Archive | February, 2012

Spice is nice – kimchi stew

28 Feb

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

In January, Nate and I made about four pounds of homemade kimchi and we’re just using up the last of it.  We tried eating it a number of different ways but my favorite was definitely as kimchi stew served with some jasmine rice.  It was really tasty and could easily be made with store bought kimchi.

bowl of kimchi stew with kimchi, chicken and tofu with jasmine rice.

Maangchi’s recipe for kimchi stew recommends using pork belly or canned tuna.  I was feeling lazy, so I figured I would pick up a few cans of tuna from Trader Joe’s.  When I got there, the tuna was around $3.00 a can.  I don’t buy tuna very often so I don’t know if this is a reasonable price or not but it seemed expensive for fish in a can.  I’m not up-to-date on different tuna species and ethical fishing practices so I’m not sure if this contributed to the price.  In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of canned tuna anyway.

So, after walking through the store and eying the meat case, I noticed that TJ’s has organic free-range chicken drumsticks for $1.99/lb.  Sold!

Obviously, this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but I think you could easily adapt it to be.  You could leave out the chicken, use veggie broth and maybe add some extra tofu.  I imagine that sauteing some mushrooms along with the onions would be damn tasty, too!  Keep in mind, though, that kimchi is often made with fish sauce and if you use store bought kimchi it may not be vegetarian.

Chicken Kimchi Stew – makes six to eight servings

Adapted from Maangchi’s Kimchi stew (kimchi chigae)


  • 1 and 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp high temperature oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 c. kimchi, cut into bite size chunks if needed
  • 3+ c. chicken broth or water
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package tofu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce (optional)
  • Steamed jasmine rice (for serving)

Heat about half the oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides.  The goal here is not to cook the chicken through, but to create some flavor (“Brown food tastes good,” as Chef Anne Burrell says).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Once hot, add in the onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add some of the broth/water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the kimchi, red pepper flakes, the remaining broth, and the drumsticks.  The drumsticks won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s fine.  I like my stews to be more chunky than soupy.  If you’d like more broth, feel free to add some more liquid.  Bring everything to simmer, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool briefly.  Shred/slice the chicken from the bones (which you should save to make chicken broth).  You can either remove the skin and toss it or you can slice it up as well.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cut up the tofu (I like to leave it in fairly large pieces but it’s up to you) and add that to the pot as well.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over the jasmine rice.  Season with pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

One final note: I think this would be a great recipe to pull out when someone you care about is feeling under the weather.  Spicy chicken soup should really help clear out those sinuses!

Breaking bread

27 Feb

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

If you’ve been following along, you might recall that last month Nate and I threw a party that left me feeling like we probably needed to ask our neighbors for forgiveness.  At my house growing up, apologies and forgiveness could go a long way towards ending an argument and fixing a damaged relationship.  I’m not sure if keeping the neighbors up until two in the morning really counts as an argument but I was feeling guilty.  Apologies work wonders on that, too.  Never underestimate the power of a heartfelt apology, people!

And what could make a better apology than some homemade bread?

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

The really awesome thing about this apology bread is that, while impressive, it’s really easy to make.  A few years ago for Christmas I picked up a book at a local used bookstore for Nate that has really changed the way that we bake bread at our house.  While Nate sometimes does things the old fashioned way, with all the kneading and multiple rises, I almost always use the method featured in “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

In all honesty, it takes me longer than five minutes to make this bread.  Still, I’ve found that it takes a fraction of the time of traditional bread-making. Also, just as a heads up, five minutes refers to the recipe’s prep time.

The general technique consists of mixing up a large batch of dough in a container (no kneading necessary) and letting it rise for 2-5 hours.  You can bake right away or keep it in the refrigerator up to two weeks.  Each batch of dough makes four 1-pound (medium sized) loaves.  You cut off a piece of dough, quickly shape it, and let rise for 40 minutes.  Baking in a hot oven takes about half an hour.  Let it cool.

Did you know that if you want to slice your bread, you should let it cool almost completely?  Warm bread will get squished and compressed if you try to slice it.  If you can’t wait to dig in, you should tear the bread.  Besides, tearing bread is way more “artisan” anyway!

Loaf of bread being torn in half

In respect for the authors of the book, I’m not including the detailed recipe here.  Lucky for you, a quick Google search returned a companion blog to “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” that features the master bread-making recipe.  I would definitely recommend that you check this out ASAP, even if you don’t need it for an apology.  If you have any homemade preserves, this bread is the perfect vessel for them.  It’s great for breakfast, served with something like an omelet.

