Author Archives: kayacro

Pita! Pita!

So, guess who decided to be a vegetarian?!?! That’s right, transitioning vegetarian here. I haven’t had meat (besides fish) in over two weeks. Don’t worry, I won’t get out my soap box and explain the many reasons I decided after meat. Suffice it to say it’s something I’ve been considering for a very long time and I finally decided, that although I find meat to be delicious, I can’t justify eating it anymore.

Deciding to change your diet dramatically can be a bit daunting. Meat has been the centerpiece of my meals for basically my entire life. It’s definitely a huge transition. I decided to cut out red meat almost entirely a probably six months ago.  Since then I have been, unintentionally at first, cutting out other meat slowly. I was down to just poultry and fish for about a month. My final decision to cut out poultry came when I learned some things about meat processing (If you want to keep eating meat don’t read Eric Schlosser or watch Food, Inc.) that were very off-putting to me. I’ve decided to keep fish on the diet temporarily. I only eat fish once a week because of mercury. I think having fish left on the plate once a week will help this transition. Eventually I’ll drop fish as well. I considered going vegan, but I’m not sure about that yet. I think it would be best to get my footing with vegetarianism before I go full vegan.

Long story short, I’m learning about a lot of new foods. I’m learning how to pair new flavors and textures. I’m learning that it’s easy to get sick of tofu quickly.  One vegetarian friendly familiar food is falafel! NOM! I decided to get a box of falafel mix and make my own pita bread. I will make my own falafel next time too,  I want more control over the spices.  NEXT TIME I WON’T FORGET TO GET SOY YOGURT FOR THE DILL SAUCE. >_<

Make us into DELICIOUS bread, PLZ!

The pita bread recipe comes from my “little big black book.”  To be honest I don’t know where the pita recipe came from originally. Every time I find a recipe I like I write it down in this book…

I have everything in this book-- from breads to sauces and everything in between.

 The recipe goes as follows:

Pita Bread

3 c. Flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbs Sugar or Honey (I use honey)

1 packet yeast

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c. room temperature water

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients, knead for 10 minutes.

Pita dough!

Place dough in an oiled bowl, let rise 90 minutes or until doubled.

Dough balls!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make eight balls and rest for 20 minutes.

Roll those suckers VERY thin.

Roll very thin.

The pita should puff up while in the oven.

Bake for 3-6 minutes.

Ta da!!!!!!

If you’re lucky maybe someone will make you a delicious martini while you’re making pita!

Thanks, baby!

Pita bread is simple and delicious. This particular batch ended up being filled with veggie burgers or dipped in hummus. Turns out the store-bought falafel mix is kind of gross. I’ll let y’all know when I figure out how to make them from scratch!

Until next time!

xoxo

Kayla

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Nurse, I thsick.

Ginger is supposed to help boost your immune system right?

Ugh. I have a cold. I’m miserable.  It is not pretty. I look like I could be an extra on “The Walking Dead.” Seriously. It’s a good thing you can’t see me. I contracted this evil cold from, of course, my significant other. Last week Dan was all sniffles and sneezes and SUPRISE! this weekend I found myself experiencing similar symptoms. Last week I made a batch of chai that was SERIOUSLY spicy. Too spicy for me. Dan came home from work wanting some tea. I offered up the chai and a disclaimer. He couldn’t really taste but he said it seemed to sooth his symptoms. So this afternoon I decided to make some for myself since I’ve braving this cold sans drugs.

My recipe is adapted from epicurious.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/drink/views/Homemade-Chai-201226

Ingredients

  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns*
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 6 bags of black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
* If you like your chai SUPER spicy use 2 teaspoons of peppercorns. I use considerably less than that. Probably not even a teaspoon, more like 10-12 peppercorns.

First step is to bruise/crush all the cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and cardamom. If you have a mortar and pestle, use it. If not, put them in a pot and find something with a flat bottom that won’t break. Before I had the mortar and pestle I used the wooden handle of my knife sharpener.

Bruised spices.

Once everyone is crushed throw them in a pot with the ginger and cover with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil.

Turn on the heat!

One it starts to boil, reduce head and simmer for 10 minutes.

We’re cookin’ now!

After 10 minutes remove from heat and add 6 bags of black tea. The recipe calls for Darjeeling, but all I have is Pekoe.

This is where you would add the sugar.  I don’t add the sugar because I prefer to sweeten and add milk/rice milk on a cup to cup basis. But feel free to add your sugar (I use honey) whenever you please.

Steepin'

Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes, remove tea bags. This is where you would add the milk. Since I’m off dairy, I use rice milk and I add it to each cup rather than the whole batch. Personal preference. After you remove the bags strain the tea into a container. I usually use a Ball jar or a pitcher.

Final product.

It is delicious, and the only thing that makes me happy besides taking millions of pictures of my adorable cat while I lay in bed.

xoxo (don’t worry I’ll hold my breath),

Kayla

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Let’s talk tofu.

Yes. I said tofu. I know, I know. I have had many tofu misadventures. I tried the old press and marinate. I’ve tried to use the little cubes in salad. I swore tofu off as my mortal enemy. My boyfriend’s lovely vegan sister, Meridith, changed my tofu hating ways forever with one delicious stir fry. The secret really is in the press. Since, most of us non-vegans don’t own a tofu press (we bought one for Meridith and she swears it is amazing) there is a tofu brand out there that is seriously superior and delicious, more on that later.

