Reign of the Kitchen

It’s so great to be back in the kitchen again. And while I always feel a bit nerdy taking photos of my food, it’s great to be taking pictures of my creations once again.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve eased away from the daily meal of rice and beans. Instead, I have been enjoying baking and cooking things that are not rice and beans.

So here are a few kitchen experiments of the last three weeks.

I brought some shelled, roasted cocoa beans from Costa Rica that I thought I could make into chocolate. It didn’t exactly work as I envisioned…We don’t really have the right kind of machinery, but I was able to grind it up enough and bake some chocolate cookies.

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This ended up being several hours of trial and error. I tried a coffee grinder which got clogged up. Then the blender which still didn’t get the cocoa small enough. I used a rolling-pin which worked well, but took an extremely long time. In the end I dumped the remainder of the cocoa beans into the blender and sifted out the larger bits which I blended again. At this point I had given up on making smooth chocolate, hence the decision to make cookies instead. I did make a few “chocolates,” which had good flavor, but were a bit grainy (make that a lot grainy). The cookies turned out quite well. In fact so well, that they were gifted away/consumed so fast that I have no pictures of them.

And speaking of not having photos, I don’t have photos of the eight perfect bagels I made. The machinery at the local grocery store was down the day my mom and I went to buy bagels. And of course the packaged bagels have a bunch of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. So, I searched for a bagel recipe. I told my mom I was going to make bagels and of course she assumed that it was a lot of work and would take a long time. Actually for a bread product, bagels don’t take much time at all. I had it done from start to finish in about three hours. That includes the rising time. Moral of story: Try baking some bagels. It’s not as hard or time-consuming as it may seem.

I looked up a couple of recipes for stuffed butternut squash and combining the ideas came up with this.

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1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, clean out seeds, season with salt and pepper, brush top with oil and roast skin-side up in oven for about an hour at 375 degrees. For the last twenty minutes roast skin-side down. (To roast faster, cover for first 30 minutes).
2. Cook brown rice at the same time. I cook brown rice in the oven. Basically stove-top directions, just bake in oven for about an hour at 375.
3. Fry a few pieces of bacon. Put aside for later. Leave some bacon grease in the pan and brown some turkey.
4. Sauté sliced onion and mushroom with the turkey (or roast with squash and then add to turkey).
5. Season with salt, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
6. When the squash is done, scoop out flesh and add to the turkey mixture.
7. Mix in rice, chopped scallions, and frozen peas.
8. Add entire mixture to hallowed out butternut squash.
9. On top crumble bacon and parmesan cheese. Put under broiler to melt cheese.

It turned out to be quite a satisfying dinner, but really I should have mixed in the crumbled bacon instead of just putting it on top…Anyway, this is a really easy dinner and so easy to modify a thousand different ways.

I was watching one of my favorite cooking shows, America’s Test Kitchen, and they made something called a fluffy omelet. Seriously, it seemed silly they were doing a whole episode on something as simple as eggs.


But after seeing them make it, I thought I’d try it out. You can find the recipe here. I didn’t make the mushroom filling or use parmesan, just melted some sliced cheddar. It turned out perfectly. It was reminiscent of a cheese soufflé but without all the work. Yum.DSC_0428

That’s it for now. Off to investigate new recipes.


2 thoughts on “Reign of the Kitchen

  1. “several hours of ‘trail’ (trial?) and error”
    Well, I wish I was there to ‘try’ one. And with all that effort at bean grinding, I guess it really was a ‘trail’ of sorts, as well as a trial. (sorry! It’s the former copy editor in me. Gets loose once in a while. )

  2. Well, my irritating habit of proof reading caused a revision? I’ll try to not do that again, or too much.
    (demasiado , mis correciones)
    I have a neighbor here you would enjoy. Rosario (o “Charo”) teaches some kind of cooking classes at a university and has authored a few books on Peruvian cooking. She is friendly and easy to talk with.

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