Monday, January 31, 2011

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

For Christmas Tara and Ryan gave me a copy of Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, along with a movie about Julia Child. I love to cook, but I actually didn't have much experience with Mrs. Child before now. We invited them over to try Beef Bourguinon (Bore gen Yawn), which is French for fancy beef stew.

The first thing the recipe calls for is chunk bacon. You may be wondering, what is chunk bacon? So are all the people in Wal*Mart, they definitely didn't know what it was when I asked. I knew what it was but the only place I knew where I could buy it was Germany or the internet, and time was too short for either of those options. I had resigned myself to curing and smoking my own chunk of bacon (which is gross). Luckily when I went to Macey's one of the meat counter guys said "Uh we don't have unsliced bacon, but we have Salt Pork..." Ta Da!
Friends, if you are looking for chunk bacon it is actually called "Salt Pork", unless you are in Germany where it is called "Speck".
The really fun and exciting thing about salt pork/chunk bacon is that one side of it is the actual skin of an actual pig, (the square slice thingy to the right in the above picture). Isn't this delightful? You need to trim that skin off, but don't throw it away, you are going to need that little piece of joy later.
Next you slice the chunk bacon into "lardons". Why are they called lardons? I am not sure, but if you look at the picture above you will see that the dark pink is meat, and the whiteish pink is lard, yep all lard, I think that might have something to do with it.
Now you put the lardons in water to boil for 10 minutes. Magical!
In that time I sliced up my stew meat. I bought a roast and chopped it.
And chopped it some more. I also trimmed off the fat, because we already had enough lardons.
I also chopped the carrot and onion. Julia Child said 1 onion and 1 carrot, but I did 1/2 onion and 3 carrots because I'm just a rebel like that.
By the time I was done chopping things our friends the lardons were finishing their time in the hot tub.
It did not make them look any more delicious than before. By the way I think this step is important to render the fat so it will melt.
I cooked them in a cast iron casserole with 2 tbs of olive oil. Why the oil? Because this is French food so it is impossible for there to be too much fat. During the cooking more and more oil filled the pan.
Then I removed the bacon pieces and heated the fat to near smokiness, and then cooked the meat, a few pieces at a time.
Then I cooked the vegetables. So you know, just like your basic stew, except deep fried.
I then drained out the fat and tossed all the meat and veggies together with salt, pepper, and flour.
Then put it uncovered into the oven for 8 minutes.
At this point you are supposed to add 3 cups of wine, but on account of Mormon-ness we don't drink alcohol so I used 2 cups of pomegranate juice and 1 cup of water instead. I also added some beef broth and our old friend Chunk-o-Pig-Skin.
I brought it to a boil, and then put it in the oven for 2.5 hours.
While that was cooking I made some noodles by crumbling egg yolks, flour, and salt together. Then adding water until it turned into a dough.
You have to seriously beat up this dough to make it doughy. Then I rolled it super thin
And used a pizza cutter to slice the noodles. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but they looked about the same, just curlier.
The next step was the most unpleasant. I had to peel 24 tiny white onions. They look innocent enough, but those little stinkers are seriously strong.
I was crying like a baby by the time I was done.
To pay them back I fried them in butter
Then I poured in some beef broth and spices, and put a lid on them for 30 minutes so they could think about what they'd done to me.
In the end they were sweet and soft. Eew, I just realized that onion in the back totally looks like an eyeball staring at the camera. Freaky.
Next I cooked some mushrooms in butter. Julia Child loves butter.
At this point the stew was done cooking. Now technically you could throw out Mr.Pig-skin and throw in the mushrooms and onions and be pretty much done. But it would look like this:
But Julia Child tells you to separate the stew and broth and skim off the fat. I don't know how to skim off hot fat, so I did it the same way I do with pizza:
Napkins soaking up grease. Then, under Julia Child's directions I washed out the casserole dish and put everything back inside. Some people on the internet think this is totally superfluous, but they are wrong. You cannot tell me that the picture below is the same amount of delicious as the one above.
It was really tasty, and really not very difficult, (except for that rough spot with the onions). You can even make this whole recipe the day before and reheat it for dinner. The noodles were the most time consuming, but they were actually my favorite part. We only had one tiny bowl left over, and it made a great lunch. I am interested in experimenting with other juices and maybe other vegetables. Thanks for the great book Tara and Ryan!
Socks

While Handsome Bryce and I were engaged we would meet with my wonderful bishop every other week. It was really fun to spend time together and get advice. Bishop Bryant gave us a packet of articles he had thoughtfully compiled about finances, communication, forgiveness, stress etc. I really appreciated the time he took with us to help our marriage to be successful, but I have to admit that there was one article that we have been mocking ever since.

I looked all over Google for it but I can't find it. I only remember that it was talking about that you will realize your spouse is human and little things will start to bother you such as "leaving their socks directly in your path to the bathroom". I know, horrors! But in my searching I have found that socks are a pretty big deal in many households.

Well guys, this weekend it happened. Bryce left his socks right in the middle of my path to the bathroom.Lucky me that I married the one man who make socks on the floor of the bathroom cute. (He promises this was purely on accident. Accidental awesomeness.)

So the article did come true, and it didn't. I'm not annoyed by Bryce's socks. (Although I am annoyed when he throws me off a cliff during Super Mario Coin Battle. grrrrr.) I love you Bryce!

p.s.
I'm serious about the coin battle thing, what the heck? I can barely stop myself from falling off the edge unperturbed! I don't need someone chucking me off! But it's still worth it to be married to you. xoxox

Thursday, January 27, 2011

BYU Beats SDSU

Handsome Bryce and I went to one of BYU's biggest basketball games last night. It was the first time they have beaten a top 5 ranked team since the '60s!These pictures where I hold the camera in front of us never work.
The game was sold out, I couldn't see any empty seats. Everyone was so excited and so loud, jumping and yelling and generally acting crazy. I discovered that I cannot yell as loud as other people, because when I screamed I couldn't hear myself at all. My ears were kind of ringing at the end. All the excitement and cheering was great, but there was one draw back...

