quick photoshop

This came in my inbox this morning:

And this is how I envisioned it in a different colorway:

Please unfocus your eyes and ignore the horrid 5 minute photoshop job.

I like how both the taupe and white are isolated from your skin, so you won’t look more pasty or odd colored.  Plus, the neckline will draw the eye away from any tummy issues.

Apparently I have too much free time at work. =)

Things I like to make in my Dutch Oven(s): Volume 3

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Jamie Oliver.  The man knows how to cook.  He cooks in just my style, too – fresh ingredients, little fuss, and getting people to try new things.  Brilliant in theory, but he has got to stop shaming the fat kids.

Seriously, Jamie.  Just stop.  You’re being obnoxious and mean, and it’s not the kids’ fault they’re fed crap at school.  It’s not even the dinner ladies’ fault.  I do partially cite parents for not introducing fresh food and cooking and sit-down dinners to their children, but if both parents work full time and the kids have soccer and ballet and clarinet lessons and SCHOOL, it’s really hard to have the energy to cook, let alone get everyone into the same room, sitting, for more than 10 minutes a day.  And yes, many kids won’t touch green vegetables, or know what a chicken looks like.  And their parents indulge them, to get them to eat ANYTHING at all, just like they were raised.  So we end up with molded chicken goo in the shape of a nugget and chubby, sedentary kids on the playground.  Yes, it’s sad and it’s scary, but lay off the kids.  The people you should really be talking to are the parents (the taxpayers) and the government that allots the $0.12 per meal to feed these kids at school.  Talk to land developers and city planners to make sure so-called “Food Deserts” don’t exist in every city in America.  Take the pressure off weight, and make PE more about having fun, moving your body in a joyful way, and understand that people really can be healthy at any size – AND unhealthy at any size.  Thin bodies do not always equate to healthy bodies, and plump bodies do not always scream DEATHFAT.  Change your tune.

I agree with you that we’ve gotta introduce some food diversity into America’s children, we have to encourage them to move their bodies.  But the key words here have positive connotations: introduce, encourage.  Stop using fear, shame, blame, and negativity to try to get your point across.  Being an insufferable know-it-all, while telling people that they’re bad, going to die, and an embarrassment only serves to make you look like an ass, and make everyone hate you.  Which is sad, because your recipe I’m about to post is brilliant, but I feel I have to write this disclaiming rant to you in order to feel good about posting it.

I’ve also got a bone to pick with Mrs. Obama about her Disney-fying fat shame, too, so if you see her, tell her I’m looking for her.

Ok.  Rant over.

************************

This is really f*ing good chicken.  I made it for the first time last February on a whim, but it’s fast become a favorite dinner in our house.  Matt would love me to make it for Christmas dinner every year!  It sounds weird, but trust me, this one is a keeper.

Chicken in Milk with Jasmine Rice {adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef, 2002}

main courses | serves 4
A slightly odd, but really fantastic combination that must be tried.

ingredients

• 1 x 1.5k/ 3½lb organic chicken
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 115g/4oz or 1 stick of butter
• olive oil
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1 good handful of fresh sage, leaves picked
• zest of 2 lemons
• 5-10 cloves of garlic, skin left on
• 565ml/1 pint milk

instructions

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5, and bust out your 6 quart Dutch Oven for the chicken. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper, and fry it in the butter and a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away most of the oil and butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramelly flavor later on. I then brown 1-2 cups of jasmine rice in the pot with the remaining oil and butter. After it has browned I make a well in the rice, place the chicken in the well breast down, and top with the remaining ingredients. This makes the most delicious rice (about 3-4 cups) and keeps the chicken from drying out too much.

Cover the dutch oven with its lid and cook in the preheated oven for 1½ hours. Baste with the cooking juice if/when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic.

To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates, with a scoop of the rice.  Serve with wilted spinach or greens (in the spring, I prefer serving it with sauteed asparagus or green beans) on the side.

