The Challenge pulled a 'fast one' on us

Looks enticing, no?

A meal that comforts on those cool autumn evenings?

Root vegetables with couscous...we've been excited about comparing this recipe from our Challenge cookbook...imagining the ultimate in comfort food...after all, every single recipe we
have made from it has been awesome - fresh tomato basil soup, halibut pie, baked eggs with tarragon...even strange sounding ones like: salmon with cucumbers and creme fraiche have been surprisingly outstanding.

But Loving Boyfriend and I have compared this particular to the following:

We imagine that tree bark would have more flavor.
We would rather eat dirt.
We would rather eat anything but this (except, perhaps, liver).
Loving Boyfriend states that he would prefer to eat yellow snow.
...and further, gave him gas all night long, which was not nice for either one of us.

This is the end product of delicous ingredients. The smells from both the root veggies (parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery root, rutabaga, carrots and potatoes) and the spices (curry powder, saffron, ground ginger, and more) were incredible. We served it over whole wheat couscous with the recommended red sauce. It looked so yummy. It looks nice, but one taste was enough for both of us to look up from our plates, make crumpled up noses at eachother, and simultaneously say, "it's so bland!"

So, the recipe is NOT going in here. However, the dessert was muc
h better. Inspired by Shauna at Gluten-free girl (again), and to save the watermelon still sitting on our counters from a CSA box from weeks ago from an uncertain moldy death, I had whipped up a watermelon granita the night before, and it was finally frozen and ready to be eaten. This treat made all the bad memories of tree bark instantly disappear.

See Gluten-free Girl's recipe for her Watermelon Sorbet (it's towards the bottom of her post, after that yummy-looking fritatta). And because I only own an old-fashioned ice-cream maker (ie. requiring rock salt and copious quantities of ice), I made it granita style; pouring everything into a shallow glass dish, letting it freeze, and then scraping the top with a fork until we filled our glasses with the ice shavings. You won't regret it, and it's incredibly easy!

Here's the finished product:

BTW, it does turn out more of a luscious pink than it looks here; I blame the bad lighting in the kitchen (my sly way of begging for Loving Boyfriend to return the wrong-sized light bulbs we bought at BiMart so that we can have good kitchen lighting...). Which reminds me, if you're interested, see la dolce vita's new food contest, In the Pink, which Loving Boyfriend and I are both planning entries (we want to see who's recipe you prefer!).


The best pasta is black

You're going to start thinking that I have a squid ink thing (and maybe I do, I'm a marine biologist, after all), but in one of my weak moments as I was wandering around Cost Plus World Market last weekend, I bought a package of Squid Ink Tagliatelle Pasta, made by Mylelia Water Mill of Greece (I did also note they have many delicious-looking recipes on
their website while I was linking this). We followed a recipe on the card enclosed with the package for Squid Ink Black Pasta with Zucchini because we were in a hurry and not sure what would bring out the flavor and tastes in the best way - who better to know such things but those who made it?

It was amazing. We had huge second helpings...and even when it expand
ed in our stomachs making us feel unbelievably full, we were still craving more. Not only did it taste fantastic, but it looked cool too - black pasta isn't something I've ever seen, and the shiny black noodles just jumped out on the white plates we put it on (not to mention I got a little carried away taking pictures of the saffron too).

It tasted like homemade pasta - made using a traditional Greek
recipe with only semolina, durum wheat stoneground in their 250-year-old water mill, eggs, squid ink, olive oil, salt and pepper. Plus, it's air-dried and has the perfect texture after only 3 minutes of cooking.

We used what we had available in the house: yellow summer squash, instead of zucchini, and left out the parsley (we didn't have any). We had also intended on adding some shaved parmesan, but were so excited once it was plated that we forgot all about it.

Here's the recipe:

Squid Ink Black Pasta with Zucchini

6 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4 small zucchini, cut into medium sized cubes
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. saffron threads dissolved in 1 tbsp. hot water
4 tbsp. chopped parsley

Saute the garlic and onions in 2-3 tbsp. olive oil gently until soft. Add the zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes more until just tender and warm. Add the dissolved saffron and parsley, then remove from the heat and stir gently. Cook the pasta according to the directions for 'cooking pasta correctly' on the package (only 3 minutes in boiling salted water). Then drain and give a few quick shakes (never rinse) and place on warmed plates. Sprinkle with more olive oil and spoon the vegetables into the middle of the pasta to leave a vivid contrast between the yellow
and black.

The only trouble I had with it was that even though I used hot water from the sink, the saffron didn't ever dissolve completely - does it normally? Do you need really hot water?

It's awesome. Try it!

The other exciting event from last night were the Trike races.

There's an Irish bar here called McShane's, and on Tuesday nights, they do trike races. Yep, that's tricycle races to those of us who aren't hip to this new sport. It's actually sponsored by Fat Tire - New Belgium Brewing Co. from Fort Collins, Colorado (which has a place in my heart because I did my undergraduate degree at CSU there). They've taken tricycles and souped them up for adults. It's truly hilarious to watch adults knock their knees into the handlebars, race around the bar in circles, crash into walls (you have to sign a waiver before you can race), and try to beat eachother out for Fat Tire gear.

The last Tuesday of every month is the finals: you can win $150 if you beat everyone.

Last night was the night of the Finals, and Loving Boyfriend and a few other friends of ours had qualified to race on earlier Tuesdays this month. But Loving Boyfriend (and I may be in some serious trouble for this one, but it's simply too good to pass up), being the loveable guy that he is,
decided that since we most likely would not be able to win, he was going to go out in style. And sadly, he didn't win. But he sure had everyone at the bar laughing and grabbing for their cameras, so maybe this won't be the only post on the internet?

There he is - My Love, in spandex. Red spandex. An entire suit of it. Complete with a pillowcase cape. My hero. He has never, in three years, ceased to make me laugh.


Just for Vickie

Vickie, over at The Moveable Feast Food Blog, requested the potato hash we had with the meatloaf. So, just for YOU, Vickie - here it is.

