Tag Archives: featured

Local little free library

16 May

There’s a beautiful house two blocks away from ours that I always envy for it’s great yard and amazing mosaics.  A week or so ago, while walking to the local co-op grocery store with my mom, we noticed a new post in their front yard.  “I wonder what that’s going to be,” she wondered.

I’d like to introduce our new neighbor, Little Free Library!  I’ve heard of these from my classmates before but this is the first one I’ve seen up close and personal.  It’s a beauty!

This is Little Free Library number 1603!  The slogan is “reading is the KEY to imagination” and it’s decorated with mismatched keys.  So stinking cute!

We had a chance to talk owners Ella and Bruce who said that the library had already gotten quite a bit of attention.  They said that someone had even dropped off a zucchini plant for them in the little nook.  Ella said she planted it in their backyard garden.

The people at Little Free Library maintain a Google map with all of the libraries across the country.  This is the first of its kind in Corvallis.  Is there a Little Free Library in your area?  Will you make the first one?

Keepin’ it real

16 Apr

Burnt mini-quiche on a plate, with a cup of coffee and rumpled napkin in the background

One of the things that ticks me off about most blogs out there is that the author makes themselves out to be an expert on the subject.  Let me be the first to say that I am NOT an expert.  I can cook well enough to get by and often enough have a pretty tasty meal but I definitely still make mistakes.  Do you see where this is going..?

I made about 500 of these crust-less mini quiche for our wedding reception last summer.  Not only are they really tasty but they freeze and reheat really well.  We were having a super casual, DIY brunch for our reception so they really were perfect.  The recipe is such that you can adapt the flavors to whatever suits your mood.  The recipe on TheKitchn is for zucchini and basil quiche, but for our wedding I made three different kinds: cheddar and (veggie) chorizo, green chili with jack cheese and cilantro, and spicy jalapeno with cotija cheese.  I churned out a ton of them all by myself over the course of a couple days and they all turned out great.

After that, it took a while before I wanted to see, much less eat, quiche again.  But on Saturday when we found a bunch of good looking chanterelle mushrooms at the Corvallis farmer’s market, the first thing that came to mind were the mini-quiche and how easy/tasty they were.  We decided to make up a big batch of chanterelle, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onion mini-quiche.

Grated swiss cheese on a plate, with a piece of cheese and grater in the background

I caramelized half of a chopped onion while prepping the egg mixture and grating the cheese.  I chopped up the mushrooms roughly and sauteed them briefly.

We assembled the quiche in our mini-muffin pans: cheese on the bottom, some onion, a little sauteed mushroom, and then poured the egg mixture over the top.  Would could go wrong with that?

Well, the flavor combination was great but I forgot one very important step: to grease the muffin tin.  Don’t these lil’ quiche look so cute still in the pan?  Good, because they didn’t look so hot after we scraped them out.

Mini-quiche, still in the muffin tin, with a cup of coffee in the background

Mini-muffin tin with remnants of quiche, due to forgetting to grease the pan

This just about breaks my heart.  These would have been such a success, if only I hadn’t messed up!  I would definitely recommend you try this recipe, with one of my flavor combos or your own.   Just don’t forget to grease your pan, and grease it well!  I think I’ll be chipping quiche out of this muffin tin for the rest of my life.

I put one tray of the quiche back in the oven to see if they would release from the pan easier if they cooked a little longer.  They didn’t! I just got burnt quiche that was stuck in the pan.  Thankfully, it still tasted good.  It sure ain’t pretty, though.

Burnt mini-quiche on a plate, with a cup of coffee and rumpled napkin in the background

The next time you mess up in the kitchen, just remember me and these mutilated, burnt-to-a-crisp quiche.  And jeez, I have the audacity to have a food blog!  But now there’s proof that having a blog definitely does not necessarily make one (or at least, me) a pro in the kitchen.

