Cooking and Baking

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Asian Pork Salad
Barbacoa Soft Tacos
Buffalo Chicken Zoodles with Blue Cheese – hot damn, peeps! Seriously hot.
Beer Bread – using almond meal from making milk. Yes!
Japanese Glazed Sweet Potatoes – that color!!
Cheaters Latte Art – I use a tool to make the swirls – no badass pouring here.
Chicken soft taco sticking it’s tongue out.
Pizza! Pizza! And some super fizzy Popup wine. All the things…

Aloha, dear reader! It’s been a minute since I posted a talkie type. Not gonna lie, I was a little stuck in a rut. None of the thoughts I was having seemed share worthy. Simple as that.

During that time, I did, however, make some delicious foodstuffs, and here we are with them. It had been a long while since I’d made pizza or drank wine, so why not? There were many sounds indicative of gustatory pleasure in that meal, boy howdy! In all of them, truth be told. We’ve got our system down here.

Save this past weekend, where we were out sans coats in the near seventy-degree garden doing our final rake up, it’s been feeling rather wintry. Several storms have brought actual accumulation, which has yet to fully melt. YAY! Unless something biblical occurs, we are always in need of moisture in the high desert. I will make no complaints. No, ma’am.

Hope life in your corner of the world is aces. Until next time…


Fruit Cake

Good Friday morning to you, dear reader!

I’m fairly certain I’ve written about this before, but hey, I’ve got 1,799 posts (say what?!) out in blogland, and that is A LOT to remember. So, fruit cake take two here we are!

I often think I was born in some strange space-time vortex because I love a lot of foods, music, clothing, and miscellaneous yadda-yadda that my peers do not AT ALL. This is not new (surprise!). Among other outstanding oddities, I had a thing for Richard Nixon as a fifth grader, which on many levels still holds true (read this); liked the Doors when most kids were grooving to the BeeGees, and absolutely love fruit cake.

I legit wonder what is wrong with it: buttery, fruity, nutty, just a little boozy. Seriously, all the things! And will you look at it? It’s stained glass pretty, peeps. I have convinced Greg of the goodness, too.

It had been a while since I made it. Southeast 56th Avenue Portland, Oregon (gun not gone: never was, never will be) circa 2013. Eight years! We moved to Pittsburgh in December 2014, so it was totally off the radar amid boxing and unboxing and a Monongahela incline steep learning curve. Then my Grandma died, and she was among my chief recipients (Grandpa, too!). Then life, another move, and, truth be told, a whole lot of not remembering.

I also never bought any when I saw it on offer because I really like my Martha Stewart from ages and ages ago recipes, and didn’t want to waste those dollars, just in case. Remember that I am quite particular about my favorite foods, dear reader. Quite.

But oh, this year I remembered, bought all the necessary ingredients, and made a small batch. It is as good as my tastebuds could recollect and so heady with remembrance it makes me swoon. Take a slice and do a happy dance while the flavors pop and pop. Life is good.


Hello Tuesday!

Though we are healthy and lucky in so many ways, yesterday was a hard one. I felt as though I was hearing all the bad news of the past months in a single violent wallop, sending every last marble skittering every which way and rendering me helpless to capture them. I am not normally someone who needs a drink, but boy howdy, a prickly pear margarita has never tasted so good nor made such quick work of smoothing all the jagged edges. Gratitude is the word.

Greg and I continue to make our mostly solitary way, going out for provisions every ten days or so and avoiding people, restaurants, and coffee shops. So when we got a craving for burgers, I tried my hand at brioche buns and perhaps ruined us for eating a burger anywhere else. They were simply amazing.

I’ve also come to realize how much my eating reflects this place that is home: the Southwest. Like grits in the South, salmon and berries in the Pacific Northwest, my diet is so utterely centered around green chile, eating it nearly every day, including on the burger.

Greg looking positively adorable AND excited for peach pie and cinnamon-sugar twists with pie dough remnants. Darn tasty!

Green chile again! We topped an open faced breakfast sandwich with brioche (the same batch as the buns), bacon, and cheddar. The breakfast of champions.

Stumbled upon this “lady” on one of our walkabouts. Speechless.

Everyone in our neighborhood taking COVID-19 seriously….

Hope you are well. HUGS….


How cute is Greg enjoying a prickly pear margarita last weekend? I made tamales, red chile, and Anasazi beans to go with them, which was marvelous and photographed poorly, but who really cares with that dazzler of a smile?

How are you? We are at day 15 without leaving the house besides a dog walk. Our food supply is pretty good, except for fresh produce, with three apples, three carrots, and one jalapeno and poblano left. We have plans to get rid of our thorny blackberries (OUCH!!) and replace them with lettuces and spinach, maybe some carrots, too. Though I am sincerely hoping it will be a bonus rather than a necessity, but who knows? These are such strange times.