I confess: I actually stole this off the Food Network: Good Deal with Dave Lieberman (essentially, Gourmet for those of us on a budget), who has lots of yummy recipes and tips. I modified it for what we had in the house, and unfortunately I don't remember what exactly I did so it will never turn out quite the same but that's okay, because with this much butter and cream, it can't taste bad!

Here's his recipe:

Basil Chive Red Potato Hash

2 lbs. red-skinned new potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), chopped into peices
handful of chopped chives
handful of chopped basil

Boil potatoes until tender in salted water (start with cold water), then drain. This should take about 25 minutes. Add cream and butter to pan, then mash potatoes. Add herbs and mix. Viola! I think I used white potatoes (skin on), 1/2 and 1/2 instead of cream and a little less butter. I also used scallions because I didn't have chives. And I think I said cheese, but looking back now, I don't think I did...though a little white cheddar might be scrumptious too :)

Loaf...of meat.

Meatloaf = loaf of meat. What kind of a name for food is meatloaf? You could just as well call a steak: slab. Slab of meat. Doesn't exactly make the mouth water, does it? Meatloaf brings back memories of sitting at the dinner table with my brother for hours, trying to come up with ways to hide slices of the loaf-shaped conglomeration of meat and other things that meat aren't supposed to be combined with, like eggs and breadcrumbs and ketchup, because we weren't allowed to leave the table until we'd eaten it.

I think we tried a myriad of strategies:

Hiding it in the milk glass.

Feeding it to the dog, who conveniently happened to have been called to the table, by us, just before dinner.

Placing the smallest bite imaginable into our mouths, nose plugged (from the inside, so mom couldn't see), smiling brightly, then casually bringing the napkin up to our mouths and spitting it out into the napkin. Then we would, of course, make comments about delicious it was. And toss the hideously large and soggy napkin into the garbage after offering to do the dishes. Good thing we used paper napkins back then; or we'd have been in big trouble.

Even the thought of meatloaf gave me the shudders. And the smell was even worse. Especially if there was ketchup anywhere near it. Ketchup and hotdogs are about the only two food items that I cannot, and will not, eat. For as long as I can remember, the smell of either one would send me running away in the opposite direction, hands clasped over my mouth, holding back the gag reflex. We can discuss this on some future post.

So now that I'm older, more mature, and trying to improve my culinary repertoir, when I came across a meatloaf recipe on a blog from a woman I innately trust, Nicole over at bakingsheet, I decided I was old enough to try meatloaf once again...because it might actually be good. Besides, I like all the ingredients: eggs, fresh breadcrumbs, spices, meat; so doesn't that mean I should like the end product?

Her meatloaf, as far as all loaves of meat go, is outstanding. I used ground buffalo from a local organic farm here because I'd gotten a tasty free sample (cooked) from the owner of the farm who was giving them out at the butcher last time I was there and I wanted to try it. I also added the optional mustard powder and cooked it on a cookie sheet instead of in a loaf pan.
Buffalo is very mild flavored and lean so there was hardly any fat to drip off. I was worried it would turn out dry, especially because I couldn't use the ketchup (gag) and we were out of chili sauce to drizzle on top, but it wasn't, so I'm glad I didn't try to add extra liquids. We also used farm fresh eggs, organic milk, and freshly made bread crumbs - I figured if I'm giving meatloaf a try, I'm going to try and make it the best it could be. I served it with a mache' salad (my favorite lettuce out there) with tomatoes, fresh figs, and crispy-fried shallots and a potato/scallion/cheese hash on the side.

And you know what? I actually cleaned my plate! And it was delicious! No more napkins, dogs or glasses of milk needed. We even had leftovers for the next day - though I didn't indulge a second time...I figured I'd relish in my glory for another full day without adding any variables. Thank you, Nicole!


Golden Halibut Pie Recipe

Golden Halibut Pie, from 'The Four Seasons Cookbook," by Shirley Gail

1 1/2 lb. halibut fillets, or another white fish (skin on)
1 1/4 cups milk
flavoring ingredients: onion slices, bay leaf, black peppercorns
4 oz. cooked peeled prawns
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cups single cream
3 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
1 bunch watercress (leaves only)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
5 sheets phyllo dough
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the fish fillets in a pan. Pour milk in and add flavoring ingredients to pan. Bring just to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until fish is tender.

2. Remove the fish from the pan, then skin and debone it. Flake into an oven-safe casserole dish. Scatter prawns over the fish. Then, strain the milk and reserve it in a small bowl.

3. Melt 4 tbsp of butter in pan. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in milk and cream, then bring to a slight boil and simmer 2-3 minutes or until slightly thick.

4. Stir watercress, cheese, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over fish and let cool about 10 minutes.

5. While the mixture is cooling, preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter, brush 1 sheet of phyllo dough. Crumple sheet and lay on top of fish. Repeat with remaining sheets. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until phyllo is golden and crisp.

NOTES: Loving Boyfriend says he would increase the amount of fish and prawns or decrease the amount of liquid filling because he felt there wasn't enough substance. He also noted to be sure and use fish with the skin on, or it becomes difficult to remove the cooked fish from the pan. He said he had some trouble with the phyllo dough drying out (I warned him to read the back of the box thoroughly first as I've had my own problems with phyllo dough). Another tidbit that I might recomment would be that you could also spray the phyllo with cooking spray as opposed to melting butter and trying to brush it on. But overall, it was an excellent dish, and I was just happy to enjoy a night on the couch while he (gratuitously) slaved away in the kitchen. Isn't love grand?

A weekend of yummy delights

Loving boyfriend and I spent most of the weekend entertaining friends for casual get-togethers so this was a weekend with lots of cooking involved (my favorite kind!).

Golden Halibut Pie. Okay - this is not a light recipe (so mom, might want to stay away from this one) but it sure is good...it's incredibly rich and creamy, topped with crispy browned phyllo dough, and Loving Boyfriend cooked it all by himself as a treat for me on Friday night (awwwww, how sweet!). It came out of our Challenge cookbook, and it's called Golden Fish Pie. We used halibut and have some suggestions for how we would modify it a bit for the next time. I'll send out the recipe tomorrow b/c I left it at home.

