Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homemade Mayonnaise

This week's chef is Anne Burrell and I chose her Homemade Mayonnaise recipe.

When I announced that I was going to be trying my hand at making mayonnaise this week for the FNCCC, I also asked Martijn what he thought we should use the mayo for. His immediate answer? "FRIES!" Who am I to argue with such decisiveness?

Homemade Mayo and Fries

Homemade Mayonnaise
Recipe Courtesy of Anne Burrell
Making Mayonnaise

You will need:

2 egg yolks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups neutrally flavored oil (vegetable, canola, peanut) (I used sunflower since it's cheap and readily available here!)

Here's how to do it:

Place the egg yolks in the bowl of the food processor and add the vinegar and mustard. Season with salt, to taste.
Making Mayonnaise
(At this point in the process I was starting to doubt the wisdom in this project. It really didn't look very appetizing.)

Turn the machine on and VERY slowly start to drizzle in the oil. Drip, drip, drip until the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, then a slow steady stream of oil can be added.

Making Mayonnaise
(I really did just drip it in drop by drop until it started looking mayonaisey, then drizzled it in.)

If the mayonnaise is too thick add a few drops of water or if it is not thick enough, with the machine running, add a little more oil.

The Verdict:I made the mayonnaise exactly as written and it was like magic happening before my very eyes! I am certainly going to do this again, but I won't be using a 1/4 of a cup of red wine vinegar. The vinegar was the main flavor of the mayo, and we both thought it could use quite a lot less of another type of vinegar instead. It did work really well to make some salad dressing though, and I also think it would be fabulous to use in my Broccoli Salad recipe.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A flower for you...

I just wanted to tell everyone thanks for the well wishes and prayers for me about my exams today. I'm not confident that I passed all of them, but I managed to NOT PANIC and that was a good thing. I should know in about a month or so and then we'll just see where I need to go from there! I will get this Dutch integration over with if it kills me!


I wish I could send flowers to each and every one of you, it's nice to know that there are wonderful people out in the world pulling for you!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- September 25, 2009

Fragmented Fridays are here again, and I'm still working on a witty and clever intro.

A friend that we've known online for ages was in The Netherlands this week, so we met up and went to The Efteling yesterday. It was a really good day.

I don't want to imply that Martijn is a party pooper because he totally isn't... but he can be a little more straight laced and serious than I am. Usually when I suggest we do nutty silly things he declines! So yesterday I told him I'd push him on the merry-go-round if he climbed on. I was certain he'd say no, but I was wrong!

Martijn on the Horsie

I have some really important tests on Monday. I'd really appreciate good thoughts, crossed fingers, prayers, etc. I'm trying to stay relaxed about it, but I'm pretty nervous about the speaking part. Hopefully I won't completely choke.

Sometimes I want to do really nice things for people who are rude or mean to me. Not to be the better person, just so that they'll feel really bad for being rude. That's probably not very nice is it?

I need to find more opportunities to use the word dastardly in everyday conversation. What words do you think should be used more often?

Friday Fragments? is the Chronicles of My Ordinary and Awesome Life, Family, and Thoughts. is the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Worms in Dirt

I was reading Sarah's blog the other day about her daughters "dirt" birthday cake and felt inspired! I asked Martijn if he'd ever had a dirt cake before and his response was "A dirt WHAT!?"

It was his turn to host dinner with his friends this week so I knew what dessert had to be!

Worms in Dirt

There are gobs of recipes for these online, but I did make some modifications due to ingredient availability (no cool whip here, for instance).

2 cups pudding (I used vanilla, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy)
1 cup whipping creme (slagroom in Dutch- approx 200ml)
1 packet Dr Oetker Whip-it (Klop Fix in Dutch- this is a whipped cream stabilizer)
6 oz cream cheese (approx 150 grams)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
11 oz Oreo Cookies (I used two of the 150 gram tubes you can buy here)
Gummy worms!

Whip the cream with the packet of Whip-it. Mix the powdered sugar into the cream cheese until smooth. Stir together the pudding and cream cheese, then fold in the whipped cream.

