In No Particular Order

Said SpoonUniversity of Italian Baked Eggs.

Well I think they were wrong.  I put my ingredients in, in no particular order, with the milk on top.  Fifteen minutes later, the milk still looked like, well, milk.  Is it because I didn’t have basil?  I don’t know, maybe.  1/4 a cup is probably not something you can substitute out with dried basil as I did.  So there you have it.  A Saturday morning ambitious breakfast not quite looking like the recipe picture.  Hopefully it still tastes good!  I popped it in for five more minutes so I could get something a little more solid looking.  It’s kind of a cheesy, saucy, mess.  Here’s the end result:

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The secret to my picture is not my cooking skills, it’s VSCO CAM.  The moral of the story is, they may say that order does not matter, but maybe it does.

On the bright side, the Chado Earl Grey Lavender tea my coworker got me a few years ago tastes absolutely delicious paired with milk and honey.  I don’t need to go to a cafe to get it anymore!  It’s that good.  Happy day!

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Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup

From Tiny Urban Kitchen

This is now a favorite for me to make!  It’s super easy.

Here’s what she has for her instructions

“3 1/2 pounds chicken bones, necks, backs, and/or pieces
9 cups water
1 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
6 slices of fresh ginger (lightly smashed)
Salt and pepper to taste”

Usually, you bring it to a boil and cook it for 1.5 hours.  I want to try it with a pressure cooker today.

This site says with a pressure cooker, you could reduce the time by 1/3 typically, so I’m guessing I probably could do this in about 30 minutes, which interestingly is about the same time Jen’s beef noodle soup recipe takes.  Alright, here we go!

//edit//

OK we are eating yesterday’s leftovers tonight because the cornish hen FAILED to defrost overnight in the fridge.  Like what?  Yes.  I took it out and it was still hard.  What am I supposed to do with that?  I hate using the microwave to defrost because it always ends up that the meat accidentally gets cooked a little.  Gross.  At least I know our fridge is working!  Though it may need some recalibration, folks?

 

//edit again//

OK, I think I managed to defrost the hen enough in water so that I could chop it apart and put it into the soup.  We’ll see how it goes!

How do you defrost your chicken meat?  I dislike handling chicken meat, because I once got salmonella in college, and chicken was definitely suspect.  I still don’t handle it confidently.  How do you handle your chicken meat?

I’m just hoping the pressure cooker doesn’t explode.  They don’t make the exploding kind anymore, do they?

There are a couple sizzles

And they mean a few things to me.  Burning, cooking, and spraying oil.

Today in the oven we have two pyrexes of ratatouille.  They were adapted from the ratatouille recipe from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  Apparently, adaptation is what you call it when you change a recipe and make it your own.  I use it loosely in this case to mean that I did not have all the ingredients on hand nor did I measure what I did have.

I figured I’d just pile veggies on in more or less even layers, because I’ve made ratatouille before.  So that’s what I did.  Who knows whether it will turn out.  Also, the recipe only calls for salt on every layer of five veggies, which seemed a little odd.  I just went with it.  I had no fresh herbs save basil, so I used the leftover basil and added some other dried herbs based on what I had.  Oregano, parsley.  Does oregano or parsley go in ratatouille?  Meh!

Right now I’m also adapting a Blue Apron recipe to make a butternut squash bean soup.  It’s sizzling like crazy over in the kitchen so I’m afraid it’s burning.

—- Recipe says two teaspoons of oil for one butternut squash, and to cook it for 6-8 minutes, until tender and slightly browned —–

//

And it burned.  Nice toasty brown spots on the bottom.  Did I not put enough oil?  Was my heat too high?  Was my pre-cut butternut squash not quite equivalent to one butternut squash?