On Saturday, U of O football was up against the #1 team - USC. Since we were too 'cool' (or maybe just too old) to stand in line for hours to get free student tickets, we decided to camp out at home and watch the game with a few friends. Besides, the food is better there anyway!

Loving boyfriend was in charge of the country-style pork ribs with homemade BBQ sauce and I must give him kudos because they came out incredible and fell off the bones right into your mouth. We also needed to use up veggies from the CSA box, so we made a
cucumber/dill/shallot salad with a rice vinegar/sugar/red pepper flake vinaigrette and sauteed squash with onions. But the dessert 'took the cake,' so to speak. This recipe is out of Gourmet magazine, and it's awesome. It's supposed to be made with whiskey, but we had brandy on hand and so used that instead.

Chocolate Brandy Bundt Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli) + 3 tbsp. for dusting pan
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup brandy
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch peices
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Butter pan and dust with cocoa; knocking excess out. Heat coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining cup of cocoa powder in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat; whisking until butter is melted. Remove from heat and add sugar, whisking until dissolved. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool 5 minutes.

While cooling, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a third bowl, then whisk into cooled chocolate mixture until combined well.
Add flour and whisk until just combined (will be thin and bubbly). Pour batter into bundt pan and bake until wooden skewer or pick inserted into center comes out clean (about 40-50 minutes).

Cook completely in pan on rack (about 2 hours), then remove from pan onto rack.

The cake is even better the second day, when you can really begin to taste the alcohol (at room temp - wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out). We served it with vanilla ice cream, or you could do whipped cream too, and it really seemed to bring things together. They say you can keep it (chilled) for up to 5 days. I wouldn't call it exactly chocolatey, more cocoa flavored, but still very good.

On Sunday, we had friends over for a BBQ and to play games. We BBQ'd up some fresh salmon
fillets, made a minted melon salad (part of the Challenge), grilled portabello mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, a nice green salad and this beautifully colored beet dip.

This is a Russian/Balkan/Turkey recipe called Pkhali, or beets with walnut garlic sauce.

Pkhali, from Cooking Light magazine, and adapted to my tastebuds

1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 cups beets, (to be roasted and chopped)

Roast the beets in a tightly covered pan with a splash of water at 400F. This will take about an hour. When tender, cut the ends off, slip the beets out of their skins and chop them roughly. Combine the all of the ingredients ingredients into a food processor, and process until smooth. This is for the dip version of the dish (like we made, and served with whole wheat toasted pita bread triangles). You can also serve it as a side dish by finely chopping the beets, then processing the first 7 ingredients until smooth, and adding this mixture to the beets in a large bowl. Several people who weren't sure they liked beets - or hated pickled beets - devoured it.

For dessert? Fresh gingerbread with lemon icing. Watch for this recipe soon too. MMMmmmm...

One of the highlights of the evening, however, was a new game that one of our friends introduced us to: Sardines. No game could top a game with food in the name! You turn off all the lights in the house, making it pitch-black. We drew cards before we began to see who would be the "hider," and that person makes their way to a hiding spot and lies in wait for the other people to come blindly along so that they can grab them. Once grabbed, you have to hide with them and the game goes on until everyone is caught. It's rather creepy wandering around in the dark (even in your own house!) waiting to run into someone's body. The game was great, until the last person was still wandering around, and all of us were crouched in this dark corner of our guest room...

...then somebody farted.

Must have been all that good food.


An evening of indulgence

I have another weakness - whenever Loving Boyfriend goes out of town for the night and I am left alone to create dinner for one, I always make the same thing: Seared Wild Yellowfin (Ahi) Tuna. I don't know why; maybe because it can be pricey to buy for two (sorry, honey), maybe because I feel like treating myself extra nicely since I'm alone for the night. Either way, it's become a pattern for me, and one that I relish completely.

Thursdays are particularly hectic for us, and even more so when I'm on my own to get everything finished. After leaving work around 5pm, we have to cross town to pick up the CSA box, and then the puppy, and his mother, are due at puppy class by 7pm. I knew I had to make something quick, and seared tuna is about as quick as dinner can be as it takes all of 5 minutes to make. I picked up a fresh fillet at Newman's Fish Market on my way home, which has been in Eugene for 85 years, so I have full trust in their beautiful, fresh fish and knowledgeble staff.

A friend in Hawaii taught me this recipe, and I'll admit that the first time I tried it, I over-cooked the fish and it wasn't nearly as tasty as it had been there. However, by the second try, and every time after, it has come out perfectly seared on the outside and rare on the inside. 'But wait,' you may say, 'I don't like raw fish.'

This is not just 'raw fish'.

Even if you don't like sushi, or raw fish, this is how tuna is made to be eaten. Cooked too long, the flesh becomes hard and tough. And the searing gives the fish the texture of being cooked, so you won't even notice that the middle is rare. Best of all, it doesn't bleed all over the place like other rare meat...ew. What you will notice, is that beautiful pink flesh with the most perfect mouthfeel you can imagine...it literally melts in your mouth. Try it once, as life is too short
not to give everything at least that one small honor, and I promise, you'll see.

Seared Wild Yellowfin Tuna

Heat a skillet on medium high to high with about 2 tbsp. of toasted sesame oil (use unrefined, organic, and dark for the best flavor). You can pour sesame seeds, dried orange peel or anything else you think might be tasty (this is the combination I did last night, but I think fresh orange zest would be sublime) into a shallow dish, and push the fillet onto them, both sides, until the outside and sides are coated. But it's also delicious without anything else, just the fish itself. Then, once the oil is hot (not smoking), add the tuna and sear until you see the flesh begin to change color to pale white - and only until that color creeps up about 1/4 of an inch. Flip the fillet, and do the same to the other side. To finish it off, roll the oil around the pan so that the sides get seared (or, alternatively, press the fillet to the sides of the pan). That's it, you're finished. I had it on a bed of wilted spinach this time, with just the briefest splash of rice vinegar, and low-sodium soy sauce on the side. Another way I like to serve it is with the finely chopped tops of green onions (just the green part), sprinkled toasted sesame seeds (as opposed to crusting the outside, and a little wasabi paste with the soy sauce. Ahhh, perfect indulgence.