As an aside, I have to confess that I haven’t had much luck with omelets in the past.  A while back I posted something on Facebook like “I’m pretty much the worst at making omelets.”  One of my school buddies (Hi, Patrick!) shared this Julia Child video and it changed my life.  Here’s the proof:

Salmon omelet with torn bread with homemade strawberry preserves

This photo is of an omelet made by yours truly, stuffed with cheese and some leftover salmon.  I’m still excited about this breakfast; the bread and strawberry preserves were homemade, the eggs were local, and the salmon was line-caught in Alaska by someone I’ve met before.  We aren’t able to eat like this every day, but it’s so awesome when we’re able to!

How does your garden grow?

21 Feb

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

I cannot eff-ing wait until the weather is a just a little bit warmer so that I can get out into the garden!  Since Nate and I got married last August, the veggie garden didn’t get the love and attention that it deserved.  This year, I’m going to make it a personal mission to make up for that.  I’ve been pouring over seed catalogs and websites at every spare moment, trying to find the perfect variations to grow.  There are so many beautiful and delicious sounding options, it’s hard to choose what we should plant in our limited gardening space!

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

This year, I’m hoping to try out a few new things.  I want to focus more on autumn and winter vegetables, specifically types that will store well.  If you know anything about the best storing potatoes, squash, etc., let me know!

The only problem with buying seeds is that every seed package comes with 30+ seeds, which is way more than I, as an average amateur gardener, can make use of in one growing season.  Usually we save our leftover seeds for the next year, but by the time it’s time to plant again they have a much lower propagation rate.  So I was thinking, why not swap leftover seeds and extra seedlings?  I would love to be able to get a greater variety of seeds without having to pay for them and I doubt I’m the only one.  I’m proposing starting a seed share, where we swap seeds, seedlings and gardening tall tales.  We could even share some homegrown grub and a few adult beverages, if we feel so inclined!

Be mine, valentine

17 Feb

round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Nate sent me a link to this XKCD comic and it really sums up what Valentine’s Day is like at our house year after year.

Some years we flat out forget about Valentine’s day.  One year we tried to go out to dinner and stopped by three packed restaurants before remembering what day it was.  We usually forget about our anniversary too.

This year we did considerably more than normal.  Nate was had the day off on the 13th, so we decided to stop by some of my favorite thrift stores.  Waiting for us, was this:

Round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Vintage Pyrex? Check.

Hearts? Check.

Starbursts? Check.

Shiny gold? Check.

This baby is a dream come true!

It needed to be cleaned up but it came with the lid in tow and cost half as much as one that I had lusted after in the same store a few weeks before.  I’m secretly hoping that this is a start to an awesome vintage Pyrex collection. We’ll see!

That night, Nate made awesome carrot sandwiches, the recipe for which came from my most recent Food & Wine magazine.  It was easy but so good and I think we will be eating it again (and probably posting about it) soon.

For dinner the day of the Valentine, I made steak with a bleu cheese compound butter, roasted root veggies (Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, baby purple potatoes), and some awesome red quinoa.  I used homemade chicken stock for the cooking liquid and it made quite a difference.  We washed everything down with some red wine.

Oh, and this:

Chocolate cherry coke float with two white and red striped paper straws

Oregon black cherry ice cream + dark chocolate syrup + Coca cola with real sugar.  Do yourself a favor and make one of these soon.

Ice, ice, baby

17 Feb

Kitchen with pink walls, white cabinets, and black and white checkered flooring

Things have been busy around here the past few weeks, which means that that things not been very busy around ye olde blog.  Instead of apologizing for having a life (*gasp*), I figured I would tell you about some of the more exciting things I’ve been up to.

We painted our kitchen. Pink.

Kitchen with pink walls, white cabinets, and black and white checkered flooring

When I told my mom on Skype that we had painted our kitchen pink, she said, “Oh, uh. Okay.”  Then a few minutes later she asked, “So, um. What made you want to paint your kitchen pink?”

Such a I’m-trying-to-be-a-supportive-mom-to-my-weird-daughter reaction. Whatever, mom, I do what I want.  Besides, if she followed me on Pinterest she would know that retro pink kitchens are the next big thing!

The next day, Nate hosted a beer tasting party.  He broke out all of the bottles he had been saving over the years for a special occasion.  He made pretzel rolls and I made a rosemary cheese fondue dip.  We also served olives and cured meats and veggies.  Things started out nice and civilized but they ended around 2am with an endurance competition based on keeping at least one hand in the ice cooler.

Three people with their hands in an ice cooler.

I would say that I used this photo because it protects the identity of the innocent (L. was the number one instigator and thus was not at all innocent), but really all three of them ignored my pleas to have some sense.  Nate’s not pictured because he was the first to throw in the towel.  That’s my boy.

If you can tell whether a party is a success by the mood of your neighbors + the mess you have to clean up, I think the beer tasting was a success.  Thankfully the neighbors have since forgiven us.  More on that soon.