See the toasty bottoms of the butternut squash that I was not going for:

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It’s not too bad, so I’ll keep going.  Once I’ve reached the burning point in cooking, I kind of panic.  So I add the spices in, which right now is another haphazard mixture of cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, because I haven’t got Ras El Hanout.  However, a quick search on Wikipedia says it’s composed of “Commonly used ingredients include cardamomcuminclovecinnamonnutmegmaceallspice, dry gingerchili pepperscoriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprikafenugreek, and dry turmeric.”  So I throw in all of the stuff I have in my cupboard that fits the bill and figure I can do without the rest.  Next, in go the beans and the water.  I have some chicken broth leftover and I don’t want it to go to waste (Does anyone waste copious amounts of chicken broth or is it just me?  Why are the cartons so large and why must they be used within 7 days of opening?), so I substitute that for some water, and add some water for good measure and faithfulness to the original recipe.  Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, as I bring the soup to a boil, knowing that I won’t risk burning anything here.

Phew.  And then my oven sound goes off.  That means the ratatouille is done.  I wish I could just leave it there but I fear it might dry out.  And it’s beeping, again.  Hold on, need to check that.

//

I’ve tasted the soup, and to my relief, it tastes pretty good. It tastes like butternut squash (Who would’ve thought!).

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Okay, okay, I’ll go get the oven.

I wonder if I dislike ovens beeping for the same reason I dislike phones ringing.  The sense of urgency sends me anxiously scrambling, except not scrambling, because I’m trying to finish my blog post, okay?  And neither ovens nor phones seem to bend to blog posting schedules.  They just beep, and beep, and beep.

Alright, before it burns now.

Here’s what the ratatouille looks like.  It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve made in the past. It looks shriveled and sad!  Did I not drizzle enough oil on the top?  Was it in the oven for too long?

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Oh yeah, I’m not vegetarian, by the way, and neither is my husband.  I just happen to dislike touching meat if I can help it.  Let’s just pretend that’s what we were going for.  Will this be a filling enough vegetarian meal?  Time will tell.  And this is what a blog post looks like when it’s done in the middle of cooking.

Cooking without subscription boxes.

Well, I was supposed to write about my experience with subscription boxes, but lately I have been trying to cook from good-ole scratch. No boxes, no pre-measured ingredients, no complete sets, no recipes combined into one fine pamphlet. And it’s kind of a disaster!

Today, I set out to make tomato basil soup. I didn’t have heavy whipping cream, and I wasn’t particularly keen on getting any. I figured, I can do without it, and thought I had found a recipe that didn’t call for heavy cream. I guess I read that recipe wrong, because when I got home, that recipe was nonexistent on the internet. I did find another recipe without heavy cream, but it called for actual tomatoes, and I wasn’t going to let the tomato sauce I bought go to waste. Nor was I bold enough to try substituting, or skilled enough, rather. So I set off to make the soup without the cream, in hopes that maybe dear husband would pick up some milk on his way home.

Besides that, I also wanted to make a tilapia dish with a recipe I got from a friend. It asked for white wine and shallots. I thought I had all the ingredients, but when the YouTube video on how to uncork a wine bottle without a corkscrew failed me, I was left with my alternative, rice wine. Should be fine right? I also didn’t have shallots, but I did have scallions. So I used those instead. I think that substitution worked out alright, and it wasn’t what caused the failure of that dish. The failure was due to over-salting. I really should just get some kosher salt, which is a bit less salty and therefore will be easier for me to work with.

Lastly, I made roasted brussel sprouts. This should have been easy, but I was too lazy to measure anything. I had a nagging suspicion that I wasn’t using enough oil and whether or not that was the cause of the result, I can’t be sure. That’s the problem with being a newbie at cooking; you end up with these funny results, and you’re like, “Where did I go wrong?”. Unfortunately, there is no book that says “If your result looks like y instead of z, then you did x wrong”. Where x could be too long, too hot, too much tomato, too much oil, too little salt. If there is such a book, I need it. Common sense is not that common, I tell you. So anyhow, when I pulled out the brussel sprouts, well they were browner than I thought they would be.

Now I’m waiting for dear husband to come home. He’ll probably tell me he’s happy that I made food for him, but I’ll probably still prompt him to tell me how awesome it is, even though I didn’t do such a great job. He’ll probably say “I like it dear!”, and I will look at him like a hopeful skeptic. Until next time.

Our Zojirushi rice cooker just sang its song, signaling its completion. Thankfully this part of the meal will (should) have turned out perfectly.