Monday, February 22, 2010


Got Chickpeas?

Hummus is a filling and great dish for appetizer, side dish, or just as a meal if you want to eat your weight in mass quantities of thick tasty stuff. It's easy, and you don't need tahini for this one, which saves you $7 bucks and space in your fridge where that tahini will sit until next month when you decided to make hummus again.

Half a bag dry chick pea/or/2 cans chick peas
1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1/4 c olive oil
water to add until smooth
Salt and pepper

For dry beans, you have to boil them for a couple hours until tender. Canned, just drain and rinse them. Either way you go, put the beans in a food processor and pulse them. Add the juice of a lemon, the smashed garlic clove, and start the machine. Through the top hatch, drizzle the oil in. Season with salt and pepper. What you want is a smooth churning mixture, so if the oil doesn't do it, drizzle in some water until it's nice and smooth and screamin for pita chips.
For added flavor, you could add tasty cheeses, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, kalamata and green olives, fresh herbs like italian parsley or cilantro, use lime instead of lemon, add tahini if you have it with lime, add cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, or try something else.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pizza Dough

I've been working on making a good wheat pizza dough. I find it's inferior to white flour mainly because there is a lack of gluten and it doesn't rise nearly as much. My second attempt recently came out quite well and it was a tasty dough too. I'll update as I get it better, but for now it's something to try.

1 c wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 c semolina flour
1/3 c flaxseed flour
White flour to knead with

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 packets yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Putting it together:

Sift together all the dry ingredients (not the yeast or sugar though) onto your working surface. It should get mixed that way better than just putting it all in a bowl. It's lighter too. You can put it all through a strainer too if you don't have a sifter device. Make a cavity in the center of the flour for the liquids.
In a bowl, mix all the liquids together with the sugar and the yeast. Wait for the yeast to bloom, which should be obvious. When this happens, start pouring it into the pile of flour. Mix this up as you go until most of the liquid is integrated. When it gets close, start to knead your dough ball with the white flour on your surface. The dough should feel light, poofy, and springy. You'll know it if you have it right. When it's pulled together well and forms a nice ball, spread olive oil over the surface and place the ball in a bowl.
Underneath this, put a heating pad to help the dough rise. After it has doubled in size, punch it down and you can use it, cut it up and save it, or I even have freezed it, though it might not come back as good as when it's fresh.
This will make a lot of pizzas. Roll it out on a floured surface and cook it on a pizza stone, or press it into a big pan with some oil and cook it that way. Either way, do it at about 475 degrees and don't skimp on the cheese.

A Domestic Male should take care of his mind and body

As we work around the house, and keep things clean, cook, and maintain the homestead, it's important to maintain ourselves physically. This year I'm doing my first sprint triathlon. It's a short version of what a full iron man is. A 5k run, half mile swim, and around 15mi bike. Unfortunately I'm broke and can't afford a gym, so I'm working out at home to prepare for this spring's race. I have a treadmill and I do pushups, hand stands, and core exercises. What I find is also great is shoveling snow. I feel like Rocky Balboa running up mountains, and it's turning out to be a great strength workout, and it keeps my driveway usable. So if you want to keep yourself sane in between house chores and making soup, do what you can where you are to keep fit. Below is a great training video. I'm going to go carry a log somewhere.

Rocky Snow Training Video

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Domestic Male seeks organization

As a domestic man, it is expected that we keep a good house and are organized about it as well. Today, I finally put a dresser in my room, and put my clothes in it. Pants are separate from shorts, socks have their own space. Talk about organized!

Tofu stir fry with broccoli

Ingredient: TOFU-FIRM
I believe this tofu was bought a long time ago. It's been sitting on the shelf of the fridge for months, and since I had a great dish at a restaurant in Providence, RI that was tofu, veggies, and curry. Great stuff. The tofu was fried, kind of spongy, and really good. My thought was to do something similar, not curry, but an asian type of thick sauce. I found a few recipe references, and then got to work.

Stir Fry:

Olive oil to sautee
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 package Tofu-firm cut into 1" squares
1 head broccoli cut into bite size pieces
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 onion small onion cut chunky
Ginger, 1x1" piece minced
1 carrot chopped into match sticks
2 celery stalks chopped
6 green onions-roots cut off and white stalk cut in half
-save the green ends chopped for your final garnish
8 oz chopped white mushrooms
1 jalapeno or green chile diced
1/4 c chopped cilantro

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock
A few drops sesame oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch

First thing to do is fry the tofu. What we want to see is golden little pillows of tofu, not crispy, but with more integrity in structure than tofu in the raw. On my first attempt, they stuck to the pan and didn't work out. It still tasted good, but you need hot oil to make this work and don't crowd them in the pan.

