Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stand Against SOPA

As a relatively new novice spare-time chef, I am not quite at the point where I can whip up a recipe entirely on my own every time (when I do I get really excited though!). So this blog, as it is a collection of my favorite recipes and a documented account of my kitchen foibles, contains a lot of recipes that are not my own.

Like the good little Writing Literature & Publishing BFA Degree holder that I am, I always cite my sources. Any blog I get a recipe from, even if I modify it a bit, gets a link. Every cook book that I use, I give credit, and often will link to where you can buy the book yourself. In no way do I claim the recipes are my own, and even in the rare occasion that I think I have made something up myself I would definitely give credit where credit was due if I discovered I was actually just remembering a recipe I'd read elsewhere.

I'm not sure if this would be considered illegal of SOPA and PIPA pass. But as a low-income 20-something with loads of student debt over my head (thanks BFA degree, bah!) it's not a chance I'd be willing to take. I fear car repairs that total over $100--currently trying to convince myself I don't need to pay to flush my transmission fluids despite my mechanic suggesting it during my oil change this morning actually--the thought of a LAWSUIT for something as simple as sharing some internet content sends me into a bout of anxiety.

How scary is that? I would silence myself out of fear. Who else would do the same? My blog is insignificant, it is a fun little experiment of my own life. But what about websites that are far more important? When Osama Bin Laden was killed, most of my generation heard the news via Facebook and Twitter. In less than a day the whole world knew what had happened. That is powerful. And that power is in serious jeopardy.

I'm not going to pretend I've read SOPA and PIPA intensively--I haven't. But from what I HAVE heard, what I've seen, and the current internet blackout has me concerned. This is NOT America.

Sign the petition. Call your local representatives. Blog about it. Facebook it, Tweet it, run out into the street and scream it.

For the sake of all bloggers out there. For the sake of your freedom. This isn't something to be ignored.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fancy Faking It -- Baked Brie

Brie and I have a long and loving history. The day I discovered the soft, creamy wedges at Trader Joes for only about $3 each was the loveliest of days. I would buy a wedge a week and smother on crackers with an accompanying fruit, or toss with chicken sausage and pasta for a fancy-feeling and cheap-ish dinner--sometimes I'd even sneak a spread onto a sandwich. Aside from the pasta, I'd eat it cold, and actually preferred it this way.

I didn't realize the wonders of a warm round of brie baked inside of a pastry crust.

What have I been missing?

The upside to baking a fancy cheese in a delicious pastry? People think you're quite fancy indeed. I brought this to a New Years Eve party and a cocktail party in the past few weeks and it was definitely a hit. Also I've found that a spicy jelly atop a block of neufchantel cheese also receives high marks and feels fancier than it is. I'm sure I could amp up the fancy by making my own dough from scratch, but for a quick and delicious party food using store bought items is perfectly acceptable.
Party-goers will wait in anticipation for the results.
I wasn't sure what to serve these with... crackers? Bread? I laughed at my friend when he put it in a sandwich, and asked him if he'd like more bread with his bread--he didn't realize it was already in a pastry crust. I ended up just eating it by the wedgeful, and encouraged others to do the same. In the future I might split the brie in half so it can be two wheels of half the size (if the brie is firm enough) and make two smaller baked brie wheels so that the cheese-to-fruit-to-bread ratio is more equal. Either way it was absolutely delicious.

I hope everyone's New Year is off to a great start--I know mine is! Definitely busy, which I like. I'm not one who enjoys being idle. I'm also rather enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I've walked outside and could have sworn it was already Spring on many days. Perhaps New England is trying to deter me from my dreams of living in Southern California...? We'll see!

Pro Tip: A silver solo cup adds class to a fancy party.
A silly straw does not.
Baked Brie. Learn it, live it, love it, eat it.

Easy Baked Brie
(Inspired by A Dash and a Pinch)
  • 1 wheel of brie
  • 1 tube of crescent rolls
  • 2 tbs of the jelly or fruit preserves of your choice

-Place two triangles of crescent roll onto an ungreased baking sheet and pinch together and shape to be a little bit bigger than your brie wheel. Place the brie on top of the crescent rolls, then top with a thick layer of the fruit preserves. Cover with remaining crescent rolls and pierce over top with a fork.

-Bake at 350 degrees F (according to crescent roll directions) or until golden brown. 