The best part? It took less than 15 minutes to make, I had time to clean up, wash the dishes,
and finish it off with a bowl of creamy vanilla bean ice cream with Cuisine Perel merlot-chocolate sauce drizzled over the top.

And the mom, and the puppy, who went from looking like this:

To looking like this:

in a mere 4 months, made it to puppy class on time.


Embracing Autumn

The autumn equinox is upon us...

This is a picture from the top of Spencer's Butte, a short hike near my house, that I took a few weekends ago. It was early morning, so the fog still clung to the hillside, and it was the first time I realized that Summer was, indeed, leaving us and Fall was gradually coming to take her place. Now, I've mumbled and moaned about this fact more than a few times in the last few weeks, and I've decided that it's time to stop and smell the fallen leaves, as the case may be.

Autumn really is my favorite time of year (we got partially cheated out of summer here because the rain lasted until July, so I was a little spiteful). Growing up in Colorado there were always the aspens, changing into every color imaginable, and the crisp cool air signaling that sweater season was about to begin (Oh, how I love sweater season!). Here in Oregon, the deciduous trees are fewer between, but the traditions of Autumn are as rich as ever. Loving Boyfriend and I always grab our canvas bags and baskets and head out to Deetering Orchards near Coburg, OR to spend an afternoon picking as many different kinds of organic apples as we can reach and carry home from the trees there (just to clarify: we do pay for them, not just take 'em and run, ). One of Loving Boyfriend's specialties in the kitchen is apple pie - and we've recently modified his mother's passed-down recipe to include a Northwest treat - huckleberries. I love to simmer cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and apples on the stove until they've been reduced to a syrupy concoction that fills the entire house with the rich smell.

And then of course there's Thanksgiving - a food lover's holiday. Minus all of the stress of making a sublime 'afternoon' dinner for a huge group of people like my mother always had to do, I'm now too poor to fly home and too young (and still in school) to have a big family of my own, so my Thanksgivings are filled with friends and the required one or two perfect dishes that I can spend the entire morning on. I love perusing all the food magazines for new takes on traditional recipes and choosing the ones that make my mouth water.

Waking up in the mornings to take our dogs, one's His, one's Hers, out for a morning walk before we go to school, we've really noticed how the air has changed. We've gone from shor
ts and short sleeve shirts to sweatshirts, hats and gloves; and the sunrise has gotten later and later as time goes on. Our evening walks together have moved from after dinner, to after work.

The CSA box has changed to include pumpkins, apples, potatoes, peppers, and even the first winter delicata squash. And our bodies are craving comfort foods; warm, hearty dishes and
evening cups of tea and hot cocoa. We're also beginning our yearly search for a cord of firewood as the nights and mornings are swiftly growing cooler. One of the comfort foods we recently cooked were chicken palliards with a grape sauce.

Chicken Palliards with Grape Sauce, from Bon Appetit

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp butter
1 cup muscat or red grapes, sliced in half (de-seeded if you want)
1 tbsp. shallots
1/4 cup of dry fruity wine
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. tarragon

1. Pound the chicken breasts out, and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the chicken through the flour in a shallow dish.
2. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a pan on medium-high heat, then add the chicken to the pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until done on the inside. Remove the chicken to a plate and tent foil over the plate to keep the chicken warm.
3. Add grapes and shallots to the same pan, and cook for a few minutes or until tender. Add the wine (we used a Riesling), and cook until it boils. Once boiling, add the cream (we used 1/2 and 1/2 b/c we didn't have cream) and let it simmer until thickened slightly. Stir in tarragon.

We served it with smashed potatoes - both white and purple and drizzled with the sauce. A salad would go nicely also, but we didn't have any. I wish I'd had something to garnish it with (I used all the tarragon my poor plant had left!) as the picture of the finished product doesn't look quite as appetizing as I promise it is; but then again, some things are best in real life.


Figs, figs and more figs

Okay, I know you've been waiting for it, so here it is:

Figs preserved in Rum Syrup, Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess

2 1/4 lbs. black mission figs
1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. white rum

1 quart jar

You'll want to use sterile jars, and use them while they're still warm. Nigella says she uses ones right out of the dishwasher, and this is what I did too (good enough for her, good enough for me). You could also do the traditional 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, or fill the jars 1/4 full with water, and stick them in the microwave for 10 minutes.

Wash and dry the figs, being careful not to break the skins. Boil the sugar and water together for 15 minutes - not simmering, but not too harshly either. Remove from the heat, add 1/3 cup of rum (I used a local rum from Rogue), and stir. Next, gently add the figs to the pot and return it to the burner.

Simmer the figs for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (gently!). Remove the figs to the jar, then simmer the liquid for another 10 minutes to reduce further. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of rum and stir. Pour liquid over the figs and seal the jars. If the liquid doesn't cover the figs, add more rum. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks and up to 6 months. I'm not sure how you're supposed to keep the jar warm while you're boiling the liquid further, but with the figs in it, it stayed pretty warm.

This recipe can be modified to fit the jars you have available. Or, if you're a foodie nerd like me, you'll run out and get the prettiest jars you can find just to put them in. They're also supposed to be at their peak at 3-4 months...just in time for Christmas...which would be another excuse, should you need one to pacify your expenditures to your significant other, to buy pretty jars to put them in.


Book Club: The Tea House on Mulberry Street

That's dinner last night...slowly simmered pasta sauce. Although unfortunately I had to eat it (and take the picture) before it had been slowly simmered for very long...I had book club. That's why leftovers are nice...you can keep simmering, long after you've eaten.

Besides, I like to begin with a picture...that way you don't just see a bunch of words and go running away never to return.