Mix your sauce in a separate bowl and set it aside. With the tofu ready and draining on a paper towel, the next step is to start your veggies. Start with some medium high olive oil and sautee the garlic and ginger quickly. This is one minute tops, and stir it the whole time. Next add the onion, broccoli, and chile. From here on out, I put the lid on to steam the veggies as well as fry. Give these a few minutes, and add your mushrooms, carrots, green onion stalks and celery. Toss this all around and give it a few more minutes to steam. Once your veggies are cooked but still firm, you can add your sauce. It should thicken while still on the heat. Once this happens, you can turn it way down. It's done.

Try this on some white rice. You could also use rice noodles or another soft grain. Throw some cilantro on top with the chopped green onion for some fresh kick at the end and enjoy.

Monday, February 15, 2010


New Mexico style baby! Pinto beans with ham chunks. Oh yeah.
These beans were inspired simply by desire. That and some ham hocks that I had. They're simple, and without much knowledge other than observation last year in my roommate's kitchen, I think I nailed down the recipe. They're great. You can eat them straight, with rice, as a dip with chips, or mash them a day later and make a refried bean burrito. Seriously top notch.

1 package of dry pinto beans
A soup pot full of water
1 package of two ham hocks or some kind of real ham with a bone in it
(a real ham bone with leftover meat on it makes your day here)

Olive oil for sautee
4 smashed cloves of garlic
1 onion chopped

3 cubes chicken or beef bouillon
2-3 tbsp Cumin
2-3 tbsp mildish Chile powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Cooking Directions:
Of course you could use good quality stock, or chick broth from a can, I just like how the little cubes give you the salt you want, some flavor, and they take up no space. You probably always have it somewhere in the cupboard, so in a bind, they work well enough.

Start with some garlic and onion in the pot. Sautee that down til it's transparent. You could also add some jalapeno, bell pepper, or other stuff, but really the beans are the main attraction, and this isn't chile con carne, so keep the added stuff to a minimum. At the same time in the same pot I throw in the ham chunks to brown up a bit. Not super important to do that early on, but that browning on the bottom of the pan only adds to the flavor later. When the ham and your veggies are looking good, add the beans and lots of liquid. I fill the pot to an inch or two from the top.

You are going to boil this whole thing for about 4 hours, or until the ham falls apart but the beans are still whole. It thickens itself. As it cooks, adjust your seasoning and add cumin and chile powder to your liking along with the garlic and onion powder. This is a preference thing, but you don't have to be shy with a big pot of beans. You could also add hot sauce, green onions, cilantro. You could always leave out the meat too, but if your a carnivore, please follow these suggestions.

When it's done, like I said, the ham should be tender and falling apart leaving big chunky bits throughout the beans. The bones can be pulled out to save everyone surprise dental work. And then eat up whichever way you see fit. This makes a lot of beans, so use them for a party, re-fry them, eat them for lunch and give some away. I always enjoyed them and never got enough, so it's good that I divined how to do it since I've left New Mexico.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beef Kofta Kebab

Starting Ingredient: Lemon Greek Dressing Mix

When I moved back to Iowa, I took it upon myself to clean off the kitchen counters in my parents house. To make room, I had to clean out the old out of date spices, some of which are old enough to have what I would consider antique containers. I came upon a wealth of mixes, spices, and liquids that I knew would come in handy given the right ingredients. One that hit me was a greek dressing mix, which I used with lemon, olive oil and dijon mustard to make a snazzy dressing that I've been eating on my salads for a week now.

I always see a salad as a companion to a good main course, so I thought I might make a turkish type of kebab. I looked up kofta, dressings, and other stuff, and decided to make a beef kebab, not lamb like the recipes suggested which would make the dish so much richer but also not as good for you. What a came up with was as follows.


