drinks, quickie style

Believe it or not, I have cooked things and eaten them in the last month, but first, what I’ve been drinking lately.

Tonight, it’s margaritas, unsurprisingly enough. We’re grilling up our own grilled stuffed burritos, along with Spanish rice and Spanish potatoes. And by “Spanish”, I mean, assuredly like nothing you’d find in Spain, but I’m throwing in lots of onion and garlic and oregano and cumin tomatoes and saying “hola” a lot. Also, after I cooked up the onions and garlic and poblano pepper for the rice, I deglazed the pan with tequila. Surely that counts for something.

Speaking of margaritas, we were at the liquor store yesterday and we noticed that our favorite tequila (El Tesoro anejo) was marked “close out”. We asked the cashier: close out? Surely that doesn’t mean you’re not going to carry it anymore. He told us yes, that once it was gone, it was gone. I turned to P. “We should buy more. The rest they have. I’m not even kidding.” I wasn’t even kidding. I’m still thinking of going back. Not tonight, obviously, as our state-run liquor is not available for purchase on Sundays. I wonder how many I can find…

Yesterday, we were helping a friend work on his house, so obviously, we were drinking beer. Later, he made us “vampire kisses”, which were 2 parts vodka, 1 part chambord, and a splash of cranberry juice. I highly recommend them. For dessert, we had Godiva chocolate liqueur and cream. And also vanilla ice cream topped with both the Godiva liqueur and Bailey’s. Also highly recommended. (Also, we ate Chinese food, in case you were thinking we just drank our dinner. Which we only did sort of.)

Friday, I was at my work’s corporate office and of course there was beer as it was Friday afternoon. When I’m sitting out on the patio, drinking a beer, soaking up the sun, I wonder why I don’t head over to work more often.

Thursday night, also at work, I spent the evening on another patio, this time with Clos du Bois Merlot. By the time we got to the two buck chuck Chardonnay, I thought it tasted OK. I mean, not good or anything. I wasn’t that drunk

Wednesday night was also Merlot. Francis Coppola. My hotel room had a gift basket with a half bottle in it. I don’t normally drink Merlot, but I thought both of these were pretty tasty. Not super complex and intriguing and the best wines ever. But tasty and drinkable

I probably wouldn’t drink that two buck chuck again. Well, not if it was my first glass anyway.

bonny doon, cardinal zin, 2002

We picked up this wine in January of 2004 at the Bonny Doon tasting room. That was when we were just barely getting into wine and hadn’t even heard of Bonny Doon. I think Kieca suggested we stop by there when we were out in the area, doing some tastings.

We barely ever have Zin. I’m not sure why except we seem to mostly have Northwest wines, which doesn’t seem to include much Zin. We should drink it more often if much of it tastes like this wine. We both really liked it (which doesn’t always happen — a few nights about, we had a Pinot Gris that I really liked and P. pronounced “ass”).

You can read some reviews of it at Bonny Doon. It’s very berry, spice, and vanilla. Almost no tannins. According to winegeeks, it’s around $22.

Oh, and it’s screw top. Which means I didn’t accidentally get cork bits in the wine like I normally do.

lola, seattle

We went to Lola over a month ago, and I’m only just now getting around to writing about it.

It had a more casual, relaxed atmosphere than I was expecting. And it was cozy, with an open kitchen and friendy waitstaff.

We had the skordalia appetizer. We asked what it was when we ordered it, but if we hadn’t known, we never would have guessed that it was bread. I would have said it was some kind of bean. It was odd to spread bread onto bread, but it was yummy.

P. had the lamb burger with chickpea fries and I mixed and matched and got a chicken kabob, smashed garlic potatoes, and sauteed pea vines and chard. I’m a potatoes kind of girl, but I loved the chickpea fries. I want to make them at home, although I’m thinking they aren’t the healthiest food ever. I was on the fence about the sauteed greens. I like both pea vines and chard, but didn’t love them together. (I first had pea vines when I was out with the Seattle food bloggers and like it so much that I tracked some down and made it at home.)

We also tried a Greek white wine. We’d had red Greek wines before (and, in fact, have a few bottles in our wine racks right now), but had never tried the white. I have the name written down somewhere. I’ll have to dig it out later. We finished the meal with this great goat cheese and honey pastry (they put a candle on it because P. told them that it was my birthday when he made the reservation, damn him).