In a food processor (you can do this by hand, but a food processor is faster), pulse the cookies until they're in tiny little bits that resemble very fertile* dirt! The cream filling kinda disappears during this process, so don't worry about it showing.

Sprinkle a layer of cookies down in your dish, then spread some of the pudding mixture over the top. Keep layering until you run out of goodies, and end with cookies on the top. Poke some of the worms down into the "dirt" and chill for a few hours before serving.

*One of the guests said "Yah, it looks like dirt... very fertile dirt!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick and Easy Cottage Cheese

This week's FNCCC chef is Alton Brown. Everyone seems to love him, and I think he's a bit of an oddball. That's okay though, being an oddball doesn't have to be a bad thing!

Although there are about 90 gazillion recipes of his on the Food Network site, I was able to choose just one- Quick Cottage Cheese.

Homemade Cottage Cheese

The cook time listed on the site says 5 minutes, but I think that's a LIIIIE! It took at least 15 minutes to get my milk up to temperature. I halved it since Martijn doesn't like cottage cheese and wouldn't be helping me eat it. Plus, I had other things I needed space in my bike bags for besides four 1 litre cartons of milk (no gallon jugs here folks!). I followed the instructions pretty much exactly other than that and just salting to taste.

Quick Cottage Cheese
Courtesy Alton Brown

1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt*
1/2 cup half-and half-or heavy cream


Cottage Cheese Making Process

Pour the skim milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat to 120 degrees F (1). Remove from the heat and gently pour in the vinegar (2). Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes. The curd will separate from the whey (3). Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time (4). Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go. If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream. If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator. Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.

*Keep in mind that kosher salt has much bigger grains that regular table salt, so it measures differently. I didn't add any while I was making it and just salted to taste when I ate it.

The Verdict: If you are expecting this to have the same texture as store bought cottage cheese, I think you will be disappointed. I thought it was a little bit dry, but that could've been solved with the addition of some more liquid at the end (I'm wondering if buttermilk would work instead of the half and half or cream). Not bad though, I may even make it again sometime!

In addition, be sure to check out Tasty Tuesday @ Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed with Grace for more yummy recipes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finding Interesting Routes Home...

Martijn and I headed to Breugel, a village about 20 minutes away, for a flea market.

I found a couple of Tupperware cannisters and a pasta machine, but they weren't very exciting to take pictures of. This cash register was neat though.

Cash Register

As was this funky old TV and the Renault 4 that was parked behind it. The front windows slid open, it was fantastic!

Funky old TV

Since several of the roads were blocked off for the flea market (it was in the middle of the streets of the village), we turned off a slightly different way than we came. We followed a windy NARROW road and then suddenly were confronted with this:

Adventures in Dirt Roads

So of course Martijn starts laughing and bouncing up and down in his seat.


We made it back to "civilization" (or at least paved roads) and were attacked by hoards of bicyclists. This was one of the small groups.

Picture 2908

On the way home we actually ended up running into two more flea markets by accident, so it was a good day.

However, the car is now in desperate need of a bath. I know it's really not -that- bad, but for our little car that never really goes anywhere, it's pretty grubby!

We got grubby

Unknown Mami

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- September 18, 2009

Many of the other fragmenters come up with really witty intros to their posts. Unfortunately, if you want a really witty intro, you're going to have to click on the links at the bottom of the post and read someone else's blog!

I'm happy, Discovery is airing newer episodes of Wheeler Dealers. Martijn and I always make bets on how much they'll sell the cars for at the end. We seem to take turns on who is actually the closest.

No monkey pictures this week. I have a few more made, but they don't have eyes yet and they're sorta creepy looking.

My informal Dutch courses are starting up again next week. This is a good thing, I think the past few lessons really helped boost my confidence. I've had several people compliment me on how my Dutch is coming along, but sometimes I worry they're just trying to be nice because they feel sorry for me! I also need to learn how to give people directions because apparently I really look like I know what's going on and get stopped on a VERY regular basis for directions.

