Thursday, December 31, 2009

project.



antiques.

hello.
goodbye, 2009.
2010 is going to be
a BIG one!

i'm really not one to make new year's resolutions, but i've kind of committed to this project 365 thing -- documenting my everyday by taking and posting a photo a day. it's going to be an exciting year for me, filled with weddings and trips and new people and new family, and i hope this project will help me to continue focusing on the simple things. i'll be posting the photos on my flickr account, with a few showing up here every now and then i'm sure.

can't wait to watch the year unfold
through the lens.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions.

eggs + rice. comfort.

Some days I think I'm going to fall apart. Just like that. And over silly things, too -- like driving with a bag of fast food value meals in the passenger's seat after a few hours of shopping, only to come home and realize they forgot the fries. Or having a mini breakdown just days before Christmas because Whoops, I forgot to start shopping. Or you know, accidentally deleting more than half of the photos on my blog because I messed with the privacy settings without thinking.

That last one really got to me, and I even considered just starting over. And a small part of me, a very small, itty bitty part, thought of quitting altogether. I started wondering if I would even keep up with the blog for another year, or another month, at the rate I'm going with cooking and posting regularly. Just thinking about the lack of recipes and motivation and inspiration around these parts made me feel pretty lousy.

taco night.

But I can't do it. I can't just pick up and leave, and never take another picture of my breakfast or have a dorky photo shoot with a vegetable or share my new favorite food to roast with lemon. In a little more than a year, my blog has shown me how to look with fresh eyes. To see through the lens of a camera and enjoy the simplicity of fresh ingredients. To sit down and write after a day of staring at a computer for eight hours and to still love it. I've even met some great people along the way. I can't just pick up and leave.

leftovers.

And I'd be lying if I told you I haven't come across any blog-worthy food recently. There was taco night, when I came home after working out to find bowls of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro lining the counter and a fiance browning meat on the stove. There were Thanksgiving leftovers, and I know that it was weeks ago, but I finally got the photos developed last weekend and doesn't that heaping plate of food look so good?

Oh, and there's the scrambled eggs. With tomatoes and onions and rice. Because on those days when I feel like I'm hanging on by a thread, something as simple and familiar as eggs can always keep me going.

If you click around, you'll notice that the photos have been re-posted. It took a few hours, which was less than what I had expected, and once I got into the zone it actually wasn't so bad. I also ended up deleting a large chunk of posts, after going through and deciding they no longer fit with the tone and style that I've settled into. I guess you could say I've cleaned up around here, so have a seat if you'd like. I even made some eggs for you.

morning prep.

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Onions
My dad is still the best when it comes to making these, and they're probably my favorite way to eat scrambled eggs. I might've stumbled into my parents' kitchen on some Saturday mornings to find a plate of these leftovers on the counter, and maybe I ate them plain and cold while standing over them hungrily. It's very possible.

3 eggs, beaten with a glug of milk
Half a tomato, chopped
A bit of chopped onion
Butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper

Melt some butter or heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook about 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 3 more minutes. Pour the eggs over the tomato onion mixture and let the bottom set, then scramble a bit until they reach the desired consistency. I like mine pretty firm. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with leftover white rice, or maybe some toast.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

repeat.


his last comment
made me very glad
i took so many pictures
of our bed.

Please meet Ella. And have some bacon, too.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to skip the part where I explain my absence around here and just get straight to the point: I have a new niece. Her name is Ella Camille and she was born just yesterday. I won't meet her for another two months, but I love her already.

ella
photo taken by Ella's daddy, Matt

She arrived into the world in a hospital somewhere near Oakland, California, while the snow and rain came down hard here in Chicago to form a deep slush. She's a California baby, and, like her big sister, she'll grow up eating seaweed salad and tofu dogs, and live in a house with a lemon tree outside the window and the beach just two hops away.