Things I like to make in my Dutch Oven(s): Volume 2

Another of my favorite things to make in a Dutch Oven is Pulled Pork.  This is one of the easiest recipes I make, but it always tastes amazing.  I found this recipe in the April 2010 issue of Everyday Food magazine – and it’s the recipe that had me hooked enough to subscribe.  They have FANTASTIC weekly dinner suggestions complete with shopping list.  They also plan for leftovers to be used another way later in the week.  This recipe was the basis for using pulled pork in at least 3 different ways – we tried, and loved, the recipes for tacos, sandwiches, and ragu.

{Easy Pork Shoulder} via Everyday Food, April 2010

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, plus cooling
  • Yield: Makes 8 to 10 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (7 pounds)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (I use a fine ground Celtic Sea salt from France, and it works great, too)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using a sharp knife, score the fat (but not the meat) on 1 boneless pork shoulder (7 pounds) in a diamond pattern. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Place pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan or large Dutch oven with 1/2 cup water.Roast until some fat has rendered, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

    Tightly cover pan with foil or a lid. Cook until meat is very tender, about 4 hours.

    When cool enough to handle, remove fat from top of roast. Using two forks, shred meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. (Or you can fight over who gets to nibble on the crispy bits, like Matt and I do.)

Note

How to store: Refrigerate shredded meat in airtight containers, up to 3 days, or freeze in 2- or 3-cup portions, up to 3 months. If desired, reserve fat and render by cooking over low heat until mostly liquid. Strain and refrigerate; use in place of oil.

Want smaller portions? Don’t have 5 hours to cook?

My fiancé and I rarely splash out for a whole 7 lbs of meat, especially if it’s not on sale or in the BOGO meat bin at our favorite local grocery store.  That kind of cut rarely makes it into that category, so when we do find pork shoulder roasts on sale, we buy them, even if they’re only 2-3 lbs.  The beauty of this recipe is that it still works for smaller roasts, with some minor tweaking.  Through trial and error on about 6 of these smaller roasts over the last year, I’ve been able to adjust the time to get the same results.  Here are the changes:

  1. Season your roast exactly like it says above, but use less water.  If your roast is 3 lbs or under, I’d use 1/4 cup, to be sure you keep the moisture level up inside the Dutch Oven.  If your roast is over 3 lbs but under 6 lbs, you can add a little more water, but keep under 1/2 cup unless you like your pulled pork a bit soggy.
  2. For the initial roast at 450˚ cut the roasting time in half.  A 2-3 lb roast should render fat and gain a nice crispiness at 20-25 minutes.  3-6 lbs, you should leave it longer, but don’t let it go the full 45 minutes.
  3. The lid of your Dutch Oven is better to use than foil, since it traps the moisture better and creates the “oven within an oven” effect that you want. Leave the lid on while cooling, or it may dry out.
  4. Final covered roasting of a 2-3 lb roast will only take 1.5 – 2 hours.  Check it with your meat thermometer after 1.5 hours and check again every 15 minutes to estimate how much longer it will take to be done.  Pork is considered well done with an internal temp at 165˚ but since you’re leaving it to cool within the pan, 150-160˚ is more ideal, since the meat’s juices will redistribute and the temp will rise by itself.  Be sure to check the internal temp before you start shredding, just to be sure of it for safety, as conditions will vary in each kitchen (room temp, elevation, etc).
  5. A 2-3 lb roast should feed two people for two meals each.
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The next recipe I’d like to try with this pulled pork is one from a local Seattle pub, Smith (which is one of my favorite places to go for weekend brunch!).  They haven’t served these in a few years, but I’d love for them to put them back on the menu.  In the meantime, I’ll have to make them myself with a recipe I made up based on my memory of these amazing little morsels.  Amounts of ingredients will vary depending on how ambitious you want to be.
{Stuffed Olives}
Ingredients
  • Extra large green olives in a jar (without pimiento if you can find them, otherwise remove pimientos)
  • Pulled Pork
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Panko
  • Oil for deep frying (You should use an oil with a high smoke point, so olive oil is out.  I like safflower oil, because of its neutral flavor and 509˚ smoke point.
Directions
Drain olives and remove any stuffing (pimientos, almonds, olives, etc).  Let them air on a layer of paper towels for a few minutes until mostly dry.
Stuff small amounts of pulled pork into the pit hole (this amount will vary based on the size of the olive).
When all of the olives have been stuffed, you’ll begin the breading process. (This part was taken from
Breading:
The standard breading procedure includes three steps: dredging in flour, moistening in egg wash (beaten egg plus a tablespoon or two of water or milk), then coating in breadcrumbs like Panko. Doing it this way ensures the breading actually sticks to the food instead of falling off in the hot oil.
Figure out what direction you’re most comfortable working in, whether that’s right-to-left or left-to-right. Then arrange three dishes in that order: the flour first, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs. My preference is left-to-right, but any number of variables, including how your kitchen is configured, might make the other way preferable for you.