We got our "year-end" electric bill and the electric company finally has our estimated billing about right. The first year Martijn lived here they were overcharging him by a LOT so he got a massive refund at the end of the year... but then they were UNDERcharging us by quite a lot so the end of that year the bill was way too low and we owed a lot. It seems like now they've got it about right. We used slightly less electricity this year than last so that's good too.

The bad mail was the letter from the tax office that decided we owed them money. Boo taxes!

My cute husband realized that we'd been living together for more than 2 1/2 years and brought home some ORANGE flowers and offered to make dinner on Saturday. I certainly can't complain about him being thoughtless!

Speaking of flowers, I love how cheap flowers are here. You can get nice big bunches for under €5 on a pretty regular basis. Love it!

In other plant related news, my tomato plants are just NOW flowering. In September. I might have fruit by January. I think I'll have to bring it inside soon since it's getting awfully chilly during the nights and I don't want it to freeze to death.

Did you know that orange carrots didn't really exist until the 17th century, when some Dutch person decided to cultivate orange carrots as a tribute to The House of Orange. Crazy, eh?

Finally, for something completely related to anything that I've done this week... a picture of a door. Because I like it.

Picture 2308

What secrets do you suppose are hiding behind that door?

Friday Fragments? is the Chronicles of My Ordinary and Awesome Life, Family, and Thoughts. is the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pesto Pizza

This week's chef for the FNCCC is Alexandra Guarnaschelli. I had a bit of a hard time figuring out which recipe I wanted to use of hers because A: there weren't that many to choose from and B: many had hugely long ingredient lists and were insanely complicated. I already did one complicated recipe this week! So I chose one that looked fairly easy: Flatbread with Bacon and Scallion Pesto.

Pesto, Bacon, and Carmelized Onion Pizza

As usual, my comments are in italics and parenthesis.

Flatbread with Bacon and Scalion Pesto aka Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pesto Pizza
Recipe courtesy of Alexandra Guarnaschelli


* 4 thick strips bacon, thinly sliced (I used about 100 grams of already chopped bacon)
* 1 large white onion, thinly sliced (make sure to use a white (sweet) onion, they caramelize better)
* Pinch of sugar
* Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
* 6 scallions, thinly sliced (green onions, green tops included)
* 1 teaspoon capers
* 1/2 cup fresh parsley (I used flat leaf)
* Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (I used creme fraiche because it's cheaper here than sour cream)
* 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed (I made my own whole wheat dough)
* All-purpose flour, for dusting (didn't need this)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain; keep warm. Add the onion slices to the drippings in the skillet; sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt and pepper (I didn 't use salt here, the bacon is salty enough so you don't need it). Cook until light brown and tender, 5 to 7 minutes (I cooked my onions for about 15 minutes so they were caramelized more). Taste for seasoning.

Combine the scallions, capers and parsley in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste and half of the lemon zest; pulse gently to chop and blend. Turn the processor on and add the olive oil through the top in a steady stream. Transfer the scallion pesto to a bowl; set aside. (I tasted the pesto at this stage and thought it needed a little something, so I squeezed a bit of lemon juice into it as well.)

In a small bowl, whisk the creme fraiche and the remaining lemon zest until smooth. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Roll the pizza dough into an 8-by-14-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface (used a round pizza pan). Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Spread the creme fraeche mixture on the crust. Dot with the onions and some of the bacon drippings from the pan; sprinkle with the bacon. Slice into pieces and drizzle with scallion pesto. (There is NO drizzling happening with that pesto, it's way too thick, so I just blobbed it on!)

The Verdict: Martijn and I both really liked this. It's a nice break from a normal pizza. I really don't care for capers, but the small amount blended up into the pesto was actually quite good.

In addition, be sure to check out Tasty Tuesday @ Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed with Grace for more yummy recipes!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Detours Galore!

The entire roadworks system in the city of Eindhoven seems to be under construction right now, so we're seeing a lot of these signs around.

Detours Galore

Making sure you know how to get to the football (soccer for USians) is of the utmost importance!

Of course, it's not just the car roads that are being rerouted.

