Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stuffs about Foodstuffs

With Luke away golfing, I tried out some recipes pulled from recent magazine perusals.  The stand-outs are the pickles, the bread, the labor-intensive-but-yum breakfast cakes.

(Food Network Magazine, from Ted Allen's In My Kitchen)

Crunchy, dill-y, and delicious.  And a cinch to make (especially if your store carries pre-peeled spring carrots.)

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread (from his book My Bread).  Looks fancy ('artisanal').  Tastes fab.  Easy-peasy.

Mango and Yogurt Parfaits (from Padma Lakshmi, InStyle magazine May 2012) Breakfast for the week. [Puree 3 peeled and cubed mangoes in a food processor until smooth; add 2 T lime juice, 2 T honey and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Layer with vanilla yogurt.]

Banana-Cream Cheese Breakfast Cakes (Food Network Magazine).  Scrumptious.  Just pay heed to the recipe direction 'muffin tins should be 3/4 full'.  I overfilled [NB: use jumbo muffin tins, or make 24 mini-cakes], and the tins runneth over, precluding photography, but not the later enjoyment of an oven-warm treat on the porch, reading the New York Times.  Really good.


Braised Spinach with Eggs (Mark Bittman, New York Times magazine).  This will be in heavy rotation at our house.

photo via

Pasta with Asparagus and Prosciutto (Food Network Magazine)  Of course it was good.

photo via

Friday, April 20, 2012


Fun purchases arrived in the mail from Sephora:

17 itty bitty trial sizes of sunscreen and a few self-tanning (I don't use these - I don't ascribe to or promote the culture of tanning!) samples.  I have purchased this the past few years when I've caught it in stock - a great way to try out a bunch of brands and formulations.  Though at $30 it works out to

[sounds of frantic typing and re-typing on calculator]

Um....a lot per ounce, it is fun.  I have tried one product so far and LOVED it : Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15.  It is truly matte and perfect for wearing under makeup.

buy it here

For information about sunscreen (expiration dates, differences among, etc), visit the FAQ section of the website of American Academy of Dermatology.

I also bought the LashStash: two full size and eight mini mascaras, plus a small Clinique eye makeup remover.  [Unfortunately this is out of stock all of a sudden.]  If I open and use them one at a time, this $30 could last me... at least 2 years.

Other products...

The Goody QuikStyle brush with microfibers.  I will purchase anything to make blow-drying go faster.  I think this brush does speed it up a bit, but there are several confounding variables: humidity, towel used to dry hair, do I use this brush more than the regular paddle brush...? If you too fantastize about shaving your head because you hate blowing it dry (as I do), you might consider picking this up at Target.

Diane von Furstenberg perfume sample arrived with Sephora purchases.  Really like it (and I dislike 90% of all perfumes).

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Made in the shade,

❤ Julie


Last Friday we took a stroll down the Riverwalk from Pearl Brewery to dinner at Luke.  Perfect weather: overcast, fairly cool, not many people out.

These fish are suspended under the pylons of the highway

Fiesta Queens at a function at the art museum 

art museum cafe

Approaching downtown

At Luke we enjoyed:

croque madame

Shrimp and grits

The way back:

Music at the VFW

The under-highway fish glow at night:

Wishing y'all a mighty fine weekend from

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Whisk, whisk

This is a (fairly) quick (fairly) healthy take on mac and cheese.  I doubled it, used two heads of broccoli and because I don't have a steamer, threw the florets in with the pasta with 5 minutes left to boil.  The bacon isn't too much of a value-add and omitting it makes this a vegetarian dish.  Looking forward to Pasta Part Deux reheated for lunch tomorrow. It's been ages since I had any American cheese... so nostalgic.

The sauce was probably my most successful (thickest, smoothest) roux to date... whisking constantly....

photo via
 Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese   Cooking Light, April 2012

  • 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat processed American cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup packed)

  • Preparation

    1. 1. Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Pat dry, and keep warm. Cook pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain and keep warm. Wipe pan with paper towels, and return to medium heat. Melt butter in pan. Sprinkle flour over melted butter; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk to the flour mixture in pan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thick, and remove from heat. Add American cheese; stir until smooth. Stir in sliced green onions and the remaining ingredients. Stir in broccoli and pasta; serve immediately.