I enjoy being involved in things other than science - obviously those having to do with food top the list - and lucky for me, the third week of every month happens to be a few food-oriented days all in a row. First, there's Supper Club on the third Saturday of every month, which is then followed by Book Club on the following Monday. This makes for an exciting few days for me where I get to cook my little heart out and enjoy the company of good friends and good food.

This is the fifth meeting for our Food 4 Thought Book Club (how
cute is our name?). We choose a book, have a month to read it, and then get together for a potluck-of-sorts at the host's house (or another fine establishment) with the theme of the book in mind concoct mouth-watering dishes to bring. We've done tapas, Native American food, Iranian food, and Hawaiian dishes. I must admit, however, that although we do use book club as a forum to talk about literature and read more (we're all grad students in science), it's mostly a night for hanging out with the 'girls,' eating delicious food, and drinking copious quantities of wine. :)

This month our book was "The Tea House on Mulberry Street," by Sharon Owens. It's about a tea house in Ireland and details the intertwining of the lives of the people that own the tea house, their friends, and regular customers. It was a decent summer (ie. light-reading) book, and a cute story that ended with every situation ending like a fairy tale. The writing was not as richly descriptive about the food involved, as I had hoped, based on the reviews. We decided to meet at my favorite coffee shop/tea house/wine bar, Perugino, instead of at the host's house this month since the book was centered around a tea house.

One thing we do is read passages in the book that we liked, laughed at, or identified with, and my friend B. read one that I wanted to share with you:

"...Now, every cell in body relaxed as the hot creamy coffee caressed her lips...Sadie's dainty lips opened and closed quickly. The cherry cheesecake melted on her tongue and filled her hollow self with culinary joy. She closed her eyes with pleasure when she swallowed the last spoonful, and then heaved a sigh of relief. Her sense of physical satisfaction was absolute..."

Reads almost like erotica for foodies! As lovely as our time at Perugino's was (I had a glass - or maybe two - of 2003 Dolcetto D'Alba from Podere Ruggeri Corsini, which I had never heard
of, but went down really easily), I was sort of sad that we didn't cook this time. Especially because there was a delightfully seductive recipe for cherry cheesecake, featured often throughout the book, on the last few pages. I have decided that I simply must try and make it at home in honor of the book (no recipe left untried)

...however, I'm too busy, unfortunately to be cooking much except for quick dishes this week: pasta with tomato sauce, herb-encrusted salmon over greens, and tonight grape-glazed chicken palliards (I'll take pictures tonight and get some more recipes up soon, I promise). These are all dishes that are more a product of needing to use up CSA veggies that weren't in tip top shape or were bursting with ripeness when we got them than any culinary prowess that I'd like to share with you. So, I thought I would just leave you with a picture of the long, romantic lunch Loving Boyfriend suggested we have today since the bosses are out of town:

...a grilled baguette with warm tomato slices, topped with tangy, creamy, imported brie that was seared and melting over the whole thing, with just a dollop of pesto to round out the flavors. Mmmmm....I think I'm in love...with you too, Loving Boyfriend, not just the sandwich. Whoever said "the way to man's heart, is through his stomach" didn't know there were all these foodie women out there in the world!


A shout out to Shauna

Shauna, over at Gluten-Free girl, has this incredible way of reaching out from the computer with her writing, grabbing you by the hand, and taking you on an adventure through her kitchen, her cooking, and her mind. Reading her posts, you can't help but feel as though you're sitting in the kitchen with an old friend, chatting away about the intricacies of life and the interwining role that food, family, and friends play in it. You swiftly find yourself reflecting on your own life, and feel her positive attitude start to rub off on you. By the time you're finished reading, you feel like you've just been encircled by the arms of a friend and sent off with a great big hug. If you haven't checked her out yet, you should...especially her entry from Friday, Sept. 16.

Being a teacher, she gave us some homework yesterday: indulge in figs. 'Tis the season, after all. I have to admit, I don't know if I've ever been more excited for homework. Lucky for me, the classes that require that boring drudgery of after-school brainwork are long gone. Now I'm the one requiring my own students to take their work home with them (it really is necessary) and spending long hours in a lab for my own graduate school version of homework. But food homework? Now, that's something to enjoy taking home with you!

So, here's my shout-out to Shauna...this is a picture of my very first fig this year from the Brown Turkey Fig tree I bought 2 years ago. Produce has been slow-going this year; the deer eating the garden as soon as anything flowered, the squirrels eating all the hazelnuts from the tree before they were ripe enough to take (this happens every year), rain until July, and the sad realization that there will be no plums on our two plum trees this year for some unknown reason. And unfortunately, most of the figs on my tree don't seem like they're going to be ripe anytime soon...except for this one, and even if one is all I get, it's all I needed to be happy. So I plan on doing my homework and savoring every last bite...and I may even head to the store to pick up another pint. A recipe for rum-soaked figs has been calling my name. Keep your eye out for that one to come. And thank you, Shauna, for sharing a bit of you, with us.


Supper Club 1: Full Moon Party

Loving Boyfriend and I are the youngest members of a Cooking Light Supper Club here in Eugene (I do believe that there's a new show on the Food Network about these, aptly called "Cooking Clubs"). There are three other couples; each from a different background, walk of life, and age group (the oldest couple is in their 50s). We come together once a month to try new recipes, eat, and socialize together around a common theme. We've been meeting with this group for almost a year now, and it's become a rich part of our lives that we look forward to every month. This month, it was at M&J's house, out near Veneta, OR (about 25 minutes away), and the theme was a "Full Moon Party." We sat around on their patio, enjoying the *very* cool evening (hats and gloves!) and watching this huge, full, golden harvest moon rise above the hills surrounding their house. Their land is free of neighbors and other city noises and so it was the perfect backdrop for theme and the food: we each brought a dessert and a bottle of something to drink.