You see, BYU fans, like some other schools, have this little ritual they do during free-throws. It involves everyone putting their arms up above their head while they wait for the shot, and then saying "Whoooosh!" if it goes in. This is all well and good, normally. But friends, this was a high energy game, and most of you did not make high energy preparations:
Next time, let's all plan ahead.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Actual Size

A few months ago, on a whim, I bought a small package of "actual size" stickers. They come in three sizes: 3'', 2'', and 1''. I think they cost about $1, and seriously it is the most fun $1 has ever given me!Giant smoothies?
Yes please!
A cell phone less than 2 inches tall?
Not a problem!

The possibilities are endless; a giant Coke bottle on a vending machine, the worlds tiniest conference presenter. It's even funny if you stick one to a muffin with clear packaging.

These stickers have made me incredibly amused, but I have a bothersome feeling that I have not yet achieved the most optimal sticker placement. I only have 7 left, so if you think of a good idea you should tell me about it, before I squander all of my stickers on "Brick Oven" menus.

p.s.
Don't worry Mom, the stickers peel off without leaving any residue. Also, I read the vandalism law for Utah and it doesn't say anything about stickers.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sneeze

I don't know how they do it, but some people have such nice, little, polite sneezes:But not me.

My sneezes are violent, toe shaking, head banging events that cause babies to cry and dogs to howl. When the zombie apocalypse comes it will be because my sneezes have literally woken the dead.

I try to suppress them, but I'm pretty sure if I don't open my mouth the force of the sneeze would cause my brain to explode.So, sorry about making your baby scream and the zombie problem thing, I just can't help it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mexican Pizza

The name of this recipe is actually "Black Bean Pizza" but due to recent black bean failures I decided to call it "Mexican Pizza" to minimize black bean memories. Unlike the brownies, this black bean recipe turned out exceedingly delicious. It reminds me of the Navajo Tacos my mom used to make, (but which I am pretty sure no Navajo people make).I made the pizza dough in the recipe and it was very easy. I added onion powder to the crust, but I don't think that made a significant difference. I pureed the beans and spices in the food processor. (Dear food processor inventor, you are great and I love you, platonically.)
I liked the step of putting it in the over for 3 minutes, I will be doing that with all my pizza doughs now.
After it came out of the oven, I spread the dough with the bean slurry and put salsa on top. At this point I was thinking it looked kind of gross and was having flashbacks of the brownie failure.
I put down a layer of mozzarella cheese and some leftover chicken and peppers from when we had fajitas a few days ago.
I put a little bit of cheddar on top of that and decided things looked a lot better.
After it cooked it looked beautiful! I snipped some cilantro and put that on top for added beautifulness. For some reason uncooked leaves on top of food make it look so much tastier. I loved this, a lot. I want to go get another piece, except the stupid "Daily Plate" will make me feel all guilty about that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Black Bean Brownies, Bleck!

Normally I don't believe in trying to healthy-up recipes for desserts. I don't trust "fat free ice cream" because cream is fat, so that just leaves you with ice. I don't believe in sugar free sweets for the same reason.

I stumbled across this recipe for Black Bean Brownies and somehow forgot all of my rules against healthy sweets. It was just so strange I wanted to try it. You will notice all the testimonials at the bottom extolling the many qualities of deliciousness and non-bean tastingness that these brownies have.
Don't be fooled. Though deceptively pretty and good smelling, they taste exactly like beans.

Apologies to Bryce's mom, who found them without explanation in her kitchen whilst in the throes of brownie cravings. You can imagine the sheer horror of biting into a delicious brownie only to discover that it is only cleverly molded beans. They were pretty good with tortilla chips though.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coconut Shrimp
I recently stumbled upon this blog: Recipeasy. I keep saying that name over and over in my head and it sounds like "Re-seh-peeeeezy" in a high pitched voice like Princess Peach. (I think we have been playing too much Mario Kart around here.) I like the the looks of many of the recipes.

I decided to try the Coconut Shrimp recipe and it was a fabulous success.I started with frozen uncooked shrimp. I didn't have any brown sugar so I used honey instead.
I started the shrimp marinating while I made the mango salsa. Shimp marinating in a bag doesn't look yummy.
Perhaps you know this, and perhaps you don't, but cutting up mangoes is a pain in the patoot. I learned a secret way of doing it from my sister Sara. You lop off the sides and then cut a grid through the flesh, but try not to go all the way through the skin.
Then you turn the slice inside-out, which is excellent fun.
Then you slice all the fruit cubes off with a knife.
I mixed up the mango salsa and put it in the fridge. (P.s. What is that mysterious thing in the bottom right corner of that salsa picture? I really have no idea? Aliens?)Then I started the coconut rice.By this time those shrimp had marinated enough so I got to work stir frying them. I put some coconut in the oven to broil. My mom taught me that when you broil things you should always hang onto the oven handle until it is done. Every time I have broken this rule of holding onto the handle I have burned the food to be broiled into a black mass. (Steffy, remember the time I lit a whole pan of pitas on fire and we had to call your mom to find out how we could put it out?)
I was so mesmerized by the shrimp changing color while they cooked that I completely forgot about the mango salsa.So we ate the shrimp and it was delicious, and then we had mango salsa with chips later that night, also delicious.