Beef Kofta Kebab:
1 lb 80/20 ground chuck
Olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion diced
1 egg
1/2 cup italian breadcrumbs
1 tbsp fennel seed
Some garlic powder
Some onion powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp parsley chopped or flakes
1 tbsp dry mint (*this makes the dish)
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Yogurt Dressing:
1 6 oz. yogurt-plain
1 half lemon juice
A squirt of olive oil
Greek dressing mix (includes basil, oregano, and most importantly mint)

Pita Bread:-grilled

Washed romaine and arugula
Chopped fennel
Kalamata olives
Cherry tomatoes-cut in half
Green pepper-chopped

Greek Salad Dressing:
Olive oil-3 parts
Lemon juice-1 part
White balsamic vinegar-1 part
Greek Dressing Mix-includes dry basil, oregano, mint and parsley

The meal is pretty simple actually. Mix all ingredients in the meat. Form that around metal or soaked wooden skewers. If it's not dry enough, add a little more breadcrumb. This should make 5 to 6 skewers. Grill it til your preferred done-ness.

Combine the yogurt ingredients. Mix and you're done.

Make the salad with everything fresh you have on hand. Salads aren't about certain ingredients, though fresh veggies, a marinated item (olive, tomato, artichoke heart), and a good cheese make every salad a success.

Toast your pita on the grill right when you pull the meat off. You should have some toasty bits on there, but watch to not burn it. Then try not to eat too much since every part of this meal will taste amazing.

Corn Chowder

It's Sunday. Valentines Day 2010. Last night I had a day off, and today my girlfriend is in town, so I want to cook something great. What did I find in the freezer? Corn. A big bag of corn cut from the cob last summer, and frozen waiting for me to find it. This is Iowa, so I knew that this amazing corn would have to be a star in whatever dish I make with it. For me, what's a great way to feature corn? Soup.

8 cups homemade vegetable stock
(celery, garlic, onion, and carrot with whatever else you happen to have)

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of
2-3 cups lowfat milk

4 cups of corn grated from the cob with liquid
5 cloves garlic
Half of 1 large onion, chopped
3 small red potatoes chopped

1 tbsp Dill, dry
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
2 bay leaves
Some shakes of white pepper
Some grinds of fresh black pepper
5 tbsp of corn starch

Vegetable Stock:
I started by taking the ass end of the celery that I would usually throw out (washed off), along with all the leafy bits from a bunch of celery, and I threw it in the stock pot. I threw in a couple carrots roughly chopped down, some smashed garlic, old ginger cut open, green onion ends, stalks from fresh fennel that we ate in a salad the other day, and all the stem ends from a bunch of cilantro. Cover it all in lots of water, boil it for at least a half hour, strain it out, and you have a good veggie stock. I threw in some bouillon for salt and saved it in a bowl. Watch out that you don't grab that bowl while the liquid is super hot!

Order of Operations:
Take your clean soup pot, throw in some olive oil, and sautee your garlic and the onion until it's translucent. Add the corn, grated fresh from the cob, and if it's there, any of that milky liquid that comes with it. Add your stock and get the whole thing boiling. Also add your dry spices and check your seasoning. Add salt or more pepper if needed. Once you have this, add your potatoes and cook until their tender but not overdone, about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the milk and corn starch with a whisk and once you've got no lumps, pour that into your soup. Make sure the heat is still high enough to thicken the soup a bit. Lower your heat to low. Add the butter as you like, and you should be done. At this point, keep it on low, and enjoy.

With my soup, I've fashioned some fresh bake-at-home baguette with a basil pesto dip. Also, using a frozen summer batch of sage pesto, I've created a sort of drizzle that we can add to the top of the soup when we eat. Just another herby flavor to add when we serve ourselves. You could also throw some chopped cilantro on top or some green onion. If you like it hot, add some Tabasco.

To finish it, I've made a pecan pie, which is my girls favorite, so it's going to be a delicious night on this Valentines Day. The best gift, I think, is food cooked with heart in it. People who eat those things will only agree with that.

One ingredient to start...

So why am I blogging about food? What makes my food worth writing about, or reading for that matter?

Well, the way I see it, everyone has food in their fridge. It seems like there is always a lot of random stuff that people forget they have. It might be meat that got frozen and forgotten about. Maybe it's seasonal vegetables or pie crust, or even a brisket that a friend gave you for free legal work. Whatever these things are, we all have our own variety, and I have chosen to make it my personal challenge to take these things, found in my parents packed fridge and freezer, and to make something great from them. It might not always work out, but then a cook can learn a lot about failed attempts at making a new dish. Practice counts in everything. So hopefully as I experiment, as I choose an ingredient around which I can build a meal, I'll gain insight into synchronizing different foods and seasonings.

Each dish is based on a found first ingredient.