    Nutritional Information

    • Calories: 413
    • Fat: 13.3g
    • Saturated fat: 7.5g
    • Monounsaturated fat: 3.4g
    • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
    • Protein: 19.6g
    • Carbohydrate: 53.4g
    • Fiber: 3.8g
    • Cholesterol: 39mg
    • Iron: 2.8mg
    • Sodium: 772mg
    • Calcium: 317mg

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    That's My Jam

    With Luke in DC for the Million Mustache March, I embarked on an ambitious food-making blitz inspired by Jennifer Reese's Make the Bread, Buy the Butter recommended by Laura a while ago.  The two and half month wait at the library convinced me that this book was prized by other San Antonio readers (akin to what Tamar Adler wrote of stale bread: It must be waited for, which gives all dishes containing it the weight of philosophical ballast, as well as dietary and budgetary ones.  Waiting reinforces the concept of a book as a valuable community resource and this is the only instance my impatience does not get the order-it-online best of me).

    A fantastic book, worth the wait.  From the introduction, a passage that resonates for me as I cook regularly for the first time in my life:

    The most irksome decisions I faced as an adult and working mother seemed to be made at the supermarket.  Fundamentally trivial, they were nonetheless maddeningly fraught, involving questions of time, quality, money, First World guilt, maternal guilt, gender, meaning, and health.

    First was strawberry jam, as it had appeared on the grocery list:

    Reese doesn't recommend making strawberry jam (no less expensive and no more delicious than storebought) but I wanted to try the slow cooker recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution.  At the same time I prepared the yogurt.

    Both of these turned out to be ridiculously easy.

    Jam-and-yogurt works

    Testing jam on frozen plates for doneness... paging Drs. Freud and Rorschach.

    Julie's first jam!

    Jam: I used frozen strawberries.  Pureed/roughly chopped.  Added to slow cooker with sugar, lemon juice, pinch of salt.  Came back 4 hours later.  Transferred to Dutch oven, boiled, added pectin.  Tested set-up-ness with frozen plates.  Canned 'em.  BAM.

    Yogurt: warmed milk.  Added 1/4 cup yogurt to milk.  Covered with towel.  Came back next day.  Strained.  Voila, yogurt.  BAM.  (Yogurt is ok but is vastly improved by dollop of lemon curd, recipe in Make the Bread).

    I saved the strained whey from the yogurt to Make the Bread (the only non-success- lumpen and didn't rise properly.  Bread is so finicky).  Also started sauerkraut, which I don't like, but Reese assures me she didn't like it either until she made it herself.  We shall see in +/- 5 days.

    Peanut butter: buy peanuts and peanut oil.  Grind in food processor.  Add salt.  Peanut butter.

    With the exception of the jam, all of these are considerably less sweet than the storebought variety, something I am going to re-train my palate to enjoy.  The oversweetening of processed food even came up in the novel I'm currently reading, Gods Without Men, as an Englishman vacationing in the American Southwest notes:

    But however bad the food was in Britain, at least they didn't put sugar in everything. He'd ordered the Mothership Chicken Basket, and the whole lot - meat, bread roll, chips, salad dressing, even the lettuce, far as he could tell- was sweetened.

    As all of this took very little time (including a jaunt to Nordstrom while the cabbage was macerating) and wanting to capitalize on my home-ec momentum, I planted some kitchen herbs, strawberries and peppers for the summer:

    Day One
    And make a last-ditch attempt to Like Beets, beet ice cream:

    It is a gorgeous, peculiarly vivid shade of fuschia but I fear there is a limit to what cream, sugar, milk and marscapone can absorb and emerge tasty.  Taste test tomorrow after freezing.

    Thus emboldened and encouraged, the next project: ordering rennet and mesophilic cultures to make cheese!

    Words and Pictures

    Two lovely illustrated books.  So charming.  So worth a trip to the library!

    Deborah Needleman's The Perfectly Imperfect Home, illustrated by Virginia Johnson:

    Michael Pollan's Food Rules, illustrated by Maira Kalman:

    Kalman's introduction