Our health is good, some sniffles after a super windy walk yesterday, so hoping that doesn’t equate to anything serious. I am worried for my friends in the medical profession, as they are already having meetings about not having enough personal protective equipment to get through the crisis, despite government reports saying there are plenty to go around. And then there is every last person suffering financially. I know my prayers mean not a whit, so we are helping those we can how we can. May it be enough to sustain them until government money arrives.

This is Texas Sheet cake, also made last Sunday (p.s. – If you decide to try it and don’t like a cloyingly sweet cake, cut the sugar in half – you won’t regret it!). My friend Whitney was the first (maybe only?) person to make it for me, way back when I was a whippersnapper of twenty-two. I remember being in her kitchen on Albion Street in Denver, us chatting while she washed dishes, waxing poetic about how easy and delicious it was. I hit the pause button the moment she said it contained cinnamon. My rather unworldly upbringing had never-ever put cinnamon and chocolate together. How weird would it be? Would I like it? The answer was a resounding yes, and now, twenty-six years later, I cannot recall the number of times I have made this fabulous flavor combination.

After lamenting the soy flour contained in the blue corn pancake mix we bought in Santa Fe, I ordered some plain blue corn flour (masa) from Gold Mine and made a batch of pancakes the day the box arrived at our door. They were delicious! If you’d like to try your hand at them, they’ve been added to my long list of pancake recipe combinations that can be found here. Enjoy!

Feeling grateful for our every day walks, this beautiful city, and every moment that makes me smile, like this wee one on his way to work!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with the news, I think on my light and inspiration, my Great Aunt Mary (who would have been 112 on St. Patrick’s Day!). The oldest of seven, she lived through the death of every one of her siblings, save my Grandma Tess, by 1975, the youngest at the age of twenty-five.

Her faith was boundless, and she was the most selfless, loving, and giving person I have ever known. Though she suffered many a heart break and disappointment, she never let her feathers ruffle, never uttered an unkind word. A smile was never far from her lips, nor a chuckle or a prayer. She walked her talk to the utmost!

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Hi there! More food, ha!

This was Saturday’s pizza, which was truly the BEST I’ve ever made, as in as good as Lombardi’s in New York City. The crust was light and chewy and the flavor perfectly balanced, a little yeast, a little salt. There was many a delicious sigh between the pair of us, I tell you.

What made it so good? Primarily, I think, the rise. I made the dough on Wednesday afternoon, with a very minimal knead (one minute or so, really just until it was no longer shaggy) before popping it into the fridge in a sealed glass container. I tried this to see if it would have the texture I like and be less of a bear on my tender tummy. With all I’ve learned about lectins and all that jazz, it seemed logical that the long rise would predigest a lot of what ails me. We’ll have to see, long term.

It rose only slightly in the fridge. Friday before bed, I took it out and set it on the counter, and it doubled in size by the morning. I made the pizza for lunch, and when I took it from the container it was bubbly and springy, like the New York dough of my dreams.

Another reason I think it was so fantastic is the fact that I started using a baking steel. I had a baking stone for a long time, but it was small and fragile. When I researched options online, this was much larger, pretty much unbreakable, and everyone who used the steel raved about it. It’s not cheap and weighs 15 pounds (!), but after considering the fact that my old stone was my third and could break at any moment, it seemed a smart investment. Boy howdy, was it.

Since I didn’t feel like grappling with it each time I wanted pizza, I left it in the oven when I bought it last year and haven’t taken it out since. As a result, I’ve ceased blind baking many of my pie crusts, as the heat of the steel is enough to do the job. More reason to LOVE it.

The pizza crust is crispier than it ever was on the stone, and I put it on a cooling rack while everything sets up to maintain the texture. I really cannot rave enough!

If you’d like to make your own, here’s my dough recipe, which makes two 10 – 12″ pizzas and can easily be doubled or tripled:

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 2/3 cups flour – all purpose or bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam, start over with water that is a little cooler. If it still doesn’t foam, your yeast is probably dead and you’ll need to get to the store, pronto. Mix in olive oil and pour over the flour and salt. Mix with a spoon or your hands until it comes together, then knead until the dough is no longer shaggy but not entirely smooth. Put in a bowl with enough room to at least double in size and cover tightly. Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 60 to 72. Punch down dough and divide into two balls. Roll, stretch, or cajole into your desired shape and thickness.

Top how you like. I mix a small can of tomato paste with garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt, until it tastes right, and divide it over the two pizzas. I only use fresh mozzarella, it’s got the best flavor and texture to my taste. A note, if you prefer using fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce (rather than the paste) and also use fresh mozzarella, this is A LOT of moisture. Go easy with the sauce and any other moisture laden topping, like mushrooms, the first time around. You really don’t want a sad, sad soup on top. The voice of experience talking, here. But don’t fret if it happens, you’ll get the hang of it!

Bake at 550 degrees, preferably on a steel, until it’s perfect. For me, it’s when the tomato sauce bubbles madly, usually about 4-5 minutes. Cool for a minute or two on a rack. Cut and eat and feel the JOY that is pizza!


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