 -Serve immediately and eat by the wedgeful, on a cracker, with some veggies, whatever suits your fancy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

100th Post, New Year, Favorite Recipes -- Welcome, 2012!

Well, folks, this post is extra special. I'm jumping on the bandwagon and posting my favorite posts of 2011, and it coincides with my 100th post in this blog! Since I began this blog in February of 2011, it's only a month short of this being a reflection of my first year as a food blogger.

I hope my recent absence from the blogging world hasn't lost me TOO many of my loyal little circle of readers. As per usual, my kitchen time is small, my camera woes have only recently been remedied, and my free time is depleted thanks to being in two plays and trying to keep as interesting a social life as possible for a post-grad 20-something. In addition to the holiday season being busy-as-always, I had a terrible tumble down a flight of stairs right before Christmas that left me immobile and bedridden for three days, and on crutches just shy of a week. Despite the fall, I propped myself up on a kitchen chair and made Christmas cookies anyway. I cannot be stopped!

Oh, readers, what a year it has been! You've been with me through two (possibly three? we'll see I suppose!) relationships and two breakups, some crazy weather mishaps, my first tattoo, some plays, a new job, some travels, some major life realizations and epiphanies, and my first tiny dip into the world of recipe development and food blogging.

Thank you, all of you, so much. Your kind words and encouraging comments make me smile. Part of my New Years Resolution this year is to really focus on developing my craft--writing, whether or not it will ultimately pertain to cooking in my "real life" is yet to be determined--and not neglect this little blog any more than I have to. I love writing, I love cooking, we'll see what comes of it.

Nachos and Breakups
Probably my favorite and most insightful post. The worst break-up I've ever gone through may have been the best thing to happen to me this year--not because I lost someone I loved due to things I could not control, but because I came out the other end a stronger and more independent person. I did not succumb to my usual starvation techniques as coping mechanism, but rather used food as the inspiration to find my own happiness. This was probably my most soul-searching event this year and it helped me start to take the steps to make my life exactly what I want it to be.

Remembering My Father and Cooking Fish
My father was my best friend and I remember him with so much love--but he was a terrible, terrible cook. Somehow fish was the exception to this rule, so for what would have been my dad's 51st birthday I honored his memory by making my very first fish dish.

Roasted Beet Gnocchi
I just love beets. And I was quite proud of myself for coming up with goat cheese as a suitable accompaniment for this handmade gnocchi, with a balsamic reduction on the side.

Flourless Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Probably the best dessert I've ever made, and it just happens to include my favorite vegetable!--even though you can't really taste it in the end result. Delicious, gluten-free, and seriously indulgent.

The Best Thing I've Ever Made
A seemingly innocent Pampered Chef recipe resulted in a fantastic and flavorful dish I made on a whim one night. I need to make this again sometime...

Mother's Day Dinner: Mediterranean Skillet
For Mother's Day my mom had one request: I make dinner. I told her she could choose whatever she wanted me to cook, and this was the result. A lovely shrimp pasta with goat cheese subbed in for the feta as per my mom's request.

Quick and Easy Thai Dinner
I look back on my time at the Lisa Ekus Group with much love. Upon leaving I was given free reign of the Cook Book Room and took many, many samples of cook books by authors Lisa and her crew represent. This was a meal I made from Nancie McDermott's book, Quick and Easy Thai. I actually met her during my internship and she was just a fantastic lady.

Summer Risotto
I get excited when I can cook things that shows like Top Chef deem "difficult" so imagine my surprise when my first attempt at Risotto had so much success. I love lemon and the bright, summery flavors in this risotto are just great.

First Attempt at French Macarons = SUCCESS
Another "difficult" recipe that I nailed on my first attempt. I was endlessly proud of myself for this one and it remains one of my favorite posts.

Chill Out and Have Some S'Mores
Almost as good as the break-up post is the near-breakdown post where I succumb to some feelings of the true Quarter-Life Crisis then eat some s'mores bars and feel worlds better.

Thanks for a great almost-year, everyone! I hope to bring more fun recipes and personal essays to this blog in the coming year, and I hope you'll stick around to see what comes of it. Much love to you all, and Happy New Year!

P.S. Even if I'm away for longer bits at a time, you can usually find me on Twitter, Facebook, or my Other Blog. See you around!