Full disclosure, I am on a diet. Not the best time to start writing for a food blog, I know. I have never been a “dieter” but months of baking and not working out have finally caught up with me. Turns out I can’t get away with things I could when I was 18. Go figure. This diet means no sugar, little oil (basically none), lots of veggies, lots of fruit, lots of protein, and NO. DAIRY. If you knew me, the girl who was spending 20 dollars a week on cheese while paying her way through college, you’d know that this is insane. I love cheese. All kinds of cheese. I would eat cheese for every meal.  I have had some seriously manic moments which include fantasizing about making a quesadilla whilst furiously shoveling alfalfa sprouts into my mouth, and looking at a chocolate cake recipe and realizing I have all the ingredients to make it and could probably eat the whole thing before anyone would know that said cake existed. Despite those few, crazy person moments this dietary change has been pretty easy-going thus far. I don’t miss the dairy like I thought I would. It’s a good thing I love vegetables. I’ve been eating more tofu because I have to eat lean meats and I’m sort of getting sick of chicken. I only eat fish once a week –damn mercury– and I’ve been trying to cut out my precious red meat –mmmm steak– for  a while, naturally tofu was the next step in supplementing protein.

Enough about that, let us look at some food!

Onions, Mushrooms, SPROUTS!, Tofu, Broccoli, Carrots, and watermelon radishes.

This was my lunch today before it met its soy saucey fate in my cast iron skillet. It’s a pretty quick, easy, and delicious meal. I usually choose whatever vegetables I have around that go well together. These are the usual suspects: sweet onions, cremini mushrooms, alfalfa and dill sprouts (added at the end), broccoli, carrots and watermelon radishes. The trick is to put the tofu in first, usually with some oil or soy sauce, to let it get some color and crisp up a bit. I use Soy Boy tofu, it’s SUPER firm and delicious. I like tofu lin the best but their smoked flavor is pretty tasty as well. I cooked the smoked tofu up like bacon once, I mean it didn’t taste like bacon, but it was delicious. ANYWAY, once you let the tofu get some color add the rest of the veggies and soy sauce and let that work over med-med low heat.

YAY!

Today I realized halfway through cooking that I have fresh ginger! DUH! Ginger is another former sworn enemy that I seriously love now. Maybe my taste buds are changing? Anyway I made a quick dice any and threw those guys in there.

Isn't that ceramic knife sexy? I hope it doesn't claim a finger tip someday!

This is also a good look at the label of the tofu I speak of. I swear they aren’t paying me (I’m looking at you Soy Boy). It really is the best tofu I’ve had. So here’s the finished product.

Top with sprouts and you're good to go.

Seriously delicious.

So since this is my first post I should complete the fun little survey the other gals completed. Sound good? Good.

1. My Favorite things to make are: Mostly baked goods and canned goods. I, too, made my own sourdough starter in the Fall of 2010. I like making pasta, sauces, desserts, pastries. Everything really.

2. My go-to recipes are found: I don’t typically follow a recipe to the letter (unless I’m canning or baking). My MO is usually to look at three or four recipes and make some franken-recipe. But my go to sources are usually Joy the Baker, Julia Child, Peter Reinhart, Lidia Bastianich, Alton Brown, Thomas Keller  and Michael Symon.

3. I would never use a recipe from: This is tough, I REALLY want to say Rachel Ray  because most of her recipes are ‘meh’ but I have to tell you her Penne alla Vodka recipe is pretty good. So, hmmmm, OH who’s that semi homemade lady? Sandra Lee? First Girlfriend of New York? Yeah that lady. No, thanks.

4. What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? I love, love, love my south-facing window. It has allowed me to keep fresh herbs through the winter. My oregano finally bit it but my basil and my Italian parsley are still going strong.

Oh hai! It's January and we're still alive!

5. What is your least favorite thing about you kitchen? I hate my oven/stove. It’s electric. Mama wants gas. It’s older than Dan (27). It’s an ugly beige. It’s matches the fridge. I not-so-secretly dream of owning a vintage gas stove. Dan and I were looking at a house ( built in 1900) that’s for sale and there was a GEM, I’m talking 1940s gas range, in the basement next to an old porcelain sink. The old woman who lived there before (RIP) canned in the basement. There is also a root cellar in said basement. I want this house. I digress.

6. What is your proudest moment in your recent culinary history? This is tough. Do I have to pick one? Top three? Okay. Last summer, Peter Reinhart’s Pizza Dough recipe. Do it. Seriously. Go look it up. Now. If I meet Peter Reinhart I will kiss him on the lips. With tongue. SO. GOOD.
Right before Christmas I was trying to think of a vegan friendly Christmas treat to send home with Dan. It hit me, orangettes. AKA chocolate covered candied orange peels. It was time-consuming but SO worth it. They were DELICIOUS.
One word. Gnocchi. The end.

7.  What is the biggest upset in your recent culinary history? Homemade whole wheat bread. I didn’t know you needed vital wheat gluten. Even with the wheat gluten I haven’t quite mastered this yet.

8. What is your favorite item in your kitchen? My wonderful Aunt Gail GAVE me her BRAND NEW Kitchen Aid Pro Series Stand mixer this summer. I almost died. It’s fancy. It’s nice. It makes my life easier and less messy. I also love my Le Cruset silicone balloon whisk (which was my mixer before my kitchen aid–ha ha), my silpat, ceramic knives, and my baking stone.

9. What is the oldest item in your kitchen? Hard to say. If I had to guess I’d say my vintage glass lidded canning jars.

10. What is the newest item in your kitchen? Oh man, Dan got me a set of ceramic knives for Christmas. They are SO, so nice. I’m going to lose a finger though. I know it.
My fantastic mother also bough me a dough knife. Thanks, Ma!

11. What is your favorite thing about cooking? I don’t know. I just LOVE it. I feel good. It feels like alchemy. Creating things feels great. It’s even better when other people enjoy the fruits of my labor. I hate cleaning up after though. Seriously, who can I get to clean up after I cook?

Sorry this is so long! Until next time.

xoxo- Kayla

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