Monday, September 28, 2009

She's A Machine!

For those of you who don't know me, I can be rather...stubborn. Mostly I just fixate. To the point of being completely unrealistic. Once I find something I want to do, I'm very impatient to do it, even when there's no way it can be done. Take, for example, the oodles of recipes for breads, cakes, scones, etc. I filed in my "OMG, delicious, must make it ASAP!" folder last week. I knew I wouldn't have time to bake them all, but I was maybe a might bit overzealous when I set my mind to making what I made. Not that I object to spending all weekend in the kitchen and dirtying every dish that I own. On the contrary, that's a weekend well spent! But I had all these pesky other things that kept taking up my time. I managed to get my weekly trips to Costco, Trader Joe's, Jimbo's, and Ralph's out of the way rather early on Saturday. I even managed to stop by CPK to pick up their Moroccan chicken salad for lunch. Have you tried it? It's seriously to die for. Here's the description on their website (uh, with my commentary thrown in):

"Moroccan-spiced chicken breast (it is super flavorful so it doesn't taste like icky ol' chicken) with crisp Romaine lettuce, roasted butternut squash (melts in your mouth like butter), Medjool dates (OMG, yes), fresh avocado (gives any salad +10 to yummy) , toasted almonds (oh man), fresh beets (I may need a moment alone), chopped egg, carrots, dried cranberries and red bell peppers. Tossed with our champagne vinaigrette (as in, not a heavy cream dressing!)."

Also, I need to mention that there's no CPK in Reno. Can you believe that? I was telling my mom all about this great salad when we were there a few weeks ago an
d she lamented that she wouldn't be able t
o try it anytime soon. It's cruel CPK! Las Vegas is not the only city worth visiting in this hot and dusty state!

Ahem, anyways. I just had a lot of other things to do, like buying running shoes that wouldn't give the tops of all my toes blisters, going to Fry's to check out LCD Sony tvs in person so we could find out things like the fact that their XBR9 series is totally different if you buy smaller than 40" (who even needs 240 Hz anyway?), and being social by going out to dinner with friends. Ugh, see this is why I try and have no life. We were gone for 4 hours last night! I could have made scones in 4 hours! Of course, if I have no friends then I have no one to give my baked goods to so that I don't get fat.'s definitely a balance.