Detours Galore

Those are the signs I look out for!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- September 14, 2009

Last week worked out just fine. I really liked the Cauliflower Soup so I'm adding it to my "make again" file. The braised greens worked out well too. Instead of making that cauliflower casserole recipe, I made cauliflower macaroni and cheese. I skipped the Fish Sloppy Joes again because I was making something else so I'm carrying that over again.

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

This week:

Leftover buffet

-Flatbread with Bacon and Scallion Pesto- Check back Wednesday for the review of this one!

Fish Sloppy Joes

Pork Chops & Veggies- either broccoli or green beans... possibly both since they're on sale this week.

I am leaving one day open for a pantry meal, I've got things lurking that probably need to be used, but I'm not sure what yet!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge: Vegan Indian Dosas

This month's Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Debyi from The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She chose a vegan version of Indian Dosas.

Dosas are essentially Indian crepes. Traditionally, they're made with rice and black lentils, but the recipe we used called for spelt flour instead. The challenge was also to make your dish vegan.

The requirements: Must be free of animal products, this will be a challenge for you “regular” cooks out there, but its worth it. So that means, no cows milk, butter, meat, poultry, fish, chicken/beef broth, etc. This dish is also 99% oil free, using only what you need to keep the dosas from sticking (I used a quick spritz of cooking spray on the first dosa only), which isn't too bad with a nonstick pan. You can use a different filling/sauce if you like, but it must be free of animal products.
This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but many are used multiple times over the three parts.

Daring Cooks September Challenge

Curried Garbanzo Filling

5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

The Verdict: The filling was very good. I used only a fraction of the salt since I used canned beans, but even if you soak your I think you'd only want a tablespoon if the size of your rock salt mimicked sugar cubes.

Coconut Curry Sauce

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced

1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4.Let it simmer for half an hour.

The Verdict: This recipe is HUGE. I'm going to have enough leftover sauce to put on rice for the next seven weeks. The sauce can be frozen, though the texture might be a little different when it's thawed. It should still taste good though! We both really liked this.

Dosa Pancakes
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
cooking spray, if needed

1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

The Verdict: I don't know where exactly I went wrong, but my dosas were more like don'tsas. Firstly, I think the spelt flour I found wasn't the same as what you might find in the US. It was a bit coarser and that led to a very lumpy thick batter. I ladled 2 tablespoons of batter and had a TEENY dosa, so I poured a bit more in and that didn't work out too well.

Disasterous Dosa!

After that debacle, I decided to thin out the batter with a little more soy milk and water. That worked a little bit better, but I still don't know how two tablespoons of batter like the recipe calls for was making the nice big dosas that other people making the recipe were coming up with. They ended up tasting just alright, but I think if I do try to make them again I'm either going to try the traditional way of making them or use regular flour. Make sure your pan is HOT, not just medium warm too.

Dosa Toppings
1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
¼ cucumber, sliced

Fill the dosas with the filling. Ladle a bit of sauce over the dosas, and sprinkle with coconut. Garnish with cucumber, and serve with rice if you like.

The Entire Verdict: I'd try this again, but I'd use a different recipe for the dosas. I would probably suggest halving the sauce and filling unless you want leftovers. Since my dosas were so tiny, I didn't fill them with the filling. Instead I served it over rice and had the dosas on the side.

Daring Cooks September Challenge

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- September 11, 2009

Friday has come and gone, but I'm still posting my fragments!

I've been busy this week transforming Altoid tins into mini "survival" kits to tuck away in your purse or pocket. I still need to put the tins back together, but I think they're looking good so far. I'm also still in the process of gathering goodies to put inside of them. What do you always keep in your purse, or WISH you kept in your purse?

Mod Podged Altoid Tins in progress

Martijn ordered us a new TV (also my monitor) a few weeks ago with some of his overtime. We got it and plugged it in... and it was making this horrid noise that only me (and dogs, apparently) could hear and I swear it was making my brain bleed. Since he purchased it from one of the distributors at work we couldn't return it, so we decided to send a service request to Samsung and see if they could do anything for us. After waiting several days for a new part, they sent it back and I held my breath as we plugged it in and turned it on. So far, so good.

