Feb 25 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/25/2013

Pear & ginger is a combination that makes my heart happy. For a good month in the first year of our marriage, B and I went on a pear-ginger kick. We made pear-ginger pancakes. Pear-ginger waffles. That might have been the extent of the kick but we knew that the flavors worked well together.
So when I was thinking about what to bake for tomorrow, I flipped through a binder we have of recipes and came across one I’ve done once before, a pear ginger bundt cake that incorporates a ginger syrup and utilizes crystalized ginger. I thought it would be a not-too-sweet option. Here is is from HuffPo.


Four things.

Why doesn’t any spell check recognize bundt? Makes me anxious.

Chopping crystallized ginger is like cutting a live jellyfish. It recoils and wiggles and moves. I do not like it.

Be sure to cool the ginger syrup thoroughly before adding it to the egg/milk/oil mixture. I forgot why again this time but put it in the freezer for a few moments anyway. Then, as I added I had the realization that scalding hot syrup dumped into raw eggs is a recipe for one nasty scramble. Hey, dodged bullet, nice to see you.

HOW THE HECK do you get a bundt cake to dump the cake without leaving a cake limb, a cake eye, and a piece of my soul stuck to the f’in pan? I greased it. I scraped. I jiggled. I know there is a trick. I just want to know it already.


I hope you can tell what a Frankensteined mess this thing is. I actually cut a third of it out and decided I’d present it like a rainbow. And then realized that was absurd. So I smashed it back in. Lord.

Apr 17 2012

Recipe Lesson: Half A Can Per Person

After posting about the soup exchange I committed to actually, you know, exchanging some soup. We had some neighbors (non-exchangers) over for dinner one evening and one mentioned sweet potato chili. My ears, they did perk up.

Since our exchange skews vegan I rubbed my greedy little virtual paws all over the recipe when it pinged on in my inbox. I got up early (weeks later) to get some writing done to carve out some time to make some soup. And soup was made. A glorious, hearty chili with dried chipotle spice and diced sweet potatoes sweeting things up.

The only problem? Not enough friggin soup.

There are four families. 14.5 people total (sorry, Loie is still not fully full in terms of her eating potential). In the past I’ve trebled recipes and had more than a-plenty. And by in the past, I mean the two times I did this before.

This time I doubled it because the sweet potatoes looked more medium small than the medium large desired. The result? Enough for two families. For a moment I humored three freaky small portions and thought Brett&I could play the martyrs and deliver soup while eating (hey now!) Thai take out. But I spooned and ladled into the various soup delivery vessels in my charge and it was laughable.

To be fair, there were no sizing or portion recommendations on the recipe. I just went with my past over-souping tendencies and made the jump.

Because I like to believe there are fundamental truths out there that I discover through trial and error all on my own (por ejemplo: one pepper equals half an onion in volume when chopped), I offer you this truth: half a can of beans per person. The double batch used 4 cans and could comfortably feed 8 people. I needed a 8-caner. Next time Sweet Potato Chili, next time.

Here’s the recipe, which again, is delish. Just count your beans.

Apr 5 2012

Soup Exchange, Explained.

I read in Kiwi magazine about a group of moms who exchange meals. Once a month they each cook enough for all four families. So, a herculean effort one night yields three nights of freedom.┬áNow, I’m about about community. But DANG that’s a lot of cooking. Like four roast chickens? Yikes.

I thought about how I could do this on a lazier scale and realized I could blame Chicago winters and a friend’s dietary preference to make a soup exchange. Who doesn’t love a warm soup on a cold wintry day (minus the fact that we basically lived in Miami this winter)? And, because one of my dearests is vegan, we thought it would be a good opportunity for all of us to eat super healthy once a week.

Four families have now been working on a neighborly soup exchange. One a month we make a gigantic batch of soup, usually doubling a recipe for the four families (8 parents, six soup-eating kids under the age of five, our babe who is a total crapshoot food wise).

The rules are: A family claims a week. A reusable jar/container is dropped off or picked up. A soup is made. Then, it is delivered. Sometimes desserts or fresh baked bread accompany said soup. We all tell each other we’re amazing cooks. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

It’s been a wonderful way to open myself up to things like….kale! Who knew? And it’s pushed us all to try a new recipe here and there. And it’s been a really lovely way to build community in our tiny enclave of Skunk Hollow.
We fell off the wagon, oooph, recently due to the very rich lives of those involved but the email declaration of intent for tomorrow’s sweet potato and black bean soup went out from this girl yesterday. And, I’m already thinking about a gazpacho exchange for summer!