Archive for the ‘Cookbooks’ Category

Gifts Galore

I got quite a few awesome gifts for my birthday. I mentioned Brooke’s super cool gift that included a tortilla press, cookbook, and warmer. Last weekend, I took a stab at making the tortillas, which was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It sort of reminded me of making bread (though much easier and quicker) in that it’s really much more accessible than would be assumed. I used the recipe from the cookbook Brooke gave me, Healthy Latin Cooking by Steven Raichlen:

2 cups masa harina
1 1/4 cups hot water

Basically, you combine the water and the masa harina until it comes together and then you knead it for a couple minutes. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a heavy dutch oven or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Cut a gallon sized storage bag in half and place in between the press plates. Pull off a chunk of dough and roll it into a ball. Place in the press and squish it to 1/16″. Throw the tortilla in the pan and cook until it bubbles and the edges start to brown. Place in warmer inside a dishtowel so the heat from the tortillas will steam themselves.

I found my first tortillas a little bit chewy. I think with practice, I’ll get better. I had some leftover roasted chicken that I seasoned and mixed with some fresh corn and tomato salsa. I’ve been buying New Jersey corn every time we’ve seen it at the store, it’s been pretty good this year so far.

Homemade tortillas

In other news, we picked one lone kirby cuke off our plant out back. And we’ve had some luck with the jalepenos, Christian really likes to use them in his weekly lunch concoctions.

Little pickle, jalepeno


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In a Rut

I’ve been in a real rut lately: photo-wise, cooking-wise, meal planning-wise. It’s been bad. The last few weekends have gotten sucked up by being away, or having people stay with us or other commitments. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been all fun stuff but it’s really cut into my weekend routine of meal planning, list making, and shopping for the week. I haven’t been to the farmers’ market in weeks and weeks. This weekend a previous commitment was canceled so I was thrilled to be able to get back in the saddle. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go the way I expected. Grocery shopping still turned out to be unplanned but I think we’ll be in okay shape for the week. I have a few burgers stashed in the freezer and I roasted a chicken (in this heat, I know) last night so we’ll eat that a couple times. And buying lots of produce usually saves the day. Jersey corn finally! We had some for dinner last night and I also cut some raw off the cob and tossed it with tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice. Easy, light, can be used on a million things. We’ll probably top our tacos with it for dinner tonight. Yum. I’m psyched because my friend Brooke gave me a sweet birthday gift: a tortilla maker, a warmer, and Steven Raichlen’s Healthy Latin Cooking. I’m going to try my hand at making some tortillas today.

Talking about “tortillas” will always remind me of our awesome San Francisco trip we took in June with my parents. After a few days in the city, we headed up to Sonoma County and stayed at this bed and breakfast which was beautiful and a real treat. Caroline and her daughter, Lila were very warm and welcoming. They also had a million great ideas for us, including stopping by Joe Matos’ cheese factory, which is actually more of a farm with a tiny little factory where they make one style of Portuguese cheese.

Portuguese Cheese Farm

We got there and it wasn’t entirely obvious where we were supposed to go to get the cheese. A man was inside a barn shoveling an unidentifiable pile of white stuff. We thought it had something to do with the cheese making process. We found our way inside and asked the little old lady at the counter, as she was hacking off huge chunks of the yummy cheese for us to take with us on our wine tasting.

Portuguese Cheese Lady

It turns out that the pile of white stuff was tortillas that are fed to the cows on the farm. The funny (and cute ) thing was that the little old lady pronounced them “Mexican torteeelas.”

May cheese

So I’m going to try my hand at making some “Mexican torteeelas” today. I’ll report back.

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I came across Sara Remington’s blog the other day and the photography is just so, so beautiful. It’s mostly food and related food stuff but Sara’s work captures so much more than that. At the risk of sounding cheesy, her work really brings out the essence of how these people feel about their food. And reminds us that we should feel that way too. Mindful, grateful, communal.

Holy crap, there’s a lot of stuff going on this weekend!

For one, it’s mother’s day. As previously posted, I got my mom a copy of Almost Meatless and I’m planning on picking up a copy of Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Mags called me and asked me about quinoa the other day so I thought that some healthy-minded cookbooks were in order. Haven’t finalized the menu yet but I’m thinking deviled eggs (easy, delicious, perennial favorite), some kind of jicama salad (corn, black beans, spicy lime dressing?), some portobellos and hot dogs for the grill. Easy peasy! Need a dessert though, I always feel pressure (mostly self-induced) so come up with something spectacular. What’s spectacular that’s not too time consuming?

A couple things I’d like to try and check out Saturday:

FunkĀ  Fest! Lots of local brews, live funk, 1-4 pm at Triumph in Old City.

Also, Rittenhouse Spring Fest looks fun, if the weather cooperates.

Tomorrow night the Fishtown Collective is having a gallery opening which looks like it would be super fun: art, music, good Philly vibes.

Would also love to hit Headhouse again this Sunday but may not be able to due to time contraints. We’ll see.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Tara Mataraza Desmond at the Headhouse Farmers’ Market (yay!) where I picked up a copy of Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet, her debut cookbook that she co-authored with Joy Manning. Actually, make that two copies because I picked one up for a mother’s day gift and one for me. I haven’t spent a ton of time combing through it just yet, but I like the way it’s organized (by protein) and I also like the extras like the tips for making stock as well as the environmentally friendly resources, both written and on the web. And the recipes really seem to run the gamut, from African Peanut Stew to Deviled Eggs to Stuffed Grape Leaves. Oh and the photography is really beautiful.

You can check out Tara at her blog and Joy at hers.

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