All those random thoughts aside, I managed to cook and bake an unbelievable amount of food this weekend. I was a machine! The food terminator, sent back in time to make sure all the food I overbought at th
e store on Saturday morning got cooked and didn't go to waste. In the interest of readability (because this post is long and I haven't even linked one recipe yet), I'm going to do two posts. Today I'll just talk about the baked goods. That's the good part anyway, right?
  • Banana bread, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Thursday left me with quite the quandary. There were three bananas that were too ripe to eat with my cereal for breakfast (which left me feeling very sad because while fujis are delicious with my cereal, bananas just taste right.). They had turned so fast that I knew if I waited for the weekend, they would become too gross to eat, which would have been unconscionable. So I did something drastic. I baked banana bread on a weeknight. I know! Usually my day is so full with working and giving Theo attention and giving Husband attention and giving myself attention (in the form of a nice long walk, followed by a nice, long, hot shower before bed) that there's just no room for anything besides reheating. Thankfully banana bread is a godsend. You just mush, mix, and bake! Easy! Not to mention delicious. It got that sweet caramelized crust around the edges that was dangerously delicious. This bread was good, not to mention it's a fantastically easy and delicious way to use up bananas that are past their prime, but I actually liked the zucchini bread I made a few weeks ago far far better. Then again, I have a weakness for cardamom. And of course, that didn't stop me from eating about a third of it in one fell swoop. I'd be open to trying other banana bread recipes, but I thought this one was good. I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose flour just to make it a smidge better.
Aside: how cute is little Jacob? He's adorable. But am I a horrible person for already feeling neglected? Yes? Ok, well now that's cleared up.
  • Apple butter, courtesy of and then I do the dishes (the recipe is about halfway down the post). Am I a moron for thinking apple butter had butter in it? I am? Ok, well now that we've cleared that up. This apple butter, at least, is just apples and spices, so don't let the name fool you. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I got. Not in a bad way though. This is kind of like apple sauce, but finer and less watery (and less watery = good). It's like concentrated apple sauce, so it takes on an almost candy-like quality. It's delicious. The spices add a comforting, fall flavor that almost makes me forget that fall where I live consists of 90 degree intensely sunny days. This recipe makes an obscene amount of apple butter. I ate it on pita crackers for a snack yesterday. The picture accompanying with the recipe with a bit spread over a baguette looks fantastic. But I've already discovered my preferred method of ingestion. Picture it! My kitchen, this morning! Greek style yogurt, orange blossom honey, and a few spoonfuls of apple butter. Mixed together it is heaven in my mouth. Seriously. I don't know if I can eat yogurt another way again. This could be a bad thing. Hm. I would half the recipe next time. It made...well I have no idea how much, but it was one of my big tupperwares! Eyeballing, I'd say maybe enough for 4 mason jars worth? More than I can eat without seriously trying to finish it in a timely manner. Anyone know of fun ways to eat massive amounts of apple butter?
  • Chocolate Armagnac cake, courtesy of and then I do the dishes. I'll just admit first thing that this recipe probably would never have caught my eye were it not for the notion that I would get to light alcohol on fire, a.k.a. flambe! And also, this cake has prunes! Husband was skeptical, but I told him to shut the heck up and he would eat whatever I told him to I knew, like the Nutella incident, once he had chocolate in front of his face, he wouldn't be a problem. Of course, I was right. The prunes are chopped up small and obliterated during the cooking, so texture-wise, you're not eating fruit bits, and they add really great flavor. I'm curious what I would think of this cake if I didn't know there were prunes in it. I think they add a sweet depth of flavor that keeps the cake from tasting dry and boring. I used whiskey because that's what I had on hand (Husband is a whiskey man), and I have to say, the ignited alcohol went off without a hitch! It was awesome to sit back and watch the flames while the alcohol cooked away (which took quite awhile actually). My facebook friend says there's something theatrically satisfying about it. I think that sums it up perfectly. Husband was very alarmed when he learned I had done this without him standing by with the fire extinguisher. (He inspected my face to make sure I still had my eyebrows.) I'm actually surprised he lets me turn on the stove by myself. This may sound ridiculous or offensive, but it might not if you had been around for some of my dumber moments in life, as he has been. And also, our stove is temperamental. We've both singed our knuckle hairs off in the past. Ahem, back to the cake. This cake actually reminds me a lot of a flourless chocolate torte my mom makes for passover. Except this one has flour. But just a scant quarter cup. It tasted rich and decedent without being dry or heavy. And the glaze? Well it's chocolate, butter, and sugar, so...what's not to like? I don't think I'll make this regularly by any means. But I'll definitely file it away for a time when I need a quick chocolate cake. Really, everything came together very fast.
Can you believe we're not even to Sunday, the main cooking day yet? I need to gather my strength for that post. It's going to take a lot out of me. And believe it or not, I actually took some pictures yesterday. And I might take one or two more tonight! So check back for pictorial evidence of this gastronomic endeavor! Are you blind? They're there!

Have I mentioned how much I love fall foods? Just wait until I amass my pumpkin recipes! Oh boy!


Diana Mo' said...

fry's is still in existence?

i too feel neglected by smitten kitchen. maybe all her fans can pool their money and hire her a nanny?

JuLo said...

lol! Yes, Fry's is still there and going strong. They've got the market cornered on computer, ugh, subcomponents I guess they might be called? People who build their own shop there (though really mostly online).

Dude, I would totally chip in $5 for a new recipe, $10 for something non-dessert related, and $20 for something involving pumpkin, butternut squash, or figs. Though really I don't want the figs because they still cost like $5 for a tiny container here. Poop!