Per Farmgirl's suggestion, I made her very delicious and slightly tangy Really Raspberry Tartlets. They were easy to make and used up some gorgeously plump raspberries I got at the Farmer's Market this weekend (I meant to take pictures and left the house without my camera). I even scored some homemade organic red currant jelly to glaze them before showing them off (the picture was taken earlier, when there was still good light). I think my crust came out a little different than was intended because I used low-fat cream cheese (the sacrilege! - well, it is supposed to be 'cooking light!'), but it was still very tasty, and even went over really well with our pickiest eater - who asked if he could keep the leftovers. Other treats that were brought included chocolate mousse, an orange pecan cake that was absolutely divine, and apples, oranges and strawberries dipped in melted chocolate. I brought a bottle of a late harvest semillion from my hometown in Colorado (Grand Valley Vineyards - more on this virtually 'undiscovered' wine country to come).


Venison chili.

Since it's now undeniably fall here (we got pumpkins in the CSA box!), we were in the mood for comfort food last night. And no, we didn't actually use venison in the chili, though out of spite for the garden I imagined this was so), this is one of our favorite easy and quick chili recipes for using up the caribou in the freezer (my father lives in Kenai, AK and brought us goodies down last time he visited).

Venison Chili (from Cooking Light), only slightly adapted for Pacific North West ingredients

Cooking spray

1 pound ground venison, ground beef, or caribou
1 cup chopped walla walla onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Heat a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with co
oking spray. Add venison; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Cover and keep warm.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in chili powder and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper). Add venison, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and tomato paste, stirring until well combined; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add red kidney beans; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Then we curled up on the couch and watched the newly released on DVD movie, Mondovino, about the power struggle between big wine makers and artisians. But after some cammomile tea, I fell asleep partway through it, so I'll update you when I finish watching!


Goodbye, Garden. ('Taps,' please...)

Poor, poor garden. Utter devastation this morning, thanks to those organic vegetable-eating deer. Not a tomato left in sight. They ate the Striped Romans. They consumed the Brandywines. They devoured the Pearly Pinks and the Early Girls. They broke in through the fencing (tearing it down completely), trampled right through the middle of the plants, uprooting the wire tomato stands, and eating everything in site. We didn't even get a single tomato! (And those blank spots behind the tomatoes? That's where the eggplants and peppers perished earlier this summer). I guess this means we'll be subsisting on homegrown leeks, celery, and onions for the winter...good thing we joined a CSA!

Please join me in a moment of silence for the lost garden.

Well, chalk it up to a learning experience, I guess. We'll get 'em next year!


Loving Boyfriend has an odd late night snack

last night as we were lazing around watching television before bed, Loving Boyfriend decided he was hungry (well, Loving Boyfriend was watching television, i was reading my newly arrived How to be a Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson, which i hope to be baking out of soon as so many of the recipes look positively scrumptuous).

this is after i served him up a truly delicious meal of yellow squash ribbons with red onion and parmesan...one of our 'busy night' favorites (recipe follows below), that generally does keep you full, especially when combined with some of Farmgirl's
crusty artisian bread with butter.

anyway, we're sittin' in the living room together all calm and quiet and all of a sudden he belts out with: "i'm craving squid in their own ink! yep, that's what i want right now - squid in their own ink!" (no kidding, those are his exact words)

what an odd craving to have at 10:00 at night.

but, lowe and behold, because of my weakness for strange new foods to try, we had picked up a can of squid in their own ink on a trip to mexico last march! ah ha! craving satisfied!

then of course there was me, chasing after him: "wait, wait! let me get my camera!"

believe it or not, it's actually not bad. i decided against putting a picture of the actual squid on here, as they aren't very pretty unless they're alive (i'm a marine biologist) or at least not cooked in their own ink - sounds kind of cruel and morbid, no? it's an Argentinian specialty, according to Loving Boyfriend, whose Argentinian friend's family introduced it to him, but i've also seen it in Spanish restaurants. i do have to admit that from a can, they taste a bit like smoked oysters. but, should you ever have a chance to venture to Washington, D. C., do stop by a restaurant called "Jaleo." they have a version of this that is melt-in-your-mouth tender, with its own unique and subtle flavor that is just superb. plus, the chef there, Jose Andres, was Bon Appetit magazine's chef of the year for 2004. he deserves the title, AND it's tapas, so it's affordable (essential for us poor starving grad students...um, except i guess we're just poor, not starving, as this is a food blog). we actually went there twice in a four-day trip.

Yellow Squash Ribbons with Red Onion and Parmesan
from Cooking Light magazine, adapted slightly

1 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium yellow squash (you could use zucchini too, or a mix)
1 cup red onion, sliced into thin slices, vertically (walla wallas or vidalia would be great too)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave squash into ribbons. Discard core and seeds.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add squash, onion, and garlic, and cook until onions are tender.
3. Add salt, red pepper and black pepper. Mix together, then sprinkle with cheese. Servings: 4 (3/4 cup) side-dish sized servings or 2 large servings with crusty bread.


fall is creeping up on us in eugene

i went out to the garden this morning to check on the tomatoes. this is a daily routine because even though we've encircled our minature garden with deer fencing, the deer (or should i say, venison?) relentlessly rip through it, go under it, tear it from the posts, and happily trample through the garden and eat our tomato plants. every single night. we do fix the fence occasionally, when we have time (well, i should clarify here so that i don't hear about it later, that my Loving Boyfriend, dear that he is, is the one that goes out and fixes it). but it's kind of a big job so we've accepted now that we're just going to lose most of the garden to fatten up the deer in the neighborhood. and yes, we have a fence all the way around the property. and yes, we have dogs - big dogs. but we still have deer. and it is illegal to make deer into venison inside the city limits. not that i would shoot them by any means, as i'm not much of a hunter. but i have no doubts they would taste good because they're the healthiest, biggest deer i've ever seen and they've been fattened up on all of my organic vegetables all summer long.

in fact, this is the only tomato we have that has 1) become red, and 2) survived long enough to become red. it's a striped roman. and it must be one hell of a tough tomato or taste really bad...otherwise i'm sure the deer would have eaten it by now.

the other thing i noticed this morning was that we've now had our first frost:

i guess its time to begin to let summer go and start dreaming of pumpkins and apple pies and nights of sipping mexican hot chocolate...


time to face the facts...it's fall! er...winter?

my Loving Boyfriend and i recently returned from crater lake, oregon for a weekend of good old-fashioned fun in the outdoors with the dogs. crater lake is gorgeous. it's the deepest lake in the USA. almost 2000 feet deep. a huge volcano erupted and collapsed upon itself, leaving this enormous hole in the ground that has since filled with crystalline clear water that reflects the most amazing shade of blue from the sky...or so the pictures make it look like it does.

but instead of seeing sky-colored water and grand vistas...it SNOWED on us. no kidding. see?

when we go to the national park entrance, they actually asked us if we were sure we wanted to come in.