Dredge the Item in Flour, Transfer to the Egg Wash, Toss in Seasoned Bread Crumbs

With your left hand (assuming you’re working left-to-right), dredge or roll the item in flour and shake off any excess. Your left hand is going to be your “dry hand,” while your right hand is going to be your “wet hand.” So when you transfer the item to the egg wash dish, try not to get your left hand wet. Otherwise, when you go to dredge the next item in flour, you’ll make a big mess.
Now, when you go to remove the item from the egg wash, switch hands. Use your wet hand (your right hand) to take the item out of the egg wash, let any excess egg drip off, and then transfer it to the dish with the bread crumbs. Toss it in the bread crumbs until it is thoroughly coated. Now repeat the steps for all the items to be breaded.I like to season the Panko with salt as well as herbs and spices appropriate for whatever I’m cooking.

Chill for 15 Minutes
Chilling helps the breading really take hold. What happens is that the flour sticks to the food, and the egg wash sticks to the flour. Finally, the bread crumbs stick to the egg wash.When you’re done, make sure you discard any leftover breading ingredients, especially the breadcrumbs that have had raw egg in them.

Fry in Hot Oil Until Golden Brown

Fill a heavy-bottomed sauté pan {or a Dutch Oven!}with enough oil to come about halfway up the side of the thing you’re frying. Use safflower oil or another high-heat oil. Heat the oil until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when tossed in. If your pan is small, fry in batches rather than overcrowd the pan.

Fry for a minute or two, until golden brown on the bottom. Then flip and repeat. Drain on paper towels and serve. Yum.

Things I like to make in my Dutch Oven(s): Volume 1

Oddly enough, I’ve received a Dutch Oven each Christmas for the last two years.

The first one is a Lodge 6 quartz enameled cast iron version in Caribbean Blue.  This one was from my mom.

 

The following year (2010), my sister bought me a Martha Stewart Collection enameled cast iron Dutch Oven in Green Apple.

I wonder if someone will get me another one this year….I do have a 3 quart casserole sized one on our wedding registry…..and I would like to try a seasoned version with little legs on it to cook in a campfire.

Anyway….it came up a few weeks ago that a friend of mine had bought the same green Dutch Oven as I had, but has been at a loss for what to make in it.  So, I thought it would be fun to post recipes for my favorite things to cook in my Dutch Ovens.  The first recipe happens to be the one I’m making tonight: Pioneer Woman’s Simple, Hearty White Chili.  I’ve made this chili about a half dozen times, and it always surprises me how wonderful it is, and how long it lasts.  Matt and I can live off this chili for at least 3 days, and my easily bored tastebuds don’t even complain.  Trust me, you’ll want to try this!

