Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Cooking and a Little Cleaning

Greetings. I am terrible about keeping up with this blog. I have taken a lot of pictures that I intended to post, but I was just too lazy.

Spring is here (it feels like summer already) and the farmer's market opened a few weeks ago. So, I am again motivated to do some cooking and post about it. My friend Allison and I joined forces last weekend to make some lamb meatballs that we entered in a food competition. We were on a Relay for Life team so the meatball dish was an on-site fundraiser for Relay night as well. We took 2nd place. Below is a picture of our trophy and team mascot, Bubba the sheep. Our team theme was "No Sheep Here: Count Laps Not Sheep." Check out our cute jammies...counting sheep and purple to boot! Several female members of our team were sporting these that night (and morning).

We both made meatballs (a total of about 12 lbs), and she made a lemon rice pilaf and I created a Moroccan-style tomato sauce. It was very delicious. When I'm ready to look at another meatball I'm going to make it again. The meatballs themselves were made from a Cooking Light recipe. Here's the link: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=318994

We made ours with half lamb and half beef to make them more economical. Lamb was about $5/lb. I plan on substituting the mint for oregano and basil and serving these with some spaghetti and marinara sauce.

When the Relay for Life was over about 6:30 am Saturday morning, I had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and was able to stop by the farmer's market right before it opened. I picked up some carrots, Daikon radishes, asparagus, and strawberries.

I've never been a fan of asparagus, but I've read about the magnificence of fresh, spring asparagus so I thought I'd give it another try. I decided to roast them.

I was pleasantly surprised. They were really good. I will buy more next week if they are available. I added them to some whole-wheat spaghetti carbonara with chicken. There is also parmesan cheese, pancetta, cream, mushrooms, and one egg. The asparagus gave it more depth as well as a nutritional boost. It would have been better but I completely forgot to add garlic.

My first thought with the Daikon radishes were to make Korean "kimchee" out of them, so that's just what I did. I added rice vinegar, salt, black pepper, lots of cayenne pepper, garlic, and green onions to the diced radishes and put them in the fridge overnight. I usually do this with cucumbers but I did like the peppery bite of the radishes. Kimchee is usually made of cabbage, of course, but you can create something similar to kimchee out of lots of veggies.

I decided to pickle my carrots as well. I added rice vinegar, powdered ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and stevia to them. They were quite good. Lee and I ate both tonight with some bulgogi. Bulgogi is a popular Korean beef dish that I have yet to perfect. It was still good, though.

We ate it alongside some steamed rice and roasted seaweed. Here's how I made the bulgogi:

I bought some thin-sliced top round beef for like $2 and sliced it into smaller pieces. I then marinated the beef for about 45 minutes in a mixture of these ingredients:

Dr. Pepper
sesame oil
soy sauce
black pepper
touch of salt
touch of powdered ginger
touch of cayenne pepper

I then cooked it in a pan with sliced carrots, a sliced Asian pear, some chopped green onion (only green part), and sesame seeds. It was a refreshing change to normal dinner fare.

Right now I am making chicken stock. I had celery, carrots, and parsley left over from other meals, so I just needed some spices, an onion, and some chicken to make some stock. I'm going to freeze it in ice cube trays.

So, that is what is cooking at my house. Oh, and I did mention there was a little cleaning. Last week I decided to clean the master bath, so I cleared the clutter from the counter, organized the cabinet below the sink, and then cleaned the mirror (the plain almost 5 ft. wide mirror the contractors glued to the wall). I left the room to get cleaner for the countertops when I heard a loud crash. I went in to find that the entire mirror had fallen off of the wall and broken into a zillion pieces. So there was a lot of cleaning that day. I'm just glad I had not been standing there when it fell.

I feel it is a good time to do some redecorating in there now (painting the walls and cabinets, buying new mirror and lighting, etc...). Lee said we aren't going to do anything until I clean up the rest of the house. So, a little more cleaning is in store. At least I have some motivation. I already know how I want to redo it. Stay tuned.