"you can't see the lake right now, you know, do you really want to pay the $10 to come in?"

"what do you mean, we can't see the lake right now? is it closed?"

"no, it's snowing, and the lake is completely
covered by clouds."

"but we just drove for almost 4 hours to come here and see it."

"well, it will probably be snow covered and gorgeous and clear tomorrow like all of the pretty pictures we put in our brochures - you could
come back then."

"but we're leaving tomorrow."

"hmmm, too bad. that will be $10 to see clouds, then. pay up!"

bummer. we paid the $10 and drove around the lake looking at the fog, imagining what beauty lay beneath it (neither one of us, in three years, has seen the lake). the dogs weren't allowed out of the car, it being a national park where dogs aren't allowed on a
ny of the trails. but, we had a really great time nonetheless, and even lucked out when we came upon one of the viewpoints:

ahhhh....that's nice. it lasted about 20 minutes before the snowing clouds came and covered it up again. but in the meantime, we were able to enjoy a curried chicken apple salad. this recipe hails from backpacker magazine (you could take it with you for the first day on a backpacking trip), and it was pretty tasty, though i list some of the changes i'll make next time below. this would also make a really easy and fast weekday lunch.

Curried Chicken Apple Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice (or 1 boil in a bag rice packet, if your packing)
1 medium apple (the best part - we used a small apple and wished there was more)
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (decreased from 1/2 cup)
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. of cumin
pinch of salt

  1. The day before you go, make the dressing by mixing olive oil, curry powder, garlic powder, salt, and cumin put it in a leak-proof container. We cooked the rice, but you could also cook it on the trail. Cut up the celery and carrot, mix them and put the vegetables and sunflower seeds in separate bags. Cook the chicken, cut it up into small pieces, and freeze it over-night (this keeps it 'fresh' and safe while you're out hiking around without refrigeration). Right before we left I put everything (in their own bags) in a large ziplock bag to keep it together.
  2. On the trail, cut up the apple, then dump the rice, chicken, veggies and sunflower seeds into the large ziplock. Drizzle the dressing over the top, close the bag, and shake it to mix everything up. Viola! Serves 2 if you've been packing, 3 if you're at home.


raspberry meringue gateau and baked eggs with fresh tarragon

...the challenge continues...

every sunday night, we have a group of people come over to our house to watch an HBO Original series. the people attending have changed over the years, as have the series (from The Sopranos, to Six Feet Under, to Deadwood). and we have recently begun our latest venture together, Rome. it's a new series for HBO, filled with lots of roman debauchery, violence, and vices and currently, there are five of us that crowd the couches in our living room, but we've had up to 9. the rules are that they can show up as early as 8, but most people knock on the door at 10 minutes to 9, and leave as soon as it's over. this is perfectly acceptable. this is one way we graduate students save money - only a few of us have cable (the hosts) and the rest of us are parasitize them. this too, is perfectly acceptable.

but what does this have to do with food, yo
u ask? occasionally, someone will bring beer with them, dinner they didn't have time to eat, or i'll have had the luxury of cooking something yummy earlier that weekend, and have enough to share (this is also a good way to get rid of extra sweets). and since we're in the middle of the challenge, i decided to use some of those delicious berries i bought at the farmer's market to good use. raspberry meringue gateau. i don't even know what a gateau is, and i have never attempted meringue. but here was the end result:

i should have put it on a white plate, but i'm still learning what makes a pretty food picture. it was tasty, and the meringue was toasty, though slightly chewier than we think it was supposed to be. the raspberries were mixed in with freshly whipped cream, and sandwiched between the meringues. the raspberry sauce was delicious with a little added grand marnier. i'd add the recipe, but it's quite involved, and we also had the pure palette pleasure of trying another, easier recipe that was rich and creamy and melt-on-your-tongue fabulous: baked eggs with fresh tarragon.Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh tarragon, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 350F, and lightly butter ramekins or small pyrex dishes for those of us that do not have ramekins yet.
2. Warm the dishes in the oven slightly (they get hot fast though!
3. Add a tbsp. of cream to the bottom of each dish as well as some of the chopped tarragon.
4. Carefully break an egg into each dish, then add the rest of the cream on top of the eggs.
5. Add a bit of butter to the top of each, then place dishes in a baking pan with water up to 1/2 inch. Cook 8-12 minutes or until whites are set, but yolks are still runny. Garnish with tarragon.

i'll need to do a little extra hiking and
biking this week to work this weekend off!


pacific northwest bounty

i'm so excited! we just recieved our CSA - Community Supported Agriculture - box from Farmer Steve at Little Wing Farm. this is our third year with this CSA, and it gets better every year. everything is organic, just picked that morning or afternoon. we pick our box up on thursday afternoons at the lane county farmer's market. opening each box is like christmas, and the season lasts from november to may every year. we were lucky this week as well, because Farmer Steve gave us a bunch of extra tomatoes for canning this weekend. visions of yummy dishes to come are dancing in my head...now, if i can just find a recipe in that cookbook...

being the foodie that i am, i have an incredible weakness for beautiful produce. while we were at the farmer's market, i saw an
amazing 1/2 flat of mixed pints of blackberries and raspberries for an excellent price and just had to buy it. now, Loving Boyfriend does not share my enthusiasm for purchasing beautiful looking produce (i have another weakness for odd food items or produce i've never tried before, which he also does not share), so i often have to go running off as he chit-chats with Farmer Steve (Loving Boyfriend LOVES to dilly-dally and chat it up with people) and peruse the small market for tasty treats that didn't come in the box. when found, i quickly shove the money into the vendor's hands, and go put it in the car as fast as possible before returning to the two men and pretending like i was there the whole time; smiling and nodding.

this usually results in a quick "what did you buy now?!" from Loving Boyfriend as soon as we get in the car. i hate this.

