Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quinoa and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Last night I dreamed I was on a reality cooking show.

Gordon Ramsay was my judge. It wasn't pretty. I don't remember the details, but I think I pushed them out of my mind pretty quickly when I woke up.

I know there was some sort of a challenge, and it involved cooking meat. And I knew I was supposed to taste everything, but I just couldn't bring myself to, even though I knew it meant failure.

Gordon was not impressed. He didn't seem to see a place for vegetarians in his cooking show. Initially I assumed I was making up his disdain for vegetarians, but a quick google search revealed otherwise. Google "Gordon Ramsay and Vegetarians" and the first headings that come up read like they're from the tabloids.

Macca slams 'stupid' TV chef Gordon Ramsay for anti-vegetarian rant

Why is Gordon Ramsay so vile to vegetarians?

Ramsay's pizza joke outrages vegetarians

Gordon Ramsay's anti-vegetarian pranks

 Within that parade of articles, I was encouraged to see one titled Gordon Ramsay Finally Empathizes with Vegetarians.

And I've got to say, it's about time.

I've been a vegetarian since freshman year of college, and I've played around with being a pescetarian since then. It just so happened that I gave up meat for a trial period, and a few months later I realized I hadn't missed it at all. It might have helped that I was eating three meals a day in my college cafeteria, which also served food in all the New Jersey prisons.

Most recently, I've been playing around with cutting out dairy in my savory cooking.

Here's one incredibly easy recipe I've stumbled across. I love quinoa in everything, and the addition of fresh vegetables from the farmers' market kept me coming back for more. My salad was loaded with corn, zucchini, tomatoes and black beans.

A sneak peek into my new kitchen!
I'm not sure what I would make for Gordon Ramsay if he came over for dinner or if I ever find myself on his reality show again, but I've found plenty of recipes to make for myself. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Much Cleaner Stove and an Amuse Bouche

Imagine showing up to your new apartment and finding a kitchen stove that looked like this:

You can just imagine my reaction.

Luckily (perhaps), I had a week without cooking gas to determine the best way to clean thoroughly caked-on grime off a stove. It was Pinterest to the rescue! Weeks back, when I was less than optimistic about what my new apartment would look like, I had noticed a "clean stove/dirty stove" pin and saved it to my apartment board.

It was a simple fix, really. I combined baking soda and peroxide to make a paste, put the paste on an abrasive cooking sponge, and scrubbed. Most of the grime came off quickly. Some required a little more elbow grease.

I've never really considered myself a clean person, but I'm desperate to make myself one. I could submit as evidence the list of "must-have supplies" my friend Megan compiled for me, my multiple Target bills for cleaning supplies that I didn't know existed a few weeks ago and the fact that I googled "what cleaning product do you use to mop floors?" while I was at the store today.

I also think I've swept my new floors more times than I swept my old apartment last year, and I've only been here a bit more than week. 

Here's a little amuse bouche that tastes as clean and refreshing as my apartment feels to me: a one-bite summer salad.

It amused our palates at the start of the dinner party I threw a few weeks back with the help of McCormick Gourmet. It's a light summer salad with cubed, skinless cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced sugar snap peas, a tiny lemon basil leaf, olive oil, salt and just a sprinkling of McCormick Gourmet Collection Tuscan Seasoning Blend.

I served the salad in Chinese soup spoons, of which I now have ten.

It's not fancy, but sometimes it doesn't need to be.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My New Kitchen and a Panzanella Salad

I'm feeling a little delinquent.

Two weeks, no posts, and it's summer vacation after all.

Even worse, and I'm almost embarrassed to confess it, I've barely been in the kitchen. Unlike last summer, where I used the time to try out new recipes and get a head start on some September blog posts, there's been very little activity.

I've got a good excuse though--my new apartment!

My own apartment.

Where I've had no hot water or gas for cooking. For a week.

And no internet. Having no internet makes blogging really hard.

My first cooking project in my kitchen was this super simple panzanella salad, prepared long before my gas was turned on.

It couldn't be easier. It's a bit ridiculous to even post a recipe. But it's light and healthy, and it makes fantastic use of the abundance of produce that's crowding stands at the farmers' market.

Eating my first meal (that wasn't microwaved) in my new apartment felt just like I wanted it to: relaxing. I could take my time in the kitchen. Then, I could linger at the dinner table for just as long as I wanted, podcast on, without feeling a need to rush so I didn't inconvenience anyone. Just perfect.

Note: Kitchen pictures are coming soon, once the kitchen looks a bit cuter! For now, let's just note that there's room for my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer on the counter, my dishes in the cabinets, and my cookbooks!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I'll admit it.

My posting lately hasn't been what it should be. Let me blame it on attending two work conferences, packing up everything I own (far too early in the case of my kitchen equipment), moving to a new apartment, tucking everything I own away into the closets and bathroom of my new apartment and then departing for a week-long vacation with my family.

Little time to cook, little time to blog.

I'm still on vacation, but I'm reaching out with a question for all of you.

In packing up my things to move to my first solo apartment, I realized I only own ONE pan.

So here's what I'm wondering: What pots and pans should I buy to stock my apartment? I'd love your recommendations on favorite brands or favorite size pots and pans? Do you think it's best to buy a set or to mix and match pieces from different brands? Any advice is appreciated!