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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Cold & Rainy Day Recipes

If you read my previous post about New Year’s Resolutions, you know that I have made it a priority to learn at least one new recipe a month throughout 2011. I have already learned one recipe for January, South Indian Cabbage with Yogurt, but got a little ambitious this past weekend and decided to try my hand at two more.

Root Vegetable Gratin

Rutabaga by -meredith-

Rutabaga by -meredith-

I was a little wary of trying this root vegetable gratin. For one thing, I had never cooked a rutabaga in my life and the things are kind of frightening looking in an earthy, waxy, hairy kind of way. So to balance my trepidation at trying the rutabaga, I doubled up on the more familiar turnip.

I also had a bit of a misadventure looking for the gruyère cheese. I’m not a culinary maven, so I had never used this particular cheese before and as I walked down the specialty cheese case at my local grocery store, I had a hard time finding it. I paced up and down looking for it (not knowing exactly what it looked like), with my mouth watering over what had to have been a very scrumptious aged gouda, until a man who works the deli/cheese area asked me if I needed any help. Of course, not knowing how to pronounce the cheese, I point to my grocery list and the gruyère turns out to be right in front of my eyes. I was slightly embarrassed, so I just grabbed the cheese and ran off to the bulk food section. It wasn’t until I got to the check out and was getting ready to pay that I discovered this very slight little package of cheese was $10.

Anywho, after doing a little online research, it turns out preparing a rutabaga is much like preparing a turnip. You can either use a peeler and remove the entire skin or, like I did, use a sharp knife to remove the outside so you’re just left with the interior. I tried cutting the rutabaga in half prior to peeling…it wasn’t happening. That waxy shell is almost impossible to hack your way through. It was at about this point that my husband walked in the kitchen and, with suspicion in his voice, said the veggies smelled very “earthy.” I tried to convince him that Martha Rose Shulman had yet to lead us astray and that rutabaga and turnip became sweeter in the cooking process. He didn’t seem very convinced and I was a little worried.

Throughout the cooking process (about every 10-15 minutes) I was opening the oven and smashing the whole concoction down with the back of a spoon to absorb the milk. Toward the end of the cooking time, the veggies, the cheese, and the thyme started to smell absolutely mouth-watering and I began to feel much more convinced that we were in for a treat.

The end result was amazing, filling yet with very delicate flavors. With prep and cook time, I would say it took about two hours (we listened to about two full episodes of This American Life online). So while I wouldn’t make this for just an everyday dinner, it would be great as a side-dish for a big party or potluck. It also reheated well, so you could certainly make it on a weekend and have it as a side dish on a busier night during the week.

baby bok coy by ksbuehler

baby bok coy by ksbuehler

Stir-Fried Quinoa with Vegetables and Tofu

I love quinoa and vegetables and tofu, so I figured this would be a winner. I just got a wok for Christmas, so any recipes that allow me to take full advantage of my new gear have been tempting.

I cleaned and picked through the quinoa before starting anything else and had it cooking on the stove while I prepared all the veggies and spices. Full disclosure: my husband prepared the tofu and had it ready for me when all the cooking began. Thanks, babe! The recipe says to mince the ginger, but I grated it instead. Ginger is really fibrous and stringy and mincing it is down-right difficult (I tried). So I busted out the grater and it went much more smoothly and the result was more like a juicy paste. I’m a little more liberal with the spices than Martha Rose’s recipes ever ask for, so I had a pretty hefty amount of ginger (I grated a piece about the size of my thumb) and garlic (probably seven or so cloves) in the final product.

Once the quinoa was finished, I set to on the broccoli, which needed a quick boil and then ice bath before the stir-frying started. I used to never understand the ice bath. Several recipes call for it and I would always duitifully follow the instructions, but I never really got it until I read that it quickly stops the cooking process and can help retain the flavor and texture of your veggies.

This recipe also called for baby bok choy. I have never cooked with baby bok choy, so, of course, I had to figure out how to cut it. I found a really great video online. Thank goodness for YouTube! I’m a very visual person, so unless a book has some good illustrative diagrams, I’m totally lost.


Once everything is prepared, the quinoa cooked and the broccoli blanched, cook time is incredibly rapid.

This recipe was a definite winner. We were completely stuffed and had a bunch of leftovers that I took to work for lunch. I will say, though, that it definitely dirtied up a bunch of dishes (the wok, one stockpot to blanche the broccoli, one big plastic container to hold the cut bok choy and pepper, two small glass dishes to hold the soy sauce/sesame oil and another to hold the garlic and ginger, a large container for the broccoli ice bath, the large sauce pot to cook the quinoa, all the knives and cutting boards), but the end result was worth it. If only we hadn’t run out of soy sauce!

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New Year by *Sally M*

New Year by *Sally M*

I’ve taken a little hiatus from blogging (and sort of a hiatus from reading, if you can believe it) for the holidays and with the New Year confronting me, I’ve been trying to come up with some New Year’s Resolutions of both a personal and professional bent.

On a personal level, I’d like to try more new recipes this year. I’ve really begun enjoying cooking (thanks, in part, to Mary Rose Shulman of the New York Times) and my goal is to try one new recipe a month for all of 2011. Even if I tackle more than one a month, I’ll be happy to feel confident in 12 new recipes (that’s, like, almost two weeks of meals). This month’s recipe, which I just tried tonight and highly recommend is South Indian Cabbage with Yogurt adapted by Martha Rose Shulman from Madhur Jaffrey. Mine didn’t look quite as beautiful as Martha Rose’s, but it did get positive comments from a confirmed carnivore, so I consider it a tremendous success. So I might be blogging time to time about my adventures in the kitchen (so just watch out!).

In terms of my writing, I hope to post something to my blog at least once a week for the next year. It could be library-related or a book review or something totally random, but I want to both improve my writing and make a confirmed commitment to this blog. I have increased my output in the past couple of months, so I want to keep building the momentum!

If you look around the book blogosphere (and the KidLitosphere in particular) it seems like there are so many reading challenges for 2011. Read x number of books within a genre; read x number of books about a specific subject; read x number of books by authors who identify with a distinct ethnic, national, or racial identity; read x number of books in total. My reading goal is to equal or exceed the number of books I read last year: 167. I suppose I ultimately would like to read at least 200 titles this upcoming year, but if I don’t make it (but read 167 or more), I’ll be proud of this accomplishment.

When I was in graduate school, I distinctly remember having to turn in a 5-year professional plan in one of my classes. I had to articulate what kind of job I wanted to have within five years and what professional goals I set for myself within that time frame. Do I remember what I put in my 5-year plan? No, not really. I do remember very specifially that I didn’t make a terrific grade on it (it was in the lower A range, which at my graduate school counted for as many points on my grade point average as a B+) because my professor said I hadn’t been specific enough on how I would accomplish my goals. I have set a few goals for myself in the just over three years I have been a professional librarian, many of which I have accomplished: presenting at a professional conference and being active in committee work. The one other goal that has continued to slip me by it to be published. I suppose, in a sense, that my blog is a publication of sorts. You know, just one no one really looks at at this point. So this year I hope to write something to submit for publication. Even if it never gets published, I think it would relieve some of the pressure I feel about getting involved in the professional literature world.

What are your resolutions?

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