"but just look at how beautiful they are!"

"but we just got a whole box full of food!"

"but just look at how beautiful they are!"


"i'm going to make you some amazing pies, or smoothies...or something."

this usually works, as Loving Boyfriend has an enormous sweet-tooth, and does try very hard to support my hobbies.


there's nothing like a guiness on a warm day

some friends of ours, T&T, brought us a surprise at work (gosh, thanks, T&T!).

an entire case of 22 oz. bottles of guiness.

for no reason at all.

we have such nice friends.

looks like summer may last a little longer around here.

...that is if i can keep Loving Boyfriend out of them long enough to get them home...


it's huckleberry season here - and on a recent camping trip, up near scott lake, we were blessed with many of the luscious berries all around our campsite. yummy! we ate them by the handful, but they also make an exquisite 1/2 apple 1/2 huckleberry pie.


the challenge

A bit more about the challenge that Loving Boyfriend and I have recently embarked upon...we are cooking our way through the "Four Seasons Cookbook," by Shirley Gail (see above) in one year. It hails from London, as is obvious by the measurements in mLs and interesting ingredients I've had to look up on the internet, such as what 'castor sugar' is (superfine sugar here) and converting mLs to cups. It's also incredibly unhealthy. Not surprising, as Loving Boyfriend loves anything unhealthy. In fact, I was recently explaining the challenge to my good friend and fellow foodie, C., and telling her of the delicious baked eggs with cream and tarragon and raspberry meringue gateau with lots of whipped cream in it we've been enjoying, and C., being the lovely friend that she is, says to me:

"Aren't you going to get FAT?"

C. is always honest and straightforward with me.

Why, yes, probably. not to mention a heart attack sometime in the future. So i've began riding my bike more, hoping to counteract this a bit...and I'm sure I'll be making some substitutions to the recipes as well...as soon as I learn what I can substitute and have the dish come out just as yummy. Thanks, C.

This is a constant struggle for me - given my love for all things buttery, creamy, bacony, and fried. Plus, a love of cooking and baking thrown in the mix. Baking in a two-person household can be especially dangerous
(I only feed one of the boys - boy #2 has a girlfriend and subsists quite well on lean cuisines and healthy choice meals in the freezer when she's not around). Entire pies and cakes are eaten by two people over the course of two days, just so that I can cook something new. Yipes!

But back to the challenge.
We started on September 1, 2005, and we're ending on September 1, 2006. Based on the number of recipes, we have calculated that we will have to cook 3 recipes from this book per week to be finished in a year. We're in the summer season (well, the produce, even if not the weather), based on the produce available right now. Obviously, I won't publish all of the recipes from the book, as that can't possibly be PC, but i will share my favorites of course. one of which just happens to be recipe 1.

warm salmon salad

This recipe was delicious...warm, tender bites of Alaskan silver salmon (caught just over a month ago by Loving Boyfriend, in Alaska), crisply blanched green beans, and toasted sesame seeds, all over a bed of green-leaf lettuce with an orange-flavored Asian dressing. light, crispy, warm, and wonderful. I must confess, though, that it was not I that made this tasty dish... Loving Boyfriend, the challenge having been his idea, started us out on the right foot. I feel I must clarify that Loving Boyfriend does like to cook...and he's good at it...he's my partner in crime and in cooking...he just doesn't necessarily want to talk about it food all the time...like I do.

1 lb. salmon filet, skinned
2 tsp. sesame oil
grated rind from 1/2 orange
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp. peanut oil
4 oz. green beans, trimmed
6 oz. mixed salad greens
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut salmon into bite-sized chunks, then make dressing. Whisk together sesame oil, orange rind and juice, mustard, and fresh tarragon.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, then fry salmon for 3-4 minutes or until done, but still tender on the inside.
  3. Blanch green beans and drain.
  4. Add dressing to salmon in pan, and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  5. Add a large handful of greens to plates, then beans, salmon, and pan drippings. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve immediately. Servings: 4


an introduction

this is a blog. a food blog, mostly. but also a blog about the trials and tribulations of my daily life in eugene, oregon and the adventures set out upon by myself, my Loving Boyfriend, and our two dogs - His and Hers.

it's my attempt to satiate my family's request for pictures and queries about what we've been up to, and it's my outlet for combining two of my favorite things - talking about food, and looking at pretty pictures of it. it came about because i realize that i sometimes bore my Loving Boyfriend with my incessisent commenting on the latest tidbit i've learned about making biscuits (haven't quite figured the "fluffy factor" out yet) or about what so-and-so did that day on the incredibly beautiful food blogs i've been reading lately while i was supposed to be working on scientific stuff (thank you Farmgirl, Nordljus, Gluten-Free Girl and Delicious Days, to name a few).

it's also because we have recently, per Loving Boyfriend's bright idea, begun a cookbook challenge...a $4.98 cookbook that Loving Boyfriend picked up in the bargain bin few years ago called "The Four Seasons Cookbook." i hadn't paid much attention to the cookbook before now - in fact, i'm not even sure of the author, but being that Loving Boyfriend has shown interest in something related to FOOD, i'm all for it! and luckily, all of the recipes so far have been surprisingly tasty (more later on the challenge in a subsequent post).

unfortunately, the light in my kitchen is terrible, so my pictures don't even compare to the gorgeous ones i drool over on other blogs every day - so hopefully they'll at least give you an inkling of what the real thing looked like - but hey, i'm just a scientist!