube. And aparently one can post someone's ORIGINAL song on a national web site without the original artist's permission.

Oh well. *shrug* I'll just exploit my own exploitation. Does that make it... meta-exploitation?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Garlic Lemon Hummus

This is my go-to "recipe" for busy worknights. It's fast, easy, healthy, and I have 90% of the ingredients on hand at any given time. I put recipe in quotations because to be honest, I make this (like many of my recipes) more by taste than by measure. You may want to play with the amounts listed here to suit your own tastes.

A few notes: you really need to use FRESH lemon juice and good olive oil. **Now for my olive oil soapbox lecture** Many olive oils that you find in the typical grocery section are not of quality. They will have a bitter, almost rancid flavor. If you've never tasted truly excellent olive oil, you may not realize how great the "good" stuff is. In town here I've found that Byerly's has some excellent varieties for about $12/bottle. Also check out the local CoOp. Olive oil in hummus shouldn't be merely an ingredient, but should actually be a flavoring agent -- so for this recipe, spend a little extra. I promise it's worth it.

Garlic Lemon Hummus

  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of tahini (can substitute peanut butter in a pinch)
  • about 1/2 teaspoon of salt (may need to be adjusted to taste)
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor, chop garlic clove. Add chickpeas, tahini, some of the salt (reserve some just in case it's too much... you can always add more later), and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil and process again. Add more salt and/or lemon juice to taste. Garnish with more olive oil and fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired. Serve with crusty bread, veggies, olives, etc. Also thickens up in the fridge and makes a great sandwich or wrap spread.

Possible additions/substitutions: green chiles and a pinch of cayenne for a southwest twist, add some fried onions and curry for Indian-inspired hummus, or try a different citrus than lemon (lime and cilantro go great together).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

B, B, & B #1

Ok, updates (is it really an update if it's my first post on the subject??) on the "Big Three":


Had a really great week at work, for some reason... nothing specific happened, but I just really connected with my patients. There's something amazing about sending someone off from an appointment with a big smile on their face. I mean, come on... the annual exam is not something that most of us gals look forward to. I know that no one is going to enjoy that yearly visit with me, but my goal is to always try to make my patients feel as if they were listened to and respected. Sounds like a small thing, but I'm finding that it's not. Every patient who says, "Hey, thanks... you really made this comfortable" or "I like you... can I start seeing you every time?" warms my heart and helps to confirm to me that I made the right choice to become a midwife. And that's pretty damn priceless.


On tap -- American Apricot Wheat. It's going too slowly, so I'm having my second "Kill the Keg" party on Friday with some of the gals from work. The last one ended up with a Playstation and two six-year-olds yelling at a group of grown women to "shut the heck up". Hrm. Maybe we can kick it up a notch this time and get in trouble with people who are old enough to not have a scheduled bedtime.

In the carboy -- nothing. yeah, I know... in homebrewer circles, that's a sacrilege.

Up next -- I think I'm going to make a "Irish Coffee Porter"; basically a dark porter with some irish whiskey and coffee beans for added flavor. Might work, might not. Might simply keep me up all night. Also planning on my first buddy-brew -- a blueberry ale with my pal Lars. Just need to knock out a recipe and plan a brew date.

Baking: We attended the annual Cloudytown Brewers' (my homebrew club) Oktoberfest party last night, and I baked for the occasion. Made a basic apple pie, and then threw a twist into my pecan pie. I added a splash of bourbon (as usual), and threw in a handful of dark chocolate chips. It was a hit, especially when the beer munchies set in later on in the evening. With apple season in full swing here in MN, I'm sure there will be crisps and pies and sauces galore. I forgot to take pics of the pie, hence why my first post is without any visuals.

And with that, I'm off to the basement to work off the damn cod nuggets I just ate. Damn Schwanns. You bastards. *shakes fist*


This is my blog.


Stay awhile, comment, try out a recipe or two... if people like them, let 'em know where you got them. If they don't, then uh... tell them it was one of those dusty old Lutheran basement cookbooks that you inherited from your great Aunt Bev.