Banh mi, baguettes, and me

13 Mar

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Only people who know me incredibly well know that I can be a perfectionist.  I try my best to hide it with cloak of nonchalance but sometimes people still get a peek.

Probably the main way that my perfectionism comes out is that I have the hardest time challenging myself.  One time I won a Guitar Hero contest at a bar in the medium level bracket.  I got 100% on a song I’d never even heard before.  (I won a rubik’s cube and about 20 minutes worth of bragging rights.)  I’m so ready for a harder level that it’s borderline pathetic but I just can’t bring myself to make the leap!

Basically, I have the hardest time bringing myself to do something that I might be mediocre or even (*gasp*) fail at.  I’d rather not attempt something than risk the possibility of failing at it.

For a while, it’s been time for me to take the next step in my bread-making.  It’s been time for me to tackle the world-renowned baguette.

Two freshly baked baguettes in a metal baguette pan

The first time I tried my hand at making baguettes, I tried the technique in the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book that I won’t stop talking about. (It was even recommended to a caller by Lynn Rosetto Kasper on this week’s episode of The Splendid Table, so it must be good!)  They recommend rolling some refrigerator dough out into a 2-inch wide tube, letting it rise for 25 minutes, and then baking it on a preheated baking stone.

Well, I tried this technique but I don’t have any photos of the results.  I don’t have any photos because, quite frankly, the baguettes were awful!  They were horribly lumpy and misshapen and far too flat.  To top it all off, they had neither the crunchy crust nor the soft interior that baguettes are known for.

What was that I said again about how I feel about failing?

Thankfully, this is one kitchen mishap that can be avoided with the proper tool.  A baguette pan.

Freshly baked baguette in a metal baguette pan

We received this baguette pan from Nate’s uncle Mark as a wedding gift.  It’s non-stick, perforated and it will cook up the crustiest, tastiest baguettes you’ve ever made (although I confess that in my case that’s not saying much).  What I especially love about this pan is that you proof and bake in the same pan; there’s no need to make a complicated transfer and clean up is easy (just remember to hand-wash it)!

My baguettes still aren’t the prettiest things ever.  They’re still a little knobby and misshapen, or as Nate said “funky and chunky.” I prefer to think of them as “rustic.”  Whatever their looks may be, they definitely taste like winners.

So then what do you do once you have fresh, homemade baguettes?  You partake in the current culinary craze and make banh mi.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Everyone is always ragging on colonialism (myself included) but banh mi and other fusion foods are, I believe, concrete examples that there are some benefits to imperialism and globalization.  The combination of French baguette and Vietnamese fillings is awesome; if you haven’t had banh mi before, there is no time like the present to remedy that.

The banh mi you see here is a homemade baguette topped with mayo, sauteed mushrooms and onions, grilled marinated tofu, pickled carrot and daikon radish, plus chopped fresh cucumber, cilantro, and jalapenos.  Don’t worry, it sounds like way more work than it actually is!  That said, there is a lot of chopping so this recipe may be one to make with a cooking buddy if you aren’t super speedy with a knife.

Stack of grilled, marinated tofu and piles of chopped cilantro, cucumber and jalapenos.

Both the pickled carrots and daikon and the sauteed mushrooms and onions were made using a banh mi recipe from my lovely and hilarious friend Caroline.  We added grilled tofu to her recipe because we were hungry.  For the tofu, we grilled it in a grill pan on high heat after marinating a few large slices in a mixture of rice vinegar, Sriracha hot sauce, brown sugar, and light and dark soy sauce.  If, like us, you have left-over fillings, you can cook up a little jasmine rice and, wham-bam, you have a perfect lunch (or two) for the next day.

The coolest thing about this recipe is that you don’t even realize that it’s vegetarian.  If you leave off the mayo (or use a vegan product instead), this would be a very satisfying vegan meal.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Actually, I take that back.  The coolest thing about this recipe is how freaking good it is.  Feel free to add extra Sriracha to taste (Nate certainly did)!