{Simple, Hearty White Chili} Adapted from the original recipe by Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond)

Prep Time: 25 Minutes  |  Cook Time: 2 Hours  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Servings: 8+

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Fryer Chicken, Cut Up (or 3 Cups Cooked Chicken – I usually use boneless skinless breasts)
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 whole Cans Green Chilies, Chopped (I like Hatch fire roasted diced green chilies, and I use 2 4 oz cans – it saves a step)
  • 1 pound Dried Great Northern Beans, Rinsed
  • 8 cups Chicken Broth (I like to use Better Than Bouillon stock base for this)
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced (optional)
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoons Paprika
  • ½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt To Taste
  • White Pepper, To Taste
  • 1 cup Whole Milk (yes, it should really be full fat)
  • 2 Tablespoons Masa (corn Flour) OR Cornmeal (I like to use fine ground blue cornmeal here)
  • Grated Monterey Jack, To Taste (I tend to use Tilamook’s Mexican blend of cheddar and pepperjack for this)
  • Sour Cream For Garnish
  • Cotija Cheese For Garnish
  • Cilantro For Garnish
  • Guacamole (optional)
  • Pico De Gallo (optional)
  • Corn Tortillas (warmed)

Preparation Instructions

Cover chicken with water and boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove meat from bones, if necessary. Set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add chopped green chilies, then rinsed beans. Pour chicken broth into the pan. Add sliced jalapenos, if using. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place lid on pot and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 2 hours or until beans are done. Halfway through the cooking process, add 3 cups of cooked chicken.

When beans are tender, mix milk with masa (or cornmeal) and pour into the chili. Cook for an additional ten minutes to thicken. Check seasoning and adjust, adding cayenne pepper and paprika if desired.

Add some Monterey Jack cheese to the pot and stir to melt.

Serve chili in a bowl. Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, extra cheese—even pico de gallo and guacamole, if you have some on hand. Roll up warm corn tortillas and serve on the side of the bowl.

30/30, revised

I’ve been occasionally checking my 30 things to do before I turn 30 post, and realizing that some of them are going to be really hard to cross off.  I’m revising my original list here, as I think of new items, because all of the old items that said “do this once a week” or “try to do this every day” are not huge goals – they’re more little things that I should learn how to do before I’m officially in lower middle-age.

Hopefully this list will be more fun to cross items from! It’s a work in progress.

1. Get married (and all of the projects that go with that…)

2. Blow glass
3. Learn to embroider
4. Try raw oysters  Done! I tried a few at Balthazar in NYC with Preston, Asa and Ylva. Pretty good, actually!
5. Visit Prince Edward Island
6. Eat mussels  Done!  I tried Penn Cove Mussells on 4/16/11 at the Useless Bay Cafe in Langley, WA.  They were awesome, served with crusty bread and a creamy poblano/cilantro sauce.
7. Get a promotion at work
8. Get a new tattoo
9. Sew a dress
10. Read the Stig Larsson trilogy (One down, 2 to go!)
11. Post at least 5 items in my Etsy store.
12. Identify at least 100 different species (total) of birds on various birding trips (I’m up to 64!)
13. Learn how to make herbal tea from my homegrown herbs.
14. Visit New York City Done!  I visited from 3/16-3/21!
15. Start collecting glass art We’re test-driving our first Sonja Blomdahl vessel, making room for some April Surgent wall panels, and starting work on the project that will get us a piece of Preston Singletary!
16. Organize and downsize junk in the craft room
17. Organize and downsize junk in the pantry It’s getting there…
18. Start saving in an IRA
19. Visit Montreal
20. Learn enough basic French to feel comfortable in Montreal
21. Store printed photos in a meaningful way
22. Take Matt out to eat at Giacomo’s in Boston, on my birthday
23.  Apply for a business license
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.

7 facts about me you might not know

I got tagged by another blogger for one of these navel-gazing posts.  I think they’re fun, and like to do them every so often to see how things have changed. I’m not going to tag anyone – but if you like this and end up doing one yourself, please leave the link in the comments!

1. The movie I have seen the most times in my life is either Romancing the Stone or Pillow Talk.

I actually own all three movies that Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito made together, though this one is by far my favorite.  I loved it as a kid, but now I get the drug references and sex jokes.  Awesome.

Pillow Talk is a movie I’ve seen about 100 times.  I would always watch it when it came on cable and has definitely inspired much of my interior decorating taste.  I’m a lifelong Doris Day fan, but my favorite character in this one has got to be Tony Randall….he makes everything amazing. Also, I loved it as a kid, but now I get the drug references and sex jokes.

