Like most people, I grew up eating food cooked in a slow cooker. Whether it was an easy way to have dinner on the table after a long day of work, or a place to park your queso during a party, slow cookers were a large part of my life in Texas. Yet for some reason I never bought my own. I’m not quite sure why though I think it’s probably a space issue more than anything. My kitchen is small and as it is now, my stand mixer lives on my desk. Whenever I thought about getting a slow cooker I wondered where it would go.
Then a bunch of friends started reading a popular book about tidying up and only keeping objects that bring you joy, and I opened my hall closet and realized it was filled with empty shoe boxes and other silly things that would make room for a slow cooker if I threw them away. So I did.
The next morning, I went to the cookware store and bought my slow cooker. As I was checking out in line the cashier asked me what was the first thing I was going to make and I told her I had no idea. She suggested chili. “It’s perfect this time of year.”
Indeed, a few weeks ago I’d made a chile verde con carne (beef green chili) on the stove, which I’d loved and had been eager to make again. And fortunately at home I had all the ingredients to make this green chili, and so began the process of adapting my stovetop recipe for the slow cooker instead.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
A few weeks ago I was visiting family in Oregon. I was staying at my dad’s and as a fellow homesick Texan who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, he has an extensive collection of cookbooks on Texan cuisine. One morning I was flipping through one of his books and saw a recipe for black bean enchiladas. I thought to myself, “That would be fun to make with black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day,” and then started scribbling down notes.
After I returned to New York, I started testing my recipe for black-eyed pea enchiladas. Like most enchilada dishes made from scratch, there were lots of pots, pans, and dishes involved, as well as a list of ingredients as long as my arm. After several hours of cooking and assembling, (with a few emergency trips to the grocery store thrown in for additional ingredients) when I finally sat down to actually taste the enchiladas, I was completely underwhelmed.
Now, it’s not that the enchiladas tasted terrible—I mean, how bad can a molten stack of corn tortillas, salsa, black-eyed peas, and cheese be? But I didn’t love them and after all that time and effort invested, I felt I should be happier about the enchiladas. Perhaps it was that old problem of the cook never appreciating her own food, but I usually enjoy what I make and these did not make me smile.
So, it was back to the kitchen if I was going to come up with something new to serve for the New Year. Fortunately, I still had some dried black-eyed peas on hand, as well as bacon, smoky kielbasa, and a bundle of kale. If I added some smoky chipotle chiles and a few spices, I figured I had the workings of a very good soup.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
There’s a doughnut store around the corner from me, and while I’m not usually tempted by their doughnuts (my best strategy is to just look the other way when I walk by their shop), this time of year they sell a gingerbread doughnut that I have been curious about.
Unfortunately, this doughnut shop has a tendency to sell out of their more popular doughnuts, and by the time I finally gathered the courage to actually go to the shop and get a gingerbread doughnut, they no longer had any on hand.
Yes, I say courage because this doughnut shop’s doughnuts are all very appealing and yet they’re also very expensive. Whenever I do make it in there I never make it out without spending a small fortune on fried treats. It’s a dangerous place! In any case, because of this, I decided that I would take matters into my own hands.
When I first started blogging almost 10 years ago, doughnut muffins were all the rage. It seemed almost every food blogger at the time was doing some variation of these baked little cakes, but for some reason I never got around to making my own. Well, as Christmas is approaching and I like to have lots of treats on hand for breakfast, I decided that a gingerbread doughnut muffin just might be the way to go.