I’m sure it seems weird since I live in Seattle(ish) and love food, but this was my first visit to a Tom Douglas restaurant. I’ll have to remedy that soon.

in defense of Rachel Ray

Well, sort of. I’m not a Rachel Ray apologist or anything, but I do find it curious how much people love to hate her. I think her show has an important premise (not the shows where gets just drunk and slurrily fawns over celebrities — the 30 minute one). It is true that lots of people order takeout when they could cook something themselves in the same amount of time and her show really does show people how they can do that.

And I have to wonder about everyone who hates her: do they all really spend hours and hours every night making elaborate meals? I would really like to know what they eat every night. And when they manage to get their laundry done. Or sleep.

I look forward to cooking when I come home from work. I find it relaxing and fun. And even I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen on the weeknights because I have other things I need to do. I use ideas from Rachel Ray all the time.

Which isn’t to say that I cook her recipes exactly as she makes them. I get that her show is sort of a gimmick. It’s kind of like all those cookbooks that have recipes that are “quick and easy” and therefore, each recipe has to have less than some arbitrary number of ingredients. I take both her show and the recipes in those cookbooks and think, what could I make with this in five more minutes or with two more ingredients?

(I’m not even getting into how everything she needs is always at the front of the shelves and how she piles everything up in one trip, because, well, those things are just funny.)

I tend to use her recipes as foundations. Or to get general ideas. When she uses preshredded bagged cheese, I grate my own. I have the extra two minutes. If I’m going to use pesto, I’ll mix it up myself rather than use a jar. And sometimes, adding just a few extras and spending a few more minutes makes all the difference.

Talking about loving to hate though, I find that semi-homeade girl just inexplicable. She seems to go for processed ingredients just because she can. I watch that show sometimes because I find it kind of fascinating.

Anyway, here is a mini-review of one of her (er, Rachel ray, not the semi-homemade girl) dishes I made the other night.

Hungarian hot sausage and lentil stoup
OK, I will admit that typing the non-word “stoup” is almost enough to make me side with the haters, but if you just squint a little and ignore the “t”, the soup is pretty good.

I didn’t actually see this episode, so I’m not sure if the recipe calls for canned lentils or dried. I’ve used both in my cooking and it seems like neither fit the cooking time listed here. I went with dried and switched up the recipe a little. I cooked it all for 30 minutes (the cooking time of the lentils) and put the potatoes in at the 15 minute mark.

I used chicken sausage and swiss chard and I sprinkled a bunch of parmesan cheese on at the end. I used white mushrooms, since that’s what we already had and plus that meant I didn’t have to figure out what she meant by the whole “scraping out” part. I served it with sourdough bread that I had drizzled olive oil on and lightly toasted, then rubbed raw garlic over.

Well, here’s what actually happened. We had a friend over, who was talking to me when I put the bread under the broiler. After only a couple of minutes, I noticed flames leaping through burners of the stove and smoke started pouring out of the oven. I turned on the fans (fortunately, the smoke detector was still disconnected after my last fire fiasco) and P. opened up the oven to find the bread completely in flames. It was kind of impressive, actually. I went for the fire extinguisher but he grabbed a kitchen towel and tried to get a hold of the pan. I could just see the entire towel burning up, along with his hand and yelled helpful things like “you’re going to catch on fire!” But he managed to spectacularly blow the flames out and took the pan out of the oven and outside to the deck.

I then told him I was removing myself from bread responsibility and made him do up another batch. Which turned out great and not at all a giant ball of flames.

catching up

When I don’t write down the food I’ve made, how can I make it again? I know I can’t rely on my memory. When I do that, I end up thinking, was that the recipe I liked? I think it was! And then I spend hours making it, only to realize after I’ve tasted it that it was the recipe I really did not like at all and vowed to never make again. Or I do remember that I really liked something, only it was because it had some special combination of ingredients that just came together and that I can never recreate again because I absolutely cannot remember what the combination was.

Right. So, I’m going to try and work backwards, although I’m sure some things are already lost forever. Especially all that wine I had. Which could have something to do with with the memory problem, now that I think of it.

I was at the grocery store the other day. The cashiers always try to figure out what I’m making. It’s the oddest thing. This guy looked at everything I was getting and I guess he couldn’t figure it out.

“What are you making for dinner?”

“Stew.”

“Lime stew??”

Hee. Yes. Lime stew.

(As I’m sure anyone reading this has already knows, the limes were of course for the margaritas.)