Did I mention that it's snowing here? I know it's not snowing in California, but I kind of like the fact that Ella was born on a day when it snowed. Because as much as I hate it, there's something special about that first snowfall. We wait for it once Thanksgiving is over, and although we're expecting it, it still comes as somewhat of a surprise. And for days, weeks, months, that's all anyone can really talk about. It's a big deal around here.

And Ella is certainly a big deal, so it only makes sense that she and snow make their first arrival together. Welcome to the world, Ella, and here's to family and warm blankets and big sisters and snowy birthdays and a life of a million firsts.

I know it doesn't tie in as smoothly as some might like, but I hope you'll accept this recipe for bacon and shrimp linguine. I've been meaning to post it for some time but just never got around to it. I'd say the birth of a new niece calls for celebration, and what better way to celebrate than eating some bacon?

Congrats to Michelle and Matt and Mira!

bacon + shrimp linguine

Bacon + Shrimp Linguine
This recipe is very, very loose. As in, I haven't made it in a few weeks and never really wrote down the recipe or measured anything so I'm just kind of guessing as I write. But you get the main idea.

1/2 lb linguine
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
1/2 lb jumbo shrimp, or a couple handfuls, peeled, deveined and cut in half
4-6 slices of bacon, diced
1 tbs tomato paste
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
salt, pepper, and whatever Italian seasoning you have
olive oil, maybe

Boil a pot of water and cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside. I usually like to toss with a bit of olive oil so the pasta doesn't stick together as it cools.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate and dispose of about half of the bacon grease. Add half the garlic and all of the shrimp to the skillet and cook until pink and tender, flipping halfway through. Set aside with the bacon. Add some olive oil if necessary and the rest of the garlic and the chopped onion. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and seasonings and cook 10 minutes, until sauce thickens a bit. Mix in tomato paste a little at a time until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Let simmer a few minutes more before adding the cooked linguine, shrimp and bacon. Toss until well coated and serve immediately.

Serves 2 with plenty of leftovers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

blue.


my sister's getting married, too.
and look at that!
she already has
her something blue.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

home.




when it's cold outside
i stay in
and take lots of pictures
of stuff i look at and see and use and pass by
every day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

first.


oh my. it's december! and there's no snow on the ground!
this photo was taken the day after thanksgiving
on a walk with my sister and dad.
there was no snow on the ground that day, either.
it will come, though.
winter, i mean.
and when it does, well,
i will take lots of photos of snow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving thanks.

I'll be honest with you: I wasn't horribly excited about Thanksgiving this year.

Maybe it was because the food wasn't particularly new or exciting -- with the exception of one dish and the dessert, we were having the same menu as last year.


Or maybe because it was another holiday without my sister and brother-in-law and niece in California. We all miss them.
turkey rub.

But once we gathered around the kitchen, and the pie crust was rolled out and hands were covered in butter and the sizzle of garlic hit the pan, all the excitement came back.
carving.
mom and dad.
dessert.
a good meal.
Because how could you not get excited about a holiday that focuses merely on comfort and company and one large, relaxing meal to kick of the chaos of the holidays?
it's beginning.
And so it begins.

[For non-food food photos of my Thanksgiving, visit my photo blog, Simply Jack. For all of my Thanksgiving photos, visit my Flickr.]

holiday.


mom's threads.
tis the season.
good morning.
walk it off.
how i spent my thanksgiving.
oh, and there was food, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

michigan.





i'd never seen michigan in november until just last weekend.
it was sunny.
but the sky was gray, and the trees were bare, and the water so still.
i really love that last picture
of boots and stairs.
just looking at it makes me happy.
not bad for a roll of expired film from ebay.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I'll be eating on my wedding day.

I'm trying hard not to focus too many posts on wedding plans, because I really don't want to bore you with all the nitty gritty details and after all, this is a food blog, not a wedding blog. But since my spare moments have become consumed with making appointments for dress shopping and confirming times for menu tastings and gathering addresses for save-the-dates and putting together a wedding website, well, it's really all I have to talk about right now. So a wedding post is what you get.