It doesn't have picture in picture like the old one, but since Martijn is taking the old one to use for himself, we're just going to split the cable and run it to both so I can watch something if I'm on my computer (what I used to use the PIP for). PLUS since it has a digital audio input, we can get rid of the switcher box we used to switch the audio between the PC and TV. It'll just do it automatically! It's awfully shiny too. We didn't really think the old one was pretty, but now that it's next to the new one it looks a little clunky.


My friend Andrea found me some corn tortillas at an expat store here and I'm SO EXCITED I CAN HARDLY STAND IT! I love corn tortillas so much and they're really just not available here in normal stores. I have found a place online to buy the corn tortilla flour and a tortilla press but I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to do that yet. After I eat these, I may be seriously considering the investment. It'd probably be a lot cheaper in the long run!

Last night we watched a Law and Order: SVU episode with Angela Lansbury in it and suddenly Martijn says to me "I miss watching Murder, She Wrote." Lucky for him they show it on the BBC!

I've been trying to do a little housekeeping on my blog. I am trying to sort out my tags and then go through and tag ALL of my posts since I've been a little lax at that in the past. I'm not all that enamored with Blogger's search feature, so hopefully it'll make things a little easier to find.

Friday Fragments? is the Chronicles of My Ordinary and Awesome Life, Family, and Thoughts. is the Mostly Wordless Wednesday headquarters as well as the home to several original awards and memes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Quick Braised Greens with Bacon and Sweet Onion

For this weeks installment of FNCCC we were to choose a recipe from Aida Mollenkamp. I picked Quick Braised Greens with Bacon and Sweet Onions.

Endive with Bacon and Sweet Onion

My thoughts are in italics and parenthesis.

Quick Braised Greens with Bacon and Sweet Onions
Courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp

1 1/2 pounds collard greens, washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped (I used endive instead of collard greens)
4 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup minced sweet onion
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I think you can cut this in half and not miss the other 3/4 cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (with the broth, I don't think anymore salt is needed)


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. When water boils, add greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place bacon in a large frying pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add greens and turn to coat well. Add broth - it should cover greens and let cook until broth is reduced and greens are very tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

The Verdict: I liked this, and I think I'll make it again but I'll use way less chicken broth. It turned out a bit soupy for my tastes. I served this alongside a porkchop and some steamed cauliflower and broccoli.

Up for next week- Alexandra Guarnaschelli

Monday, September 07, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- September 7, 2009

I think the only new thing I made last week was the Beer Battered Fish and Broccoli Slaw. Things went according to plan, and I made everything on the menu!

click the banner and "Menu Plan Monday" for more menu planning ideas

This week:

Pork chops and Braised Greens with Bacon and Sweet Onions

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets and Cauliflower Soup - Going to use crescent roll dough for these instead of puff pastry because I have a can in the fridge and I don't have any puff pastry stashed away!

Cauliflower Casserole

Fish Sloppy Joes

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fragmented Freewrites- September 4, 2009

Friday is here and that means brain dump time!

I was asking Maritjn if you could get Russet potatoes here, and so he did a Google search for "russet aardappels kopen" (russet potatoes to buy) and one of the sponsered links was for "" Uh, tweedehands means SECOND HAND... Would YOU buy second hand used potatoes?

I'm not sure why I keep waiting until 10 o'clock on Friday night to write these posts. By this time my brain is goo and I can't think of anything clever to say.

I am working on compiling a "list of things that must go." First on the list- music players on blogs. I can't even write coherent sentences about how much I don't like them.

I have big feet. Big feet to the point of it being just plain ridiculous trying to find shoes. I also cannot find cute feminine or girly socks. Man socks are okay, but you don't get the cheerful variety that you can find in women's socks. Anyhow, my mom really loves me. She's been making me awesome socks. Really, truly, awesome socks! These babies will NOT be chopped up to make monkeys.

My Amazing Awesome Socks

Speaking of monkeys...

Picture 2848

I'm still perfecting my monkey hair technique, but I think he's pretty funny. Here are the rest that are done.

Picture 2847

Picture 2845

I'm -almost- finished with the batch of half-done monkeys that have been sitting on my shelf for the past.... uh, long long time. I have 3 more to complete and then can delve into chopping up the new socks that I got in my package.

That dumb lady never got back with me about the sewing machine. I hope she drops it on her foot.

I'm still contemplating which recipe I'll use for the next installment of FNCCC. If you missed it earlier in the week, you can see my post and review of the Beer Battered Fish and Broccoli Slaw.

I got an e-mail from my uncle and have been trying to decide what you could use in place of the beer. I'm thinking club soda or 7up might work... maybe ginger ale? Anyone have any brilliant ideas? I'm open for suggestions!

I think it's pretty safe to say summer is OVER in this country. I need to dig out my light box in anticipation of the long grey winter to come.

For more fragmented fun, click the buttons below!

Friday Fragments?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Gonna be a little bit busy...

I got a package in the mail the other day. Among other things, it contained THIRTY pairs of socks.

Monkey carcasses!

Yah, I'm gonna be a little bit busy the next few weeks.

Thanks Mom and Grandma!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Beer Battered Fish & Broccoli Slaw

I mentioned that I was participating in The Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge (hereafter known as FNCCC) over at I Blame My Mother. The first chef was Aaron McCargo Jr., who looked like Mr Clean to me until I did a Google image search and realized Mr Clean only has one pirate earring instead of two.

I chose Big Daddy's Deep-Fried Catfish and Packin' A Punch Broccoli Slaw.

Beer Battered Fish & Slaw

My thoughts are in italics and parenthesis.

Big Daddy's Deep-Fried Catfish
Courtesy of Aaron McCargo Jr.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I honestly don't know if this is a typo, but you don't need more than a teaspoon here, I promise)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (12-ounce) bottle amber beer
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets (I used pangasius, which is a catfish relative)
1 tablespoon salt (see note below)
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper (see note below)
2 tablespoons granulated garlic (see note below)
1 lemon, juiced


Preheat a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and cayenne and whisk to combine. Whisk in the beer, being sure to remove any lumps.

Cut the catfish fillets in half lengthwise to make 2 strips. If desired, cut into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl add the salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Season the fillets with the salt mixture (the amounts listed for seasoning the fish are absolutely insane. Just sprinkle the seasonings on the pieces of fish, I followed the directions but cut the salt in half and it was still way way too salty and I had a lot of seasoning leftover).

Dip each strip in the beer batter and add to the fryer, a few at a time, moving them around so they don't stick. Fry until brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the fryer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining fillets and season the fish with lemon juice.

The Verdict: Martijn and I both liked this, but I used way too much salt, even after cutting it down quite a bit which leads me to think that the recipe on the website has typos in the amounts. The batter tasted good though and puffed up nicely, so I'll make it again... but I'll leave out about 85% of the salt!


Packin' A Punch Broccoli Slaw
Courtesy of Aaron McCargo Jr.

1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups shredded broccoli slaw (I can't buy the bags of shredded broccoli slaw, so I just shredded up a stalk which definitely didn't yeild two cups, but still gave it some broccoli flavor)
1 red jalapeno, seeded and minced (I can't even find GREEN jalepenos here, so I used a little chili sauce for heat)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I forgot this, it doesn't really need it)


In a large serving bowl, combine the carrots, broccoli slaw, jalapeno and red onion. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, lime zest, lime juice, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes and the black pepper (I also added the chili sauce in this step since I didn't have a jalapeno). Bring to a light boil over low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture (forgot this part, again, I don't think it's necessary), pour over the vegetables and toss together to combine. Refrigerate until serving.

The Verdict: This was an alright twist on a slaw. I liked the bite the broccoli gave it, but I think I'm still on a search for the -perfect- slaw recipe.

Next week we'll be doing a recipe from Aida Mollenkamp. Click the button below for more info on the FNCCC!

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