2.  I collect lots of things.  Here are some of my favorite collections:

  • sand from beaches and deserts I’ve visited
  • tarnished silverplate pieces from thrift stores
  • engraved glass dishes
  • vintage furniture in bad shape to makeover/reupholster
  • semi-precious stone pendants (most of them were made by my grandpa)
  • nicknacks of camels
  • vintage Japanese vinyl (I only have a few records, but they are amazing)
  • pretty fabric for projects I rarely have time for
  • vintage silk scarves
3.  A lot of people know I love to cook, and that I’m a total food nerd.  Well, I’ve loved the idea of cooking (and the cooking supplies in pretty catalogs and shops, and reading cookbooks) since I was about 9.  I would have to put myself on the bus in the morning to go to school, and the only thing worth watching on TV while eating breakfast was on PBS – The Great Chefs series.  I’d watch it for about 20 minutes every morning, but knew that when they started on the desserts, it was time to walk down the hill to the bus stop.  I think this might have something to do with why I always forget to make dessert when I have people over for dinner, and why if you want dessert you should probably bring it.
Also,  I didn’t actually start seriously cooking until the spring of 2007, when I was unemployed due to Mono/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I had nothing else better to do (aside from job hunt) for 6 months, and so started cooking to keep busy.  The cookbook that inspired me: Young and Hungry by Dave Lieberman.  I was randomly in Sur La Table and it caught my eye….not because he’s cute or anything.  😉
4.  I hate wearing socks.
I think it’s from living in Southern California for 3 years and not owning socks the whole time.
Living in Western Washington does not allow for a sockless existence, and I’m still a little bitter about it.  I love when May comes and I can feasibly go sockless for nearly 4 months.
5.  I’m kind of a flibberty-gibbet/scatterbrain/ditz.  I’m terrible with remembering names, how to play cardgames, how to knit or crochet, whether I’ve taken my meds in the morning, etc.  I lose earrings constantly (I’ve changed all the ear hooks to leverbacks and clip pairs together to help mitigate this).  I regularly forget to eat, although I’m hypoglycemic and cranky if I don’t.  When I was 4, I thought the lyric’s to Madonna’s Material Girl were “I’m a Cheerio Girl.”  I didn’t learn the real lyrics until I was 12.  I call our cat “Chicken.”  He hates it, but I can’t stop.
6.  My favorite smells:
  • pavement in the desert (especially in Eastern Washington) within the first 5 minutes after it starts to rain.
  • tomato leaves
  • Arthur’s fur
  • Maker’s Mark
  • rosemary
    My least favorite smells:
  • Linden tree blossoms
  • mushrooms
  • sugar beet refineries
  • lilies
  • low tide
7.  My dream cars:
1970 Chevrolet El Camino
1967 Volvo P1800 Coupe
An Australian-style Ute, like the Ford Falcon, or the Holden Ute SS.
Ford Transit Connect (this would be so handy on camping trips or when building stuff!)

Personality test

“Quiet and very self-assured, you tend to keep your own council. Pragmatic and practical to a fault, you are not one to worry about the finer points of philosophical discourse. In fact, because you are very much an individualist, you often finds yourself at odds with the established truth or the wishes of the majority. You will often earn the wrath of an employer by taking upon yourself decisions which are rightly those of your manager. You are not one to take credit unless it is deserved. Similarly however, you will also not happily give credit where it is not due. In a romantic relationship you can be very frustrating. While you do care deeply and sincerely, and are willing to work at a relationship, your confidence in your own abilities can on occasion make it difficult to see the world from a partner’s point of view. Quiet and stoic at times, you can drive a more emotional individual completely up the wall. You can become overstressed and fatigued without knowing it. Taking time to rest between bouts of hard work can help to prevent a breakdown later on.”

Holy crap.  This one got me to a T.  Not what I would have expected from a test asking which shape knows your secret or can hear you breathing.

Pierly / Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic—take the test here. Via Freckle-Farm.