Let's rewind a bit. Did I mention a menu tasting up there? Oh yes I did.

When you're planning a wedding in Michigan and you live in Illinois, things can get a bit complicated. The time difference, for example. Though the lake house where the ceremony and reception will take place is a mere three hours away from where we live, it's in a whole different time zone. So when I make an appointment for a menu tasting at 12:30, we're really meeting at 11:30, which means salmon, beef, and bacon-wrapped shrimp for breakfast. Not that I'm complaining.

wedding menu tasting!

One thing the caterer mentioned as we had our morning supper was that at many weddings, the waitstaff ends up clearing away full plates from the bride and groom. As in, the bride and groom don't even get a chance to eat. And I understand that it's a big day and all and there are hundreds of people to say hello to and photos to be taken and all of that but I promise you one thing: I will be eating at my wedding. As long as there is grilled salmon marinated in lemon and thyme, perfectly tender and juicy beef tenderloin, roasted rosemary potatoes, and those lovely grilled veggies in front of me, please don't disturb me. A bride needs to eat, ya know.

wedding menu tasting!

In other wedding updates, we're planning on putting up a big white tent next to the house, with white paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and tables decorated with apples, baby's breath, and candles held in mason jars. We're thinking of holding the ceremony at the dock, with a perfect view of sparkling water and autumn-tinted trees and (please please please!) blue skies.




These visions are simply jumbled images floating around my head right now, and in the dreary gray of November, can be somewhat difficult to see clearly. But it's all coming together, and with the amount of work already put into it, I just hope I get a chance to stop and breathe in and appreciate it all once the big day comes -- from every forkful of my meal to each glowing candle to his smile when we say "I do."

Monday, November 16, 2009

right now.

salsa.
i'm sitting on one side of the couch, laptop in lap.
he sits on the other, reading a book.
and between us is a curled up kitty, snoring.
that picture of salsa really has nothing to do with much
but oh well.
i just felt the need to share
something, anything.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Change it up. With butternut squash and black beans.

Call me dull, but I find comfort in routine. Rushing out the door every day to fresh, crisp air and morning light, coming home every night at the same time and wondering what to have for dinner, settling into my corner of the couch for the rest of the evening, often with a fat cat resting on my chest.

This need for routine comes with colder weather and darker days, when going outside seems almost pointless once 5 o'clock hits, and all I want to cook are familiar foods with familiar ingredients that are simple, easy, and comforting.



And then someone hands me a butternut squash, a vegetable not completely unfamiliar but one I've never cooked with. My experiences with squash involve me as a very little girl, eating a Filipino dish called pinakbet, and squashing the squash with my tongue and the roof of my mouth -- amazing my parents by making it vanish without even chewing! I don't do that anymore, but I still think of it every time I see a butternut squash.

Butternut squash soup immediately came to mind and was promptly suggested when I asked what to do with it, but I just couldn't bring myself to make something so plain and boring. I found a recipe that combined squash with black beans and I found it interesting and different and just went with it.

I wasn't entirely excited about the dish and kind of expected it to turn out a bit bland. But who knew that squash and black beans make a wonderful combination of flavors? Add kale to the mix, and you've got another color, texture, and nutrient to play with. A welcome change to my menu of routine.



Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Kale
(adapted from Bon Appétit)
This recipe calls for chili powder and cumin, which I used, but not in the measurements suggested because I don't like too much heat. My dish ended up not spicy at all, which was fine, because the butternut squash was flavorful enough for me. When it comes to spices, I always suggest adding what you're comfortable with and adjusting as you go along.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes in juice
3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped kale (Original recipe called for Swiss chard, which I wanted to use just for the gorgeous color, but the bunches at my market were gross. So I went with kale, which added a nice bite-y texture to the soft squash and black beans. I'm sure any green will do just fine.)

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash and stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Add black beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices, and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Add kale and simmer until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve.